4 Moments From Bernie Sanders' California Speech That Prove He Totally Knows It's Over
By the time Sen. Bernie Sanders took the stage on Tuesday night, there was some speculation that he'd be making a concession speech. The numbers weren't on his side, and his opponent had just given a swelling victory speech with all the historical pomp and circumstance you'd imagine. Sanders didn't concede, of course. Instead, he promised to keep fighting until the final votes were cast in Washington D.C. next week, and, as he'd said all along, to take his campaign all the way to the party convention in Philadelphia next month.
But still, watching the speech had me on the edge of my couch wondering whether he was going to take the plunge and actually concede. There were plenty of moments that hinted the end was coming, when his words were just shy of admitting that it had been a strong run and encouraging his followers to figure out their next steps for the general election. Even though Sanders seems to be angling to carry his campaign until the end, here are a few moments where it seemed like he was actually preparing to let go.
The "Started From The Bottom, Now We Here" Campaign Recap: "And let me thank all of you for being part of the political revolution."
This is kind of a concession speech staple. Highlight the adversity your campaign has overcome, the moments of triumph despite the defeat, in order to better position your supporters to take on future challenges — and to keep them from losing heart as the campaign folds. It's normal to talk about all you've accomplished to rev the engines for another fight, sure. However, the thanks and congratulations did have something more final to them in this speech. Particularly the touching moment when Sanders spoke about how personally moved he's been by his supporters:
It has been one of the most moving moments of my life to be out throughout this state in beautiful evenings and seeing thousands and thousands of people coming out. People who are prepared to stand up and fight for real change in this country.
The Friendly-ish Phone Call With His Opponent: "And tonight, I had a very gracious call from Secretary Clinton and congratulated her on her victories tonight."
In the last month, the relationship between Sanders and Clinton has seemed frosty at best, bitter at worst. So to know that communication between his campaign and Clinton's had thawed out to something more civil and gracious is a relief for those of us who worried that Mom and Dad were never going to get along again. Instead of taking any jabs at Clinton, he chose instead to focus on his campaigns ideals and accomplishments and keep his hands otherwise clean.
A future of cooperation and collaboration between the splintered Democrats shouldn't be counted out just yet, particularly given Sanders' softer approach to his opponent:
Our fight is to transform our country and to understand that we are in this together.
The Focus On The Greater Enemy: "We will not allow Donald Trump to become president of the United States."
No part of Sanders' speech was more telling than his decision to switch gears from attacking Clinton to focusimg all of his scathing name-dropping on the presumptive Republican nominee. While it makes sense for any Democratic candidate to argue the obvious #NotTrump, #NeverTrump party lines, there was a recognition that there's something larger and infinitely more terrifying at stake:
Our campaign from Day 1 has understood some very basic points, and that is first, we will not allow right-wing Republicans to control our government. And that is especially true with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate. The American people in my view will never support a candidate whose major theme is bigotry. Who insults Mexicans, who insults Muslims and women and African Americans.
The Big Picture Talk: "But you all know it is more than Bernie. It is all of us together."
When a presidential candidate acknowledges that the future well-being and progress of the country isn't something that rests on their shoulders (or any one individual) alone — instead arguing that it's something the American people are responsible for — it's an important reminder that, ready or not, the convention will pass and the election will happen in November. When Sanders acknowledges that he might not necessarily be the capital-S Savior of the country, and that it's up to voters to make lasting political revolution a reality, it seems like he's trying to prepare them for the inevitable.
Images: Bustle/Dawn Foster