I have a new column up at The Federalist today, “Bernie Sanders Is Now The Moderate Democratic Presidential Candidate.” “Moderate” is always a relative term; here it refers more to Bernie — an independent socialist — arguably being the center of gravity for the Democratic Party at the moment.
The piece generated out of an editorial discussion. David Marcus made a similar point focused on Sanders’ launch speech, but I wanted to put that speech into a broader context of Democrats moving toward him on economics while moving away from him on identity politics. And part of this involves a brief autopsy of the Obama era. If I had more space, I might have elaborated on how the losses (in terms of officeholders) sustained under Obama contributed to the Dems’ thin bench in 2008, which in turn helped ensure Hillary Clinton would be the 2016 presidential nominee. Her failure in turn boosted socialist impulses within the party.
Another wrinkle to watch is the degree to which Bernie’s 2020 rivals grasp for woke positions in an attempt to peel away Sanders votes from the left. People will view this sort of thing through the lens of the primary horserace, but people should keep an eye on the degree to which this dynamic might result in a Dem nominee from the identitarian left — and what implications that would have for the general election.
Also, I might have added more than a joke to the idea that Sanders’ appeal might itself be its own form of identity politics, given that he and Joe Biden top the early 2020 polling. It’s impossible to disentangle that from pure name identification, but the point of the joke in the kicker is that it cannot be entirely discounted.
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