There are now two compelling political questions: “What if it’s
Bernie?” and “What if it’s NOT Bernie?”
The answer to each of these questions, while critical to the
outcome of the 2020 presidential, as well as the congressional,
elections, might not be as simple a might be supposed, although
most Republicans would be ecstatically optimistic if Bernie
Sanders were the Democratic nominee.
Mr. Sanders’ self-proclaimed socialist ideology, while attractive
to many in the liberal party, does not make it likely he would
win in November, but might the outcome be worse if the
Democrats nominate someone else?
The controversial final results of this year’s Iowa Democratic
caucus were a technical debacle, but perhaps more seriously, they
revived the grievance of the 2016 Sanders campaign --- that the
Democratic Party establishment unfairly blocked their candidate
in Iowa and elsewhere from the nomination they believed he could
This year, in the more transparent but delayed results, Sanders
clearly had a greater voter turnout, but received fewer delegates
than Pete Buttigieg. There is an explanation for this, but many
Democrats, already resentful of the electoral college election of
Donald Trump in 2016 when he lost the national popular vote,
are unconvinced. Furthermore, many prominent Democrats,
reportedly including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, appear
to be part of an overt “Stop Bernie” movement nationwide.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders played the good soldier and endorsed Mrs.
Clinton. There is polling evidence that some of his supporters did
not vote for Clinton in November or stayed home. If Sanders is
perceived as being unfairly blocked again in 2020, the political
consequences could be major.
The dilemma for mainstream Democrats is that a no-win situation
results. If they don’t block Bernie, they believe they will lose the
election --- but if they do block him, they could also lose the election.
Since 2016, the movement leftward in the Democratic Party grew
significantly, particularly in large urban areas. Not only have older
liberals such as Elizabeth Warren joined Sanders on the left, but an
outspoken party group of four young congresswomen known as
“The Squad” are making daily headlines with anti-Democratic
establishment views on the left. Even on local and state levels,
incumbent senior liberal elected officials are being challenged in
primaries by younger fellow Democrats for not being “progressive”
Nevertheless, a large bloc of traditional liberal and progressive
voters remain in the Democratic Party. Their early favorite, Joe
Biden, has yet to show his strength among party voters, and should
this continue, an unconventional candidate, billionaire Michael
Bloomberg waits to take his place. Biden and Bloomberg both
emphatically reject the Bernie Sanders policy agenda.
The motif of the Democratic presidential contest is the dissonant
melody of ideological division. How Democratic voters employ
this motif into the composition of their 2020 ticket should be, when
it finally is presented, rather interesting.
Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.