The unease with which Democrats face their nomination contest is certainly the talk of the town these days. There is much analysis of how the party is facing an ideological tug of war. At one end of the rope, the progressive, radical wing personified by one Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and, at the other, the more moderate, establishment party represented by former Vice President Joe Biden. Much handwringing is going on over who is best suited to run against President Donald Trump in November 2020. The discomfort Democrats should be feeling, though, relates more to the several possible nightmare scenarios facing the party, regardless of which one of the two remaining contenders wins out in the end.
With all due respect to Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), she may be still in the race, but, at this point, she is no longer a realistic contender – if she ever was.
Trump Wins, Recriminations Begin
Should Sanders claim the Democratic nomination and then lose to Trump in November, the party could turn on its progressives, placing the blame for failing to capture the White House upon their ideological excesses. With an eye on the midterms in 2022, the Democratic leadership might embark upon a campaign to purge Congress of the radical ideology it believes deprived Democrats of victory. Such a scenario would be an unwelcome distraction for a party fighting to rein in a second-term Trump agenda.
Conversely, should Biden challenge Trump and not win, the already vocal and angry radical wing will undoubtedly blame the relatively moderate party establishment for not going far enough left. Again, congressional Democrats may find themselves in a civil war as they look toward midterm elections.
Biden Wins – A One-Term Disaster
But what if Biden the nominee somehow manages to replace President Trump? His mental health may become a real concern – and that is not a statement made out of partisanship. At this point, it is evident to any fair-minded observer that Biden has a problem with recall, with facts, and with judgment. It is not unfair to speculate that the nation might endure four years of horrific blunders and gaffes that make The U.S. government a laughing stock on the international stage. By 2028, Americans may flock to the banner of any Republican challenger, just to free themselves from a hopelessly inept president.
On the other hand, if Trump were to lose to Sanders in November, congressional Democrats may find themselves in the unbearable position of having to rein in an extreme agenda coming from a White House whose occupant is one of their own. Otherwise, the American people might turn away from a party that has become too extreme and vote to hand over congressional power to the Republicans in 2022.
It is never all about the White House. Both parties always have an eye on the balance of power in Congress. The dilemma for Democrats, then, is whether they can make peace with their choice of who will lead them into the next general election. Whichever candidate they choose, Democrats may well, at this point, be wiser to hope for defeat in November – because putting either Sanders or Biden in the White House could doom the party to years in the political wilderness.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.