Why Is Bernie Sanders Firing His Staff? The Future Of His Campaign Is Not About Winning Or Dropping Out

Following Tuesday’s disappointing northeast primaries, in which Bernie Sanders won just one of five states, his campaign announced that they would be laying off more than 200 staffers in an effort to focus resources on winning the June 7 primary in California.

“The calendar is coming closer to the end and there are not that many states going forward,” Sanders’ Campaign Manager Jeff Weaver told CNN. “It’s the natural evolution of every campaign.”

Sanders first announced the downsizing in an interview with The New York Times.

“It will be hundreds of staff members,” Sanders explained. “We have had a very large staff, which was designed to deal with 50 states in this country; 40 of the states are now behind us. So we have had a great staff, great people.”

Weaver said the majority of the layoffs would be in the five states that voted Tuesday — Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Connecticut — as well as some national staffers, who are no longer needed to manage the dwindling roster of field workers. While the campaign remains hopeful about their chances in California, the layoffs nevertheless signal an acknowledgement on Sanders’ part that he in unlikely to win the Democratic nomination and thus won’t need workers looking ahead to the general election.

While many supporters of frontrunner Hillary Clinton are calling for Sanders to end his campaign, others have made a compelling argument for why Sanders should stay in the race, even if his chances of winning are growing smaller. Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher of The Nation, writes at the Washington Post:

The Democratic convention can and should be more than a coronation. It’s where the party officially decides on its rules and its national platform. With the rules and platform committees already stacked with Clinton supporters, it will be important to make sure the issues that Sanders has injected into the debate are fairly reflected in the party’s agenda. If he drops out of the race now, Sanders and, by extension, his supporters will lose significant leverage over the policies that define our politics for the next generation. But if he continues to fight, he can ensure that the Democratic platform includes strong representation of the ideas driving his campaign.

Before endorsing Clinton, for example, Sanders could force platform debates and move the party toward more progressive stances on tuition-free higher education, the minimum wage, corporate trade deals, money in politics and foreign policy. He also could call for new rules to make future primaries more transparent and democratic, such as reducing the role of unelected superdelegates.

I agree with vanden Heuvel. Sanders’ bid for the president was dismissed early on as a “protest campaign,” as if that’s a bad thing, but if that’s the case, why should Sanders stop before the convention? Surely Clinton supporters who believe in, you know, democracy can see that Bernie Sanders participation in this election has been good for the party, the country AND Clinton herself, who’s been challenged to consider and present her positions on issues the progressive left cares about. While I have no doubt that Sanders will ultimately endorse Clinton for President should he officially lose the primary, why shouldn’t he continue to use this time to focus on those issues that have brought him so much support?

[CNN]

[New York Times]

[Washington Post]