In television interviews Wednesday and Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders acknowledged that he would not be the party’s nominee and that he would be voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November.
In a taped interview with C-SPAN, broadcast on Wednesday, Sanders was asked whether he planned to speak at the convention and what he would say. He replied, “It doesn’t appear that I’m going to be the nominee, so I’m not going to be determining the scope of the convention.” He later added that he expected to have a speaking slot, traditional for candidates with such large support among convention delegates.
Sanders reiterated what has become his mantra for nearly a month, that he “will do everything that I can” to defeat presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The “anybody but Trump” argument is the one being made by many leading Democrats to youth and working people disgusted with Clinton’s right-wing, pro-corporate and militaristic record, many of whom rallied to the Sanders campaign.
Appearing on a trio of morning television interview programs Thursday, Sanders went one step further in what appears to be a deliberately choreographed program to condition his supporters to the ultimate full-on endorsement of Clinton.
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, Sanders answered “Yes” when asked directly whether he will vote for Clinton in November. He again declared, “I think the issue right here is I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump.”
He elaborated on his opposition to Trump, saying, “We do not need a president whose cornerstone of his campaign is bigotry, is insulting Mexicans and Latinos and Muslims and women, who does not believe in the reality of climate change when virtually every scientist who has studied this issue understands this is a global crisis. This is not somebody who should become president.”
He went on put the focus on the Democratic platform. “What my job right now is is to fight for the strongest possible platform in the Democratic convention,” Sanders said. “That means a platform that represents working people, that stands up to big money interests.”
Sanders did not rule out endorsing Clinton before the Democratic National Convention, to be held July 25-28 in Philadelphia. In an interview later Thursday on CBS, he said he “hopes” to endorse Clinton before the convention, adding, “I haven’t heard her say the things that need to be said.” Asked what those “things” might be, he referred to the cost of college education, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and universal health care coverage.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the platform drafting committee, which includes five Sanders nominees among its 15 members, “has proven to be less fractious” than expected. The Post wrote that telephone negotiations “have narrowed the areas of disagreement over policies including the minimum wage and U.S. policy in the Middle East, Democrats said. That probably will mean that a consensus platform document will emerge from a two-day meeting of the platform drafting committee Friday and Saturday, Democrats close to each campaign said.”
This is indirectly confirmed by the content of an op-ed column published Thursday in Sanders’ name, appearing in numerous daily newspapers, under the headline, “Here’s What We Want.” While couched in lofty rhetoric about continuing the “political revolution” espoused by Sanders, taking on special interests and banishing the influence of big money from the political system, the column was notably short on specifics.
As the Post noted in its report, the essay “listed mostly issues on which he and Clinton agree, including overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision, universal voter registration, clean energy investment and a reduction in the U.S. prison population. ... He did not mention his proposal for free college tuition, which she vigorously opposes, or a universal $15 minimum wage, which she considers too inflexible, or U.S. policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.”
There was also a signal from the Clinton campaign that it was prepared to make minor organizational concessions to Sanders. This took the form of an initiative to remove Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz from day-to-day running of the DNC. She was replaced June 16 by Brandon Davis, a Clinton supporter and national political coordinator for the Service Employees International Union, who was named executive director of the DNC.
The Sanders campaign has repeatedly called for the removal of Schultz as DNC chair, a demand that has now in effect been granted, since Schultz retains only the title, but not the directing role.
The absolutely conventional, bourgeois character of Sanders’ political views was underscored by his comments during Thursday’s television interviews about the British referendum on leaving the European Union. He expressed concern about “the breaking down of international cooperation,” a major theme of White House statements on the issue, while at the same time solidarizing himself with the economic nationalism of the Leave campaign, declaring that “in terms of the global economy, while it’s great for CEOs to be running to China, they forget about the people who are losing their jobs.”
He made no reference to the vicious anti-immigrant baiting of both the Leave and Remain campaigns, or to the murder of Labour Party MP Jo Cox by a fascist gunman, who identified himself by the slogan “Britain First.”