Wherefore now, Democratic Party?

For a year I’ve spent uncounted hours reassuring and in some cases arguing in person or online about Bernie Sanders’ powers to woo the young and weave them into a formidable coalition. He’s learned since 2016, I said.

Last night made deviled ham out of my assurances:

Exit polls for five southern states that Biden won – Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia – found that young voters did not show up at the polls in the numbers they did in 2016.

In addition, the Vermont senator has been grabbing a smaller share of them in most cases.

In Alabama, only 7% of the voters were in the 17-29 range compared to 14% in 2016. Sanders won six of every 10 of those voters Tuesday compared to four of 10 in 2016.

In North Carolina, 13% of Tuesday’s electorate were young voters, compared to 16% four years ago. Of those, 57% went for Sanders in 2020 compared to 69% in 2016.

In South Carolina, young voters made up 11% of the electorate Tuesday compared to 15% in 2016. Sanders won 43% of those voters Tuesday compared to 54% four years ago….

Even Sanders’ home state of Vermont showed a lackluster turnout of young millennials and ‘Gen Zers.’ Only 10% of the state’s electorate were under 30 compared to 15% when he ran against Clinton, according to exit polls.

Well. 66 percent of the African American vote in the South went to Biden. Turnout exceeded 2016’s. In Texas, these voters spent hours in lines made possible by Chief Justice John Roberts and His Furious Five’s emasculation of the Voting Rights Act; few younger Sanders fans online mention the Supreme Court because doing so aligns them with “the establishment” they abhor. We heard, in one of the dismal of political clichés, about Biden’s South Carolina “firewall.” Instead, the Palmetto State became the flamethrower with which Biden set Sanders’ chances on fire. To win California would’ve cemented the nomination for Sanders; now it looks like his firewall.

To me, on this lovely Wednesday morning in South Florida, it’s clear Sanders did little to reassure the voters who turned against him in unexpected droves. Creating an equivalence between Donald Trump and the Democratic establishment mirrored the stupidest social media posturing of his most zealous fans who, if their posts are any indication, hate “the DNC” more than Donald Trump. Hell, what if Sanders had signaled he’d be open to a more moderate running mate? No names, just a floater. What if in speeches he’d said, “We need Doug Jones in the Senate!”? Or dropped the dumb “Democratic socialist” tag on which I also spent too much time explaining and defending; if you did too, you know shit about politics. Anything to reassure Trump-blasted Democrats.

It turns out primary voters in the South and Massachusetts like Democrats as an alternative to the GOP. They may have recoiled like many Latin Americans did in Florida from the hortatory praise for Fidel Castro’s education system. To dismiss the African Americans, former Republicans, and independents who voted last night in overwhelming numbers as people less livid about the state of the world, as several posts I’ve read have implied, registers as a variation on mansplaining. For one, it’s POC who have more to lose with four more years of Trump; it’s POC who have lost more since January 1980. They’re angry. They voted for Joseph Biden.

Listening to the former vice president last night, I heard a rasping, querulous man who offered platitudes. If he wins the nomination, he stands as good a chance as any of beating Trump – or losing. The Dems may be electing their own Ronald Reagan except older. We may be marching to our doom. But last night’s results confirm that the older Dems poorer and even browner than I am understand the stakes too. We have a difference of opinion. We share anxieties. Let’s work to smother them.

4 thoughts on “Wherefore now, Democratic Party?

  1. Having watched Jeremy Corbyn score many similar own goals, spending too much time attacking ‘New Labour’ rather than seeking to form a vital alliance with them to defeat the encroaching fascism of the Conservatives, and aided by zealous fans the worst of whom spit more venom at ‘Blairite’ MPs than across the House of Commons at the more deserving targets, I’m not surprised by Sanders’ fate or your own comments on what must be the beginning of the end of his campaign. Believe me, us deeply concerned leftists in the UK are watching events unfold VERY closely. We know that Trump is an existential threat to us, almost as much as he is to you. Good luck.

  2. Trump IS definitely an existential threat….to HARD LEFTISTS ! His threat to cleanup Washington (“Drain the Swamp” – a metaphoric promise to reveal the skeletons of nefarious crony capitalist leftists in congress and US bureaucracy) has triggered 3 1/2 years of maniacal behaviors and attempts to nullify and get rid of him BAMN. It’s a psychological mechanism that is real, a manifestation of guilt based on their fear of discovery and consequences. You are witnessing a historical turning point, 180 degrees, for the US Ship of State. Trump is a USA constitutional stalwart. He is so far antithetical to a king or dictator that human psychology tells us that guilty criminals in government and their network of illegal wealth acquisition will accuse him of being an “existential threat”. This syndrome is VERY revealing of their guilt. Their group-think contagion makes it seem like a movement. But the principle is like gravity, you can deny it or curse it or hate it, but you can’t repeal it. Human psychology is as real as physical science.

  3. The corporate Dems were never going to let Bernie win. & they were as big on voter suppression as the GOP. Don’t think they weren’t. They would rather have trump as ruler than Bernie … a politician who is more like Eisenhower than the Marxist they claim he is.

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