Bernie's Back

Where Things Stand

On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders jumped back in for another go at the Democratic nomination for president, bringing us to a solid 10 candidates (I’ve decided that like Andrew Yang, Marianne Williamson should be relegated to beyond the realm of reasonable contender):

-      John Delaney

-      Elizabeth Warren

-      Tulsi Gabbard

-      Julián Castro

-      Kirsten Gillibrand

-      Kamala Harris 

-      Pete Buttigieg 

-      Cory Booker

-      Amy Klobuchar

-      Bernie Sanders


Who’s up next?

-      People close to Joe Biden keep whispering that they expect he’ll enter the race soon


Keep an eye on …

-      Tick, tock, Beto O’Rourke’s on the clock – as he owes us an answer by the end of February

-      Michael Bloomberg is looking to cash in on decades of philanthropy – reaching out to recipients to see if they’d back him for a presidential run

-      Eric Swalwell is assembling a team in South Carolina, a sign of things to come?


On Bernie Sanders

 After Clinton lost to Trump in 2016, one of the nagging whispers that I couldn’t escape was: “Bernie would have won.” Well, it seems like Sanders agrees – so he’s giving it another shot.

I’ve made no secret of my distaste of Sanders’ policies and style in the past. For me, he’s further to the left than I’m comfortable with, and his go-it-alone curmudgeonly approach to politics is off-putting. However, I thought his presence in the 2016 primary was largely beneficial; he thankfully disrupted what was looking like a coronation, he engaged millions of Democrats who otherwise wouldn’t have been energized, and he ushered in a generation of Democratic politics that will be defined by more than just Obama and the Clintons. And some of his better ideas, like a $15 minimum wage and an emphasis on climate change, have survived to become mainstream – and I sincerely thank him for that.

That said, I’m not the biggest fan of his candidacy in 2020.

He – in my view – doesn’t add anything new to a field already bursting at the seams with big personalities and even bigger ideas. Elizabeth Warren is crowding his far-left lane with actual ideas that are fleshed out, well-designed, and relatively feasible to implement. Joe Biden has the elder statesman card – and we really don’t need more than one seventy-something-year-old white men in the field (Sanders will be 79 on Election Day in 2020). And candidates like Kamala Harris and Beto O’Rourke are snatching up the grassroots anti-establishment energy that propelled him to a decent finish in the last primary.

The best argument for a Sanders candidacy is finishing what he started – getting Medicare for all across the finish line. I personally disagree with his version of Medicare for all, which would eliminate the private insurance industry and transition us to a single-payer, government-operated system. But the concept is generally popular among 2020 candidates and a certain faction of the Democratic base, so I’m game to see it debated in the primary.

But other elements of his candidacy concern me. From his insistence on new litmus tests like free tuition at public colleges to his continued inability to speak adequately on racial inequality and social justice to his bleak vision of rolling back America’s role as a global leader, I don’t think Sanders is well positioned to help our party or help the country. 

And given Sanders’ on-again-off-again relationship with even identifying himself as a Democrat, I think we can find a better standard-bearer from the already-strong field.


On My Mind 

In case you missed it, Georgetown actually beat #17 Villanova on Wednesday night in what was one of the most epic games I’ve witnessed in my four years here.

 It felt good – almost as good as when we take back the Virginia state legislature in 2019 and the United States Senate and White House in 2020.

Max Magid