"Knowing when to leave may be the smartest thing anyone can learn." – Burt Bacharach

A line from an old Dionne Warwick hit from the 1970s has suddenly acquired a particular relevance in 2016.

When Bernie Sanders decided to make a run for the presidency I, like many others, was very skeptical. And I, like many others, expected his candidacy to barely cause a ripple of serious interest, much less instigate the tidal wave of adoration from millions of Americans, who saw him as an antidote to the way things are traditionally done in Washington.

Mr. Sanders emerged as a sort of aging Peter Pan, who was going to whisk the entire nation off to a wonderful Neverland, where kids wouldn't have to hock their lives to get an education, where the gap between the haves and the have-nots wouldn't dwarf the Grand Canyon, and where the unbridled corporate greed unleashed by Ronald Reagan's mania for deregulation would finally be reigned in. If his position on the scourge of guns was the crocodile in the lagoon, he hailed from a state where political longevity depended upon a certain leniency on the contentious issue.


Neverland, however, is more the province of Walt Disney than of politicians grounded in hard reality. Unfortunately, we live in a country where a good many citizens are still incensed by the fact that less fortunate people are receiving vital health care, an outrage that not only conflicts with their particular interpretation of a document that was written well over 200 years ago, it bestows a lasting legacy upon a man who has never had the good sense to know his place (and there, as Hamlet so famously intoned, lies the real rub).

It wasn't difficult to understand why Sen. Sanders amassed such a devoted following. He swept us away from America as it is and talked about an America that could be. He was the flip side of the Republican alternative; an inarticulate, bullying television personality whose public persona has been painstakingly fabricated out of the mirage that fabulous wealth is the only dependable measure of success in the United States, three wives and at least four bankruptcies notwithstanding.

Expressing skepticism to his supporters, as far as Mr. Sanders' actual chances to win the White House, inevitably brought the repost that, "At least he will push Hillary a little further to the left." It was an admirable goal, to be sure, and in many ways, it worked. There were dark specters hovering in Mrs. Clinton's past that were uncomfortably Republicanesque, not the least of which was a too-cozy symbiosis with the financial titans on Wall Street, who came within a hair's breadth of destroying the nation just a few short years ago.

I was listening to the results of the New York primary last week. Sen. Sanders enjoyed a commanding lead amongst the young in the state. But many of them found that they couldn't vote because they had neglected to register last October. The GOP recognized a long time ago that strong voter turnouts do not usually favor their candidates. Consequently, in states where they hold a majority, frivolous and often onerous restrictions are placed on voting. It is surprising that a progressive state like New York still has rules in place that, in effect, suppress one of the most fundamental and important rights that Americans enjoy.

Sanders' voice resonated throughout our beleaguered nation, striking a particular note of hope among the people who are America's future. Idealism, as admirable as it is, doesn't negate the responsibility to adhere to restrictions arbitrarily imposed by hardball politicians. Those who saw Bernie Sanders as a stepping-stone towards a better America should have made certain that they had an unimpeded path to the voting booth in New York on April 19th. Many of them didn't do that.

In failing to recognize the responsibility of being cognizant with registration rules, the senator's supporters illustrated the peril of Mr. Sanders' candidacy from the beginning. It has never been tethered too securely to the harsh reality of 21st century politics in America. And the Trump/Cruz alternative is just too horrible to contemplate.

The results in New York should have evoked the theme song of another notable songstress from the immediate past in the Sanders campaign. Polly Bergen usually ended her nightclub act with a song called "The Party's Over." It was a terrific run, Mr. Sanders, and you accomplished a lot of good. But now it's time for you to add your voice and influence to ensure that Hillary Clinton is the next President of the United States.

— Alden Graves is a regular Banner columnist