Party Unity Time Is Coming Soon for Bernie and Hillary


Greg Sargent thinks that Bernie Sanders has already conceded to the reality that he’s not going to win the Democratic nomination. He’ll continue to go through the motions for a while, but will then start up “serious unity talks” with the Clinton campaign:

At that point, the question of how the Clinton campaign, not just the Sanders campaign, handles the conclusion to this whole process will play a big role in influencing what happens. It’s still unclear whether the Clinton camp will see a need to make any concessions to Sanders in order to win over his supporters and unite the party. But it will be in the interests of Clinton and the Democratic Party to ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible. They’ll likely conclude that there is greater risk in not making any meaningful gestures towards unity than in making them. What this might look like is the subject of a future post.

Speaking very generally, it’s obviously in Hillary Clinton’s interest to have Bernie on her side. But what kind of concessions can she make, if indeed Bernie demands some? She can’t credibly make any major policy switches, but perhaps she could make some minor ones. She could make concessions on future appointments, but that would have to be done privately, which is always a danger. What else?

My own take is that Hillary probably doesn’t have to do very much. Past candidates haven’t, after all. In theory, the difference this time is that Bernie’s followers are so loyal and committed that they’ll withhold their votes if Bernie even hints at it, but I just don’t buy that. By the time September rolls around, the prospect of a Trump presidency will have every liberal in the country fired up. Hillary’s weaknesses simply won’t seem important anymore. If Bernie seems even slightly less than completely enthusiastic about her campaign, that will reflect back on him, not Hillary.

So…I think there’s less here than meets the eye. Hillary and Bernie will make nice, because that’s what candidates do when primaries are over, and perhaps Hillary will make a few small concessions—either privately or otherwise. Then it will be all hands on deck to defeat Trump. No one who doesn’t want to be drummed out of the liberal movement entirely can afford not to be a part of that. Bernie Sanders, of all people, knows this very well. When the time comes, he’ll be there. He’s much too decent a person to sulk in his tent just because he lost a campaign that he never expected to win in the first place.