Not too long ago, it was all about how Elizabeth Warren was constantly surging upward in the polls. But lately, the law of gravity has caught up with her. Many feel that her Medicare for All plan may well be a loser in a general election even though she has made some adjustments to tack to the center on this issue.
When in the early going she was struggling along, few took her seriously. But when she started gaining momentum, many started to imagine her as the Democratic nominee. And they didn't like what they saw.
Who are 'they'? In addition to many of the moderate Democrats, there are certainly Wall Street and big corporations along with the health insurance industry. And the idea of higher taxes on the wealthiest is obviously not a hit with the wealthy.
While the Democratic field should be shrinking, we now have two new moderates entering the race in Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick, sensing that if Joe Biden continues to have difficulties in his campaign, perhaps one of them could assume the role of standard bearer for the moderates.
Indeed in this presidential election along with the previous one, the Democratic Party has been searching for its identity between whether it wants to represent the progressive ideals of major structural change or incremental change promoted by its moderates.
Being a die hard progressive who favors Warren and/or Sanders, I am not a neutral observer. But hopefully the reader can trust me to at least try and provide an even-handed analysis of how each side sees things.
Progressives feel the system is broken where the top 1% have had it all their way both politically and economically. Income and wealth disparity have become so pernicious to our society that drastic changes in how the rich are taxed are the only way to make meaningful change. Obamacare was a wonderful improvement when it came along reducing the number of US uninsured from about 50 million to 30 million. But how much further improvement can be realized by a system that relies on a for-profit insurance industry? As the thinking goes, if for-profit insurance is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem! While more affluent workers may have satisfactory insurance plans, those on the bottom of the economic food chain often have what are little more than junk policies with high premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs that have resulted in a wholesale number of lawsuits by healthcare providers collecting on bills for their services. Is everybody happy with their private insurance? Not really.
But more than anything else, progressives love Bernie and Elizabeth because they feel the other moderate candidates are just too sympathetic to big money and big business to step on any toes to make any meaningful changes.
On the other hand...
Taking the party too far left is a prescription for disaster. Blowing things up is too scary for too many people. Taking away everybody's private health insurance is a non-starter for many. Free public college is a fantasy for many (even if some countries already offer it.) And while the Republicans will label anything the Democrats propose as socialism, the label may prove more effective with a more leftist Democrat getting the nomination.
While trying not to favor either argument here, I believe the moderates are getting the better of the messaging right now. Of course, Fox News stands ready to bash any and all Democrats. But in my perception, the major liberal outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and MSNBC tend to favor establishment moderate Democrats over those on the progressive left.
The darlings of the media pundits nowadays are the so-called Never Trumpers such as Joe Scarborough, Steve Schmidt and Jennifer Rubin among others who have left the Republican Party over Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress. I am a huge fan of their work but when it comes to their recommendations on Democratic candidates, one should take what they say with a grain of salt. Although they have pledged to never vote for Trump, they are by ideology, conservatives after all. Asking them to reluctantly vote for a Democrat while holding their noses is one thing. Voting for a Democrat on the far left for them may well be a bridge too far!
Steve Schmidt had this to say about Bernie Sanders' chances against Trump in a general election: "In America, a sociopath beats a socialist seven days a week and twice on Sundays."
And just for good measure, President Obama looms over this divided primary. Normally, somebody in his position would maintain his neutrality but the idea of Bernie Sanders winning the nomination was apparently too much for him and he was reported as saying that he would do what he could to stop Sanders if it appeared that he would get the nomination. Other than that, he just expressed his fear of the party moving too far left with either Sanders or Warren.
When you listen to the average voter — even ones who aren’t stalwart Democrats, but who are more independent or are low-information voters — they don’t feel that things are working well, but they’re also nervous about changes that might take away what little they have.
But before we get too worked up over all of this, a reminder — it's early! The first primary is still a couple of months away.
Since the progressive candidates in Warren and Sanders are advocating major change over the incremental change of their opponents, the onus is on them to sell their positions and convince most of the Democratic electorate if they are to have a chance at the nomination.
And if their progressive vision is accepted by enough of the Democratic Party, which of them will be the eventual standard bearer for the progressives? That's a question for another day!