Wednesday, March 18, 2020

You have to wonder what he’s thinking. Where it all went so wrong, it looked like such a lock. There was so much passion, so much energy. He has to be asking himself, “is going on worth it?”

I’m talking about Bernie Sanders, of course. In case you missed it, he got roundly trounced in yesterday’s batch of state primaries. In Florida, Illinois, and Arizona, Joe Biden not only won the state’s delegates, he beat Sanders in every single county. Every. Single. County. Think about that, and then think about how the same thing happened in Mississippi, Michigan, and Missouri.

Right now, the delegate count gives Biden a fairly commanding lead, with 1132 pledge delegates to Sanders’ 817. Scattered among the candidates who’ve dropped out is 132 delegates up for grabs and, for whatever reason, Tulsi Gabbard is still in this thing. I guess if you’re not actively spending money to run, you can stay in it longer.

Even if he gets all the loose delegates – and Elizabeth Warren has yet to endorse either candidate – Biden will still be short of the 1,991 he needs to secure the nomination. There’s still an ever-so-slight chance that Sanders could either squeak out the delegates or bring about a brokered convention.

Let’s take a minute to discuss that, because I don’t think we have. Analysts and media folk love to talk about brokered conventions because they’re way, way more entertaining. Back room deal-making and promises made, and journos love that shit. Throughout the primary voting, a total of 3,979 delegates are up for grabs. That numbers decided by a state’s representation in Congress, among other things, so California would have more pull than Mississippi, for example.

A brokered convention comes up if no single candidate goes into the convention in Milwaukee with the 1,991 delegates required to secure the nomination. If that happens, there’s a second vote going on at the convention and the magic number increases to 2,736. And they’ll vote and they’ll vote until they come to an agreement.

This also brings in the “superdelegates,” party insiders and big-wigs. In 2016, the DNC changed its rules – at Sanders insistence – so superdelegates can only vote on the second ballot to reduce the influence of the party big dogs. If you’ll remember, at the Las Vegas debate, the various candidates were asked if the person with the most delegates going into the convention should get the nomination even if they don’t have the required 1,991 delegates. Only Sanders said that’s how it should work. Of course, he was leading the delegate count then.

You heard a lot of hoo-hah in 2016 about how the superdelegates helped “rig” the election for Hilary Clinton, mainly because the press kept lumping them in with her primary count. That’s balderdash and she already lead in delegates by May, but the Sanders people claimed it was meant to discourage his voters, when what it really meant is the political press is incredibly lazy.

Superdelegates have their origins in the 1968 Democratic Convention where Hubert Humphrey got the nomination despite not running in a single primary. This not only called for a change in the archaic way the Democrats chose their nominees, it caused a riot and exposed the split in the party that’s never come together. For the most part, though, they really haven’t played that big a role outside of insider politics. Howard Dean, for example, secured all the superdelegates before the 2004 primaries actually began yet was still roundly trounced by John Kerry in the actual elections.

And for all the boners it gives the political press, brokered convention’s are pretty rare. The last one was way back in 1952. Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver – the colorful chair of the organized crime hearings against the Mafia that inspired scenes in The Godfather, Part II  – had already knocked out then-president Harry Truman, which he didn’t care for. Truman persuaded Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson, long considered one of the smartest men in that era politics, to run even though he really didn’t want to.

You have to remember, the Democratic Party goes back to Andrew Jackson and a number of barnacles attached themselves to that particular boat by the ’50s. Kefauver had embarrassed the party with his hearings, which exposed a lot of ties between the Mafia and the big city political machines in Chicago and New York City. Though he went into the convention with a solid delegate lead, the wheeler-dealers nominated Stevenson who would’ve rather been governor of Illinois. Kefauver did accept the vice-president’s spot ’cause he was a mensch.

Dwight Eisenhower went on to stomp the living shit out of Stevenson in the general, who only won the Solid South because they were still pissed off about the Civil War. The only real outcome was it ended Stevenson’s political career. So, like superdelegates, brokered conventions exist and, like superdelegates, are more a vestigial aspect of the Democratic Party nomination that probably (definitely) needs to be jettisoned. Republicans really don’t have either or anything comparable, and since they come up out of the post-Abraham Lincoln era, haven’t really needed them.

Of course, the Super Online, No Really, We’re Socialists Trying To Save You Sanders faithful are gnashing their teeth and rending their garments at how “unfair” the whole process is because everyone didn’t vote for their savior. Some are saying the DNC is “cheating again” while others are calling for a third-party run that’s going to get less than one percent of the vote. One wrinkle thrown in was Ohio and Maryland have postponed their elections because of the Coronavirus scare. Whether that’s a “good thing” or “bad thing,” I don’t know, but turnout was fairly solid across the board and, indeed, up from 2016 in Florida.

Speaking of which, a lot of heavy ponderings have been going on over what sort of impact CORVID-19 will have on the mechanics of the general election in Novemeber. How it affects Trump’s chances at re-election – especially if unemployment rises to 20% – is a discussion for another time, but some folks do worry that he might “postpone” the election due to “fears” of the virus. Here’s a good discussion on why if that does happen, it might not work out in Trump’s favor. That being said, Ohio is another demonstration of the multitude of ways this pandemic has caught America The Beautiful flat-footed and unable to deal. Again, another time.

So what’s in the future for Sanders and, more importantly, the whole progressive movement. Well, he’s said he’s sticking in for the time being, as well he should, and will stay in until someone “steps up” and takes charge of the “movement”. Remember, Sanders’ ideas aren’t unpopular, not really. Across the board, polls show people are in favor of socialized health insurance, rent control, student loan forgiveness, etc., usually by a solid margin so long as the magic word “socialism” isn’t used.

The ideas are popular. He’s not. Biden is, as likely as not, a desperate choice made by the bulk of the Democratic Party faithful who just want Trump out. What it isn’t is a conscious effort by “boomers” to screw over “Millennials” because that really requires much more coordination than the Democrats have every been able to pull off.

I’m convinced that the vast bulk of his Super Online fans are much like the most fervent MAGA faithful in that they really didn’t start paying attention to politics at all until 2015 or so and haven’t bothered to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. That a lot of them are ready to toss in the towel because Sanders won’t get the nomination, probably, also shows how shallow their commitment is in the first place. Even if he got the nomination and won the general, the changes he’s calling for would be a long, hard slog. It can be done, but it won’t be done in a weekend like the faithful seem to think.

I don’t have any answers as to where “the progressive movement” should go from here, but from all I’ve seen, it’s going to go exactly nowhere if Sanders fans continue to pout. That’s just sad. Sure, there is far too much corporate influence in the mainstream Democratic Party and Joe Biden is, christamighty, just awful. But letting Trump win another term will kill any even slightly liberal movements for the next generation, much less any progressive ideas.

Okay, then. I think this has got us caught up. There’s a couple more things bouncing around my head right now, but I’m a bit worn out. Depending one what happens before then, tomorrow’s Offering will be at the Blogger site, some old-school Gibberish about how my mind has changed since moving home. As for now, wash your hands, stay home if you can, do the “social distancing” thing if you can’t, don’t horde and don’t panic. There’s still a pandemic going on.

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