The Democrats/progressives 2020

Written by  //  February 13, 2020  //  Politics, U.S.  //  No comments

2020 Presidential Election Calendar
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The Democrats/progressives 2019
The darker side of Rep. Adam Schiff

The Price of a Bloomberg Nomination Is Too Damn High
By Eric Levitz
(New York) Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Amy Klobuchar are not on my wavelength ideologically. I find much of the former South Bend mayor’s rhetoric vacuous, the former vice-president’s oratory unnervingly incoherent, and the Minnesota senator’s history of abusing her staff unacceptable. But none of them are running campaigns that make an open mockery of our nation’s democratic aspirations, or the Democratic Party’s purported opposition to plutocracy. And none of them could substitute personal wealth for the support of the Democratic coalition upon taking power. The AFL-CIO will have influence over a Klobuchar administration’s labor regulations and NLRB appointments because Amy Klobuchar will need its support when she runs for reelection. The ACLU and Movement for Black Lives will have some voice in a Buttigieg White House because the former small-town mayor will not be able to afford forfeiting the backing of any part of his party’s base. The reason to “vote blue, no matter who” is that you are not just electing a candidate, but a coalition. A Bernie Sanders administration will surely do many important things differently than a Joe Biden one. But they would also do many things similarly, because they will be dependent on the support of almost all of the same constituencies. That won’t necessarily be true of President Bloomberg.
Michael Bloomberg is not a monster. By the standards set by other megabillionaires, he’s probably closer to a saint. While his fellow plutocrats have concentrated their political investments on accelerating the upward redistribution of wealth, Bloomberg has supplied ample resources to combating gun violence, checking Donald Trump’s power, and averting catastrophic climate change. His work on the latter issue has been especially valuable. If he would like to continue making recompense for the uglier aspects of his record by bankrolling the resistance to authoritarian ethno-nationalism in the U.S., Democrats should let him purchase their indulgences. But they must keep their party’s soul out of his price range.

12 February
E.J. Dionne Jr.: The Democrats are still searching
In a buoyant speech Tuesday night, Klobuchar spoke of giving “the people in the middle . . . someone to vote for in November.” That’s absolutely necessary. But so is the need to give the party’s left the motivation to mobilize. Democrats are still looking for a leader who can rise above the factional warfare in the face of the emergency Trump represents. They have yet to find that person.
Max Boot: Bernie Sanders is a risk we can’t run at this moment of national peril
The polls make clear that most Americans are very happy with the economy. In a recent Gallup survey, 59 percent said their personal financial situation has improved over the past year, an even higher number than in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom. Under those circumstances, a normal president would have 60 percent support. But Trump’s approval rating is only 43.6 percent in the FiveThirtyEight polling average, because he has alienated so many people with his unconscionable words and deeds.
So there is an opening to beat Trump with a candidate who will be seen as a pair of safe hands at the tiller — someone who will not alienate much of the country or imperil our economy. Sanders is not that candidate.
Sanders scores the win
(Politico) Bernie Sanders got the repeat victory he was looking for in New Hampshire, four years after a huge win in the first primary state jumpstarted his 2016 campaign.
Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar also celebrated top-three finishes, while Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden look set to get left out of the chase for delegates. And Democrats nationally sighed in relief at experiencing a simple and smooth election night after last week’s vote-counting trouble in the Iowa caucuses.
Will tonight offer clarity or confusion?
(NYT) …it is also entirely possible that New Hampshire will echo Iowa in another way, by producing such a divided result that it fails to bring the race into sharp focus. In Iowa, five candidates finished in the double digits and the top two each earned barely a quarter of the popular vote. That was hardly an emphatic outcome, and it remains to be seen whether New Hampshire voters will be more decisive.
Of course, the lack of an overwhelming preference is also a kind of preference — one that would reflect voters’ dissatisfaction with the longtime national front-runner, Mr. Biden, and uncertainty about their remaining options. For Democratic voters uncomfortable with Mr. Sanders, even a strong second-place finish for one of the other candidates could have an outsize national impact, if it signals to more moderate voters that someone else is their strongest remaining option.
Even then, there about 60 billion reasons that the race might remain in turmoil for a good while yet. If the early states are supposed to bring order to the race, it might be difficult for them to do that when Michael R. Bloomberg is bypassing them entirely with a self-funded campaign [Bloomberg’s Super Tuesday splurge]
Thomas Friedman: Paging Michael Bloomberg – Democrats need to nominate the right person to prevent Trump from winning a second term.
My fellow Americans, we face a national emergency. Never before have we had a president so utterly lacking in personal integrity, so able to lie and abuse his powers with such impunity and so blindly backed by an amoral party, an unscrupulous attorney general and a media-fund-raising juggernaut. It is an engine of raw power that will cram anything the president says or does right down your throat. … As Larry Diamond, editor of The Journal of Democracy, pointed out to me, several studies he’s been publishing show that the best way to defeat illiberal populism is not by trying to out-polarize the polarizer in chief but rather through broad, inclusive electoral strategies that pragmatically address the economic and social concerns of voters, including those who had previously voted for the populist.
Ronald Brownstein: The 2020 Democrats All Have the Same Problem -They’re niche candidates.
(The Atlantic) The results from Iowa, polls in New Hampshire, and surveys of Democrats beyond those states all point toward the same conclusion: So far, none of the candidates has built a coalition that reaches broadly across the party. Instead, each is confined to a distinct niche of support that is too narrow to establish a commanding advantage in the race. That could guarantee a lengthy war of attrition for the nomination—and possibly even a brokered convention—as the leading contenders divide the Democratic voter base along lines of race, class, generation, and ideology.

6 February
If You Think It’s Bad for Mainstream Democrats Now, Just Wait
By Jonathan Chait
It is always darkest, John McCain used to say, before it gets totally black. So it is for the American center-left right now. Bernie Sanders is currently favored to win the nomination, a prospect that would make Donald Trump a heavy favorite to win reelection, and open the possibility of a Corbyn-esque wipeout. While Sanders has not expanded beyond a minority of the party, he has consolidated support of the party’s left wing, and while its mainstream liberal wing is split between numerous contenders, it is hard to see how the situation is likely to improve soon. Indeed, it could get worse, much worse.
The liberal conundrum begins with Joe Biden. The former vice-president led national polls until very recently, and has been the most plausible mainstream liberal candidate. At the same time, doubts about his ability to handle the rigors of the campaign at an advanced age have caused the Democratic Party to withhold the institutional support it gave Hillary Clinton. Yet his name was big enough to preclude a younger, more vigorous Democrat from emerging in the ideological space he occupied. Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris all tried and failed to run as ideological heirs of Barack Obama, because Obama’s actual partner was still there.
Yet Biden underperformed in Iowa, and his campaign appears to be deflating, at least momentarily. So what to do?
One strategy would be to rally around him, on the grounds that no other candidate has or will have his name recognition and ties to black voters. The other strategy is to hope his campaign collapses as quickly as possible, so that another contender can emerge. At the moment it is not clear which strategy makes sense. And in the absence of an effective party to coordinate, the most likely scenario is a combination of the two: Some Democrats back Biden, others defect, and others wait to see what happens. That would be the worst possible outcome: a long, slow, painful death that prevents another liberal from taking his place and allows Sanders to gain unstoppable momentum.
In the meantime, it seems hard to imagine how Biden or a Biden alternative could emerge in the next three contests. The next contest is in New Hampshire, which borders the home states of both Sanders and his closest ideological counterpart, Elizabeth Warren. After that comes Nevada — which, like Iowa, uses the caucus system, which has a fraction of the voting participation of primaries and reward the kind of intense organization Sanders has mastered.
Then comes South Carolina. Biden has been pointing to this state, where he has always led, as his firewall. But will it hold if he is coming off three straight defeats? It is possible that by this point, Biden will have been supplanted in the center-left lane by Pete Buttigieg or even Amy Klobuchar. However, neither has the inroads to the state’s black community that Biden built, which means neither would be able to count on its support as a bulwark against the left-leaning electorates in the previous states. Also, as an additional morbid touch, the South Carolina primary will feature an organized influx of Republicans voting for Sanders in a specific plan to boost what they see as Democrats’ weakest nominee.

2 February
Are the Democrats Completely Screwing This Up?
The first caucus is Monday, but the 2020 campaign already feels like it’s gone on forever. Is this primary going to help — or hurt — the eventual nominee’s ability to defeat Trump?
(RollingStone) Take your mind back there. Miami. June 2019. Two nights, 20 candidates. A portrait of the Democratic Party in miniature assembled onstage, mics on, ready to debate.
They are U.S. senators and House members, governors and a mayor, a refreshingly human economic futurist and a self-help guru best known as Oprah’s spiritual adviser. They are young and old, black and white and Asian and brown, wealthy and in debt, gay and straight, war veterans, hailing from all parts of the country. They are, as Democratic chairman Tom Perez proudly points out, “the most diverse field in our nation’s history.”
Feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?
There was a sense of possibility and optimism on that stage. Fast forward six months. The leading Democratic candidates are all white. Three are men, and three are older than 70. Meanwhile two old white billionaires are buying their way into contention by spending hundreds of millions of their personal fortunes. At this point four years ago, the top candidates for the Republican nomination were more diverse than the Democratic frontrunners today. Many politicians hailed as the Future of The Party — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke — are gone, exiting the race before a single vote was cast.
.. What happened? Why did the Democratic primary get so white? Why have known brands and familiar faces led the pack? Why are so many Democratic voters undecided after a year of campaigning? Did the Democratic National Committee screw this up? Or is this what the voters wanted?

Democrats Are Freaking Out About Mike Bloomberg
By Edward-Isaac Dovere
“The answer to one Republican New York billionaire is surely not going to be a slightly richer Republican New York billionaire,” one Biden ally said. “It’s laughable we even have to say that out loud.”
“If Sanders soars through the first four primaries and Biden and [Pete Buttigieg] stumble, Mike may end up as the only thing standing between Bernie and the nomination.” That’s how Bradley Tusk, who managed Bloomberg’s 2009 mayoral campaign and is advising the presidential run, put it to me on Thursday. Sanders might run away with it, but “a large portion of the party believes that Bernie can’t beat Trump—and that beating Trump is all that matters.”
And so the prospect of a contested convention—in which the Democrats don’t have a presumptive nominee by the time they gather in Milwaukee in mid-July—is more likely than ever.
Sanders, Warren go separate ways in closing pitches
One progressive wants to blow up the establishment. The other wants to unite the party

30 January
How Trump’s impeachment created two Democratic superstars
Adam Schiff and Hakeem Jeffries are seeing their profiles rise during the Senate trial. How high can they go?
(Politico) In a series of conversations, people close to Schiff and Jeffries did nothing to discourage the rampant speculation about the men’s ambitions, and described it in unusually rich detail.
Schiff is said to be interested in the Senate (California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is 86), a spot in a potential Democratic administration or speaker of the House. Jeffries, meanwhile, has scant interest in running for mayor of New York — a job he was rumored to be eyeing. He wants to be House speaker — and is taking steps to get there.
Michael Gerson: Democrats are on the verge of mistakes that could badly hurt their cause
The first error is to claim that Trump is the culmination and embodiment of Republicanism and conservatism. Republicans, in this view, have always been Trumpian but lacked Trump’s bluntness. Defeating Trump, the argument goes, would therefore crush the party’s true ideals: racism, social Darwinism, anti-intellectualism and corporate toadyism.
As a matter of substance, this claim is absurd. … Trump’s direct appeal to racial resentment, his embrace of white grievance, his demonization of migrants, his abandonment of democratic ideals, his misogyny and xenophobia, his cruelty and menace require a separate category.
Trying to make Trump into a symbol of Republicanism is not only substantively absurd; it would also be strategically disastrous. There is no way to defeat Trumpism without isolating Trump. To frustrate his attempted redefinition of the right, and to redraw some important ethical and political lines, Trump must be seen as an aberration, as sui generis. Those who embrace his cause are not being good Republicans but bad ones.
E.J. Dionne: Progressives and moderates: Don’t destroy each other
The enemy is Trump, not Clinton or Obama.
Will progressives and moderates feud while the country burns? Or will these natural allies take advantage of a historic opportunity to strengthen American democracy, defeat both Trumpism and an increasingly radical form of conservatism, and create a broad alliance for practical, visionary government?
Judging from the tone of the Democratic primary on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, feuding seems to be winning. Some of this contention is inevitable; each of these candidates wants to win. The danger lies in fostering the idea that the divides between progressives and moderates are more important than their intense and shared opposition with President Trump and a right-wing version of Republicanism that seeks to undo our nation’s advances since the New Deal. The triumph of this view would be — let’s not mince words — a social catastrophe.
The Democratic campaign was destined to entail an argument about the party’s direction for the next decade. Is this election about restoration, after the madness of Trump’s time in office? Or should the accent be on transformation, to grapple with the underlying problems that led to Trump’s election in the first place?
Thanks to his personality, background and experience, former vice president Joe Biden is the premier restorationist. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) both represent what Warren, in her oft-repeated promise, has called “big structural change.” Former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) stand somewhere in between. They are closer to Biden philosophically but, as new voices in the national conversation, have a chance to argue that they represent a break with the past. And looking past the early contests, former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg clearly falls into the restorationist camp.

28 January
Any of the top Democratic primary contenders are capable of beating Donald Trump in November, Jonathan Chait writes in “Running Bernie Sanders Against Trump Would Be an Act of Insanity.” But the septuagenarian Vermont senator would be far from an ideal opponent. A broad body of research shows that moderate candidates tend to perform better in general elections, but Sanders is a proud socialist who advocates for a series of unpopular positions. And his long history of “radical associations” has never been fully exploited by a political opponent. “No party nomination, with the possible exception of Barry Goldwater in 1964, has put forth a presidential nominee with the level of downside risk exposure as a Sanders-led ticket would bring.”
At this point there is hardly any serious evidence to believe that the best strategy to defeat Trump is to mobilize voters with a radical economic agenda. Public satisfaction with the economy is now at its highest point since the peak of the dot-com boom two decades ago. Trump has serious weaknesses of issues like health care, corruption, taxes, and the environment, and a majority of the public disapproves of Trump’s performance, but he does enjoy broad approval of his economic management. Therefore, his reelection strategy revolves around painting his opponents as radical and dangerous. You may not like me, he will argue, but my opponents are going to turn over the apple cart. A Sanders campaign seems almost designed to play directly into Trump’s message.

27 January
David Frum: Bernie Can’t Win
But unless other Democrats take a page from his book—stressing the practical over the theoretical, the universal over the particular—they won’t prevail either
The left-but-not-woke idea does have power—including with many members of racial minorities. Sanders seldom talks specifically to nonwhite voters. His message to them is the same as his message to everyone: universal health coverage and student-debt relief, more redistribution from rich to poor, reducing the power of money in politics. The latest CNN poll showed Sanders erasing Biden’s lead among nonwhite voters—perhaps in spite of Sanders’s indifference to identity politics, or maybe, just maybe, because of that indifference.
…the constellation of issues that predominates among highly online and very well-informed anti-Trump voters matters a lot less to millions of other people who could potentially decide the 2020 election. That observation applies to a lot of issues that are authentically important. The integrity of democracy matters. Enforcing the law against power holders matters. Defeating corruption matters. But it’s easier to concentrate on those issues when you have good health insurance and a job that provides a stable middle-class livelihood—including the possibility of a college education for your children. And too many Americans lack those things.
If the Oval Office is to be cleansed of Donald Trump, it will not suffice to defeat Sanders’s candidacy. The ultimate winner will have to plagiarize from his campaign, copying not Sanders’s literal ideas, but his themes: the practical over the theoretical, the universal over the particular.

26 January
Biden and Sanders are breaking away from the pack of candidates among Democrats nationwide, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds
A Post average of recent New Hampshire polls shows Sanders and Biden virtually tied, with Warren and Buttigieg not far behind. Nationally, however, the competition has moved in the direction of Biden and Sanders, with Warren, Buttigieg and others now clearly behind. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning registered voters, Biden is favored by 32 percent with Sanders at 23 percent, according to the new Post-ABC poll. In both cases, those percentages are slightly better than what each received in an October Post-ABC national poll.

24 January
Could Bloomberg’s Billions Boost the Odds of a Contested Convention?
By Ed Kilgore
(New York) Some observers roll their eyes when the very subject of a “brokered” (or more precisely, “contested”) presidential nominating convention comes up. After all, there hasn’t been a convention where the outcome was in serious doubt when the opening gavel was struck since 1976, and the last multi-ballot convention was in 1952. The emergence of the modern primary-based nominating process with no bosses controlling blocs of delegates and no favorite sons for them to vote for until the deal goes down has made all that a nostalgic fantasy.
…as I and others have noted, the combination of an unusually large presidential field, a fairly compressed primary schedule, and the Democratic Party’s strictly proportional delegate award rules makes it possible, if not likely, that Democrats could arrive in Milwaukee in July without a candidate having already nailed down a firm majority of delegates.
Having already set up a model for predicting primary results and delegate awards, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver runs a bunch of simulations and develops some projections on the likelihood of a “contested convention:”

19 January
One of These People Could Beat Trump, Right? Two weeks out from the Iowa caucus, it’s an unprecedented four-way deadlock. Ready, set, go!
(New York) Come February 4, more than two-thirds of Democrats will be at least some amount of disappointed by who wins Iowa, with a whole lot of them much more panicked than that: If, after a year of seemingly nonstop campaigning, none of the candidates has really pulled in front, how confident can you be, they might ask, that any of them could actually take down Trump? The campaigns know this, and know that after Iowa the field of real contenders is likely to narrow even further — which is why they are all, even the most ideological candidates, so focused on February 3 as a way of demonstrating electability. Because the first and last thing every voter is asking themselves right now is, Who can win in November?
The NYT editorial board announces its endorsement and surprises by endorsing two candidates, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren
American voters must choose between three sharply divergent visions of the future.
The incumbent president, Donald Trump, is clear about where he is guiding the Republican Party — white nativism at home and America First unilateralism abroad, brazen corruption, escalating culture wars, a judiciary stacked with ideologues and the veneration of a mythological past where the hierarchy in American society was defined and unchallenged.
On the Democratic side, an essential debate is underway between two visions that may define the future of the party and perhaps the nation. Some in the party view President Trump as an aberration and believe that a return to a more sensible America is possible. Then there are those who believe that President Trump was the product of political and economic systems so rotten that they must be replaced.

14 January
Frank Rich: What’s Wrong With the Democratic Primary? Everything.
what’s at stake in tonight’s Democratic debate, the vote to start the Senate impeachment trial, and the Trump administration’s crumbling explanation for its strike killing Qasem Soleimani.

13 January
Bernie Sanders’s campaign goes on the attack as he seeks a victory in the Iowa caucuses
(WaPo) Although Sanders (I-Vt.) mostly had resisted comparing himself with other candidates, over the weekend, his surrogates and aides intensified their attacks on Biden, targeting his past positions on racial issues and his vote to authorize the Iraq War.
At the same time, his campaign went after Warren (D-Mass.), with whom Sanders has shared a nonaggression pact for much of the primary season.
Sanders’s emergence at the center of the clashes reflected his pivotal position in the race for the Democratic nomination. Little more than three months after suffering a heart attack that some thought would drive him from the race, he has moved to the top of the polls in Iowa, which opens the voting on Feb. 3, and remains in a strong position elsewhere, too.
His more aggressive moves — and the countering blows by other candidates who previously treated him as an unthreatening holdover — ushered in a final three weeks of campaigning here with myriad possible outcomes. Voters have been averse so far to most candidates who launched broadsides against their rivals, and Sanders as much as any candidate has tried to craft a positive image.
Cory Booker ends 2020 presidential campaign
(CNN) The New Jersey Democrat’s announcement came a day before six presidential candidates will participate in the CNN/Des Moines Register’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa. He did not qualify for the event. It also came as the Senate gears up for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.
His announcement marks another departure of a high-profile black candidate from the 2020 race. After not making the December debate, Booker criticized the rules that kept him from qualifying for the event and was outspoken about the growing lack of diversity on stage. The looming impeachment trial, which would have kept Booker off of the trail for some time, was “a piece, but not a big piece” of his decision. [See also the transcript of NYT editorial board interview with Senator Booker]

7 January
Both Trump and Democrats see political benefits to U.S. killing of Iranian general
Many of Trump’s Democratic challengers believe the president’s actions carry a political benefit for them among swing voters fearful of yet another war, who could more sharply question Trump’s worldview and fitness for office.
On the campaign trail in Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) repeatedly has blasted the killing of Soleimani as “reckless” and said she would not have ordered the strike were she president. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been critical as well, trying to rally antiwar Democrats to his side ahead of what his advisers envision as a potential showdown with former vice president Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Klobuchar has stressed her experience, while Buttigieg, a retired military intelligence officer, has spoken about understanding the cost of war. “My mind is with the troops who are moving to the Middle East, and having known what it’s like to be on the inside of one of those airplanes, you need to be able to trust that everybody up your chain of command has thought through what’s ahead.”

4 January
(New York) The 2020 Democratic primary has been driven largely by fear, namely the fear of Trump’s reelection, which has manifested as an outsize focus on electability. As became plainly clear when he dropped out this week, Julián Castro was not seen by many Democrats as electable. Castro’s policy ideas and focus on the human rights of black and brown people were widely praised, but as Zak Cheney-Rice writes in “Julián Castro’s Campaign Was Not for the Fearful,” the former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary fell victim to a Democratic electorate that, thanks to Trump, is feeling extremely risk averse.

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