Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is considering running again. He has the revolution at his back. He has an army of grassroots supporters. He has the name recognition. He has a national constituency. And he’s a solid member of the far left movement; Mr. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate. You’d think there would be another wave of Sanders. Feel the Bern 2.0, right? Well, not so much. First, his 2016 campaign has now been criticized as a den of sexism and sexual harassment. It was too male, too white, and Sanders even said he was too busy (losing to Hillary Clinton) to fully tackle these issues back then. Nice answer there, Bernie. While that might not totally derail his 2020 chances, one Vermont paper is begging him not to run. Why? Well, he could do what he did in 2016; split the Democratic vote, and come off as just the left wing version of Trump (via Barre-Montpelier Times Argus):
Bernie Sanders should not run for president. In fact, we beg him not to.
We fear a Sanders run risks dividing the well-fractured Democratic Party, and could lead to another split in the 2020 presidential vote. There is too much at stake to take that gamble. If we are going to maintain a two-party system, the mandate needs to be a clear one. There is strength in numbers, and if anything has been shown in recent years, it is that unless tallies are overwhelming, there can always be questions or challenges raised over what “vote totals” really mean: popular vote vs. Electoral College results.
For us, this comes down to principle over ego. It is one thing to start a revolution, but at a certain point you need to know when to step out of the way and let others carry the water for you.
…there have been progressive candidates, many of whom have been running under Sanders’ “revolution” banner (and with his endorsement) who are spreading the tenets of Sanders’ decades-old agenda: Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; reversing climate change; creating worker co-ops; growing the trade-union movement; raising the minimum wage; pay equity for women workers; trade policies that benefit American workers; making college affordable for all; taking on Wall Street; health care as a human right; protecting the most vulnerable Americans; and tax reform.
As a platform, it is massive. As a candidate, Sanders is exhausting.
The 77-year-old can be bombastic and prickly. He can be dismissive and rude in his arrogance. You are either with Bernie Sanders or you are not.
That no-nonsense approach and his politics are endearing to many. But it is as extreme, on the other end of the spectrum in its policy elbow-throwing and idealism, as what we face today from the right in their standard bearer, Donald Trump.
Taken together — ego, electoral math, a tired message and a prickly media darling — Sanders is convincing himself that he’s the person who can win the White House in 2020. We are not convinced he should.
Mr. Sanders could cut into Trump’s working-class coalition; he did do well with white working-class voters. And he dominated the young voter base that adored Barack Obama. But Joe Biden would also do well with working-class voters, has name recognition, and is pretty damn liberal himself. Well, see about the youth vote. The legions of young liberals who were going gah-gah in 2008 and 2012 were mostly feeling that way because of the top of the ticket.
Look, the more Democrats are ripping each other apart the better, so we should hope Sanders does just this in the coming months. All politicians have egos and Sanders is pretty confident that he would have won the 2016 election if he won the nomination. It’s going to be a fight over who can out-liberal, out-crazy, and out-“I’m going to beat up Trump” within in the Democratic field. Someone has to be the big person and know when the jig is up; they can’t win. For the Left, like the Right, that doesn’t come easy. There will be blood—and hopefully, the divisions will be long-lasting and raw right up until Election Day 2020.