The Democrats' siege is over

The Democrats' siege is over
© Getty Images

Adrenalin is a fickle thing — first it prepares the body for a “fight or flight” response to anxiety or stress, then immediately concedes to calm once the danger has passed.

Right about now, the Democratic establishment is having an adrenalin rush, a political sugar high, feeling they avoided elevating an electoral longshot to a nomination sure shot.

Thanks to last night’s verdicts in Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and elsewhere, the horror the Democratic poohbahs once feared is quickly giving way to full-scale relief.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan Google: Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting Biden, Trump campaigns Sanders: Police departments that violate civil rights should lose federal funding MORE (I-Vt.), that lovable curmudgeon of candor and fight, is flaming out, and the one “Bern-ing” sensation he’s feeling right now is about what could have been. He was one South Carolina verdict away from claiming the mantle, one bad Bloomberg debate away from remaining the frontrunner, one Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality It's time to shut down industrial animal farming The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE blessing away from a late-in-the-game rally, and one Fidel Castro hug away from defending his electability.

Yet, more than anything else, Sanders pushed an ideology he couldn’t really sell, a coalescence he couldn’t fully stop, and a coronavirus that made his plans to change health care delivery a risk most Democrats weren’t willing to take.

Four years ago, Bernie Sanders planted his flag in Michigan, claiming it as a rejection of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMark Cuban says he's decided not to run for president Trump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina MORE, a snub of the Party hierarchy, a denunciation of anything the system was dishing out. Last night he lost. Big.

Four years ago, the people of Washington State heavily backed Bernie in their March caucus because his blend of authenticity, liberality, and individuality forged an emotional bond deemed absent in his more programmed, less genuine opponent. Last night (and early this morning) suggests his previous fortunes there were a one-time romp.

In both places, Sanders's broadsides directed at the “rigged, corrupt” system were enough to put him on the map. It fit the times, together with the growing groupthink among Americans that income inequality is out of control and its defenders out-of-sync with real people in the real world.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ditto for our own president, whose throng of insurgents back then now find themselves responsible for running the most powerful nation on earth.

So what did we learn last night in what many will consider Bernie’s last stand?

We learned that those who style themselves as “progressives” have a long way to go before they fully appeal (versus wholly repel) Americans in the mainstream.

We learned that while charisma and performance count in separating contenders from pretenders, it’s not enough if the message delivered threatens change more than inspires it.

Last night also confirmed how quickly a heady movement heralded in good times can be labelled a risky rebellion in bad — and that if the bad endangers the peace of the realm, citizens won’t opt in.

Bernie Sanders was on a roll. South Carolina stopped it, Super Tuesday confirmed it, and last night all but cemented it.

Even if Bernie continues forward — the last debate is days away, as are several more primary contests — his chances of winning are now closing in on nil.

For their part, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Davis: 72 hours cementing the real choice for November OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan MORE and President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE can begin soldiering forward, knowing they have a likely rendezvous with destiny — and with each other.

Both sides will fine-tune their messaging and expand the number of channels to communicate it.

Both will be spurred on by their supporters and lured on by media who see a ratings bonanza ahead from a feisty skirmish that’s soon to become an all-out war.

The siege of the Democrats’ fort has nearly ended, as Bernie Sanders,  a modern-day “Man of la Mancha,” succumbs to a reality that was always there.

Whatever he decides now, or in the days ahead, his passion and persona will endure, long after the 2020 election, long past the country roads of Vermont that brought him to America.

Too bad, because like him or not, he was (and is) truly something to behold.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist who has advised Rudy GiulianiJohn McCain and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3