But whether it will halt the meltdown of the Democratic Party is another question
Joe Biden’s Super Tuesday produced shocking results.
The final votes will not be known for a few days, but Biden seems to be headed for victory in nine or 10 of the 14 states that were at play. He even won in states his campaign ignored, like Minnesota, because he thought he had no chance, thanks to Amy Klobuchar’s endorsement.
The expected Bernie Saunders slam-dunk did not materialize in spite of the steam-roller-like momentum he had after the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire and Nevada primaries. Sanders is now underperforming compared to his 2016 primary results against Hillary Clinton.
Sanders is a paradox. He is an outlier who sits in Congress as an Independent but runs in general elections as a Democrat. His only hope now to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate is to win the nomination outright before the July convention in Milwaukee.
To do that he needs 1991 delegates of the 3,979 pledged delegates. Biden has a significant lead in the delegate count, but it’s highly unlikely that either he or Sanders will have enough to be declared the winner before the convention, which means we’re headed for a contested convention where the party’s 771 “superdelegates” will have the final say.
The problem for Sanders is that Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and a number of Sanders’s fellow candidates, including Peter Buttigieg, Michael Bloomberg and Klobuchar – all of whom have dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden – oppose his candidacy. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren, the only other candidate left in the field, has no way forward. And could be wheeling and dealing behind the scenes for a Biden-Warren ticket in the general election.
For the Democratic Party establishment, which champions a pro-capitalist agenda, the prospects of a Sanders-versus-Donald Trump contest in the November general election remains a nightmare.
Biden was initially considered a shoo-in to win the nomination given his proximity to former President Barack Obama. But his campaign began to flounder after Trump attempted to get the Ukrainian president to announce an investigation into the Ukrainian affairs of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Now Biden is back and he has the African-American community to thank for his resounding turnaround.
Sanders speaking as the results were being counted on Tuesday night, said he is building a “multicultural” coalition. That includes Hispanic voters, but not the support of the African-American community.
His base is made up mostly of millennials. These were also supporters of Beto O’Rourke, another Democratic Party nominee who dropped out before Super Tuesday. And therein lies a lesson for Sanders.
O’Rourke made his reputation in the party as an anti-establishmentarian hacker in the Cult of The Dead Cow collective. Then he got involved in bourgie, mainstream electoral politics and was forced to confront the bitter reality of running for office. He was last seen embracing Super Joe and bequeathing his endorsement upon the Biden campaign. “We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump,” he said.
It’s ironic. As is the fact that, at the top of the list of concerns for Democratic voters is universal health care. Democrats could have that during the first term of the Obama presidency when they controlled both houses of Congress.
But “pro-life” Bart Stupak and his band of social conservative/Evangelical Blue Dog Democrats smashed the prospects of a true universal health care package over abortion. It was a tragedy.
There appears to have been a difficulty, even among Democrats, in accepting that there was a Black man in the White House.
It mustn’t be forgotten that the Democratic Party was founded by plantation-class Southerners who were conservative, populist, White supremacist and pro-slavery. After the Civil War, the party opposed Reconstruction and birthed the Ku Klux Klan. The worst overt racists who sat in Congress were Democrats. And until Fannie Lou Hamer crashed the Democratic Party convention in Atlantic City in 1964, no African-American had sat as a delegate.
But Super Tuesday wasn’t about that. It was all about electability. Whether it will halt a meltdown of the Democratic Party is another question.
Douglas Gary Freeman grew up in Washington DC and lives in the Toronto area. His novel, Exile Blues (Baraka Books), was published in 2019.