It now looks certain that Joe Biden, 77, will be the Democratic Party's nominee for the 2020 United States presidential elections. From all projections Biden's coronation is now a foregone conclusion given his strong showing in the recent primaries. The party's messaging and argument is that America needs a steady, experienced hand marshaling the ship of state through today's turbulent political, social, and economic seas. Biden is that captain, the narrative goes, and he's got the ideal credentials for the job since he was former President Barack Obama's Vice President and loyal wing man.
On the other hand, say Biden backers, Bernie Sanders is a clear and present danger to down-ballot Democrats fighting to hold on to the House of Representatives and take back the Senate. Besides, his self-branding as a Social Democrat is an obscene word in the party and will turn off voters. President Trump, they argue, will tie this hated label around Sanders neck and upend his bid for the presidency. He cannot beat a rambunctious and rampaging Trump they contend.
While I do not agree with and condemn all of the scurrilous "red baiting" and anti-Sanders memes aimed at stoking fear within the Democratic Party, and herding members into a pro-Biden corral, the truth of the matter is that the Biden campaign today smells very much like a Hillary Clinton 2016 redux. True, as a political campaign strategist for the past 22 years, I know that Sanders now has no plausible path to the Democratic Party's nomination, that ship has already sailed. However, even as Biden supporters jump for joy at the Bernie Sanders campaign's demise, they had better be very careful going forward.
Yes, the old party establishment won by some legal but questionable political tactics that will not be lost on Sanders supporters. For example, the injection of billionaire Mike Bloomberg into the primary season, who spent $500 billion for 61 delegates - at about $8.5 million a delegate and who spectacularly flamed out after one debate and one primary event did not help Bernie Sanders he helped Joe Biden. Another privileged billionaire, Tom Steyer, who spend about $275 million for a grand total of ZERO DELEGATES is another thing. Then came the immediate capitulation of Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar just hours before Super Tuesday I voting and who loudly endorsed Biden. With everyone lined up and in lock step with the Democratic Party's establishment champion, the triumphalist posturing and high fives, belie the serious issue that will come to the fore if the party does NOT embrace any of the Sanders Platform - if they want to win in November.
That's because a Joe Biden victory over Trump will REQUIRE him to do much better with the third of the American electorate that's younger than halfway through middle age. Yes, he is winning the Democratic primaries, that's not in dispute. However, to win in November he MUST win overwhelming majority support in every single state that's voted so far. Take Bernie Sanders Medicare For All plan for healthcare. It's been pooh-poohed, ridiculed and dismissed by critics as not doable, too expensive, and a non-starter. The conflict here is if Americans will support a government healthcare system or continue with private insurance.
Super Tuesday II polls that asked this simple question produced some illuminating results: 57 percent of those in Michigan went for the government option, 59 percent did so in Missouri, 62 percent in Mississippi, and 64 percent in Washington. Of course, that does not in any way suggest that Medicare For All is supported by a majority of Republicans but it does point to the fact that as a hot policy issue for Democrats it's not going away period.
And no matter what happens the Democratic Party primaries have been DOMINATED by Sanders-inspired issues and policies that are at the core of the millennials support for him. Now that the establishment wing of the Democratic Party has crushed the Sanders insurgency, what now? It's not going to be back to normal. True, it now appears shenanigans and manipulations aside that a plurality of Democratic voters believe that Joe Biden is the steady hand that the nation needs to correct and remedy the negative effects of the Trump Tornado. So, maybe Biden in office can make good on this pesky health issue. We just do not know.
Finally, Democrats MUST come to grips with the age issues that are rendering apart the party. Ironically, two grandfathers are defining the party's demographics. In Super Tuesday II, Biden won just 32 percent of voters under 45 in Missouri, 32 percent in Michigan, and 16 percent in Washington. Sanders had comparably low numbers among elder Democrats, who historically vote in greater numbers. As the economy has been particularly unrewarding to young Americans, it's not surprising that Sanders also outpaced Biden among voters with annual incomes below $50,000.
What does this mean? Biden is losing among young voters -badly. To win he has to reach out to Sanders and his supporters. And, just mere platitudes and lip-service will not do the trick. To beat Trump, Biden has to enthusiastically embrace Sanders proposals like making public colleges and universities tuition-free, cancelling student debt, now pegged at $1.5 trillion, and disengage America from its endless wars. As the Coronavirus's effect continues to shove the American economy into a recession, the Democrats need to come up with an alternative national plan, not only about how to cope in a pandemic, but policies that help ordinary small businesses survive.