There’s not a whole lot to say about tonight’s results. Obviously Joe Biden won today’s primaries in another landslide and just as obviously this is the end for Bernie Sanders. The only question left is whether the Sanders team will accept this, or whether they’ll pretend yet again that next week’s contest is the real test.
I get how disappointing this is for lots of people. But I hope that time will give everyone a clearer view of things. Bernie had his biggest impact in 2016, when he pushed the Democratic Party firmly to the left. This was a considerable accomplishment, but he never managed to take the next step and convince a majority of Dems that we needed an insurrection against the establishment. Nor did he do it this time around. For better or worse, most Democrats didn’t want to get rid of their establishment in 2016 and they really don’t want to get rid of it now. They saw what happened when Republicans got rid of theirs, and it’s the last thing they want. Rather, they want an establishment that can defeat the nihilistic chaos of contemporary conservatism and govern responsibly.
Beyond that, I hope that disappointed Bernie supporters take another look at Biden’s positions and come to realize that there’s less difference between the two men than it seems. Even without Republican obstruction, Medicare for All was never going to pass. A flat $15 federal minimum wage was never going to pass. Free college was never going to pass. The Green New Deal was never going to pass. A wealth tax was never going to pass. In fact, we’ll be lucky if even Biden’s versions of these things can pass.
So in practice there’s not a lot of sunlight between them. But even in theory there’s less than it seems. Biden’s health care plan is pretty good. His climate change plan is surprisingly good. He supports a $15 minimum wage. His tax plan is certainly less ambitious than Bernie’s, but it’s all in the same direction.
Donald Trump has given too many people a frighteningly good look at what a revolution looks like. For now, this is just not what most Democrats want, even if the roles are reversed. They want responsible leadership and moderate change that’s not scary. They will eventually come around to the idea of a revolution, I think, but it will take another decade or two. That’s less time than it seems.