The AP last night declared that Secretary Hillary Clinton had officially clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, if the counting includes a projection of superdelegate votes.
How intriguing, that on a day without a primary, a major news station coronates Clinton — the day before what is most certainly Bernie Sanders’s all-or-nothing bet to win the nomination jackpot.
The news story is rather pedantic because Clinton has been ahead of Sanders throughout the entire election, and the superdelegates have been lumped into her delegate count from the beginning. The point of Sanders’s continued campaign is that he has ceaselessly gained on her, and today’s voting, rich with California’s 475 delegates, could finally push Sanders ahead of Clinton.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Sanders will be able to win a big enough majority in the remaining primary states to overtake Hillary — and this estimation has been tacked on underhandedly to virtually every mainstream article written about the Democratic campaign for months — but, if Hillary Clinton could precipitously win the lion’s share of superdelegates somewhat by default at the start of the race, it is conceivable that Sanders could precipitously change their minds and capture a total delegate majority to win the nomination at a contested convention.
The superdelegates do not formally vote until the convention, which is why the announcement that Clinton has clinched the nomination is premature as long as Sanders intends to prolong his candidacy until July, and they have a lot of time to potentially change their mind. Perhaps if the Sanders campaign dramatically wins California and performs better than expected in the other primary contests the superdelegates would change their mind regarding which candidate they feel would best succeed in the general election, especially as Clinton is still struggling with persistent legal problems over careless emailing, her unsecured Internet server, and possible corruption in her State Department’s dealings with Clinton Foundation donors.
It would be unwise for superdelegates to forget that there are imagined Clinton crimes as well — Benghazi and 90s-era conspiracy theories — with which conservatives, particularly her opponent Donald Trump, will not cease to call for Clinton’s imprisonment. Meanwhile, Sanders continues to poll better against Trump, and Democratic superdelegates should take these Election 2016 concerns into account when they cast their votes at the convention.
This superdelegate strategy has been called hypocritical by many pundits, but the real hypocrisy is in Clinton’s supporters souring on the concept of superdelegates only in the occasion she loses them. It is not hypocritical if Bernie Sanders wins the nomination in spite of the giant, undemocratic obstacle in which the superdelegates were created to serve to keep anti-establishment candidates like him from being successful within the Democratic Party, it is impressive.
And for the argument that Sanders is hurting Clinton’s general election campaign by continuing to campaign: that is not how democracy works. Hillary Clinton is hurting her own chances in the general election by not being a stronger candidate, and Sanders is not responsible for her political inability to unite the Democratic Party. American voters as a whole struggle to believe that she is trustworthy, while liberal Democrats simply want a more liberal candidate, and it is absurd to believe that, in a nation of over 300 million people, Election 2016 should be a dichotomy between only two candidates because Clinton really wants to win.
I have written previously that Sanders should concede the Democratic nomination to Clinton if he is unable to win California today, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t run third-party. In terms of anti-Trump strategy I am not very impressed with the #BernieOrBust movement, but if Sanders could mount a legitimate third-party run capable of winning a plurality of votes in November I’d be all for it.
If Sanders would prove unsuccessful in mounting a legitimate third-party candidacy I think committed BernieOrBust-ers would be unwise to believe that Trump would make a more acceptable president than Clinton, but if they flat out refuse to vote for Clinton that is her problem, not Bernie’s. This is how democracy works.