Before the pandemic that turned America upside down, the bag of squirrels that was the Democratic presidential campaign presented a choice between “moderates” and “progressives.” (I’m using quotes because who knows what those terms actually mean.)
As I look back at what happened, there were several waves. I am speaking here in broad strokes and I won’t mention all of the candidates because there were two dozen of them, larger than the cast of “A Chorus Line.”
The first debate took place on two consecutive nights and it looked like a visit to Madame Toussaud’s House of Wax. The Democratic political narrative was Left versus Center, which way do we go?
The Left says had Hillary Clinton not cheated last time, Bernie Sanders would have beat Donald J. Trump. The Center says Clinton did beat Trump — in the popular vote, meaning more Americans liked her policies, which were moderate.
The 2020 question: Do we turn Left, or hug the Center? Joe Biden’s assumed victory was historic — no candidate before had lost the first three primaries and returned to win. The answer seemed to be Center. But is that what will happen?
Early on in the race, the energy of the party was captured by those farthest left, meaning Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Most “moderate” or “centrist” candidates — such as Steve Bullock, Michael Bennet, John Hickenlooper, and Tim Ryan — were quickly weeded out.
Interestingly, the “oddball” candidates had a longer shelf life, such as Marianne Williamson, Tulsi Gabbard, Beto O’Rourke, and Andrew Yang, who became a national celebrity.
The next wave eliminated most of the “traditional progressives,” such as Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, Julian Castro, Joe Sestak, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bill de Blasio.
Moving quickly to the finish line, we have the “Final Five” (using NCAA terminology): Biden, Sanders, Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg. Other hangers-on Gabbard and Michael Bloomberg had no traction.
The Final Five were three moderates and two progressives, finally shaking down to progressive Sanders versus moderate Biden.
South Carolina turned Biden into Lazarus, raising him from the dead. He then became a Roman candle, kicking Sanders in the pants in most of the following primaries.
It was Progressive versus Moderate, and the majority of Democratic primary voters said, “moderate,” loud and clear.
Then, amazingly, having won as a moderate, Biden suddenly skidded leftward to seduce Bernie Bros to his banner. Why would Biden adopt policies he had just defeated?
To me, that spelled doom for his campaign. The rest of America is not as Left as most Democrats and most Democrats said no to Sanders.
Then came coronavirus. Thousands of Americans fell dead, and millions lost their jobs, wrecking the economy, which had been Trump’s re-election ticket.
Fair or not, Trump is catching most of the blame.
While we are still six months away from the election, recent polls are bad for Trump. He’s almost 10 points behind in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida, all of which he won in 2016 and which he needs to win this year. Those four states voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Before November, we are likely to have more than 100,000 dead Americans, and an economy that is still in the ditch. Independents are feeling buyer’s remorse. All this is deadly for Trump.
Now, my pivot.
While I felt moderation was the road to success, I now believe Biden is free to move even farther to the left. He can capture the Bernie Bros and make inroads into the 45% of the electorate who did not vote four years ago. Uncle Joe can be a transformative president, Mount Rushmore-worthy.
Yes to free higher education, Medicare for all, forgiving all debts, a guaranteed minimum income, parental child-birth leaves, rent control, reparations for African-Americans, Open Borders. Let’s give Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez an orgasm.
I don’t support any of the above, so I won’t be voting for Biden, who has already moved too far left for me. (I also won’t be voting for the needy, low-brow, egomaniacal incumbent.)
If it is true that Donald Trump is badly wounded, as I believe he is, Biden is free to shrug off moderation, go crazy left and mold a new Democratic Party that socialists George Bernard Shaw and Eugene Victor Debs would love.
You know the saying — Go big or go home.