No, Biden Shouldn’t Move Left

Sanders supporters need to get on the bus.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Now that Bernie Sanders has finally bowed to the inevitable and dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, a raft of pieces are coming out with the counterintuitive idea that it’s time for Joe Biden to adopt some of Sanders’ ideas to unite the party. Jordan Weissmann is typical:

Now that he’s the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden has to make an overture toward disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters, only 80 percent of whom say they’re ready to back him in the general election. It’s not just that Biden needs their votes (though he does). It’s that the party’s younger, left-leaning members deserve to be treated like equal partners in a coalition rather than as a nuisance that ought to keep quiet and get in line at the polls. The former vice president won’t win over everybody (to state the obvious), but he should still make a good-faith effort.

Weissman’s actual proposal is interesting and I’ll deal with it in a separate post. But the opening premise is a doozy.

Traditionally, we’d say that, having gotten his ass kicked in the primaries, it’s up to Sanders to rally his supporters to the cause and for his voters to get over it and get on board. That, having won the nomination, Biden should actually pivot to the center to appeal to independents and swing voters.

Further, while it certainly behooves the nominee to be nice to the supporters of the losing candidates, they are no way in hell “equal partners.” Not only has the nominee earned the right to run on his platform, the primaries vindicated it. After all, Biden has won just about every contest starting with South Carolina and most of the other candidates dropped out before Super Tuesday and endorsed him, not Sanders.

Still, a lot of smart people are on board with the notion that Biden needs to appease Sanders and his supporters.

Indeed, Biden seems to be among them. As POLITICO‘s Mark Caputo reports (“Leftward ho! Biden pivots to progressives“):

Biden shed any pretense about his need to win over Bernie Sanders voters when he announced a pair of proposals Thursday aimed at assuaging wary progressives: lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 years old, and forgiving all student debt for low- and middle-income people who attended public colleges and universities, as well as those who attended private Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other institutions that serve minority students.

While unorthodox for a general election nominee, Biden’s decision not to move to the center was both a tacit admission that he has a problem with young and progressive voters, as well as a gamble that he can remain the real centrist in the race against President Donald Trump.

“We don’t need to pivot to get independents because he already appeals to independents,” said a Biden adviser. “These are ideas that we feel should appeal to Bernie’s voters that are well in keeping with Joe’s principles.”

But the futility of this is rather obvious:

But progressives were quick to point out that expanding Medicare is not “Medicare for All,” and some debt forgiveness is not debt forgiveness for all.

“It’s Day 1. We expect to see more. He’s got a long way to go,” said Waleed Shahid, a spokesman for progressive group Justice Democrats and a former Sanders staffer. On Wednesday, Shahid’s group was part of a coalition of progressive outfits that issued a list of far-reaching demands they want Biden to adopt.

They got soundly trounced in the Democratic primaries. And they’re issuing demands?

Meanwhile, the Republican response was as you’ds expect:

On the other end of the spectrum, the Republican National Committee issued a statement that welcomed Biden’s leftward move: “In the first full day of the 2020 general election, Joe Biden continues his embrace of the Sandersnista agenda.”

Matt Yglesias believes “Joe Biden will have a very hard time winning over the Berniesphere.”

Biden performed poorly with younger voters, who tend to be less reliable turnout targets than the sort of older people who make up his base. Sanders voters also have low levels of institutional attachment to the Democratic Party, so they’re prone to defecting in a way that other factional support might not be even if they lost. And last but by no means least, while Sanders himself will most likely support the ticket, if Biden loses it will be seen as a semi-vindication of Sanders’s ideas about politics, and if he wins it will be a refutation of them.

Further, because Biden has such a long track record, Yglesias thinks any significant policy shift would come across as inauthentic, potentially alienating his own supporters without gaining the trust of younger, more progressive voters.

Additionally, Yglesias agrees with me and the conventional wisdom that centrist swing voters, not the hard left, is where Biden should focus his efforts. It’s just basic math that “every voter on the margin between Democrats and Republicans is worth twice as much as every voter on the margin between Democrats and the Green Party.”

Still, Yglesias plausibly argues, there are some policy ideas Biden could adopt that would appeal to both those groups.

To the extent that Biden can court left-wing voters by adopting progressive positions that are broadly popular, it would be smart politics to do so. The biggest example of issues like this, however, are things like full legalization of marijuana and capping credit card interest rates, neither of which are closely associated with Sanders (though he does support them both).

But these are left-wing ideas worth embracing primarily because they’re also popular with the electorate at large, rather than because they’ll earn Biden plaudits from the Berniesphere.

Back in 2016, Hillary Clinton’s concerted efforts to court Sanders voters contributed to the perception that she was ideologically further from the center than Donald Trump without changing the fundamental reality that leftists were sour about her.

Rather than spend time on a likely fruitless effort to court the left, Biden might want to accept that he’s going to take a lot of crap from the Berniesphere no matter what he does and just lean into his moderate brand. If he does, the left is sure to howl that he’s betraying progressive values — just as they predicted.

But realistically, he’s going to be seen as a likely betrayer no matter what he does, simply because a certain quarter of the left sees the Democratic Party establishment as a constant source of betrayal and there’s no way for Biden to get away from the reality that he is a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool member of the establishment.

While I fully understand the sentiment of both the progressive left and populists of all stripes that the system is fundamentally broken and needs an overhaul, the utter calamity of the current administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic should be enough for people to welcome the return of a grownup to the Oval Office. Right now, competence and decency matters more than ideology.

There’s a decent chance that Biden, who’ll turn 78 a couple weeks after Election Day, will step aside to let someone else carry the Democratic banner in 2024. He would, after all, be 82 at a second inauguration and 86 at the end of a second term. It’s almost a given that whoever follows Biden will be more politically progressive.

For now, though, taking the country back from Trump is the first and only concern.

UPDATE (0703): It also occurs to me that a President Biden will naturally be more progressive than Candidate Biden simply because of the brutal fallout from the present crisis. There will naturally be pressure to improve our healthcare infrastructure and support for measures to provide more economic security for the sort of underpaid workers we’re relying on to keep the shelves stocked and the packages delivered. That’s far more likely to happen under Biden than in a second Trump term.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Lounsbury says:

    It’s just basic math that “every voter on the margin between Democrats and Republicans is worth twice as much as every voter on the margin between Democrats and the Green Party.”

    I think this is poorly expressed as it says that the specific voters are more valuable. What the actual calculation is that on a turn-out and actual-vote (versus Twittering and complaining), the float in centre is twice as valuable by both numbers and results.

    It also seems quite plausible as an even stronger argument for the specific electoral geographies – the central USA and new South, where those voters are more important. Running up the count in California (or even just in urban centres) is rather useless.

    2
  2. Kari Q says:

    It’s a truth universally acknowledged that any candidate who wants to win needs to embrace the policy preferences of the pundit writing the article (or giving the interview for it). Every single one of them believes there is a vast reservoir of voters out there who agree with them and will come out in drives if only Candidate X announces they agree with that pundit on every single issue.

    These voices from the left are going to say that you have to go left. Friedman is saying Biden needs a unity cabinet. Centrists will say he should move to embrace their views. Max Boot would probably encourage him to take a hard line in the Middle East, and Laffer would tell him to call for tax cuts.

    If I was a candidate (and let’s all be grateful I’m not) I would take advice on how to win the general election seriously only if it was clear that the advice was contrary to the giver’s personal policy preferences.

    14
  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Yesterday, I looked at the outlines for his Medicare expansion and college tuition forgiveness. Frankly, the Medicare expansion was pretty weak tea and doesn’t begin to address the holes in Obamacare. At least let anyone buy into Medicare and set up subsidies for those under a certain income level. I’m not as versed in the ins and outs of the college debt issue, but his proposal seems realistic.

    When I read the summary, there were 3 comments, all seemingly from Berniecrats whining. I had to laugh at the one who believed the college debt plan was poor because it didn’t cover his graduate education. Entitled.

    Joe should chase the moderate voter and try to attract nominal rethugs who are appalled by Tiny. Screw the Berniecrats.

    6
  4. Lounsbury says:

    @Kari Q:

    I would take advice on how to win the general election seriously only if it was clear that the advice was contrary to the giver’s personal policy preferences.

    Wise observation.

    Additionally be sure to be heavily data based and not confuse National with the 50 mini-electorates that is the actual contest.

    @Sleeping Dog: Charming, ‘rethugs’ – like Dumbocrats and Libtards, a charmingly stupid and self-defeating bit of rhetorical nastiness.

    11
  5. Kit says:

    The right running mate could square a lot of circles.

    5
  6. Scott F. says:

    True, Biden should not move to the Left to get Sanders’ supporters, because the true believers can’t be got.

    Also true, Biden should move to the Left, because the Overton Window is so far to the right in the US today that timid, incremental steps toward progressivism won’t do enough to fix what the Time of Coronavirus has shown us is broken with regards to our healthcare system and the economic vulnerability of far too many citizens.

    11
  7. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Screw the BernieBros. If they are stupid enough to stay home on this election day…then I don’t want then in the tent…because that means they aren’t much smarter than Cult45.
    The last couple month make ti clear we have to reform Health Care…a for profit system will never be able to deal with an emergency. The system is cut too close to the bone in order to maximize profits.
    And it is shocking, shocking…how many Americans are 1 paycheck from disaster during “The Greatest Economy in History.
    Beyond that…I want to see a program for how Trumpism is going to be reversed…that is a yyuuuge job…and job one.

    9
  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    It’s just basic math that “every voter on the margin between Democrats and Republicans is worth twice as much as every voter on the margin between Democrats and the Green Party.”

    The first group may be worth twice as much, but the later group has the advantage of actually existing. While both Trump and (ironically) Clinton had personal reasons to push the story that Trump won because of an unexpected rush of Obama->Trump voters, the reality is what killed Clinton was a failure to inspire her own base, who then just stayed home or voted third party.

    2020 is not going to be about swing voters, it’s going to be about enthusiasm. Anyone who isn’t completely against Trump by this point is a lost cause and chasing after them is just wasting resources. If they haven’t switched yet, nothing will ever get them to switch. What is critical is getting people who sat out to get to the polls, particularly in the face of an organized Republican efforts to prevent people from voting in Democrat heavy areas.

    That may require adopting some more progressive policy preferences, although in this case I think Warren would be a better guidestar than Sanders, since she actually had workable plans instead of unicorns and doesn’t have the toxic fanclub that forms a (small!) part of Sanders backers.

    9
  9. Kathy says:

    Look at recent history. George H. W. Bush shifted right in response to a challenge by Buchanan, and lost the election to Bill Clinton.

    Confounders, of course: Bush the elder was essentially serving Reagan’s third term, and he was no Ron Reagan. This may have cost him turnout from his own party. Also, yes, the country was very different back then.

    As to the Bernicrats, I’m reminded of a meme I saw on Facebook last night:

    You have a choice between two meals on an airplane. One is bland chicken with boiled potatoes. The other is cow dung with shards of glass smothered in monkey emesis sauce. The Sanders supporter given this choice will question how the chicken was prepared and whether it is organic.

    11
  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kathy:

    To use your own example, if the entire plane has to agree on one meal, is it more effective to tell the guy going “if we don’t put 11 herb mix on the chicken, I just won’t eat” that “okay, we don’t have 11 herb mix, but we can add salt and pepper” or to try to tell the guy going “look, I don’t like eating dung, but I really want shred my intestines with glass” that “okay, I won’t put glass in it, but maybe we can put sand in it?”

  11. Kingdaddy says:

    Worth reading, in the context of “moving left” to Sanders’ positions:

    https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/04/thank-you-bernie-sanders

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Some months ago I might have agreed with you that low enthusiasm doomed Hillary and we needed a candidate to motivate the D base. But I have come around to believing that one, if the Rs abandon the middle, it’s silly to not pick it up, and two, Ds don’t need to worry about voter enthusiasm, Donald Trump is taking care of that. Voter enthusiasm is driven by negative partisanship.

    It’s true that the persuadable middle is largely a myth, but not 100% a myth. The 30, 40, whatever percent that identify as independent aren’t. But 2016 swung on the famous 77,000 votes in three states. In those states the largest Trump margin of victory was 0.7%. If 0.7% stay home, or .35% flip, Biden wins. (% of electorate, or in terms of of Trump voters, 1.4% stay home or .7% flip.) There are that many persuadables in the middle. This is going to be fought in the suburbs, where women hate Trump and maybe their husbands will stay home. The second front will be black turnout, which was much lower for Hillary than for Obama. (Duh. Not IIRC particularly worse than Bill.) Biden will probably pull more blacks to the polls than he’ll lose Bernie Bros.

    All other things being equal. Coronavirus, Trump’s awful response, and GOP efforts to leverage the virus to ratfrack the election, change everything. And at this point I have no idea how it all shakes out.

    8
  13. Anonne says:

    @Kathy:
    H.W. Bush also had Ross Perot who drew 20% of the vote.

    6
  14. Anonne says:

    If you really think that there are more NeverTrumpers than leftists, then by all means, go with that and enjoy 4 more years of Trump. They tried that in 2016.

    It’s not a cult of personality. There are people with policy priorities that, knowing that Biden is not going to deliver, will vote third party, leave the top block blank, or not vote at all because the results will be fundamentally the same. Biden has already assured his billionaire donors that nothing would fundamentally change for them. That means nothing will fundamentally change for the rest of us, and we will get four more years of Trump or worse than Trump down the line if Biden somehow pulls out the win.

    Biden is not entitled to anything. The Democratic Party is not entitled to anything. Biden has to earn the votes. If you think telling people to shut up and eat shit is going to work, you have another think coming.

    5
  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Anonne: My favorite fundamentals model, which IIRC without checking is Bartels, says it’s very hard for a party to win a third term and nearly impossible to bet a fourth. He calls it “voter fatigue”. I call it the “rainbows and unicorns factor”. ‘They’ve been in charge seems like forever and we still don’t have rainbows and unicorns, vote the bastards out.”

    And Hillary had Jill Stein and whoever the Libertarian was. I’m not hearing anything from third parties so far this year.

  16. Anonne says:

    @gVOR08:
    The numbers for third party votes were not abnormal in 2016. What was abnormal was the number of people leaving the top block blank, which eclipsed the numbers for Stein and Johnson in a number of places, especially Michigan. Clinton and her camp refuse to take responsibility for the fact that she ran a crap campaign. They expected a coronation. Yeahhhh, no.

    4
  17. mattbernius says:

    UPDATE (0703): It also occurs to me that a President Biden will naturally be more progressive than Candidate Biden simply because of the brutal fallout from the present crisis. There will naturally be pressure to improve our healthcare infrastructure and support for measures to provide more economic security for the sort of underpaid workers we’re relying on to keep the shelves stocked and the packages delivered.

    I think this is a really important note and it changes the dynamics of the race. I actually think this is why Candidate Biden does need to be explicitly as progressive as President Biden will most likely need to be.* I don’t think most of the country or political commentators have come to terms with how bad the coming recession (possible depression) is going to be and how badly our social safety net and institutions are about to be strained.

    The data we keep seeing at CFA is really, really scary. And I think that’s going to rapidly shift a lot of windows and people are going to be looking for a lot of decisive action (or at least promises of such during the campaign).

    The question is whether or not Biden can get out of his own way and shift positions. Or if he, like Clinton will not be able to get past their personal somewhat conservative instincts (Marijuana reform is an example of where both of them are/were out of step with the rest of their own party. On that one, based on conversations with people inside her campaign, Clinton absolutely refused to budge at all).

    * – Note that still won’t be as progressive as core Sanders supporters will want him to be.

    2
  18. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Anyone who isn’t completely against Trump by this point is a lost cause and chasing after them is just wasting resources. If they haven’t switched yet, nothing will ever get them to switch. What is critical is getting people who sat out to get to the polls, particularly in the face of an organized Republican efforts to prevent people from voting in Democrat heavy areas.

    I think there are a lot more people who voted for Romney and might vote for Biden than people who voted for Obama but won’t vote for Biden. There are a whole lot of people out there who dislike Trump intensely but nonetheless voted for him when the alternative was Hillary. I think Biden can get a significant chunk of them.

    11
  19. Robert Sharperson says:

    @Stormy Dragon: In 2018 election returns show that the Dems turned out the base, reduced the GOP margin among working class whites in the Midwest and ran up margins among upscale suburbanites. Biden should make the base his priority, but what is wrong with spending significant time in the Rustbelt and courting white college voters? I am not sure why this turns off the base?

    1
  20. Pylon says:

    @Anonne: The people leaving the top blank and the people voting for Stein would be a pretty interesting Venn diagram if you add the third component of “former Bernie supporters”. This is the thing Bernie supporters ignore when they make the claims about Clinton’s campaign. In other words, the Bernie-ites voting for Stein versus just taking their ball and going home were functionally equal.

    3
  21. Anonne says:

    @Pylon:
    Trying to shame voters is a dumb strategy. It puts people on the defensive, hardening positions rather than building bridges. This has been the most destructive result of 2016, and Russia had nothing to do with it.

    There is a component of people who would NEVER vote for Hillary, and there is a component of people in the Green Party that would never vote Democratic because of the aforementioned voter shaming.

    The point is that the margin should never have been so close as to turn on what is normal 3rd party voting margins. She had a ton of flaws that Bernie had nothing to do with, and she failed to put in the effort in Wisconsin, Michigan, etc. in the hope of flipping Arizona and Texas chasing the elusive NeverTrumper. She ran a crap campaign.

    4
  22. Han says:

    @Anonne:

    They expected a coronation. Yeahhhh, no.

    You mean like Bernie this year?

    13
  23. wr says:

    @Anonne: “there is a component of people in the Green Party that would never vote Democratic because of the aforementioned voter shaming.”

    Anyone who even pretends to care about what the Greens pretend to care about and didn’t vote for Clinton after what happened with Nader in 2000 deserves not only “shaming,” but permanent exile from any polite society. These are narcissists on a Trumpian level, people who believe that the only thing that matters is the purity of their vote and not the consequences of an election.

    And if they have a problem with that, I urge them to speak to the widow/widower/orphan of anyone who perished on 9/11 — or anyone (on either side) who died when President Daddy Issues decided to prove his manhood by invading Iraq.

    19
  24. EddieInCA says:

    @Anonne:

    If you really think that there are more NeverTrumpers than leftists, then by all means, go with that and enjoy 4 more years of Trump. They tried that in 2016.

    It’s not a cult of personality. There are people with policy priorities that, knowing that Biden is not going to deliver, will vote third party, leave the top block blank, or not vote at all because the results will be fundamentally the same. Biden has already assured his billionaire donors that nothing would fundamentally change for them. That means nothing will fundamentally change for the rest of us, and we will get four more years of Trump or worse than Trump down the line if Biden somehow pulls out the win.

    This is so sunningly naive that I have a hard time believing an adult wrote it. I’m old enough to remember 2000, when Ralph Nader (who was Bernie long before Bernie) siphoned off enough votes to give the presidency to GWB because there was no difference between Bush and Gore.
    In 2016, Bernie Bros did the same thing.

    If after 2000 and 2016, people like you STILL don’t get that there is a real difference between team D and team R, then I say the hell with you. No. I’m not chasing you down to get you to vote for someone other than Trump. If you, in your heart of heart, believes there is no difference between a Joe Biden Administration and a second Trump Administration, then there is nothing I can do to help you. BernieBros (and Jill Stein Voters) and Nader voters screwed the country. Now you can dress it up any way you want, but those are the facts. Left leaning voters (“Leftists” in your original post) who would rather vote GOP or Green as a “F*ck You” to the Democratic establishment aren’t interested in ANY meaningful change, just posturing and virtue signaling.

    Nader voters in 2000 gave us Alito and Roberts. Bernie and Stein voters in 2016 gave us Gorsch and Kavanaugh. But in your mind, it will be dark days if Biden wins. EFF you!

    I’m tired of this idea that somehow mainstream Democratic positions (i.e. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton) are equal, in any way, to the GOP. It’s wrong.

    So stay the f*ck home if you think Biden and Trump are equals. Just stay home. l

    19
  25. EddieInCA says:

    @Anonne:

    The point is that the margin should never have been so close as to turn on what is normal 3rd party voting margins. She had a ton of flaws that Bernie had nothing to do with, and she failed to put in the effort in Wisconsin, Michigan, etc. in the hope of flipping Arizona and Texas chasing the elusive NeverTrumper. She ran a crap campaign.

    On this we agree 100%. But both things can be true.

    1. Clinton ran a crappy campaign.
    2. Bernie and Stein voters screwed up, royally, by assuming the Clinton and Trump administrations would be the same, causing a whole of of pain to the country by their stupidity.

    14
  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @mattbernius:

    Unfortunately we don’t have that candidate, we have Joe. It’s difficult to believe that he’ll be more progressive that he has demonstrated to be over the last, what 45 years? Remember how hard it was to get Obama to embrace liberal causes? You couldn’t convince to add a public option to the ACA.

    Also Biden is going to have his hands full rebuilding the government. This is not going to be the typical presidential handover where the permanent bureaucracy is in place running the store till the new management team arrives. Tiny has wrecked havoc in government and driven many talented people out of it. Before any great new programs are implemented, we’ll need a bureaucracy to support them.

    @Robert Sharperson:

    A reminder that the upscale suburbanites who voted Dem in 2018 were new to the party. Also, Nancy’s majority is built on seats won by Dems who took moderate positions.

    4
  27. Blue Galangal says:

    @EddieInCA: I think I love you.

    @Sleeping Dog:

    It’s difficult to believe that he’ll be more progressive that he has demonstrated to be over the last, what 45 years?

    He just has to be *functional.* Jesus Christ, this isn’t rocket science. He’s the nominee, he knows how government works, he has a brain, and he’s a decent human being. How is any of this worse than four more years of a poo-flinging demented monkey?

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That’s all.

    17
  28. Lounsbury says:

    @Scott F.: Theoretical constructs like ‘overton window’ are precious egghead geekery. There is nothing in the USA Covid19 situation that particularly speaks to its health care system so far. Its disaster response system and management, well that’s another matter.

    But the comparative data between well developed European systems and the USA do not show anything that says national health care system is a meaningful predictor of Covid19 pandemic impact. In fact the contrary.

    Of course the usual partisan policy kneejerking, where any existing policy desired is obviously a solution to any crisis….

    (in short covid19 says nothing about universal health care one way or another)

    @Anonne: Strawman.
    The data show clearly there are more suburb Centrists as party flee floaters than there are Bernie Lefty. And they vote in larger percentages and more reliably than the Purity Pony Left.

    Never Trumpers as in Republican Party members is merely a sub-set of that.

    6
  29. Sleeping Dog says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The purity leftist have internalized the belief that if the president is bad enough the voters will come swarming to a leftist candidate. Well Tiny is that bad and there is no ground swell for a leftist candidate. Bernie didn’t do as well this campaign as he did in 2016. The folks who are brand themselves democratic socialist are at heart masochists and they enjoy getting beaten by everyone but Dems.

    @Blue Galangal:

    I agree the Joe will be “functional,” but if you are hoping for an agent of change that will bring reasonable progressive dreams to fruition, the candidate will need to be more than functional.

    Joe’s entire campaign message is that he is the candidate who will return America to normalcy, i.e. Obama’s second term. If he does that, then his will have been a successful presidency. If are hopes and dreams are beyond that, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment.

    In January, I viewed Joe as an awful candidate due to his lack of vision. But the plague has changed all that, so normalcy will be a victory.

    4
  30. Kari Q says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    You couldn’t convince to add a public option to the ACA.

    The need to get 60 votes in the Senate was more responsible for the lack of public option than anything Obama said. If I recall correctly, Baucus of Montana flatly said he would not vote for a bill that included a public option.

    Not that I disagree that Obama was a moderate, mind you.

    7
  31. Monalaa says:

    @EddieInCA: @wr:

    In 2016, here in liberal Washington, other than Stein on the ballot for president, there wasn’t a single Green candidate for any office in the state. There were Independents running for governor and other offices, as well as Libertarians and and Constitution and Reform Party candidates and folks from some parties I had never heard of. That shows me just how un-serious the Greens are, if they can’t be bothered to field any candidates for state and local races in a state where they likely have a lot of support.

    9
  32. EddieInCA says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Imagine the last 16 months with a GOP house and Kevin McCarthy as Leader instead of Nancy Pelosi. What gave Dems the house in 2018 was running MODERATE candidates all over the damn country. It worked. People are tired of the clown show. Someone – anyone – moderate and stable – will walk away with both the popular vote and electoral college.

    Hell, Trump may be the first GOP nominee in history to lose the military vote after the last three months.

    10
  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Anonne:

    It’s not a cult of personality. There are people with policy priorities that, knowing that Biden is not going to deliver, will vote third party, leave the top block blank, or not vote at all because the results will be fundamentally the same.

    If your policy priority is universal healthcare, the guy who isn’t doing enough to expand coverage and the guy who wants to eliminate coverage for half of America are not “the same”.

    If your policy priority is wealth inequality, the guy who isn’t doing enough to raise taxes or promote underclass wealth-building and the guy who wants outright kleptocracy and serfdom are not “the same”.

    This has nothing to do with “entitlement”. It has everything to do with a forced choice between acne and cancer.

    7
  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Anonne:
    There is no building bridges with extremists. Whatever Biden offers it won’t be enough, because he and his voters are only interested in one vision. A vision that is absolute fucking fantasy because: Senate.

    There’s no word a Bernie Bro hates worse than ‘Senate.’ That one word is proof that they’ve been drinking the Kool Aid.

    3
  35. Anonne says:

    @EddieInCA:

    This is so sunningly naive that I have a hard time believing an adult wrote it. I’m old enough to remember 2000, when Ralph Nader (who was Bernie long before Bernie) siphoned off enough votes to give the presidency to GWB because there was no difference between Bush and Gore.
    In 2016, Bernie Bros did the same thing.

    If after 2000 and 2016, people like you STILL don’t get that there is a real difference between team D and team R, then I say the hell with you. No. I’m not chasing you down to get you to vote for someone other than Trump. If you, in your heart of heart, believes there is no difference between a Joe Biden Administration and a second Trump Administration, then there is nothing I can do to help you. BernieBros (and Jill Stein Voters) and Nader voters screwed the country. Now you can dress it up any way you want, but those are the facts. Left leaning voters (“Leftists” in your original post) who would rather vote GOP or Green as a “F*ck You” to the Democratic establishment aren’t interested in ANY meaningful change, just posturing and virtue signaling.

    Nader voters in 2000 gave us Alito and Roberts. Bernie and Stein voters in 2016 gave us Gorsch and Kavanaugh. But in your mind, it will be dark days if Biden wins. EFF you!

    I’m tired of this idea that somehow mainstream Democratic positions (i.e. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton) are equal, in any way, to the GOP. It’s wrong.

    So stay the f*ck home if you think Biden and Trump are equals. Just stay home. l

    You read WAY more into what I wrote. I didn’t say that they were equal, that there was no difference between the two. For the record, I held my nose and voted for Clinton so you can shove your self-righteousness where the sun doesn’t shine. You make people like me WANT to stay home.

    But you also reveal your stunning ignorance of the reality of the nonvoter. The “Bernie Bros” label is just a liberal weapon to shut people up. The people who didn’t turn out to vote are largely working class people of color for whom not a whole hell of a lot changed between Obama and Trump. I don’t agree with them not voting but when I take a second to put myself in their shoes, I can see that their cynicism is largely justified. The suburban professional can’t seem to grasp this and it’s easier to fling names at people than realize that the system fails these people.

    The two-party system which is really just two branches of corporatocracy fails people regularly. Blaming people like Nader or Sanders for having the temerity to participate in our democracy is odious. Put up a better candidate. It’s the candidate’s responsibility to earn votes.

    1
  36. Teve says:

    Bernie did worse this year than 2016. And he’s not gonna be viable in eight years after Biden anyway.

  37. Gustopher says:

    Both Bernie and Trump have run as populists in a way that Biden just won’t. It’s why there are Bernie supporters who would genuinely prefer Trump win rather than Biden — Trump in campaign mode in 2016 talked about jobs the same way Bernie did. Solutions differed, but problems were recognized and vocalized.

    I don’t think moving to the left is going to help Biden win those voters over.

    I think he should move to the left because the problems in this country are large and can only be solved with a progressive agenda.

    This election is going to be a referendum on Donald Trump. Biden moving two steps to the left isn’t going to change that. It will change his perceived mandate if he wins.

    5
  38. Lounsbury says:

    @Gustopher: Perceived mandate is post election spin. And useless self-deception among political junkies.

    the only thing that matters for achieving policy goals is if the President has a Congressional majority to work with. The rest is journo and politico junky Just So Narrative.

    2