Opinion | Democrat with most votes should be nominee
March 14, 2020
After a decisive win in the Nevada caucuses by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, many in the mainstream media, for lack of a better description, seem to be having a conniption fit at the thought of Sanders becoming the Democratic nominee.
There were two examples of this headless-chicken-like behavior that stood out far above the rest. The first was the reaction from long-time Democratic political strategist James Carville, who most notably worked to elect Bill Clinton and coined the famous phrase: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Carville had somewhat of a meltdown during a segment on MSNBC after Sanders’s big win in Nevada, saying that anyone who thinks Bernie can expand the electorate is a fool — I guess James doesn’t realize that voters under 30 are a real thing who exist. Carville then went on to say that the person happiest about Sanders’ ascension was Vladimir Putin. “Hi, Vlad,” he said on camera.
So much for the touted eternal wisdom of James Carville.
If that weren’t enough, longtime MSNBC host of “HardBall” Chris Matthews, not only agreed with the nonsense that Carville was belting earlier, but he also had a strange rant of his own. Matthews proceeded to compare Senator Bernie Sanders — the most prominent Jewish candidate for president in American history — to Nazi Germany. Matthews has since apologized for his absurd comments.
Why did the idea of Sanders being the front-runner feel to so many figures in the Washington media like such a slap in the face? I have no idea. There has been a lot of evidence to suggest that Sanders has been at the head of the pack at least since the Nevada primary. To the many pundits who are finally waking up to this reality, however, their realization is quickly transforming into attempts to rationalize how Sanders is not or should not be the frontrunner.
This is not good. Any attempt to create a media narrative that is patently at odds with reality is a dangerous idea. And it’s going to be a real problem if 30 to 40% of Democrats vote for a nominee, and then the superdelegates decide to nominate someone else at the Democratic convention during the second-round vote.
We’ve seen this happen before, with catastrophic results. During the 1968 Democratic convention, the delegates at the convention — the people who actually cast the votes to determine the nominee, like electors in the electoral college — decided to nominate Hubert Humphrey, even though an overwhelming majority of Democratic primary voters had supported candidates who were against the Vietnam War. Come January 1969, Republican President Richard Nixon was sworn into office.
Not so shockingly, suppressing the will of the people in such a blatant way led to the wrong candidate for the moment being nominated, which ultimately led to Democrats only winning 13 states plus Washington, D.C.
What are the ultimate takeaways from the 1968 election? First, when the party elites, not the people, pick the Democratic nominee or set the agenda, they often make the wrong choices and Democrats lose. Second, when Democrats are divided — although in 1968 they were divided over the noble reason of civil rights legislation, which was essential in every way — they lose.
This is why it is so scary to see many Democrats and pundits in the media becoming divided and why it is even scarier to hear many of them start talking about the party stepping in and picking the nominee against the will of a plurality of Democratic voters.
To put things plainly, Bernie Sanders is almost certainly going to win a plurality of delegates in the Democratic primary. None of the other candidates seem to have even the slightest idea of how to stop Sanders’ momentum at this point, and none of them have been able to energize voters in the way he does.
I am not arguing for or against the nomination of Bernie Sanders. I think each of these candidates have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, and they would all be exceptionally better than President Trump. Anyone can make some kind of a rational argument as to why any of them would be an electable nominee, and, not counting Michael Bloomberg’s thoughts on the issues, most of them have basically the same policy prescriptions, aside from Medicare for all vs. the “public option.” If any one of these candidates wins a clear plurality, as it looks Sanders almost certainly will, that person deserves the nomination more than any other Democratic candidate. And the party elites should respect that.
Clint is a junior in LAS.