Don’t Rush This

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March 11, 2020 10:10 a.m.

There was a push last night from Rep. Jim Clyburn for party leaders to step in and essentially call time on the Democratic presidential primary race. The call was echoed by James Carville. The race is almost certainly over in any real sense. But jumping in to shut it down would be a terrible, terrible idea.

I think we all know that primary processes being “rigged” against them is deep in the DNA of the Sanders movement. This ranges from generally baseless and conspiratorial thinking to a more subjective sense that the institutional party and “establishment” voters (a very problematic concept) are trying to exclude them from power. As you probably know, my personal view is that most of this is self-serving and special pleading. But that’s beside the point. Lots of evidence suggests that the great majority of Sanders voters will vote for the Democratic nominee regardless of who it is. But for the portion inclined to see the contest through this zero-sum prism it’s obvious that party leaders trying to call time on the process is the most counterproductive idea possible.

To be clear, I think the contest is basically over. I think Sanders should end his campaign sooner than later. But the decision has to come from him and grow out of conversations, literal and figurative, with his supporters. It has to come from them. And there’s no huge rush.

Sanders and his core supporters have been at this for five years. Literally less than two weeks ago he seemed close to being the presumptive nominee. The turnabout has to be crushing. Regardless of candidate or ideology, no Democrat can miss the stark stark ideological divide in these election numbers. If you’re under 35 or 40 you’re overwhelmingly likely to support Sanders and just as likely to support Biden if you’re older. Both sides need to act in a way that makes unity in the fall possible.

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