For months, Democrats have been biting their fingernails. When is Bernie Sanders going to drop out of the race? When is going to stop crucifying our likely nominee? Will he endorse her? Will he be able to get his zealous followers to come aboard the Clinton Express? The tension is too much to take!
This week, Sanders finally put their fears to rest. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the socialist senator finally gave Hillary Clinton his seal of approval…but not before securing some extraordinary concessions. His fingerprints are all over the newest draft of the Democrat Party Platform, and he has pushed Hillary to the left on several issues.
He dropped out. He endorsed.
But two questions have not yet been answered. One, we don’t know if the “Bernie-or-Bust” crowd will be swayed by his endorsement. More importantly, we don’t know what kind of effect her lurch to the left will have on her general electability. Few Democrats seem to have considered the possibility that a Sanders endorsement might actually doom Hillary’s chances in the fall.
To get to this moment, Hillary and the Democratic Party had to make some serious concessions. She changed her position on the Trans Pacific Partnership. She came out against the Keystone Pipeline. She abandoned her debt-free college proposal, moving closer to Sanders’ vision of eliminating tuition altogether. And the DNC platform has officially embraced a national $15 an hour minimum wage – a sharp departure from Clinton’s $12 an hour goal.
Jill Stein, who had hoped Sanders might join her Green Party, said that his supporters would not be fooled by Clinton’s olive branch. “There are a lot of unhappy campers out there who will not follow Sanders back into the graveyard of the Democratic Party,” she said on CNN. “A revolution that goes back under Hillary Clinton’s wing is not a revolution.”
And that’s what Hillary failed to realize. Ideological supporters of Bernie Sanders are already on board with her. If you’re a liberal, why would you ever think about voting for Trump? You wouldn’t even take the risk of staying home. These supporters – the only ones who could possibly be persuaded by policy adjustments – were already in the bag.
But then there are the Sanders supporters who are much more interested in his rogue, “we need to completely change the country” message than in the specifics of his platform. To them, defeating the Republican Party is meaningless. They aren’t liberals and they aren’t anti-conservative. They are, in fact, much like Trump’s core base of supporters: The real enemy, they contend, is the Washington establishment.
Those supporters are not going to be wooed by Hillary’s shift to the left, and they will not be convinced by their leader’s endorsement.
If all of this is true, then Sanders’ endorsement will not help her. In fact, seeing how far she had to stretch to get it, it could actually cost her the election.