Yes, Bernie Sanders Can Win-- The Democratic Nomination AND The Presidency
The Clinton team has bragged to their allies in the media that Hillary has nothing to worry about because she has a "Southern firewall" and she has more than 400 of the 700 so-called "super delegates," the anti-democratic vehicle the Democratic Party uses to make sure it's next to impossible for a non-insider to get anywhere at the convention. Tough for Bernie, who, like victorious new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, depends on actual and informed voters, not on party hacks and insiders and the sold-out media.
Over the weekend, one of the most talked-about articles was a Washington Post piece by Philip Rucker and John Wagner, "How Bernie Sanders is plotting his path to the Democratic nomination."
Bernie is the first presidential candidate Blue America has ever endorsed. Neither finding a candidate the lesser of two evils nor a candidate's supposed electability are considerations for us-- only policies, record, character and integrity. When we endorsed Bernie, virtually no one thought he had a ghost of a chance. It didn't matter to us; he checked out on all the fronts we care about. But now you get the idea that, in the light of polling that shows him steadily gaining on the establishment candidate, media almost has no choice but to take him seriously. He was even on Meet the Press this morning... and what could be more serious than that?
Still people want to know-- especially the donor class-- if there's a path to victory. And that's what Rucker and Wagner tried tackling, starting by dismissing the media trope that he's just a fringe candidate. "Now," they wrote, "Sanders is plotting his path to the nomination in what he anticipates will be a long race for delegates." Besides, it's now Clinton's electability that has come into question. Candidates as unlikable as she is have never been embraced by a post-Nixon electorate.
So how can Bernie go from big rallies and respectable polling to winning the requisite number of delegates to win the nomination?
The growing Sanders operation in the early states now nearly rivals the Clinton campaign. He has 54 paid staffers in Iowa and 38 in New Hampshire and dozens more coming on elsewhere, compared with 78 field staffers in Iowa and 50 in New Hampshire for Clinton. Both are far larger than any Republican campaign.So far not a single Democratic Member of Congress has endorsed Bernie-- no representatives and no senators. 32 current senators have already endorsed Clinton-- including progressives like Tammy Baldwin, Tom Udall, Mazie Hirono, Sheldon Whitehouse, Al Franken and Barbara Boxer-- and 109 representatives have done likewise, again not just the corrupted conservatives in the party like Steve Israel, Patrick Murphy, John Delaney, Filemon Vela, Cheri Bustos, Jim Himes, Henry Cuellar, Kathleen Rice, Sean Patrick Maloney and Joe Crowley, but also solid progressives like José Serrano, Ted Lieu, John Lewis, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Judy Chu, Matt Cartwright, Mike Honda, Steve Cohen, Jerry Nadler and Jan Schakowsky. That said, most of the cream of the congressional crop, like Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva, Mark Pocan, Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison, have managed to sit it out so far, usually praising both candidates.
Sanders is also moving swiftly to expand his presence in South Carolina and Nevada and boost his standing among black and Latino voters. He is organizing in four states-- Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Vermont-- with primaries or caucuses on March 1 that his team considers opportunities for victory. He also is targeting Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, which vote later in March and where his advisers think his appeal to working-class whites can be decisive.
The Sanders campaign is training tens of thousands of volunteers to organize in their communities, expanding its social media presence and erecting an online fundraising apparatus to fully exploit every spurt of excitement. The senator is preparing to make major policy announcements-- as Clinton has done this summer-- designed to go deeper than the insurgent agenda he lays out in his stump speech.
Sanders also is beginning to press the case to Democratic leaders that he, not Clinton, would be the strongest nominee because of the enthusiasm his populist message generates. His advisers have been encouraged by recent polls showing Sanders trouncing Clinton among voters under 30 years old or whose annual family incomes are less than $30,000; both demographics traditionally vote in low numbers.
“He’s the base expander,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver.
“You start communicating his message with people who haven’t heard it yet, it will resonate. We have a lot of crawl space here,” added Tad Devine, Sanders’s top strategist.
Weaver and Devine laid out the Sanders playbook in a nearly 90-minute, on-the-record interview with the Washington Post this week at the campaign’s office on Capitol Hill. A key part of their calculation, as for Obama in 2008, is amassing delegates in populous states like Texas even if Clinton wins. According to Democratic rules, delegates are allocated proportionately based on vote totals by congressional district.
Sanders’s swift rise-- the latest public polls show him leading Clinton in New Hampshire, statistically tied with her in Iowa and gaining on her nationally-- has startled the political establishment. His unabashedly progressive message of taking on “the billionaire class” has drawn thousands of people-- in some cases tens of thousands-- to his rallies. Clinton, by contrast, generally campaigns in smaller venues and has sometimes struggled to fill them.
“He has already surpassed expectations,” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to President Obama. “Bernie has been very effective. He’s completely authentic, he is earnest, and he’s been talking about these issues all his life. But the challenge now is to transform excitement and energy into delegates and palpable progress.”
Weaver and Devine were candid about the hurdles for Sanders. One of the biggest is his low standing with minority voters, especially African Americans, relative to Clinton. She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, have spent decades cultivating relationships with blacks and other key Democratic constituencies.
“Bernie’s not well known in the African American community-- period. That’s an issue,” Weaver said.
Conceding the difficulty in persuading black political leaders to switch their allegiances from Clinton to Sanders, Devine said Sanders is targeting celebrities, pastors and community figures for support.
...This summer, the enthusiasm Sanders stirred overwhelmed his minimalist campaign infrastructure. To catch up, officials are building what Weaver called a “cutting-edge distributive organizing program” for the more than 140,000 people who have signed up to volunteer. National field staffers are being hired to direct volunteer leaders in a state-by-state tiered network, who in turn will manage other volunteers in their regions.
Roughly 47,000 volunteers have hosted a house party, canvassed neighborhoods, written computer code for the campaign or other activities.
At Sanders rallies, volunteers armed with clipboards work the perimeters, gathering contact information from attendees. The campaign hits them up for contributions. Weaver was circumspect about detailing the campaign’s fundraising-- Sanders says he has more than 400,000 contributors, with an average of about $31-- but the campaign expects to post an eye-popping total after the quarter ends Sept. 30.
“The Clinton people are trying to max people out,” Devine, noting the legal maximum donation of $2,700 per person. “Our approach to the fundraising is the exact opposite. The money needs to come bottom-up, not top-down... The bottom-up structure, if it’s exploited properly, can provide a whole new wave of resources.”
Unlike Clinton, Sanders has not begun airing costly television advertisements. On Aug. 4, when Clinton went on the air in Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders huddled with Weaver and Devine at the Capitol Hill office to weigh whether to match her on TV.
They decided not to. Instead, they husbanded most of their resources and made what Devine called an aggressive digital ad buy in the same markets-- Manchester, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and others. The effort targeted voters with a short ad that clicked through to a long biographical video about Sanders [which you can watch just below].
“People are not watching 5-and-a-half seconds of it; they’re watching 5-and-a-half minutes of it, from beginning to end-- the whole thing,” Devine said. “If I pay a few cents for that while our opponent is paying several million dollars [for TV ads], we are gaining a significant tactical advantage.”
Bernie has, however, been endorsed by Jesse Ventura and a solitary congressional candidate, Alex Law, running in New Jersey-- and by a boatload of cultural icons, like Jim Hightower, Noam Chomsky, Flea, Danny DeVito, Bill Moyers, Lucinda Williams, Sarah Silverman, Neil Young, Lizz Winstead, Thom Hartmann, Cornel West, Marianne Williamson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Frances Fisher, Mia Farrow, Roseanne Barr, Tom Morello, Lewis Black, Henry Rollins, Susan Sarandon, Bill McKibben, John Cusack and Killer Mike, to name just a few.
Watch the Bernie bio piece, and if you want to see him become president, give what you can can here. You're not going to find another candidate like him, not in 2016 and probably not in any of our lifetimes.