Unifying the Dems

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Elise Amendola/AP/Shutterstock (10551224k)
Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, embraces Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., during a Democratic presidential primary debate, hosted by ABC News, Apple News, and WMUR-TV at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H
Election 2020 Debate, Manchester, USA – 07 Feb 2020

The Democratic Party seems roughly evenly split between the “establishment” and the “progressives.” Or, right now, that would be the “Biden/Buttigieg” faction and the “Sanders/Warren” faction.

The divisions and rancor are worrisome. It would be lovely if the Democratic Party were more united around a single standard bearer. However, I think the rise of Trump and the fragmentation in the Democratic Party speak to a massive political realignment that’s just beginning. The old establishments of both parties may see themselves replaced sooner rather than later. Whether the big shots like it or not, it is imperative that the people be given a say in choosing the nominee. In 2016 the establishment pre-selected the nominee for us. That didn’t work.

The Democratic establishment is nearly frantic to stop Sanders, but so far they’ve done a piss poor job of it. At Vox, Matt Yglesias has an analysis I mostly agree with, with some quibbles. In The Democratic establishment is doing a really bad job of stopping Bernie Sanders, Yglesias writes that the only way to beat Sanders for the nomination is to unite behind an alternative candidate. Yet they can’t seem to do it. Even though the message I was seeing from the establishment is “Joe Biden owns the nomination,” Yglesias says that’s an illusion.

Obama hasn’t endorsed his own VP pick, even though “Obama likes me” is central to Biden’s pitch. Clinton, who clearly has a problem with Sanders, hasn’t endorsed his biggest rival either, even though she could help shore up support with college-educated women currently backing Elizabeth Warren. Chuck Schumer and Pelosi haven’t endorsed. Nor has former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or Gore himself. John Kerry is backing Biden but then was overheard seemingly musing his own run, undermining the Biden effort.

Solid backing for Biden from high-profile Democrats wouldn’t make Sanders’s factional support dry up. But it would deliver a clear and unambiguous signal to Democrats to rally behind Biden instead of fracturing across three or four candidates.

A lot of the traditional bundlers, fundraisers, and donors were moving to Pete Buttigieg even before Iowa. “But as a coordination point for a party elite that’s supposedly trying to close ranks and stop a socialist insurgent, he’s a frankly bizarre choice, starting with his thin résumé and his issue gaining support from black voters,” Yglesias writes.

“One possible interpretation of all this is that top Democrats have profound doubts about Biden,” Yglesias continues. Yet for some reason, no one said this out loud, allowing Biden to assume the role of establishment standard-bearer until he stumbled in Iowa.

Another possible interpretation is that the old Democratic Party that coalesced around the Clintons in the 1990s and appears to have assimilated Barack Obama when he prevailed over Hillary Clinton in 2008 is just plain out of gas. Or else, that the people who run the DNC and donate the big bucks were so fixated on making Hillary Clinton president for so long they don’t know what to do without her. They’ve lost all direction and are flailing around waiting for orders from somebody that never come.

I personally would be happier if the establishment rallied around the much less irritating Amy Klobuchar rather than Pete Buttigieg. I believe Bittigieg and Klobuchar are very close in their positions on issues, and in the last couple of debates Klobuchar has been outstanding. It wouldn’t surprise me if a lot of centrist voters really like Klobuchar but are holding back because they worry a woman can’t beat Trump. I say the same people who wouldn’t vote for a woman wouldn’t vote for a gay man, either. Just go for it, people. Vote for the candidate you like the most.

Complicating the picture are the two billionaires, Steyer and Bloomberg. Bloomberg has moved ahead of Buttigieg in the RCP polling average, although he’s still behind Biden, Sanders, and Warren. It has to be said that Bloomberg’s ad campaign is terrific, even if it inflates Bloomberg’s accomplishments quite a bit. But if Bloomberg intended to get in the race to stop Sanders, as is rumored, he’s botching it also, since he appears to be taking more votes from Biden than from Sanders.

Can the Democrats unify when all is said and done? What about the Bernie or busters and the equally pernicious Never Bernies? I see at least as many comments like this than I see people swearing they’ll vote for no one but Bernie in November. Maybe more.

It may be that the greatest unifying force for the Dems will be Trump himself. It’s very possible that this past week will have been the high point of Trump’s presidency, and that for him it will be all downhill from here. More evidence of his violations of the Constitution will emerge. Likely there will be new scandals we don’t even know about yet. And do not forget the Supreme Court decisions scheduled to be handed down before the election. Nancy LeTourneau

As I wrote previously, they will rule on three cases a few months before the election that will consume both the media and the voting public.

* Whether the Trump administration can end DACA
* A case that could end Roe v. Wade as we know it
* Whether Donald Trump must release his tax returns and finances

On the first item, ICE Director Matt Albence recently made it clear that if the Court rules in Trump’s favor, they are already prepared to begin deporting DACA recipients immediately. …

… What we don’t know right now is how the Supreme Court will rule in these cases. But especially on the one affecting Roe v. Wade, all signs point to its demise. If that happens, it will overwhelm any other issue on the table at that time. On the other hand, if the Court rules that Trump must release his taxes, pouring over those documents will consume the media and their reporting. If what we expect turns out to be true, Trump could be toast.

This is another reason why we shouldn’t be so fixated on who can beat Trump. Events may do that job for us.