To me, the two biggest stories by far from Super Tuesday were the two surprises: the turnout and the telling contrast – that Bernie Sanders won his own state Vermont with 51% of the vote, while back home in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren was finishing third, rejected by almost 80% of Democratic primary voters. Sure didn’t see that last coming! Neither, I’m sure, did she, and now she’s “suspended” her campaign.
So, now there are two.
And Sanders’ home-state 51% may sound tepid, but on a ballot with many contenders, it was an out and out majority exceeded only by Joe Biden’s 63% in Alabama, who were surprised at the Bloomberg Rejection?
And, should anyone continue to be surprised that Sanders’ share of the Democratic Party is stuck somewhere between a quarter and a third?
The day after – Woeful Wednesday – candidate Sanders gave a statement that suggested he had figured the bad news out and figured out his way forward. The man who revived some of the best capitol-D Democratic ideas of the FDR New Deal may revive another treasured small-D democratic concept, the loyal opposition.
“Joe Biden is someone I’ve known for many years. I like Joe, I think he is a very decent human being,” Sanders told reporters. “Joe and I, we have a very different voting record. Joe and I have a very different vision for the future of this country, and Joe and I are running very different campaigns, and my hope is, in the coming months, we’ll be able to debate and discuss the very significant differences that we have.”
Oh, let it be true!
Let Bernie and Biden contend civilly in campaigns of contrasting ideas, contrasting modes of implementation of ideas, prioritizing ideas and budgeting their implementation, giving remaining Democratic voters and convention delegates well-articulated choice.
And as is so often the case in history, may some of the “loser’s” ideas gain more public understanding and political traction and overtake the more timid ideas of the winning candidate.
Medicare for All is so much more efficient and humane that it will eventually supersede the “public option” that Biden is offering as an improvement on an otherwise undisturbed status quo in the healthcare industry.
This will take a few more years, as more and more of the public buy in to the option. Someday we’ll get to Bernie Care, which is, I guess, what Biden meant when he said, celebrating his victory Tuesday night, “People are talking about a revolution. We started a movement.”
The pace as well as the character of the Biden movement was well summed-up by his campaign cochair Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.): “People know Joe Biden. He’s authentic. He has empathy. He’s concerned, and he has experience.”
Pardon an unkind translation: “you know Joe, a decent guy. He really feels your pain, although much of his experience, he’s been watching – full of empathy and concern, to be sure – while it grew.”
These are malign thoughts Sanders might – in the interest of party unity – suppress in favor of advocating for his own ideas about health care, homelessness and economic inequity.
John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, writes about politics for The Nation as its national-affairs correspondent. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books, and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress. Nichols also hosts Next Left, The Nation’s podcast featuring interviews with rising progressive politicians who explain how they plan to change our country for the better.
Nichols is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and dozens of other newspapers.
Nichols is the author of Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America (Nation Books) as well as The Genius of Impeachment (New Press); a critically acclaimed analysis of the Florida recount fight of 2000, Jews for Buchanan (New Press); and a best-selling biography of former vice president Dick Cheney, Dick: The Man Who is President (New Press), which was also published in French and Arabic.