Through the first three primaries, Democratic voters seemed sanguine about the possibility of a lifelong communist fellow traveler taking their presidential nomination. Conventional wisdom — including, I admit, my own — suggested that Sen. Bernie Sanders', I-Vt., early primary victories had put former Vice President Joe Biden on the road to ruin. After all, no presidential candidate of the last several election cycles has won after declaring a firewall, from Rudy Giuliani's Florida firewall in 2008 to Hillary Clinton's 2016 blue wall.
But something happened on the way to a Sanders nomination: Democratic voters realized that Bernie Sanders is Bernie Sanders.
It began in South Carolina, where Biden skunked Sanders, outpacing the poll numbers by leaps and bounds. Late-deciding voters simply turned away from Sanders in droves. The same held true on Super Tuesday, when voters across the country ran from Sanders — and from Michael Bloomberg, who acted as a backup choice to Biden and became superfluous the moment Biden showed signs of life in South Carolina. Biden's victories across the South weren't unexpected. His victories in Minnesota, Maine and Massachusetts certainly were.
Biden didn't suddenly reinvigorate his campaign because he became a better campaigner — the day before Super Tuesday, he called Super Tuesday "Super Thursday" and quoted the Declaration of Independence with this immortal formulation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: All men and women created by the — go — you know — you know the thing!"
Usually, such gaffes are not the sign of a campaign on the upswing.
But for Biden, none of that mattered. That's because once Sanders moved from being the outsider crazy uncle who shouts at clouds to the front-runner, Democratic voters truly had to assess his credentials. Years of media running cover for Sanders made Sanders vulnerable to revelations about his record; the first time Sanders was asked to his face about his lake house was when Michael Bloomberg asked him in a public debate. And Sanders, being a man out of time — that time being 1930s City College of New York — proved unwilling to moderate his extreme views. Instead, he doubled down on his tut-tutting of communist repression, his hatred of Israel and his desire to quash the greatest functioning economy in world history.
And Democrats turned away. Some Democrats were unwilling to stake their 2020 hopes on a Marxist near octogenarian; more were simply unwilling to hand the party over to a Noam Chomsky on foreign policy and a Eugene Debs on domestic policy. Most Democrats still like the United States.
And that's excellent news for the country. A Sanders nomination would have meant, practically speaking, half the country rallying around the agenda of a man who once declared he hoped to nationalize every major industry in the United States, a man who has spent decades praising nearly every communist dictatorship on the planet, a man who seethes with disdain for American history and founding principles. Instead, Democrats will rally around the banner that is anti-President Donald Trump — but Biden isn't an anti-American communist, and his nomination won't mean the deepening of Sanders' vile worldview.
Republicans and Democrats should both celebrate Sanders' precipitous fall. It means that perhaps we still have something in common after all: opposition to a radical philosophy that sees America as a nefarious force in the world and sees constitutional principles as oppressive hierarchical dominance.
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