"We are stronger together."
That is the slogan Hillary Clinton's campaign has adopted for their drive to elect the first female president in American history. In order to crash through that ultimate glass ceiling, however, the Clinton folks must convince Bernie Sanders and his die-hard supporters that getting together is a good idea.
Mr. Sanders had a terrible night a week ago today. He won the North Dakota caucuses and the Montana primary, but he lost South Dakota and New Mexico and got slammed in New Jersey. Hardest of all, after campaigning nonstop for weeks up and down the state, he got wiped out in California like a surfer being slammed by a rogue wave.
Nevertheless, speaking to a revved up, defiant crowd in Santa Monica that night, Mr. Sanders promised the fight would continue through the Washington, D.C., today all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and he thanked them "for being part of the political revolution."
"Our vision of social justice, economic justice, racial justice and environmental justice must be the future of America," Mr. Sanders said. "We will not allow Donald Trump to become president of the United States, but we know our mission is more than defeating Donald Trump; it is transforming our country."
Mr. Sanders did not sound like a man ready to concede that the nomination is lost. In fact, despite his defeats and the stark delegate math, his ardent followers continue to insist Hillary Clinton is premature in claiming the Democratic Party nomination for president. They argue the game is not over until the Democrats actually cast their ballots at the convention at the end of July.
In a campaign unprecedented in its weirdness, where conventional wisdom has been proved wrong over and over again, it is remotely possible that something dramatic could alter the nomination equation -- for instance, a justice department indictment of Ms. Clinton for her poor email management. Unless the FBI has turned up something more damning than has been seen thus far, though, an indictment seems quite unlikely.
Just as remote is the possibility that the Sanders campaign can convince Democratic superdelegates to switch their allegiances by citing polls that have consistently shown Bernie does better than Hillary in one-on-one match-ups with the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. (Another "presumptive" who could be derailed if he keeps talking like a crazed bigot.) This is where the Sanders crowd seems disingenuous, if not seriously hypocritical. They have railed against a "rigged" nomination system that gives final say to a gaggle of unelected superdelegates comprised of party officers and elected officials. Yet their scheme would use those same insiders to make their man the nominee, even though Clinton has won the most votes in the most states. So much for fairness and pure democracy.
The Sanders campaign has achieved a great deal, essentially setting the agenda for the Democratic Party in 2016. Mr. Sanders' allies will be at the table helping write the party platform and their candidate will get a prime speaking spot at the convention. And, if they want to stay engaged, the young progressives who drove the Sanders insurgency can become a permanent power within the party. First, however, they will need to accept the unforgiving math: The majority of people who took part in the primaries and caucuses picked Ms. linton over Mr. Sanders. It's over.
For now, it is hard to see Mr. Sanders' followers moving beyond their disappointment and anger to feeling excitement about the first woman becoming a major party presidential nominee. The process will not even start until Mr. Sanders, himself, buys in by gracefully accepting defeat and joining ranks with the woman who beat him.
He's meeting with Ms. Clinton tonight and may come away ready to do that. But for a man who wants a revolution, helping someone else make history may not be enough.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey is a political commentator for the Los Angeles Times. Go t olatimes.com/news/politics/topoftheticket/ to see more of his work.