Press: Bernie Sanders has already won
It’s hard to believe Super Tuesday was only a week ago. The results from 14 states and American Samoa totally upended the 2020 Democratic primary. It’s now a two-man race, with six more states — Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington — voting today. But, in a sense, it’s already over. And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has won.
Let me explain. No matter how long we’ve been involved in politics, none of us have seen anything like the upheaval of Super Tuesday. Suddenly, who’s up is down, who’s out is in, who’s dead is very much alive.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose political obituary had appeared in every media outlet, is now the front-runner. And Sanders, once anointed unstoppable, is now fighting to prevent Biden from arriving in Milwaukee with enough delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot.
What happened? It wasn’t because Biden suddenly became the dynamic, charismatic, articulate candidate everyone’s been yearning for. He’s still the same, old stumbling Joe. The story of Super Tuesday is mostly the story of three key Biden endorsements: former South Bend, Ind., Mayor, Pete Buttigieg; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who single-handedly made Biden the winner in Minnesota; and, especially, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who not only delivered South Carolina for Biden, but catapulted him nationwide as the No. 1 choice of African Americans and working-class Americans.
The result is something nobody expected. From the largest and most diverse field of presidential candidates in history — younger, older, male, female, gay, straight, black, white, Latino, Asian — the Democratic primary today — with all apologies to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — has narrowed down to a face-off between two old white men. Which, no matter how regrettable, also represents a historic decision point for the Democratic Party.
They’ll never not admit it, but Biden and Sanders actually agree on far more than they disagree. Both champion universal health care, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on the wealthy, wiping out student debt, making college affordable, if not free, and leading the fight against climate change. They differ only on how to get there. For Sanders, it’s revolution, or sudden change. For Biden, it’s evolution, or gradual change. Democrats must decide how far and how fast they want to go.
But here’s what’s more important: Whatever they choose, revolution or evolution, they’re both paths to the same progressive goals. And those goals were first set by Sanders in 2016. That’s why I argue that Sanders has already won the Democratic primary.
As I detailed in my memoir, “From the Left,” Sanders’s primary motive in entering the Democratic primary in 2016 was to champion progressive issues he knew Hillary Clinton would never raise on her own. And he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. He’s changed the entire direction of the Democratic Party. His agenda is now the Democratic Party’s agenda.
With only slight variations on a theme, every single Democratic candidate in 2020, left or center, ran on the Sanders platform. Even Klobuchar. As David Leonhardt wrote in the New York Times: “She wants to raise taxes on the rich, break up monopolies, vastly expand Medicare, fight climate change, admit more refugees, allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens, ban assault weapons and require universal background checks.”
So, among Democrats, the battle over ideas has already been won. By Bernie Sanders. Now it’s a battle over electability. The only question facing Democratic primary voters today is the most important question of all: Which candidate, Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders, has the best chance of beating Donald Trump?
Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”
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