The Last Two Candidates Standing: Electability versus Ideology

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezMarch 6, 2020
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Everything was looking good on the horizon, the nomination seemed within Sanders’ grasp.  The democratic socialist even started thinking about people who could serve under his administration. On the surface, the message of a progressive revolution looked like it had already begun making inroads beyond the young idealists who have followed Sanders from day one, at least in the first three states that had voted.  But, South Carolina and Super Tuesday was a game-changer.  All hopes for Sanders’ supporters appeared to have been dashed, disillusioned set in, and the conspiracy theories began to emerge.

Bernie Sanders is back to being the underdog.  He didn’t help himself with mainstream voters or moderates by praising Castro about his “literacy programs” in Cuba. And relying on young people was not a good strategy.  The young people who follow him like the anti-establishment message and like to show up to the rallies for the selfies, but the majority of them don’t vote.

Pundits had already started writing obituaries on Biden’s candidacy for the presidency.  The former Vice President appeared to have risen from the dead. Joe Biden had no money or volunteers on the ground. He was just faking that he was still a top tier candidate.  Moreover, his donors were becoming impatient as he had failed miserably in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada.  The first two states were dismissed as not being representative of the rich diversity of the nation.  But Nevada was a more diverse state, and still, the Vice President didn’t do well.

In South Carolina, the former Vice President Biden needed to win big or go home. That Saturday in South Carolina, Biden emerged as the moderate candidate the establishment was waiting for, and they all started rallying behind him. African Americans saved the Vice President’s campaign. They turned out in throngs and voted for him. Joe Biden enjoyed goodwill among African Americans for having served as Vice President for the first Black President. Although they were aggressively courted by former New York’s Mayor Bloomberg, in the end, they voted for Biden.

Vice President Biden didn’t just regain his once high-flying campaign of being the most electable candidate after having won South Carolina, but he also forced other candidates to re-assess their campaigns.  Some of them suspended their campaigns and immediately endorsed the Vice President. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg traveled to Texas and told supporters that the time had come to coalesce around the Vice President.  So he could be getting ready to take on President Trump. Presidential historians are already hailing this comeback as one of the most breathtaking comebacks in history.

Biden benefited from Sanders’s inability to take the momentum of finishing in second place in Iowa and wins in New Hampshire and Nevada. On Super Tuesday Biden won nine states, California and Maine are still not being called for neither candidate. Those running Sanders’ campaign never looked beyond his base and literally might have thought that there was no need for expanding it.  Sanders’ supporters were more hostile and ruthless to those who dare to criticize their candidate, no matter how fair the criticism was.

Let’s examine the nuances of the Democratic Party’s infights, there are three factions in the democratic party in this presidential primary.

There is that faction with passionate Bernie Sanders’ supporters. This faction wants to dethrone the corporate class in the democratic party that they see as not caring for working-class people. They detest Democrats and joined the party to help Bernie Sanders win the nomination. Some of these supporters are disgusted by the two-party system and hardly ever engage in electoral politics.  They will never entertain the idea to vote for anybody else but Sanders.  These are the ones who unapologetically say it is “Bernie or bust.” These are the so-called revolutionaries that somehow believe that revolutions can actually happen at presidential elections. These Sanders’ supporters are like a cult, they just follow blindly. And they all religiously read Jacobin, Common Dreams, and the Intercept before they have their breakfasts. This faction has the capability to join Trump’s supporters in the fall just to give the finger to democrats.  They are the new deplorable supporters of the 2020 presidential election.

There is another faction that doesn’t believe Sanders is able to carry out his progressive vision. They argue that Sanders has never achieved anything of significance in Congress.  This group ridicules those giving him credit for being consistent with the same message for forty years.  This group sees the conversation about radical progressive policies as a waste of time if Trump wins in November. Electability is everything for this group. This group wants to have a conversation about radical progressive policies once Trump is gone.  They moved to Elizabeth Warren’s tent but kept an open mind for any candidate who might have a real chance to beat Trump.  Now that Elizabeth Warren is out, they all have started rallying behind Vice President Biden.

And finally, we have the party faithful. This group is part of the establishment that dislikes Sanders with a passion. They are happy that finally, a real Democrat is back in the game and will do whatever they can to recapture the White House.  It shouldn’t be about Sanders and non-sense socialism. People in this group are not interested in a revolution and are solely focused on restoring decency at the White House. They even fear that Sanders being at the top of the ticket, might negatively impact Democrats running for Congress.

The future does not look good for Sanders at this point, voters in Michigan will be casting their votes next week. Biden will again be relying on African Americans, older and moderate voters to win the states voting in the next three weeks.    If Joe Biden wins Michigan by a landslide, Sanders should suspend his campaign. Of course, there is a zero chance for this to happen.

Indeed, Democrats should endeavor to wrap up this primary and start strategizing as to how they can beat Trump in the fall. Nonetheless, that is the logical thing to do and Democrats are known for not using logic.  We will probably see Sanders and Biden battling it out a couple more months tearing each other up while Trump and his cohorts will be with camera-ready-sitting back watching them.

Thank you for reading.


Photo Credit: Picture used in this piece was purchased from Bigstock

Sources consulted:
Burns, Alexander and Jonathan Martin and Nick Corasaniti “Buttigieg and Klobuchar Endorse Biden, Aiming to Slow Sanders.”  The New York Times 2 March 2020.
Corn, David. “Sanders Said It Takes a Revolution to Beat Trump. On Super Tuesday, Most Democrats Disagreed.” Motherjones 4 March 2020.
King, Ledyard. “Many young voters sat out Super Tuesday, contributing to Bernie Sanders’ losses.” USA TODAY 4 March 2020.
Levitz, Eric. “Bernie’s Revolution Failed. But His Movement Can Still Win.” 4 March 2020
Slisco, Aila. “Bernie Sanders Says He Will  Drop If Biden Gets Plurality Coming Into Dem Convention.” Newsweek 4 March 2020.


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