Simply put: if Sanders arrives at the convention with more pledged delegates than Clinton, the Democratic Party will be forced to nominate him.
Right now, it is clear that neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton will get enough pledged delegates to seal up the nomination; they both need superdelegates to win. Clinton has the support of almost all of them right now, but they can change allegiances; and, if Bernie takes the lead in pledged delegates (which is eminently within reach), they will in fact switch, and make him the nominee.
This isn’t ironclad, of course, and it’s not like the party’s been sensible up to now. But there are some pretty profound reasons why it would far and away be in their best interests to do so. Here are three:
1) Not nominating Bernie would destroy the party. Now, arguably it’s already dying - whether you consider the huge independent population (who almost outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined), or you take into account the massive ‘youth movement’ that backs Sanders. To be clear, when we say ‘youth movement’, we mean people under 45. In that group, Sanders beats Clinton by vast margins. His ideas - which are in fact FDR’s ideas - are far and away the future of the party, and the imminent future at that.
By 2020, that cohort will essentially be people under 50 - and no establishment politician of Clinton’s type will stand a chance. The only reason she does now, in fact, is her hyper-networked relationship with the political and media establishment. She is the most famous candidate for President in a generation; yet she’s barely holding on, and has only been able to by heavily leveraging those connections. Younger people - who are much more likely to use the internet to get their information - know it, and see through it. Contrary to Barney Frank’s absurd canard that Sanders supporters are uninformed, they are in fact the most informed generation ever - far more informed than him or his cronies. Politics-as-usual is becoming obsolete.
The Democratic party’s only hope to remain relevant is to nominate Bernie. Given all the shenanigans that the Democratic Party have perpetrated to prop up Clinton, a lot of those voters (i.e. the potential future of the party) are already done with the DNC. If Bernie gets to the convention with a majority of pledged delegates, and he is not the nominee, the Democratic Party - having alienated twenty-seven years’ worth of voters (those 18 to 45) - will be finished. If the absolutely anti-democratic nature of the process is thoroughly revealed, by nominating Clinton despite a Sanders majority of pledged delegates, the backlash will be profound. In short, if the DNC do Sanders dirty that one last time, his supporters will be emphatically done with the Democratic party, now and for years to come. Which brings us to point two:
2) Bernie polls far better against Trump than Clinton. Even Politifact found this to be true, although their semi-latent partisanship led them to qualify it with some mumbo-jumbo. Clinton beats Trump too, but by a lot less - and a recent poll had her losing. Given Trump’s success at taking vulnerable contenders down, and the massive number of independents out there who are not persuaded by the Clinton party line, it would be extremely dangerous to assume Trump would not be able to do the same to her.
The version of reality that has Clinton as a stronger candidate only holds sway among those who already like and support her. Sanders has gone easy on Clinton; Trump, by contrast, will have a field day. And all those independent voters - who are so essential in the general election, and who already dislike and mistrust Clinton - will be easy to influence. Trump has no shot against Bernie; the threat of Trump defeating Clinton is very real. Which brings us to three:
3) The media - who have so shamelessly marginalized Bernie - have been unable to control themselves when it comes to Trump. They won’t suddenly start showing restraint now; and every time he’s on TV, and Clinton is not (or even worse for her, is on TV, but is awkward and/or unlikeable), he’d win the narrative - just like he has in the Republican primary.
Bernie, on the other hand, would finally get the coverage he and his ideas deserve; and, unlike Clinton, Bernie is extremely popular. He is the most popular Senator; and his absolute and net favorability ratings leave Clinton’s in the dust. He is unhampered by allegiances to wealthy, corporate donors, and has spent his career speaking truth to power. He can beat Trump’s perceived ‘saying what he thinks’ with his own longstanding honesty and frankness, and his readily available record. He can not only stand up to and debunk Trump’s manipulations, he can beat Trump’s angry populism with his own optimistic, inclusive one.
It is easy to find striking examples of Bernie standing up to the powerful. His character survives transmission over the internet - in video, and in writing. That is the only reason he does so well. That he does so well despite poor media coverage is perhaps the greatest testament to his strength as a candidate - and, as Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman pointed out recently, fair coverage would make him even stronger.
Clinton has an absurd lead in superdelegates - almost all of whom declared their support for her before Sanders even entered the race. But unlike pledged delegates (which are the result of primaries and caucuses), and despite what mainstream media have implied, they are not locked to Clinton; if a superdelegate decides Bernie’s the better choice, they’re free to change their mind up to the moment the votes are cast on the convention floor in July.
That choice will be a lot easier for them to make if Bernie goes to the convention with a majority of pledged delegates. Add in the factors enumerated above, and the argument becomes very, very strong indeed.
The Clinton campaign knows this; and this is the reason her Super PAC has hired an army of trolls to police the internet - and shield superdelegates from anyone who would dare suggest that they should support Sanders. (Ironically, Putin hired a troll army to post positive comments about Russia last year. What does it say, when your campaign is taking cues from him?)
For that reason, Sanders supporters need to stay involved - and, for the love of all that is good and decent, don’t listen to the conventional media narrative. They’ve been wrong all along; why start believing them now? If it were a sure thing for Clinton, her supporters wouldn’t be so strident, nor would her Super PAC spend $1 million to try to control the online narrative. His supporters need to stay engaged; send Bernie to the convention with a majority of pledged delegates; and watch history unfold.