A recent poll reveals that California's Democratic presidential primary is far too competitive for Hillary Clinton's comfort. Sen. Bernie Sanders is even making inroads among Hispanics.
But to pull out a victory, it would have to be resounding, and dispersed — California awards delegates to the winners of Congressional districts — and he would have to convince basically every superdelegate who supports Clinton to flip. It's next to impossible for all those cards to be played and in sequence. Still, it's hard not to notice how a large segment of the Democratic voting base seems willing to upset the apple cart. And since these young voters will determine the direction the party takes in the future, the superdelegates of today owe them an audience.
So here is the best argument I think Bernie Sanders could make to superdelegates at this point in the race. I don't necessarily endorse the particulars of what I'm about to write, but I think it's fairly persuasive.
I don't want to waste your time. Put aside everything you may think about me, for a moment, and put aside your admirable loyalty to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I want you to focus instead on Donald Trump.
I would agree, wholeheartedly, that Secretary Clinton can defeat him in the fall, and if she is the nominee, I will work to make sure she does. But I don't think beating Trump in November will be necessary or sufficient.
His candidacy has already caused significant damage to our country. You know this. You sense it in every conversation you have with a friend. You understand how the success of Trump's candidacy makes you feel as an American.
Back to me for a second. Maybe you think I am too old to be a two-term president. Maybe you think a socialist will be too idealistic in office and won't be able to make progress on the policies of President Obama that have moved our country forward. I would vigorously disagree with you — my health is pretty fantastic, and I'd dare any of you to endure the rigors of a campaign trail for even a month — but I'm willing to concede that there are going to be a lot of arguments inside our party if I become president.
But if I do become president — and if I am the nominee, I will become the president — I will become president having soundly defeated Donald Trump. Not by a little, but by a lot. The polls have been consistent on one measure here, and it's this: I crush him. Hillary beats him or she loses to him or she ties. I crush him.
Here is what I'm saying: It would be better for the country if an ineffectual one-term Democratic president destroys Donald Trump and his revolution than it would be to have a marginally effective Democratic president who ekes out a victory.
The most important job you have as a citizen, right now, is to smash to pieces in a convincing and incontrovertible way the forces of hate and bigotry and revanchism that are bankrolling his candidacy.
The most important message to send to the world after this election is not a policy. It's the election itself. An election that shows that the majority of Americans will give no quarter to the instantiation of fear, nativism, and other obstacles that block progress.
Maybe Hillary Clinton doesn't deserve her lot now. Maybe it's unfair that her unfavorables appear to be overdetermined. Maybe the polls showing that I will crush Trump are ephemeral and indicative of just one of such many moments from now until November.
But boy, if your bottom-line goal is to stop Trump, to stop him from acquiring the power to unleash our nuclear weapons, to move forward and pull the country out of its self-flagellatory 21st century anxieties, you can do nothing better than to choose as your nominee someone who you might not think would be a terrific president but whose election itself will be an action that reverberates. My victory will be loud enough to convince enough of the Trump forces that they are wrong and convince the GOP that it needs to grow modern roots.
Because frankly: Almost beating Trump is like not beating him at all. Even though he says otherwise. Even though he won't be president. Almost beating means he could have won. And that's a disaster for everything we value as citizens, right?
We should not want him as an almost president. We shouldn't want him to be almost elected. That would be very, very bad.
We should want him to be demolished in the way that Americans have turned back those who would defeat us before.
Before you go to the convention, I would ask you to pause a moment. Look at the polling. Look at how many people know I am Democratic socialist and who would vote for me — and who tell pollsters they'd vote for me. Look at what those people are voting for and who they are voting against. Look at where history is and where history needs to be.
And ask yourself: What would be better for the country? Not who. But what.