Tonight is the official end of the primaries and caucuses! Do I hear a collective sigh of relief? Don’t get too happy, as now it is time to move on to the real mud-slinging, name-calling, screaming, ranting and raving, down and dirty phase of the election process. Make no mistake, friends, it is going to be a long, hot summer. Tempers are going to flare, and I wouldn’t even be surprised to hear that the divorce rates and murder rates increase between now and November.
Tonight’s results appear to have planted Hillary Clinton firmly as the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee, and of course Donald Trump was already the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. Both conventions would seem at this point to be a mere formality. But then, the last several primaries have seemed to me a mere formality and I have wondered more than once “why bother?”
That said, I think a special tribute is in order to Bernie Sanders. I have tremendous respect and admiration for this man. He ran a good campaign, a mostly clean campaign, for the most part comported himself with dignity and did not stoop to the level of the republican candidates. He started out as the underdog that nobody took seriously, and even I thought he would never get to first base, primarily because of that label, ‘democratic socialist’. But he did get to first base, then second, then third. He reminds me of that classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could … he never gave up and never lost sight of the goal. He always thought he could.
The pundits didn’t give Bernie a chance at the beginning of the primary season. They referred to his as a ‘fringe’ campaign. A year ago, Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post wrote: “Kim Kardashian Has a Better Chance of Being President Than Bernie Sanders.” But Bernie, even after being told he didn’t stand a chance, never gave up and in the end, he made Hillary work harder to earn her nomination than she ever thought she would have to. He proved them all wrong, and came damn close to that golden ring.
And he did it without the help of big corporations or lobbying groups. Sanders rejected all forms of big campaign contributions as inherently corrupting, instead relying almost exclusively on a small-donor army that nobody thought could foot the enormous multimillion-dollar cost of a modern presidential campaign. Sanders raised more than $77 million from those giving under $200 each. The word for this is integrity. He was determined that if he won the presidency, he would be beholden to nobody except the voters, the taxpayers, rather than that infamous 1%.
Bernie had counted on winning California tonight, but when the polls closed, Bernie had won only North Dakota (though as of this writing, Montana is still up for grabs), where he won 64.2% as compared to Hillary’s 25.6%. The Democratic Party is calling for Sanders to gracefully step down and throw his weight behind Clinton. Ultimately, this is what will likely happen, but for now, I am not so sure. He has vowed to keep on fighting to convince the super delegates to shift their support to him prior to the convention in late July, despite rumours that he will lay off approximately half of his campaign staff later this week.
Whether Sanders cuts his losses and ends his campaign this week, or sticks it out until the convention, at the end of the day I believe he will give Clinton his full support and urge his supporters to do the same. It is unimaginable that he would not do everything in his power to keep Trump from winning the election.
I conclude as I started, with hats off to Bernie Sanders for a game well-played. I agreed with many of his ideas, disagreed with a few, and I think he would have made a very capable, qualified president. You gave it your all, Bernie, and for a while there, we were ‘feeling the Bern’.