There is plenty of debate going on as to the future of the Democratic party. The knee-jerk, ill-advised response to the Electoral College defeat of Hillary Clinton has been to embrace (at least for now) the continued path of Bernie Sanders, some even calling for him to run for president again. First, stop that. Second, Bernie’s way will not lead Dems to the White House or majorities in the House or Senate. It is not any more plausible now than it was in 2016.
The future of the Democratic party may in fact be more progressive than Hillary Clinton but let’s not forget, Hillary Clinton got three million more votes than Donald Trump and she did so as a somewhat unlikable and certainly untrusted candidate.
Let’s also not forget a key constituency of the Democratic party—minorities—didn’t buy what Bernie was selling. He did poorly among African Americans and Hispanics. He hasn’t changed his act. What makes anyone think any candidate in the same mold will change that?
Count me among those disappointed that Hillary Clinton’s new book blames everyone but herself for her loss. (She manages to claim she takes “full responsibility” for her loss while simultaneously laying the blame on Trump, President Obama, the Russians, James Comey and Mrs. Peacock with the candlestick in the library). She is, however, correct about Sanders being an important part of why she lost.
Dangerously, the Bernie Bros are still working overtime to push their ideological purity litmus tests on Democrats including some of the most promising rising stars. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is already getting presidential buzz for 2020, was bashed as not sufficiently liberal and a pawn of out-of-touch, big-money party donors. That is more counterproductive. It’s inaccurate and perilous.
Sanders backers are popping up in various groups around the country. One such organization called Our Revolution is not doing Democrats any favors. The local Massachusetts chapter has put up a challenger to Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone. Our Revolution decided Curtatone is not liberal enough. One, Curtatone is just this side of Mao on the political ideology scale. Two, the candidate it endorsed to challenge Curtatone, Peyton Corbett, has spent most of his time trying to explain racially and sexually insensitive Facebook posts.
It’s anecdotal but the Somerville, Mass. example of Bernie Bros influence on the Democratic party is indicative of a larger problem. Sanders supporters are demanding ideological purity on issues like single-payer health care. If you’re a Democrat and you have not pledged to support such a system, you are the outs with the Sanders crowd. That’s very dangerous.
Some top potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are onboard with the single-payer bill backed by Sanders, others think the focus should be on saving Obamacare from Trump administration sabotage.
Connecticut’s Chris Murphy has actually taken a position of trying to establish a sort of “stealthy on-ramp to single payer.” It’s actually a smart idea—shore up Obamacare and create a situation in which a single-payer system is possible while being distracted by an immediate push for the Sanders bill. It’s another reason why Murphy is a serious contender for the Democratic nomination in 2020.
Sanders needs to reign-in his obnoxious supporters making trouble for Democrats who may not march in lockstep with their socialist views. Those who are not will be damaged, those who do can’t win. That’s a troubling situation.