Sanders: Why moderate Democrats are alarmed
“From canapé-filled fundraisers on the coasts to the cloakrooms of Washington,” establishment Democrats are freaking out that Bernie Sanders might actually win the party’s nomination, said Jonathan Martin in The New York Times. The scenario keeping them up nights is that Sanders, like Donald Trump in 2016, will ride a fanatical base of support through a splintered, historically large field and get a critical mass of delegates. The moderates fear that “nominating an avowed socialist would all but ensure” that Trump gets a second term. Sanders would send the party’s big-money donors running for the hills, said James Downie in The Washington Post. Democrats also fear that his nomination would give third-party independent Howard Schultz a reason to get into the race as a spoiler—stealing Democratic votes and putting Trump back in office with less than 50 percent of the popular vote.
The party establishment is even mulling an overt “stop Bernie” campaign, said Jim Newell in Slate.com, but that would likely backfire. Sanders would just include that opposition in his “‘anti-establishment’ messaging.” And if mainstream Democrats succeed in damaging him and steering the nomination to someone else, his supporters could become so angry that they’d boycott the general election, as some did in 2016. I’m no Bernie fan, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, but would it be so bad if he won the nomination? He’s “a sure-footed campaigner” who nearly pulled off a major upset against Hillary Clinton in 2016, and no one can match his anti-establishment credentials or his “forceful” advocacy of taxing the rich, attacking inequality, and helping the middle class. He might actually be the Democrats’ strongest candidate against Trump.
The worst scenario for Democrats is not Sanders winning the nomination, said Andrew Malcolm in The Charlotte Observer. It’s the primary vote being so divided that no candidate wins a majority of delegates, leading to a contested convention in July. Because of Sanders supporters’ bitterness over the “superdelegates” who supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, these party elites don’t get to vote in 2020 until the second ballot. But imagine if Bernie’s ahead after the first go-round, and then the superdelegates step in to hand the nomination to a more moderate candidate. That would resurrect the Left’s belief that the nomination was “rigged”—and leave “precious little time for healing” before the general election.