Sanders’ “political revolution” was uncompromising.
…It was #NeverBiden on Twitter and open disdain for the bougie, suburban “wine mom” voters whom mainstream Democrats were obsessing over.
This was a revolution for the virtuous — a white working class awakened to its true interests, Black and Latino voters coming around to cranky Uncle Bernie, and young people showing up at the polls in record numbers.
Only, they didn’t show up. Not enough of them, anyway.
…[Sanders] embedded a strain of democratic socialism in a major American political party.
“That’s a huge accomplishment,” says Kazin. “Arguably . . . the left hasn’t had that sort of presence since the New Deal.”
But in retrospect, it’s clear that many progressives over-interpreted his strong showing in that first presidential run.
What they saw as evidence that white, working-class voters in the heartland were warming to a populist, lefty politics was, for many, a simple rejection of Sanders’ opponent.
…If the left is going to be an effective force in American politics over the next four, or eight, or 12 years, uncompromising won’t work.
The movement will need to reach out to the Chardonnay set. It will have to work with Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. It may even be required to reach out to some Republican senators.
…Meanwhile, moderate Democrats trained their focus on the managerial class in the suburbs, won a bunch of seats, and flipped control of the House of Representatives.
…Progressives also need to think carefully about messaging, he says. Campaigns built on paid family leave and child care, climate action, and lowering drug prices are likely to be most potent in the suburbs.
That doesn’t mean giving up on a more confrontational politics altogether. It just means deploying that politics where it can succeed.
…Add it all up and you get a carefully calibrated strategy for success: make a hard run at deep-blue urban districts, challenging moderate Democrats where necessary; offer suburban voters a message tailored to their concerns; and when you win, be willing to forge coalitions with moderates in Washington to get things done.
…The left could make overtures while it waits for the revolution. It could make overtures to all sorts of people.
But it must be willing to hold its nose.
…Pushing the Democratic nominee is an entirely defensible tactic as long as Sanders voters come around in the end. But if the #NeverBiden faction actually sits out the election, it could be disastrous for the left.
It’s not just that the former vice president is running on an undeniably progressive platform — a platform that would go out the window, of course, if President Trump won four more years. It’s that the pandemic offers a unique opportunity to get it passed.