To quote from a popular song from some decades ago:
Amie, what you wanna do?
I think I could stay with you
for a while… (song written by Craig Fuller, recorded by Pure Prairie League, 1975)
In a recent post I said I was all in for Amy Klobuchar in the Democratic primary. It’s still way early but currently fresh off a major win in the Nevada caucus, Bernie Sanders, that old socialist from Vermont, has surged to a clear lead in the pack.
The big surprise to pundits (and me too) is that polling suggests that Sanders’ appeal goes beyond a dedicated base.
But maybe it should not be a surprise. In 2016, a lot of folks were just plain tired of the same old, same old in presidential politics and voted for Donald Trump — not a majority as we all know, but enough to allow him to slide in via the Electoral College. And they got what they wanted: not the same old, same old.
And before I go further with the thought, let me get back to Amy. I saw her as a softer, moderating force at neither extreme of the left, right continuum, one who could appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. She could bring back a sense of stability and civility.
But you have to be able to win to do that. Still time, but Bernie is on a roll.
And now back to the original thought: Trump is anti-establishment and some form of a populist of the right (even though he does not fit into what I would normally think of conservatism). In my reading of history, populists were formerly seen as a phenomenon of the political left (they wanted to break out of the status quo). But Trump came along and called for a rejection of the status quo in the Republican Party and its conservative base, which maybe seemed like too much of a club in cahoots with the opposing party (they were all in it just to keep their cozy jobs by fooling the public). Trump had not been a politician and through the years he had identified with both liberal and conservative causes or issues. He was and is an opportunist, doing things primarily that appeal to his own vanity or narcissistic tendencies.
The phenomenon noticed in the last presidential election was that even though Sanders and Trump seemed to be, or were, identified as being on the opposite side of the political spectrum, they both engendered appeal among some of the same demographic, often identified as white working class and disaffected voters (ones who felt the Democrats had abandoned them after for so many years of at least claiming to represent them).
But Sanders’ appeal, then, and apparently now, seems to go beyond all that. For one thing, even though he is 78, he appeals to young people, who see the world far differently than their parents or grandparents. For many, the idea of upward mobility is hard to conjure up. Stability in the work place for most is all but a relic of the past. Affordable housing is a thing of the past. And one can have somewhat affordable health care if he or she is fortunate enough to have a job that provides a group plan — but more and more young people find themselves in jobs that do not. Many are in the gig economy, even with higher education. And they are paying off exorbitant student debt. They work as essentially independent contractors — independent of benefits and stability.
And another thing: young people tend to be more concerned about climate change. They want to have a future on this planet. Sanders is among those who are pushing for a stronger emphasis on the environment.
The old fashioned political right has sided with Trump, even though Trump is really apolitical I think. Much of the left is with Sanders.
Personally I would be more comfortable with someone in the middle.
I suspect that in the end, that is next November, voter turnout will be the key. A large turnout would augur well for, say Sanders, if he wins the nomination, of course. A low turnout means four more years of Trump.
Would Sanders turn us into a European social democracy? There could probably be worse fates, but I don’t see that anyway. Unless he had both houses of congress, he would be fairly constrained.
Meanwhile, of course, billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy the election with his own money. But when I saw him on the debate stage, I saw a man who looked like he was having a hard time suffering common folks. He might be able to buy silence from harassed women employees, but not the votes needed to become president (if I am wrong about that, well there goes our democracy).
Former vice president Joe Biden did come out second in Nevada, so don’t count him out, except, while Bernie got 10 more delegates to the national convention out of Nevada, winning 46 percent of the caucus votes, everyone else, including Biden, got 0 out of it (yeah, I don’t know how all that works either).
The current delegate count from the three primary elections so far:
Bernie Sanders: 31; Pete Buttigieg: 22; Elizabeth Warren: 8; Amy Klobuchar: 7; Joe Biden: 6.
Elizabeth Warren is in there fighting. Way back, a Republican and a conservative, she has become a firebrand of the left. And she has a plan for everything. And she is quick witted and fast on her feet. And that is all I can say about her at this time.
And of course there is Pete Buttigieg, who I always feel compelled to mention is gay. I mean that has to be figured in when calculating electability. But times have changed and a high voter turnout could help him if he were nominated. He is one of the most articulate and reasonable sounding and moderate candidates out there.
No doubt, though, Bernie is on a roll. Nothing enables a candidate to win more than winning.
So, Amy was clear down in 5th place. Some political observers say she and some of the others ought to drop out for the good of the party, leaving maybe one strong center candidate to beat the lefty Sanders, who could then go on to beat Trump.
Amy, what you wanna do?