It's Time for Bernie Sanders To Face Reality and Avoid Going Scorched Earth

He doesn't have to quit, but with his path to the nomination at a virtual dead end, for the benefit of himself and the progressive movement, Sanders needs to throw cold water on the rage within his campaign.
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Chez Pazienza
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He doesn't have to quit, but with his path to the nomination at a virtual dead end, for the benefit of himself and the progressive movement, Sanders needs to throw cold water on the rage within his campaign.

Bernie Sanders isn't going to win the Democratic nomination and he isn't going to win the presidency. Short of a bolt of lightning coming out of the sky and striking her dead, Hillary Clinton is going to get the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She almost certainly isn't going to be indicted, regardless of what apparently insane people like perennial Sanders fabulist H.A. Goodman says, and she isn't going to somehow begin losing by double digits in nearly every single remaining primary state, which is what it would take for Sanders to pull out a win in pledged delegates. Also not going to happen: Sanders's team isn't going to be able to convince the landslide of superdelegates he'd need to win to jump ship from Clinton at the convention. These are the facts and believing anything else at this point is pure, delusional denial.    

So now the question for Sanders becomes one of what to do next -- for his own sake, the sake of the Democratic party, and the sake of the progressive movement he's given voice to. Another fact in all of this is that nobody -- and I mean nobody -- expected Bernie Sanders to do as well as he's done in this election. But regardless of the ongoing frenzy he inspires among his most passionate fans -- regardless of the crowds he draws or the sheer volume and sometimes venom of his disciples' online cries -- if he's at all a reasonable and responsible candidate he needs to now pivot to a general election stance for the Democrats. What this means is that the vicious attacks on Clinton, which play right into the GOP's hands because they sound like they're actually coming from the GOP, need to stop immediately. If they don't, he can hurt Clinton's chances in the general by making it all the harder for the party to come together in the name of beating Donald Trump.

Maybe you noticed after his big win in New York the other night, but despite waking up this morning and realizing that he hadn't said anything patently offensive in a few days, Trump seems to finally be getting serious about winning a general election. While it's certainly true that Trump is such an abhorrent creature that he can handily dupe the easily impressed dolts within the political press simply by not, for a change, behaving like a thin-skinned narcissist asshole during a speech, his ability to generate headlines about how downright magnanimous he's suddenly being can indeed change the narrative for him as a candidate. And if you're a Democrat or at the very least a decent human being, that should terrify the hell out of you, because God forbid the media start telling the country that Trump is a serious person to seriously consider. His unfavorability rating may be off the charts right now, but he has more than enough time to change that. 

This is why it's imperative that everything that can be done to bolster Clinton from within the party is done immediately. Bernie Sanders chose to run as a Democrat, despite his supposed distaste for the political establishment, and that means he needs to accept some responsibility for the fate of the party's fortunes. Ratcheting up the curmudgeonly outrage and encouraging his followers to continue verbally thrashing Clinton and anyone who supports her, rather than trying to throw cold water on these fires, is dangerous right now. Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee for the Democratic party given that there is no path to the nomination for Bernie Sanders anymore that doesn't involve ridiculously magical thinking. Going scorched earth on her and the Democrats won't do a thing to win Sanders what he's seeking, but what it will do is make the legacy of his improbable success meaningless because he'll be sidelined rather than embraced when the dust settles in this thing.

Sanders has the opportunity to walk out of this contest not only a hero to the progressive movement in America but someone who can demand concessions and rewards for his political agenda from the Democratic party and D.C. in general. But he can only do that if he doesn't actively work to destroy the Dems and their popularly elected candidate. This is a critical time for Sanders: it's decision time, where he can choose to either trash his own movement and the country with it or accept reality and have it benefit progressives and everyone else greatly. While some of the angry, Clinton-directed rhetoric has remained the same over the past couple of days since his blistering defeat in New York -- and Sanders's campaign staffers are promising to take the fight all the way to the floor of the convention -- there are also signs that Sanders might at least be weighing his options moving forward while hinting at a quiet exit strategy. 

Even among the Democrats who haven't supported Sanders, most have always seen him as an honorable man, honorable enough, one would hope to withhold the kinds of accusations against Clinton that he won't be able to walk back when the time comes to concede and unite the party. And that time is absolutely coming. Because the fact is that this race is all but over.