We are now seeing reports that Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will hold a joint event in the town of Unity, New Hampshire on Tuesday, July 12. Unity is the town where, in 2008, Clinton backed out of her campaign and endorsed Barack Obama. So, of course, the media is saying this means a Bernie endorsement of Clinton is forthcoming.
I hope this is not the case, because if it is, the political revolution that Bernie says is his ultimate goal will come to a screeching halt.
Bernie brought millions of people into electoral politics with his campaign. People who never before had made a political phone call or knocked on a door came out for him. People who long ago had left the Democratic Party, and people who never would have thought to join the Democratic Party, joined or rejoined because that's what they had to do to vote for him.
Millions of people gave their $27 willingly, even though some of them could little afford to do so. People new to politics suffered through the draconian labyrinth of Democratic precinct, district and county caucuses, primaries, and state conventions in efforts to assure that there would be enough delegates at the national convention to win the nomination for Bernie. Young voters saw some reason to vote. Collectively we battled the media, the establishment politicians and typical American apathy to bring Bernie to the brink of the nomination.
But he will throw it all away if before the convention he endorses Clinton and refuses to put his name into nomination in Philadelphia. In so doing he will deny those of us who have been chosen to represent the almost 13 million people whose votes were counted for Bernie (along with those two or three million who were turned away from the polls or whose votes were not counted) the opportunity to cast a meaningful and recorded vote for Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States.
Many of us understand we likely will not be pleased with the outcome of the vote at the convention. But only in being able to cast our vote we will know that we did all we could to move this country in a progressive, just, and peaceful direction. So we must have the opportunity to cast that vote -- Bernie owes us that. Having brought us all this far, it will be an insult to those 12 to 14 million people if Bernie does not allow us to complete the journey. And for those of us who honestly feel that Clinton will not win in the fall, but that Bernie could, we at least will leave Philadelphia knowing we did the best we could.
I know that Bernie is under tremendous pressure right now. As is her wont, Clinton seeks a coronation, not a nomination, and is pushing Bernie to cave in to her desires. Her insistence on a remake of the Unity, NH, fairy tale, with her now playing the bride rather than the bridesmaid, is a sign of the kind of campaign -- and candidate -- we can expect going forward. Despite reports that a few of Bernie's planks have been stapled -- not nailed -- onto the party platform, I'm betting that there has been a lot of stick and very little carrot in the behind-the-scenes discussions between the two camps. Bernie is being seriously threatened, I'm guessing, not only by Clinton, but by people like wanna-be Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.
Unless he caves into Clinton's desires, Sanders risks losing his positons as ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Primary Health and Retirement Security Subcommittee. He may well lose his membership on most or all of his committees. Any future bills he drops into the hopper could be diverted to the shredder. He might even be booted out of his third-floor office in the Dirksen Building and moved into a "suite" in the basement next to the janitor's closet.
Don't think that kind of thing goes on? Ask Dennis Kucinich, who in 2004 seriously questioned the Democratic Party authority on things like NAFTA and the Iraq war. Howard Dean was chased out of that race by the media making fun of the "Dean Scream," but Kucinich hung in there and brought a small cadre of delegates into the Boston convention, 43 of whom casts votes for him. You won't find those votes recorded in the official Democratic Party records, however, as they were recorded only as "present."
Congressman Kucinich ran again in the open election of 2008 but had to abandon his Presidential race when the Democratic Party recruited a candidate to run against him in his Congressional primary. Kucinich survived that and was reelected, only to have the Democratic Party look the other way as the Ohio Legislature Gerrymandered him out of his district in 2012.
The establishment Democratic Party -- as it has done in the past -- is aiming to turn the convention into a four-day infomercial. The Clintons will control not only who speaks but what they say. They will be in control of what signs are waved on the convention floor and when they will be waved. They will run the clock so that the rules and platform debates -- and maybe even Sanders' speech -- will take place at some odd hour so as not to be shown on prime-time television.
And once the stage lights go out and the balloons are being swept away, the platform will be bulldozed into a corner and any progressive rules changes that made it through the convention will be amended right back to where they are now during the 2018 mid-term meeting of the Democratic National Committee.
The only thing that can stop all that from happening is if Bernie follows through and runs all the way to finish line. If he endorses Clinton, or if he refuses to let any votes voiced for him be officially recorded, his momentum, his political capital, and his good will be squandered.
In any race, there's a big difference between coming in second and DNF (did not finish). Even more disappointing is the person who comes from the back of the pack, who trades leads back and forth in the heat of competition, but who then then stops just short of the end of the race and heads back to the garage without ever crossing the finish line.
Millions of people got behind Bernie. Hoping that he'll lead them in the right direction, they will follow him right up to the edge of the cliff. But most of them won't jump off. Instead they will give up their hard-won seats on Precinct, County, and State Committees -- where the real work of political party building occurs -- and let the status quo flow back in, while they return to their homes, farms, families and what's left of their factories, to figure out how to survive on an ever-shrinking middle class island.