The Media Has Some Doors of Its Own to Choose, Too.
You might recall that a few weeks ago, I noted that what seemed like an interminable primary process would soon hurdle forward at great speed. Buckle your seatbelts. Here we are.
Things are happening pretty fast now. There is much talk about momentum, at least some of which seems overblown. But by the end of the first week of March, a lot will be settled. That is less than two weeks away.
What Door to Walk Through?
The Democrats find themselves with the following basic options. The sooner they choose which to go with, the better. In no particular order:
Option 1: Sanders builds on his momentum; he has a significant margin for the convention. Everyone rolls over. The party gets busy with unity. Sanders picks a VP that brings some comfort to others.
Option 2: The moderates all continue to run. They amass more votes than Sanders but split four ways until the convention. This leads to a contested/brokered/fractured convention. In this case, we likely get a bruised candidate and a bunch of bitter people who lost at the convention.
Option 3: Shortly after Super Tuesday, the moderates (Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar) decide to coordinate. The only rational approach is to coalesce around one candidate. They do so by discussion, by drawing straws, by playing rock-paper- scissors, but they do it. They give the message to unite behind a single candidate well before the convention. This yields a centrist winner or a near even contest to be settled by convention rules.
By the way, Sanders thought those convention rules were the only way to go in 2016, when he was in second place. Now he thinks whoever has a plurality at the convention should be crowned. Funny how perspectives change.
Variant A: The media starts to treat Sanders like a front runner and ask hard questions. His opponents decide enough of picking at Bloomberg, time to focus on Sanders. The rose loses some of its bloom for Sanders and he does not as well as he hoped on Super Tuesday. He has a good number of delegates, but not a credible mandate.
Variant B: That meeting at Option 3 includes Elizabeth Warren. She is designated a compromise candidate that most people can find attractive. Warren has most of the left of center agenda of Sanders, but without the rancor, temperament, or lack of program development of Sanders. She also has the possibility of actually getting legislation passed. Warren could chooses a centrist VP candidate and the race is on. Steyer is not registering enough to make much of a difference, but put him in the conversation, too.
What Will It Be?
Darned if I know. But some things are pretty clear.
One, Sanders is likely the one leading candidate that I would expect to lose to Trump. It is not a coincidence that the Russians are supporting him. Not because they like him, but because he is vulnerable in a general election and they want Trump back in office. Sanders is also working hard to alienate all the other Democrats alive today. Even if he should win, I would judge his prospects of getting major legislation passed to be near zero.
Most national polls I have seen of likely voters of all parties indicate intersting perspectives. About 65% do not like the idea of voting for a democratic socialist (yes, some of them don’t know what that means. So what?). About the same percentage wants universal health care. But they want to have choices in how to get there. Even more think free college for everyone, regardless of means, is wasteful at best. This is not a great foundation to build a winning national campaign upon.
Two, the moderate center has the votes in hand to carry the day or at least make it a clean fight. But the dance floor is too crowded. Time for adults to look in the mirror and at each other and decide who has the best chance to do this thing.
Three, the longer it takes Two to happen, the more likely it is to fail.
Four, the odds of two or more rounds of convention voting are getting to be high. If that is the case, one side or the other is going to lose. Both need to fight hard for their team, but not in a way that leaves followers embittered and angry. Much of that is how we got Trump last time around. I’m talking to you, Bernie – but to others as well.
The convention has a pretty decent process that all agreed to up front. Now is not the time to object to the rules. While we are on the subject, lets note the Super Delegates. They are more restrained in their power this time. That is a good thing but having them is also a good thing. If we do not have a first-round candidate, I want people dedicated to government and to a healthy party to weigh in. They have earned the equity to do so. Insiders? You bet they are, thank goodness. Those of us who show up every four years might want to be a little less full of ourselves.
What About the Media?
Not new, but there are fair complaints. The media has often concentrated more on the horse race than on the substance of the campaigns. Sanders has gotten nowhere near the sustained scrutiny of the other candidates. This is a repeat of what happened with Trump in 2016. He got a free ride for much of the campaign. This democracy business gets much tougher unless the Fourth Estate pulls their weight. Now.
The next time we talk, South Carolina will be one day ahead, and Super Tuesday will be only 3 days ahead. Where will we be by March 4?
If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:
(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you prefer not to identify yourself, make the last word in your COMMENT to be PRIVATE. I will ensure your post is anonymous.
(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts (https://agentsofreason.com). Let’s grow our circle.