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Moulitsas: Sanders’s desperate measures

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Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the White House is soldiering on, despite the mathematical improbability of victory at the Democratic convention. 

Presidential campaigns generally end when the money dries up, but with the senator’s many small donors continuing to provide him with millions in revenue, there’s no real impetus for Sanders to quit the race. 

{mosads}At the same time, his path to the nomination grows ever narrower, given the shrinking number of primaries and caucuses on the calendar and the huge victory margins he would need to make up his deficit in pledged delegates. 

So how can he justify his continued presence in the race? The surprising answer: superdelegates. 

The Democratic Party’s superdelegates have achieved infamy among Sanders’s supporters, supposedly standing ready to snatch victory from his grasp. In reality, they’ve never shown any desire to subvert the will of the voters. Hillary Clinton enjoyed a healthy lead among superdelegates in the 2008 election, for example, only to watch them abandon her as Barack Obama won at the polls. 

“If a perception develops that somehow this decision has been made not by voters participating in primaries or caucuses, but by politicians in some mythical backroom, I think that the public could react strongly against that,” Sanders’s top adviser, Tad Devine, said in 2008. At the time, I myself wrote that any effort by the superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters would be akin to “civil war.” In the end, they did the right thing and backed the winner. 

We may still have those undemocratic superdelegates at the convention, but as in 2008, there is no sense that they would actively undermine the will of the party base. And why would they? Their candidate — Clinton — has been winning handily.

Now that Sanders faces electoral oblivion, however, those superdelegates are looking like possible saviors. 

“I think we have to see where we are [after the last primary],” Devine now says, adding that the campaign would push superdelegates to nominate Sanders even if Clinton wins the popular vote and delegate count. “Her grasp now on the nomination is almost entirely on the basis of victories where Bernie Sanders did not compete.” 

Sanders himself has chimed in. “I think the momentum is with us. A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their position with Hillary Clinton.”

Yes, this new position is rank hypocrisy, but it’s also nonsensical at best. Sanders has run a high-energy, anti-establishment campaign, one that’s predicated on what the Vermont Independent says is the corruption and ineffectiveness of the party establishment. Those criticisms have raised him well over $100 million and carried him deeper into the race than most thought possible. For him to ask the very same people he’s been demonizing for help is downright bizarre. 

Remember, these are the same superdelegates that resisted heavy pressure to back Clinton — a paragon of the Democratic establishment — opting instead to support the winner of the ’08 primaries. They aren’t about to ignore the will of the voters under any circumstances, and certainly not to back someone who is suing the Democratic National Committee even today. 

But all that is topped by Devine’s ugliest argument: that certain states don’t matter because Sanders didn’t compete in them. He even lists them off, states like Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. These states are literally the ones with the highest portion of African-Americans and Latinos — voters Sanders’s campaign is apparently saying shouldn’t matter when deciding the nominee. It’s breathtakingly offensive.  

Thankfully, the superdelegates don’t seem particularly impressed by these arguments, nor do the majority of Sanders supporters. In the end, the voters — all the voters — will decide the Democratic nominee. 

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos. 

Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton

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