"Kiss of death" or much needed jolt?
Following last night's debate, Bernie Sanders got a lift in the market's odds of his success (while Elizabeth Warren limped a little lower - though remains the strong favorite when it comes to money, not polls).
And Bernie may be about to see another 'surge' as SaraACarter.com's Jennie Taer reports that three prominent freshman congresswomen, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have given Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) their endorsement for his presidential run in 2020. According to several polls, Sen. Sanders is the third most popular Democrat fighting for the nomination. Ahead of Sen. Sanders is former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“The Squad’s” endorsement followed what they believe was a “robust” performance at Tuesday night’s Democratic debate. On Twitter Tuesday morning, Rep. Omar wrote, “Proud to endorse Senator Sanders for President, glad that AOC and Rashida Tlaib are on board too. It’s time.”
Sen. Sanders is running his campaign on the ideals of “Democratic socialism.” Sen. Sanders’ plan for America includes ‘medicare for all,’ a ‘Green New Deal,’ ‘increasing taxes for the rich.’ Members of the squad also ran on these policies and continue to fight for them in Congress. For example, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is currently “The Green New Deal’s” sponsor in the House of Representatives.
"The Squad's" backing of Bernie fits with what The Nation's Jeet Heer noted previously, that the divide between the left and the moderates now defines the Democratic party.
With a dozen voices contending to be heard, it was impossible for the three leading candidates—Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden—to dominate the conversation or engage in extended arguments.
Instead, the crowded field divided into two major teams, the left and the moderates.
Sanders and Warren commanded the left team, but they were occasionally helped out by Julian Castro, Cory Booker, and, surprisingly, billionaire Tom Steyer, who agreed with Sanders’s contention that the rich have too much power in American society. Tulsi Gabarrd was the wild card of the group, supporting the left team on many occasions but occasionally veering off on her own, as in her willingness to accept unspecified restrictions on reproductive freedom.
The moderate Democratic team was larger, led by Joe Biden but also including Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang were the wild cards on this side, occasionally taking hard-line or outlier positions, but basically agreeing with the moderate team’s emphasis on national unity, civility, and the need to avoid radical change. Yang’s advocacy of the Universal Basic Income was more far-reaching than any other position on the moderate side, but it fell far short of Sanders’s call for a federal job guarantee. Similarly, O’Rourke’s strong position on gun control shouldn’t mask the fact that he’s not on board with any fundamental changes in the economic order.
New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie noted that “one consistent thread in these debates is how Castro (and Booker, to a lesser extent) regularly play the assist to Warren.” One way to think about this pattern is that Castro and Booker are auditioning to be vice-presidential picks if Warren is the nominee. Similarly, by sniping at Warren, Buttigieg was auditioning to be Joe Biden’s running mate.
As in the earlier debates, Sanders and Warren are clearly the intellectual leaders of the field, the ones who are defining the direction of the party with bold ideas like Medicare for All. Tellingly, the moderates often say they share the goals of these ideas, but they demur about the execution and emphasize the need to unify the nation against Donald Trump.
The recurring rhetorical move of the moderates is to concede that the goals the left wants are admirable and suggest that there are less divisive ways to get the same results. The problem with this argument is that in the polarized America of 2019, with Donald Trump regularly accusing Democrats of treason, the goal of conciliation seems utopian. Democratic voters very clearly want a fighter, which is one reason Warren is on the cusp of becoming a front-runner. Sanders, too, although he’s running third, has a solid base made up of one in six Democratic voters. On the moderate side, only Joe Biden has taken off, and his appeal is reliant on a nostalgia for the Obama era.
In terms of setting the policy goal, there’s only one team winning in the Democratic primaries: the left.
We will give the last word to Brandon Straka, who summed things up succinctly...
"He’s 78. He just had a heart attack. He’s a socialist. He’s perfect..."