– The ultimate outsider took over a splintered party from within. Sound familiar?
I love this, mostly because the anti-Sanders view point in it comes consistently from the same guy: a consultant type with “Third Way,” the literal embodiment of Clintonian politics (and Biden too). It’s like an encapsulation of the Democratic Party since the late ’80s with Bernie standing in for a political force the party’s been trying to extinguish rather than utilize.
And that’s the systemic issue in the party that has been muddling along without an identity for decades. Bernie’s support for Iran during the hostage crisis and other truly radical dalliances are problematic in a nationwide general election. But his entire career has been beating Democrats by being an actual Democrat. He beat a modern Dem to become mayor. He beat another to challenge the GOP rep and then beat him. His success isn’t him, it’s simply that he runs on pretty traditional Democratic policies and when that’s directly contrasted with the Clintonian Democratic Party candidates, Democratic voters tend to hand him victory.
But instead of taking a valuable lesson from his career, the party insiders construe the whole thing as a singular person that’s a danger to the system. It’s not even as if the whole party would need to adopt the most extreme versions of his policy. That it won’t, at least not short of kicking and screaming, even adopt the motivation of his policy, which is pretty much New Deal Democratic bread and butter, strikes at the root of Democratic electoral issues they’ve been moaning about since the ’80s.
The “Reagan Democrats” and the lukewarm enthusiasm for Democratic candidates isn’t the fault of voters not knowing what’s best for them. They’re all symptoms of those Third Way Democrats taking all the wrong lessons from electoral defeats.
I still maintain that Sanders was the right Dem candidate to go against Trump in 2016, and if the party had been smart it would have “sacrificed” him to Trump then. I don’t think he’s right now because Trump’s voting base is solidified in a way that will be harder for Sanders to peel people away from. But the party fear of him is misguided and the attempt to defeat him internally not only misses the point but is dangerous. That danger is acute because the party’s misreading the demographic future even with white Dems. Millennials are clearly far more to the left than the Clintonian Democratic Party can stomach.