Op-Ed from BY J.T. Young, at the Hill….
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) started the leftist wave currently cresting among Democrats; now, he risks losing it. Embodying the party’s opposition to its establishment three years ago, Sanders has become just one among many. Threatened by Democrats’ identity-politics, he is even more so by the party’s concern over the politics of its identity: Formally embracing socialism.
In 2016, Sanders went from Vermont local legend to national phenomenon — what Ben and Jerry’s was to ice cream, he was to politics. Failing to win the nomination, he went the distance with Clinton and won an improbable 43 percent of Democrats’ primary votes.
From one perspective, he would appear the heir apparent. Building on his strong second-place finish, he could have been presumed to have started on the inside track — just as Hillary Clinton had in 2016, after finishing second to Barack Obama in 2008. Instead, Sanders now more resembles Sen. Eugene McCarthy in 1968: Having done the hard work of proving a movement’s viability, only to have others come to catch his wave.
Rather than front-runner, Sanders risks being an also-ran. As the left’s momentum rises, his apparently ebbs. He is currently No. 3 and, according to Real Clear Politics’s recent averaging of national polls (9/13-23), he has just 17 percent support — 26 percentage points behind the actual votes he won in 2016.
Certainly, Sanders has strengths, which have allowed him to remain close to the top in a crowded, competitive campaign. As the first in from the left, he has a comparatively large committed core of supporters. Combined with his longevity, Sanders brings tenacity and authenticity too.
However, Sanders’ attrition has outweighed his attraction. Democrats’ identity-politics do him no favors. He is an old, white male before a party electorate desperately seeking to be less of all three.
There also exists an establishment animosity that carries over from 2016. Still unable to admit Clinton’s myriad shortcomings, Sanders’s insistence on staying in remains a convenient scapegoat for the party’s loss.
Yet, Sanders’s biggest liability is Democrats’ concern as to what his nomination would do to the party’s brand. Nominating Sanders would take Democrats from being just liberal, to being admittedly leftist…..
Senator Bernie Sanders is NOT actually a Democrat….