Just when the presidential campaign of Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders was on the verge of being unstoppable, the South Carolina primary happened. The influential endorsement of House Majority Whip James Clyburn — who called Mr. Sanders an “extra burden” for Democrats to carry - pulled the state’s African-American community to the polls in droves. Former VP Joe Biden thrashed Mr. Sanders by a 48 percent to 19 percent win.
It was the beginning of a speedy end to Mr. Sanders’ campaign. He remained on the ballot for no other reason than to leverage what support he had with the far left to push Mr. Biden’s polices more to his liking.
What has transpired since makes the South Carolina primary seem an age ago. The Covid-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests have profoundly transformed the political landscape. Mr. Sanders’ struggle against economic inequality has been overwhelmed by the call for racial equality. It’s a return to the cultural battle Mr. Sanders believes has derailed the ability of the Democrats to fight what he thinks is the bigger battle, which is nation’s financial and political establishment - writ large.
As the chattering class is inclined to do, the party’s transformation is being called Mr. Sanders’ second loss. He lost the nomination when it was within his grasp. He’s now losing the battle to take on the nation’s “millionaires and billionaires.” His voice has faded from the scene. He’s no longer the sought after political voice.
As an issue, it highlights the weakness of Mr. Sanders’ relationships with blacks. It was a bridge he was never able to cross, and it kept him from being able to sell the idea of inclusiveness on a par equal to that of economic parity. The solidarity behind Black Lives Matter is a more compelling thing to manifest than the solidarity behind taking down Wall Street, as the polls now show.
This newly found advantage goes almost exclusively to the Democrats. Conservative whites have been chased out of the Democratic Party, which means the leadership no longer has to kowtow to them in an effort to keep the party’s “big tent” intact. The most conservative have flocked to President Trump’s camp, but the most committed, and most vocal, are further to the right than the Republican Party has ever experienced, which may explain why Mr. Biden’s poll numbers are so strong and Mr. Trump’s so weak.
The injustice of suppression has taken hold as a fresh political movement, and it’s been given additional ballast by the bigotry on display in the Trump presidency [on top of the rank incompetence that even Republican moderates destest.] If we are able to move past the Trump years with Mr. Biden, the cultural struggle has an improved chance of being addressed.
Which gets us back to Mr. Sanders. How does he reconcile the Democratic Party’s dramatic embrace of racial injustice as a central theme with his larger class solidarity movement against capitalism and what he sees as the offending plutocracy it has spawned?
He can’t. And he won’t be able to before November’s election. He’s lost his soapbox.
by Emerson Lynn