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Moulitsas: Sanders’s socialist coup

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Knowing it’s lost electorally, the Bernie Sanders campaign is now pushing for a superdelegate coup, one that would discard the will of the Democratic primary electorate in favor of an unearned coronation. Whether willfully or not, such a strategy is not just an affront to basic democratic principles, it would also serve to disenfranchise the growth demographics powering the modern Democratic Party. 

{mosads}“We can argue about the merits of having superdelegates, but we do have them,” said Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver. “And if their role is just to rubber-stamp the pledged delegate count, then they really aren’t needed, right? So they’re supposed to exercise independent judgment about who they think can lead the party forward to victory.”

That is quite the turnaround from a few months ago, when Sanders and his surrogates were railing against the superdelegate system as an undemocratic affront to the will of the voters. And they’d be right — if, that is, those superdelegates had shown any willingness to subvert the will of the voters, something they didn’t do in 2008 when the insurgent Barack Obama won the nomination and certainly won’t do this year. The nominating process is undeniably in need of reform, but that doesn’t justify Sanders’s hypocrisy in siding with superdelegates over his newly adopted party’s voters. 

But aside from the merits, let’s examine what such a superdelegate coup would mean. 

Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, would toss aside the “democratic” part of his self-identification, becoming an old-school autocratic socialist. It’s breathtaking how nonchalantly the presidential contender and his campaign can talk about subverting the democratic will of the voters, as if his purer ideology excused all excesses. 

At the Democratic state convention in Nevada several weeks ago, hotel security had to shut down the event as Sanders delegates nearly rioted in anger. Their attempts to squeeze more delegates than deserved given election night results had been thwarted. The senator himself, in a statement, shrugged off the violence and misogynistic threats hurled at the state party chairwoman: “If the Democratic Party is to be successful in November, it is imperative that all state parties treat our campaign supporters with fairness and the respect that they have earned.” Nice party you have there — sure would be a shame if something happened to it.

Just as distressing, consider the big story of this Democratic primary: The party’s growth demographics — Latinos, African-Americans and women — have chosen a woman for the first time. Sanders and his people are arguing that should be thrown by the wayside because white voters prefer a white male candidate. If you ever wondered what “white privilege” was, well, you now have Exhibit A. The arrogance is astonishing, as is the lack of awareness of what he is suggesting. 

This is a different Democratic Party than it was the past, and any movement seeking to upend the establishment will need a broad demographic focus from inception. Picking a white guy wasn’t the miscalculation, it was picking one from the whitest state in the union who had done zero work to build necessary coalitions among the party’s core constituencies. He thought income inequality was a transcendent message that cut across race and sex. Reality is far more complex. 

Thus, Sanders’s final play this cycle is an attempt to disenfranchise the party’s voters, and in particular, the brown and black alliance that propelled Hillary Clinton to victory. Is that really the legacy he wants to leave behind?


Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.

Tags Barack Obama Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton
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