While the divisions in the Republican party continue to be front in center, especially when it comes to Obamacare repeal, divisions in the Democratic party are just as serious. Last year we saw Hillary Clinton lose a close election after Bernie Sanders sucked all the oxygen and energy out of the room with his socialist-inspired campaign. Now Sanders is positioned as the leading contender for a 2020 run and there is concern that he may push Democrats to sign on to his single-payer plan in 2018. From Politico:
“There’s a concern that [Sanders allied] people will try to make a stir,” said a senior Democratic aide working on a 2018 campaign. “You can’t just be a liberal Democrat in a lot of these states and be elected. [So] the question is how we improve the lives of people instead of playing these political games.”
Sanders allies don’t find that argument convincing.
“Any Democrat worth their salt that doesn’t unequivocally say Medicare-for-all is the way to go? To me, there’s something wrong with them,” said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, president of Our Revolution. “We’re not going to accept no more hemming and hawing. No more game playing. Make your stand.”
The question is how far Sanders himself is willing to go to make single-payer synonymous with the Democratic Party. Will he endorse primary challengers that could act as spoilers in close races for House and Senate seats? That’s the question that has establishment Democrats worried:
The distrust between Sanders forces and the establishment is increasing the tension. Some Democratic senators privately bristled at the health care rallies that Sanders and others organized across the country in January: They were shocked to be greeted by angry Sanders backers in the crowds who loudly urged them to back a single-payer plan, according to several Democratic senators and aides.
Democrats are becoming hopeful about 2018 despite the terrible map they face in the Senate, but Sanders is in a position to force Democrats into a corner on an issue that many are not ready to get behind, at least not in public.
Recall that a single payer proposal in California was recently shelved after a cost estimate was released showing it would cost about double the state’s annual budget. Now there is a recall effort against Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for refusing to push the bill forward. That’s the kind of take-no-prisoners approach from the far left that could put a damper on Democrats’ chances of retaking the House and Senate.
And the person who probably has the most national control over that wing of the party is Bernie Sanders. Will he take a pragmatic approach to 2018 or will he demand the party move left or face the wrath of his fans and supporters?