Panic At the Democratic Primary

“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” — Will Rogers

Campaign rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders. December 9, 2019. Reno, Nevada. (photo: Trevor Bexon)

The Democrat’s Big Test

It’s a free-for-all.

Though not precisely free: Tickets for the last Democratic debate went for around $1,750. (Which explains why there were so many cheers for Bloomberg.)

And while otherwise respected publications like the New York Times and the Washington Post may indulge in empty platitudes about the race having only just begun and set about pointlessly soothing Democratic feelings, it is time for the rest of the party to face some hard facts.

Especially in the wake of the most recent Democratic debate disaster.

The Democratic primary field is a mess.

The field is perhaps in worse shape today than it was when there were at least 20 more people in the race, including a new-age spiritualist and a wealthy tech entrepreneur promising free income for everyone.

During the last debate no one onstage- including the moderators- could get in a word edgewise over all the shouting, showboating, soap-boxing and cross-talk. Democrats were left looking like people who shouldn’t be in charge of a school bake-sale, let alone a Democratic primary or an internationally televised debate.

Certainly not the entire U.S. healthcare and energy sectors.

None of the front-running candidates- former vice president Joe Biden, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg or Sen. Bernie Sanders- seem to be able to open their mouths without something blatantly objectionable coming out. And the women have been almost completely overlooked.

Leading the pack, Democrats have a self-avowed socialist- in what truly has been a terrible century for socialism and communism. Sanders is someone who openly admires Fidel Castro and the former Soviet Union.

He even recently went as far as taking the laughable position that Castro’s literacy programs somehow outweighed all the political upheaval and violent oppression. And on 60 Minutes, no less.

“The Cuban people didn’t revolt because Fidel Castro educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed their society.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders

The Cuban people’s failure to revolt was likely due more to Castro’s unfortunate other habits of imprisoning and murdering political dissidents than to the population’s gratitude for literacy. Unsurprisingly, Cuban-Americans living in Florida weren’t impressed with the senator’s comments.

Fidel Castro, as it turns out, is not well-loved by people forced to flee their homeland because of his regime.

“As the first South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents thousands of Cuban Americans, I find Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on Castro’s Cuba absolutely unacceptable.”

“The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families. To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.” — Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL)

Democrats in Florida have been saying, universally and unequivocally ever since, that a Democratic ballot with Sanders on top will sink their chances at reelection in November.

Pete Buttigieg is right about one thing: Elected Democrats aren’t exactly flocking to the Sanders platform; many are running from his platform as far and as fast as their legs will carry them.

“I’m hoping that in the future, Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro.” — Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL)

For his part, healing the rift between Sanders and the Democratic Party proper doesn’t seem to be high on the list of priorities for the Sanders campaign. In addition to doubling-down on his praise of Fidel Castro rather than walking-back the comments, the senator has also rejected a preemptive offer of financial backing from the Bloomberg campaign, should Sanders become the nominee.

Bernie Sanders also had some harsh words for the Jewish pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC; words which Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League has since called “offensive and irresponsible”.

“The Israeli people have the right to live in peace and security. So do the Palestinian people. I remain concerned about the platform AIPAC provides for leaders who express bigotry and oppose basic Palestinian rights. For that reason I will not attend their conference.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders, Twitter

It could be that the Sanders campaign, like the Democratic Party itself, is counting too much on a shared loathing of Donald Trump to bring progressives and moderates of the party together to defeat him.

But what has Democratic analysts most concerned isn’t Sanders’ continued determination to kick sand in various Democratic Party faces or the incredible mess his status as front-runner in causing.

Sanders continues to overpromise and underdeliver on what he and his supporters maintain is his most effective weapon: Driving up voter turnout.

Party leaders point to the Democrat’s most recent successful election; the 2018 mid-term election that saw Democrats return to a majority in the House of Representatives and Nancy Pelosi return to the Speaker’s gavel.

Democrats did not win by inspiring massive turnout from people who have never participated in elections before or are only marginally-likely voters. Democrats won in 2018 by focusing on back-to-basics issues like protecting health-care coverage for people with preexisting conditions.

A focus on practical issues might seem to pale in comparison to fomenting a Green New Deal revolution and a centralized government take-over of the entire U.S. energy sector. But it was exactly a focus on practical, everyday issues that resonated with the voters Democrats did need to win in 2018; undecided voters, independents and moderate Republicans who will almost certainly vote in the next election.

Between Biden’s corruption problem and propensity to lie about his past- which cumulated this week in an embarrassing walk-back of his claim of having been arrested in South Africa once trying to visit Nelson Mandela- and Bernie Sanders mystifying efforts to undermine the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party has been left floundering in a panic.

And Democrats voters have been left with a terrible question: Can Mike Bloomberg really get it done?

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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