With big wins in state after state over the avowed democratic socialist and erstwhile frontrunner for the nomination, Joe Biden has underlined in 2020 what Hillary Clinton demonstrated in 2016, and what mainstream Democrats who dominated swing districts across America proved in 2018.
Namely, the Democratic Party is not Bernie Sanders’ party. The sooner Sandersites wake up, smell the stale coffee and get on the Biden bus, the better.
No, the 30% or so on the leftmost edge are not unwelcome in a center-left, liberal and progressive coalition that’s also trying to bring into the fold independents and moderate Republicans exhausted and repulsed by three years and counting of Donald Trump. They must remain engaged and, we hope, energized.
Nor is it to claim that the ambitious policies offered by Sandersites are being categorically rejected. Many Democrats voting for Biden believe in moving toward single-payer health care. Millions of young voters are strained by spiraling college costs and outraged by rising economic inequality.
But Sanders isn’t running on a set of issues; he aims to overturn and reinvent the American economic and political system wholesale, on the promise that a vote for him will suddenly transform everything.
There aren’t enough revolutionaries, not nearly enough, to overwhelm voices closer to the middle, who vest their hopes in steadier but still substantial progress toward a fairer and more equal society.
In fact, younger voters were a smaller share of the Democratic electorate in 2020 than they were four years ago, and in most states, even those who turned out threw fewer of their votes toward Sanders.
Wednesday, as he pledged to stay in the race, Sanders cited exit polls to claim that he is winning the fight of ideas -- while for the first time conceding that he is losing the debate about who is best suited to beat Trump.
That’s a gross oversimplification. Sure, some voters otherwise ready to bubble in the oval for Sanders recoil simply out of fears that he will propel Trump to victory and consign Dems to down-ballot carnage. But equally large numbers, especially in swing states, want no part of a sudden lurch yanking their party from pragmatism to radicalism and, in a still-divided nation, dooming hopes of concrete progress in Washington.
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