Just watched Bernie Sanders’s speech at a rally in Louisville. It was one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen a politician give.

Sanders was at the very top of his game tonight in Louisville.  A genuinely beautiful speech, delivered in perfectly modulated tone, with a wonderful, mostly young group standing on the stage very close behind him and to his sides, and a crowd that several times broke into chants of “Bernie! Bernie!”.  I felt like I was there.  I hope he uses clips of it in internet ads as he campaigns in California and the other remaining states.

This is the first primary night speech I’ve watched more than just a few minutes of.  I haven’t watched most of the election night speeches at all, and have seen only short clips of a few rally speeches.  But I clicked on the Washington Post website to see the early Indiana returns, and when I saw that Sanders was beginning a speech in Louisville that the Post was showing live, I clicked it.  Watching it was really an experience.  I’m guessing that his convention speech will be a version of tonight’s speech, modified somewhat as necessary—a tremendous spur for the Democratic Party from the top of the ticket on down.

It is a mistake to misread the role Bernie Sanders will play in what will be a tremendous victory for progressives—a true turning point.  He talked tonight about some legislation he’s currently presenting in the Senate, and I’m sure there will be more legislation and a larger focus on it as the convention approaches.  This is what I’ve been hoping he’d do.  He probably won’t be the presidential nominee, but he’s making it clear that progressive governance will be a team effort among progressive Democratic elected officials.  And Hillary Clinton seems to be indicating now that she wants to be a part of that, not a hindrance to it.  Good for her.

Although most of those on the stage with him tonight were young, photos I saw of his rally last night in downtown Indianapolis, with about 8,000 in attendance, showed a largely middle-aged crowd.  Tonight Sanders is winning Marion County, where Indianapolis is, and most of the suburban Indianapolis counties, and the county where Fort Wayne is.  At this writing, with 76% of the vote counted, he’s ahead in Indiana by more than 6%.

Clinton will win the nomination and the general election, but Sanders will be the Most Valuable Player, in November and beyond.  The Democrats are uniting around progressivism.

And both uniting and progressivism are operative words here.