The center is not holding in the Democratic Party and wealthy donors, establishment politicians, and Main Street party members alike are sweating.
All the energy, all the passion, all the commitment is coming from the hard left. And by “hard left,” I mean the vindictive left, the radical left, the conspiracy-mongering left, the paranoid left. These are people who see racism in a white picket fence, Islamophobia in any criticism at all of radical Muslim extremists, xenophobia in people who want to enforce immigration laws, and dangerous nationalism in those who express patriotism and love of country.
And for Democrats who don’t buy into the Green New Deal, Medicare for all, free college tuition, and transforming the United States into a socialist paradise, the bogeyman is Bernie Sanders.
How, some Democrats are beginning to ask, do they thwart a 70-something candidate from outside the party structure who is immune to intimidation or incentive and wields support from an unwavering base, without simply reinforcing his “the establishment is out to get me’’ message — the same grievance Mr. Trump used to great effect?
But stopping Mr. Sanders, or at least preventing a contentious convention, could prove difficult for Democrats.
Their worry that Sanders will borrow a page from the Trump playbook and run against the establishment is not without merit. And Sanders has an advantage. There doesn’t appear to be a “NeverSanders” movement that would impede his drive for the nomination.
At least not yet.
“If anybody thinks Bernie Sanders is incapable of doing politics, they haven’t seen him in Congress for 30 years,” said Tad Devine, Mr. Sanders’s longtime strategist, who is not working for his campaign this year. “The guy is trying to win this time.”
But such outreach matters little to many Democrats, especially donors and party officials, who are growing more alarmed about Mr. Sanders’s candidacy.
Mr. Brock, who supported Mrs. Clinton’s past presidential bids, said “the Bernie question comes up in every fund-raising meeting I do.” Steven Rattner, a major Democratic Party donor, said the topic is discussed “endlessly” in his orbit, and among Democratic leaders it is becoming hard to block out.
“It has gone from being a low hum to a rumble,” said Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of Virginia’s Democratic Party.
Howard Wolfson, who spent months immersed in Democratic polling and focus groups on behalf of the former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, had a blunt message for Sanders skeptics: “People underestimate the possibility of him becoming the nominee at their own peril.”
But Democrats will play directly into Sanders’ hands if they organize a “Stop Sanders” bandwagon. They probably can’t win with him as the nominee. And if he isn’t the nominee, his legions of wild-eyed supporters will be so angry they probably won’t vote at all in 2020. This is a recipe for disaster and less progressive Democrats are wondering how to extricate the party from this catch-22.
But even if Sanders can be stopped, the hard left will still end up controlling the conversation and the agenda. This is as problematic as nominating Sanders for many, including Nancy Pelosi, who has been going around the country trying to convince people that Medicare for all and the Green New Deal are mainstream ideas.
She then took note of the 47 seats that were flipped and come from far more moderate or even previously red districts. It appears her agnostic view on Medicare for All and assertion that the Green New Deal is aspirational, are political props to support a more centrist view of the party. Thanks for the clarification Madame Speaker.
The Speaker’s attempts to preserve her newfound majority by being both evasive and dismissive are angering the far left wing. She has been criticized for not defending Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comments vigorously enough. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has actually asserted the party uses her and her freshette cohort for photo ops to give the appearance of diversity. And Justice Democrat spokesman Waleed Shahid is using every press avail to criticize the Democrat establishment.
Meanwhile, the New Democrat Coalition with member Representative Cheri Bustos at the helm of the DCCC probably have the best record of electoral success and seat flipping. But Speaker Pelosi’s commentary gives Republicans ample room to question the authenticity of the moderate position they will attempt to sell in 2020. And the so-called “moderates” from the last cycle have been pressured to vote lockstep with a caucus that has an agenda that tilts much further left.
The two most successful Democratic politicians of the last 50 years were very successful in masking their more radical ideas. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton always gave a spoonful of sugar to voters to help their far-left liberal ideas go down. They were adept at appearing to be moderate while slinging the same ideas espoused by George McGovern, Ted Kennedy, and other out-of-the-mainstream Democrats.
But politicians like Bernie Sanders are proud of their radicalism. They wear it like a badge of honor on their coats. So no matter how much Pelosi tries to reassure voters, no matter how hard candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Kamala Harris try their own version of the Bill Clinton shuffle, the angry radicals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders will be uppermost in voters’ minds when they go to the polls in 2020.