Which Side Are You On?

Bernie Sanders has defiantly signaled he is staying in the race. And with Biden flailing, a “draft Andrew Cuomo” effort may soon be underway.

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U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. March 5, 2020. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

For liberal progressives in the Democratic Party who support Sen. Bernie Sanders over former Vice President Joe Biden in the Democratic primary, the choice is clear.

“Which Side Are You On?” New Bernie Sanders video. Video: @rockyowens + @nowandben Music: @meganslankard + @liarosemusic. (Feel the Bern TV)

It is a choice best illustrated by the contrast in the following two quotes about the Iraq War:

“I voted to go into Iraq and I’d do it again.” — Joe Biden

“War is a horror. And it’s time politicians understood that we have got to do everything humanly possible to avoid war.” — Bernie Sanders

From moderates and centrists in the Democratic Party, the staunch opposition to Bernie Sanders has been just as clear.

Bernie Sanders, these self-appointed experts have declared, is too-risky a bet in the Trump era. Biden, though not exciting, won’t alienate moderate voters or endanger Democratic seats in purple districts the way a Democratic socialist would.

Sanders, these laureates keep reminding voters, isn’t even really a Democrat.

What these party leaders fail to understand is what Republican Party leaders failed to understand about Donald Trump in 2016. Republicans underestimated Trump’s appeal with an electorate hollowed-out by the economic and foreign policies of the previous two administrations.

At the same time, Republican Party leaders also overestimated the advantages of a political legacy name like Jeb Bush. The Democratic Party is making the same mistake in 2020.

Democrats who orchestrated the phoenix-like resurrection of the Joe Biden campaign aren’t dealing with the right problem.

Bernie Sanders isn’t the problem and he never was. He is one man; not a threat to the Democratic Party in the slightest. He isn’t special, he doesn’t have any particular powers no one else has, he isn’t unique.

Just like Donald Trump wasn’t really the Republicans problem in 2016. Their real problem was the 63 million voters who were angry enough at both parties to vote for him.

There are people in open rebellion against the plodding centrists of both parties. Politicians preaching the old standards of bipartisan compromise and incremental progress have become, not only passé but a target of outright hatred from the far right and the far left.

That progressive supporters of Bernie Sanders aren’t willing to go quietly into the good night- again- by backing the establishment’s chosen candidate should surprise no one. Party leaders backed Hillary Clinton in 2016; and they lost.

If Democratic Party elites expect Bernie Sanders supporters to believe in another political legacy name, this one even weaker than Clinton or Bush, they are deluding themselves.

“There are solid and serious grounds for doubting the competence and wisdom of America’s self-proclaimed expert class.” — The Coronavirus May Make Trump Stronger, Wall Street Journal

If the status quo that party elites have been vigorously protecting and defending for the past decades were working for everyone, there would be no Donald Trump. And there would be no Bernie Sanders, either.

And if there weren’t a Donald Trump, there would be someone else just like him in his place. Anyone talking the same game could have played to an electorate that dissatisfied with its political leaders. Just look at the other outsiders, the anti-globalist, populist leaders who have followed Trump’s model and rode similar electoral sentiments to power in their own countries in the years since.

Democrats should likewise understand: If there were no Bernie Sanders, there would be someone else just like him, running in his place.

Why?

Sanders is just the tip of the iceberg; propping him up, and propping up Trump on the other side, are millions of dissatisfied voters who don’t feel their political leaders are delivering on all their fine promises.

Perhaps waking up to this reality, there are some centrist and establishment Democrats who, in light of coronavirus, are reconsidering the drawbacks of Joe Biden.

Joe Biden- unlike the political campaign of his chief rival, Donald Trump- hasn’t exactly mastered the art of digital politics. Now is an excellent time to have an advanced, cutting-edge digital campaign platform funded by massive amounts of cash and powered by hordes of data, already collected.

Unfortunately, Joe Biden doesn’t have any of that. Nor does he look likely to get to it anytime soon.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 led political campaigns to cancel in-person events, Joe Biden’s online appearances have been embarrassing in the extreme.

One of Biden’s first transmissions was particularly cringe-worthy, as it involved an obviously confused Biden, scrambled screen shots of staffers and and crying baby out of frame. At one point, Biden wandered off-camera and didn’t return.

Biden’s subsequent attempts haven’t been much better.

That moderate Democrats did not really want Joe Biden to be the nominee has been clear from the beginning. It was equally clear they didn’t want Bernie Sanders. Less clear was who else centrist Democrats had in mind.

They were unable to coalesce around any of the female Senators in the race, for one reason or another. Democratic party officials were also unable to get behind any of the other candidates. Democrats have been left with Biden, mostly out of fear of what a Sen. Bernie Sanders-topped ticket might do to down-ballot Democrats in swing districts.

Will establishment Democrats stay behind Joe Biden in light of coronavirus?

Joe Biden hasn’t exactly distinguished himself during the outbreak. After disappearing for a time, only to reappear in his poorly-done digital town-halls, Biden has some Democrats deeply worried. The words “melting ice cube” have been bandied about.

Now that campaigns will have to largely depend on digital and online content to run their races, Biden looks weaker than ever as a candidate in a match-up against Trump.

Whatever anyone might think of President Donald Trump personally, his campaign has built a digital platform and advertising campaign some experts in that field have called the greatest online digital marketing campaign- ever.

Not the greatest political digital marketing campaign ever, either; the best, period.

If establishment Democrats who helped secure a path to victory for Joe Biden are having second thoughts, they might be looking for an out. Given the suddenly extraordinary nature of the times we face, they might also have a good excuse to drop Joe Biden for someone who looks and acts more like a war-time president.

And they may have- finally- found him, too. A new Democratic star has risen from the ashes of COVID-19.

With Two Words, Andrew Cuomo Established Himself as the Leader This Country Needs Now.” — Charles Pierce, Esquire

Andrew Cuomo has emerged as the pride of the Democratic Party elite this week, to almost universal acclaim from elected Democrats and the media. Does he have a viable path the nomination, or is Cuomo just having a really good week?

In these strange times, with even postponement of primaries under consideration, anything could happen. That Democrats may yet face a brokered convention is certainly a strong possibility.

Andrew Cuomo could walk away with the nomination if the Democratic Party drafts him into service. Party elites have made it perfectly clear to liberal progressives in the Democratic Party that, when it comes to choosing who the Democratic nominee will be, they still hold the power.

Considering the current threat to public health, that the Demcoratic Party continues to resist the one candidate who has been pushing for Universal Healthcare all along is not welcome news to Sanders fans.

Come what may, the Demcoratic Party certainly seems determined to wrest the nomination away from Bernie Sanders.

Whether the Demcoratic Party can wrest the country away from Donald Trump if progressive voters abandon the party, isn’t quite as certain.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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