The Democratic Establishment Suddenly Loves Sheepdog Bernie Sanders

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When he was winning primaries, many in the Democratic Party degraded the Vermont senator and his supporters. Now, he’s a friend, chess-playing companion, “American original” in his Sheepdog role for the party.

Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016

by Sydney Ember edited by O Society April 16, 2020

It did not take much for Joe Biden to distinguish himself from his main rival for the Democratic nomination.

“If the Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, an Obama-Biden Democrat, a New Democrat,” he thundered triumphantly after his momentum-turning victory in South Carolina in February, “then join us!”

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New Democrats, also known as centrist DemocratsClinton Democrats, or conservative Democrats, are a moderate ideological faction within the Democratic Party in the United States. As the Third Way faction of the party, they support   politically-correct  cultural liberalism, economic neoliberalism, fiscal conservatism, and identity-politics-based social liberalism. New Democrats dominate the party for the last four decades from the late-1980s through 2020.

Who Are the New Democrats?

Bernie Sanders is not a lifelong Democrat. He is not an Obama-Biden Democrat. He is not even a Democrat.

But that is not stopping the party from trying to make him feel welcome and utilize his services as a Sheepdog, herding left-wing voters back into the party’s all-inclusive corral — now that it has stopped him from being its leader.

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Bernie Sanders is Not a Socialist… so is he a Sheepdog?

When Mr. Sanders dropped out of the presidential race a week ago, a Democratic establishment that has long kept him at arm’s length raced to publicly embrace him. Since he endorsed Mr. Biden, the former vice president, on Monday, party leaders have lavished Mr. Sanders with praise.

“Bernie is an American original, a man who has devoted his life to giving voice to working people’s hopes, dreams and frustrations,” former President Barack Obama said plainly in a video on Tuesday that announced his support for Mr. Biden. Never mind that Mr. Biden had spent part of the Democratic primary race accusing Mr. Sanders of disloyalty for considering a primary challenge against Mr. Obama in 2012.

A day earlier, Mr. Biden called Mr. Sanders the “most powerful voice for a fair and more just America,” then theatrically acquiesced to Mr. Sanders’s quip that they play chess. A former top aide to Hillary Clinton enthused Mr. Sanders is selfless.

Bernie Sanders’ Policies are Mainstream, Normal, and Popular No Matter How Often He’s Called a “Socialist”

This rush to show appreciation for Mr. Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who has spent much of his political career railing against the Democratic establishment, is partly an exhalation of relief.

Corporate Democrats Would Rather Lose to Trump than Violate their Pact with their Ultra-Rich Financial Patrons

In 2016, Mr. Sanders stayed in an increasingly bitter Democratic presidential primary race even after it became clear that Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, would be the nominee. Some of his supporters, viewing the race as rigged, pledged their allegiance to him and vowed never to support Mrs. Clinton. Some voted for President Trump.

With Mr. Sanders’ recent unity-building activities, fears that he would inspire the sort of divisiveness that many in the party still blame for the election of Mr. Trump have been momentarily assuaged.

It is also a recognition Mr. Sanders moved the party to the left, introducing policies like “Medicare for all” and tuition-free public college now embroidered into the fabric of the party.

The Overton Window

But perhaps, above all, it is a projection of how desperate Democrats are to beat Mr. Trump. Establishment Democrats recognize that if Mr. Biden is to win in November, he will need the backing of Mr. Sanders’ loyal supporters, some of whom have expressed reluctance, if not disgust, at the notion of voting for the former vice president. By showing Mr. Sanders gratitude, they are hoping to mollify his supporters, too.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, was circumspect about the establishment’s newfound respect for his boss.

“He’s a person who has unrivaled integrity among many politicians,” he said. “When the dust settles, people recognize that integrity.”

Mr. Sanders, who is 78, said this week in an interview with The Associated Press that it was “probably a very fair assumption” that this presidential campaign was his last. But Mr. Shakir has rejected the idea that Mr. Sanders is guided by a wish to cement a positive political legacy in the eyes of a party he has long loathed.

“That’s not the way he thinks,” he said. “He does not think on legacy terms.”

For months, Mr. Sanders said he would do everything he could to support the eventual Democratic nominee. “I hope it’s me,” he would say, before quickly committing to work with whomever it was to defeat Mr. Trump.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The establishment’s Sanders adoration is also reflective of a rite of passage for past presidential hopefuls, and Mr. Sanders is joining a long line of losing candidates who seemed more palatable to onetime critics in hindsight. As the presumptive nominee is prodded for flaws, the flaws of former rivals melt away.

Hillary Clinton weighs in on Sanders: ‘Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done’

The former Vice President Al Gore, caricatured as boring and stilted when he ran for president in 2000, became revered by Democrats as a visionary who might have been able to save the country from former President George W. Bush. Democrats also looked fondly back at Senators John McCain, of Arizona, and Mitt Romney, of Utah, as pre-Trump Republicans who were actually never that bad. Mrs. Clinton was especially popular among Democrats after she lost to Mr. Obama in 2008.

Now Mr. Sanders is in the uniquely awkward position of being venerated by a party he has never joined but which he has shaped so much that it now can’t push him away.

The result is an exaggerated pseudo-alliance aimed at soothing intraparty tension — with the added effect of calling into question whether political messages are simply a form of competitive posturing:

For the moment, at least, voters can have an Imaginary Obama-Biden-Sanders Democrat, a new political category that suggests identifying with the party means having everything or nothing at all.

Something’s Got To Give: the Quandary Dividing the Democratic Party

During the campaign, one of Mr. Biden’s sharpest attack lines against Mr. Sanders came in Iowa in late January when he accused his rivalof not being a member of the party.

“I’m a Democrat,” Mr. Biden said, discussing contrasts with his rivals, as if to dismiss Mr. Sanders completely. His diatribe provoked a biting response from Mr. Shakir, who replied, “Last-minute cheap barbs of desperation aren’t a good look for a candidate who proclaims his desire to unite the party.”

Now, of course, the candidate who made that barb has united the party enough to earn the endorsements of both Mr. Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, whom he had cast as elitist with a “‘my way or the highway’ approach to politics.”

On the other end of the Democratic spectrum, Mr. Sanders’ protégé, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, distanced her brand of politics from Mr. Biden’s.

“In any other country, Joe Biden and I would not be in the same party, but in America, we are,” she said in a January article in New York Magazine.

Now Mr. Biden, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren are united, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has suggested she may join them. In an interview with Politico on Wednesday, she stopped short of endorsing Mr. Biden but suggested she might do so soon.

“When you disagree, he’ll listen,” Ms. Warren said about Mr. Biden on Wednesday in her endorsement video. “Not just listen, but really hear you and treat you with respect, no matter where you’re coming from.”

And in a potential sign of the Sanders campaign’s willingness to let bygones be bygones, Mr. Shakir said on Wednesday that the January episode with Mr. Biden “didn’t leave any indelible impression.”

He also challenged the meaning of being a Democrat in the first place.

“There’s long been kind of a tension of whether a Democrat is defined by the partisan ‘D’ next to their name,” he said. “What Bernie has always pushed this party to reconcile is we stand for something and that’s what brings us together — it’s not a label.”

Some of Mr. Sanders’ devoted backers, including his former national press secretary, have indicated they have no such plans to fall in line. They have made clear that Mr. Sanders does not speak for them even as he has urged them to back Mr. Biden as well.

But for some Democrats, the overwhelming longing to beat Mr. Trump is enough to erase any lingering acrimony and to bridge the ideological gulf.

Americans Who Do Not Vote Are Not Privileged – Nonvoters Are Dissatisfied With Both Parties

After Mr. Sanders endorsed Mr. Biden, Tom Perez, the Democratic National Committee chairman, retweeted Mr. Sanders’ announcement, writing: “Unity is our greatest strength and Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. I’m proud to spend the next 204 days in this fight together.”

Even some former staff members for other presidential campaigns were eager to jump in.

“Bernie living his campaign’s mantra today of #NotMeUs & I respect the hell out of it,” Lily Adams, the communications director for Senator Kamala Harris’ campaign, tweeted on Monday. “Great news moving into the next phase of the election.”

In an interview, Ms. Adams, who was also a spokeswoman for the 2016 Clinton campaign, said that she admired Mr. Sanders for putting the Democratic Party and the country ahead of his own run.

Candidates like Mr. Sanders who are willing to sacrifice their ideals in the interest of beating Mr. Trump, she said, “will and should get praised.”

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5 thoughts on “The Democratic Establishment Suddenly Loves Sheepdog Bernie Sanders

  1. No, the left gave up on Democrats years ago. Their voices have been drown out by Democrats and middle class liberals for years. Sanders used to be an Independent who was to the left. He claimed support for democratic socialism, and as such, advocated for legitimate poverty relief programs. But that was years ago. He became a solid Democrats by 2016, campaigning to the middle class (reframed as “working class” in 2016). I suppose it was a pragmatic choice, under the circumstances. Sanders knew he couldn’t win 2020, regardless. We already talked enough about how successfully Democrats had split apart their own voting base, and rather than address this split, liberals just decided to ignore it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “willing to sacrifice their ideals” ……….. “will and should get praised.”

    All Tubularsock has to say about Ms. Adams’ statement and the Democrap Party is THAT is it is exactly THAT position that sends Tubularsock’s vote in another direction.

    Tubularsock will NOT vote for an empty box for President … #NOGOJOE!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Candidates like Mr. Sanders who are willing to sacrifice their ideals in the interest of beating Mr. Trump will and should get praised.”

    Translation: we have all sold our souls to the devil already; therefore, we have no ideals left to sacrifice; therefore, only similar souless people are allowed to run things because otherwise if you put the two together side-by-side, normal people will be able to clearly see the difference between Leader A and Leader B is Leader A gives a shit about human beings and Leader B sees all of humanity as a tool to get what they want and nothing more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The nail has been properly hit on the head within your comment. Now from there it will take a few more nails to make the new house!

      Or to save time, a couple of well placed grenades. However this secondary approach is just so messy.

      Like

  4. Note on Error: The Clinton “New Democrat Party” is absolutely not “social liberal,” by definition. Take some time to learn about the consequences of the Democrats’ policies against the poor since the Clinton administration. Their celebrated “reforms” were, in fact, condemned by the UN for being in violation of fundamental human rights.

    Like

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