Bernie Sanders is about to give Democrats their 'come to Jesus' moment

In the midst of the media's never-ending horse race coverage of the Democratic Primary, delivered by pundits who rarely leave the comfy confines of cable news green rooms to actually speak with the voters they pontificate about, a long-brewing simmer of struggle erupted.

It started with Democratic voters in 2008; so disheartened and angered by eight years of war, recklessness, and social-Darwinism-masked-as-economic-policy, they delivered Barack Obama the White House on the belief he'd usher in a new era of capital Progressivism.

Disenchanted with Obama and 30 years of trickle-down economics and corporate America's purchase of Washington, D.C., Occupy Wall Street spread in the heart of the corruption only to ultimately fizzle.

And then there was Bernie Sanders.

Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at Cubberley Community Center on June 1, 2016 in Palo Alto, California
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a campaign rally at Cubberley Community Center on June 1, 2016 in Palo Alto, California

For all the punditry about the Vermont Senator's historic rise (or lack thereof), a simple truth has been missing. Quite the contrary from some radical, "pie in the sky" revolutionary, Sanders is actually an FDR Democrat.

You know, the Democrat who brought America back from the brink of economic calamity. The Democrat whose New Deal programs led to the creation of the American middle class. The same Democrat whose policies in the 1930's and 40's led to the strongest decades of economic equality and prosperity for the majority of Americans—as opposed to those at the top—in the 1950's and 60s.

And the Democratic Party and establishment, who beginning in the 1970's decided to begin a pivot away from the working class and New Deal era in favor or wealthier suburbanites and corporatists, has fought Sanders every step of the way.

Sure, party leaders and lawmakers have delivered good lip service. Hillary Clinton—whose big-money donors from Wall Street, corporate America, K Street, and other special interests have served as her political oxygen throughout her career—lauded Sanders for challenging the Party on unaccountable money.

But she, and the Democratic establishment backing her, don't mean a damn word of it. No objective person can suggest Democrats haven't looked the other way as inequality exploded.

From the Clintons to Chuck Schumer to Harry Reid and other corporate Democrats—who love uttering the words middle class before heading to fundraisers with the same folks who've decimated it—the bottom line is clear.

When party leaders, even President Obama, talk about "pragmatism" and "incremental change," they're using code words; ones that rationalize the revolving door between corporate America, Wall Street, K Street, and Washington, D.C.—the one they've been complicit in swinging wide open.

But that sales pitch has been rejected by the voters the party needs to survive into the future—millennials, young African Americans and Latinos, and the working class. And from the hundreds I've met and interviewed on the campaign trail, they are for Sanders and don't give a damn about Democratic Party unity.

After all, what has it done for them? Most are mired in a dark cloud of student loan debt, low-income jobs (if they can even get that), and living paycheck-to-paycheck. They know the same pragmatism the establishment props up has helped fuel the funneling of wealth to the top 1 percent over the last three decades.

Which leaves California as the climax of the decades-long evolution from the Party of the People to the Party of the Corporations. With a potential win, which recent polling indicates is possible, Bernie Sanders would've won the majority of the remaining states—including the biggest one in the country.

Now, to be clear, Sanders winning California, most likely by a small margin, is not going to fundamentally change the math Clinton surrogates love talking about. He's currently down by 270 pledged delegates, according to FiveThirtyEight.

But, a win in California, coupled with other probable wins in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and possibly in New Mexico will help Sanders shrink that gap.

He'll also get a tsunami of small-dollar donations that will help his campaign in its sales pitch to superdelegates. The months-long trend of Sanders beating Trump by far wider margins than Clinton will continue—maybe even expand.

And most importantly: the optics of going with the candidate limping into the convention; backed by the Democratic Party's past instead of its future; possessing record unfavorable ratings; who'll struggle to pick up young Sanders supporters; versus the movement candidate polling the best against Donald Trump; who will turn out young voters and Independents; and who's the only candidate left with a positive favorability rating.

Huddled in Philadelphia, the Democratic establishment will finally have its come-to-Jesus moment: stay married to corporate money or return to its first love—the American middle class.

If they're smart enough to read the tea leaves of the movement exploding under them, it's really a no-brainer.

Commentary by Jordan Chariton, a political reporter for The Young Turks, reporting on the presidential campaign trail. He can be seen on TYT Politics. Before TYT, Jordan was a reporter for TheWrap and TVNewser. Follow him on Twitter @JordanChariton.

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