The DNC is Berning
Democrats in leadership and the Democratic National Committee seem to be preparing Bernie Sanders fans for a major letdown. “No one will vote for an avowed socialist,” they cry in unison. “Bernie can’t win!” they promise.
Statements decrying Sanders’ divisive politics, his advanced age, and his ill health are generally followed by repeated entreaties for voting Democrats to coalesce around whomever ends up being the nominee. With the explicit understanding that it will not and cannot be Bernie Sanders.
Democrats in leadership, and especially those who hold elected offices, should know that Democratic voters are not interested in writing Democrats a blank check.
Progressive voters are especially tired of the same old political charades and horse trading.
If the DNC thinks it can cheat Sen. Bernie Sanders of the nomination, as it did in 2016, and that the progressive voters who so vociferously support him will quietly fall in-line behind former vice president Joe Biden or billionaire Michael Bloomberg, they need to think again.
Democratic voters certainly haven’t forgotten the skullduggery of 2016. Nor are they likely to forget where all the DNC’s meddling for a more “electable” candidate got them. And the country.
Whether Sanders, who probably should have been the nominee in 2016, could have beaten Donald Trump in the general election, we will never know.
People who wanted Bernie for the nominee in 2016, however, are absolutely convinced of it.
Though Sanders hasn’t been able to generate quite the amount of support he had in 2016 thus far in the race, he still remains arguably the strongest candidate to beat Trump. True, the Democratic voter turnout during the Iowa primary caucus wasn’t as robust as in 2016. Nor did Sanders receive as big a share of the votes as he did in 2016.
What he has been able to do in this race- besides push the Overton Window open on a number of causes near to progressive hearts like universal government health care, free college and the environment- is raise massive amounts of money, draw enormous crowds and whip up powerful support from celebrity mandarins and other influencers.
What is more, Sanders recovered his momentum- and then some- after a major heart attack looked as if it might take him out of the race permanently. He has somehow managed to stop his supporters from bleeding over into the Warren campaign- lured by the younger and female Warren, who has co-opted all of Bernie Sanders’ best ideas.
While moderate and centrist Democratic voters haven’t managed to find a single suitable candidate around which they can rally, progressive voters are almost unified in their support of Sanders.
All of the so-called moderate candidates in the race have their problems. Trying to pander to the progressive left in order to lure Sanders voters away is only the most obvious. Sanders fans are not going to vote for a moderate pretending to be Bernie Sanders.
Nor are moderate voters much falling for it, wondering loudly and often where the truly moderate candidates- with moderate positions on immigration, health care and national security- have gone.
Joe Biden has ridden roughshod over reports of his electability- which has been greatly exaggerated- coming in a dismal fourth place in Iowa and fifth place in New Hampshire.
Democratic prognosticators who like Biden keep pointing ahead to more diverse states like South Carolina and Nevada, where they hope Biden’s support in the African-America community will save his crumbling campaign.
But the fact that leadership Democrats, and Joe Biden, think African-American voters in South Carolina or Latino voters in Nevada won’t be just as disappointed by Biden’s poor debate performances, low fundraising numbers and tiny crowds as their white counterparts in Iowa and New Hampshire, is a serious problem.
Black and Latino voters can read the writing on the wall just as well as any other member of the voting public. Their loyalty to Barack Obama will not extend to propping up a failing presidential campaign for his former vice president.
And since primary voters- whatever their other demographic qualifiers may be- tend, on average, to be far more knowledgeable about current events and politics, the Biden campaign should be particularly worried.
As should any moderate Democrat in leadership who still insists that Biden is electable. He isn’t. If Joe Biden had any hope at all, Michael Bloomberg would never have entered this race.
While it is hard to imagine someone progressive voters would hate voting for even more than Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg makes a good case.
Even if progressive voters could somehow manage to overlook Bloomberg’s decades-long, well-documented history of racism, misogyny and sexual harassment, the very fact that the Democratic Party is considering asking liberal progressives to vote for a billionaire who is trying to buy the election- in lieu of Bernie Sanders- is absurd.
Biden’s name recognition won’t carry him. Though name recognition must still be a factor if the reports are true that Bloomberg is considering Hilary Clinton as his running mate and vice president.
Bernie Sanders also has great name recognition. He has become a sort of cultural figure in the past few years and his quirky, unconventional style is appealing to voters of all backgrounds and beliefs.
What’s more, Sanders actually believes in the things he says. His brand of honesty will prove an exciting counterpoint to Trump’s reputation as the fibber-in-chief.
Sanders is an everyman- like Donald Trump. Like Donald Trump, he will appeal to voters and potential voters who are tired of Washington business as usual, tired of the many machinations of political insiders who always say they have the greater good in mind, but seldom act as though they do.
It is time for the Democratic Party and its leadership to admit it doesn’t know what it doesn’t know; electability.
No one really knows what it will take to beat Donald Trump; no one knows what the next six months might bring to shake-up this race.
It is time for Democratic powers that be to give Sanders his due.
And give his supporters their day.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)