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Divided Democrats May Unite Behind Sanders

Al-Etihad, UAE, December 6

As the race for the 2020 presidential election gears up in the US, the Democratic Party seems to be more divided than ever. The leading candidate, Joe Biden, seems old and washed up. The leading female candidate, Elizabeth Warren, witnessing sharp declines in polls, mostly because of her failing health care strategy. The young candidate who is stepping up to take her place is 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, an unknown mayor from an unknown town. Several other candidates are still struggling to generate the enthusiasm they need in order to remain viable contenders in the race. Institutionally, the party is suffering. Not one, but two millionaires, have now joined the race, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars on securing their position and buying delegates ahead of the July 2020 Democratic National Convention. The current state of the Democratic Party represents the failure of its candidates to spark a flame among voters, but it also represents the heterogeneity of the party itself, which is far more diverse than the Republican Party that consists of crowds who are mostly white, middle-class, and elderly. The hypothesis that the candidacy of Kamala Harris would be the panacea to this situation has clearly proved wrong. Those who believed that Harris is well-suited to achieving unity in the party through what is perceived as a mixture of feminism, minority status, and professionalism – much like Obama did during his presidential race – have found themselves disillusioned. Unfortunately for them, this perception did not translate into widespread support. However, it still makes sense for Democratic voters to look for a candidate who can do some of what Harris was supposed to do, by building a coalition that links the various parts of the party’s constituencies and bringing unity to the race. And there’s only one candidate who is poised to do this: Bernie Sanders. Unlike Warren, who relies strictly on highly liberal professionals, and Biden, who relies on older and more moderate minorities, Sanders enjoys the support of young people. He also enjoys more support among minorities than one would expect. This helps explain his growing popularity in recent polls. But Sanders’ problem is that he finds it very difficult to win the support of his own people: older voters, above the age of 65. Sanders’ weakness and Biden’s strength with this same class of voters are clear reasons for doubting Sanders’ ability to become the party’s final nominee. But if one is worried about the Democrats’ ability to rally all constituents around the flag, then Sanders represents a promising candidate who might be able to do so. His interests most notably revolve around economic issues. And despite being framed as a radical socialist, Sanders is far less rebellious than other candidates like Warren, who waged a full cultural war against Corporate America and its tech industry. Strangely, it is Sanders’ socialism that might be the most reassuring thing about him. And he may very well be the candidate to unite the Democratic Party in its battle against Trump. –Ross Douthat (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)