Many things went wrong in 2020 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the would-be socialist lion who claimed to be leading a revolution that was bound to sweep the Democratic Party. For one thing, he never exhibited nor captured the same enthusiasm he had in 2016 when his brand of “real change” had a perfect foil to run against in the person of Hillary Clinton. And he was never able to successfully counter the Dem establishment argument that nominating someone so radical would hand a second term to President Trump.
But above all what sunk Sanders this time around was his rigid acceptance and obedient regurgitation of the identity politics talking points that so dominated the crowded party primary process. It came at the expense of his working-class appeal, and it made him appear as just another woke Dem to many voters who otherwise might have been more attuned to his economic arguments.
Racial Warrior In a Time of Economic Populism
Getting the Squad – the rabble-rousing young progressives, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) – to publicly identify with his campaign was a capital mistake of the highest grade. Without a doubt, this one decision scared away Dem voters in droves.
In addition, the sight of Sanders constantly harping on “racism” throughout the double-digit moribund Dem primary debates had to be deflating to economic populists more aligned with Democrats than Trump’s Republican Party. It also telegraphed weakness on his part. Instead of delivering tried-and-true arguments from his decades as an elected official honed in on perceived inequalities in the economic playing field in the United States, Sanders became just another runt in the litter striving to prove his fealty to leftist racial politics orthodoxy. With the likes of Don Lemon and Jorge Ramos serving as moderators for Dem debates, Sanders listlessly went along with limp performance theater that saw the various contenders dare not object to the identity politics party line in any way. In hindsight, the harbinger of doom for Bernie 2020 came at the very first debate in Miami in June, when he joined the other nine rivals on stage in dutifully raising his hand like a school child and pledging to support providing free health care to illegal aliens.
It was a craven withdrawal from all that Sanders had championed for years. Bernie Bros love to stress that Sanders is a true man of ideals, not a crass politician whose personal beliefs change with the popular needs of the moment. His shameless flip-flop on immigration totally crushed this argument in one fell swoop.
Losing His Religion?
One can only assume that somehow, somewhere, his campaign made a deal with powerful pro-immigration forces to get him to change on the topic. In 2015, Sanders confidently declared open borders to be a “Koch brothers proposal” to bring in cheap labor. It was a position he had voiced for years.
“It would make everybody in America poorer — you’re doing away with the concept of a nation state, and I don’t think there’s any country in the world that believes in that,” Sanders told an incredulous Ezra Klein of Vox. “What right-wing people in this country would love is an open-border policy,” he continued. “Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.”
This is the Bernie Sanders we never got to see in 2019 and 2020. Interestingly enough, Sanders did very well with Hispanics in this year’s primary races after his dramatic shift, further suggesting a deal of some sorts had been made. But he got hammered with African Americans, a crucial Dem demographic that is greatly damaged by illegal immigration, though racial-conscious progressives never mention it.
His attempts to curry favor with African Americans often oddly came attached to his constant clamoring for the urgent need to address so-called climate change. “We must end the scourge of environmental racism, and at the same time create green jobs to support and rebuild the local economies of affected communities,” his official website states as a prominent prong in its “Racial Justice” section.
Democrats refuse to care about the needs of average working Americans as a whole, instead preferring to use the politics of division as a wedge in pursuit of power. This is the very opening a Bernie Sanders-type of rebel should be able to exploit. Instead, he foggily retreated into the same tired world of racial and gender resentment, choosing that hackneyed course over a finely focused appeal to Americans worried about their jobs and ability to put food on the table. One can’t help but think he got some terrible advice along the way from some professional blue adviser, but Candidate Bernie must own his decisions. Going woke negated all his built-in advantages and made him just another social radical. Attaching that to his socialist stigma spelled his doom.
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.
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