It Better Happen

Alternative Title: He Better Win. That’s my reaction to the potential Bernie Sanders presidential nomination.

Over at Delaware Leftist, El Som has written what I would call a best case scenario for Delaware politics locally following a Sanders nomination, specifically the effect on the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat between incumbent Democrat Chris Coons and his progressive challenger Jess Scarane. El Som imagines an energized base of progressives turning out to vote for Scarane and a depressed base of liberal and moderate Democrats staying home or jumping on the progressive bandwagon, allowing Scarane to win. I suspect this progressive turnout would also produce progressive victories in the General Assembly races for Madinah Wilson Anton, Eric Morrison, Larry Lambert, and Marie Pinkney, among others.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have donated money to the Scarane campaign and intend to vote for her in the primary. But I cannot sign on yet to that Best Case Scenario because I have a recollection of what happened in 2018. Then, a progressive challenger, Kerri Evelyn Harris, took on a centrist Democratic incumbent, Tom Carper. And while Harris posted a good showing of 35%, a progressive surge in the era of opposition to Trump did not materialize. So that makes me skeptical it will happen in 2020 in a Delaware Senate primary, even if Sanders is the nominee.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope it happens. But I don’t necessarily see a Sanders nomination as completely changing the political demographics of the state immediately. That seems to be the central thesis to this best case scenario: that progressives will be energized by Sanders nomination to turn out and vote. Indeed, that is the central thesis for the entire Sanders campaign: that his nomination will encourage millions of former progressive and leftist nonvoters to come out of the woodwork and vote for the Sanders ticket.

I hope and pray that this thesis is correct. I, and many liberal Democrats worry that it is not. This worry is based on prior experience with the Harris campaign and other progressive challenges, like Eugene Young’s campaign for Mayor in 2016. There never seems to be as many progressive voters even when an insurgent progressive campaign has all the energy. Maybe it is the case that Sanders nomination will awaken a sleeping giant. But if that is true, that seems problematic for the progressive movement in general, because what happens when Sanders is gone from the stage?

The Sanderista response to this is of course we won’t know until we try it. Okay. Granted. But you all better be right. And Bernie better win.

Because we have to win. And if we lose, the consequences will be disastrous. A 7-2 Trumpist Supreme Court will result and will endure for the next 50 years. The rule of law will end. Social Security and Medicare will be dismantled. And there may never be a fair election in this country again.

So faced with perhaps the final election in the history of the United States, nominating a leftist socialist candidate with a untapped history of problematic actions and statements seems a little bit of a gamble, given the enormous stakes. So you can understand the trepidation of liberals and moderates.

That said, if Bernie leads with a plurality of pledged delegates at the end of the primary in June, then he is the nominee and we will have to roll the dice. He will get my vote in the general. And he must get the votes of every liberal and every moderate Democrat out there, though me saying that doesn’t make it so. Thus, it will fall on Sanders and his supporters to be welcoming and kind to liberals and moderates. As RE Vanella reminded me recently, telling Sanders supporters to get over it and vote Hillary didn’t work so well in 2016.

Any moderate or liberal fantasy of denying Sanders the nomination with a unity candidate in a contested convention would be catastrophic for the party. You all saw the behavior of Berniestans in 2016 when they fairly came in second in the pledged delegates race. They disrupted the convention and a good many stayed home or voted third party or for Trump himself. In 2020, if we unfairly deny him the nomination when he comes in first in pledged delegates, hell, that might lead to a Sanders or Gabbard third party bid that splits the vote and reelects Trump in a landslide, all the while giving Republicans control of every legislative chamber in the country.

So stop with that nonsense. If Bernie has the most pledged delegates, he is the nominee, full stop. And we will all have to put aside our doubts and fears and jump on board, hoping that the Sanders/progressive thesis is correct.

And when I say It Better Happen or He Better Win, I say that not only because the consequences for the nation of a Sanders loss are huge, but also for any future progressive movement.

When McGovern lost in 1972, it marked the end of the progressive movement that dominated the 1960’s in the Democratic Party that lead to Medicare and Civil Rights legislation. We saw a conservative Georgia governor in Jimmy Carter get elected in 1976, and then we saw the moderate Third Way Arkansas governor in Bill Clinton get elected in 1992 and 1996. During that thirty year period, from 1972 into the 2000’s, progressive politics laid dormant while the politics of Reagan Conservatism and Clinton Centrism reigned. It wasn’t until Howard Dean emerged in 2003-4 that progressive politics reemerged as a leading force in Democratic party politics, finally culminating in the election of a Democratic House and Senate in 2006 and the election of the liberal Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

If Sanders loses, the backlash towards both him, and his supporters, and perhaps even toward certain progressive policies like Free College and Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, will be fierce. Sanders will be toxic and will be discarded. No candidate will ever again dare to embrace the socialist moniker in any way again, at least not on a national stage. Eventually, a moderate or liberal Democrat will win the Presidency again (assuming we have elections and are not under the rule of Donald II and Ivanka I). But no one will pursue the base model turnout strategy that Sanders is pursuing. Progressive politics will take a back seat for another 30 to 40 years.

So, Bernie better win, and the energized turnout he hopes for better happen. For progressives’ and progressivism’s sake.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

27 comments on “It Better Happen

  1. Delaware Dem

    And before anyone says there will be no backlash because there was no backlash when moderates or liberals like Stevenson, Humphrey, Carter, Gore, Kerry or Clinton lost, well, that was because moderates or liberals like Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama have won. We have no record of an ultra liberal or leftist ever winning the Presidency. No, FDR was not a socialist or a leftist. He was a good ole fashioned liberal. The closest nomination comparison to Sanders is that of McGovern.

    • Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, and Obama ran left-wing campaigns. They just didn’t govern as such. And FDR is was a left-populist and you’re delusional if you think otherwise.

    • FDR not a socialist? What do you call Social Security? God am I going to enjoy this campaign. Losers.

      • Actually I call subsidized oil and gas leases; private prisons with sweetheart leases; ICE; the US military; farm subsidies; and corporate personhood socialism, because all of them involve the State in ownership or control of private property in such fashion as allows the so-called entrepreneur to privatize gain while socializing losses. You’d do well to discover that words have meanings.

  2. One thing the post left out was that at the convention Bernie supporters were processing the news that Hillary had colluded with the Democratic National Committee to thwart his campaign. The DNC went on to fire Debbie Wasserman Schultz a Clinton ally only for her to be rehired by Clinton a few days later. Yes, his supporters were angry and rightfully so. In a law suit against the DNC that was later filed the DNC argued that the DNC charter never stated that it had to be neutral in the nominating process…….Soak that in…. It’s hard to be a democrat sometimes.

    • Delaware Dem

      And the extent of that “collusion” was not scheduling a lot of debates? I know Sanders supporters love to talk about there being unfair dealings during the 2016 campaign that unfairly denied Bernie the nomination, but for the life of me I have never heard what they were. Yes, the DNC preferred Clinton to Sanders, what logically thinking organization looking at the two resumes wouldn’t, but what actions did they take to actually deny him votes or ballot access?

      • I think she information campaigns were slanted towards Clinton and she received questions prior to the debate. To ask a question like what specifically was done and what evidence do you have kinda diminishes the effective usefulness of the DNC- bcs she took it over. So I think there’s a safe assumption that can be drawn that Clinton rigged the party, which in turn influenced the vote her way. I think that apparent. At least the evidence of what I said is apparent in the emails between her campaign and the DNC

        • Delaware Dem

          But that was Donna Brazile, who was a CNN contributor at the time and not a DNC operative or employee, that gave her a sneak peak at the questions. I am not denying that the DNC, and most elected Democrats and party officials, preferred Clinton. But if you think that sways the opinions of voters then why is Bernie the leader this time? Surely not because he is the preferred candidate of the DNC and elected Democrats and officials. And in 2008, if DNC preference is all that matters, then Obama certainly would not be the nominee. It is not apparent that DNC preference changed any actual votes. The only thing you can argue that the DNC did to favor Clinton was not schedule as many debates as it did in 2008 or 2020. There were 9 debates between October 2015 and April 2016. In 2020, there are already 11 scheduled debates between June 2019 and March 2020 with more to come. In 2008, we all went crazy with 26 debates between April 2007 and April 2008. So the lack of two debates really swung the nomination to Clinton from Sanders? Yeah, I don’t think so. Stop residing in conspiracy land like a Qanon cultist.

  3. Man oh man, that’s a lot of hairsplitting between liberals, ultraliberals, leftists, socialists, etc.

    Your premise makes more sense if you dispense with all the taxonomy and just say that a Democratic Party that puts the health of banks above the well-being of actual voters has been a huge flop.

  4. I agree with this. Bernie bro’s all told us we were wrong. If they win this nomination and lose the general, the progressive movement may be dead for a while.

  5. Dana Garrett

    For the many decades that I have voted, the constant refrain I’ve heard from mainstream Democrats is now is not the time to nominate a true progressive. That electoral pestilence will result and the Democratic Party will be harmed for years. (And, no, Obama was not a progressive. He was a self avowed moderate and largely governed as one.) The refrain in 2016 was that without Hillary Trump was an inevitability. Well we Hillary ran and we got Trump anyhow. Now in 2020 the refrain is up and running again with all the warnings about Bernie. Given the longevity of this refrain, I’ve come to the conclusion that most mainstream Democrats really don’t want a progressive president because they can never find a presidential election year where it would be good to support a true progressive. Never. They really aren’t all that interested in everyone having a guarantee of good health insurance or of making the minimum wage an actual living wage. Sure, they mouth these things during election years as worthy goals while saying we need to play it safe by nominating a moderate Democrat. But if that moderate Democrat wins, they sing his praises and don’t engage in any criticism if the president doesn’t deliver in a truly progressive way. Consider how ObamaCare was praised even though it didn’t cover everyone, allowed high deductibles and copays, and so on. Consider how they praise a moderate Democratic President who “compromises” on a minimum wage increase that’s less than a living wage. All those vaunted progressive values become forgotten and turn out to be fictions. It’s time that a real progressive gets a shot and I don’t think that if Bernie loses that that somehow means that progressivism is over for decades. How does that necessarily follow? The truth is most mainstream Democrats will always find an excuse to warn voters that now is not the time to vote in a real progressive.

  6. Final point. Somewhat older progressive here. Here is what I come to realize, progressives are not the majority of the Democratic Party. Progressives, especially younger ones like to think they are but not, especially in this state. The moment you realize this the easier it is to Try to actually win not get a “goal” number. My concern with bernie is he excites a 1/3 of the party. Everyone else is pretty skeptical of the guy. How do you win that way. Medicare for all is going to not play well in a general. Even if bernie wins does anyone really think it’s Gona become law? Of course not. So you are basically taking an electoral strategy risk to get the Biden health care plan when the senate makes him amend his bill. Those who don’t think a bernie lost will disastrous for the progressive movement are truly not being honest with themselves. Moderates will proclaim they were right. The back lash will be tremendous. Bernie is a huge huge risk for this party. He needs to get in general election mode, say how you pay for things, stop praising dictators and stop taunting “establishment democrats” you are going to need to vote for you to win. Bernie; you won the woke 20 something year old, now getting the cranky 35 year old mom in the suburbs up to her eyes in property taxes or that laid off union worker in Ohio is your goal now. He needs to get it together.

    • Please. Are you trying to say that Hillary Clinton “excited” the electorate? Give me a break.

    • What points of reference do you use to understand yourself as a progressive?

  7. Phillip Bannowsky

    Thoughtful article, DelDem.

  8. Steve Newton

    Here’s why DelDem is absolutely right.

    I am way away from most of you on the political scale. I honestly believe that many (though by no means all) of Bernie’s policies and positions could take the Republic in the wrong direction.

    I will take that risk because President Trump’s second term has the potential to take the Republic away, Period.

    I like parts of Tulsi, started with Pete in the Democratic sweepstakes, and I wish Joe had been the candidate he might have been eight years, even four years ago. Warren might make a good President but I do not feel her as a candidate. Bloomberg is nearly as big a danger as Trump. They need to begin the graceful exit after Super Tuesday. Sure, leave one of them in the race so there’s a reason to check the primary results all the way to the Convention.

    We have to roll the dice because we’ve been left with no other choices.

    Shakespeare, Henry V:

    “He either fears his fate too much,
    Or his desserts are small,
    Who dares not put it to the touch,
    To win or lose it all.”

  9. RE Vanella

    Delaware Leftist ™

  10. Stan Merriman

    I have a friend tracking early vote turnout in Texas and running models on big turnouts in the 45 an and under age cohort which suggest that it will require there improbable turnout levels in that category to take Texas for Bernie. so far he says it ain’t happening, not even close. Stay tuned.

  11. Bernie is, if anything, an Eisenhower Republican.

  12. RE Vanella

    After ruminating on this article a few days I realize I owe you all an apology. Four years ago I should have written something called “She Better Win”. That would have been very motivational I think. May have changed the world.

  13. Stan Merriman

    Sure Jason, a Bernie win here most certainly will result in massive support for our party’s work and our down ballot candidates ! NOT

    • yeah. If centrists pout and sit out, sure. But if you put your nation over your pride… who knows.

      Ya know, as a Warren supporter, I gotta say all this hair-on-fire rage at sanders, complete with repeating unvetted lies by the Bloomtrump campaign…. makes me think other “warren supporters” have no idea what her agenda actually is.

      Biden, who has never win a single race outside of Delaware (Obama could have won with a water bottle as VP) is not going to beat trump. He’ll collapse under the pressure and look weak and boring. Just as President John Kerry about that.

  14. RE Vanella

    Yeah, an activated, energized, mobilized electoral base of diverse working people won’t necessarily lift up the Chris Coonses of the world. I agree, Stan!

    Question: is this mass mobilization and organizing different that your “party work”? If so how?

    Anyway, considering, you know, current conditions I appreciate your primary vote for Jess Scarane. She’s running as a Democrat to active the same base. You know, party work.

    (Is this comment violence?)

  15. This virus, the uninsured, the under-insured, the lack of adequate health services for much of the population, and the costs of testing etc. will loom large and the public may well be embracing M4All by November.

    • ChrisMurphyCT
      “President Obama set up anti-pandemic programs in 47 vulnerable countries, as a way to protect against something just like Coronavirus breaking out across the world.

      Experts begged Trump to keep them open.

      He closed 37 of them.”

    • Windowpane

      I thought the revered Obamacare solved all of the problems. Guess not.

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