Can't our side ever see the battlefield clearly? Can't we perceive which battle needs to be fought?
We've already blown it too many times,* and now there are signs we might blow it again: the Democratic side has just squandered an important moment in the battle against Trump and the GOP, by getting distracted by the wrong battle.
To see the seriousness of that error, let's start with how the electoral prospects of the two sides have shifted -- adversely for the Democrats -- since as recently as a month ago.
Back then, the GOP appeared to be on the verge of a civil war growing out of the ugly but increasingly successful campaign of Donald Trump to seize the Republican nomination for president. The Democrats' campaign, meanwhile, was still unfolding in a civil and generally even constructive fashion.
Since then, the Republicans have been able to re-unify their party a good deal more than seemed likely. On the Democratic side, meanwhile, just the opposite has been happening. Far from coming together in preparation for the crucial general election, the divisions in the Democratic Party have widened, and the bitterness between the factions has intensified.
The cost of these shifts is visible on the futures markets. In every major category -- including the likelihood of the Democrats' winning the presidential race and taking over the Senate -- the probabilities of Democratic success have been substantially downgraded.
The main reason for this lost ground is that an important segment of the Democratic Party -- and by this I mean Senator Sanders and many of his followers -- has failed to understand which battle it has become time to fight. Ever since the April 25 primaries, when Hillary Clinton swept highly populous states like New York and Pennsylvania, the contest for the nomination has been effectively over. Though not yet "mathematically" eliminated, for the past month Senator Sanders has had no plausible scenario to the nomination.
Going after Trump and the GOP, I have argued , was always the best way for Bernie -- whom I have supported -- to fight for the nomination. But surely, once that race was essentially decided, there should have been no question: it was time to turn the campaign rhetoric toward the next and most urgent battle: for a Democratic White House, for liberal control over the Supreme Court, for breaking the Republicans' obstructionist log-jam in Congress, and for a government that will acknowledge and act on the urgent challenge of climate change.
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