The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Coming Dem-aggeddon

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

The Coming Dem-aggeddon . . . 

In 2008, we saw the Democrats, after a long, hard-fought, and divisive primary, unite and win the general election by a big margin — helped along by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Can that party unite again?

It’s overstating it to say that the 2016 Democratic presidential primary is rigged. But it’s pretty reasonable to argue that the party’s establishment — the Democratic National Committee, the elected lawmakers, and movers and shakers — have put a thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton that will be difficult to overcome:

This is what makes Clinton so powerful in the Democratic race — even while she and Sanders battle it out among rank-and-file voters, she has a massive lead among superdelegates. Altogether, she already has 394 delegates and superdelegates to Sanders’ 44 — a nearly ninefold lead.

Think about that — we’ve had one tie (Iowa) and one landslide Sanders win (New Hampshire) and she’s ahead by 350 delegates.

Superdelegates can’t give Hillary the nomination if she keeps losing by landslides. But if it’s reasonably close, she could overcome the gap. According to the Associated Press, Democrats have 4,763 delegates in all; to win the nomination, you need 2,382. About 15 percent — 712 — of all of the delegates are “superdelegates.”

More background:

Q: Who gets to be a Superdelegate?

A: Every Democratic member of Congress, House and Senate, is a Superdelegate (240 total). Every Democratic governor is a Superdelegate (20 total). Certain “distinguished party leaders,” 20 in all, are given Superdelegate status. And finally, the Democratic National Committee names an additional 432 Superdelegates — an honor that typically goes to mayors, chairs and vice-chairs of the state party, and other dignitaries.

Q: So they have way more importance than an ordinary voter?

A: Oh yeah. In 2008, each Superdelegate had about as much clout as 10,000 voters. It will be roughly the same in 2016.

In other words, in the most extreme scenario, if Sanders won 2,380 regular delegates and Hillary won 1,670 . . . a 58 percent to 42 percent split . . . and then all 712 superdelegates backed Hillary, she would finish with 2,382 and win the nomination.

That won’t happen, but it’s easier to imagine a scenario where a less overwhelming lead among super-delegates — an 80/20 split? 75/25? — helps Hillary overcome a more reasonable deficit among regular delegates.

Shane Ryan, writing at Paste, argues that Democrats would never do that:

Superdelegates have never decided a Democratic nomination. It would be insane, even by the corrupt standards of the Democratic National Committee, if a small group of party elites went against the will of the people to choose the presidential nominee.

This has already been an incredibly tense election, and Sanders voters are already expressing their unwillingness to vote for Clinton in the general election. When you look at the astounding numbers from Iowa and New Hampshire, where more than 80 percent of young voters have chosen Sanders over Clinton, regardless of gender, it’s clear that Clinton already finds herself in a very tenuous position for the general election. It will be tough to motivate young supporters, but any hint that Bernie was screwed by the establishment will result in total abandonment.

Democrats win when turnout is high, and if the DNC decides to go against the will of the people and force Clinton down the electorate’s throat, they’d be committing political suicide.

Democrat elites would never do something insanely self-destructive and attack their own grassroots voters, right?

“You’re all going to burn in hell, sinners!”

Hillary Clinton is not going to graciously concede to this little-known senator running to her left, who came out of nowhere and has the media swooning over his big crowds of young people on college campuses . . . again.

She and the Clinton team have a long history of pulling out all the stops to slime their opponents. Yesterday Representative John Lewis suggested Sanders is either exaggerating or lying about his youthful work in the civil-rights movement:

An icon of the civil rights movement is casting doubt on the senator’s civil rights credentials.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., implied Sanders might be overstating his involvement in the movement of the 1960s, including the Vermont senator’s claim he marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I never saw him. I never met him,” Lewis, a close ally of King’s, said of Sanders, in a response to a reporter’s question. Lewis was speaking Thursday at an event announcing the Congressional Black Caucus PAC supports Hillary Clinton over Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“I was chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years, from 1963 to 1966,” Lewis said. “I was involved with the sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery [Alabama] and directed [the] voter education project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President [Bill] Clinton.”

If they have to paint Sanders as mentally unstable, or the destroyer of Medicare, they’ll do it. Remember Sanders’s bizarre 1972 newspaper column about rape fantasies? You really think Hillary Clinton will leave that untouched if she thinks Sanders is about to deny her the nomination?

And let’s face it, Bernie Sanders is doing his best possible job of convincing Democrats that Hillary Clinton represents an acquiescence to Wall Street at best and bribed subservience at worst. Last night at the debate, he came close to calling her a warmonger, saying, “In her book and in this last debate, she talked about getting the approval or the support or the mentoring of Henry Kissinger. I’m proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger.”

Do you see Democrats just hugging it out after the primaries? Letting bygones be bygones? Either Sanders wins, and the party has nominated a socialist in open revolt against the vast majority of the party’s leadership . . . or Hillary wins, and the Millennial Democrats watch the Clinton machine crush their vision for the party and the country through their trademarked shady, underhanded, ruthless tactics. In that scenario, it’s not unthinkable that a lot of Sanders activists conclude politics really is a rigged game, and walk away from traditional political activism entirely.

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