OPINION

Democratic heft

Biden’s seeming electability needs messageof socio-economic equality voiced by Sanders

Well into the middle of the U.S. Democratic primaries, the party’s prospective nomination is tipping in favour of former Vice-President Joe Biden, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is fast falling behind. Barring the possibility of dramatic victories in the 27 remaining States that are holding primaries and caucuses between now and June 23, the odds of Mr. Sanders staging a comeback in terms of the 1,991 delegates required to secure the nomination are increasingly insurmountable. At the present juncture, Mr. Biden has at least 1,147 of the 2,176 delegates declared; Mr. Sanders has won at least 861. Others out of the race include Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg. Mr. Sanders, the self-declared “democratic socialist” candidate and outsider to the party mainstream, stood apart from the pack early on, with solid performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. Analysts surmised that his message of economic equality and improving American middle class welfare were resonating strongly. Yet it was Mr. Biden, with his political pedigree of serving in the Obama administration and long service as a U.S. Senator from Delaware, who snatched the momentum on March 3, Super Tuesday, when 14 States went to the polls for the nomination.

A key consideration in assessing the Democratic nomination is how much does electability matter as opposed to ideological coherence, given the nature of the party’s formidable opponent, President Trump? In a sense it is Mr. Sanders’ policies that purport to take the Democratic Party’s fight for the betterment of the middle class’s welfare to its logical conclusion: toward the government providing a safety net to those who do not organically bubble to the top in the U.S.’s ruggedly individualistic model of capitalism. However, does the U.S.’s fiscal politics allow this expansionary approach, given the deficit size, and the mood for smaller government that is focused on bringing jobs back to the U.S.? Further, on the electability count, Mr. Biden has already emerged as a foil to Mr. Trump owing to the latter’s shenanigans with Ukraine last year, and which led to his being impeached. However, despite the broad support that Mr. Biden now commands, his party may stand a decent chance of besting Mr. Trump in November only if it blends Mr. Biden’s apparent electability with the powerful message of socio-economic equality underpinning Mr. Sanders’s campaign. This hope, that Mr. Biden could build a bridge to the policy agenda of his Democratic rival, could bring all those youth and minority voters who backed Mr. Sanders over two campaigns into the tent and out to the hustings on election day.

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