Studying the Sanders 2020 campaign is important for progressives. Failures are more important than great victories as they offer a chance to learn. The 2020 Sanders campaign again did well in making progressive policies more mainstream. The Overton window again shifted to the left as the Democratic party gravitated towards more progressive ideas.
And yet, Bernie Sanders failed this time around. If you fail to beat a candidate that gathers no kind of excitement, you deserve to take some of the blame.
There were internal and external reasons behind Bernie’s campaign unravelling. While the internal reasons behind Bernie’s campaign faltering and failing are intriguing and many, this piece is geared to talk about the external factors.
It seems like a long time ago now, but the establishment really was losing its mind in February. They had stolen a caucus win from Bernie in Iowa but could do nothing to stop him in New Hampshire and Nevada. The sight of Chris Matthews, Joy Reid, and James Carville losing their minds still brings a smile to the faces of progressives.
And then it all came crashing to the ground.
Moderates who wanted Bernie gone had their way. By Super Tuesday 2, it became clear that Bernie would lose the nomination for the second time.
A billionaire made Bernie radioactive.
The Candidacy of Mike Bloomberg
If a progressive writes the history of the 2020 Democratic primary many years from now, the name of Mike Bloomberg may only by a footnote. Despite spending over $500M on ads, Bloomberg will be most fondly remembered for getting pummelled by Senator Warren. The Nevada debate was arguably the most entertaining Democratic debate. Fearless and feisty, Warren ran Bloomberg into the ground.
When Bloomberg failed spectacularly on Super Tuesday, no one was surprised. His chances ended the day he decided to appear on a presidential debate alongside Warren.
And yet, something else was going on. Despite Bloomberg failing, his money and ads still worked.
Bloomberg’s candidacy was rightly seen by most progressives as a billionaire’s fight for survival. After watching Biden and other seasoned politicians fail to stop Sanders, Bloomberg entered the race to stop a socialist who would make his life and that of his friends very difficult.
Bloomberg put his money on the line. He didn’t bother setting up a fundraising network. Instead, he bought up many hundreds of millions of dollars worth airwaves to scare people away from Bernie. Many Biden voters had Sanders listed as their second preferred choice.
Bloomberg’s relentless ad campaigns made sure people stayed away from Bernie. This is why people who would have chosen Bernie after initially settling for Biden didn’t so despite the former vice president’s poor performances. The scare tactics worked perfectly. Despite failing miserably in the first three contests, Biden secured a sensational victory in South Carolina. Any effort made by Sanders to erode Biden’s base was nullified by Bloomberg’s millions.
In effect, Bloomberg served as an effective trojan horse that destroyed the Sanders campaign.
What Does Bloomberg’s Candidacy Say About the Democrats?
It says this – the Democrats don’t give a damn about progressives. They will in fact allow sexist and racist billionaires to enter the race with the sole motive to sabotage the progressive candidate’s campaign.
Any progressive who still hopes that the Democrats will be fair in the future is not watching closely.
Notice how Bloomberg quickly dropped out when Biden had Bernie at the ropes. It almost looked pre-meditated, as if the DNC had planned Bloomberg’s candidacy to nullify Sanders’ momentum.
It almost looks like the Democrats will do anything to stop a progressive from the nomination.
Is there hope still?