The 2016 Presidential election had two starkly different primaries. Inspired by hatred of Barack Obama, every Republican, big hands and small, came out to run. The 17 candidates in the field were all, at least relatively speaking, establishment candidates, save one Donald J. Trump. We now know, and we should have seen then, that Donald Trump was quite establishment, if not the most establishment candidate in the race. Elections are won on perception though, and everything about this shiny old orange toy seemed different.
If you liked the old guard your vote was split between many establishment candidates. There were a few Trump lite candidates (Carly Florina and Ben Carson), but Trump stood pretty much alone. The Republican establishment never wanted Trump to get elected, but he was hard to stop simply because he was the clear favorite. The establishment Republicans split their own vote. If the only two real candidates in the race were say, Marco Rubio and Trump, Trump may have lost.
Such was the case for the rigged 2016 Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The Democrats didn’t hate Obama, they wanted someone to succeed him. And while I am convinced the Obamas never liked the racist bully Clinton machine, the neoliberal mold was much the same. The agreement within the party was to let Hillary win. So no one who mattered bothered running. And everyone who mattered endorsed Hillary. Bernie Sanders didn’t matter much, but he, one of the few politicians in Washington who could see the disastrous implications of Obama style mediocrity, decided to run anyways.
Bernie Sanders soon became much more popular than Hillary Clinton because his politics benefitted the majority of the American public. Bernie was a very refreshing political figure. He spoke out explicitly against poverty. He wanted health care for all Americans. He offered all Americans a living wage and a chance to go to college for free. Bernie was not so much radical as he was radically sane. The people just loved him.
No one liked Hillary Clinton. Partly because she was a woman and partly because she was a nasty person. Thus when Trump called Hillary a “nasty woman” he could stumble into truth, not so much because he knew what nasty was, but because he didn’t like women. Regardless of the reasons, Hillary was disliked by everyone. She only won the primary for two reasons: 1. Because the party rigged it for her. 2. This was only a two horse race.
Now, we know the Democrats always rig their primaries. They don’t count mail-in ballots that are primarily from independents and poor people, they bar independents from voting in some states, they repress the votes of young people and people of color, they have a rigged delegate system, and they have a biased corporate media that really is propaganda. They could rig it against Bernie last time because Hillary could keep it close against him even if the rules were fair. 2016 was a two horse race and Bernie was universally unknown, starting the polls at about the 1% he despised.
Now, Bernie is known and is easily the most popular politician in America. I don’t think anyone likes even a single other politician in America. Indeed, if someone polled me I would say yes, I like Bernie, and no I don’t like X, Y, or Z. Bernie will be in the lead this primary season, and it won’t even be close. On top of Bernie’s new head start, he will have many Hillarys (perhaps even the Queen herself) running tone deaf campaigns in the Democratic Primary. They will split the establishment vote, leaving Bernie with a large lead.
Seeing that there is only about half a progressive in Washington, the establishment literally cannot water down Bernie’s base with other progressive candidates. They have no one to use! Maybe they wish they had kept a progressive or two around, but it is unlikely they see that far ahead. The neoliberal Democrats of all stripes will be using Trump as an opportunity for their own political gain. And the American public will hate all of them, for good reason. Every single one will present a wishy-washy emotionally charged Trump whining session that don’t relate to the daily lives of working people in America.
Meanwhile, Bernie, as he always does, will remain focused on the issues. He will speak about inequality, about funding for schools and roads, he will speak about regulations that will protect workers and the environment, he will speak about education for everyone, he will speak about the trade deals that are tearing this country apart.
And he will provide specifics. Bernie will, unlike the rest of the Democrats, have a plan for America. He will make promises he can keep because he is not indebted to corporate interests. He can have policy that makes sense for the working class because his campaign will be funded by the working class. And if Bernie is undermined again, the working class will be mad, even if this is missed by the talking heads of corporate media.
Now, of course dear reader, I agree with you, Bernie is an imperialist pig! (To quote Glen Ford). I try not to say that at a farmer’s door in Iowa, but we are in good company here on this publication, so we can all admit Bernie leaves a lot to be desired.
If Bernie wins, America will not have a peace President or even a socialist President. But 2020 is too unique an opportunity to boycott the project of electing Bernie. The Democrats hold no legitimacy other than not being Donald Trump (not the first thing I put on my resume, but true nonetheless). Bernie will emerge as the people’s candidate, capable of beating Trump handily. If the Democrats sabotage Sanders, they will be openly saying they don’t mind a Donald Trump Presidency. We all know the Democrats are the same as Trump, but when they must admit it they will lose legitimacy.
I see only two scenarios in 2020. Either the Democrats have to give Sanders the nomination and he beats Trump. Or, the Democrats have to sabotage Sanders, the voters bail on the party, Trump wins again, and the Democrats are revealed for who they really are. Either one is a step forward, but for their sake as well as our own, let’s hope the Democrats nominate Bernie Sanders, or they, and many more dying species under the Trump administration, will be extinct.