Clinton might be the candidate—but Sanders has won the battle of ideasby Sam Tanenhaus / June 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Elections are virtuous as well as necessary, we’re often told, good for the health of the democracy. How, then, can we explain the curiously corrupting effect vote-seeking has on politicians? Some of it is owed to the presidency itself. “We elect a king every four years,” Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State said during the Civil War, when Lincoln did indeed assume despotic powers.
Presidential aspirants are Caesars in training, treated like mini-gods: the dizzy circuit of prime-time television appearances, the magazine covers, the queuing throngs. You try giving it up.
Just don’t ask Bernie Sanders to do it. After a string of surprising victories, “Bernie” has fallen short. Hillary Clinton has won—15.7m votes so far to Sanders’s 12m, including an impressive win in California, the nation’s most populous state. She has amassed all the “pledge” delegates she needs and has a bonus of 500 free-floating “super delegates” in reserve. Sanders’s job is to salve the party’s wounds as it prepares to meet Donald Trump and the Republicans in November.