5th March 2020
As the dust settles on Super Tuesday, Democrats are left with two clear frontrunners: former vice president Joe Biden and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Biden, who was seen as dead in the water only a couple of weeks ago, benefited from a flurry of endorsements just before 14 states went to the polls. Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke (remember him?) all turned up in Texas to profess their belief in former President Obama’s old running-mate. And most of them were talking about electability.
“I’m voting for Joe Biden because he can defeat Donald Trump,” O’Rourke wrote in an email that hit my inbox early Tuesday morning. “Having him at the top of the ticket will help our down-ballot candidates, especially in Texas,” he added. “… Joe can beat Donald Trump because he is the clear contrast to Donald Trump. Joe Biden is kind and decent. Empathetic and caring. He will reassert our moral standing in the world at a moment that it’s been called into question.” A couple of paragraphs later, Beto added that he also admired the “integrity” of Elizabeth Warren, the way in which Michael Bloomberg had “used his wealth for good”, and the way in which Bernie Sanders has “consistently and successfully pushed this country to think big”.
“Thinking big” never means “being electable” — everybody knows that. But is it really true that Bernie Sanders’ big ideas — those calls for full structural and systemic reform — make him less likely to appeal to American voters than steadfast, sensible Uncle Joe? I’m not convinced.