Once upon a time, I was news editor of a daily paper, a job that entailed laying out the pages: choosing what stories would go where, what photos would accompany what stories, how big the headlines for each story should be. The last page to be laid out each day was called the “classified slop” page. It was the last page of the classified ads, which almost always had some open area where not very important stories would be placed, just to fill the space.
That image came to mind today when I read Bernie Sanders’ list of policy demands in the Washington Post.
After New Jersey and California, when Clinton won a majority of pledged delegates and became the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, Sanders could have been as gracious as Clinton was in 2008 when she conceded after losing to Obama by a much smaller margin. Sanders could have endorsed Clinton, helping her unite the Democratic Party against Trump. Sanders could have made his specific policy demands at a time when his support meant something. He could have done the right thing.
But he didn’t. Instead, we all were supposed to wait with bated breath for an old white man to get over his pique at losing to a woman. To let go of his ego and relinquish center stage. To accept that a majority of Democratic voters prefer Clinton. To do the right thing for the country in the face of the madness that is Donald Trump.
But Sanders has not done that. So Clinton has turned to the general election, gathering endorsements, even from former Sanders supporters; attacking Trump with speeches and TV ad buys; raising money; making policy speeches; campaigning in swing states; rounding up endorsements. Doing all the things a presidential candidate needs to do. While Clinton moved on, Sanders continued refusing to acknowledge reality: he lost.
So Sanders still has not endorsed Clinton. When Trump attacked a federal judge for his heritage, Sanders refused to endorse Clinton. When a terrorist sympathizer slaughtered 49 people in Orlando and Trump congratulated himself, Sanders was silent. When Elizabeth Warren began attacking Trump, Sanders had nothing to say. When Congress’s failure to act on gun control moved into the center of public consciousness, Sanders said nothing. When Congressional Democrats mounted an almost-unprecedented sit-in in the House, Sanders remained obdurate, almost as if he still believes the future of the nation is all about him.
Unfortunately for Sanders, time — and political history — inexorably moves on. As a result of his intransigence, Sanders has slipped into irrelevance. Maybe not to his most die-hard supporters, but to everyone else. He has slipped off the front pages, out of the lead position on cable news, out of public consciousness.
Thus the image that came to mind today on reading Sanders’ requirements for the Democratic Party. If I were still laying out a daily newspaper, Sanders would only rate placement in classified slop.