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Bernie Sanders' Revolution Has Failed

As Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign marches toward an end marked by the mathematical impossibility of victory and a gloating Hillary Clinton already turning her attention toward the general election, some argue the Vermont senator's oft-mentioned "revolution" will be judged a success even in defeat.

Imagine if Cuban revolutionaries Che Guevara and the Castro brothers had won a few engagements with the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, then hung up their rifles, satisfied that they'd made their point.

Imagine the Spartan Eurypontid king receiving news that his late counterpart, King Leonidas, had successfully held the Persian army back for three days at the Thermopylae mountain pass, then decided not to strike the final blow for freedom at Plataea.

Imagine George Washington summoning the British to a peace conference and saying, "Look, guys, just drop the taxes on tea and stamps and we'll be cool. You can keep your garrisons and parade around in your fancy red coats, just as long as we can have a cuppa Earl Grey without breaking the bank, yeah?"

First thing's first -- revolutions are revolts, almost always involving violence, which result in deposed leaders and shredded constitutions. Sanders wasn't promising a revolution so much as he was promising free college and Wall Street regulations.

But the more salient point, for those who insist that "The Bern" somehow eked out a subversive victory that will forever change the face of American politics, is that the Democratic primaries are ending up just as most people thought they would.

The Democrats aren't getting a Larry David lookalike who will make it his business to bring the regulation hammer down on Wall Street, they're getting the same Hillary Clinton they've known for three decades. Barring any major catastrophe, or an indictment from the Department of Justice related to Hillary's email controversy, the party will nominate the most conventional, safe, middle-of-the-road candidate available.

Sanders-loving progressives who think their candidate made an indelible mark on the party are likely to be disappointed when Hillary abandons the handful of progressive stances she adopted to court the base. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, practically wrote the book on moving center in a general election when he ran as a liberal Democrat who promised to reform welfare and get tough on crime.

Hillary will repeat that strategy as she tries to look like the stable, appropriate choice in contrast to the eventual Republican nominee, whether it's front-runner Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who's still working on slithering his way to the nomination by convincing delegates to ignore the will of the voters.

After the Democratic convention, we'll hardly hear Sanders' name at all, and if we do it'll probably involve David returning to "Saturday Night Live" to play the candidate again in a "Curb Your Enthusiasm"-style satire.

Vox's Dara Lind makes the argument that by recognizing that "poor people don't vote," Sanders has identified the key obstacle to a future "revolution" of free college tuition. Sanders failed to mobilize the poor in great enough numbers, Lind argues, but created a blueprint for a future Democrat to tap into an underutilized section of the electorate.

That line of thought has a few problems. Democrats have been working at mobilizing the nation's poorest voters for decades. It makes perfect sense that people living paycheck to paycheck can't afford to take the time off from work to vote, or can't get to polling sites on their lunch breaks because they don't have cars.

But Democrats have been trying to mobilize impoverished voters, and Sanders hasn't hit on some previously unnoticed electoral gold mine by idly lamenting his failure to get more people to the polls. It's not a new idea -- in every major election, Democrats hire charter buses to help voters from poor neighborhoods get to the polls.

More importantly, the primary has been a referendum for Democrats: Should the party move further left and fully embrace progressivism, or should it throw its support behind the status quo candidate whose political machinations are fueled by Wall Street money?

If Hillary wins the general election, Sanders' "mobilize the poor" blueprint won't be taken up by another Democrat, at least not for another eight years.

Like Trump, Sanders identified a sizable number of voters who are tired of the status quo and frightened by the slow death of the middle class. Unlike Trump, Sanders never really gained the traction to turn talk into reality.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: Vox, (2), The Daily Caller, Saturday Night Live/YouTube / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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