Other observers have noted Sanders’ ability to speak successfully to Trump voters and their concerns, and asked why the Democrats aren’t embracing a populist politics of their own, redeeming the very promises on which Trump himself will be unable to deliver.
But the fact is: They aren’t. And even Bernie Sanders isn’t — not really. Which is why he isn’t really the Democratic Reagan.
The opposition to the GOP’s American Health Care Act wasn’t particularly organized by the Democratic leadership; it sprang from a combination of the true grassroots and a variety of ideological and interest groups. The Democratic Party as a whole hasn’t yet figured out how to capitalize on such a glaring and obvious failure. And while more progressive insurgents are pushing an agenda, it’s not the right one for capitalizing on the AHCA debacle.
In the wake of the AHCA’s failure, there has been an increase in support for a single-payer system, largely in safe Democratic areas. But Donald Trump didn’t win the presidency because he promised a better deal than ObamaCare, and single-payer — even if it’s a good idea — isn’t going to be the banner under which the Democrats can plausibly bring a new coalition to dominance, because ultimately it would be just that: a good idea. The Democrats have never lacked for individual ideas that poll well or have serious policy work behind them. That’s not their most fundamental problem.