This is the first year of the Trump Presidency and it has brought with it a series of changes that are irksome to Democrats. Just to list some of the issues Trump has had, the GOP tax bill, which is his greatest accomplishment is nothing more than a handout to Wall Street and corporate America; he’s pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, Trump also demolished healthcare for many in need, along with a host of other dramas that come with his presidency including potential impeachment for obstruction or justice and collusion with a Russia.
This has raised a lot of speculation about the likely Democratic candidates for 2020 Presidential Election. Names like Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and a host of others pop up. Considering all these names is just like ignoring the elephant in the room – Bernie Sanders.
There is usually the objection that Sanders is a bit old – by 2020 Presidential Election he will be 78. Regardless, he seems to be making moves to make him a likelier candidate for 2020 Presidential Election. He tackles current issues, gives talks across the country, and is even trying to become more amiable to the party establishment while maintaining his original message.
If Donald Trump is going to lose in 2020 Presidential Election, it’s going to be to Bernie Sanders.
Nobody Thought Bernie Could Win
When Sanders started campaigning in the last election, nobody thought he could win, including Bernie Sanders. As reported by Healy and Yamiche Alicindor of the New York Times, Bernie Sanders was “was originally skeptical that he could beat Mrs. Clinton, and his mission in 2015 was to spread his political message about a rigged America rather than do whatever it took to win the nomination.” He only started to take winning seriously when he suddenly saw his poll numbers shoot up in the early part of 2016.
Since Sanders initially concentrated on raising his issues instead of winning, he didn’t really give much thought to foreign policy issues. Even though Clinton’s support of Iraq and her hawkish foreign policy track record was a key vulnerability with the Democratic Party base.
Labor leaders who bought his ideas didn’t seriously think of endorsing him. Rather, they used his message as leverage to get concessions on some issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Sanders is Building His Team
In the earlier part of this year, in a bid to refine his position on foreign relations, Sanders quietly added Matt Duss to his team. Duss is a veteran Middle East analyst. He has also added Ari Rabin-Havt, who is known for his Sirius XM radio show but was also an adviser to former Democrats’ Senate Leader, Harry Reid.
While Sanders is adding more depth to his team in Washington his political organization, Our Revolution, is working to get Sanders supporters elected to state and local offices. The list of Our Revolution Winners is quite ethnically diverse. This is in a bid to strengthen his support among Latino and African American voters.
Bernie is Quietly Moderating
While Sanders is working to build his political base and national appeal, he is working to address party concerns about ideological extremism while maintaining his core message.
In a New York Times op-ed titled How Democrats can stop losing elections, Bernie maintains his caustic tone towards party establishment in order to keep his core support base. He still retains his commitment to the idea of health care as a right for all. A position that leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton, and Barrack Obama have supported in theory but have jettisoned in practice.
Despite this, Sanders agrees with the traditional party position on some major issues. Issues like more taxes for the rich, investment in clean energy, reforming the criminal justice system, and making it easier for undocumented immigrants to get citizenship. He has also dropped hardcore positions like the breaking up of large banks, banning hydraulic fracturing, and the imposition of a carbon tax.
Sanders Comes with a Clear Message
Sanders is able to get away with the current softening of his message because his 2016 campaign cemented his position as the champion of the left. He was able to take on the establishment and say things other people couldn’t.
One key position that holds all this together is Sanders’ unwavering support for a single-payer health system. This is an issue that is a direct point of frustration between grassroots progressives and the party leadership. By sticking to this position, Sanders is able to maintain the revolutionary air he brought to the 2016 Democratic primaries.
One possible obstacle in the way of Sanders’ bid for the US Presidency is his age. He is currently 75 and by 2020 will be 78. If he tries the Democratic ticket, it would make him the oldest person to be nominated for President.
However, the message that Sanders brings resonates more with the younger elements of the Democratic Party. If anything, his age makes him look prescient.
Bernie is also not acting like an old man. He is actively giving performances at rallies for his Our Revolution candidates. He speaks on major issues and appears regularly on Sunday talk shows. He looks strong and his health doesn’t appear to be an issue.
If Not Sanders, Who?
Considering Bernie Sanders’ age, most people agree it will be better if he instead backs someone like Elizabeth Warren. Both of them share the same ideology and she is relatively younger.
However, the politics of the 2016 election cast some spanners into this arrangement. People expected Warren to stand up to Hilary Clinton. When Sanders decided to, she didn’t back him, settling instead for neutrality. Sanders’ core supporters see her preference for power politics instead of an ideological position as a pure betrayal.
The Establishment Has No Choice
The Democratic Party currently seems to be out of touch with reality. It has lost its majority in the three arms of government. It has even gotten to the point where the party doesn’t control the New York Senate or the Illinois governor’s mansion. All this points to the ineptness of the current leadership.
In a perfect world, Sanders would be able to wave a magic wand and become 10 to 15 years younger. However, that isn’t happening. Despite this, Sanders has become the most popular politician in America. He has also been making moves to consolidate his political position.
All this show that Sanders remains the candidate to beat in 2020.