If there was one big surprise in the 2016 election campaign, it was the popularity of Bernie Sanders. Why was an antique socialist, who’s not even a member of the Democratic Party, such a serious contender? Sanders’s decision to run again next year was a real worry for many; after all, what if he actually won? How much damage would four years of socialism do to the country? Luckily, however, it seems Bernie might have hit an unexpected obstacle — the new-look Democratic Party’s obsession with identity politics.
Most commentators now agree that the Democratic Party has swung sharply to the left over the last few years. You’d think that would help Bernie win the nomination — after all, he’s about as far left as you can get without actually being a Marxist. Ironically, though — and maybe unluckily for Bernie — the new crop of radical Dems are the wrong kind of left. If they were all economically-minded socialists like him he’d probably be cruising to the nomination. But they’re not.
- There was some evidence of the struggle Bernie could be facing last Wednesday, when he addressed the She The People forum in Houston, TX. One of the first questions he was asked was how he planned to appeal to black women who’d voted for Hillary in 2016.
- For all his faults — and there are many — Bernie is an old-school class warrior who at the end of the day sees everyone as an American. The new breed of Dem activist is a bit different. For them, everyone’s split into special interest groups. It doesn’t matter what Bernie plans to do for the average American worker (even if those plans would be a disaster in practice). The audience wanted to know what he wants to do for black women.
- And Bernie couldn’t answer. When he was first asked, he launched into a prepared speech about uniting the Dems against President Trump. He condemned racism, sexism and homophobia. In short, he said all the things a presidential candidate is expected to say — and it wasn’t enough.
- Co-moderator Joy Reid asked Sanders twice more what he planned to do specifically to appeal to black women. Bernie couldn’t give an answer and seemed to run out of ideas halfway through his second attempt. That prompted audience members to start shouting at him.
- Bernie’s likely to pick up significant support towards the nomination, but based on his performance last time, and with no other candidates of Hillary’s stature running, he should have been looking at an easy victory. It looks like he has a real fight on his hands, though — and it’s against his comrades on the far left.