Bernie’s disastrous showing in Vermont

If you really want to see the extent of Bernie’s problem this year, compare the results of the Vermont primary yesterday with those of 2016. Not the exit poll data, but the votes themselves. He won with 85% last time, or just shy of 116,000 votes. Yesterday, with 16,000 more Vermonters coming to the polls than in 2016, he got 50%, about 80,000 votes. In a four year span Bernie lost over 35,000 voters in his home state. That is, one of every three Bernie Sanders for president supporters in Vermont in 2016 voted for someone else this time. And that in a state that is 94% white and 1.3% African-American.

You can’t lose a full third of your base in your base and expect to win the presidency.

Political discourse, 2020

I see why you’re a Sanders supporter I said to the Sanders supporter. You don’t have to insult me, she said. I said it wasn’t meant as an insult. I meant that based on your stated positions, I see why you support Bernie Sanders. Well it sure sounded like an insult, she said.

Jill Stein

Man, did the Green party blow it this year. They selected a ticket so incompetent that it not only failed to pick up most of Bernie Sanders’ supporters, but has since lost two thirds of the ones they did get. Jill Stein is now showing up with 2% (and dropping) in most of the four way polls, down from 6% before she began campaigning in earnest. Such a debacle the Greens are having that when Gary Johnson asked “Where’s Aleppo?”, the Greens lost more voters than the Libertarians. Apparently Gary the Stoner’s short term memory issues were more attractive to die some hard Bernie Bros than was a woman (you know those Bernie Bros and women) who was running on nearly all of Bernie Sanders’ platform. A very large percentage of Jill Stein’s socialist followers are apparently converting to libertarianism because Gary Johnson is a dude you can smoke a doob with. And unless she can cool it with the silly sixties crap and actually run a campaign that isn’t embarrassing–the raised fists and calls for the brothers and sisters to join the revolution ain’t cutting it–there might soon be more Bernie supporters voting for Trump than for Jill Stein. It is hard to imagine how her campaign could have done worse in what should have been their banner year. Bernie Sanders laid the groundwork for what could have been the greatest showing by a left wing candidacy in a century. Instead she has made an Ayn Rand quoting Libertarian look relevant. Those voters will not be coming back to the socialist fold anytime soon.

Note to Green Party–ixnay on the ippiehays in 2020.


Bernie Sanders is still a candidate for the nomination but not the kind of candidate who actively seeks the nomination but just the kind of candidate who can’t stand the idea of conceding ever, so he won’t.

Asked if Bernie Sanders is actively seeking the nomination, his campaign manager Jeff Weaver says no. Is the campaign still polling super delegates? No. Asked 12 hours later if Bernie Sanders is still a candidate for the nomination Jeff Weaver says yes.

For a campaign that is different than all the others because it tells the truth, it says, truth seems to have become very relative. It’s hard to see what advantage Bernie has by maintaining the fiction that he is still a presidential candidate when he cannot possibly be one because there are no more delegates to be had and he is not trying to flip any super delegates. But many of his core supporters, the true believers, the ones who have been the most dedicated donors even when they couldn’t afford it, those people still believe in their heart of hearts that Bernie can and will the nomination. And as long as Bernie has not conceded, the campaign can still continue to raise money from these people. Doubtless donations spiked after his speech last night. You have to wonder just how much of this equivocation nonsense–he is not actively seeking the nomination but is still a candidate for the nomination–is because they were flat broke after the California primary. Maybe they couldn’t pay the bills and meet whatever payroll remained, the fate of most failed political campaigns. But then no campaign ever collected donations the way Bernie’s does, in smallish dollar amounts via social media. As long as they have that dedicated base of followers they have money coming in, provided that base still thinks Bernie is actually seeking the nomination. Is that what is happening? Is that why Jeff Weaver takes such pains to state that Bernie is still a candidate? Maybe, maybe not. It’s impossible to tell since they stopped releasing monthly donation totals a couple months ago. For a campaign that began so idealistically, it’s a rather unseemly finish.

He spent part of his speech last night saying how important it was to defeat Trump. But you do not defeat Trump by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. You do not help other progressive candidates by donating to the Bernie For President campaign. You don’t take back congress or statehouses or state legislatures by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. You don’t fund ballot initiatives to stop open carry or legalize marijuana or provide homes to the homeless by donating to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign either. It’s hard to tell just who you are benefiting by donating to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Sometimes campaigns wind up existing only to feed themselves, aimless organizations serving no purpose other than collecting funds to collect more funds. I don’t know if the Bernie Sanders campaign has reached that point yet, but I am starting to wonder. Because right now, for all political intents and nomination purposes, the campaign serves no function at all. As current events and filibusters pass it by, the campaign seems to be just spinning its wheels, going nowhere and making money doing it.

don't quit bernie

Bernie’s final campaign rally, Washington D.C. (Photo by Molly Riley, Getty Images.)

The Incredible Vanishing Bernie

What a difference a week and a string of defeats can make. Bernie Sanders has completely vanished from the Huffington Post. Hillary is all over the place, but it’s as if Bernie never existed, either in headline or picture. Trump is everywhere in the Huffington Post, scary as hell. Hillary is everywhere, being presidential. As is Obama, being president. Republicans are all over the paper being cowardly (with an especially bad picture of Mitch McConnell). The National Rifle Association is on there too, being eerily silent. But no Bernie being anything. He was once all over the Huffington Post, every single day, in pictures, headlines, and in columns singing his praises. But that was a long, long time ago, just last week. Now I scroll down and down and down but there is no sign of Bernie Sanders, even though today was the final primary of the Democratic race. Clinton Wins the Washington D.C. Primary a headline says. Bernie didn’t make the headline. I keep scrolling and finally think I see a picture of Bernie Sanders, but it’s actually Larry David. Curb Your Enthusiasm, it said, returns for a ninth season. No mention of his Bernie Sanders shtick. No mention of Bernie at all.

Bernie Sanders exits, stage left.

That was a helluva speech Liz Warren gave. It’s unfortunate it had to be today, though, and not tomorrow, because I would have loved to have seen Bernie Sanders’ speech at RFK stadium. He was a couple minutes into it, subdued, almost pensive, like an immense weight was upon him. Where was he going with this? How would the crowd respond? I was transfixed. Suddenly it’s a split screen, and Liz Warren came walking out onto a stage, beaming. Bernie, exhausted, was speaking but you couldn’t help but be distracted by the electricity in Elizabeth Warren’s stride. Bernie was telling the crowd that his campaign is doing something different. It is telling the truth, he says, as he has said a thousand times–when the audio switches without warning to Liz Warren and Bernie is cut off mid-sentence. We hear Liz Warren launch into one of the greatest speeches in our modern political history. It was that good. Bernie’s stump speech was forgotten. None of the talking heads even mentioned he had been speaking. They were all about Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It’s like Bernie was never even there. Bernie Sanders, the man who had upended American politics, who had dominated every Democratic conversation. Bernie Sanders, who is all anyone could talk about yesterday. Bernie Sanders, who held the fate of the nation in his hands. But through the magic of live television it seemed like Warren’s star had risen, instantly, and Bernie’s had waned, just as instantly. Was it intended that way? Who knows. But it did make for exciting television. Will it have an electrifying effect on Bernie voters? No doubt, especially the under thirty young women who had been so loyal to Bernie Sanders and not so crazy about Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren had changed the political demographics instantaneously. Liz will definitely win over the Millennial women for Hillary, a young under thirty journalist said, if not the Bernie Bros. Bernie Bros. She rolled her eyes saying it, as if ill mannered, foul mouthed Bernie Bros were suddenly a relic of an older, more primitive time. Angry young men with no respect for women in a women’s world.

But this was not the way this should be happening. I’d been waiting for hours for Bernie’s speech. It was supposed to be a major speech. All the news networks were waiting for it. It was to be broadcast in its entirety. This was to be one of the most significant speeches by the single most significant politician of 2016. “How Bernie Sanders’s day in Washington got eclipsed by Democratic unity” said the headline in the Washington Post. It had all happened so fast. If only somebody could have worked the timing out, coordinated the two events, but perhaps they just were determined to have Elizabeth Warren scorch Donald Trump before she endorsed Hillary this afternoon. And scorch him she did, beautifully, rehearsed to perfection, leaving a pile of cinders where once a big loutish billionaire had been.

There was a lot of stagecraft today, that was obvious, the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton campaign and Elizabeth Warren’s every move choreographed to perfection, without a wasted motion. Smooth and perfect. Political tai chi. Meanwhile Bernie, good honest Bernie, truthful Bernie, crusading Bernie, is left looking like William Jennings Bryan in Inherit the Wind, somehow immediately dated, a relic from an earlier time when he left crowds spellbound and chanting his name. Bernie’s speech today seemed divorced from reality, said the usually sympathetic Huffington Post, scolding him for pretending his campaign was not over. But you had to scroll way down to find that story, it was buried far beneath Elizabeth’s Warren’s enormous photo and name in huge red letters. Scroll down past Marco Rubio’s picture, and a bit further on, between an article on mosquitos and an article on a hit and run driver, was Bernie’s small picture and smaller font, an afterthought. “It would be extraordinary if the people of Washington, our nation’s capital, stood up and told the world that they are ready to lead this country into a political revolution” Bernie told the smallish crowd, just a fraction of the turnout he’d gotten in Los Angeles only days before. But Tuesday’s Washington D.C. primary, would be the last stop in the political revolution, and he will lose it like he lost the South, by a huge margin. Bernie knew that. He had told President Obama just that morning he understood the math. But he was putting on the show for the true believers spread out on the lawn before him. They cheered, they swooned, they knew the catechism by heart. Stay in the race, they chanted. Some said they’d write in Bernie Sanders on the ballot come November. He smiled wanly. It’d been scarcely forty eight hours since the California primary, but that seemed like another time.