“‘Oh my God, Sanders can win’: Democrats grapple with Bernie surge in Iowa”—that was the January 27 headline atop NBC News. In fact, Democrats, as well as the Main Stream Media, are waking up to the realization that the seventy-something socialist is surging; he’s ahead in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Indeed, the oddsmakers at Predictit.org now have Sanders in first place among Democrats.
As an aside, we can say that some of this last-minute strength seems due to the star power of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s been stumping for Sanders in the Hawkeye State—sample MSM headline, “AOC Is Campaigning For Bernie Sanders In Iowa And Voters Are Falling In Love”—while the Vermont senator is stuck in D.C. listening to the impeachment trial. (Not that there’s any doubt about how this “juror” will vote.)
And as a further aside, we can note that AOC will be the requisite constitutional age of 35 in 2024; that is, she can seek the presidency in her own right then, and so her time now in Iowa might seem like a smart down payment on future ambition—and perhaps that thought has crossed her mind.
Returning to the 2020 election and its unknown unknowns, we can say this much for sure: It’s more plausible to assert, today, that Sanders could win the Democrat nomination in 2020 than it was to assert, four years ago, that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination in 2016.
We might recall, for openers, that Trump lost Iowa to Ted Cruz four years ago; the Trump train didn’t start rolling until New Hampshire.
Moreover, like him or not, Sanders has a solid electoral track record. He has held elective office for all but two of the last 39 years, starting as mayor of Burlington, Vermont. (In fact, just those four terms in city hall alone give Sanders as much political experience as Pete Buttigieg has had in his whole young life.)
After that, of course, Sanders was elected to the U.S. Congress—first the House, then the Senate—serving for a total of 29 years. And while he has typically been a member of one or another left-wing party or independent faction, Sanders has always stayed close enough to the Democrat Party. In other words, while his socialist ideology might make him anathema to many, he’s plausible as a Democrat.
Indeed, as this author has observed here at Breitbart News, Sanders, far left-winger that he is, has the benefit of a deep cycle in nomination politics. That is, it’s natural in the first “out” presidential election—the first election after a party loses the White House, as the Democrats did in ’16—for the party to nominate a candidate from its own ideological base. And for the Democrats, that ideological base, of course, is the far left.
To be sure, not every Democrat is happy about the prospect of Sanders getting the nomination. We all remember that just the other day, Hillary Clinton said of Sanders, “Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him”—and she herself wouldn’t commit to supporting him as the nominee.
Moreover, plenty of Democrat pundits are chorusing their opposition, in increasingly strident terms. For example, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait writes on January 28 under the headline, “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity.”
Chait raises many arguments against Sanders, including the piercing point that a Sanders-ish candidate in the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn, just got clobbered by the conservative Boris Johnson. Chait tells fellow Dems, “The totality of the evidence suggests Sanders is an extremely, perhaps uniquely, risky nominee.”
Yet in the heat of primary passion, cool warnings about Sanders’ un-electability might not be heeded.
Bloomberg and His Big Bucks
Interestingly, Sanders might be getting an ironic kind of help from an unexpected quarter—that is, from the swanky upper east side townhouse inhabited by Michael Bloomberg.
The billionaire ex-mayor has been thinking about running for president for many years, and yet he was willing to stay on the sidelines so long as it seemed that a moderate Democrat (relative term) would win the nomination. And the Democrat who most fit that profile, of course, was Joe Biden.
So in early November, when Bloomberg and his moneybags jumped into the race, onlookers took it as a signal that Biden was faltering—which he was. “This is a thunderclap,” former Barack Obama strategist David Axelrod tweeted at the time. “And not exactly a vote of confidence from leading moderate in durability of @JoeBiden campaign.”
Nearly three months later, to the surprise of many, Biden is still in the race; indeed, he’s very much a contender. And yet still, Bloomberg has cut into the Delawarean’s support.
As we know, Bloomberg has chosen not to contest the early states, and yet with all his money, he can afford to wait, happy just to buy TV ads while preparing a longer-term strategy.
In the meantime, Bloomberg has gained the allegiance of many establishment Democrats, including such such Wall Street fixtures as Steve Ratner. Ratner and others seem happy to wait for Bloomberg’s campaign to bloom, perhaps on Super Tuesday, or perhaps not until the Democratic convention in Milwaukee this July.
So today, Ratner and other fatcat Democrats are not supporting Biden. And that’s a boost to Sanders, as well as, of course, to all the other Democrats.
Yet as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson said in an arch tweet, Biden is the biggest loser from Bloomberg’s strategy, and Sanders is the biggest winner: “Bloomberg is spending $300 million to execute an explicitly pro-Bernie strategy while telling everybody, including himself, that it’s a pro-Biden strategy. Incredible.”
Bloomberg is spending $300 million to execute an explicitly pro-Bernie strategy while telling everybody, including himself, that it's a pro-Biden strategy. Incredible. https://t.co/XvaQR9RSob
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) January 28, 2020
Now a stickler might say that Thompson is overstating things by saying that Bloomberg’s strategy is “explicit.” In fact, it’s not explicit, it’s implicit. But either way, Thompson is right: Bloomberg in the race is a hindrance to Biden and a help to Sanders.
Ostensibly, Bloomberg has nothing good to say about Sanders—in particular, the wealthy candidate has criticized Sanders’ idea of a wealth tax—and yet in actuality, Bloomberg is boosting Sanders just by being in the race, drawing support away from Biden.
In political science terminology, Bloomberg and Sanders are “objective allies”—that is, even if they aren’t actively coordinating with each other, they still share the same near-term objective—stopping Biden. Indeed, Bloomberg and Sanders compliment each other by cutting into Biden from opposite directions, right and left, at the same time.
So even if Bloomberg personally refrains from criticizing Biden, his big-budget campaign is doing the talking—and so Biden is being expensively trash-talked.
Could this plan really work for Bloomberg? Could he, and his money, batter Biden, Sanders and the others, thus seizing the nomination for himself?
Yes, it’s possible; as this author wrote in November, “We must recognize an eternal truth: When it really puts its mind to it, more often than not, Capital wins.” And Bloomberg, all $56 billion of him, is a Mr. Capital. So it’s little wonder that the same Predictit site finds that Bloomberg now ranks third among Democrat hopefuls.
Yet still, it must be remembered that Predictit ranks Sanders first, as the frontrunner. And as we have seen, the cycle of nomination preference within the Democrat Party favors Sanders the rabble-rouser, not Bloomberg the Wall Streeter. So if Sanders wins Iowa and New Hampshire, there could be no stopping him.
Unless, that is, things get messy at the Democratic convention. If there’s anything close to a brokered convention—that is, no clear front-runner going into Milwaukee—any number of scenarios could unfold in the smokeless equivalent of a smoke-filled room.
And here we might pause over the fact that politics, and political free speech, is mostly protected by the First Amendment. That is, the actual laws governing the “free speech” of the 4,765 Democrat delegates—the folks who will actually anoint the nominee—are sparse, and full of loopholes.
For instance, most of the delegates will be pledged to one candidate or another, but those pledges are moral commitments; they are not legally binding. And then there are those 714 “superdelegates,” who can vote for any candidate they please.
As Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine observes, if Bloomberg is willing to spend up to $5 billion (and who can say for sure that he couldn’t spend more than that?), then who knows which delegates might be, uh, persuadable.
Thus Democrats desperate to stop Sanders—or simply hungry for help—might find themselves looking at Bloomberg and his checkbook with the proverbial Strange New Respect. Do they have a favorite charity? Do they know a student who deserves a scholarship? Do they need a new addition to their church? Curious and questing minds could ask these questions—and more.
But, but. Could the Democrats really do something so brazen as to let themselves be bought by Bloomberg? Some are already teasing the prospect. For instance, New York magazine’s Chait, the journo who just savaged Sanders, wrote a friendly article on Bloomberg back on January 2, in which he advised the billionaire with a wink, “Winning the presidential election is starting to look hard. How about buying it instead?” [emphasis added]
Already, Establishment Democrats are preparing procedural ambushes for Sanders. And for their part, in response, the Sandersistas are already protesting the Democratic National Committee’s plan to stack its committees with Bernie-phobic operators. (Which, of course, is exactly what the DNC did to Sanders four years ago.)
The lefty site Truthdig asked on January 27: “Is the DNC Planning to Go to War Against the Left?” The article’s answer: Yes.
So this summer, if Bloomberg and his legion of advisers start throwing their influence and money around in Milwaukee, Team Sanders will raise a ruckus. And with all those Sanders Antifa types running around, that could lead to trouble; as one of them said, “If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC convention, [bleeping] Milwaukee will burn.”
So Bloomberg, or some other Democrat who might snatch the nomination away from Sanders—and lets’s not forget Hillary Clinton, who hinted yet again on January 28 that she’s available—could find that the prize is worth little more than bitter ash. As one Bernie Bro tweeted of the anti-Sanders #resistance:
The narcissistic psychopathy of status quo centrist Democrats thinking they can win by RIGGING the election and kneecapping their own voters. Thanks to them, we’ll have another four years of Trump.
This far ahead of the election, anyone’s crystal ball is, of course, distinctly cloudy. Yet this much is perfectly clear: Of all the Democrats who can afford not to care what Sanders & Co. think of him, Bloomberg is on the top of the heap. Yes, that $56 billion—or whatever he has left after this campaign—can buy Bloomberg a lot of insulation.
And who knows: If he spends a lot of money, and gets really lucky, this time next year, Bloomberg might even have the U.S. Secret Service, including its White House Uniformed Division, providing him with an additional layer of government-issued insulation.
That’s a tantalizing prospect for Bloomberg. And the thought of it will only make him dig deeper into his cash wad, to stop Biden now, and then, of course, Sanders, later.
So look out, Bernie: The capitalists really are, just as you always suspected, out to get you.