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Forget the delegates and superdelegates, just look at the popular vote. Taking all the contests to date (just one left, in DC next week):

Hillary Won

She Won! Now What?—John Peeler

Hillary Clinton 15,565,974
Bernie Sanders 11,883,234

In California, the nation’s biggest state:

Hillary Clinton 1,841,285
Bernie Sanders 1,416,742

She carried almost all the largest counties in California. In an election where Bernie put all his chips on the table, he lost.

If one is to believe the polls, Bernie represents a higher proportion of Democratic voters than this shows, but they didn’t show up. But even by the polls, she won (by a shrinking margin, but she still won). The polls show that Bernie would run better against Trump, but Hillary still won.

It was already true before Tuesday that Bernie’s slim chance of capturing the nomination depended on convincing hundreds of the hated superdelegates to switch, but he really can’t make that argument after losing California by such a decisive margin.

It was already true before Tuesday that Bernie’s slim chance of capturing the nomination depended on convincing hundreds of the hated superdelegates to switch, but he really can’t make that argument after losing California by such a decisive margin.

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Bernie and his supporters have accomplished a lot. They have set the agenda for the Democratic Party, yanking it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and onto the left side of the political spectrum. They have put the issue of inequality of income, wealth and power squarely ate the center of the political debate. They have inspired large numbers of young voters to get into the political process.

Hillary needs these people. To win in November she needs to start by drawing in as many Bernie supporters as she can, then move on to the millions of people who didn’t vote in any primary. Polls show her in a tight race with Donald Trump nationally, as well as in a number of swing states like Ohio and Florida. She is likely to win in the end, but will have to work at it.

She will certainly need to listen to the Sanders people on the party program: it ought to be unambiguously progressive in framing the issues of social and economic justice and equality. She needs to tap into her inner radical, so deeply buried since her college years. This is a year for challenging the status quo; she needs to do that convincingly in contrasting herself with the essentially fraudulent appeal of Trump.

The Clinton campaign also needs to absorb some of Bernie’s key people, putting them in position to shape her strategy in the coming months. Rather than the classic move to the center, she needs to shape an attractive progressive agenda to convince dissatisfied voters that she is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Her vice-presidential choice is symbolically important to the Bernie people. Someone with clear progressive credentials is essential here. Someone younger than she is also important: at 69 she is not as old as Sanders, but older than Reagan was when first elected. I would suggest Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a consistent progressive from a swing state.

The vast majority of Bernie’s supporters will follow Bernie himself in pivoting to support Hillary as clearly the better choice as against Donald Trump. They should remind themselves that she has been fighting for progressive causes such as racial and gender justice for her entire adult life, usually against strong opposition, first in Arkansas, later in Washington. She has been the target of unrelenting Republican attacks since she arrived on the national scene, which has been so effective that many Bernie supporters actually bought the GOP line about her. She’s won some, she’s lost some, she’s compromised, she’s made mistakes. But she has been mostly consistent in pushing progressive policies as far as the political environment permits. In that sense, the Republicans have been right to try to take her down. She is their worse nightmare.

Those Bernie supporters who refuse to support Hillary won’t matter in California. But if they vote in a swing state like Ohio or Florida, they should seriously consider their decision. Without Ralph Nader in the race in 2000, we would never have had a President George W. Bush. How much would have been different? Donald Trump is a far more dangerous man than Bush

john peeler

John Peeler