'Feel the Bern,' Round Two
Bernie Sanders has advantages and disadvantages entering the 2020 Democrat field.
Surprising exactly no one, Bernie Sanders threw his hat in the ring Tuesday for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination. “We began the political revolution in the 2016 campaign,” he said, “and now it’s time to move that revolution forward.”
Narrowly defeated by Hillary Clinton and DNC shenanigans in 2016, the Vermont senator is the guy who made socialism “cool” again. Medicare for all? $15-an-hour minimum wage? Bernie’s ideas, and pretty much every 2020 Democrat is running on them. In fact, the Democrat Party has gotten to the point that, as Mark Alexander wrote in 2016, “The distinction between ‘progressive Democrat’ and ‘Socialist’ is now largely in name only — a distinction without a difference.”
What does Sanders bring to the table? The Wall Street Journal rightly points out that he has “a loyal group of supporters and arguably the strongest online fundraising machine in Democratic politics.” Sanders won 22 states during the 2016 primaries and raised more than $230 million. Columnist David Harsanyi argues, “Bernie Sanders has had more national success than any Dem running. In a different kind of primary, he might have been the 2016 candidate. As a socialist, he also represents the future of his party. Why shouldn’t he run?”
Good question, and there are a couple of answers. Unlike 2016, Sanders isn’t competing against a very unlikeable and scandal-ridden Hillary Clinton; he’ll be vying for the socialist vote with the far more charismatic lineup of Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker, among others — Sanders is the 12th Democrat to announce a run.
Like all the other candidates, Sanders has constituents to rally. When asked about a running mate, Sanders said: “I think we would look for somebody who is maybe not of the same gender that I am, and maybe someone who might be a couple of years younger than me, and somebody who can take the progressive banner as vice president and carry it all over this county to help us with our agenda, and help us to rally the American people.” (Kamala Harris, check your Twitter feed.)
As Alexander notes, “At the end of the Demo primaries, their objective is to combine all their collective constituencies of dunces behind one candidate.”
Sanders is also a 77-year-old wealthy white guy, which is not a plus by today’s leftist standards. Thus we think NPR, of all places, has it right: “Sanders could be a victim of his own success.” His (terrible) ideas have captivated Democrats, but he’s too old and too white and too male to see them through himself.