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Editorial: Why Democrats need Bernie

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Posted on March 16, 2016 |
By Angelo Lynn



After Tuesday’s primary wins in four states and a dead-heat in Missouri, Hillary Clinton made big strides in her push to claim the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. But Clinton’s campaign did the Democratic Party a disservice when campaign manager Robby Mook suggested in a memo to supporters that Clinton’s “pledged delegate lead is so significant that even a string of victories by Sen. Sanders over the next few weeks would have little impact.”

That’s a disservice for several reasons:

• As both camps admit, it’s possible Sanders could win all three contests next Tuesday, March 22, in Arizona, Idaho (caucus) and Utah, and make a strong showing in the votes that follow on Saturday, March 26, in caucuses in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington state. Sanders could also win the primary held in Wisconsin on Tuesday, April 5, which would be a sweep of seven states. And Sanders is likely to be competitive in many races in the remaining 20-plus states. Please don’t tell those voters they don’t matter.

• Of course they matter, and the Democratic Party establishment should relish the continued dialogue and exposure to both candidates as they excite voters about the Democratic agenda, and demonstrate how they differ from the Republicans. That’s a win-win.

• It is undeniable that the delegate math is in Clinton’s favor. She currently has 1,119 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 813. That’s a difference of 306 out of a total of 4,763 delegates up for grabs. It takes 2,382 to win the nomination. While Clinton also has 467 superdelegates, compared to Sanders’ 26, it is still a competitive race that likely will not be sealed for another several weeks. Importantly, Democrats and the Clinton campaign should want the race to continue all the way to the June convention in Philadelphia.

• What should be obvious is that if you take either Sanders or Clinton out of the race, the news value of the Democratic race drops dramatically. That is especially true this year because the 24-hour cable news cycle would then solely focus on the Republican slugfest — and that’s a fight that will likely go all the way to a convention floor for the first time in decades. For television stations that’s huge news with guaranteed round-the-clock coverage. That’s free publicity for savvy Republican candidates, leaving a lone Democrat to have to pay for advertising just to make the nightly news.

What’s best for Clinton, Sanders and the Democratic Party is to champion their primary as competitive and vibrant, even if the odds are long for Sanders. Nor is that a stretch. The story arc remains authentic if it is a contest for the heart and soul of the Party, rather than the inevitable countdown of delegates. If so, Sanders would continue waging his revolution on income inequality, free trade, climate change, social tolerance and much more that has been drawing throngs of supporters to his rallies. He would continue to excite more and more young people to embrace the Party’s values. Importantly, he could also broaden his economic argument beyond just an attack on the 1 percent, to explaining how capitalism needs to be redefined so that the competitive nature of a market economy once again works for the lower and middle classes too. It is not capitalism that is flawed, but the way we have allowed our system to be rigged to benefit the wealthiest few. In the process, perhaps Sanders will be able to excite Clinton on those themes as well and teach her how to sound authentic.

Sanders has done much to change the message of the campaign already. With continued support, let’s hope he gets the opportunity to carry his message all the way to Philly and allow voters in all 50 states to vote their conscience.

Angelo S. Lynn

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