The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

AOC: Girl-Crush of the Bernie Bros

Posted on | February 25, 2020 | Comments Off on AOC: Girl-Crush of the Bernie Bros


New York Post columnist Miranda Devine argues that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “was [Bernie] Sanders’ secret weapon in Nevada, wooing the crucial Latino voters who propelled him to victory, and injecting much-needed ethnic, gender and age diversity into his campaign. Without her, he’s just another grouchy old lefty howling into the wind.”

Having a young Latina surrogate — too young to remember all the brutal Marxist-Leninist regimes for which the old lefty is so nostalgic — is helpful to the Sanders campaign. It certainly helps in states like Nevada and California where Latinos are now a majority of K-12 students. The fact that young people are the most enthusiastic supporters of the septuagenarian socialist is simply the triumph of hope over experience.

Selling obsolete economic fantasies to young people is the kind of scam with which no reputable person would wish to be associated, and Jonathan Chait is sounding the alarm about Bernie:

At the heart of Sanders’s campaign is a hard-core socialist vanguard which is indifferent to the Democratic Party except as a potential vessel for the Bernie revolution. Their calculation is perfectly rational. Even if Sanders is likely to lose, the small chance of success is worth the risk to a party they don’t care for to begin with. What is odd is watching rationalizations take hold among a much larger group of progressives who very much do care about denying Trump a second term, and who have explained away the risks of a Sanders nomination with a series of fallacies.
The first of those is a confusion over what it means to predict an outcome. “The truth is we are all clueless about what voters want or will accept,” argues conventional-wisdom-monger Jim VandeHei, in a signal of how deeply the anti-probabilistic fallacy has spread. It is true that there is uncertainty attached to every outcome. The talking heads who guarantee Sanders will lose are wrong — any nominee might win, and in a polarized electorate, both parties have a floor of support that gives even the most toxic candidate a fighting chance. In 2016, Trump was the most unpopular candidate in the history of polling, but he squeaked into office because everything broke just right for him. It could happen for Bernie, too.

Exactly. Intelligent liberals like Chait see the most likely scenario — Bernie leading Democrats into the wilderness, like Jeremy Corbyn did to Labour in the U.K. — while others are trying to argue that maybe Bernie can beat the odds the way Trump did in 2016. But the two big problems with that argument are that (a) a major reason Trump won was because Hillary represented the hated “establishment insiders,” and (b) Trump is an incumbent, running on a record of remarkable success. This doesn’t mean that Trump is a shoo-in for re-election in November, but it does mean that he is less vulnerable to a populist challenge.

There is a certain logic to the pro-Sanders argument: Trump won with right-wing populism, therefore Democrats should counter by running a left-wing populist. As logical as that seems, however, it neither expands the potential base of Democratic voters, nor does it address Trump’s real vulnerability, i.e., his brusque demeanor, which is offensive to the bourgeois sensibilities of the suburban middle class. What Democrats really needed in 2020 was a candidate who promised to restore the norms of respectable public discourse. Such a candidate would not necessarily be “moderate” in terms of policy, but he would speak in a calm and soothing way — polite and boring, the way nice politicians do.

Bernie Sanders is not a nice politician, and the belief that a grumpy old socialist is the ideal candidate against Trump — well, this is an untested hypothesis. Now that Sanders had emerged as the front-runner, his Democratic rivals are ganging up against him:

Joe Biden’s campaign is airing a new digital ad in South Carolina accusing Bernie Sanders of trying to undermine Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection by threatening to primary him. Pete Buttigieg was on TV in South Carolina hitting Sanders over health care and Mike Bloomberg targeted Sanders’ past gun votes.
“When it comes to building on Barack Obama’s legacy, Bernie Sanders just can’t be trusted,” the Biden ad, first obtained by POLITICO, warns.
The fusillade targeting Sanders on the eve of a Democratic debate in the fourth early state of South Carolina marked the latest turn in a Democratic primary that now has a decisive frontrunner. Each of the candidates, competing for a fraction of the moderate vote, are attempting to blunt the Vermont senator’s momentum coming off a landslide win in Nevada. . . .
Bloomberg, who will not appear on a ballot in South Carolina, is attempting to slow Sanders’ surge as the billionaire businessman is poised to face his first test in Super Tuesday states.
Bloomberg unleashed his own 90-second video spot saying Sanders was elected to the House in 1990 with the support of the National Rifle Association.
Ominous music plays in the background and subtitles read: “Bernie voted with the NRA and opposed federal background checks.”
The ad cited Sanders’ opposition to a background check bill in the 1990s and votes in the early 2000s against allowing lawsuits against gun manufacturers, issues that aligned with the NRA’s stance.

It can be predicted that, just as last week’s Nevada debate turned into a gang beatdown on Bloomberg, tonight’s debate in South Carolina will become a gang beatdown on Bernie Sanders. The problem is that Sanders has a hard-core base — somewhere between 20% and 30% of Democratic primary voters — that will not abandon him for any reason.

So the seven Democrats on the debate stage, including billionaire Tom Steyer, are all competing for the same anti-Bernie vote. This will continue into next week’s Super Tuesday primaries and there is no good way this ends for Democrats. Either (a) Bernie gets the nomination, and faces a high probability of catastrophic defeat in November, or (b) Democrats somehow cheat Bernie out of the nomination, thereby alienating 20%-30% of their own party’s base.

The best hope for Democrats, honestly, is a global coronavirus pandemic.



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