Moderates Declare War on Bernie Sanders

For progressives, this should be a worrisome development.

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Courtesy of Flickr by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Last night, the moderate lane of the Democratic party had officially consolidated when recent race drop-outs Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg announced they’re endorsing Joe Biden, forming a unified alliance against the progressive wing of the party as their lane remains split between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. This is a blow to the left who once thought a Sanders nomination to be within grasp, only to have their biggest threat bolstered prior to Super Tuesday, with Warren refusing to drop out, potentially handing the nomination out to Biden on a silver platter.

How this came to be, is the normal work of electoral politics. Amy Klobuchar’s standing criticism of American politics is that it distanced itself so far from whom it was supposed to serve, that her attunement to the midwestern voter was going to be an advantage; similarly, Pete Buttigieg could not stop flaunting about his work as Mayor of South Bend, while not missing a single chance to take a dig at the political establishment in Washington as being out-of-touch with what the average voter really wanted. Now that the campaigns of Klobuchar and Buttigieg have both bit the dust, they’ve essentially betrayed their ethos in search of power–this meant lining up behind Biden, even when every single piece of messaging in their campaigns would’ve hinted at a begrudged, yet symbolically-significant endorsement for either Sanders or Warren.

The similarity of Warren and Sanders however, should not drive attention away from what is at stake for the progressive left–under current circumstances, Warren’s candidacy is an existential threat to the Sanders campaign, and if it persists, it has the likely chance of dooming both to failure. Much has been said about casting a vote for Warren as a feministic gesture — a working proof that women with much ambition can indeed succeed — but what would be the anti-feminist thing to do right now, is splitting the vote of the progressive lane, such as either candidate are unable to plot the course forth for their progressive agenda.

This is a decisive moment for the American people–as Trump assumed presidential duties back in 2016 after Barack Obama had been the only president that so many young people can remember having, many see their involvement in the American political system as a moral imperative. Corruption is a main staple for the current administration, foreign policy has been nothing short of a disaster, immigration policy is an inhumane clusterfuck, federal agencies like the CDC and the EPA have had their funding significantly paired back, and it seems as though the fabric of American society is held together with mere split and glue. Aware of what the persistence of a dysfunctional government can allow, the youth have mobilized to make their voices heard, and they’ve squarely landed behind Bernie Sanders — the establishment however, has other plans.

It’s easy to shrug off claims of conspiracy as being too cynical, but it’s hard to see why that kind of thinking wouldn’t organically develop, especially when the odds are so firmly stacked against the progressive left. Elizabeth Warren recently walked back her ‘No PAC money’ policy, as her campaign is reportedly looking to ‘blunt’ Sanders’ momentum–this happens after months and months of the non-profit and NGO world fawning over Warren’s ability to activate their ‘nerd identity politics’ ticks — as founder of ‘People’s Policy Project’ Matt Bruenig would describe it — and it’s still within the realm of possibility that her defeat would nonetheless be lauded as a victory, even if it means her progressive platform is at least offset by another four years of Trump, or an otherwise uneventful democratic presidency under Joe Biden.

But this isn’t about reclaiming the pre-Trump days for many–it is about recognizing that those heavily embroiled in the machinations of Washington have become irreversibly corrupt, and that their pandering to the weak, is but a mere instrument to have them eventually cower before the powerful. It’s no secret that Bernie Sanders is so far the only candidate who held loyal to not accepting donor money from the wealthy — as that would principally make him at odds with the working-class — and it’s a downright mystery why those seeking change aren’t throwing all the social capital they have at getting him as far along in the election process as they could.

Several figures in the #Resistance left like Alyssa Milano, Debra Messing, and others have cast their hat out for Joe Biden. They’re doing so after allegations of self-indulgent hair sniffing and forceful hugging were looming large over his appeal with the democratic base, but given that “pussy-grabber” is currently the most powerful man in the world, it’s unlikely that it would have made the slightest dent.

What this ultimately proves, is that however callous vectors of power can be within a society, those who wish to uphold the ways of old, settle in the comfort of their unshaken status, and scoff at the notion of radical change, will never betray their class. A Joe Biden presidency wouldn’t be a return to times past, but indeed a persistence of what has been and will continue to be. Mitch McConnell would’ve been unwilling to cooperate with a democrat in the White House regardless, and now he has a realistic shot at working with the most naive.

It’s impossible to not feel a sense of despair after all of this. An entire generation of young progressives — if their demands aren’t met — might forever feel alienated by the political process. The core calculus isn’t even about electing Sanders anymore–the main critique of Bernie’s rivals, is that they’ve co-opted pieces of his campaign from 2016, portraying them as novel when the Vermont Senator was advocating for them decades ago. Whatever your opinion of Bernie Sanders or his fans may be, it isn’t hard to make the case that what they stand for is the most humane campaign in the history of American politics. A future where the rift between poor and rich closes is one that the powerful aren’t too keen on, but it’s one that only Bernie Sanders is intently adamant about achieving.