The next two weeks will set the tone for the rest of the Presidential campaign. In fourteen days we will know just how everything is going, from the themes we can expect to carry through to November to the polls telling us how the horse race has started.
How will it shake out? If you’re a Republican, you’re probably hoping it won’t be a disaster. Democrats have their own fears for a disruptive show, but appear to be better prepared for a traditional convention bounce.
Here’s what to look for over the next two weeks.
Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton today. Nearly every story on this event contains the word “finally”, but that is not entirely justified. This is a process, not an event. Today’s message was dragged out until Sanders could get every concession to his movement that he could, and for good reason. That is primarily what Sanders was in this for all along – real, progressive change.
Now, it’s up to Sanders and Clinton to sell it. The process is not over.
Much has already been made of the dust-up at the Nevada state Democratic convention. Was Bernie robbed by corruption? Was an unruly mob turned back? Opinions run hot through both social media and legacy media as the fight for the nomination heats up into a rather physical confrontation. But one point has rarely been made in all the noise:
What was actually at stake were two national delegates of the 4,765 total, or 0.04%.
For all the fuss you’d naturally assume that there was more to it than this, but there wasn’t. And the noise becomes much more than a juicy news story or a call to arms for a disgruntled group who believe they were robbed. It comes down to a question of strategy or how actual change is made, whether by a democratic process, a revolution, or some combination of the two.
By that standard what happened was completely shameful for a number of reasons.
For the primary season, it’s all over but the shouting, to use a cliche. But this one works because this is a good time to evaluate what happened – and most of that analysis will be based on policies and platforms. There will be shouting, because that’s pretty much how people discuss politics.
One key feature this year has been the insurgent outsider candidate. Call him Sanders or Trump, one thing was the same – outsiders rallying people to a movement, a cause, a rebellion. A tactical key to this has been the rally itself – a large venue filled with cheering supporters whipping each other up into a frenzy for the cause. Every campaign has them, but Sanders’ effort came to be defined by them.
Is the mega-rally a new feature of what will define a campaign, particularly an insurgent one? Is it a good idea? How does it work? Why did this become a feature? These are all questions worth considering as we look at how the Bern became a blaze.
Is is really over?
New York produced two big winners, Clinton and Trump. They may be the overall winners as a result. While they both appear unstoppable there is still more to come as the primary season winds down. And the betting money is still on a contested Republican convention so the best may be yet to come.
The big winner once this election is over will almost certainly be religious people, who will see their ranks swell by November. Nearly everyone in the nation will be saying, “Please, dear God, not Trump!” Some will even be on their knees, others will light candles at the cathedral. It will be a good time for religion everywhere as a cheeto-filled populace hooked on teevee pleads with the divine that they don’t get what they deserve.
Is that too harsh? Yes, it probably is. And it may not come to pass, either, if the good people of Wisconsin do their job. There is a good chance that they will be voting in large numbers for not-Trump, which will generally be Ted Cruz.
With their Democratic side up for grabs, the state that gave us Brett Favre’s NFL career might yet be the most exciting place in the nation, at least for a short time.
If you’re paying attention to things like the Arizona primary, you probably wonder what could possibly go wrong next. This cluster-eff of an event featured 60 polling places where 200 were normal, creating miles-long lines and many hours of wait just to vote.
Of course, if you’re a cynic, you might say that the attempts at voter intimidation worked perfectly.
But that’s the strange miracle of an election cycle that has been so incredibly surprising that nothing, absolutely nothing has gone by the script. The systems we have are being strained to the point where we have to ask why we have them in the first place. The cynics? As always, it’s easy to point out places where our Democratic-Republic was deliberately designed to be less than open. Systems, as we know them, are hardly designed for today’s world – that much is true.
But today we have light shone on nearly everything in ways we never have before. The main reason that every gear in the machine of democracy seems more broken than ever is at least in part because we never knew how ugly it was before. And that’s reason enough to get ourselves to the point where the system is fixed.