U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wipes his brow as he greets voters at the Reading Terminal Market on primary election day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2016. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Dominick Reuter

Sanders breaks bad, wants contested convention

Hillary Clinton is 90 percent of the way toward capturing the Democratic nomination. She could lose every remaining primary by a wide margin and still be the party’s standard-bearer, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Bernie Sanders would need to flip hundreds of Clinton-pledged superdelegates to have a shot at the nomination, including superdelegates from states and districts that Clinton won.

And that’s just what Sanders wants to do. He also wants superdelegates to overlook Clinton’s popular vote lead — more than 3 million and climbing. Sanders is pressing the party elite to override the will of the people.

Although Sanders has never run as a Democrat, he was aware of the superdelegate system when he signed on as a candidate with the party. Tad Devine, his own campaign manager, is credited with creating that system.

Thus it was shocking to hear Sanders tell the National Press Club that he’s aiming for “a contested convention.” That’s a scenario so destructive that Democrats were gleefully wishing it on the GOP just weeks ago. Now Sanders is threatening to force it on the Democrats. How does that serve the legions of donors who contributed to his campaign with the goal of electing a Democratic president? In 2008, Clinton had more reason than Sanders does now to push for a contested convention. She was closer to beating Obama than Sanders is to overcoming her. But she ultimately showed restraint for the good of the party and her progressive values.

Sanders’ worst sin is the way he’s escalated his rhetoric against Clinton to devastating levels since losing big to her in the northeastern primaries. Republicans have spent hundreds of millions of dollars over the past 25 years tearing Clinton down.Sanders is fast becoming their accomplice.

Sanders’ rationale for his behavior is that he’s running stronger than Clinton in the polls against Donald Trump. Never mind that polls at this point in a presidential race have only a 50 percent rate of accuracy.

Sanders has the benefit of being relatively unknown. If Karl Rove and his fellow GOP character assassins turned their guns on him — an avowed socialist who would have to raise taxes significantly to pay for his proposals — his poll numbers would most certainly drop. Clinton has the advantage of already having survived the worst they can throw at her. They haven’t started yet digging into Sanders’ garbage.

Sadly, the vitriolic behavior coming from Sanders is rubbing off on his hardcore supporters. We’ve seen shocking misogynistic attacks from Sanders supporters on Facebook, Twitter and the comment sections of blogs and websites, including our own. Hating women is not a progressive value.

AP recently documented some of the misguided attempts by Sanders’ supporters to woo superdelegates. For instance, Nancy Schumacher, an administrative assistant from Elk River, Minnesota, who’s pledged to Clinton, has received constant threatening phone calls and emails from Sanders followers.

“Some of them called Hillary names. And others said I was a stupid bitch and something bad will happen to me,” Schumacher told AP.

Gus Bickford, the former executive director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said threats from Sanders supporters have flowed into his inbox and onto his Facebook page.

“Someone put up a list of the superdelegates and a person from Rhode Island posted a response that basically said, ‘They should all be assassinated,’” Bickford said.

Sanders must condemn such outrages.

He and his supporters have performed a service to the progressive agenda by dialing the political dialogue to the left and bringing the liberal brand back into the mainstream. Sanders has the strength to build solid progressive planks into the Democratic platform and that’s where he should focus his efforts.

Despite Trump’s high negatives, it’s rare for a political party to win a third term in the White House. It’s only happened three times in the past century and only once in the past 50 years. Democrats do not have this election in the bag.

We don’t believe Sanders should withdraw. His ideas have enlightened and attracted many new voters. But he and his supporters must stop helping the GOP destroy the Democratic frontrunner. Like Clinton did eight years ago, Sanders must show the maturity and commitment to work toward party unity. He’s risking not only Clinton’s chances in November, but also the legacy of his own campaign.

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