If the results of Super Tuesday proved anything, it is that Democrats are on their way toward simultaneous unity and divorce. This counterintuitive paradox is all because of the two major constituencies of the party with its establishment and activist wings. Joe BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE is much more likely to cinch the elected officials and corporate donors needed to give Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE a run for his money come November. But the Bernie SandersBernie SandersFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Pelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill top line higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war MORE faction of the party will not handle a second straight primary loss with grace.
Progressives only have themselves to blame. The leftward lurch of many Democratic voters over the last decade was not entirely orchestrated by party leaders, but often given credence as a tool to foster support from the remnants of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Left wing politicians and their allies in the legacy media did nothing to prevent the rhetoric that animates their second best candidate. Social justice “wokeness” started to pervade a party that once claimed to be the ally of Rust Belt industrial employees. Even traditional liberal planks have taken radical turns. Gone are calls for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare.”
Instead, the would be Jacobins tell women to “shout your abortion” and push for third trimester terminations. Rational positions on curbing illegal immigration, like a border fence and increased border control, have been consumed by calls for drivers licenses, free health care, and even the right to vote for illegal immigrants. Meaningful calls for gender equality have in many cases been overshadowed by drag queen story hours being forced on kids at local libraries. Moreover, demands for massive new entitlements that would cost trillions of dollars is a recipe for disaster, especially as the left continues to encourage both legal and illegal immigration.
Elevating radical voices like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar have forced Democrats to turn into the party of unworkable policy platforms such as Medicare for All, free college tuition, and even reparations for slavery. Now Biden finds himself in a very difficult position where he will either have to appease demands of radical left wing voters, who make up an increasingly significant and vocal portion of his party, or risk losing their support at the ballot box in the general election.
In 2016, Democratic leaders had predicted that Republican voters would become deeply fractured due to Trump. Instead, it was their own voters who were deeply divided. At least 12 percent of Sanders primary voters decided to support Trump that year, with many more staying home or voting third party. Expect that figure to rise this November. The Bernie bros could again swing the general election in favor of Trump.
In order to deal with the deep party divisions, Biden has already made several deals with the devil that could cripple his campaign. To win the Texas primary, for instance, he accepted the support of “hell yes we will take your guns” Beto O’Rourke, promising to put him in control of firearm control policies. Biden has also accepted a radical position on studying reparations for slavery. With Sanders surrogates like Ocasio Cortez saying that they will be forced to support Biden in November, what concessions would he need to give them for their support? Would he have to choose a young progressive vice presidential nominee to balance out the two wings of the party, therefore having to risk the loss of moderate voters?
Allowing the cancer of radical leftism to seep into Democrats will have concrete effects on the political landscape. A younger Biden may have been able to find a solution and bridge the gap between the factions. However, in a weak position flanked by Sanders supporters, while also aiming for the crucial Midwest voters who enthusiastically backed Trump four years ago, this seems to be increasingly difficult. The party that Biden appears poised to lead in 2020 is not the same as the one that he sought to lead back when he ran in 1988 or even two decades later in 1998.
For a campaign that needs corporate backing and a new generation of voters, Biden is stuck in an unenviable position. The enabling of extreme progressive ideology comes with a steep price. This Gordian Knot is one that only the most skilled of politicians can loosen. For all of his strengths, no one has ever described Biden as a skilled political mastermind.
Come November, the beneficiary of the party splintering will be able to shape national politics for the next four to eight years in the White House. Disaffected voters may again stay home, sinking yet another Democratic candidate for president. If these voters do not pull the lever for Biden, it will be due to false expectations allowed to run wild for too long in hope of firing up the Democratic base. Indeed, such a fracturing would only have one logical outcome in that the winner may again be Trump.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian writer and an analyst for Young Americans for Liberty. She is an author whose latest book is “How Do I Tax Thee? A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off.” Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.