Unconventional Convention

Lots has changed since I last wrote about the election. Not many people thought Joe Biden would recover and go on to gather a commanding lead in delegates, but he did just that with the help of the African-American vote, the unwavering base of the Democratic Party.

I still maintain that the fissures within the Democratic Party between the Neo-liberals and the Sanders wing (the Social Democrats) of the party is a problem. Sanders hasn’t dropped out yet, (although there are reports some advisors are suggesting he do so) even though it’s just about impossible for him to catch up to Biden.

But in addition, now, we’re in a new world as the coronavirus rages through the U.S., and suddenly, Biden and Sanders are having problems penetrating the 24/7 coronavirus news loop. Both candidates also appear far more frail in their transmissions from home. Their advanced age can’t be ignored in the middle of this pandemic.

With the Democratic primaries halted, I do not see why an unconventional convention can’t be held. First of all, it’s unlikely there will be the usual gathering of delegates, even in August. Biden will not have the 1991 total delegates he needs to win outright until the convention. So why shouldn’t the Democrats select the best candidates for this unprecedented moment to confront not only Trump but also this killer epidemic. There’s a large talent pool available, most prominently Elizabeth Warren, who demonstrated during her campaign the ability to draw up realistic plans for just about anything, including how to confront the coronavirus pandemic. There are other strong candidates who lost but could be considered. Furthermore, the new stars of the moment who are demonstrating leadership are the governors, most prominently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. 2/x

Will the Democratic Party survive this election?

According fivethirtyeight‘s Democratic Party nomination forecast, it’s conceivable that as Michael Bloomberg continues to climb in the polls, and Bernie Sanders maintains his strong base of support, Bloomberg and Sanders will be the two candidates accumulating the most delegates, and end up in a one-on-one fight as Democrats head to the convention in July. If no candidate gets a majority of the delegates there’s more of a possibility there will be a brokered convention. If this does happen and the candidate going into the convention with the most delegates doesn’t get the nomination does the party fracture?

Neither Bloomberg nor Sanders is truly a Democrat. Bernie’s an Independent. Bloomberg, when he was mayor of NYC, was a Republican. While still mayor, he left the Republicans and became an Independent. Most recently, he switched his party affiliation to Democrat. Not exactly life-long Democratic party loyalists. Perhaps a more traditional Democrat, Biden, Klobuchar, Buttigieg will be in the top 3 at the convention. But anything resembling this mashup increases the possibilities the party may fall apart.

This is in sharp contrast to Trump’s complete domination of the Republican party and its move to the far right. But let’s leave that for another day.

Since 2016 it seems clear there are two warring wings within the Democratic Party. One is mainstream pro-business that supports some social programs that mitigates the destructive elements of the American capitalist economy. Let’s call it social safety net, the basic plan. And the party has to be pushed on social issues from the bottom. See marriage equality. But it eventually gets there. That’s Bill and Hillary Clinton’s party, and Barack Obama’s. Let’s call them Neo-liberal Democrats. It has been dominant since Bill Clinton won the presidency. Then there’s the Warren and Sanders side of the party that burst out since Sanders’ run in 2016. This grouping appears to be a Social Democratic Party of the Western European variety. As Paul Krugman has pointed out, Bernie is really a social democrat, not a socialist, never mind what he says.

The questions are: Can these wings of the Party stay together? If Bloomberg or Sanders gets the nomination, will the party be united to defeat Trump? Will the party stay together even if a Democrat wins the election? What happens if Trump pulls out a second term? Which grouping within the party will be blamed? What are the possible realignments?