One of the stories that I hear all the time in the mainstream media is that while Democrats are desperately want to defeat Donald Trump, they fear that the party might nominate someone who cannot beat him. The ‘Democrats are worried’ is a perennial media staple and polls suggest that it may well be true. Even the remotest possibility of a second Trump term is alarming enough to worry any sane person.
The problem with this narrative is the message that is often implicit (and sometimes explicit) is that it is a Sanders nomination that is most likely to lose, even though little evidence is given in support of this position. But when the members of the media do actually talk to ordinary voters, while many say that they want someone who is electable and have concerns on this score about Sanders, they always, always end up by saying that they will vote for the nominee, whoever it is. I have yet to hear a single person saying that they will vote for Trump if Sanders is the nominee. This news report just before the Iowa caucuses is typical.
Moderate Iowa Democrats, including those who support Joe Biden’s bid for president, say they would definitely vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders if he wins the party’s nomination, even as the Democratic Party establishment becomes increasingly concerned about the chances of a Sanders win.
“I would vote for my dead cat over Trump,” said Sandy Stanley, 71, at a Biden campaign stop in Muscatine, Iowa. Stanley said she doesn’t like Sanders but wouldn’t hesitate to vote for him if he does become the nominee.
At a campaign stop in Muscatine on Tuesday, a reporter asked Biden, “Will the party unite behind Bernie if he’s the nominee? The whole party?”
“We have to,” Biden said, before continuing, “I’m not gonna make judgments now but I just think that it depends upon how we treat one another between now and the time we have a nominee.”
Other moderate Democrats who are torn between supporting Biden and Klobuchar agreed that despite their disagreements with him, Sanders would definitely have their support if he wins the nomination.
“I would vote for the devil himself if he ran against Trump,” said Alison Gaynor, 66, at the University of Iowa event on Monday. “I think we learned something from last time.”
It is the members of the plutocracy who like to call themselves Democrats because they have some liberal social views, not ordinary voters, who are likely to switch allegiance to Trump if they feel that the Democratic nominee will not protect their interests, like past Democratic nominees have done. If Sanders becomes the party nominee, will they suddenly say, “Hey, Trump’s not so bad. He has some good points” to justify shifting their allegiance? It would not surprise me in the least if some of those people do because class ties are really strong, and the oligarchy has got used to having the president from either major party protect their interests.
Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has already started making the appropriate throat-clearing noises signaling such a shift, starting with the idea that Democrats should not be ‘shrill’, by which he likely means attacking billionaires like him.
“I think I might find it harder to vote for Bernie than for Trump,” he told the Financial Times in an interview published Friday. “There’s a long time between now and then. The Democrats would be working very hard to find someone who is as divisive as Trump. But with Bernie, they would have succeeded.”
He also criticized Democrats issuing warnings about the consequences of a second Trump term after his Senate acquittal, calling them “shrill.”
“Look, I am a Democrat, but they said those things in a shrill way to raise the stakes on the outcome,” Blankfein said. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable or cynical for a legislator to have said that what Trump did was wrong and showed bad character, but it was not at a level where we’re going to overturn an election nine months before the next one.”
The CEO of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon (reportedly Barack Obama’s favorite banker) has issued similar warnings about Sanders and the dreaded threat of socialism..
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) each took shots at Jamie Dimon this week after the JPMorgan Chase CEO derided socialism as something that leads to “eroding society.”
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, two self-described Democratic socialists, pointed to the $700 billion Wall Street bank bailout lawmakers passed in response to the 2008 financial crisis to argue that Dimon’s stance was hypocritical.
“That’s funny. Jamie Dimon seemed fine with corporate socialism when his bank got a $416 billion bailout from American taxpayers,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday, echoing criticism he’s made before.
Ocasio-Cortez added on Thursday that she was going to save Dimon’s comments for “the next time Wall Street asks for a $700 billion bailout from the federal government.”
“I didn’t hear Jamie Dimon criticizing socialism when Wall Street begged for the largest federal bailout in American history,” Sanders tweeted last July.
What is most bizarre is when some voters say that they think Michael Bloomberg (!) is the most electable person against Trump. Nathan J. Robinson exposes the sheer lunacy of this position and says that you could make a much stronger argument that Bloomberg is the least electable. Robinson argues that Bloomberg is likely to alienate vast droves of people who are likely to sit out the election because he represents the very things they hate and it would be just too much.
If you thought Hillary Clinton turned off the Democratic base, consider just how much worse Bloomberg would be. It’s one thing to tell leftists they have to hold their nose and vote for a centrist liberal like Clinton. Most of them will, but some of them will vote third-party or won’t show up. But what about telling them to hold their nose and vote for a Republican billionaire who bought the nomination and has a long record of racist and sexist remarks? Many millions of people will find a Bloomberg nomination a huge slap in the face. They will be outraged to have their values treated as insignificant. They will resent being told to shut up and rally behind some rich asshole who thinks he can buy their support. They will not only refuse to vote for Michael Bloomberg, they will do so proudly, because by doing so they will show that they can’t be bought or cajoled. It will feel good to defy the party’s demand that they swallow their vomit and vote for whoever has the most money.
How many voters will be like this? I am not sure, but I think it will be far larger than the number who voted for Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton was far more palatable to people on the left than Michael Bloomberg, and far more obviously better than Trump.
Krystal Ball also attacks the idea that Bloomberg is the most electable.
CNN – New Day – 2/20/2020
(Sorry about the seemingly random zoom at the end plus the black bar at the bottom, I'm boxing out pop-up Trump ads as I copied this from YouTube this time) pic.twitter.com/REulJubIkl
— J̶O̸N̶ (@Bern4Bern) February 20, 2020
But as Sanders keeps doing well, the panic is becoming more palpable.
In this video clip Eddie Glaude, chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University, makes the excellent point that if Sanders becomes the Democratic nominee, it will be a real test for all those people who have been making the case that Trump is a real emergency that requires everyone to get behind the Democratic nominee, whoever it might be (even Bloomberg), and work hard to get that person elected president. It will expose if they really believe that and support Sanders or were only saying that assuming that some establishment-friendly milquetoast like Joe Biden or Bloomberg or Amy Klobuchar or Pete Buttigieg would be the nominee. (You can see when someone is becoming desperate about Sanders’ rise because they start making the most ridiculously extreme charges. The bald guy at the end says things so outlandish that even the panel moderator has to call him out on it and ask him to dial it back.)
I think this is why many Dems who oppose Sanders will ultimately come around. Either Trump is an emergency or he's not. https://t.co/SvFWFhK808
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) February 20, 2020
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist David Brooks, a bellwether of establishment thinking, seems to be all but conceding that he thinks Bernie Sanders will get the nomination. Since he also thinks that Trump will lose the general election whoever the Democratic nominee is, he goes into damage control mode to burnish the image of the very class he belongs to that has driven the country into an abyss.
David Brooks, in today’s NYT column predicting with thinly disguised panic that Bernie will be the Democratic nominee, definitively proves that he does not know what a “myth” is: https://t.co/MDLZWbJP2m pic.twitter.com/vgZsnxobTI
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 21, 2020
Tonight’s Nevada results will be interesting in the light of this week’s events. There will be another debate in the coming week.
Bloomberg is apparently not contesting in the Nevada ballot or in next Saturday’s South Carolina primary, staking everything on a massive ad blitz in the many Super Tuesday contetsts on Tuesday, March 3.