TPM Reader JR has a structural take on how we got to the Bernie-Hillary contest …
I’m a little late to the party on the Sanders comments, but I think one additional perspective on the current state of affairs is missing: Sanders’ entire campaign was made possible by the fact that Hillary essentially cleared the playing field for him prior to the primary season getting started. O’Malley was never a serious contender, which left the entire “not-Hillary” space to Sanders. Given all of the Democrats out there that have misgivings about her (you included), the default vehicle for channeling their disenchantment was to feel the Bern.
Imagine, just for a second, that Joe Biden had decided to run. Do you think for a minute that with a sitting vice president and an ex-first lady/secretary of state in the race (a battle of two titans) that there would have been much room for Sanders message to break through? It’s possible, but I seriously doubt it.
But Joe didn’t run. And Sanders was the primary beneficiary – not necessarily in terms of the ideology of proto-Biden voters who wound up in the Sanders camp, but in terms of room to maneuver and air time.
The primary system may be flawed. The super-delegate structure may inherently benefit establishment candidates. However, Obama in 2008 clearly showed that insurgency is possible within the framework of the existing rules. Even with the benefit of having no real competition for the “not Hillary” vote, Sanders’ campaign is falling just a little short. And in this season of frightening behavior on the Republican side, I think this result reflects the reasoned and careful judgment of the primary electorate of the Democratic Party. It also gives me a spark of hope that, come next January, I won’t be needing to make good on my threat to move to Canada if Trump becomes president.