Jay Williams, South Dakota’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, introduced Senator Bernie Sanders at the Presidential candidate’s rally in Rapid City last month. He chaired the Sanders side of the Democratic delegate caucus in Pierre in March. He was a Sanders guy.
Now, as Senator Sanders negotiates his exit startegy with President Obama and Majority Leader Reid, Williams says he is a Clinton guy. In a press release issued this morning, Williams calls Clinton “one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for President of the United States.” The Democrat from Yankton calls on South Dakotans to reject the “hate, bigotry, and division” of Republican nominee Donald Trump and rally for the “wisdom, compassion, and unity” represented by the Clinton campaign and record of public service.
The people of South Dakota have a duty to reject Donald Trump, whose very candidacy is an affront to decent people everywhere and who poses a clear danger to the future of the United States if he were to be elected. The same right wing hate mongers who made Trump the Republican standard bearer have unfairly maligned Hillary Clinton. Secretary Clinton is principled, hard working and has earned her place in history as the first woman Presidential candidate. I urge the people of South Dakota to reject Donald Trump who represents what is wrong with America and vote for Hillary Clinton, who is a great American and who will be an extraordinary President [Jay Williams, campaign press release, 2016.06.09].
South Dakota’s Democratic superdelegates (“unpledged delegates“, Sharon reminds me) have been subjected to that unfair maligning. Unpledged delegate and South Dakota Democratic Party vice-chair Joe Lowe has been a Clinton guy along. He tells me that, now that the primary is over and the voters of South Dakota have spoken, he is happy to go to Philadelphia and vote for the nominee who won more votes in his home state and nationwide. He says the vicious e-mails he has received from Sanders supporters have only made him more confident in his support for Clinton. Via e-mail, Sanders supporters have accused Lowe and other Clinton supporters of catering to the Oligarchy and co-enabling Bill Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults. When Lowe replied to one of these messages, the Sanders supporter thumbed back the following:
seems like YOU are part of the problem Bernie did win Indiana don’t know if you knew that Your day will come how much did they pay you [Sanders supporter, e-mail to Joe Lowe, 2016.06.06]
This Sanders supporter abandons issues, facts, and punctuation. Instead, this supporter concocts a supposition that someone is paying Lowe for his vote (not happening) and levels a threat. “Your day will come”—help me understand how that statement works in any positive, progressive, party-building conversation.
Superdelegate Joe Lowe is part of a process that Senator Bernie Sanders himself endorsed. Sanders could have run a fully Independent campaign. He could have thrown in with the Greens and organized petitioners and party offices to secure Green access to the ballot in every state. Instead, he decided that the best way to promote his agenda was to work within the Democratic Party, seek their nomination, and influence the party to adopt more of his principles. Sanders came closer to that nomination than anyone thought possible. He has pulled Clinton and the DNC toward his agenda, as shown by Clinton’s shifts on Keystone XL, the minimum wage, Medicare, and other important issues. Heat on DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz over her running interference for payday lenders has inclined her to switch direction and support payday-lending regulations proposed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. (Now, about Bernie’s post-office loans….)
To reject the results of the Democratic nominating process is to reject the choice Senator Sanders made. He lost the nomination but won important policy concessions. If the movement is about ideas and not a man, that’s not a bad outcome.
Senator Sanders has more power now than he will at any future point this election year. Even as supporters like Jay Williams announce their willingness to support Hillary Clinton, Sanders can do the presumptive nominee an enormous favor by defusing the rage Joe Lowe and other superdelegates are hearing from his supporters. The sooner he turns that rage into a non-story or, better yet, positive activism on behalf of a unified ticket, the better the chances of defeating Donald Trump, and the more grateful and receptive the Democratic Party will be to Senator Sanders and his critique of their corporatism. The longer the Sanders campaign keeps up the knife fight, the thicker Clinton’s and Reid’s and Lowe’s hides will grow, and the less welcome Sanders will be in the Democratic Party’s decision-making process
That brief and soon-to-fade power cannot plug in to any other institution as effectively as it can in the Democratic Party. Protest-voting with Trump? Ha! The only place Trump and GOP have for Sanders voters is the seats labeled “Useful Idiots.” “Working together” (those are Sanders’s words out of the White House today) with the DNC, Team Clinton, and Sanders-loving Democratic candidates down the ticket like Jay Williams and me is the route to political relevancy for Sanders supporters.