Bernie Sanders has shown that his popularity during the 2016 election is not ephemeral and is continuing this time around too. This has caused considerable consternation in the Democratic party establishment at this threat to the dominance of its neoliberal orthodoxy and they are scrambling to find ways to derail the Sanders campaign. The Center for American Progress and ThinkProgress, both closely affiliated with the party leadership, has made no secret of its desire to derail the Sanders campaign.
Lauren Gambino analyzes the efforts to stop Sanders, revealed in a New York Times report that “revealed a series of private dinners in which Democratic leaders, strategists, donors – and even a presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg – had met to discuss “the matter of What To Do About Bernie”.”
“They are terrified of our movement – as they should be,” [Sanders] campaign manager Faiz Shakir wrote in an email to supporters as part of an “emergency 48-hour fundraising drive” to counter what he called a “serious threat to our campaign”.
“An internal civil war helps only one person and that’s Donald Trump,” said California congressman Ro Khanna, a co-chair of the Sanders 2020 campaign. “We need to avoid that at all costs.”
Khanna argued that a concerted effort to “stop Sanders” would be futile because it is the senator’s progressive policies – and his long record of advocacy for such issues – that has cemented his early frontrunner status in a crowded field. He pointed to other candidates who have embraced Sanders’ populist progressive positions.
But Sanders is betting that his anti-establishment appeal is a perfect match for Trump in the heartland states the president needs to win in 2020. To make the case, Sanders held a town hall with Fox News and surprised perhaps even himself when the network’s audience whooped and cheered his polices.
“This has been a galvanizing moment for Bernie’s supporters,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, a former president of National Nurses United. She warned: “You alienate millions of people when you alienate Bernie Sanders.”
Former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer, meanwhile, was blunt about what those who do not want a Sanders candidacy must do.
“If you want to have an impact on who the nominee is,” he said on Twitter, “go to Iowa and knock on some fucking doors. Don’t go to a dinner in Manhattan and tell the New York Times about it.”
Cory Doctorow says that Democrats should stop listening to Republican advice on who would be the best person to beat Donald Trump and reject their claim that the election should be waged on the issue of Trump the person rather than on policies.
One thing that immediately struck me in Lauren Gambino’s excellent analysis of the Democratic nomination campaigns in The Guardian: a quote from GOP never-Trump political consultant Rick Wilson, who counseled Democrats not to select Bernie Sanders and make the election about actual policies, “Democrats have two choices: make this a referendum on Donald Trump or lose. That’s it. There are no other options.”
I think every Democrat and Democratic voter loves it when lifelong Republican grandees offer advice on how to win elections, but this is especially rich given that this is exactly the strategy that Republicans used to get their base to vote against Trump during the 2016 primaries and it failed spectacularly.
There is plenty to dislike about Trump, to be sure, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the 2018 midterms — the incredible outpouring of grassroots support, votes and small-money donations for progressive candidates (including longshots like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who unseated an establishment Democrat who thought running against Trump, rather than for a better future, would be enough), it’s that the American people actually care about policies. They want reform. The much-vaunted polarization is a fiction of the political classes, while there is national, bipartisan consensus on issues of substance, from universal health-care to free tuition to Net Neutrality. These are all policies that progressive candidates support, and policies that Trump will lose debates on.
A Monmouth poll finds some interesting attitudes among Democratic voters.
Race and gender do not seem to be important factors for Democratic voters when considering who the party should choose to run against Trump. Fully 87% say the race of the nominee does not matter. Just 5% say it would be better for Democrats to nominate a person of color, which is offset by 6% who say it would actually be better for the party to nominate a white candidate. Similarly, 77% say the gender of the nominee does not matter. Just 7% say it would be better for Democrats to nominate a woman, while slightly more (12%) say it would actually be better for the party to nominate a man.
I find it an odd argument that Trump would find it easiest to run against Sanders than the others in the field. Trump has shown in 2016 against his fellow Republicans that when it comes to competing on personality issues, he knows how to campaign. Sanders would run on the issues and he is dogged and informed, not easily thrown off his stride by personal attacks. His biggest opponent will not be Trump but the neoliberal media that also hates the kinds of policies that Sanders is waging and tries as hard as possible to avoid serious analyses of issues but loves to bloviate about trivialities that do not require any, you know, research or even knowledge.