Hillary, Trump Win Big In New York Primary

It was a make or break night for Bernie Sanders and a night that could have changed the narrative for Hillary Clinton had she lost.

Nomination in sight says Clinton.

It was a make or break night for Bernie Sanders and a night that could have changed the narrative for Hillary Clinton had she lost.

Several million votes later, New York did not come through for Sanders, who was born in Brooklyn and lived there for his first 18 years. New York came through for Clinton, who has lived there for the past 16 years, was elected the first female senator from New York, saw New York City through the horrors of 9/11 and went on to become Secretary of State after being narrowly defeated by then-Sen. Barack Obama in her presidential bid in 2008.

Now it’s a done deal: Clinton won the New York primary in a landslide and the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, which has been effectively over in terms of delegate math since Super Tuesday, is formally finished.

Yes, there are more states left to vote–notably five next Tuesday, including the delegate-rich Pennsylvania primary and California in June–but the delegate math is as immutable now for Sanders as it was for Clinton back in 2008. If the Democrats had winner-take-all states like the Republicans, Clinton would already have been the nominee since Super Tuesday.

But Democrats apportion delegates. So while the New York primary awarded Donald Trump nearly all of the state’s Republican delegates because he received over 50 percent of the vote, the Democratic split was far different.

Sanders had held several big rallies in New York over the past week which led supporters to believe he might win the state. On Tuesday afternoon, Sanders told both ABC and CBS news he was going to win New York.

But there had been some hiccups in the Sanders campaign over the past week that had dropped his favorability ratings and broadened the poll gap between him and Clinton.

Sanders had gone to Rome to give a short speech on capitalism at a symposium in Vatican City. The Sanders campaign had promoted this as an invitation from the Pope himself, and had to walk that back.

Sanders actually did meet the Pope briefly on Saturday morning, but the Pope presented the meeting far differently from Sanders’s team. Which became an embarrassment for Sanders when it blew up on social media.

Pope Francis told reporters on the plane to Lesbos, as reported by Vatican correspondent Ines San Martin, “This morning as I was leaving, Senator Sanders was there,” Pope Francis said. “He knew I was coming out at that time, and he had the kindness to greet me.”

“When I came down, he introduced himself, I greeted him with a handshake, and nothing more,” the Pope added. “It’s common courtesy, this is called common courtesy. If someone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics,” he said, “I recommend that they find a psychiatrist.”

The unusually snippy comment from the usually genial Pope and the dismissal of the meeting as anything other than politeness after being waylaid by the presidential contender was not the impression Sanders had tried to present. His Facebook page had a photo of Pope Francis with his own logo across it–an implied endorsement that he no doubt had hoped to receive.

Sanders returned to New York to find the Jewish community still reeling from his comments during the April 14 Democratic debate, in which Sanders’ pro-Palestinian argument was read as anti-Israel. (Sanders is Jewish and lived on a kibbutz in Israel.)

Sanders’s recognition of Palestinian rights was received by many as a necessary and positive reading of the conflict and complicated issues between Israel and Gaza. But on election night, Sanders’s previous stronghold of Williamsburg had largely stayed home, suggesting Jewish voters were unhappy with his statements.

The incident that rocked the Sanders campaign happened the night before the Brooklyn debate and Sanders himself was not yet even present. Dr. Paul Song, a surrogate for the candidate on issues of healthcare reform, introduced Sanders at the Washington Square Park rally that New York police estimated was attended by 11,500 people and the Sanders campaign estimated 28,000.

The hugeness of the rally meant Song’s comment went viral immediately. Song, chairman of the Courage Campaign in California and husband of investigative reporter Lisa Ling, said, “Now Secretary Clinton has said that Medicare for all will never happen. Well, I agree with Secretary Clinton that Medicare for all will never happen if we have a President who never aspires for something greater than the status quo,” Song told the crowd in New York City’s Washington Square Park.

“Medicare for all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us.”

Democratic whores like Secretary Clinton.

Within minutes #DemocraticWhores was trending on Twitter and supporters of Clinton–including some reporters–had made that their name tag.

Sanders issued an apology about the comment, though not to Clinton, calling it “insensitive” and “inappropriate.” Ling, who has reported on sex trafficking, also issued an apology. Song sent out a sorry-not-sorry tweet and then a longer, more apologetic message the next day, no doubt after Ling, who is a strong supporter of Clinton, had a word at home.

But for a campaign that has been termed sexist and with so-called Bernie Bros regularly attacking women online, it was not what Sanders needed going into the debate he had argued for.

Mere days after the incident, Song was forced to resign from Courage Campaign.

On April 16, supporters of Sanders threw dollar bills at Hillary Clinton’s car as she attended a fundraiser for the Democratic Party and her own campaign at the California home of George Clooney and his wife, human rights attorney, Amal Clooney. CNN reported the event as likening Clinton to “a sex worker.”

Sanders did not comment on the incident.

In her victory speech, Clinton moved forward–out of the primary and into the general election arena. With Donald Trump the almost inevitable Republican candidate after New York, the concerns are great on the part of Democrats to not just hold onto the White House, but regain the Senate–which is a possibility with key races in play.

Clinton proffered an olive branch to Sanders’s supporters, saying they and her own supporters have more in common than not. For his part, Sanders did not comment on the New York outcome, neither congratulating Clinton nor mentioning her name in a speech he gave in Pennsylvania–another must-win state.

Now that it’s putatively all over, questions of damage to the party itselfand, by extension, Clinton’s candidacyremain. Pundits have promoted the “Angry White Man” trope since last June, with Trump and Sanders as figures representing the disenfranchised white male workers who have been unhappy with Obama as the first black president and even more unhappy at the prospect of the first woman president.

Sexist imagery has abounded throughout the year since the primary began with Clinton announcing her run. Whether it was “Bern the Witch” from the Sanders side or “Trump that Bitch” from the Trump side, the gendering of Hillary Clinton has been a big part of the primary and will likely only escalate in the general election.

There’s never been a woman president, there’s only been one female speaker of the house and only two female vice-presidential candidates, so it’s new territory for America.

The argument has been made since Super Tuesday that Sanders should quietly wind down his campaign, since there was no conceivable way for him to win with Clinton ahead by more than 200 pledged delegates, 400 super delegates and 2.5 million popular votes.

Yet after the New York win for Clinton, Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s campaign manager, was on MSNBC saying Sanders’s campaign “if behind” will spend June and July preceding the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia trying to convince super delegates to switch their votes to Sanders rather than work to unite the party behind Clinton.

The last time this contesting of the will of the voters happened was in 1980 when Ted Kennedy, who had also lost the delegates and popular votes, tried to blow up the convention. It didn’t work: Jimmy Carter was still the nominee, but the damage done contributed to Carter losing to Ronald Reagan.

At the beginning of the campaign, Sanders asserted that using the super delegates would be “subverting the will of the voters.” Yet Weaver’s argument was even if Clinton has the pledged delegates (she does) and the popular vote (she does), the super delegates should ignore the voters and go with the candidate who has lost in a two-candidate race.

There’s simply no basis in modern American electoral history for such a plan. In 2008, then-Sen. Obama was unable to reach the delegate total without the super delegates and Clinton had won the popular vote by a few hundred thousand, but she was still behind Obama on the pledged delegates and super delegates shifted to the frontrunner–Obama.

Clinton conceded the race–the closest in Democratic history–and then campaigned with Obama through November, solidifying the party behind Obama.

The Republicans, who are desperate to not have Trump as their nominee, know if he has the delegate math and is within reaching distance of the nomination, he will be their nominee–Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) being also-rans will not matter. (Although Trump could choose either as his running mate.)

It’s unclear whether Sanders will change his strategy after April 26. But for now, the path Weaver outlined is neither feasible nor plausible and political writers, myself included, were quick to point this out on Twitter.

For her part, Clinton has voiced consistent concern over Trump and the dangers he represents to Americans. And Trump’s victory speech in New York did nothing to disabuse anyone of those concerns.

The billionaire talked about keeping Muslim immigrants out of the country and that the economy and jobs were the biggest problems in America–despite the recent unprecedented growth of both.

More importantly for marginalized communities in America, any one of the current GOP candidates would be disastrous. Trump said two weeks ago women needed to be punished if they had abortions, Kasich signed anti-Planned Parenthood legislation, and Cruz said gay marriage should not be legal.

All three candidates support the kind of legislation that has passed in North Carolina, which votes next month, and Mississippi.

What Clinton has in her favor is that current exit polling shows unequivocally that she is favored against Trump in November. Also, non-white primary voters, which comprise 40 percent of general election voters for the Democrats, voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in New York. She led by more than 40 points. Among white voters Clinton was only two points behind Sanders.

There are simply not enough white voters to go around in the general election for Trump to win against Clinton. Demographics have shifted dramatically even since 2008 and the nation is less white–no doubt part of what has fueled the outrage of some white voters.

In one of the ads Clinton ran in New York, everyone was represented: Blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews,  LGBT. Single moms. Disabled. The ad felt like America, the exit polling from the New York primary says Clinton’s voters are the most diverse and in the end, this is what will beat Trump.

Time to recognize what’s needed next and move forward accordingly. Sanders is in a good position to request a voice at the convention right now. If he continues to undermine the putative nominee and the Democrats, that could change.

It’s no longer a two person race. It’s a two-party race. And one we cannot afford to lose.