So, we’ve been expecting a primary contest that includes around 3,216 Democrat contenders . Where are they and what are they waiting for?
In our lightning-fast news cycle, the Iowa Caucus will be here in no time at all. While some of the presumed candidates have announced, some who have hinted they would have not jumped in yet.
Perhaps they are in no hurry for the early opposition drops. I think we all cringed at a shirtless Bernie Sanders. Then there was the Willie Brown interview. None of this seems to be shaking the hardcore supporters of any contenders. So where are the other likely suspects? There seem to be two competing theories.
Politico is advancing the theory that some may be waiting for the early announcers to slip up. I guess Kamala Harris walking straight into a brick wall on Medicare for All during a CNN town hall was not enough of a gaffe. Or Elizabeth Warren’s Vulcan-like sip of beer on New Year’s Eve.
This theory asserts that many candidates are waiting to see what lanes are already filled by the current crop of candidates. Clearly, the intersectional coalition and the socialists have a few choices. All the entrants so far have given full-throated support to nationalized healthcare, the Green New Deal and ridiculous marginal tax rates on the wealthy.
It also talks about reduced risks to entering the race later than would have been advisable a few cycles ago. Because of social media and digital fundraising avenues, the race for donors is different. Some strategists also told Politico that maintaining enthusiasm for thirteen months is harder to do in the age of the five minute news cycle.
Still, I am far more intrigued by the reporting of Mike Allen at Axios. Sources told the publication that the party’s lurch leftward had some expected candidates rethinking:
Michael Bloomberg and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, each of whom were virtual locks to run, are having serious second thoughts after watching Democrats embrace “Medicare for All,” big tax increases and the Green New Deal. Joe Biden, who still wants to run, is being advised to delay any plans to see how this lurch to the left plays out. If Biden runs, look for Bloomberg and McAuliffe to bow out, the sources tell us.
“The Schultz effect: Liberals own 2020”, Mike Allen, Axios, February 2, 2019
As Allen pointed out in his article, the reaction to Howard Schultz announcing a potential Independent run was axiomatic. He was criticized for being wealthy and for being someone who worked his way out of poverty. His attempts to point out that his story is the definition of the American dream were met with outright hostility from the left. Socialist darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez went so far as to say a society that allows billionaires is immoral:
The activist class, which is an important part of the primary base, is trending far left on many issues. Socialism is seeing a resurgence in Iowa according to a 2017 report in The Nation. Allen reports this leftward lurch has been confirmed by polling, specifically in Iowa.
If Schultz got roundly rejected, what is the base going to do with a candidate like Michael Bloomberg? Like Schultz, he has routinely championed left-wing causes financially and publicly. But Bloomberg’s net worth is estimated at $48.5 billion. Technically, the left wing doesn’t think he should exist.
Joe Biden has long been lauded for his working-class appeal. It has been posited that he would have a solid chance to woo back the rust belt voters that Trump won in 2016. However, an in-depth analysis of those voters by Salena Zito and Brad Todd in The Great Revolt indicates they want opportunity and industry, not a handout. And massive handouts is what the far left proposes.
Politics being what they are, many primary candidates on both sides have traditionally campaigned to the base and then moderated to some degree for the general. However, with the radical policies the current candidates are embracing, it is unclear how much they would be able to moderate without their base going nuclear.
So if more moderate candidates can’t find a lane to run in during the Democratic primary as Axios is suggesting, the party may be left with candidates that are wed to policies that are not in line with mainstream views. This could put perceived gains in the suburbs and more moderate districts at risk.
And if the far left is running the table during the primaries, Axios’s headline is completely wrong. The Liberal’s will not own the Democrat 2020 primary. The policies the left wing advocates a are actually illiberal. It would be more aptly titled the Battle of the Bolsheviks.
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