And so it begins. With democratic socialism O.G. Bernie Sanders and baby-faced Beto O’Rourke officially running, the race is on for the presidential nomination of my party, the Democrats.
It’s also over. Not the nomination, but rather the general election. Because the reaction to Sanders’ candidacy especially showcases why Democrats will lose next November.
By now, we all know Democrats have an uncanny knack for losing winnable elections. And since 2016, when Hillary Clinton blew a double-digit polling lead in less than a month, Democrats have descended even further into dysfunction.
The problem isn’t policy. It’s pettiness.
Many conservatives believe Democrats are lurching toward far-left policies like single-payer healthcare, livable wages and free public college education. As a socialist who firmly believes Bernie Sanders would have defeated Donald Trump in 2016, I hope they’re right. Progressive populists are the future of the party; centrist elitists like Hillary Clinton are the past.
But many conservatives also suspect that Democrats have become a bunch of hyper-sensitive, easily offended wimps. Again they’re right – and it’s going to cost my party another eminently winnable presidential election next year.
The initial reviews to a Sanders sequel vividly displayed the horde of suicidal cannibals Democrats have become. In less than three years, Bernie has gone from darling to demon in a party so hell-bent on perfection that progress – and progressivism – is rendered impossible.
One exercise in smug nitpickiness came from The Progressive. In a piece sarcastically titled “Thanks Bernie,” Editor Ruth Coniff espoused what has become an all-too-familiar theme with today’s Democrats: outrage when a white heterosexual male like Sanders doesn’t mention the plight of women and minorities every single time he opens his mouth.
“In his first interview after announcing his candidacy,” Coniff wrote, “Sanders sounded tone-deaf to the new progressive reality he helped create.”
She was peeved that Sanders – who, in 1941, had the nerve to be born white and male – said: “We have got to look at candidates not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender, and not by their age. I think we have got to try to move us toward a non-discriminatory society which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”
How dare he. Apparently equality and meritocracy are incompatible with Coniff’s conclusion that “a younger, browner, more female progressive leadership represents our country’s future.”
In Politico, conservative National Review editor Rich Lowry noted that, a few years ago, Sanders’ vision for a nondiscriminatory society “would have been considered a welcome, inclusive view. Today, Sanders is seen as retrograde by the identity-politics hall monitors who increasingly rule the Democratic Party.” Amen – and evidence that conservatives see liberals more clearly than we see ourselves.
My fellow snowflakes can’t help themselves. High on kale and identity politics, we demand that our candidates check each and every box on our customized purity list. No sin is too venial to escape excommunication.
O’Rourke was excoriated on social media for not having his wife also speak during his announcement, as if a public official is supposed to make every rally a family reunion. Senator Cory Booker, who had the audacity to grow up in suburbia and attend Yale Law School, has been labeled “inauthentically black” and, absurdly, a warmonger for declaring that Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro “is alarming to me on many levels." Not exactly fightin’ words.
Massachusetts Senator and proud 1/32 Native American Elizabeth Warren is taking heat not for her ridiculous racial claim, but her role as lawyer for a fossil-fuel energy provider in the 1990s – long before convincing data of climate change emerged. Similarly, Senator Kamala Harris, a former government prosecutor, has drawn liberal ire for, well, prosecuting people.
Most recently, former Vice President Joe Biden, who may enter the race soon, received massive liberal media backlash for daring to call his former Senate colleague and current Vice President, Mike Pence, a decent human being. How terrible of him.
And this is only the beginning. Once my party actually chooses its least-imperfect candidate, he or she must endure four months of having each public statement parsed as ignorant or insensitive to whatever ultra-niche identity group takes offense.
If it’s a man, every time he ever pecked a female on the cheek will be an instant #MeToo moment. If it’s a woman, she’ll be labeled insufficiently feminist for saying newborn babies can’t be aborted. Meanwhile President Trump, the most media savvy president we’ve ever seen, will make a meal of every self-critical crumb the left serves him.
Sanders himself expressed confidence that Democrats will rally behind the eventual 2020 candidate. I’ve never disagreed with him more.
Christopher Dale is a freelancer who frequently writes on society, politics and sobriety-based issues. He has been published in a variety of outlets, including Salon, The Daily Beast, NY Daily News, Parents.com and New York Newsday, and he is also a regular contributor to TheFix.com, a sober-lifestyle website.