What a difference a week can make.
Just last Friday, the progressive wing of the Democratic party had two candidates and seemed to be coalescing around one, and the mainstream Democrats had several but couldn’t figure out who their standard-bearer should be.
Now it’s effectively a two-candidate race with Joe Biden in the driver’s seat and Sanders not far behind, but Joe clearly has the momentum for now.
The speed at which this all happened is surprising, but the outcome itself should not be. The party base has been anxiously awaiting a candidate we could get behind, flaws and all, as our best chance to defeat Trump. We have been waiting for years—since November 9, 2016, to be precise. We had a lot of choices when the primary started, and that’s good, but we just couldn’t seem to get behind one.
Anxiety had been building, and by last week it was sky-high. “These are our choices?” a lot of Democrats thought to themselves. No matter who we thought about, there was just something that made too many of us want to hold our noses and look elsewhere.
But Super Tuesday was not getting moved back. A decision would have to be made. The keg was full of powder, dry as dust. A LOT of us were waiting for guidance from South Carolina on who to support. It was the first state with a significant African-American voting population, a voting bloc that was crucial to both Obama victories and that showed an underrated turnout drop in 2016.
Fueled by overwhelming support from African-Americans, South Carolina decisively broke for Biden.
That was the spark that ignited that power keg. When it ignited, it detonated and unleashed an avalanche. Steyer—out. Buttigieg—out. Klobuchar—out. Endorsements of Biden from both Klobuchar and Buttigieg. Her endorsement may have swung Minnesota, but I believe that for most of the Super Tuesday states, social media chatter among mainstream Democrats, in the channels where we could freely get it out there, facilitated the rapid consensus among many: F it, we’re going with Joe.
And boy did Democratic voters go with Joe. Multiple states that were expected to go for Bernie swung to Joe at the last minute. It was precisely these late deciders who said Yes to Joe, turning states such as Minnesota, Texas, and even Maine and Massachusetts away from Bernie and to Joe. (Note that in OK and AL, where there was much less shift, Biden won big anyway.)
Why? Why go with a candidate who’s getting close to his 80s and repeatedly stutters with his comments? Much will be said about that, but I want to say what I have seen people say or suggest, where they are comfortable saying it:
There is a silent majority of American voters who are DONE with the whole “burn it to the ground” attitude. Done.
These are people of all stripes, all incomes, all races, all genders, who want to return to a functional government with a sane human in the driver’s seat. These are people who are sick and tired of being talked down to because they aren’t comfortable demolishing our healthcare system in favor of one that has never been attempted on this size and scale in America. These are people who, when they simply ask how we would get that kind of moonshot up and running, are accused of being a part of “the establishment.” Or worse, sometimes much, much worse.
“The establishment.” What exactly did Sanders and his supporters expect? That the Democratic base and the Democratic party would just roll over and be doormats while Sanders walked all over them? Not this time. When you insult, degrade, attack, and belittle a group of people, that group tends to fight back. And they did. Sanders has failed to learn the fundamental lesson of winning people over who initially disagree with you: You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.
I’m not the only one who sees this. If you haven’t read Ezra Klein’s take on why Sanders is unable to raise his ceiling of support any higher, you need to. Especially if you are one of those who is upset by what I have written—and we know you’re there. Trust me, we know you’re there. Maybe you could, you know, try listening for a change? Just a thought. Because we are done having vinegar thrown at us.