Bernie Sanders didn’t have a chance to deliver a thundering victory speech after Tuesday’s elections, which saw Hillary Clinton claim four out of five states. After many consecutive wins, the Vermont senator stumbled in New York and can’t seem to recover his momentum. Clinton likely has this nomination wrapped up, and she has hundreds of superdelegates on her side. That last bit has rubbed Sanders the wrong way all along. Also not helping the situation — Donald Trump is goading the Bern by tweeting “helpful” suggestions that he ditch the party that has treated him “terribly” and run as an independent. Trump repeated the sentiment in his victory speech, and his intentions are clear. With all three candidates in a general election, Trump could divide and conquer with little effort.
Sanders wouldn’t be blamed for licking his wounds in private, but that’s not an option at this very public stage of the campaign. So, he sat down with the New York Times and announced plans to let go staffers by the “hundreds.” This is a reshuffling of resources, but folks will see it as resignation:
“We want to win as many delegates as we can, so we do not need workers now in states around country. We don’t need people right now in Connecticut. That election is over. We don’t need them in Maryland. So what we are going to do is allocate our resources to the 14 contests that remain, and that means that we are going to be cutting back on staff. It will be hundreds of staff members … 40 of the states are now behind us. We have had a great staff, great people.”
Sanders emphasized that some folks would be moved to California to organize rallies throughout the state for “hundreds of thousands” of his devotees:
“California will have the most staff. Symbolically and in terms of delegates, if we can win the largest state in this country, that will send a real message to the American people and to the delegates that this is a campaign that is moving in the direction it should.”
Sanders hopes to rehire some of the laid-off staff members if he captures the Democratic nomination, but this sure sounds like a forecast for resignation. Sanders may have simply wanted to get the word out himself before news of layoffs hit in an unfavorable manner. Before Tuesday’s elections, Sanders insisted he was in for the long haul but would soon “reassess” his candidacy.
Immediately following his disappointing election day, Sanders’ camp released a telling statement on the candidate’s website. He vowed to stay in the race until the convention, and he hopes to gather up enough delegates to shift the party balance further to the left:
“That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change.”
The full statement seems prepared with election loss in mind and an eye towards the long game, beyond Bernie Sanders as an individual. The Bern may be looking far beyond winning a nomination with the hope of leaving a lasting influence upon Democrats.