Who feels the Bern? Apparently, a majority of the aspiring 2020 Democratic nominees for President do because they’re all singing the same basic song. Tax the rich. Give to the poor. Tax the rich some more. Give to everyone else.
The socialist mantras being created every other day by Democratic candidates put the grandfather of radical progressivism in a pickle. Or maybe he’s putting them in a pickle. Either way, there’s only so much room for hyper-leftism to make its mark on the Democratic nomination process and Senator Bernie Sanders’s entry into the fight means the far left is getting a little too crowded for comfort.
So far, Senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand have attempted to stake their claim to the far-left mantle. Meanwhile, Senators Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar appear to be backing away ever so slightly from that mantle, though only in a way that lets them plant their flags slightly outside of the far-left while reaching into their territory when it’s convenient. That’s the state of the Democratic race to be the chosen one taking on President Trump.
Many Democrats feel Sanders should have been the nominee in 2016. His supporters have a clear edge because his attempt to prevent a Trump presidency was thwarted from within the Democratic Party itself. They hope he’ll be their Mitt Romney, who arguably won the 2012 GOP nomination because he missed on opportunities to do so in the past. That experience with running a national election campaign was sought after for some reason, though one can also argue that someone who loses so badly isn’t likely to win on the bigger stage of a general election. But to Sanders’s supporters, he’s different. He wasn’t beaten. It was stolen from him. He could have stopped Donald Trump if the DNC hadn’t interfered. That is, at least, the story they’re going with.
So far, nobody has emerged in the middle for Democrats. Even insinuating that someone is a moderate is an insult to their hyper-leftist bonafides. Whoever gets the nomination will, of course, take the traditional trek to the mushy middle for the general election, but getting the nomination itself seems to be a battle over which socialist concept smells the least realistic and most damaging to the nation. Whoever can hurt capitalism the most is likely going to get the nod from the rabid progressive base.
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Sanders is going to be an instant frontrunner and will benefit from so many women in the early mix, but when the field gets reduced down to two or three viable candidates, Sanders could be in trouble. I can’t see Democratic primary voters taking Booker, Gillibrand, Klobuchar, or Warren seriously in the long term, but Harris and likely candidate Beto O’Rourke could definitely give Sanders a run for his money. They’re the little Bernies who have the potential to raise serious money against the small-donation army Sanders brings into the race.
One thing you won’t see are attacks on Sanders. They covet the organization he’s built, the clout his endorsement would bring, and his army of donors. They will not directly attack the Senator and will likely get word out to their super PACs to focus on forcing everyone else out of the race instead of attacking Sanders directly. The theory will be that Sanders won’t be able to sustain when it comes down to two or three people, especially if the remaining competitors are the young, attractive “next-gen” socialists who could make Sanders their spiritual guide.
In short, the Democrats are a hot mess of socialist candidates trying to out-Bernie Bernie. We’ll have to wait to see how the fray goes, but expect it to be contentious once it gets going. If Joe Biden enters too, this could be a real mess. Grab your popcorn.