When my father retired as a union organizer, he and my mother bought a Wisconsin tavern they ran until he died. He said the first few weeks were going to be tough, because “I’m going to have to throw out everyone who has already been thrown out of every other bar in town.” I was confused by the idea of turning paying customers away, but he set me straight. “If I don’t throw them out, no one else will ever come in.” I later realized this was some of the best political advice I had ever received. Today’s Democratic presidential wannabes are only now discovering this wisdom.
Since the days of the French Revolution, many lefties have believed that there can be “No Enemies to the Left.” They have tended to let crazies and extremists into their movements, defend them and only discover when it’s too late that they make it difficult to attract others. The result is a lost election or surrendering control of their movement.
When former Vice President Joe Biden first ran for president in 1988, he outrageously appropriated parts of British Labor Party Chairman Neil Kinnock’s biography. He would have been better advised to have appropriated Mr. Kinnock’s stance toward the Communists and Britain’s crazy leftists who were driving voters away from Labor and into the hands of Britain’s Conservative Party. Mr. Kinnock knew that if he didn’t throw them out, Labor could never attract the votes to win. His party prospered for a time. Then a new generation of party leaders decided to let them back into the Labor Party. The result was a party takeover by an aging and crazy Marxist named Jeremy Corbyn, who managed to lead Labor to its worst defeat in history.
Today’s Democratic presidential wannabes, anxious for the support of this county’s crazy leftists, spent months refusing to take on their party’s Jeremy Corbyn, the “Democratic Socialist” Bernie Sanders, a life-long unabashed apologist for the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro and the “good” he contends Communist rulers have accomplished. Bernie claims we needn’t worry because the socialism he supports will be imposed without resort to firing squads, re-education camps and secret police — and there are some, but not many, who take him at his word.
The other contenders apparently believed that by appropriating some of his programs but going easy on the old Marxist, they wouldn’t have to surrender the nomination and control of their party to Bernie and his minions. Voters would, if they only appeared as progressive as Bernie, rally to one of them so that whomever emerges from their convention this summer will be well-positioned to take on the hated Donald Trump. That plan hasn’t worked.
Love him or hate him, the Vermont socialist is the genuine article. He believes what he believes while the rest of the contenders look like what they are; panderers espousing views they adopted not out of principle, but for this campaign. Michael Bloomberg and Joe Biden, former prosecutors Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar on crime, punishment and criminal justice are prime examples.
Had any of them months ago had the principled courage to stand up to Bernie rather than trying to steal his platform, he wouldn’t be polling well and winning. They ignored the Republican lesson of Mr. Trump’s nomination in an age when authenticity counts; they opted to morph into candidates more amenable to the very craziness Bernie has exhibited throughout his career.
Bernie’s army was ready and has another advantage, the same advantage Jimmy Carter had in 1976. When asked by a reporter why he, an obscure Southern governor, thought he could be nominated, Mr. Carter asked the reporter without missing a beat, “Have you met those other guys?” This year the other guys — male and female alike — are all deeply flawed and without real talent. Bernie is cruising.
Maybe they’ll stop Bernie as they did in 2016, or maybe they’ll rig the rules to deny him their party’s nomination. But based on the panic in dear old D.C., at long last Democrats are beginning to realize that the senator from Vermont is their party’s Jeremy Corbyn.
And they let him in.
• David A. Keene is an editor at large for The Washington Times.