If moderate Democrats are serious when they say their only concern is beating President Donald Trump, they should get used to the thought of backing Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
If you believe in saving democracy, the courts and the planet, and reversing the unrepentant cruelty, corruption and carelessness that define the current administration, you have a duty to at least consider the candidacy of the most popular senator in America, the top fundraiser in the Democratic primaries, and the man who has generally beaten Trump in head-to-head polls for five years now.
Establishment Democrats seem to live in terror of reliving the 1972 presidential election, when a triangulating Richard Nixon crushed lefty George McGovern. But two much more recent nightmares — 2000 and 2016 — are far more instructive. When Democrats fail to bring their left-most flank into the fold, Republicans are able to swipe elections.
Beyond his ability to woo the party’s most reluctant supporters, the best case for the strength of Sanders’ candidacy is that pretty much every argument against him ends up pointing to why he might be uniquely electable.
Last year, Pete Buttigieg himself made a solid yet obvious point. “If we embrace a conservative agenda, you know what they’re going to do?” he said. Republicans will say “we’re a bunch of crazy socialists. So let’s stand up for the right policy, go up there and defend it.”
If every Democrat is going to be called a socialist, maybe the one who has spent decades dealing with this charge is our best choice. And given that 4 in 10 American adults can’t afford a$400 emergency, you can argue that the best candidate to run against Trump — a walking monument to the dangers of inherited wealth — is a candidate who has spent decades warning against the evils of an economy where the top 0.1% own as much as the bottom 90%.