On Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders gave a speech that was simultaneously defiant and conciliatory: The Vermont senator refused to concede defeat while subtly reframing his campaign as a crusade for the Democratic platform, rather than the party’s nomination. After meeting with President Obama on Thursday, that reframing became less subtle.
Sanders began his post-meeting remarks by thanking President Obama for maintaining neutrality throughout the Democratic primary. This was a significant gesture, ostensibly aimed at quieting Sandersnistas’ concerns that the president planned to coerce their candidate to drop out. The senator then reiterated his movement’s commitment to opposing “the drift towards an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires exercise enormous power over our political, economic, and media life,” and reviewed the policies that would spare us from this second Gilded Age.
“These are the issues that we will take to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of July,” Sanders declared.
The issues they will take — not the candidacy. Sanders continued to recast his campaign as a crusade for causes rather than a nomination when explaining his decision to contest next week’s Washington, D.C., primary.
“The major point that I will be making to the citizens of the District of Colombia is that I am strongly in favor of D.C. statehood,” Sanders said. “The state of Vermont, which I represent, has about the same number of residents that Washington, D.C., has, except we have two United States senators and one Congressman with full rights, while D.C. does not.”
But the senator’s most unambiguous step toward surrender came when discussing the Republican nominee.
“I will do everything in my power and I will work as hard as I can to make sure Donald Trump does not become president of the United States,” Sanders said. He then concluded his remarks by saying of his party’s presumptive nominee, “I look forward to meeting with her in the near future to see how we can work together to defeat Donald Trump and to create a government that works for all of us and not just the one percent.”
Obama may have finally earned that Nobel Peace Prize.