So far, the Democrats running for president have been the
recipients of innumerable warnings and admonitions from
several political quarters, many of them hostile, but not a few
who are friendly and want to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.
These admonitions are somewhat varied, but most of them are
centered around the recent trend in liberal politics to move
toward a more radical or progressive program of public policies.
The two wings of the Democratic Party have clashed frequently
before. The traditional liberal wing has often provided winning
presidential candidates, and usually dominates the nomination
contests. At first, the early “smoke-filled” rooms of party bosses,
and later, the grass roots primary voters tended to prefer
candidates who could win. For every losing “radical” nominee
such as William Jennings Bryan and George McGovern, there
were more traditional nominees such as Franklin Roosevelt,
Harry Truman, and Bill Clintons winning in November ---
and for every Robert LaFollette, Henry Wallace, Gary Hart and
Howard Dean, there was an Al Smith, Walter Mondale, Michael
Dukakis, and John Kerry to take up the party banner in November
--- albeit unsuccessfully.
After Hubert Humphrey lost to Richard Nixon in1968, Democrats
rejected Humphrey’s political heir Ed Muskie, and chose instead
McGovern. But he was perceived by many as too radical for that
time --- and he lost in a landslide in November, 1972. In 2016,
establishment figure Hillary Clinton barely defeated socialist
Bernie Sanders for her party nomination, but in spite of being
heavily favored, she lost in November to Donald Trump. These
circumstances have, in large part, set up the 2020 Democratic Party
In the four years between presidential elections, I have long pointed
out, much changes in the U.S. But both political parties often act
primarily in reaction to the previous cycle --- and sometimes that
reaction does not reflect the dynamics of actual history. This
behavior has often produced (in both parties) nominees who came
in second in the previous or earlier nomination cycle. Ronald Reagan,
George H.W. Bush, Al Gore, Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton would
be examples of this. For the 2020 cycle, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy
would fit this pattern. Sanders, although currently a major contender,
might not himself be nominated in 2020, but someone who espouses
the ideology template he brought to the 2016 campaign could well be.
The question is whether or not voters are inclined to accept and
embrace the ideology of the Sanders policy programs. Republicans
and traditional Democrats regard the Sanders ideology (and that of
his fellow contenders who share his views) as “socialistic” and too
radical for the U.S. Sanders openly proclaims his socialism, but his
rivals try to avoid the term, usually preferring the term “progressive.”
There is a vocal and significant base of voters who actively support
Sanders or his progressive rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
Only the more traditional liberal Joe Biden stands in their way, and
although the former vice president leads the others in virtually every
poll, his age and his longevity in elective office are perceived by
some in his party as a negative.
Admonitions about a too radical Democratic nominee coming from
Republicans and conservatives will understandably be mostly
ignored, but what of the increasing warnings coming from seasoned
liberal political figures and commentators?
Soon after Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, a song titled “Praise The
Lord! Pass The Ammunition!” became very popular in a united U.S.
populace. After Donald Trump shocked the Democrats in 2016, that
does not seem to be the kind of song divided Democrats are singing
Copyright (c) 2019 by Barry Casselman. All right reserved.