“Vote Blue, No Matter Who,” what comfort this gave Democrats. They would be united against Trump no matter who won the primary. Trump would fall. Normal would return.
But there never was a normal. There was never going to be a return. The country has been in bad shape for far too long. You can see it in our response to the pandemic: we were terribly unprepared and our response has been hampered by a need to consider the “needs” of big business, as inequality accelerates at warp speed. The promise of normality was a temptation, almost Biblical in nature. Take the Apple. Stand united. Trump will be gone. It will be morning again in America. “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.”
How did this work out? The Democrats presumptive nominee is Joe Biden. Joe Biden, a candidate who has registered strong enthusiasm among only 24% of Democrats (versus 53% of Republicans who feel the same way about Trump).* He could easily lose to Trump, in spite of the economic collapse. Why? He’s a candidate with a longer list of negatives than Santa has of children who have been naughty and not nice:
- A documented history of lying.
- A plagiarist.
- An enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq War for several years.
- A history of advocating for cutbacks to Social Security and Medicare.
- A supporter of policies that undercut Hillary Clinton in the Midwest, for example, NAFTA.
- A candidate who has little support among younger voters, and shouldn’t expect any anytime soon. (As reported in Newsweek, “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are—give me a break,” said Biden, while speaking to Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times to promote his new book. “No, no, I have no empathy for it, give me a break.”)
- A candidate who still refuses to support the popular program MedicareForAll, even in the face of the obvious inadequacies of private insurance that the pandemic has highlighted.
- A senator who supported bankruptcy legislation that was detrimental to middle-class Americans, many with student loans.
- A supporter of the Hyde Amendment on abortion until last summer.
- A candidate who was unwilling to ask Wisconsin to hold off on its primary during a pandemic. People caught the virus.
- An individual who still believes that marijuana is a gateway drug.
- A man who has been accused of sexual assault in a detailed and plausible account, shared with friends and relatives by the accuser, which is bound to receive attention in the general election. (Other women have complained about inappropriate touching, so at minimum we can say that Biden appears to have boundary issues.)
The list could go on, but you get the idea. And Joe promises us that nothing will change if he becomes president. Better believe him.
But this tale is not about Joe Biden. It’s about the Democratic Party and the scam of “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.” It was always a set up. The Democratic Establishment knew that the odds were very high that they would be able to pull off getting one of their favored candidates nominated, because everyone in the race was a favored candidate, with the exception of Sanders, the only candidate who truly threatened them and their corporate sponsors. Didn’t make any difference, as long as it wasn’t Sanders. In the worst case scenario, they might have to use superdelegates at the convention to ensure that it was anyone but Sanders, but before doing so, they would get everyone to agree to “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.” Let’s make it a mantra, they said. And so it was done.
The Democratic Establishment had a three-pronged strategy:
1) Make sure to get as many people as possible to commit to “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.”
2) Keep pushing the notion that a centrist is in the best position to beat Trump and that Bernie’s “radical” ideas would make him a loser.**
3) And when a particular centrist gains momentum, the leadership should telegraph to the party faithful that they must get behind this centrist.
How would Establishment Dems convince people to vote blue? Well, if you didn’t agree to sign on to vote blue, then you were a purist or a covert Trump supporter or a Russian agent, etc. Shame, shame, and more shame on you for not coming around to blue. Never forget that Bernie got Trump elected. (No matter that this was not the reason Clinton lost. But it’s a great guilt-trip.) It would be immoral to think about not voting blue. And don’t even think about arguing for significant new programs right now. Too complicated with Trump looming. Trump. Trump. Trump.
Although this strategy might not convince every Sanders supporter to “Vote Blue, No Matter Who,” the expectation was that it would allow most Democrats to feel virtuous about getting behind the (allegedly) more electable candidate, thereby guaranteeing their votes. Want an example of how well this strategy worked? Here’s a voter articulating how it worked in a NY Times piece.
“I can wait for four more years for ‘Medicare for all’ and the Green New Deal — and go with Biden — just to get Trump out of office,” Ms. Abetti said, “because that’s my number one thing.”
Her fears were specifically tied to the belief that Mr. Trump could win by highlighting a good economy against Mr. Sanders’s message of radical change. Now that the spread of the coronavirus has caused sweeping unemployment and a historic drop in stock prices, Ms. Abetti acknowledged that the political landscape had shifted.
Still, she said: “I thought Never Trump Republicans wouldn’t vote for Sanders, and more people who support Sanders would vote for Biden. So it’s with a heavy heart that I decided to back Biden.”
No doubt many others made the same calculation. Actually, it may not have been much of a calculation. It may have seemed like common sense. Why? Because the idea that Bernie couldn’t win with his radical ideas was repeated over and over again by the MSM, as well as by the other Democratic candidates, and this was in the face of poll after poll showing Sanders beating Trump, usually by as much or more than other Democrats. It was just common sense that Bernie would lose. The result: Joe Biden, the stealth basement candidate. Because anybody-but-Bernie, and “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.”
Progressives should never have agreed to this pledge. Once it was made, they lost all their leverage. The people with money and power were fairly confident that they could close the deal on one of their candidates, even if it meant a dirty fight at the convention. And if their candidate doesn’t give the progressives what they want, and what most Democrats want, for example, MedicareForAll, so what. Screw them. They have signed on. They publicly promised to vote blue. Centrist/conservative Democrats can feel confident that even if they blow off the left’s agenda, they will still get their votes. Trump. Trump. Trump.
But It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue. Why? Because Democrats have been too clever by half. They are now saddled with an incompetent candidate with a long history of black marks against him. They offer America a hollow centrist, a super centrist, a centrist who has been pretty damn conservative. An old-fashioned apparatchik, who confuses looking in a rear view mirror with keeping his eyes on the road. A dead end candidate for post-coronavirus America. A nowhere man for America’s future.
Without an injection of energy from the left and younger voters, win or lose in November, the Democratic Party’s lack of political imagination will continue to be matched by its lack of foresight. Young people already view the party as a dinosaur, one that offers a candidate who is clueless about their trials and tribulations, and there is no future without them. Mark my words, the party’s manipulative mantra will become a footnote to a sad history, replaced by a new one: It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.***
* “Indeed, strong enthusiasm for Biden among his supporters – at just 24% – is the lowest on record for a Democratic presidential candidate in 20 years of ABC/Post polls. More than twice as many of Trump’s supporters are highly enthusiastic about supporting him, 53%.” “Biden consolidates support, but trails badly in enthusiasm: Poll” abcNews, March 29, 2020.
** Entre nous, there was also a quiet acquiescence, crickets actually, to Bernie being called loud and pushy, and his followers being tagged in a similar way. You know what loud and pushy have often coded for: Jew. But no one in the Democratic Establishment or MSM ever bothered to challenge this repeated characterization as possibly just a tad anti-Semitic. Why bother? Reminding people that he was a Jew would hurt Sanders in various places in the country.
*** Of course, this is the title of a famous Dylan song, in which he sings:
Your empty-handed army is all going home
Your lover who just walked out the door
Has taken all his blankets from the floor
The carpet too is moving under you
And it’s all over now, Baby Blue