Watching Bernie Sanders concession victory speech Tuesday night, which he delivered extremely early btw, one thing became clear. He is not really campaigning for any real revolution. He’s not really running against Hillary Clinton, either. Bernie is running a campaign to try to drum up the Democratic base, to induce them to give a shit.
Democrats know they cannot win this year without inflated turn out. And they know they cannot count on Hillary Clinton to excite the masses for that kind of turnout. The necessary early formula for Hillary is creative class / tech guys/ journalists/ young activist voters. You get those guys, who call themselves “thought leaders,” and you get the cascade of support for the general. Or so the thinking goes.
Again and again on the campaign trail Sanders has said that the revolution wins by bringing new voters, disenfranchised workers and young people specifically, out to vote. This is not good news for Democrats. It means they have not been able to retain all of the new voters they captured in 2008. And it means they are not turning out brand new voters like they used to. The political crack epidemic has died with Obama.
Revolution is not what Bernie Sanders campaign is about. His campaign is about being the sandbox for the activist set to train in, so they are at the ready when the trumped up winds of change come to blow them into the Hillary camp. She was never going to win them over. She was never going to get them this way, because they simply don’t like her, for myriad complex reasons, including her baggage from being married to Bill, her baggage from running against Barack, and her baggage from working for Barack.
But she will get them through the politics of fear. She will get them primed by Bernie, and scared by Trump. When Bernie walks away, he will send this column of energy to Hillary’s camp with his blessing. They are being primed and they don’t even know it. It will be interesting to see what they do when the time comes. I don’t personally think they’ve got the social capital they once had. Once upon a time they were the young, enlightened, engaged foundation of the Obama apparatus, but now they’re mostly the thing they loathed then: aging privileged white people.