The Democratic party of my lifetime has been an institution that saved its best fights for the progressive left, and on Super Tuesday they showed that despite a sloppy, disorganized primary filled with uninspiring moderate candidates taking chunks out of each other’s support, they could still do what the Republicans failed to do in 2016, which is to muster one last big push to squeeze out the popular insurgent. The country is moving left, and doing so somewhat rapidly, but the way things looks this morning, the centrists have held the fort at the executive level. For that, you can thank Barack Obama, who convinced Pete Buttigieg to to drop out before Super Tuesday, which led to the subsequent withdrawal of Amy Klobuchar and the endorsement of Beto O’Rourke. You can thank Elizabeth Warren, who is now running a campaign directly in opposition to Bernie Sanders for reasons that only she knows, and who cost him Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota at a minimum by failing to drop out (maybe Texas too). Or you can blame the young voters, who failed to turn out to support the political revolution, or you can blame the old voters, who turned out in record numbers to crush it.
Or perhaps it was fear. The mainstream media has been pushing the idea for more than a year that Bernie Sanders can’t beat Donald Trump since people are afraid of him and afraid of socialism, so when the time came to cement his frontrunner status, they got scared and reverted to what they knew…even if what they knew was a man who seems to be losing his mental faculties, and who will be running against Trump without the support of the progressive wing. At this point, anyone who wants to avoid another four years of Trump better hope the economy takes a hit that lasts at least until November, and that Biden can keep it together under the public eye for that long.
Even if that happens, what comes next? Is there a world in which a Biden presidency goes well?
Maybe. But that’s all in the future. What we know for now is that the moderates circled the wagons, and it worked. Maybe this proves that the power of Sanders to reach different kinds of voters, to turn them all out, was limited from the start. Maybe it proves Biden is, somehow, the best bet to win in November. The sad truth, though, is that the most motivated segment of the loosely bound Democratic coalition has had their enthusiasm snuffed out, and if Biden wants to win the general election, he’s going to have do it the same way he won Tuesday night: Without much ground game, and backed by people who are less inspired by what he brings than scared of the alternative. We’re all going to have to live with what comes next.