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Make a Hard-Nosed Assessment, Adjust Strategy, and Fight

Make a Hard-Nosed Assessment, Adjust Strategy, and Fight
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Hot takes on Super Tuesday compiled by Organizing Upgrade

The results on Super Tuesday were not what almost anyone across the political spectrum expected. For backers of Bernie Sanders and other left and progressive activists they have set off a wide-ranging conversation about the balance of forces, the strengths and weaknesses of our efforts so far, and how to move forward. This kind of evaluation is urgent: in the face of a setback most did not expect, it is essential to look our shortcomings square in the face as well as flag the positives we have to build on; to shift our strategies and tactics accordingly, and to gear up quickly to fight harder and smarter in the next round.

To advance this discussion, below are six hot takes on yesterday’s results that we have found informative and provocative. We invite readers to share your thoughts. Expect more in-depth pieces over the coming days and weeks as the conversation and the work continue. –the Organizing Upgrade Editors

 

Charles Lenchner:

Six comments on Super Tuesday:

  1. The narrative on the Bernie campaign was that a focus on ‘new voters’ would more than compensate for the relative lack of effort around coalition building and making nice with more traditional Democrats. This has been proven false. Now what?
  2. Biden won in large part because African Americans, the most loyal part of the Democratic electorate, rejected Bernie in favor of Biden. Maybe this was inevitable. But maybe the African American organizers who spent much of 2015 warning Bernie that without serious changes, he would tank in this constituency, and it would cause him to lose. This is very much related to point #2.
  3. Bloomberg didn’t do that well, despite his massive spending. That’s good news; we’re seeing the limits of unlimited money in our political system. It’s good to recognize that those limits exist, which should fuel more optimism about what’s possible even after Citizen’s United.
  4. It’s a tough call, but I’m on the side of those who say, it’s fine for Warren to stay in. The data is very mixed about whether or not her leaving would add or subtract delegates to the Bernie/Warren bloc. AND the triumphalist bullying from Bernie folks towards Warren folks is so dumb. There’s literally zero upside, and lots of downside. It’s middle-school bullying dressed up to look like politics.
  5. It is also true, that the failure of the Warren candidacy, her personal failure to be a contender, ought to lead to a critical evaluation by left progressives. She and y’all need to draw lessons that put responsibility where it properly belongs: on her decisions and those of her team, her earliest and most ardent supporters. The voters have spoken, and blaming voters isn’t an analysis. I have ideas about what went wrong, but I’m interested in hearing from those on her side and more invested there.
  6. The race is far from over. Bernie can still win. But it won’t happen by doubling down on what it’s already been doing; it requires actual changes, from the top on down. Many of those changes will be things suggested by outside critics many months ago, who will be vindicated. The most important changes have to do with the affect of the candidate and his most public supporters.

We need to see bridge building, humility and flexibility. The limits of ‘I’m right, I’ve always been right, and you can trust me to be right as President’ have been reached. It might all be true on policy – but it didn’t work as politics yesterday.

 

Libero della Piana:

“Are Black Democratic Voters Conservative or Nah?”

In the wake of Joe Biden’s comeback performance on Super Tuesday, there has been a lot of hand-wringing and amateur analysis from some in the Bernie camp. One of the issues being debated is the overwhelming vote Biden garnered from African American voters, especially across the South.

Some have honestly wondered why Black voters would vote for the centrist and seemingly lackluster former VP over Senator Sanders. Others, especially on Twitter, have been less gracious, calling Blacks “low information voters” and “dupes.” So, are Black voters conservative? Or loyal to the Democratic “establishment?”

It’s a mistake to think of the Black electorate as “loyal” to the Democratic Party. True, Blacks have voted Democratic in Presidential elections in the 85-90% range consistently for decades. But this is a sign of the political clarity of African Americans, not their servility. For African Americans who still consider the legacy of slavery and the very recent fight for voting rights and basic democracy, the fight for democracy and against racism is a laser focus.

African Americans are the most consistently progressive sector of the U.S. electorate. Recent polls show 51% of Americans have a “somewhat” or “very” positive view of socialism, it is 42% of whites and a whopping 81% of Blacks (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/25/stark-partisan-divisions-in-americans-views-of-socialism-capitalism/). Blacks have been a key component of both the big-D and small-d democratic coalitions in this country going back to the New Deal. Black voters anchored the coalitions that brought us the most progressive elected leaders and administrations in modern U.S. history from Maxine Waters to Ron Dellums to Harold Washington to John Conyers to Barbara Lee. So there should be no questioning of Black people’s progressive bona fides.

Then what was the motivation for the big Biden vote?

I think our people 1) Would rather face the devil they know. Black voters have few illusions about what Biden might deliver, but they know him. Trust and familiarity go a long way in our communities. Joe Biden has been gaffing it up in Black churches and NAACP meetings — especially across the South — for 40 years. Bernie not so much. For many African Americans, specially of a certain age, Bernie’s distant past involvement in the Civil Rights Movement does not resonate as much as Biden’s brand of retail glad handing over the years. 2) Black voters want to defeat the main enemy. I think we fear Trump far more than going back to the neoliberal slog of the Obama years. As disappointing as the Obama Administration may have been in terms of delivering for Black communities, many Black folks also resent the way some on the Left dismiss Obama and his legacy. 3) Yes, Biden’s connection to Obama does not hurt. Obama is still hugely popular to Black people. 4) We tend to take the long view. We know social change is a marathon, not a sprint. I think many Black people are suspicious about those who promise to fix their problems quickly or easily. In the same way Black voters were unsurprised by Trump’s victory in 2016, they are soberly realistic about what it takes to make sweeping change. 5) Many Black voters, particularly primary voters, are mobilized for the election via institutions like churches, unions, community groups and civil rights organizations, many of which back Biden. They are less swayed by campaign surrogates, celebrity endorsements, etc.

It’s no coincidence that since Reagan — except for Jackson’s runs in 1984 and 1988 — African American primary voters have consistently voted for the eventual Democratic nominee. We want a winner. Right or wrong, Black voters have made the calculation that Biden has a better chance of beating Trump.

So, to me, it’s not about being loyal. It’s a strategy. Many Black folks believe that surest way forward is to build the biggest possible unity around a candidate most likely to hold the line against the representatives of the most reactionary and racist force in the country — which has had a headwind for forty-plus years. You might disagree with the strategy, but please don’t make it seem that Black voters are bought or bossed (to reverse Shirley Chisolm’s famous slogan).

 

Stephanie Luce:

Crazy night. Some random observations: Biden’s upsets in Minnesota and Massachusetts are surprising but Sanders plus Warren together easily beat Biden in those states.

Sanders is clearly doing well among young voters, first-time voters, Latinx voters, gay voters, and urban voters. Also among people who care strongly about health care and income inequality.

Warren didn’t do well with any group except women with college degrees. She did poorly with men, and especially men without college degrees (they mostly voted for Sanders). She also did terribly among non-white no college degree voters.

It seems *the only* reason people voted for Biden is a belief that he can “unite the country.” And perhaps to return to the Obama era.

Exit poll questions are not all asked in every state. But wherever it was asked (CA, NH, NC, VA), a strong majority of those interviewed said college tuition should be free at public colleges.

Most polled said that we should have government-provided health insurance rather than private. And health care is clearly a top issue on many voter’s agendas.

53% of California voters, 60% of Maine voters, 50% of NC voters, 47% of TN voters, and 56% of Texas voters said they had a favorable opinion of socialism.

Only voters in Nevada and New Hampshire were asked if they were members of a union household. In both cases, Sanders won among that group.

Most troubling: Sanders wins among “non-white voters” but when you break that down, there is a noticeable divide between Black and Latino voters. (Though in SC and TX where we have data, we see that Black voters under 30 went for Sanders).

Also: voters were asked if they would vote again in November no matter who the nominee is. 12-17% said no (varies by state).

The source for most of this: CNN state exit polls. https://www.cnn.com/…/entrance-an…/south-carolina/democratic

 

Bob Wing:

A few initial thoughts:

  1. After months of division, dysfunction and lousy candidates, the party establishment rapidly got it together with impressive results, boosting Biden and eliminating the other moderate contenders in a matter of two weeks, and seizing the lead. Looks like Obama and Reid played important roles in this. Bernie still has a path to win, but Biden is certainly the frontrunner with momentum and now Bloomberg’s money.
  2. Despite all the earlier dysfunction and division, the moderates always had a bigger share of the primary electorate than the progressives; in fact a clear majority pretty much all along. Super Tuesday looks even better for them when we look at the margins by which Biden/Bloomberg beat Sanders/Warren. They did even better than the polls forecast, and it would have been even stronger without vote by mail and early voting in the Western states and elsewhere.
  3. The immediate savior of the party establishment has been Black voters, especially older Black voters in the South. Instead of just writing this off to Biden’s loyalty to Obama, “Black pessimism,” “Black conservatism” or something else, we should remember that Black people in the South, along with undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, have borne the brunt of Trump, white nationalism, neo-liberalism, etc. and have as much or more to gain or lose in this election than any other group or sector. They vote with serious intent. Many Black voters feel like they must know and trust the candidate, not just the candidate’s positions. Sanders had five years to do this work and did not do a good job; Biden’s been doing it for decades. Moreover, more than any other group, politicians, organizers and radicals of all sorts of stripes target Black people, making big promises, then disappear. What has Sanders, Warren or, for that matter, the vast majority of us leftists and progressives done to win the trust of Black voters? Obviously, not enough. I can already hear the chorus of pundits pitting Blacks against Latinos with virtually no knowledge of either.
  4. Older voters beat younger voters yet again, in every demographic group. Would have been true even if there was a bigger turnout from young voters. Youth are a key progressive force; but a youth-centered electoral strategy is a losing strategy.
  5. Don’t count Bernie out yet, but he’d better finally take more seriously the problem of expanding his base and have some very good luck (major Biden stumbles) as well. We need to hear how the campaign will respond, and not just the same old.
  6. And, lest we forget, the left and progressive movements have made tremendous gains since 2015 when we were barely a blip on the screen in U.S. electoral politics yet where practically every establishment Democrat called themself a “progressive.” Our present is difficult but not insurmountable.

Fight on.

 

Rebecca Gordon:

The future may be female, but the present is still mired in patriarchy: People in the US are still not ready to elect a woman president. In terms of intellectual competence and practical governing experience, Warren is the most qualified candidate remaining in the field. By all accounts she put together a powerful, well-run campaign. It’s no accident that Black Lives Matter co-founders Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza both endorsed her.

Yes, Warren made mistakes; I wish that she’d just admitted that her plan for universal healthcare would raise taxes on some middle-income people, even as their overall expenditures would go down. I wish her voice were an octave lower. I wish she were ten years younger. I wish a lot of things, but most of all (in reference to Warren) I wish that I lived in a country where a woman who cares about the lives of women could be elected president.

Meanwhile, the world is literally (see Australia and California) on fire: Despite all the talk about a Green New Deal, and the occasional debate moderator’s question about the climate crisis, the existential threat to the human species seems to barely register for pundits or politicians — or indeed, voters.

Stating (what I hope is) the obvious: Removing Trump from office is the prime directive this November, closely followed by holding onto the House and flipping whatever seats we can. This means that even if our preferred old white guy isn’t the Democratic party nominee, if we care about left goals and values, we have to do all we can to elect the guy who is.

 

Bob Seltzer:

Sanders is obviously a highly skilled politician who does learn from experience, but surprisingly he’s not agile. He keeps repeating his standard stump lines while failing to concretely connect with emerging issues. Which is a pity because his strongest issue is health care and the Coronavirus, unless Trump’s miracle comes along, is going to influence everything over the next several months. Today, several huge trade shows were cancelled in Chicago. Is anybody talking about how the Democratic Party is going to hold a convention in Milwaukee in the middle of a pandemic?

Sanders should have been on the Coronavirus issue a week ago, condemning the Trump Administration’s incompetence; demanding emergency congressional hearings; advancing legislation for free emergency health care and drugs, paid sick leave, protecting the most vulnerable, and billions for state and local public health; demanding a national mobilization in the event of a pandemic (this country is woefully behind on test kits and testing, protective equipment, hospital beds, ventilators, and trained health care workers).

The vote for Biden today was not just about the Democratic Establishment consolidating behind him or Democratic voters thinking he was the safest bet to beat Trump. It was about an escalation of mass fear (dead people in Washington state and wild stock market gyrations will do that) and Biden (falsely and weirdly) being seen as the avatar of Obama era “competence” and “security.” Sanders is going to have to adjust to this reality and get ahead of it.

 

 

 

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16 Comments

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  • Donna C Carter
    Donna C Carter March 5, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Many of these comments are insightful. It appears that older voters are skeptical of the Bernie Sanders campaign.. Those who have struggled for decades for social change know how much work it takes to make change and what the ruling class will do to prevent it.. These changes have often been fought and won on the street. Most recently the Black Lives Matter movement and the Civil Rights movement in the sixties are examples.The struggle for Universal Healthcare has been going on since the seventies. The electoral and legal victories FOLLOW these struggles.The Sanders campaign would do well to highlight the efforts of the movements and connect them with a platform. To reach the generation who has plenty of experience with promises, needs to know that a candidate and a campaign is based on the efforts of people who have done the work.

  • Jung Hee Choi
    Jung Hee Choi March 5, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Thanks y’ll. Appreciate the insights here.

  • Scott Jackson
    Scott Jackson March 5, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Everyone, even Bob Wing, who used to be in LOM/FPO with me, missed the gorilla in the room: Bernie’s use of the term democratic socialism even when it continues to alienated many voters. It’s not good enough that half the voters aren’t alienated. He can’t win the nomination or election without some of the other half. The reason he continues to carry that lame label, which helped him when running for mayor of Burlington but not since, and which is dishonest because he’s a social democrat, is that he’s doesn’t have the genetic gift of a flexible mind capable of nimble thinking. That’s why I can’t support him.

    Most recently, I’ve been a climate activist with MN350. The Green New Deal would have been a great idea–20 years ago. Unfortunately, according to my reading of the science, we lost the battle against global warming at the end of January 2011–without even firing a shot. Now the only appropriate actions are adaptation and mitigation. The inevitable collapse of civilization could come as soon as 2030, certainly no later than 2050. I’ll be dead by then, but many of you won’t.

    And even if some international consortium resorts to geoengineering, that will only postpone the collapse until possibly the end of the century. Then we’ll be overwhelmed by overdevelopment, overpopulation, and overshot (the title of an excellent book.)

  • HENRY HITZ
    HENRY HITZ March 5, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    The first thing we need to do is shake off any discouragement that might have crept into our outlook after Super Tuesday. Discouragement is a ruling class attitude that they will foster in the media at every opportunity. We need to acknowledge that Biden did a terrific job in SC and that Obama and Reid pulled off a brilliant coup on Monday, rallying the moderates around Joe. Personally I think Biden’s victories were primarily due to people being dazzled by the spectacle, meaning not a lot of thought went into people’s choice. We overestimate how much attention people pay to politics and to their position on the left-right scale. People go with their gut. Bernie is now dead even with Biden, with an equal chance of winning the nomination.
    If I were Bernie, here’s what I would do to retake the initiative.
    1. If possible, announce that Warren or Stacy Abrams or Barbara Lee will be his running mate
    2. Hold a huge rally in Flint, Michigan with Michael Moore demanding that the water issue be resolved immediately.
    3. Organize a summit on the State of Black America in Chicago before the Illinois primary featuring Killer Mike, Cornel West, Nina Turner, Danny Glover, Sean King, Harry Belafonte, Alicia Garza, Anita Hill, Patrice Cullors, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, with the idea of listening to them rather than having them just praise him, and then adjust his campaign accordingly. Then, contrast his campaign with Biden’s horrific record on race: pro-segregation, Anita Hill, the crime bill, war on drugs, etc.
    4. Hire hundreds of youth activists to make sure that young people show up at the polls in the numbers that they support him.
    5. Make the connection between climate change and rapacious out of control capitalism and the need for democratic socialism to reign it in.
    6. Make the connection between M4A and the need to have everyone insured immediately to stem the spread of the corona virus. Introduce emergency legislation to grant medicare/Medicaid to everyone not currently insured.
    7. Organize a panel discussion of ordinary people living under democratic socialism in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, New Zealand etc. to explain what it’s really like to live under such a system
    8. Outline a path to victory and fire up his supporters. Biden is likely to assume he’s the front runner and that he can coast to the nomination and even victory in the general, just the way Clinton did.

    • Charles Lenchner
      Charles Lenchner March 6, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      These are great ideas!

      • Jacob Swenson-Lengyel
        Jacob Swenson-Lengyel March 7, 2020 at 3:49 pm

        I agree!

    • Mark Borgmann
      Mark Borgmann March 7, 2020 at 4:23 pm

      Not only is it possible, but it’s necessary to emphasize that it’s not enough just to defeat T (even in the unlikely case that Biden can). Once T is defeated, THEN WHAT??

      I’d hate to win the oval office (not to mention the Senate), having elected a candidate that will unwind the clock to 2015 with no plan for addressing the many critical issues we face.

      Bernie ticks both boxes – defeats T, addresses the critical issues in detailed plans that not only move toward fixing the problems, but also care for those whose livelihoods are displaced in the process, or have been hamstrung by them (student debt, medical debt).

      Perhaps most importantly, it’s now clear that, contrary to the mainstream voices, Bernie IS NOW THE MODERATE in this race. Other implementations of his proposals are working well in other countries, and have been for years. Also, the majority of Americans agree with most of his proposed policies. Biden’s platform, in not taking action on these major issues, MAKES HIM THE RADICAL…an extreme risk to the future of the 99%. It’s time to make that case by changing the narrative accordingly.

      It’s also time for the up-to-now Establishment beneficiaries of donor and corporate money to show a little humanity, and recognize that others are suffering while they prosper in excess. Let’s face it. It’s US against (basically) everyone else. Who but Bernie would have the guts to dream that dream, not to mention actually taking it on. It’s past time to stop the ‘gravy train’ for the Establishment, and make this government work for all of us, and make this country all that it can be.

  • janinsanfran
    janinsanfran March 6, 2020 at 12:19 am

    Super Tuesday: a tired electorate in a tired country

    Whoever is elected President in 2020 will be older than I am as I approach my 73rd year. That feels discouraging. Lively inventive societies are not ruled by the old, though, if they are wise, they can be informed by their old people. Somehow the earnest engagement of millions of citizens has brought us here.

    It seems that after Super Tuesday we’re back to something very close to where we were last July. We’ve learned that people who will vote in a Democratic primary want above all to get rid of Trump. Their aims and understanding of that imperative differ, but they agree on that much.

    So we’re back to the two old white guys already known to this electorate. None of the new faces broke through widely. When Biden showed an actual sign of life in South Carolina where he has a legitimate Black base — and endorsers and all-rans pointed to him — he resumed his front runner status.

    Nobody has convinced this electorate that any new and better future is on offer in this election. Collectively, we hope to retreat to an imagined safety. That’s the disappointment — but can empathetic people disparage safety as a goal? Only if we convincingly propose something worth increasing risk to gain. Not happening at present.

    Elizabeth Warren offered competence and grit — but had the wrong plumbing and the insult of excess intellect.

    Bernie has a 30 percent base (figured generously) rooted in young, Latinx, and left voters. He hasn’t built a campaign to enlarge that base. He has just asserted his righteousness. And he’s pretty righteous. But righteousness alone, especially when yoked to some of his followers’ ill-aimed rage, doesn’t build toward a broader force. Winning a majority requires adding to your coalition — as well as being right.

    At least we had the chance to see Mike Bloomberg personally humiliated, a guilty pleasure not to be sneezed at.

    And so — on to working to deliver the one end voters have settled on: defeating Trump in November. That work is not optional for anyone who struggles for a better day.

    Cross posted from my blog

  • Barbara Regenspan
    Barbara Regenspan March 6, 2020 at 2:27 pm

    Here in Ithaca we face a DA election where the incumbent defended the police in their assault and tasing of a young African American man and a friend who were defending themselves from the harassment of a drunken white Cornell parent on our downtown Commons. The two had no negative record in their past and their families had longterm ties in Ithaca. After months of losses including their jobs and housing, and having to deal with obvious fear and humiliation, (the young woman faced felony charges that were dropped by the DA and then reinstated after he was called on the carpet by the police)

    After a public movement launched by SURJ, Black Lives Matter, the Multicultural Resource Center and DSA, and a successful omnibus motion filed by the incumbent DA’s challenger in this upcoming election, the young man was exonerated at trial and all charges against the young woman were dropped. Yet white activists among our county’s named (Bernie-supporting) “Progressives” are prepared to endorse the incumbent. Interviewed individually what becomes clear is their total divorce from issues of black communities and their objection to the challenger’s “bombastic” presentation. And now white activists ask why black people in the South who have born the brunt of police racism against their sons and daughters failed to support Bernie?

    • Barbara Regenspan
      Barbara Regenspan March 6, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      And now we face an unusual 440 motion filed by a NY State appellate lawyer on behalf of a young African American man wrongly convicted of murder and assault by the same incumbent DA who refuses to recommend the reopening of the case despite a transcript of police interrogation that reads like the most obvious forced confession you have seen in the most racist police procedural. Plus, we learned from the 440 motion that the jury foreman stated publicly that he could not be objective about the case because the DA had been his and his family’s lawyer for years. Other irregularities include the fact of a hung jury on account of lack of evidence at a first trial, and the DA adopting a different theory about the crimes to explain the lack of evidence based on one cop’s statement that he had this new theory, but he could be wrong. And the only direct witness whose police report described the murderer as wearing totally different clothing than the convicted man was not called at trial.

      Faced with my report of these realities, the leader of the “Progressives” said that she had not read the (publicly available) 440 motion, did not like the challenger because he told an inappropriate story when interviewed, and that I was “fire hosing” her as were allies in the effort to defeat the incumbent DA. Although not a supporter of “identity politics” it’s obvious to me that the argument about White Fragility applies to many white people who are progressive on all issues except those of black communities and even progressive about the issue of racism in general when it’s out there in the nation, but not in evidence here at home.

  • Sam Webb
    Sam Webb March 6, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    What we should note is the massive voter surge that began in SC and then resumed on Super Tuesday. It wasn’t that much despised “political establishment” that took charge, but millions of voters, and especially Black voters. They stepped to the front and left their unmistakable imprint on the presidential primary. Barring something unforeseen, if Bernie is unable to win Michigan, his path to the nomination is, for all effective purposes, over. That outcome should compel some rethinking on Bernie and his supporters part as to their next move. Given the stakes of the coming election, I don’t think a reprise of 2016 makes any sense.

    A popular front strategy isn’t reducible to defeating Trump. It also entails an extensive set of political and social alliances that while not precluding struggle, accent broad unity. And certainly not a war against the “Democratic Party establishment” (reminds of the sixties). I can hear somebody saying, “But they attack us.” I have no doubt about that, but the left, again because of the existential stakes of this election, should act like the grown up in the room. So far neither Bernie nor many of his supporters have conducted themselves in that manner. It’s not to late. Much hangs on it.

  • Sam Webb
    Sam Webb March 6, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    What we should note is the massive voter surge that began in SC and then resumed on Super Tuesday. It wasn’t that much despised “political establishment” that took charge, but millions of voters, and especially Black voters. They stepped to the front and left their unmistakable imprint on the presidential primary. Barring something unforeseen, if Bernie is unable to win Michigan, his path to the nomination is, for all effective purposes, over. That outcome should compel some rethinking on Bernie and his supporters part as to their next move. I don’t think a reprise of 2016 makes any sense.

    A popular front strategy isn’t reducible to defeating Trump. It also entails an extensive set of political and social alliances that while not precluding struggle, accent broad unity. And certainly not a war against the “Democratic Party establishment” (reminds of the sixties). I can hear somebody saying, “But they attack us.” I have no doubt about that, but the left, again because of the existential stakes of this election, should act like the grown up in the room. So far neither Bernie nor many of his supporters have conducted themselves in that manner. It’s not to late. Much hangs on it.

  • Sam Webb
    Sam Webb March 6, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    What we should note is the massive voter surge that began in SC and then resumed on Super Tuesday. It wasn’t that much despised “political establishment” that took charge, but millions of voters, and especially Black voters. They stepped to the front and left their unmistakable imprint on the presidential primary. Barring something unforeseen, if Bernie is unable to win Michigan, his path to the nomination is, for all effective purposes, over. That outcome should compel some rethinking on Bernie and his supporters part as to their next move. I don’t think a reprise of 2016 makes any sense.

    The application of a popular front strategy isn’t reducible to only a commitment to beat Trump. That’s a good start, but not enough. It also entails a readiness to build an extensive set of political and social alliances that while not precluding struggle, accents broad people’s unity. And certainly not a war against the “Democratic Party establishment” (reminds me of the sixties). I can hear a Bernie supporter saying, “But they attack us.” I have no doubt about that. But the left, again because of the existential stakes of this election, should act like the grown up in the room. So far neither Bernie nor many of his supporters have conducted themselves in that manner. It’s not to late. Much hangs on it.

  • James Baroni
    James Baroni March 6, 2020 at 8:40 pm

    Just read a really good analysis from the Guardian as to why Trump will easily defeat Biden and they makes specific correlations tto how he did it against Clinton. It is brutal yet of course the country now has three and half years of the Trump no adminstration yet his pill numbers have increased. Before getting to my central question I want to remind everyone that Bernie could win the presidency without winning the popular vote were he to be the nominee. Now I am not a political analyst and haven’t parsed the statistics in detail but when one sees for the most part progressive candidates taking the majority vote in true blue states one has to ask how important is the black vote for Biden in SC and those other southern red States when what is critical for the win are those swing States that voted for the last two winners who campaigned as change agents and had little to no political bonafides. This does not define Biden nor did it Clinton or Kerry. No one seems to be pushing the narrative of how the media gave anti Sanders anti Socialist millions of free hours of coverage just prior to super Tuesday. Clyburne is number three or four in the current Democratic congressional hierarchy
    that are are older than me by a long shot and I am retired. They don’t have a great record of accomplishment and need to be retired. Sanders could consider a moderate black woman as a running mate but that would require him to gamble he doesn’t pass before his movement takes hold congressionally and that his die hards would feel his purity poisoned.

  • Peter Shapiro
    Peter Shapiro March 7, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    One thing not mentioned above: no doubt Biden’s biggest asset in the South was probably his association with Obama. But that likely did not cut any ice with Latina/o voters in California and Nevada, because apart from a late attempt on behalf of the Dreamers, Obama’s track record on immigration was horrible, and it was a direct result of his futile efforts at “bipartisanship.”

    We still have some dots to connect.

  • Mirella
    Mirella March 8, 2020 at 12:24 am

    Hindsight is 2020: Tuesday was a big disappointment for Sanders supporters and Warren supporters. I appreciate all the takes on what happened including the one sent to me by Max Elbaum (link below) Here’s my Head, Heart, Hand reflection as a Sanders supporter.

    What did we learn?
    For months I was a Warren supporter. She has a clear theory of change. I landed on Sanders because he has a much more powerful movement building strategy (read the book Rules for Revolutionaries) and infrastructure that encourages volunteer ownership of the campaign. I could see and feel it. We have to do better and have to reach out to older voters. I also get why many people went Warren and Biden. Sanders message reads like the Santa Clause of presidents. How do we focus the policies we want and draft a clearer path forward? He won’t be able to do it all and I get why people are mistrusting of this.

    How do we feel?
    For months I was inspired. Living in the Trump Tyranny is painful and to see the possibility of a Sanders president brought me hope. I also felt so inspired every time I went into the Sanders headquarters or canvassed. The passion, diversity in race, age, and gender felt like a privilege to witness. I got to see the movement and infrastructure described in the book Rules for Revolutionaries in action–volunteers were owning this and the movement was growing.

    Then the moderates started coalescing at the end of last week and I saw a path for a Biden win. I got nervous, in scarcity mode and was not my best self. I got frustrated at this shitty system and became irritated by folks voting for Warren. I could not understand why they couldn’t see that their candidate would not take many delegates. Elections are also won by momentum and the momentum was swinging in the direction of Sanders and the moderates coalescing was a roadblock. Again, I was not my best self. And I saw the same thing in the Warren supporters–they seem entrenched, there was little room for shifting. I’m disappointed in myself and in all of us.

    How did we do?
    Our organizing was powerful in getting young Latinx and young Indigenous voters out. Please stop with the narrative that he was not effective at all. You are erasing our power.

    However, the organizing was not enough. If we want to bring other folks in, Warren, Biden, anyone, we need to listen to what matters to them. They have been compelled to vote differently and we need to understand. Then, we need to share what we learn with the Sanders campaign.

    This campaign is ours, we have the power to change it.

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