Everyone likes a comeback story, and Bernie Sanders’ is a work in progress

Supporting Bernie Sanders has been an exercise in intestinal fortitude during the past few months. For at least that length of time, the talking heads have been counting the Vermont senator out. I’ve read numerous reports claiming that it is impossible for him to catch Hillary Clinton. Impossible? No. Improbable? I’ll concede that.

But Sanders is on a roll again. Monday night, 16,000 supporters attended a rally in Sacramento. The next evening, he handily won the primary in West Virginia (by double digits). The win won’t come close to erasing his deficit of pledged delegates. However, it will give him momentum going into the other upcoming contests, including the biggie, the great state of California.

Sanders trails Clinton by fewer than 300 delegates. More than 450 are up for grabs in the Golden State alone. That’s not including those so-called superdelegates, of course (see Ken Smith’s write-up in this Primary Issue, starting on page 18).

Despite the Clinton campaign’s posturing, it’s clear that Sanders is not out of the game. For starters, she resumed spending money on ads this week in Kentucky. Moreover, the narrative on network and cable news programs following Sanders’ win has focused on him blocking Clinton’s path to the nomination.

Perhaps the interest in that story has ramped up because Donald Trump’s drama has died down. In other words, now that The Donald is the presumptive GOP nominee, and he’s no longer trading barbs with Sen. Ted Cruz, et. al., TV news has looked elsewhere for a good angle moving forward.

After all, everyone loves an underdog story.

But that’s not why this journalist is supporting Sanders. I’m going to vote for the white-haired senator because I think he’s the better of the candidates. I trust him more than Clinton on every issue, including gender equality. That’s because Sanders is authentic. He’s been consistent in his progressive ideals, from civil rights and environmental justice to universal health care and ending corporate cronyism.

The messages Sanders has conveyed make him a remarkable candidate. And he has the résumé to back it all up. I mean, this is a guy who participated in the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. This is a guy who was arrested for protesting segregation. This is a guy who has brought to the national stage critical issues that Clinton wouldn’t otherwise have had the courage to address (e.g., fracking, Wall Street reform, campaign finance, student loan debt).

That’s both beautiful and depressing.

The dreary part is that we’re never going to see a candidate like him again—not in our lifetimes. Because he’s 74 years old, Sanders is a now-or-never nominee.

Considering Sanders does better in the polls against Trump than Clinton, it wouldn’t be a leap of faith for the Democratic Party to support him. It would actually be the smart, pragmatic move. The question is whether the establishment has enough grit. If the popular vote miraculously goes to Sanders, the only way to preserve the party may be to start feelin’ the Bern.

And in the eternal words of the late Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”