Why Warren and potentially Sanders’ Campaigns were dead on Arrival.
Bernie Sanders’ broadside against the “Democratic establishment” is just downright sacrilegious, so say the moderates in the party.
How could Sanders, they say, paint U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, an
icon of the civil rights movement; and suburban women and black voters–the
trifecta credited with resuscitating Joe Biden’s presidential campaign—as the establishment.
And because the mainstream media love to chase shiny, superficial
but potentially damaging political talking points, Mr. Sanders explained he was
really talking about the billionaires supporting Democratic political candidates.
Sanders’ strategic retreat was surprising for a man whose
political rhetoric is a study of consistency.
The truth, however, is that the Democratic establishment is
more than its monied operatives. It is more a programmed mindset, and this
makes it more unassailable than the influence exercise by billionaire political
This mindset clings to the indubitable position that blatant and pervasive injustices in the “greatest democracy in the world” are best addressed by gradual fixes rather than revolutionary changes.
It is a mindset Presidential Biographer Jon Meacham put in perspective, following Biden’s surprising Super Tuesday triumph.
Meacham pointed out that the radicalism of Elizabeth Warren
and Bernier Sanders is not new, and to prove his point he threw out names like Henry
Wallace in 1948, George McGovern in 1972 and Norman Thomas “over many years.”
These are all individuals, he said, who argued for a “Democratic
Socialist safety net…that has an immense appeal to people, particularly when
they are suffering and when they don’t feel they are being included in the main
stream of American life.”
Nevertheless, Meacham said, “historically most liberal democratic
progressive has come from figures like Franklin Roosevelt, like Harry Truman,
like John Kennedy, like Lyndon Johnson, people who have been closer to where
Biden is than where Sanders is.”
“What’s true in American history is that the most liberal
progress has been made by people like Biden rather than by people like Sanders,”
It was this history that prompted Democratic Strategist Joe
Lockhart to tweet, “The Democratic establishment gave us civil rights, voting
rights, the assault weapons ban, Social Security and Medicare. “What have you
Of course, Sanders could have shot back, “stop blocking me
and I will show you what I can do,” or he could have simply noted the
inadequacy and vulnerability of the establishment’s liberal accomplishments.
Take voting rights, for example.
“In Texas, McClennan
County closed 44% of its polling places between 2012 and 2018,” MSNBC Host Rachel
Maddow noted Tuesday night.
“During that time, its population grew by more than 15,000
people, with two-thirds of that growth being African American and Latinos.
“In the 50 counties that gain the most African American and
Latino population between 2012 and 2018–counties where the population grew by
two and half million people–Texas, between 2012 and 2018, close 542 of the
polling stations in those counties. This is something that is systematically
underway in Texas. Texas is not the only state contending with this.”
Which brings us back to the mindset that is the Democratic
establishment. It is no respecter of persons, rich or poor, privileged or
That is why Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and who along
with John Lewis founded Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to advance
civil rights in this country, resurrected Biden’s presidential campaign by
giving him, on eve of the most consequential primary of this election year, one
of the most influential endorsement of modern times.
That is why African Americans on Super Tuesday voted
overwhelming for Biden, a 78-years-old throw-back politician who historically
has staked out positions adversely impacting their welfare, to include opposing
federally mandated busing to racially integrate schools and supporting the 1994
crime bill that led to the mass incarceration of African Americans.
And when the history of this period is written, should Biden
go on to win the presidency, there may be a footnote of how African Americans help
saved our democracy.
What will not be said is how, given the opportunity to push
for big structural changes, as advocated by Warren and Sanders, changes that
would greatly improve their lives, they passed it up.
That is perhaps understandable, given that they face the real prospect of some 65 years of civil rights gains being wiped out in eight years or less, given the fear that moderates in swing states would rather choose autocracy over Democratic socialism.
But as Meacham said, this shouldn’t be all that surprising.
This is who Democrats are—an establishment that prefers gradualism over