Is Bernie Sanders The Modern Day Gene McCarthy?
I have long wondered, but never able to fully answer, whether Gene McCarthy truly regretted what happened in 1968. The anti-war champion and great appealer to the youth of the nation never was able to get over the charm and idealism that Robert Kennedy brought to the race for the Democratic nomination. Following the horror in June 1968 McCarthy was never able to convey any human compassion in a credible way to the nation. Once it was clear Hubert Humphrey was the nominee there was seemingly no way for McCarthy to understand his duty to the party. It would be very late–too late–before McCarthy would allow his tepid support to show.
History shows what happened when a failed candidate and his youthful, but short-sighted followers, failed to support the eventual nominee. Richard Nixon won the White House, expanded the Vietnam War, undermined the Constitution with all the crimes that fall under the term Watergate, faced articles of impeachment, and resigned.
The election in 1968 was very close. Most scholars have written how the strong support of McCarthy towards Humphrey along with the energy and votes of his followers would have allowed the Democratic nominee to prevail. But petty politics not only destroyed the election that year, but did long-term damage to our nation.
I mention all this as news reports show Bernie Sanders plans an aggressive push in New York for the upcoming primary. Looking to model the contest like that from Michigan he hopes for a win. I understand the desire of a candidate to pursue a dream But the Sanders’ team wants to do Clinton damage in her home state. That may sound good to his fans but it sounds dreadful for those of us who think long-term.
As has been noted before on this blog Hillary Clinton needs to pivot–now–to two tasks in this election.
One is bringing various elements of the party together for the fall campaign. With Donald Trump as the likely GOP nominee that task will be much easier than it might have been had a reasonable Republican contender made it to the top. There is no need to elongate or burden Clinton with a fight from Sanders that has no realistic math to show a delegate win at the convention. But that is exactly what is happening.
The second thing Clinton should be doing is taking the fight to the GOP nominee. Needing to fight Sanders wastes money, resources, and time. The outcome is not in doubt. Let us look at the delegate count. After Sanders’ three wins on Saturday, Clinton holds a delegate lead of 1,243 to 975. But wait!! That advantage expands to 1,712 to 1,004 once the superdelegates are included.
Clinton should not need to further engage with a primary opponent who is now only fighting for a legacy notation in the history books.
Let us hope that historians will not need to look back and ask if Sanders regretted what he did in 2016 which allowed for a dangerous Republican to win the White House.