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Switching from Sanders to Biden in 2020
Why I started questioning Bernie as the candidate for 2020
My politics and DSA membership pointed to Sanders as the person I should back in the primary. The two breaking points for me with Sanders were:
1) Jeremy Corbyn's electoral wipe-out combined with the lack of critical reflection on why that happened. (Corbyn was the head of the British Labor Party. He not only lost the 2019 election, he lost the working-class constituency that he and the Sanders movement claim to be uniquely able to reach.)
2) Sanders' rift with Warren and his followers harassment of her and her campaign. As I wrote in my case for Biden: "If Bernie supporters cannot even work with his closest ally Warren, why should anyone expect them to build a strong coalition for the general election?"
Trying to find the best pro-Sanders arguments
After Corbyn's loss, I started to look at the best arguments for Sanders I could find. Just why did they say he could beat Trump and why were they so sure?
What I found was a mixture of falsehoods, out-of-context and heavily selected facts, and arguments that didn’t prove anything (more small donors!)—all held together only with a heavy dose of wishful thinking.
Now, predicting who would do well in an election is difficult, and Biden winning does not confirm that it was predictable. However, he was laser focused on defeating Trump and polls suggested most voters thought he was best positioned to do so as well.
The 2018 election indicated Biden’s approach was better than Sanders—yet no leftist seemed to care
The sheer inanity of the arguments I encountered for Sanders led me to revisit the 2018 election. I'm chagrined it took me till then (~Jan 2020) to do so, but it turns out that the lesson I had learned in 2018/2019 that AOC, etc. could take on and outperform establishment Democrats was...incomplete.
Democrats took back the House in 2018 and in that battle, Biden-endorsed Democrats won, while zero of the multiple Sanders-aligned candidates flipped Republic seats.
And again the question was: Why wasn’t anyone talking about this?
The thing that turned me against the left electoral approach the most wasn’t any particular data point, but the consistent substitution of wishful thinking in the place of analysis. That approach to life cannot win!
The New York Times didn’t care about electoral strategy either
The New York Times Editorial Board wrote of Biden that "he emphasizes returning the country to where things were before the Trump era." This was a media fantasy. It wasn't based on what Biden said, it wasn’t based on what his policy proposals were nor was it based on on an informed understanding of his political history. It was the "cool kids" looking down on the boring old guy. He wasn't hip. He wasn't "in."
In that regard, they didn't treat the election much differently than Jacobin magazine’s misunderstanding of Biden and the election: "what'll get me credit with my friends?" Their set of friends is just slightly different.
They noted most Democratic voters wanted Trump removed--and that Biden's "central pitch to voters is that he can beat Donald Trump.” Yet they then said in effect, “That's way too hard to figure out, so we’ll just ignore the main thing.”
They shrugged their shoulders at analyzing who might be best to beat Trump. An utter failure. Shameful. Irresponsible.
In the interview with Biden, Biden asked them: "Who among the prospective candidates is going to enhance the prospect in Georgia." They interrupted him and never returned to the claim that he could. They did not ask any other questions to examine if he was indeed the best candidate to beat Trump.
Biden's last words to them?
"Thank you. I’m going to beat this guy."
It wasn't pride.
It was analysis. He had studied the question. They hadn't.
He was right.