Democrats' choice: Unite or go down to defeat

The first six weeks of 2020 were supposed to provide a degree of clarity and direction in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary race. The state of the race — and of the party — is far from certain, however. 

For one thing, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Republican calls second bout of COVID-19 'far more challenging' Conflicting school mask guidance sparks confusion Biden: Pathway to citizenship in reconciliation package 'remains to be seen' MORE, who was once thought to be the clear Democratic frontrunner, experienced two disappointing primary losses and has seen his poll numbers precipitously decline, creating a high level of uncertainty in the race.

Further, following the botched Iowa Democratic caucus, which left the party in a state of disarray, last week’s New Hampshire primary only served to exacerbate inner Democratic Party divisions.

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While Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTo break the corporate tax logjam, tax overinflated CEO pay Will Pence primary Trump — and win? Grassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa MORE (I-Vt.), a self-described Democratic socialist, may have won, a more comprehensive look at the results reveals a Democratic Party at war with itself.

While the far-left or more liberal candidates — including Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWill Pence primary Trump — and win? Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks MORE (D-Mass.) — collectively earned 35 percent of the New Hampshire vote, the center-left and more moderate candidates — including Biden, former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegJD Vance takes aim at culture wars, childless politicians Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary The Hill's Morning Report - High-profile COVID-19 infections spark new worries MORE and Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharBiden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill to hold platforms accountable for misinformation during health crises | Website outages hit Olympics, Amazon and major banks Competition laws could be a death knell for startup mergers and acquisitions MORE (D-Minn.) — collectively earned more than one-half of the vote, with 53 percent between the three of them.

Indeed, while Sanders may have eked out a victory, a majority of the New Hampshire voters aligned with the moderate bloc of the party.

This discrepancy poses a serious problem for Democrats as the primary season continues. In order to build a broad-based coalition of voters to defeat Trump, there needs to be an understanding within the party that the message will be inclusive, will encourage unity and will eventually focus on supporting the nominee.

An encouraging sign for the future of party unity is that two primary candidates with fundamentally different world views — Sen. Sanders and former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg — have both openly stated that they will support whomever is the party’s eventual nominee.

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Bloomberg, who is not competing in any of the early states, has indicated that even if Sanders or Warren are the nominee, he would be willing to put inner-party differences aside and support them, as it is most important that the Democrats defeat President Donald Trump.

To be clear, I am working for the Bloomberg campaign now and have worked with the former New York City mayor for more than two decades; indeed, I am proud that somebody like Bloomberg is spending his time, his money and his energy to try to bring America together.

Moreover, Bloomberg is working to do exactly what the Democratic Party needs to do — working to unite African American voters, Hispanic voters, White voters, progressives, moderates and voters with varying degrees of education — so that the Democratic movement against Trump spans wider than the party’s base.

Bloomberg’s campaign message of unity and compromise cultivates the precise spirit that Democrats need to animate the party, while also anticipating and planning for the realities of the general election political landscape.

To be sure, defeating an incumbent president is a difficult task for any opposition party, especially when the incumbent president is Donald Trump, who has proven himself able to weather even the most torrential political storms.

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Further, President TrumpDonald TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel MORE is emboldened by a strong economy, soaring fundraising, his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, and a record high job approval of 49 percent, according to a February 2020 Gallup poll.

To counteract Trump’s relative strengths, it is critical that the Democratic Party coalesces around a cohesive, inclusive, pro-growth message centered on jobs, the economy, health care and advancing equality of opportunity, while also highlighting President Trump’s own policy failures in these areas.

Just this week, President Trump released his $4.8 trillion budget that included deep cuts to popular government programs, including Medicaid, student loan assistance and affordable housing — prompting Democrats to immediately denounce it. “There is absolutely no chance of his ruthless cuts to critical programs ever becoming law,” said Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), the chairman of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Put simply, President Trump’s budget is draconian. Instead of Democratic candidates attacking each other over ideology and experience, they need to clearly communicate how Trump’s policies hurt the very Americans who voted for him.

If the Democratic Party rips itself apart, the only winner will be Trump — and, given the threat posed by another four years of him in the Oval Office, we must to come together to unite behind a candidate who can actually defeat him.

Pollster and strategist Douglas SchoenDouglas SchoenWinners and losers in the mini-war between Israel and Hamas Sunday shows - Focus shifts to Judiciary impeachment hearing Bloomberg pollster: Candidate's campaign will focus on climate change, guns, education and income inequality MORE (@DouglasESchoen) is an adviser to Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergSix months in, two challenges could define Biden's presidency Why Democrats' .5 trillion reconciliation bill is a losing game Democrats must win big on health care to have a shot in the midterms MORE, and previously was an adviser to President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCould Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Biden hits new low in Gallup poll MORE. He is the author of “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”