Democrats’ Rules May Lead To A Contentious Convention
“Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they’d be Republicans.” –Will Rogers
With roughly 1 percent of the 2020 primary votes cast and more or less counted, Democrats are tempted to panic. Partly, it’s traditional. “Democrats in Disarray” is a perennial headline at this stage.
That said, there are good reasons for concern. Bernie Sanders appears to be verging upon a conniption fit. His campaign sent out a recent fundraising email complaining, “We are under attack — from the corporate media, from the Democratic establishment, from Buttigieg and Biden’s super PACs, and from the corporate media.”
You read it right. Sanders is so alarmed by press criticism that he assailed the “corporate media” twice in one sentence.
Hint: All news media is corporate by definition.
Elsewhere, Sanders has taken to arguing that a plurality of earned delegates — not a majority — should suffice to win the Democratic presidential nomination.
What with Bernie polling around 26 percent nationally — more than anybody else, but far short of a majority — it’s obvious why this idea appeals to him. Not to mention to his enraptured supporters, many clinging to the poisonous myth that nefarious DNC operatives cheated their hero in 2016, despite his losing to Hillary Clinton by several million votes.
Anyway, it’s not going to fly. Come hell, high water or Michael Bloomberg — who hasn’t yet appeared on a single ballot, and who could fall on his expensively barbered face in televised debates before he does — a Democrat will need an actual majority to win the party’s nomination to face Boss Trump come November.
Even if it tears the party apart to reach one.
Which it could well do.
Yes, Donald Trump took the Republican nomination in 2016 with 45 percent of the vote. That’s because GOP rules dictated winner-take-all apportionment of party delegates. Also because too many no-hope candidates stayed in the race too long. Hence Trump’s plurality gained him 70 percent of the delegates.
However, as Mike Tomasky explains in The Daily Beast: “Democratic delegates are awarded proportionally … Yes, there is a threshold that candidates have to hit to get any delegates at all, 15 percent. But the way this race is shaping up, it’s not crazy to think that four or five candidates could hit that threshold in most states.”
Sanders, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and, yes, Michael Bloomberg. That’s too many candidates. The headline over Greg Sargent’s Washington Post column puts it this way: “As Bloomberg Rises, Democrats Are Stumbling Toward Disaster.”
Sargent envisions Democrats ending up in a King Kong versus Godzilla death match between Sanders, the great scourge of “millionaires and billionaires,” and Bloomberg, a guy so rich he could buy and sell Boss Trump 20 times over.
(Unlike Trump, Bloomberg inherited nothing and has never been accused of bankrupting a casino, running a scam “university” or laundering cash for Russian mobsters. He earned his pile the old-fashioned way: on Wall Street.)
Sargent thinks it’d be ominous to see Bloomberg’s billions funding attack ads against Sanders and his idealistic army of small donors.
So far, most Democrats don’t appear to mind. Whatever he’s doing, Bloomberg’s doing in broad daylight. Indeed, you’d be hard put to miss his omnipresent TV commercials, all dedicated to advancing his candidacy rather than tearing rivals down.
Another reason many don’t mind is that there are many Democrats, like former Clinton campaign aide James Carville, who are convinced that Bernie and his enraptured supporters are leading the party “to the farthest reaches of left-wing zombie land.”
“There is only one moral imperative right now, for the very fate of American democracy,” Carville says: “defeating Donald Trump. That’s all that matters. And I am scared to death we are about to blow it.” Blow it, that is, by advocating “mile-high fantasies that are likely to lose swing states.”
Fantasies such as open borders and Medicare for undocumented immigrants. Such as doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. Such as free college tuition for all, and student debt forgiveness.
People who worked their way through school and paid off their loans, Carville says, “don’t want to hear this [stuff] … It’s just not a winning message.
“You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals … vote from jail cells,” Carville says.
Question: Is he out of his mind?
No, he’s just an ideologue in love with his own voice, and who hasn’t faced a serious opponent for many years.
I’m an Amy Klobuchar man myself, partly for the same combination of dumb reasons everybody chooses candidates. She’s funny; she’s sensible. She talks politics, not ideology. She somewhat resembles my sainted wife. She comes on TV, I start smiling. Can’t help myself.
But come Super Tuesday, no drawing to an inside straight: If Amy’s not running a close third, she needs to give it up.
And so does everybody behind her.