Donald Trump is right. Bernie Sanders sold out. But here's what he got.

It sure as hell wasn't for nothing

Bernie got something.
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

When Donald Trump tweeted after Bernie Sanders' speech that Sanders "totally sold out to Crooked Hillary Clinton. All of that work, energy and money, and nothing to show for it! Waste of time!" he was exactly half right. Maybe you'll quibble with the verb, but Sanders did capitulate to Hillary Clinton. But he sure as hell didn't sell out for nothing.

He sold out, and Clinton changed her position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a result, probably dooming that trade bill, a signature piece of President Obama's second-term foreign policy agenda.

He sold out, and the Democrats changed their superdelegate rules, binding a much larger percentage of them to the popular vote winners of state contests. At a minimum, this means that establishment candidates will be forced to organize more heavily at a lower level of politics in more states in the future.

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He sold out, and he and Clinton are now on board with a college tuition proposal that would satisfy Sanders' criteria, not the one Clinton initially believed in.

He sold out, and the party endorsed what Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) called its "most progressive platform in history."

He sold out, and he received a primetime speaking slot, getting a chance to give what amounted to a concise version of his campaign stump speech, without filters.

He sold out, and his own name will get to be held up for the nomination on Tuesday.

He sold out, and the superdelegates he's attempted to persuade still have the freedom to vote for the candidate of their choice.

He sold out, and his supporters will have greater access to the reins of power inside the party. They will get to determine the rules, going forward.

He sold out, and Hillary Clinton, loathe to commit to hold a potential Supreme Court justice to any standard other than to recognize that the Constitution lives and breathes, now must nominate a justice who specifically opposes a settled law of the land.

The #BernieOrBust delegates who interrupted their own candidate with boos last night, the ones who marched alongside a giant doobie outside the convention, and the few who tried to throw Elizabeth Warren off stride with cries of "We Trusted You!" are like the people who carry phones with cracked screens, refusing to get them replaced, even for free.

In Trump's mind, since Sanders didn't get the private plane his staff had asked the DNC for, perhaps Sanders got nothing. That's because in Trump's mind — as in the mind of the #BernieOrBust folks — not getting everything is the same as getting nothing.

If you watched the convention on television, your day likely began with news footage of contention. The midpoint was, funnily enough, comedian Sarah Silverman's shade throw from the platform, calling the #BernieorBust movement "ridiculous." The peak was Michelle Obama's speech, which was among the most effective arguments I've heard anyone make for Hillary Clinton. And Sanders himself was the denouement. Thanks to judicious directing by the television pool, the crying, defiant Sanders supporters seemed to be energized at the beginning of the day, reproached by the middle, and crying, resigned (perhaps) to his defeat by the end.

The truth, I suspect, is that the media just went fishing for a narrative. Clinton has the support of about 85 percent of Sanders' supporters nationwide already; Trump has the support, after his convention, of about 85 percent of all Republicans who said they voted in their primaries. Both parties are going forward relatively united. How enthusiastic they are relative to their unity is a separate question — and it is one that, uniquely, and perhaps alone, Hillary Clinton will be responsible for answering.

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Marc Ambinder

Marc Ambinder is's editor-at-large. He is the author, with D.B. Grady, of The Command and Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry. Marc is also a contributing editor for The Atlantic and GQ. Formerly, he served as White House correspondent for National Journal, chief political consultant for CBS News, and politics editor at The Atlantic. Marc is a 2001 graduate of Harvard. He is married to Michael Park, a corporate strategy consultant, and lives in Los Angeles.