At a party for Clinton supporters in Detroit, many were shocked as results began to flood in – especially as just a day earlier their candidate had in effect called on Sanders to drop out and “end the primary”. – The Guardian
I couldn’t find Secretary Clinton’s exact words, but the message, as reported by The Guardian and elsewhere (“let’s wrap this up”) seems clear: the primary is wasting resources and energy needed for the general election, and since she’s the presumptive nominee, why drag it out? Why not move on to “more important” things?
When I’m struggling or navigating unfamiliar terrain, I also want to “get it over with.” There can be an enormous urge for the anxiety or discomfort to end, and for something more palatable or at least familiar to take its place. It requires guts, patience and commitment to remain present in a complicated or unexpected process, one that defies “conventional wisdom” or doesn’t resemble past experience. It takes fortitude and an awareness that things can change in an instant, sometimes in one’s favor, other times not. While I empathize with Clinton’s understandably human desire to move things along, I trust her significantly less as a candidate and potential president for suggesting that Sanders exit the race. As my Zen teacher likes to say, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” How a candidate runs for office sheds light on how they will approach their elected position.
Are Clinton’s needs for closure more important than the desire of democrats and independents to hear both candidates and make an informed choice? If so, what would happen if she’s faced with a prolonged, complex issue as president?
Is she concerned that a longer primary process will force her to disclose information she’d rather keep private, such as her speeches to banks? If she is hiding something now, can we be confident she’ll be transparent later?
If she can’t stand the unpredictability of the nominating contest, what will happen should she take office? Will she bring her presumptuousness with her? (even Sanders had to remind Clinton in an early debate that she is not in the oval office yet.)
From the beginning, the democratic primary process has been, if not “rigged”, at least skewed heavily in Clinton’s favor. Ignoring protests, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz scheduled far fewer debates between the candidates than the Republicans did. She slated them for Saturday evenings and/or during football games, times when the public would be otherwise occupied and viewership low. That strategy favored Clinton, who enjoyed better name recognition than Sanders. Despite Bernie Sanders’ popular rallies in diverse cities, mainstream media gave these events little to no coverage at first. It’s as if the pundits and journalists had already decided Clinton would be the democratic nominee and dismissed Sanders as either a non-entity or an irritant, or a cross between. Starting from the Iowa caucuses if not before, the media (particularly the New York Times) has been trying to predict a winner and create a narrative, spinning whole cloth from the barest threads of limited data. That has included counting pledged super delegates in the total delegate tally, a tactic that makes Clinton look like she’s so far ahead that voting for Sanders is pointless, even though these pledges are not binding. When reality, determined by actual humans who caucus or cast ballots, does not correspond to the prefabricated story of Clinton’s “inevitable” nomination, the mainstream media freaks out.
As convoluted, confusing and expensive as the primary process is, its saving grace is that it’s a process. Any spiritual teacher worth their salt will tell you that life, too, is a process. We can steer ourselves in a certain direction yet there are no guarantees we’ll get there. We show up as fully as possible but we don’t know what might happen along the way. Sometimes life might redirect us to something more exciting or enriching than what we had imagined, or to a job, relationship or place that might actually be better for us, even if it’s not what we think we want. If we are not always to trying to arrange or manipulate situations to our liking or to try to shape reality according to a story in our head, there is room for surprise. As Moshe Feldenkrais said about learning, “We do not say at the start what the final stage will be.” A healthy primary process is about learning: the public learns about the candidates and the issues and, if the candidates are receptive, they listen to, and learn from, their constituents.
That the primary contests are spread out over time means that candidates who remain in the race have an opportunity to share their message with more of the country. Even if a so-called “fringe” candidate ultimately loses the nomination, at least they’ll have had a chance to inform as many people as possible about alternatives to the status quo and the establishment, which wants arrive at an outcome before the process has had a chance to complete. To wrap up this process prematurely disrespects the people who don’t happen to live in Iowa, New Hampshire or Super Tuesday states. If a candidate is exhausted by the ordeal, or believes they are wasting their time, they are free to abandon the race. That is far more honorable, and less insulting to voters, than suggesting that one’s increasingly popular and formidable opponent drop out. That Sanders is indefatigably committed to campaigning until the convention in order to build a progressive movement is all the more reason to Feel the Bern.
(P.S. I have a few new articles up at The Wisdom Daily).