A week ago he was dominating the Democratic ring, but today Bernie Sanders is on the ropes and a knockout blow from Joe Biden in the state of Michigan looks increasingly likely. So what happened?
The Sanders campaign of 2016 was not afraid to challenge the political establishment of the Democratic party on National Questions. On trade and borders Bernie spoke for the common people of the heartland, the people whose opinions had been ignored for years by other politicians. The power that their votes gave him, when added to those attracted to his democratic socialist ideas, allowed Bernie to climb into the Big Ring with Hillary Clinton, instead of staying on the undercard with James Webb, Lincoln Chafee and Martin O’Malley.
To win this year the Sanders team had to build on that achievement. And that is where they’ve failed.
Guided by the concerns and the energy of his young followers, Bernie went “woke.” He put the envy and the resentment of miseducated white youth and Third World Hispanics at the center of his 2020 preoccupations. Gone was any interest in border security; instead, turning America into one big international social welfare program was front and center. A victim’s perspective governed the choice of policies which the campaign pushed. “Oppressors” such as traditionalist whites had no place, other than in the lip service Bernie paid to “working families” in his speeches, a phrase that more and more people realized meant single Latinx moms.
Unfortunately for the “woke,” it takes more than rhetoric to hold the Coalition of the Ascendent together. Many of the individual parts have built-in antagonisms against others in the tent. Without the unifying bond of hating YT or its latest personification, Donald Trump — a bond that is shared by all of the Democratic candidates and is therefore not sufficient — those competing victim antagonisms always rise up and drive parts of the whole away.
So it is with Sanders 2020. Bernie’s coalition has traded rural, white, working-class voters for Hispanic voters, and that is a bad trade in Michigan,” said political scientist Matt Grossman, noting that only five percent of the state is Hispanic.
Sanders is looking more and more like a niche candidate. He’s only getting 30 percent or worse in every contest. The exceptions were his home state and Nevada, where he won with 40 percent of the vote. He’s not building a coalition; he’s simply renovated his old one.
The proof will come this Tuesday. Bernie stunned Hillary four years ago by winning Michigan. He was sure he had that state in his pocket this time around. After a disappointing Super Tuesday he really needs it, but his flip flops on immigration, healthcare for non-citizens and abolishing ICE have turned off many of his former supporters, who realize now that they are afterthoughts in the Sanders campaign.
Multi-national, multi-ethnic nations do not work without a supreme, confident enforcement power in charge, or an enemy at the gates. They are the dream of megalomaniacs and of American children, who still recall singing one-world anthems and paeans to equality in grade school pageants on United Nations Day. The unprecedented social experiment our incompetent leaders devised, which made us its guinea pigs, won’t work here either.
Bernie is about to learn that fact. California already is. The entire US will also learn it soon enough.