Sometimes the Obvious Thing Is True: Bernie Sanders Is Just Too Liberal

At the risk of stating the obvious—and the even greater risk of stating it a little too obviously—the most likely reason that Bernie Sanders is losing has nothing to do with his strategy or his toxic followers or Elizabeth Warren refusing to drop out. It’s because he’s too liberal. That’s it.

Even among Democrats, there’s not a majority who identify as liberal, let alone mega liberal. Maybe there will be someday when Millennials and Gen Z take over, but not today.

I know I’m a bit of a broken record on this, but the whole Bernie phenomenon is very much a part of the Twitter bubble. Or maybe it’s just the “online blatherer bubble.” In any case, I belong to a few progressive listservs and support for Joe Biden in those places is approximately zero. On Twitter, you’d think there were no human beings in the country who supported Biden. Even in the more traditional media, there’s an assumption that Biden is just sort of a default choice for some people, but that nobody actively likes the guy.

Maybe so. But out in the real world I think there’s more grass roots support for Biden than he gets credit for. It’s not as loud or as enthusiastic as Sanders or Warren get, but neither is it “establishment” support, as Biden’s weak fundraising shows. Rather, it comes from Biden’s experience; his general likability; his optimism; and yes, some Obama coattails. Polls show pretty clearly that it’s always been there, but it was hidden for a while during the boomlets for other candidates.

I know the red rose crowd doesn’t want to hear this, but America is simply not a super liberal country. Even self-identified Democrats aren’t that liberal. I mean, take a look at who the Democratic nominees have been for the past 30 years: B. Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama, and H. Clinton. I’d say this progression shows a party that’s becoming more liberal, but it’s happening damn slowly. It’s just not in Bernie territory yet.

And the country as a whole? Hoo boy. It’s nowhere even close.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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