Jacobin - April 22, 2020

"To this day, Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and even Bernie Sanders — despite not running third party — have been widely blamed for Democratic defeats. And that blame-game isalready revving upfor 2020. At this point, it’s a two-decade tradition for liberals, even though the Libertarian Gary Johnson’s 3 percent of the vote in 2016 — to say nothing of Ross Perot or John Anderson — was more than any left-wing spoiler has received in almost a hundred years."

Joe Biden wrapped up the nomination on April 8, the day Sanders dropped out. And many prominent liberals celebrated the coronation of the man promising to bring their big ideas back to the White House by logging on and scolding his defeated rival’s most ardent supporters.

“This is the death throes of a movement, happening in real-time,” said Markos Moulitsas, co-founder of Vox and founder of Daily Kos. “Perhaps ‘organizing outside of electoral politics’ might have something to do with an inability to, you know, win elections?”

“These are not ‘left-wing’ voters,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “They are privileged white voters who demand to be bowed down to, no different than [how] Trump’s voters want those who are not white and Christian to take the knee for them.”

And they went after not only Sanders supporters, but two of his most visible campaign staffers — press secretary Briahna Joy Gray and senior adviser David Sirota.

“Good thing Sirota will never be hired again,” tweeted Brad Bauman, the former executive director of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “Sad that some thought him brilliant in the first place.”

“Makes for good for lots retweets [sic],” Keith Edwards, a Bloomberg campaign staffer, said of Gray’s defiant attitude, “bad for a political career. Good luck!”

Others, perhaps nervously eyeing November matchup polls between Biden and Trump, began to wring their hands about radical Bernie Bro saboteurs in their midst who threatened to hand reelection to the president.

“Important to recognize that Biden’s party unity problem is going to be driven by Berniesphere media — Chapo, Jacobin, Current Affairs, Bruenigs,” Matt Yglesias of Voxtweeted, “rather than by Bernie personally.”

It’s a summary of a short post by Yglesias which begins by arguing that this disunity “will be a real problem for [Biden’s] campaign,” but concludes:

Rather than spend time on a likely fruitless effort to court the left, Biden might want to accept that he’s going to take a lot of crap from the Berniesphere no matter what he does and just lean into his moderate brand.

The Left matters. But also they don’t. Confused? Here’s why — because the Democratic Party commentariat is also very confused.

“You’ll Get Nothing and Like It!”

They think they don’t need the Berniecrat left in order to win. But they’re not sure. In fact, they’re a little nervous. Add that to the fact that none of them are very enthusiastic about Joe Biden, a candidate who excites them considerably less than Hillary Clinton did, and you’re left with some antsy media liberals.

They got what they thought they wanted — a defeated Sanders. And yet they’re not at all happy about it. Which means, just as they did after Clinton’s loss to Trump, they’re already lining up the scapegoats.

To this day, Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and even Bernie Sanders — despite not running third party — have been widely blamed for Democratic defeats. And that blame-game is already revving up for 2020. At this point, it’s a two-decade tradition for liberals, even though the Libertarian Gary Johnson’s 3 percent of the vote in 2016 — to say nothing of Ross Perot or John Anderson — was more than any left-wing spoiler has received in almost a hundred years.

But Sanders is nothing like a Green Party candidate. Not only has he heartily campaigned for the Democratic nominee, he and his program have a mass, durable base of tens of millions proven now over two primaries. And yet from watching the Biden campaign unfold as the standard bearer of the 2020 Democratic Party, you’d never know it.

It’s not exactly a mystery as to what Sanders voters are after — jobs, health care, and higher ed for all with higher taxes on capital to pay for it. If Biden switched gears and began campaigning hard on even a compromised version of this program instead of “China!” he would have little problem winning over the vast majority of Sanders supporters — and likely a considerable number of nonvoters, too.

If Biden did the unthinkable and suddenly embraced Medicare for All — a considerably less wild idea amid a pandemic and a $2 trillion spending package — he might even get them out into swing-states knocking on doors.

Instead, in the face of Biden’s abysmal record, we’re given the same dashed-off bullet points buried deep on a campaign website. The genius of this approach is that Democrats can disarm troublesome left-liberal voices in the Discourse by shooting over a URL without their candidate ever having to publicly run on — and thus promise — any of these things (some of them quite good) to the general electorate. A promise buried on a website is one that certainly doesn’t need to be kept. ...
Read full commentary at Jacobin