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.

7 thoughts on “Unifying the Dems

  1. You wrote,  "…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."

    Wait, why? What could his tax returns possible reveal about his financial and ethical and legal failings that we don't already, basically, know? More to the point, what could they reveal that would change his supporters' opinion of him? This is the shooting-a-guy-on-Fifth-Avenue problem: hey, Trump was just standing his ground!

    So we see his returns, finally. Here's the response from Trumpland: Cheated on his taxes? Lied about his wealth? Committed tax-law felonies? Wow, if only I could do that and get away with it! What a man!

    I haven't got anything on your primary subject, the dance of the Donkeys. I live in hope that everyone, from the never Bernies to the no one but Bernies, will hold their noses and vote for anyone who is mentally sane, not a congenital liar, respectful of the law and the Constitution, and has at least some sense that the presidency is a privileged office for serving the people of the whole United States while representing their best self-image — rather than return this current so-called president to a second term.

    • You wrote,  "…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."

      I didn't write that. Nancy LeTourneau at Washington Monthly wrote that. The block quote formatting doesn't always show up on phones, I realize. You have to put the thing in "reading mode" or something.

      Wait, why? What could his tax returns possible reveal about his financial and ethical and legal failings that we don't already, basically, know?

      Well, "we" may know it, or at least heartily believe it, but vast numbers of Americans have no clue. And many of those Americans with no clue are *not* MAGA heads. Vast numbers of American just aren't paying close attention to these issues. 


  2. Nobody will care about Trump's taxes, assuming some kind of verdict about them can be reached before the election, itself not likely, owing to all the legal stalling and the sheer complexity of comprehending them. If the system cannot flush obvious blatant corruption and self-dealing – which it could not last week – pinning your hopes on any more criminality is a weak hope.

    It's axiomatic to Republicans: all that matters is the economy. Given where it's at today, and all the power the president has to flood it with cash during an election year, it should be fine through November.

    We absolutely have to fixate on who can beat Trump, outside events are not going to do it.

  3. Thanks for the setup, Maha. Orwell would have liked it.

    It's important to keep in mind that social media is flooded with bots and trolls. Some estimates are that actual people using legitimate accounts are 60% of traffic at most. The tweet you cite might be real, but it has all the signs of being fake:

    "I will support any Democrat who earns the nomination. I will NEVER vote for Bernie Sanders."

    There is no real information in this statement. In fact, Bernie has been campaigning and organizing for at least 8 years, so how has he not "earned" the nomination? The message is designed to make an emotional connection and is a variation on an old standard based on Americans' often inaccurate views of democratic socialism:

    "A refurbished meme that makes a myriad of assertions about Sanders’ lack of money and experience is circulating again, having first surfaced during his 2016 presidential bid.

    The full post reads: "Bernie Sanders. Never opened a business. Never invented anything. Never had a 9-5 job. Never proposed a single bill that passed (25 years in office). Lived off welfare before he was elected office. 74 years old – net worth $300,000. Says he can fix healthcare and the economy. Wants to be President. Just like his hero Karl Marx, succeeded at nothing."


    Social media are generally only indicators of the manipulative messages that are considered effective at the moment.


  4. From the Yglesias article:

    "One possible interpretation of all this is that top Democrats have profound doubts about Biden that they didn’t have about Al Gore."

    "If that’s the issue, then the failure to coordinate and convey that opinion to the public in a clear way is an even bigger bungle."

    Doing this publicly would have been even more destructive, considering the name recognition Biden came in with, and admiration based on his having been VP to Obama.

    That said, I believe there were doubts about Biden from the beginning, that he's a decent guy but his time has passed.  Obama, reportedly having told him, "Joe, you don't have to do this" implies that the perception was he wasn't up to it.  And Biden on the campaign trail has definitely given that impression.  But no one is up to telling him the hard truth.

    Ironically even, the biggest impediment to the party stopping Sanders may have been the persistence of Biden in the race.

    If Biden wins SC decisively and does will on Super Tuesday, his campaign may live on.  Otherwise, it may be a dead letter and the party needs to start thinking about how to coalesce around whoever the leader is at that time, even if it is Sanders.

  5. I love Frank Rich and have been following his tweets. Someone tweeted:

    Trump is a bully and a coward. The way to beat him is to walk up to him, laugh in his face, and dare him to do anything. Nancy Pelosi did. Mike Bloomberg is doing it. It drives him crazy. Keep it up.

    That’s exactly right. It’s so simple and yet the majority of our candidates are going to get tripped up in policy issues (“wonkiness” as Marianne Williamson so eloquently put it, and was vilified for it). This is kindergarten stuff that has to be mastered first. Our candidate must recognize the kind of game they’re engaging in, and I don’t think most of them do.

  6. We liberals keep asking, "Who can defeat tRUMP?  We HAVE TO beat him!  But who can beat tRUMP out of this crowd?!?"

    So, who can beat tRUMP? 

    Only person will beat tRUMP:  tRUMP!

    What did he do the day after Mueller's appearance before Congress?  He tried to shake-down Ukraine.  And was caught.

    And then last week, after the supine sycophantic Senate Republicans acquitted him, he started to seek vindication for any and every person who he felt wronged him.  He had people kicked out of the White House, recalled from Europe, etc…  He looked like what he thinks a strong leader does.  To everyone who's not a MAGAt, he looked like an asshole.

    tRUMP doesn't know when to stop.  And he sure as hell doesn't know when to sit down and STFU!  As people pay more and more attention to the coming election, he'll ratchet up the pressure on himself.  And if there's one thing that orange tub of shit-jello can't handle, it's pressure.

    He'll do himself in. 

    I hope…

    Btw:  If I have to have a "centrist," I'll take Klobucher over Mayor Pete.  It's not that I don't like him.  And he's certainly smart enough.  It's that he's so damn young!  He needs more experience, imo.  But what the hell do I know?  I'll be 62 in a couple of weeks, so I'll be out there yelling at clouds any day now…

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