Bernie: Let's face it, we're facing a midterm disaster of our own making

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Is this even a controversial point inside the Democratic Party at this point? Perhaps only in the argument Bernie Sanders employs to predict utter doom in the midterms. Sanders wants the party to change course ahead of the midterms to save itself from disaster, he wants the course to be changed to the hard Left.

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Well, harder Left. In fact, Sanders wants to campaign not so much against Republicans but “two corporate Democrats”:

Many Democrats are hoping bad Republican candidates, a Biden rebound or a last-minute flurry of modest legislation could help save their congressional majorities.

Sanders, though, is done with such happy thoughts.

“Say to the American people: ‘Look, we don’t have the votes to do it right now. We have two corporate Democrats who are not going to be with us,’” Sanders said, referring to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

“The leadership has got to go out and say we don’t have the votes to pass anything significant right now. Sorry. You got 48 votes. And we need more to pass it. That should be the message of this campaign.” …

Or, in the words of Sanders: “Two corporate Democrats, Sens. Manchin and Sen. Sinema, sabotaged [Build Back Better]. And it has been downhill ever since for the Democratic Party.”

So the socialists want to tee up a purge? Quelle surprise. Purges always work out well … for the other party.

This shows that the progressive wing will cling to their fantasies of the Emerging Progressive Majority for longer than they did with their Socialism Has Never Been Properly Tried myths. This assumes that Democrats won some sort of sweeping mandate in 2020, but in truth they barely won the presidency, the Senate, and actually lost seats in the House. They won the Senate on a fluke, thanks to Republicans’ circular firing squad in the runoff period in Georgia after the national election, losing two seats they should have easily held by indulging in equally ridiculous fantasies about stolen elections and evil ballot-counting machines.

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The only mandate that came out of the 2020 election was that the nation was narrowly exhausted by Donald Trump’s chaos, and they chose the candidate who promised normalcy and unity. They were rewarded for that choice by an incompetent demagogue who quickly embraced the Sanders agenda and went out of his way to marginalize Manchin and Sinema on policy. Rather than do the math that Sanders offers as a lesson toward moderation, Biden and Sanders tried using it to steamroll Manchin and Sinema — and failed.

And when it comes to spending, none of them want to do math at all except Manchin, who’s been proven right on inflation all along.

If Sanders wants the Democrats to run on a platform where Manchin and Sinema are too centrist, they had better plan on the red wave going from “surf’s up” to a tsunami watch. Even in 2020, voters didn’t endorse a hard-Left agenda, and the primaries thus far in 2022 show that they’re actively rejecting it.

Jill Lawrence just wrote about this blindness yesterday at the Daily Beast. She wants Democratic leadership and activists to recognize that they need Manchin a lot more than they need a Republican who will inevitably replace him in a purge:

To be clear, Manchin will never be a progressive hero. He’s got corporate ties and sympathies. He was once on the board of the super-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He’s worried about the federal deficit. He’s skeptical about government spending. He’s an unreliable partner. And, yes, that 95 percent score is in part because he blocks some nominees and bills before votes are cast.

But could another Democrat win statewide in West Virginia? Would progressives prefer a Republican over Manchin? It’s time to stop bashing him, and appreciate him for what he is—a Democratic ally, more often than not. …

Manchin obviously likes to be in the middle of the wheeling and dealing. In that sense he’s the Democratic version of some of the senators I wrote about in a book based on four case studies of what Congress can achieve when the right people are talking under the right circumstances. Sens. John McCain, Lamar Alexander, and Lisa Murkowski were among them. Murkowski is still at it and so is Sen. Susan Collins, another Republican.

That’s a role we need in Congress, so why not give Manchin some credit for it?

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That’s a lesson that Republicans can learn at times, too. I can’t tell you how often I reflect on the lack of support that Norm Coleman got in the 2008 campaign from conservatives who didn’t understand that Coleman was as conservative a senator as Minnesota would ever elect — and a very fine public official and person to boot. The Al Franken recount might never have happened had conservatives put more resources into supporting Coleman at that time, and ObamaCare would have been stopped or significantly altered as a result.

Let’s give Bernie credit for what he gets right, though. Democrats are heading into a midterm disaster. It will be a self-imposed catastrophe as well. But the authors of that electoral shellacking will not be named Manchin and Sinema, but rather Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Nancy Pelosi — all of whom made the mistake of getting high on their own PR supply.

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David Strom 5:00 PM | May 23, 2024
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