Not surprisingly, hardcore Hillary Clinton fans have decided that Bernie Sanders’ long time status as an Independent in Congress is something to be suspicious of him for. The fact that he hasn’t openly committed to giving down-ticket Democrats money from his sizable war chest is turning many ardent Clinton supporters downright apoplectic.
But I wonder how many of them realize that Senator Barack Obama behaved in exactly the same way when he was facing Ms. Clinton in the 2008. As reported by The Wall Street Journal , Senator Obama didn’t start handing money to down-ticket Democrats until October of 2008, which was even a few months after Hillary had left the race. I did some exhaustive research but couldn’t find any op-eds from hand-wringing Democrats angry and upset at Obama over it, but I’m sure they’re out there.
Per the WSJ article, Obama had his reasons for it though:
Sen. Barack Obama, hoping to widen his party’s control of Congress, has started to lend support to down-ticket Democrats.
The approach marks a shift in strategy for the Democratic presidential candidate, who until recently has shunned joint appearances with other candidates. Party congressional strategists said the distancing had frustrated some Democrats, but that Sen. Obama had felt such appearances could dilute his brand and diminish his outsider appeal. (source)
I’m not really sure there’s any need to go much further than this, is there? I always felt like it was pretty much common sense why Sanders would avoid committing his campaign donations to the Democratic Party, and Obama’s reasoning is pretty much in line with my theories. Sanders is running on a very similar idea that Obama did — changing the system. Perhaps in 1992 the Clintons were the model of political outsiders coming to Washington to bring the government back to the people, but that’s just simply not the case now.
Clearly Bernie has made the same political calculations that Obama did. It’s better to hold onto the campaign war chest now, allowing him to splurge in states like Wisconsin and perhaps help him get the lead. I want to ask the Hillary supporters who are so incensed by Bernie not giving money to other Democratic candidates yet if they hold a grudge against Obama for not doing the same. Not to pick on Hillary Hawks too harshly, because it’s a pretty common affliction to desire every other candidate but your own to not play politics. But you’d think if you were a supporter of one of the most politically political politicians of all time that you’d understand how the game is played.
What I think Clinton supporters need to realize is that there are many people who support Sanders specifically because he’s an outsider. So just like when Republican establishment people trot out Mitt Romney to bash Trump, calling attention to Sanders not being a “team player” in terms of the DNC is going to have the reverse impact they want it to have. Also, no, that doesn’t mean Trump and Sanders are the same or that Sanders supporters are the Tea Party left. It just means that there is a candidate who is clearly equally as respected as her that she’s going to have to actually defeat and not just snap her fingers and ask for the nomination.
This is exactly what got her in trouble in 2008. She gives the impression that she is entitled to the nomination and some of her more angry supporters push that narrative down everyone’s throats. It turns a lot of people off, and harping on the fact that Bernie is doing something that Obama himself did only makes Clinton and her super-fans look even more desperate, and desperation doesn’t fit well on any political candidate.