It’s early, but we have now two elections behind us. And at this point, we know that we have a split party. However, the Progressive Wing is starting to edge the Neoliberals out. It is close, don’t get me wrong. It is also very early.
However, there are a few things clear now. The bottom tier likely has no room left. Granted, both Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are not putting their eggs in these two states. Bloomberg is trying to buy his election in the Super Tuesday contest, which is very unusual.
Tom Bennet and Andrew Yang have already bowed out. This is hardly surprising. That said, Yang has had an outside effect by starting a critical conversation into the future of work and basic income. I expect this to continue, and perhaps he should consider running for Congress, or the next president should appoint him as Secretary of Labor.
Bennet can say in the Senate, and try to make his difference there.
Now to Joe Biden. He did terribly, in one coming at fourth, the other at fifth. And neither was even close, they were distant. He is a second-tier candidate, and likely he should consider dropping out. If he is not, his donors will make that clear to him.
in my mind, Biden will never be president, and that is ok. He is part of the Neoliberal wing that took over the party in the 1980s. If that wing has any future, it will be with Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar. Both did well during the two elections. The former getting a delegate win in Iowa and the latter a strong third place in New Hampshire.
Note to Bernie Sanders Supporters. The way Iowa works is like the electoral college, so getting the majority of votes does not necessarily mean you get all the delegates. It is not a conspiracy. And the coin tosses, yes they are wrong, and another reason why the caucus system needs to go, but hardly unheard of. They happen every four years, and every four years people complain.
Now to the winner in New Hampshire. Sanders did very well, and the establishment is going to panic. Why? His is a return to that past that the party abandoned in 1980. That is going back to the mid-century social democracy that Franklin Delano Roosevelt inaugurated. It’s best for the middle class, but terrible for the power elites. It also means that he will not go after social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Neoliberals like Mayor Pete likely will.
The national debt will be the excuse. President Donald Trump has grown it out of bounds, and he also intends to cut the safety net. It is a conservative wet dream. However, unlike Trump and Republicans, Democrats are more coded about it. Why? They know people like those programs and do not want them under attack.
So this is what the primary is about. This is about the future of the Democratic Party and you are already seeing warnings that Sanders will burn it to the ground. These are not unlike Republicans in 2016 screaming about Trump, who’s populism scared them. He has been very good to them though, so now they are utterly loyal.
We are still in a moment when people want real change. This is why Biden didn’t gain traction. Fairly or not, he was associated with the establishment. Mayor Pete is far more sophisticated with his speeches and has less of a record. He is a neoliberal though. He is the establishment, and likely the donor class will switch in short order unless Klobuchar picks a few wins.
As to the progressive side of the equation, for the moment Sanders is gaining speed while Warren fades.
Is this over? Not by any stretch. We still have a question as to whether Mayor Pete will be able to attract minorities. This is one area where he does have a record. As to Sanders, the next two primaries, and Super Tuesday will tell the story. In Iowa he clearly attracted them, and I suspect we will see the same in the coming contests.
I suspect after Super Tuesday we will get even further definition in this race.
And it is at Super Tuesday where we will see if a billionaire can win himself a win or two. In fact, we have two billionaires, One is progressive, the other is not, and is a former Republican. May you live in interesting times, and we do.