Senator Bernie Sanders endorses former Vice President Joe Biden.
For the cynical and ruthless political analysts, this headline is not surprising. The common wisdom in D.C had always been that Sanders would fail to cobble together enough delegates to win the nomination.
Some cited the lack of diversity in the Sanders coalition as his major weakness. Little did the D.C analysts know that winning a nomination doesn’t take any kind of diversity. Just make sure old people turn up and the Democratic nomination is yours. For a party that wishes to court the vote of young people, Biden’s nomination is as baffling as it is poetic.
There are many reasons why the former vice president has been successful in winning presidential primaries for the first time in his political career. This piece does not seek to understand any of those reasons. For better or worse, there is not much left for the progressives to be excited about this election cycle.
This period calls for introspection and self-analysis.
Why do progressives lose?
Are Progressives Addicted to Losing?
When did progressives last beat the establishment in any important political battle?
The fact that one has to think is reason enough for disappointment. Every two years there are the odd stories of some progressives winning primaries from centrist establishment Democrats. There are even stories about progressives who fought hard and lost.
Where are the big victories? People like to look at the Sanders campaign of 2016 as an example.
Progressives have to grow out of their affinity to valiant defeats. The Sanders campaign of 2016 was revolutionary and game-changing, but it was a defeat nonetheless.
Where are the big wins?
To cite FDR’s presidency as the last time progressives held power over the establishment should be embarrassing for progressives. More than three-quarters of a century has passed since FDR was president.
The question is – are progressives addicted to losing? Is this the reason why progressives generally lose the big battles?
Progressives long to see progressive policies become the norm in US politics. Medicare for All, Free College, and an end to Regime change wars are not merely electoral planks for progressives. They care about these issues as much as hard-core conservatives care about tax cuts and the Second Amendment.
Reason Number One – Infighting
The world of progressives would be a dream for a scriptwriter to be in. The sneaky nonsense progressives talk about each other is more diabolical than anything centrists and conservatives can throw at them.
The 2020 Dem Primaries are a good case in point. As soon as it became clear that Biden was the only viable candidate in the centrist lane to take down Sanders, all the other centrists fell in line. A call from Obama was all that was needed to make Pete, Amy, and the others drop out and endorse Biden.
Why did this happen? The centrists had one mission – stop Sanders. The primaries were never about Trump. Biden knew this and so did all the other centrists. Once it became clear that Biden could take Bernie out, the centrists fell in line to make sure the mission was successful.
Progressives don’t have this level of discipline. Much has been said about Senator Warren and there is no further need to elaborate on the matter. The only point is this – the progressives didn’t have a collective mission. Unlike the centrists who were focused and motivated on doing one job, the progressives were trimming their nose hair and hoping for things to fall in place.
Some political campaigns are a clash of ideologies. This primary cycle was a clear example of one. However, if one side fails to establish its core goals, it will fall apart. This is exactly what happened in this primary season.
Reason Number Two – A Lack of Spine
Senator Sanders deserves praise for the seismic change he brought to American politics. Based purely on merit, there are only a few people besides Sanders who can legitimately lead the progressive movement.
There is one problem Senator Sanders has always had. He is not ready to do what is necessary.
On January 20, Zephyr Teachout wrote an op-ed piece in the Guardian stating that former vice president Joe Biden had a corruption problem. Teachout was a surrogate for the Sanders’ campaign.
Her piece should have been viewed as a natural step taken by one candidate to take on another. For a long time, Sanders and Biden represented the focal points of the Democratic primary. The piece was a summation of some of Biden’s weaknesses.
On January 21, Sanders apologized to Biden for the piece.
Let’s put things in perspective here. In the 2016 Republican primary, Trump mildly insinuated that Ted Cruz’s father could have been involved in the JFK assassination.
Now Senator Sanders doesn’t need to stoop to the lows that Trump did. However, there is a lesson to learn here. Trump never apologized for the remarks, like he never apologizes for anything, and he is the president.
Sticking to your guns is sometimes better than keeping your friends happy. Undoubtedly, Sanders failed to take Biden down on his abysmal record.
A lack of spine may seem like a harsh phrase, but it is apt when one studies the Sanders campaign, and especially Sanders during the 2020 cycle closely.
Reason Number Three – Following Mainstream Media Dogma
Progressives generally claim they don’t care what the mainstream media says about them, but they do.
This is the one defining reason why Sanders lost. Through the media, the DNC was able to make removing Donald Trump the biggest goal of the entire 2020 electoral cycle.
A true progressive would have pointed to the flaw in this strategy. Working-class voters don’t care if Trump outrages the DNC and mainstream media (in fact, they kind of like it). The working class wants to know what progressives can do for them. Instead of wasting time dunking on Trump, Sanders would have been better served to turn his cannons towards the DNC itself.
Agreeing to support the eventual Democratic nominee was the biggest blunder Sanders could have made. Everyone knew that losing the race was a possibility for Sanders. However, by agreeing to support the eventual nominee, Sanders gave up all the leverage he could have used in the weeks preceding the convention to extract concessions.
What do we have now? It is probably too early to say as there is no clear knowledge of the discussions Sanders and Biden have had. All indications point to the fact that Biden could present a more conservative Democratic platform than the one Hillary had in 2016.
Progressives should have never kowtowed to the mainstream media in making Trump the primary issue of the race. Their doing so effectively made electability the main issue and Biden the presumptive nominee.