Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) just turned 77-years-old last month. The Democratic-Socialist movement, which he essentially brought into the mainstream and helped make popular following his 2016 presidential campaign, is made up of young, enthusiastic leftists. They need new leadership. Bernie can’t be that guy.
Two-years removed from his rise to prominence, his people are already searching for successors. Nobody’s saying it openly and Sanders still enjoys a great deal of support, but his inability to endorse leftists into primary victories showed he still couldn’t beat the Democratic establishment even after their stunning 2016 loss. But the real nail in Bernie’s presidential coffin was not endorsing soon-to-be Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
He picked losers and failed to recognize a surprise winner.
It should come as no surprise that Ocasio-Cortez is unwilling to endorse him for a 2020 presidential run.
“She’ll see what the field looks like,” Corbin Trent, Ocasio-Cortez’s communications director, told Politico. “She’s focused on 2018, [Bernie’s] focused on 2018. We’re all focused on 2018.”
Sanders did not endorse Ocasio-Cortez in her stunning primary defeat in June of longtime Queens political boss Rep. Joe Crowley.
Nobody on the left seems willing to flatly admit what most of them already know. Sanders is nothing more than a symbol now. He’s the ideological leader of the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, much like Barry Goldwater was for the conservative wing of the Republican party. He lit the fire. Now it’s time for his successors to step up. Who will it be?
Before we discuss who’s going to be the next Bernie Sanders, let’s talk about who isn’t. Despite the far left getting all the buzz, the Democratic establishment of Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama (sorry leftists, yes, he was and is part of the Democratic establishment) still holds sway on the direction of the party. They’re more than willing to tap into the excitement of the progressive movement and get Democratic Socialists to vote for Democratic mainstream candidates, but they’re smart enough to recognize if the far-left gets their way, the party and probably the nation will crumble.
These establishment types will not pick up Bernie’s mantle:
- Joe Biden – He’s the current frontrunner, but I seriously doubt he’ll run. Why would he? He doesn’t really want to be President and would be 80 by the time his first term came to a close. Regardless, he’s more moderate that Clinton and will not be the next Bernie.
- Elizabeth Warren – Despite wanting to be the next Bernie and having the progressive credentials to match his far-leftist rhetoric, her star is already fading fast. Democrats and mainstream media are trying to pretend like her DNA debacle never happened, but her competitors will be sure to remind the world of her horrible judgment. Wanting it and being accepted by the fragile far-left are two different things. They won’t turn on her as a Senator but they won’t let her be Bernie.
- Beto O’Rourke – His star-power will fade when he loses to Ted Cruz. If he’s somehow able to win, then we’ll have to watch what he does in the first year of his term as Senator to see if he can be the guy. As of now, he’s a MSNBC contributor in the making following his loss.
- Michael Bloomberg – A rich old white guy might have brought the socialist movement into the spotlight, but a super-rich old white guy can’t pick up the mantle.
- Michael Avenatti – LOL. No.
- Eric Holder – If anyone on this list could sneak into the Democratic Socialist camp, it’s Holder. He is progressive enough and speaks the language of socialism, but he’s also closely tied to the establishment.
With those non-Bernies out of the way, let’s look at the three most likely candidates to lead the far-left in 2020. You’ll notice they’re all Senators, a la Barack Obama’s path. I don’t see a governor or mayor who has a legitimate chance of being a socialist hero. Andrew Cuomo and Eric Garcetti are interesting prospects, but not high enough on the radar at this time.
That leaves private citizens, some of whom could be the next Bernie if they choose to throw their names in the hat. Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney stand out, but we won’t put them on this list until they actually get political.
One thing to note is that they’ll all be cozy with Sanders until the time is right. None of them have the street credibility they’ll need to challenge Sanders directly until he’s ready to embrace one or more of them on his own. Quietly, they’ll be pitching him on why they’re the right person to continue what he started. They might even offer him a nice cabinet position like Treasury Secretary in exchange for his coveted endorsement.
The next Bernie will likely be one of these three Senators:
The California Senator is the obvious choice. She has built up the most progressive voting record in her short time on Capitol Hill and definitely talks the talk of socialism.
If any socialist has a real shot at the White House, it’s Harris.
The funny part about Gillibrand is that she’s been considered a moderate in the past. Some even called her a “conservative Democrat” when she was in the House because she represented a red district of New York. Once she became a Senator, her true colors came out.
Deep down, Gillibrand is among the most socialist Senators there is. Her voting record is actually to the left of Sanders, according to Progressive Punch. She is likable by the far left while still holding sway over moderates. If her name-recognition increases in the next year, she could be a real contender.
Spartacus has problems with his image at times, but there’s no doubt he could easily pick up Bernie’s mantle. He’s currently stuck in the middle trying to be everything to every progressive up and down the scale, but when push comes to shove he can be the socialist he wants to be.
Whether or not he picks up Bernie’s mantle will be determined by how well the previous two listed socialists do. If he’s ahead of them and his primary competitors are to his right, then he’ll drift towards the center knowing he’ll end up with Bernie’s people anyway. If he’s running against stiff competition from Gillibrand and/or Harris, he’ll try to lurch to their left to steal their thunder.
2020 is a make-or-break election for socialists. If they fail to get their choice as the nominee for a second straight presidential election, it could be enough to bury their horrible ideology as fringe leftist junk. Then again, it could make them double down.