To quickly recap, Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on February 20th by over five points. The people of Nevada turned out, their voices were heard, and Hillary won fair and square. Also, it was estimated at the time that she would come out ahead in pledged delegates 20-15.
Since then, the Sanders campaign has been intent on overturning the will of the voters by snatching delegates away from Clinton at recent county conventions and finally at the state convention last Saturday. However, when Hillary emerged with the predicted five-delegate edge by following the rules (which seems only fair since, you know, she won the Nevada caucuses in the first place), the convention turned into a violent, offensive and dismaying disaster.
It would be bad enough if this fiasco only lasted one day. But if anything it's gotten even worse since then, with the New York Times reporting that the situation has moved on to outright death threats against the chair of the Nevada Democratic Party:
Thrown chairs. Leaked cellphone numbers. Death threats spewed across the Internet.And what was the Sanders campaign's official response?
No, this is not the work of Donald J. Trump supporters, some of whom have harassed critics of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. It was angry supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders who were directing their ire at the Nevada Democratic Party — and its chairwoman, Roberta Lange — over a state convention on Saturday that they think was emblematic of a rigged political system.
“It’s been vile,” said Ms. Lange, who riled Sanders supporters by refusing their requests for rule changes at the event in Las Vegas. “It’s been threatening messages, threatening my family, threatening my life, threatening my grandchild.”
Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Mr. Sanders, said the Vermont senator did not condone violence of any kind. However, he said the campaign was still determining whether it would challenge the Nevada results.
“The senator believes that the Democratic Party all over the country would serve its own interests better if it were to figure out a way to welcome people who have been energized and excited by his campaign into the party,” Mr. Briggs said. “It would behoove the party to be more welcoming and engage those people.”Hey cool, Senator Bernie Sanders doesn't condone violence...good to know! But where's the call for respect, civility and calm in the midst of our continuing democratic process? Nowhere to be found. Just a vague threat that such behavior might continue if they don't get their way.
Here's more from Mr. Briggs, in which he demonstrates that his tone in the NYT statement was no accident:
"Unfortunate tension"? You have got to be kidding me.Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs calls the tension at the @nvdems convention "unfortunate." pic.twitter.com/ovaWYsqwi4— Megan Messerly (@meganmesserly) May 16, 2016
"The sour grapes revolution that rocked the Paris Hotel"— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 16, 2016
My take on the NV Dems convention chaos this weekend:https://t.co/d0PEJLX5pw
This is a remarkable letter to the DNC from NV Dems lawyer @bsschrager, beautifully written and amazingly pointed. https://t.co/ZdVA39icnJ— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 17, 2016
We've reached the point where strong Sanders supporters like Nevada congressional candidate Lucy Flores must plead for basic civility. We've reached a state of affairs so sad that a proud Bernie voter like journalist Charles P. Pierce must now urge the senator to pack up and go home. And they certainly aren't only ones who've had enough of this destructiveness.Updated post with transcripts of voicemails left for state Dem Chair @rlange9, copies of texts. NSFW. Scary stuff. https://t.co/YWDH4vFbCj— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) May 17, 2016
Over the past several weeks, I've tried to take it easy on Bernie and focus instead on defeating Donald Trump as part of one big progressive family. But sadly, for the second time in two weeks, he has made such a shift in tone impossible to maintain.
Is this really how Sanders wants to end his momentous and influential run for the presidency? If not, the time has come for the senator himself to make crystal clear that such behavior by any of his supporters is not only "unfortunate" but also completely unacceptable. Violence and intimidation over a few delegates will not win him the nomination, it has no place in the Democratic Party, and furthermore it will only serve to hurt Bernie's legacy in the end.
I'm greatly looking forward to long-overdue words from the senator urging peace, respect and good citizenship among his supporters. But if Sanders refuses to step up and do the right thing, then he should simply get out of the race and get out of the way as the rest of us unite for a win in November.
We're waiting, Bernie.