After Saturday’s caucus in Nevada, I was shocked to see people get so worked up. Of particular note was Chris Matthews. But all I could think was, have these people been living in a cave?
The Real Clear Politics average going into the caucus had Sanders with twice the support of his nearest rival, Joe Biden.
So how did the first vote compare to the polling average? Shockingly well:
In other words, everyone did just about as well as they were supposed to. I understand that most people don’t pay attention to this. But political commentators? I guess they were living in a dream world.
But okay: a bunch of people freaked out. Luckily, a lot of people stepped up. In particular, I was impressed with Paul Krugman who wrote a short twitter thread, Bernie Sanders Isn’t the Left’s Trump. Sadly, the initial reaction was not good.
Most people got hung up on one thing that Krugman said, “Bernie Sanders is now the clear favorite for the Democratic nomination.” How dare he say that?! The same people who were freaking out because Nevada supposedly made Sanders inevitable were now freaking out that a gentle call for perspective included the fact that Sanders was the frontrunner.
The Sun Came Out
And then something changed. I can’t quantify it. There are still a lot of people who hate the idea that Sanders will likely be the nominee. But it’s different. There’s a certain resignation and acceptance that maybe he isn’t that bad — and certainly, he’s nowhere near as bad as President Donald J Trump.
I should point out, however, that the people who are against Sanders are not, in general, against him because they think he is horrible and will be successful in stealing the Democratic Party. Mostly, they are concerned that he will lose.
This is a reasonable concern. My biggest concern about Sanders was always that a large fraction of powerful Democrats would sleepwalk their way to the general election. But I no longer believe that.
It seems that the anti-Sanders forces are pragmatic (Who would have guessed?!) and understand that Trump poses an existential threat to this republic. And the last couple of days have shown that the process has begun for everyone to get behind whoever wins the nomination.
(To be honest, I don’t know about the other side of this battle. Sanders supporters seem to be younger and more volatile. I see a lot more “I will never vote for…” from them than I do from the other side. If Sanders starts to lose, I’ll face that then.)
Just Like the Democrats
I was thinking recently that Sanders getting the nomination is the most normal outcome for the Democrats as one could imagine. We tend to like justice. In 2016, we nominated the second-place finisher in 2008. And in 2020, we are heading to nominate the second-place finisher in 2016.
I think we can all take some solace in that. Krugman also wrote, “America under a Sanders presidency would still be America, both because Sanders is an infinitely better man than Trump and because the Democratic Party wouldn’t enable abuse of power the way Republicans have.” Sanders is no radical.
And if Sanders gets the nomination and loses the general election, that’s too bad. We have a system. It isn’t perfect. Nor is it clear that any Democrat will beat Trump in November. So yes, I think I am reversing on Bernie Sanders Won’t Unify the Democratic Party.
Regardless, we persist.