Grandiosity As Addictive As Smack

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a campaign rally in Hartford, Conn., Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
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With this new blow-up over whatever happened over the weekend in Nevada we see the pretty real and even dire consequences of lying to your supporters. The Sanders campaign, especially campaign manager Jeff Weaver, has been saying for weeks that Sanders can still win and that the system is ‘rigged’ against Sanders. But the situation in Nevada is really a microcosm of the dynamic I described last month: to the extent the system is ‘rigged’, it’s mainly rigged in Sanders’ favor.

Let’s look at the situation in Nevada. Step back from the immediate controversy over this weekend. Back in February, Hillary Clinton won the Nevada Caucus 53% to 47%. But over the intervening months the Sanders campaign out organized the Clinton camp on the subsequent conventions and meetings where actual delegate allocations get determined. That’s not cheating. It just is how it is. We saw Ted Cruz do the same thing with Donald Trump. It’s totally legit as the rules now operate.

What happened over this weekend was that that Sanders effort to take the majority of the delegates even after losing the caucus got denied. Getting mad about that is pretty tough if you’re running under the banner of ‘democracy’. As I’ve said, I don’t think there should be caucuses in the first place. They’re inherently anti-democratic, highly effective voter suppression mechanisms. I also think there should be as little post-election day complexity and rigamarole as possible. If I show up and vote for my candidate on election day, the impact of my vote shouldn’t be hostage to whether someone oversleeps shows up late at some county meeting three weeks later. There’s just no justification for that.

For now though, that’s how it is.

But again, the Sanders campaign and particularly the supporters in Nevada are claiming that the Nevada party bosses deprived them of ‘democracy’ over the weekend. The reality is that the Sanders folks were trying to overturn the outcome of the election. You can do that in the current system. It’s not cheating. But if your banner is ‘democracy’ and ‘transparency’ you just haven’t got jack.

As I said in the lede, this is the problem with lying to your supporters. Losing is hard. If you pump people up with bogus arguments that they’re losing because they got cheated and the system was rigged, you get people who are really angry, genuinely angry, even though they’re upset that their efforts to reverse the result of the actual election didn’t work.

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