May 11, 2016. Sanders just flip-flopped on superdelegates. And his new demand puts his supporters in a real bind. A quarter-million of them signed petitions agreeing that the supers must “let the voters decide” — just as Bernie demanded.
That was then. That was before getting trounced in New York, back when he thought he had a good shot at winning a majority of the voters, but he was afraid the supers would stick with Hillary (unlike how they switched to Obama when he pulled ahead of Hillary).
This is now: Sanders now says that if the voters choose Hillary, the supers should favor him and reject the will of the voters, because he’s the best candidate. Hard to believe? It would seem so, but on May 1 at the National Press Club, reporter Mary Alice Williams from NJ public television popped the question.
Mary Alice: “If you do not secure the majority of pledged delegates, do you still believe that superdelegates should switch [Bernie nods yes] and back you [yeah] as in rejecting the will of the voters?
Bernie: Yeah, well you know it’s a funny thing. … I hope that we will win the pledged delegates, but at the end of the day … if those superdelegates conclude that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate, … yes I would very much welcome their support.” (watch at 27:55. This Q&A has not been reported elsewhere.)
So there you have it. If the voters pick Hillary and the supers think Bernie is best, they should reject the voters’ decision and pick Bernie.
But, on the off chance that the voters pick Bernie, the supers should just “let the voters decide” and pick Bernie. Heads I win, tails you lose.
(And remember, Clinton has 58% of the popular vote and 54% of the elected (pledged) delegates.)
Hundreds of thousands of signatures
Robert Reich, Bernie’s most popular spokesperson launched a petition:
- “Bernie or Hillary? Let the voters decide — not superdelegates.” (signed by 179,000 Bernie supporters, here)
MoveOn, Bernie’s main base of support is running two petitions:
- “Superdelegates: Don’t Deny Democracy. Announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters – not party elites.” (209,000 Bernie supporters, here)
- Superdelegates: Let the voters decide. The race for the Democratic Party nomination should be decided by who gets the most votes, and not who has the most support from party insiders.” (188,000, here)
But Bernie is now saying, “At the end of the day, the responsibility the superdelegates have is to decide what is best for this country and what is best for the Democratic Party [in reply to Mary Alice].” He’s not saying “Let the voters decide.” Just the opposite: “the responsibility the superdelegates have is to decide.” That’s been the view of the Democratic Party all along. But he only wants that if it will favor him, and now he thinks it will.
And in this case, he really does mean they should decide for themselves. He spent five minutes at the press conference explaining to the supers how they should make their decision based on his interpretation of polling data. He is flatly contradicting a quarter million of his most dedicated supporters and his own long-held position.
This change was announced on MSNBC by Jeff Weaver, his Campaign Manager, on the night that Sanders got trounced in New York. That’s when it became nearly certain that “Let the voters decide” was not going to work in his favor.
Neither Sanders, nor Robert Reich, nor any of his followers can be seen pointing out this deep contradiction in one of Bernie’s most vehemently held positions. It’s time to reminded them all of what Bernie just did.
This is not just about a self-serving flip-flop. The real problem is that Bernie intends to continue the fight with the Democratic party right through the convention, and his tactics are all about creating animosity, and not about explaining his agenda — which certainly needs a lot more explaining.
He should be as gracious as Hillary was when Obama came out of nowhere and passed her in the primaries. “In 2008 after Hillary lost North Carolina, she made it clear that our days of attacking Obama were behind us and that we were not to do anything that would make it more difficult for Obama to win a general election.” — Geoff Garin of Clinton’s 2008 campaign team. At the convention she moved that Obama be nominated by acclamation. The point is to defeat the Republicans not the Democrats. Bernie does not act like he gets that.
So this is the message that we need to get out. Can you help?
Bernie: Stick with your original position — let the voters decide.
If Clinton wins the popular vote and the elected (pledged) delegates, please do not lobby the superdelegates to overturn the will of the voters.
Is Bernie’s new position just talk? On May 6, Tad Devine, Sanders’ senior adviser, told Bloomberg Politics that “Bernie Sanders is going to stay in,” but he won’t start “aggressive outreach” to Clinton backers until after the last primary in June.
Superdelegate Background Info: Timeline, Clinton’s popular vote lead, etc.