Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders raised nearly $6 million in just 24 hours after announcing his 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, dazzling the chattering class. Don’t be fooled by the theatrics: Bernie 2020 isn’t going anywhere.
Amnesiac pundits prattling on about Bernie’s “record-setting” haul forget that libertarian congressman Ron Paul raised precisely the same amount of cash in the same amount of time a dozen years ago, during his own campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
Perhaps the commentators fail to remember the last six-million-dollar day because Mr. Paul never became the Republican nominee, just as Democrats will never nominate Bernie, albeit for the opposite reason. Ron Paul lost because he never appealed the mainstream of his party, whereas Bernie will fail because he has so successfully shifted the center of his own.
Similarities abound between the two septuagenarian campaigns. In 2008, Paul ran an ideological race to redefine the Republican platform according to libertarian ideals: fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, strict construction of the Constitution, non-intervention abroad, and a dramatic reduction in the size and scope of the federal government. Some of those priorities influenced certain policy preferences within the Republican Party, most notably through the Tea Party movement – a brief but potent force in conservative politics.
Eight years later, Bernie Sanders launched his own ideological campaign to push the Democratic Party to the extreme Left. He stoked racial, sexual, and above all class resentment in an effort to radicalize the Democratic base. Unlike Paul’s attempt, Bernie’s crusade proved an unqualified success.
According to multiple studies over the past two years, the majority of Millennials now support socialism. During the 2017 off-year elections, candidates endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America won 15 electoral offices in 13 states. An additional 40 openly socialist candidates won their own contests the following year. At the height of the 2018 midterm election campaigns, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez declared the avowedly socialist congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez “the future of our party.”
If the 2020 presidential field is any indication, Perez is right: The Democrats’ future is left. Every declared Democratic candidate favors socialist healthcare and de facto open borders, among other leftist policy priorities. All have also pledged support for a “Green New Deal,” which draft legislation demands, among other things, outlawing airplanes and gas-powered cars, rebuilding every single edifice in the country, and redistributing wealth along ideologically prescribed racial and sexual lines.
This last platform plank underlies the insurmountable problem for Bernie’s presidential ambitions: The party he formed has no place left for him. Early election surveys place Bernie, Biden and Beto at the top of the 2020 field – another gimmick for pundits who mistake name recognition for reliable support. In 2016, Sanders offered Democrats an alternative to Hillary Clinton – to borrow Phyllis Schlafly’s phrase, “A choice, not an echo.” Three years later, Bernie offers nothing but an old, white, male echo of his physically preferable ideological heirs.
A radicalized Democratic Party has no need for Bernie Sanders; an identity-crazed base has no use for him. Bernie set Democrats on their course to the future, and Democrats have left him in the past.