Is that headline a description or a prediction? On the heels of big rebound wins in Indiana and West Virginia after a spate of crippling setbacks through the Northeast last month—and big victory speeches and interviews where he's made his intentions clear—it's a certainty: Bernie's in this for the long haul. But does "the long haul" mean "to win it" or some other less obvious objective? And if the latter, what exactly is Bernie after?
We should note, as it stands, there is still a mathematical possibility that Bernie could earn enough delegates (and sway enough super delegates) to be the Democratic nominee. But that is pretty much all it is: a mathematically real but practically improbable glimmer of hope. (Hillary has a lead of over 200 pledged delegates on Bernie still, which is more than Obama ever had on her in 2008. Even as she loses these contests, she earns more delegates, marching inexorably toward her magic number.)
But as the primary season lurches westward to Oregon and beyond, with the delegate-rich finale of California looming, Bernie's heels dig more deeply in. So, let's decode why he's sticking around. Consider this your five-point primer of possibilities so you can talk about the topic with friends who like to talk about these things.
1. He's still winning, like Hillary was in '08. Plain and simple. Bernie's been giving the same speech and campaigning on the same message for most of his life, and it is now, after decades of public service, that the sociopolitical climate has aligned with his message. You don't wait this long to play arenas just to give up.
2. He still has math. Hillary's winning and a near lock on the nomination from a mathematical standpoint, but like any marathon, you don't tell a runner at the 21-mile mark to stop just because someone just crossed the finish line. He’s still got hands to shake, cups of water to drink, and people cheering him at every turn.
3. He wants to be VP. It's at least possible that Bernie’s play is to accumulate as many delegates and as much political clout as he can "force" his way onto the ticket. There are good reasons for Hillary to want this, too: There's Bernie's uncanny knack for rallying younger voters, with whom she struggles. There's his renowned trustworthiness, which would help offset the perception of her dishonesty. And there's Bernie's ability to deliver a message clearly, which is what you want your VEEP to be: A prosecutor, a pitbull, someone who can go out there and be your ultimate surrogate. (Granted, Hillary has a primo surrogate in the form of her husband, but he hasn't entirely been the Teflon Don of old this year, what with that Black Lives Matter moment, and etc.) For his part in this regard, Bernie has been shifting his sights on Trump and making the case against him clearly. And in interviews lately he's left the door open to having a VP talk with Hillary. There are others on the presumable shortlist, like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Juan Castro (who would bring both a rising star and a melanin boost to her ticket), and of course, progressive champion Elizabeth Warren, who has been demonstrating that prosecutorial instinct in taking it to Trump on Twitter recently. But Bernie's having a moment, and politics is all about seizing them.
4. He wants to practice what he preaches and give every voter a voice. Bernie's running on a platform of changing the way politics operates and the way candidates are funded in order to bring more transparency to the democratic process. Part of that is honoring every vote on an individual level and making every vote count. Dropping out before every voter has a chance to express their political will would be antithetical to the man's mission. The only thing Bernie stands on more than campaign podiums are the principles that animate those rallies.
5. He wants to change the course of liberal, progressive, and Democratic politics forevermore. A wise and uncontroversial man once said, "You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow." And actually, you couldn't even apply those words to the like of, say, Marco Rubio, who has more than one shot. And that's why Marco bowed out early, before he damaged his future prospects. But for Bernie, Em's words are prescient: His time is now, even if he doesn't stand a chance to win. Yes, in part that's because of Mr. Sanders's age, which is relatively high. But it's also because the social soil is tilled and ready for his green thumb; an impassioned bloc of voters are feeling the brunt of the 1 percent's economic oppression, and so they are feeling the Bern. One way or another, this is Bernie's time in the spotlight, and he's going to accumulate as much leverage as possible not just to pull Hillary to the left, as he has done on key issues, but to imprint the Democratic platform writ large for this election, and perhaps for future generations of Dems. Even as Hillary wins, she is representative of something about the past. Her most radical cues, her most astute political recalibrations, have come through the vessel that are Bernie's speeches and their obvious resonance with the electorate. Bernie's lifelong message seems to reflect something about the Democrats' future direction, if only demographically, and so he is bent on planting as many seeds as possible for as long as he still has the deed to the land.
Facts Only is a weekly column on the presidential election written by REVOLT Chief Political Correspondent Amrit Singh. Read them all at revolt2vote.com. For more, you can follow the author @amritsingh onTwitter and Instagram, and @factsonly on Twitter and Instagram, too. Also, shoutout Eminem.