Bernie Sanders made the socialist case for Hillary Clinton tonight. It’s a strong case that should persuade his rational supporters. Fortunately, for Donald Trump, it may well be that many Sanders supporters are irrational.
Sanders’ address was preceded by a speech by Elizabeth Warren and an introduction by Keith Ellison. Before that, Michelle Obama spoke. I didn’t hear her speech, but assume she was good. She always is.
Warren’s speech was boring. She’s stiff and politically untalented. It’s conceivable that Warren would have run a stronger race than Sanders did against Clinton because of her gender, but she wouldn’t have inspired half of the emotional outpouring he did.
Ellison’s introduction of Sanders was nothing special. He fluffed a few lines, making him appear borderline literate.
As for Sanders, he shouted his entire oration. Delivery wise, the main differences between him and Donald Trump are: (1) Sanders occasionally flashes a fake smile and (2) Sanders constantly jabs his finger to accentuate the yelling.
Sanders’ speech was “dark.” He portrayed an oligarchic American that reminded me of Pottersville in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Or maybe the Dominican Republic under Trujillo.
According to Sanders, poverty is rampant in America; our criminal justice system is oppressive; the wealthiest one-tenth of one percent, personified by the evil Koch Brothers, runs the show; and “climate change” threatens the planet. Only a revolution can cure these ills.
Sanders delivered his speech in part to promote the revolution and in part to promote Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. To advance the second purpose, he tried to persuade his supporters that she is vastly preferable to Donald Trump. As he put it, to much cheering but also some booing, “any objective observer will conclude that based on her ideas and leadership, Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States.”
Sanders then showed how, on issue after issue (and especially the Supreme Court), Clinton’s views are much more in line with his leftist thinking than the views of Donald Trump.
Clearly, that is so. The only major exception is trade.
Sanders didn’t include trade in his list of issues. However, near the end of his speech, Sanders said that, although he and Clinton had important disagreements during the campaign, there has been a “coming together” on the platform, including on the issue of the big trade deal — TPP.
Sanders’ case for Clinton was issue driven. He emphasized at the outset that the election isn’t about Hillary, Trump, or himself, but rather about “the needs of the American people,” by which he meant the need for his leftist agenda.
However, at the very end of his speech, Sanders vouched for Clinton to some extent. He said he has known her for decades and he praised her 1990s quest for health care reform and her tireless advocacy for children.
In other words, Sanders went about as far he reasonably could go on Hillary’s behalf. The Clinton campaign should be pleased by his effort. It might have hoped for a good word about Tim Kaine, but that likely would have sparked considerable booing. Sanders’ delegates want to prevent Kaine from being nominated by acclamation.
Will Sanders’ speech secure for Clinton the backing of his supporters? Rationally, it should. However, the booing of his endorsement inside the convention hall suggests that there will be more than a few holdouts. And outside the convention hall, Never Hillary sentiment seemed stronger still.
The other question is whether the “coming together” of Clinton and Sanders, and the left-wing platform that resulted, will hurt Clinton among swing voters. It might. if the Trump campaign does an effective job of pointing out what some of the more egregious elements of the marriage.
Trump aside, Hillary will have to walk a tightrope throughout the campaign. She will want to convince swing voters that she’s not a captive of the left while assuring Sanders’ supporters that she is precisely that.
Bernie has done his part. Though he may continue to help, the rest is really up to Hillary.
UDPATE: Sanders was the un-Cruz tonight. It would be interesting to know whether, in the end, the percentage of Sanders supporters who vote for Clinton exceeds the percentage of Cruz supporters who vote for Trump.
My guess is that the percentages will be about the same.