Now that Donald Trump has essentially taken the Republican presidential nomination for his own, many establishment Democrats have started looking toward a general election competition between Trump and Hillary Clinton. But even though his chances of obtaining the Democratic nomination are slim, Bernie Sanders should not drop out of the race, and Clinton should stop asking him to tone it down.
In an interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on Thursday, Clinton compared Sanders' current situation to her own fight for the nomination in 2008 against then-Sen. Barack Obama, making sure to mention that Obama's lead in 2008 was smaller than the one Clinton currently holds over Sanders. "I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done, in effect," she told Cuomo. "There is no way that I won't be."
But Clinton underestimates progressives. She may consider herself one, of course, but it would be more realistic to call her a moderate. Sanders has brought something to the table in a way that Clinton has not: anger that should not be discounted. His anger at the unjust mechanisms of the current political system, and his proposals to remedy these injustices, have resonated with voters who have largely avoided investing themselves in a system that has never aimed to serve them.
And yet, despite the fact that the senator from Vermont has inspired Americans who had all but stopped caring to reengage in politics, Clinton wants him to scale back his attacks on her and thereby unify the Democratic Party. In an article for Jacobin Mag, Corey Robin points out the ridiculousness of such a demand:
Whereas the Democrats haven’t even yet decided on Clinton, and we’re already being told that any criticism of her in anticipation of that decision will threaten the party’s ability to act upon that decision once it is made. ... There are many words for that type of political system. Democracy is not one of them.
So now an important question remains: If Clinton does indeed win the Democratic nomination, will Sanders back down and endorse her? Or will he follow some of his more progressive voter base further to the left — possibly to the Green Party's Jill Stein? Although Sanders has pledged to prevent the Republicans from taking the White House in November, he is justifiably unwilling to compromise on some of his more vital policy proposals pertaining to climate change and Wall Street. And, based on a statement released by his campaign on Thursday afternoon, it doesn't look like Sanders is about to acquiesce to Clinton's requests:
In the past three weeks, voters in Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton. We expect voters in the remaining eight contests also will disagree. And with almost every national and state poll showing Sen. Sanders doing much, much better than Secretary Clinton against Donald Trump, it is clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.
These doubts have long persisted, and if Sanders were to take his fight for a political revolution to the convention floor, he could challenge the party establishment's status quo. Even if he doesn't end up winning the nomination, his campaign and the resulting movement are shifting conversations around money in politics and systemic injustices, and Clinton shouldn't get a pass on her actions.