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Senator Bernie Sanders has definitely seen brighter days. He suffered a string of primary-contest losses, and his path to the White House is beginning to look increasingly grim, if not outright impossible. However, Sanders refuses to give up hope. Even when faced with defeat, his campaign is defiantly promising to forge ahead in the following period.
There is a number of reasons why the Vermont senator should stay in the race. Sanders often mentions creating a “political revolution,” and there’s a chance he will never again have such an opportunity to preach a populist message to massive crowds across the country. His campaign has built a highly engaged network of grassroots support and raked in millions upon millions of dollars.
Basically, the longer Sanders stays in the fight for the nomination, the more time he gains to increase his following and fundraising. While pushing policy priorities on Capitol Hill, he is free to point to both metrics as evidence of popular support. Moreover, if he continues to campaign actively, he will have additional opportunities to pressure his rival Hillary Clinton to adopt a progressive agenda.
Sanders’ campaign insists that it still has a stable chance of winning the White House. Additionally, he is showing absolutely no signs of deviating from his course. Here’s what Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, told reporters on Wednesday:
“We are feeling very good. We are going to carry this campaign on to success in the summer and then ultimately in the fall.”
The campaign argues that the map will prove favorable as it progresses forward. During the following month, six states are holding their caucuses, and Weaver believes that this could give Sanders an edge. Some of the states coming up feature heavily white electorates, a demographic profile that managed to help Sanders achieve victory in the past. The problem, however, is the number of delegates that Clinton has managed to amass, making his probability to catch up with her substantially low. In fact, The Washington Post called the Democratic race “all but over.’ At some point, his campaign will have to consider other options if the uphill fight can’t be won.
We can’t quite say how much staying power Sanders’ movement has. The senator does have a unique ability to achieve his political objectives over long-term periods and to stay relevant even in the face of overwhelming defeat. His enthusiasm could hinge on the way the campaign is run from here on out. The more money and grassroots Sanders harnesses now, the easier it will be for him and his ‘posse’ to sustain a progressive network of support that will remain active and relevant after the dust settles on the presidential election.
Matthew Yglesias made the case at Vox that Sanders should look beyond the election, To quote him:
“Sanders’s best play now is to try to consider how to create an institutional and financial infrastructure that will carry forward into the future so that other politicians can stand on his shoulders rather than needing to reinvent the wheel.”
There is already a well-established pattern for channeling grassroots enthusiasm ginned up on the campaign trail into political institutions. For instance, Sanders’ fellow Vermonter Howard Dean founded Democracy for America, a progressive political organization that led the effort to draft progressive icon Elizabeth Warren into the 2016 presidential race. The effort proved to be futile in the end but still left behind an idea. Let’s not forget Organizing for Action, a group that was described as a “nonprofit group that grew out of Obama’s campaign machine” and that was able to support the president’s agenda.
The point is that support for Sanders could easily translate into something more lasting than a presidential campaign. This idea seems to have already installed itself into the minds of some Democratic operatives.