FOLLOWUP (Tuesday, March 17, 9:00 AM): Following on to Scriber’s post this morning, Charlie Sykes writes about Bernie’s Choice.
“Donald Trump must be defeated,” Bernie Sanders insists, “and I will do everything in my power to make that happen.”
“But will he?” asks Richard North Patterson.
After Tuesday’s primaries, Sanders will confront a defining choice: continue his doomed campaign—further attempting to damage Biden in the minds of both swing voters and his most fervent supporters—or seek an accommodation which preserves his influence and maximizes Biden’s chances.
His course remains worrisome. As Paul Krugman puts it, “Sanders and those around him have a bad habit of suggesting that anyone who questions their political strategy is a corrupt tool of the oligarchy.”
In the narrative too often embraced by Bernie’s base, Sanders never actually loses—he gets screwed. His designated antagonists are “the Democratic establishment” and the “venomous” and “corrupt” “corporate media.” From this perspective, the media slights his agenda. As for the party: “One of the things I was kind not surprised by was the power of the establishment to force Amy Klobuchar [and] Pete Buttigieg… out of the race.”
Conveniently omitted from this storyline is the free will of voters.
Patterson details the alternative reality that many of Bernie’s supporters have created to explain his electoral swoon, and the danger this poses to Democratic chances in the Fall.
With each loss, Sanders’ leverage dissipates; the bitterness of irreconcilables escalates. One of the many reasons Clinton lost in 2016 is that too many Sanders supporters ditched her. The essential choice for Sanders in 2020 is between facilitating Trump’s second term, and helping Biden become a candidate more of his voters can accept.