EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a special presentation of a point-counterpoint argument, much like that between Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin on Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s. The debate is between myself and Frank Mills, a Lincoln Project Ranger Rick-style adversary:
Written one year ago by me, so Frank, you ignorant slut…
The dictionary on my computer defines a blitzkrieg as “an intense military campaign intended to bring about a swift victory.” Just a couple of months ago, we witnessed a political blitzkrieg, the likes of which I’ve never before seen, heard or read about in my many years of being a political junkie.
The sports metaphor for what happened in just three days in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary Feb. 29 and March 1 and 2 (2020) were like the Detroit Lions jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but suddenly the wheels coming off and eventually losing 59-21.
So let’s go back to Saturday, Feb. 22, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took a commanding lead in number of delegates with a convincing victory in the Nevada primary. I was visiting my old fishing buddy in Muskegon when his sister called to announce the news.
For the next week, virtually all of the talking heads on TV and pundits on cable news agreed Sanders was the undisputed leader in the primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination. There were polls showing Sanders opening up a double-digit lead over all other candidates and he even had moved into first place in the polls in Texas.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden was floundering, under achieving by a wide margin. He finished a distant second in Nevada, but was no higher than fourth in New Hampshire and Iowa. Coming up later that week was the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Feb. 29, which virtually everyone predicted would be won by Biden.
That Saturday evening, Biden indeed did win convincingly, as expected. But something extraordinary happened, a brief and electric series of events that changed everything quickly.
Immediately after the primary results were tabulated, billionaire candidate Tom Steyer announced he was dropping out and throwing his support to Biden. That in itself wasn’t all that surprising because Steyer had failed to catch on.
But the following day, media favorite Pete Buttigieg announced he was suspending his campaign, even though he had raised a lot of money and finished a close second to Sanders in New Hampshire and Iowa. He didn’t do well in South Carolina, but had been very competitive in the first two primaries.
Less than 24 hours after that, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar announced she no longer was a candidate, only one day ahead of the Super Tuesday primary March 3, which included her home state, where she was favored in the polls to win. And billionaire Michal Bloomberg dropped out.
All who suspended their campaigns coalesced around Biden.
The results of Super Tuesday clearly turned the Democratic primary on a dime, it set the political world on its head. Biden, who had scored his first primary win only three days before, really cleaned up, winning Virginia, Massachussetts, Texas and a whole slew of southern states, Bernie won only in Vermont, Colorado and California.
Then Senator Elizabeth Warren called it quits. It very suddenly was a whole new ballgame, with only Bernie and Biden left standing.
The following Tuesday Biden’s streak continued by beating Bernie in Michigan, the state where Sanders put his name on the political map four years earlier by upsetting Hillary.
Prompted by those three days in February and March, the dominoes fell one, two, three and the political fortunes of that upstart Democratic Socialist sank like a stone. By mid-March the game was virtually over.
I couldn’t figure out how and why Democratic voters could turn on their front-runner so fast and so convincingly. This startling political development since then hasn’t drawn a lot of notice because of the tremendous impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It all left me as bewildered in a cerebral desert, seeking explanations, but getting none that have been satisfactory. I suppose there are some who will say Bernie got in trouble for praising Fidel Castro’s educational system in Cuba. Or maybe his criticism of sexism from Warren hurt him. Or maybe it was true when Hillary Clinton declared, “Nobody likes Bernie.”
None of those suggestions could possibly turn around a primary election so abruptly and so completely.
One independent political observer, however, did have a suggestion that just might be the answer. Krystal Ball said there is only one person who has the kind of power to achieve such a phenomenal feat — Barack Obama.
Dave you pompous ass…
In February, there were two left-of-left progressive candidates, vying for the same set of 30% of the Democratic-leaning primary voters.
At the same time, seven (more or less) centrists were slugging it out for the other 70%. Simple math favored the first few.
I was a rah-rah for Klobuchar, so I didn’t get my first choice either. But I am glad it went down as it did.
The U of M Radio Stateside program did a good piece this week on the fall of the Reagan Democrats and the rise of the Biden Republicans.
The coalition that elected Biden would not have elected Bernie. Trump tried to destroy Biden for a good reason; he was the strongest candidate.
All of those other centrists deferred to Biden for a good reason; he was the strongest candidate. Winning was the most important (the only) thing.
Long-time loyal Democrats were not excited by Bernie for a reason. He is not a Democrat. Real Republicans despise Trump for the same reason.
Bernie’s supporters were 10 times more enthusiastic, and they thought all that energy would put them over the top. It takes more votes, not more energy.
Trump’s supporters were 10 times more enthusiastic, and they thought all that energy would put them over the top. It takes more votes, not more energy.
You didn’t get your first choice? Neither did 95%+ of the voters. That is how democracies work.
Who stacked the deck? The voters did. Exactly as it was designed.
— Frank Mills