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Opinion It’s over: Bernie Sanders begins winding it down

(EPA/Pete Marovich)

Here is video of Bernie Sanders’s full statement to the press today, delivered after his meeting with President Obama:

Sanders started with this:

“Let me begin by thanking President Obama and thanking Vice President Biden for the degree of impartiality they established during the course of this entire process. What they said in the beginning is that they would not put their thumb on the scales, and in fact they kept their word. And I appreciate that very very much.”

After Sanders recapped his ongoing moral critique of our political and economic systems — vowing to continue the fight against poverty and against the drift towards oligarchy, and to work towards a societal guarantee of a college education and a comfortable retirement with dignity — Sanders continued:

“These are the issues that we will take to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July. Donald Trump would clearly to my mind — and I think the majority of Americans — be a disaster as president of the United States. It is unbelievable to me — and I say this in all sincerity — that the Republican Party would have a candidate for president who in the year 2016 makes bigotry and discrimination the cornerstone of his campaign….
“Needless to say, I am going to do everything in my power, and I will work as hard as I can, to make sure Donald Trump does not become president of the United States. I will of course be competing in the D.C. primary, which will be held next Tuesday. This  is the last primary of the Democratic nominating process….
“I spoke briefly to Secretary Clinton on Tuesday night, and I congratulated her on her very strong campaign. I look forward to meeting with her in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump, and to create a government which represents all of us, and not just the one percent.”

The fact that Sanders acknowledged the impartiality of the process is potentially a key tell. Sanders no doubt will continue to criticize the DNC’s handling of the process — with some justification — but his criticisms of the DNC are very specific, oriented towards the handling of the debates and other procedural matters. If he is willing to say that the overall process was impartial, that may signal that at the end of the day, he may prove willing (depending on how negotiations over the platform proceed) to do all he can to reassure his supporters later that the overall outcome was and is legitimate.

It’s also notable that Sanders did not repeat his vow to continue to flip super-delegates to his side. Instead, he said he would be taking his “issues” to the convention, which isn’t the same thing. I don’t know if Sanders will or won’t continue to woo the super-delegates. But it seems unlikely he’ll do it in any seriously robust way. This statement about the convention points generally towards a recognition that the time has come (after the voting in D.C., which, tellingly, he cast as more a chance to make the case for D.C. statehood than anything else) for Sanders to produce actual concessions on the process and platform, rather than to continue seriously contesting the outcome of the nomination.

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Sanders by all means should use his leverage and national constituency to get as much as he can in this regard. And Clinton, too, bears some responsibility to see that this all goes smoothly and that the process feels inclusive to most Sanders supporters.

Finally, Sanders said he is set to “work together” with Hillary Clinton to defeat the common enemy of Donald Trump, whose election to the presidency he cast as simply unthinkable. And even here the tell is clear: Sanders suggested he would work to boost Clinton’s candidacy and continue to work to create a government for the people and not for the one percent, which means those things are not mutually exclusive. The big outstanding question here is whether Sanders will do all he can to persuade his supporters that a Clinton presidency would endeavor to move the country in the direction of his moral vision, albeit not as dramatically or ambitiously as he would.

Meanwhile, it’s notable that, only moments after Sanders’s meeting with Obama, the White House just released a video endorsing Hillary Clinton, which effectively ends the Democratic primaries today:

The Clinton campaign released a video on June 9 showing President Obama endorsing her as his successor. (Video: Hillary Clinton)

UPDATE: A Sanders adviser tells me not to read too much into Sanders’s failure to mention super-delegates today, so I’ve edited the above to reflect that.

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