terça-feira, 19 de abril de 2016

Clinton triumphs; Sanders slumps. Now the real contest can begin

Clinton triumphs; Sanders slumps. Now the real contest can begin
Richard Wolffe

It’s past time for Clinton and the Democratic party to pivot towards the general election, and concentrate on turning a victory against Donald Trump into a rout

Wednesday 20 April 2016 04.12 BST

Like the Monty Python parrot, the Bernie Sanders campaign is no more. It has ceased to be. Its metabolic processes are now history. It’s kicked the bucket and shuffled off its mortal coil.

Sanders was far more interested in critiquing the system than running it
It has been an ex-campaign since Super Tuesday, when Sanders fell so far behind Clinton in the delegate count that he needed lopsided victories to get back into contention for the convention.

That didn’t happen in New York on Tuesday night. And according to the polls, it won’t happen in any of the big states left: Maryland, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey.

Clinton will enter the convention with a clear lead among pledged delegates. On that basis, there is no room for Sanders to argue that the superdelegates should ignore the popular vote and the mood of the party to flip their support.

To the Sanders supporters who have already pressed send on their tweets, comments and emails: I know. It doesn’t matter. Numbers, facts, delegates, convention rules, logic, reason, actual votes, party unity: none of it matters.

In reality, winning never really mattered to Bernie Sanders. The exercise of power was never the point, even if it became a self-delusional diversion along the way.

What mattered was ideological purity. Like all good Cold War-era socialists, Sanders was far more interested in critiquing the system than running it. It was always easier to feel morally superior than engage in the messy business of building a winning and governing coalition.

Then again, the Clintons have some kind of unnatural desire to make you feel morally superior. Between the paid speeches and the private email server, Hillary Clinton seems determined to make life difficult for herself and her campaign.

Her great good fortune is that she won’t, ultimately, be compared to a self-righteous socialist. Instead, she will be compared to a self-inflated socialite.

There may be a life-form on earth that cannot feel morally superior to Donald Trump, but the planet has probably evolved too far already. There are Latin American presidents, with large legal teams in Panama, who can feel smug when they look at the Great Orange Hope.

Trump is the unique political species who urinates on his own party as he celebrates victory. “Nobody should take delegates and claim victory unless they claim delegates with voters and voting,” said the man whose previous experience of voting rules involved picking a Miss Universe. “It’s a crooked system. It’s a system that’s rigged.”

Thus spoke the winner of the crooked system’s latest contest, as he predicted storming into the rigged party’s convention. With a party leader like this, who needs opponents?

On the Democratic side, Sanders claimed in recent days that New York’s closed primary – where only Democrats could vote – was itself undermining democracy. This is the kind of thing you say if you haven’t lived your life as a Democrat.

Sanders has traditionally counted himself as an independent, with an alignment – but not an identification – with the Democratic party. That history does not bode well for those who argue he should tone things down for the good of the party.

In contrast, Clinton started her victory speech by reaching out to her opponent’s voters. “To all the people who support Senator Sanders, I believe there’s much more than unites us than divides us,” she said.

But this is Hillary Clinton, and the sense of outrage runs high against Sanders at a deeply personal level.

“In this campaign, we have won in every region of the country: from the north to the south to east to the west,” she said at the very start of her speech, in an unsubtle dig at the Sanders team for suggesting she had only won among African-American voters in the so-called deep south. “But this one’s personal.”

It sure is.

“Under the bright lights of New York, we discovered it’s not enough to diagnose problems,” she continued, “you have to explain how you solve problems.”

Bernie is not going to stop diagnosing the problems, starting with the Clintons themselves.

But it’s past time for Clinton and the Democratic party to turn towards the general election. They have an unexpected and historic opportunity to turn a victory into a rout: to win not just the White House, but to take back the Senate and quite possibly the House.

They could use the next two months to press their case, recruit down-ticket candidates and organize early for November. Or they could continue to debate the finer points of bank regulations and free trade deals.

It’s time to stop pining for the fjords, and start running against the party that Trump built.

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