Bernie’s Not-So-Hidden Weakness: Liner Notes

I have a new column up at The Federalist, “‘Stop Sanders’ Democrats Haven’t Noticed One Of Bernie’s Biggest Weaknesses Yet.” It went through editorial so quickly that I’m playing catch-up here.

The basic idea is that Bernie’s rejection of an open borders position on immigration could be exploited by both neoliberals and woke identitarians in a pincers maneuver. (In retrospect I wonder if I should have been more explicit on this pincers aspect, though I think the idea is expressed in the column.)

The key graf:

“Viewing the 2020 campaign from this perspective, the Democrats nominating Sanders would be not unlike Republicans nominating Mitt Romney in 2012. The GOP suffered steep losses in 2008, but roared back to reclaim Congress in 2010 based on widespread opposition to Obamacare. Having championed a mandate-based health system as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was effectively neutered on this key issue, dampening partisan enthusiasm for his candidacy. Nominating Sanders would require either a Romney-esque flip on immigration, or dispiriting the Democratic base on the issue that largely defines and fuels their opposition to Trump. “

Indeed, Dems’ split attitudes on immigration strangely echo the way GOPers acted in the wake of Obamacare in a more general sense as well.

I’d been sitting on this idea for a while; the NYT piece on “Stop Sanders” Democrats (to the extent that they aren’t mostly hype) became the news peg for writing up the argument. (I find that the odds of a pitch getting published rise dramatically if there’s a solid news peg on which to hang it). And following my rule of reader interest that people > events > ideas, having Bernie as a subject also helped, I think.

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