The Washington Post editorial board is fed up with all of you people talking about the Democratic primary as some sort of internecine civil war between the far left and centrists. This week they point out that it’s simply not accurate to describe either Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden as “centrists.” In fact, the entire field is chock full of socialists.
Okay… they didn’t actually say “socialists” but that’s the general feeling they’re trying to get across. Everyone’s policies are way to the left, though some are a bit more left than others.
IT HAS become an unchecked assumption about the Democratic presidential race: The candidates are fighting an ideological war between “left” and “center.” This narrative is false, and it is hardly benign. It minimizes the bold policy ambitions of those in the mislabeled “centrist” lane and falsely characterizes those on the left flank as braver or more committed to reform.
Yes, some candidates in the race are to the left of others. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) not only want to make sure that all Americans have access to health care, as do all the Democrats, but they want maximum government control in achieving that goal…
Then there are the policy moves that practically all Democrats agree on: giving legal safe harbor to the young immigrants known as “dreamers”; reviving and expanding President Barack Obama’s climate regulations; reengaging with Iran; raising the minimum wage; keeping abortion legal; cracking down on guns.
In fact, every major Democratic candidate is running on an agenda to the left of Mr. Obama’s.
First, allow me to rise to my feet and offer a protracted golf clap to the WaPo editorial board. This is one of those rare occasions when I find myself in complete agreement with them. There isn’t an actual centrist in that entire crowd you saw up on the stage at the last debate in New Hampshire. They’re all socialists to one degree or another, but Bernie Sanders is the only one honest enough to admit it.
Now let’s get to the real reason I wanted to highlight this editorial for our readers. It takes a bit of reading between the lines, but what’s really going on here is a thinly disguised effort to toss a lifeline to either Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg (primary voters are left to pick whichever white male they like better) while simultaneously tossing an anchor to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Allow me to offer some examples.
While appearing to flatter all the candidates for their admirably progressive views, the editorial tosses in some seemingly harmless observations that damn both Warren and Sanders with faint praise. They first point out that all of the candidates want to make sure that all Americans have access to health care. The only difference, they claim, is that Warren and Sanders have endorsed a Medicare-for-all plan that “would cost some $60 trillion to $90 trillion over 10 years, an astonishing number that would imply doubling the size of the federal government.”
Um… are we supposed to believe that they thought this was something the primary voters would be thrilled about? They next drop in this little gem, drawing a distinction between Bernie’s healthcare plans and the ones being put forth by the rest of the crew. (All emphasis added)
Mr. Sanders acknowledges that his ambitions are unlikely to be achieved without a “political revolution,” which is fanciful even if it were desirable. His competitors think more realistically about how change is accomplished in a diverse democracy.
Translation: Sanders’ proposals are the stuff of fantasy and not desirable. Biden and Buttigieg are more grounded in reality.
Toward the end of the editorial, we find the editors favorably quoting Pete Buttigieg saying (about Bernie) that he “makes it feel like you’re either for a revolution or you’ve got to be for the status quo, and there’s nothing in between.” This is a simply blatant declaration that Bernie Sanders is too radical to get any of his objectives accomplished and that sensible Democrats can push for progressive reform without following him off a cliff.
On top of all that, the editors remain careful not to tick off the far-left battalion of the Democratic base too much. There are no “centrists” here. We’re all progressives! It’s just that Mayor Pete and Uncle Joe are the correct amounts of progressive, you see?
So assuming I’m reading the tea leaves correctly here, why would the sainted Washington Post editorial board be trying to stick a decorative knife in Bernie Sanders’ back? The answer seems nearly as obvious as the sweetly scented poison in this op-ed. As usual, the want the Democratic nominee to win in November. Oh, and they still hate Donald Trump with the white-hot rage of a star that’s about to go supernova. They’re seeing what the future looks like if the Democrats actually go through with nominating Sanders and it’s smelling an awful lot like four more years of Trump. So Bernie has to go (and Warren as well if she starts to make another comeback) and one of the “not at all centrist” centrists needs to be the nominee.
Well played, WaPo. I’m assured by reliable sources that Brutus and the other Senators were also all smiles when they approached Ceasar in the Theatre of Pompey.