News Analysis International

What’s next for Bernie Sanders? 

Though the race for Democratic nomination is practically over for Bernie Sanders, he vowed to campaign for next week’s primary in Washington DC, the last contest in the nationwide party polls that began last year in Iowa and New Hampshire. “Then we are going to take the fight for social, economic and racial justice to Philadelphia,” where the Democratic Convention will be held on July 25-28.  

Though the race for Democratic nomination is practically over for Bernie Sanders, he vowed to campaign for next week’s primary in Washington DC, the last contest in the nationwide party polls that began last year in Iowa and New Hampshire. “Then we are going to take the fight for social, economic and racial justice to Philadelphia,” where the Democratic Convention will be held on July 25-28.    

In national polls, he is a stronger candidate against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton.

For Bernie Sanders, the race for Democratic nomination is practically over after Tuesday’s primaries to six States. Hillary Clinton, who won four including California and New Jersey which together send 690 delegates to the party convention, has declared herself as the presumptive nominee. She now has the support of 2,777 delegates (including 574 superdelagates), well past the required number of 2,383 needed to clinch nomination, while Mr. Sanders’ count is at 1,876 (including 48 superdelegates).

Both in terms of popular vote and the number of states, Ms. Clinton has a clear advantage over Mr. Sanders. She polled 15.8 million votes in the primaries and won 33 States compared with Mr. Sanders’s 12.1 million votes and 23 contests.

But he won’t give up

But Mr. Sanders is not in a mood to give up. Speaking to some 3,300 cheering supporters packed inside an airplane hangar in Santa Monica, California, after the latest primaries, he said “the struggle continues”. He vowed to campaign for next week’s primary in Washington DC, the last contest in the nationwide party polls that began last year in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Then we are going to take the fight for social, economic and racial justice to Philadelphia,” where the Democratic Convention will be held on July 25-28.

No radical impact

In all probability, the DC primary won’t have any radical impact on the race. The number of delegates to be grabbed from DC is 46. Even if Mr. Sanders sweeps all those delegates, the gap between him and Ms. Clinton would remain huge. Mr. Sanders’s supporters usually make two arguments.

First, Ms. Clinton has reached the magic number only with the support from superdelegates. The superdelegates are elected officials and party functionaries who are not, theoretically speaking, bound by the primary results. Ms. Clinton being the establishment favourite had the support of most superdelagates from the beginning of the primaries.

He is stronger in national polls

Second, in national polls, Mr. Sanders is a stronger candidate against the Republican candidate Donald Trump than Ms. Clinton. According to Realclearpolitics, Mr. Sanders has a 10 percentage point lead over the Republican nominee, while Ms. Clinton’s lead is a narrow two points. But such arguments would have found more supporters if his campaign had a narrowed the gap between him and Ms. Clinton at least in terms of the pledged delegates. Ms. Clinton has won 375 more pledged delegates than Mr. Sanders.

Wider agenda

So the question why he’s not giving up? From the beginning, Mr. Sanders has been saying that he will take the fight to the last vote. In that case, he has one more week before formally ending the campaign and endorsing Ms. Clinton.

And if Mr. Sanders’s California speech is an indication, there’s ample room for a compromise. He’s aware of the tough road ahead. “I am pretty good at arithmetic… the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight,” he said indirectly referring to his trailing campaign. He also reiterated his campaign’s position that it “won’t allow right-wing Republicans to control our government. And that is especially true with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate… We will not allow Donald Trump to become President of the United States.” Moreover, the focus of his speech was not on winning the nomination, but on “transforming our country”, junking “the corrupt campaign finance system”; ending “a broken criminal justice system”, breaking up Wall Street banks and bringing about “real” immigration reform.

Contest for party platform open

But he won’t just give up after building a campaign that has energised millions of Democrats, mostly young Americans. He will use the momentum to influence the Democratic Party. Only the contest for the presidential nomination is settled. The contest for the party platform committee, which will write the party’s official positions, is still open. He’s already nominated five persons to the 15-member committee—black intellectual Cornel West and climate activist Bill McKibben, Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Keith Ellison, Muslim rights spokesperson James Zogby, and Native American tribal rights leader Deborah Parker.

If they are selected, Mr. Sanders’s brand of politics will have a solid representation in a committee that shapes the Democratic Party’s policies.That’s perhaps he had in mind when he said “it is more than Bernie Sanders”. Both Ms. Clinton and the party establishment may also have to make compromises if they want to win over millions of Sanders supporters. With Mr. Trump on the other side, they are unlikely to ignore Mr. Sanders’s demands.

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Printable version | Jul 1, 2020 4:44:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/What%E2%80%99s-next-for-Bernie-Sanders/article14412558.ece

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