Bernie Sanders Can’t Win

Class loathing feels so good, but it is ultimately self-defeating.

Comments: 264

  1. Sanders doesn't oppose free enterprise, and words like socialism often have several meanings. Sanders describes himself as a "democratic socialist" and an admirer of aspects of social democracy as practiced in the Scandinavian countries. So tell me, are there any Scandinavian countries with economies NOT based on free enterprise? I agree with the central premise of the column- that Sanders has not faced to firepower of the right-wing propaganda machine. The right-wing now in control of this country undoubtedly believe that a Sanders nomination will be a godsend to their ambitions of continuing their hold on power. The Dem elite felt the same about Trump during his run-up to the nomination last round, convinced that such a man could never actually win the presidency. Which isn't to say that Sanders would have Trump's luck. The problem is, our last two centrist presidents ultimately failed to bring about the kind of change that is needed. The ACA didn't put a dent in the obscene profiteering in our health care system. Nothing else he did slowed the extreme flight of wealth to the rich, or, most importantly, led to adequate measures to save our planet from ourselves. What is the point of winning the presidency with a centrist when incremental change won't save us? Revenge?

  2. @alan haigh What is the point of winning the presidency with a centrist when incremental change won't save us? Revenge? Surly you jest. Winning is everything in politics and it must be the goal because 4 more years will devastate the country and the world. A centrist is exactly what we need as that candidate can win and stop the damage and right the ship of state. In 4 years perahps more of the country will want to go further progressive but I don't think it will work in the current environment.

  3. @getGar Sanders is not a socialist in the way Americans think of socialism, but that is irrelevant. What matters is not what Sanders is but what most voters in critical states think he is. If the President was elected by popular vote Sanders would definitely defeat Trump. Unfortunately we are still stuck with the electoral college and there the arithmetic is not in Sanders favor. It is a mistake to think that Sanders fiery radicalism will be sufficient to attract Trump fans and it does turn off the less committed to Trump.

  4. @alan haigh I think the point is, what will Trump's election machine say about Sanders? Sanderas may describe himself as a democratic socialist, he may say he values free enterprise etc, etc. But Trump does scorched earth electioneering. Nothing is off the table. Egan is right: Sanders is too easy to caricature and there is way too much history of him to work with. By the time they are finished, even Sanders supporters will be doubting their choice.

  5. Egan's way off. Bernie's the guy that can beat Trump. The winds of change are upon us and Sanders is leading Democrats to rediscover their roots. Joe Biden is no FDR. Nor Pete Buttigieg. Nor super-billionaire Bloomberg. Sanders won't be confined to Bryan's dustbin of history. He'll go down as having changed American culture in a shift away from unsustainable, unbridled capitalism to one that distributes wealth in an equitable way - and still leaves the rich with plenty. Mr. Egan - Wake up and see what's going on around you. Bernie's the real deal. Thank goodness it's the people who vote and not the pundits.

  6. You neglected to mention Warren, or Bernie light, if you prefer. I agree with Egan: Bernie heavy will doom us to (at least) one more term with Herr Drumpf.

  7. @Robert I did neglect Warren. I don't think she can beat Trump - not because she's a woman, but because I think she hasn't found the right slot. She's trying to be Bernie-lite, as you say, and fit between Sanders and Biden. But it hasn't worked. Her missteps hurt her, as well. Bernie can energize a coalition to beat Trump. I watched Biden in Iowa yesterday in his "big" anti-Trump speech. Good lord, he almost put himself to sleep.

  8. @Robert Even if this were true (and its not), Warren isn't really in the running anymore. She is polling 4th in both Iowa and New Hampshire and sinking fast nationally. Largely because more Dems recognize that she does not attract independents or excite poorer and younger voters the way that Bernie does. Warren is my second choice, but her appeal is mainly to a whiter and higher-income swathe of progressive Democrats who already vote in every election. She might be able to beat Trump, but her chances are nowhere near as strong as Bernie's.

  9. If your most important goals are "staying healthy and aging in place," then Bernie Sanders is your man. That is why, as an older, retired American, I support him.

  10. @John Booke I am a retired woman and Bernie is my man

  11. @John Booke I'd like to be able to retire someday. So I will happily vote for Bernie, Warren, or Klobuchar. I'd have to wear a gas mask to vote for Biden (holding my nose wouldn't be enough), though I would do it. Anyone who would like Social Security to be there for them must vote blue.

  12. @NICHOLS COURT and John Booke Me too!

  13. I have Bernie in the primary and Trump, for the win, in the general.

  14. "Democrats win with broad-vision optimists who still shake up the system — Franklin Roosevelt" This is a particularly confusing line. You're using FDR as an argument against Sanders? FDR was the most popular president in US history as well as the most socialist. He brought as social security, unemployment benefits, public works programs, and advocated for a national healthcare system. Furthermore, when you say that Democrats will only win with a "broad-vision optimist who will shake up the system", who more fits this description than Sanders? Biden? Bloomberg? Klobuchar? Honestly, this piece reads like satire.

  15. @Chris Warren's platform is similar, and she does come across as more optimistic. Whatever. Vote Blue No Matter Who 2020.

  16. @Chris I disagree, Sir. FDR saved America from socialism and solidified the power of the capitalists who were beginning to institute the very policies that Marx and others said would bring about a socialist counter-revolution. FDR was not anti-capitalist. Sanders however is openly disparaging of capitalism and threatens to usurp the capitalist class, particularly those in the health care and finance industries. Thus the fear and loathing of a Sanders' presidency.

  17. @Chris FDR also unconstitutionally rounded up Japanese Americans and put them in internment camps. That doesn't seem to bother Dems, because FDR was a Dem. When the Supreme Court began ruling against his programs as unconstitutional, FDR threatened to pack the Court to get the rulings he wanted. If Trump was doing such things, we'd be hearing more hysterics about how our "democracy" was at risk, but again, progressives see nothing wrong with a Court-packing scheme when it is done by a Dem. Kinda like how Edward Kennedy was lionized as a progressive hero, after leaving a girl to slowly suffocate in a submerged car. As far as I know Trump never committed a homicide.

  18. This is the year we either win or lose the planet. Only Sanders can stand up to the establishments of both parties to bring us a green new deal. The UN said we had 12 years to cut our emissions in half, almost 2 years ago. Since then they've just kept rising and are projected to rise 30% more by 2026. But politically all we have is this one year. Trump or a corporate Dem will not rise to the occasion, and we have no more time.

  19. @hooper bad news: "the planet" is already lost if you're referring to some specific lower-impact likely rise in average temperatures. good news: the planet itself isn't going anywhere, and neither is life on this planet. bad news: the current shape of human civilization, such as it is, along with the current richness and diversity of global ecosystems, is probably toast. good news: both will continue on, changed, just as they have always done.

  20. Precisely.

  21. Not only a bad take, but a rather stale one. Of course the republicans will cry socialism if Sanders is the nominee, everyone knows that. However, they will do the same with Warren, Pete, Biden, Klobuchar, Yang, Steyer, Bloomberg, Gabbard, Opera, Rogan, my somewhat conservative aunt, and anyone running as a democrat. And even more important, the voters who fall for these attacks are already watching fox news and are already most likely going to vote for Trump anyway. It should be obvious by this point that the way we win is through turnout. Remember that while Hillary lost Michican by roughly ten thousand votes, nearly three million people didn't bother to make it to the ballot box. These are the people we need to reach. Bernie is by far the best candidate to do this. He has the right message, the money, the manpower, and even the twitter army. Most importantly his theory of change is right on the money. Now excuse me while I go donate again.

  22. @David The Republicans don't need to cry "Socialist" if Sanders is the nominee; Sanders himself cries it. I think Timothy Egan is right.

  23. @David How is Bernie going to win over those three million folks who "didn't bother to make it to the ballot box" because of a distrust of the Democratic party but who voted in 2018 for those 41 female moderates to turn over the House to Nancy Pelosi? He isn't. They will stay home rather than vote for Bernie (or Warren). They will however come out to vote for Biden. Because he is a moderate.

  24. @WZ Social democracy isn't socialism. I know America is backwards in a lot of ways, but every other western country has a mainstream party representing Sander's views. What he's advocating for would be considered pretty mainstream and centre-left elsewhere. America is heavily slanted towards the right, meaning the Democrats are effectively a right-wing group while the Republicans are far-right. If you went to Ireland or the UK, the Democrats align much more closely with neoliberal/centre-right groups like Fine Gael or the Liberal Democrats than they do with any actual left-wing movements, like Sinn Fein or the Irish and British Labour parties. Timothy Egan is drastically out-of-touch with what ordinary Americans want, and what they don't want is the bland, corporate neoliberalism offered by the likes of Biden and Buttigieg.

  25. There are no guarantees in life, but Bernie is very clearly the Democrats best chance to beat Trump. He has the highest net favorability of any politician in the country. He is widely regarded as the most honest & trustworthy. He polls strongly among independents & excites the broad swathes of poorer and younger sometimes voters of all colors who need to be motivated (as they were with Obama) not just to take the White House, but to take the Senate. Indeed he is the ONLY candidate who does this & no Dem candidate who doesn't has won the White House with a majority in half a century. (Remember that Clinton had an assist from Ross Perot.) The claim that Bernie hasn't faced the full force of the Right Wing attack machine is true, buts its also true of all of his Democratic opponents who each also have serious vulnerabilities. But its not at all true that he hasn't been "vetted" or faced serious criticism. There have been fear-mongering media assaults on him every step of his political career. When the corporate-owned isn't pretending that he doesn't exist they are generally busy ridiculing or smearing him. As a consequence, Sanders has developed a degree of messaging discipline unparalleled in US politics. Will Trump lie about him? Will the insurance industry run more polls designed to create the absurd impression that Americans love them and fear Medicare for All? Will well-payed liberal columnists continue to clutch their pearls? Yes, yes & yes. But Bernie will still win.

  26. @Christopher -- Thank you, and very well said, Christopher.

  27. @Christopher Agree. I still expect Trump to cover his worker base better, likely with an ACA replacement proposal (ticks the Obama legacy destruction box, too) announced before the election. But Trump doesn't have a handle on Bernie and doesn't understand him or his support, hence "crazy" Bernie.

  28. @Christopher Trump, who is functionally illiterate but intensely clever, is doing everything he can to not face Biden. Why?

  29. Egan usually starts with the proposition that there is an inherent decency in the American people. I like that optimism. It’s patriotic and makes me feel hopeful. This column is a little different. It’s much more pragmatic. Bernie can’t win because he’s a socialist, says Egan. Ok, and carrying it a step further, what if he did win? He’d have to deal with Congress, and the Senate. And even if he did manage to push some of his ideas through in the first two years, the backlash would be astounding in the midterms and it would get undone and be under constant attack. That’s the way it goes in this country. Think Obamacare. The genius of our frustrating system is that it only works if there is some sort of national political consensus that is at least palatable to the opposition. I may rather live in Bernie’s or Warren’s world, but ain’t happening.

  30. What in Trump’s world is palatable to Democrats?

  31. @Greg Not much, and assuming he gets beat by one of the more centrist candidates, the healing may begin. Maybe. As I said, while I may want to live ion Bernie"s or Warren's world, I think Egan is right: we can't get there, and even if we did, it wouldn't last longer than a single Congressional term.

  32. Though I don't agree with many of the points in your opinion today, we all must agree to this- that no matter who gets the democratic nomination, we must all support and vote for that candidate. We must get everyone who is eligible to vote out to vote and have them vote blue. We must Vote Blue No Matter Who in every face-off, whether it is the presidency down to the dog catcher. The party of Trump must go!

  33. @Meri This support would have to include the Never Trumpers. Unfortunately, until now they have steadfastly declared they could never support a socialist. I believe compromise is vital for the future of this country, and Bernie has indicated he will never give way to any middle ground. Warren on the other hand, has indicated she is willing to consider something more moderate if that is what the people want. Please Democrats, think hard and don't flub this all-important opportunity.

  34. @Meri See what Democrats are doing in New York City - voting "blue" is ruining the city. Criminals arrested for assault, arson, bank robbery, drug dealing are released immediately with no bail, and some re-arrested within hours for the same thing. And let out again! Illegal immigrants accused of rape and sex crimes are not turned over the feds when requests are made, then go out and continue to commit crime, even murder. Twenty five percent of bus riders do not pay the fare, and authorities are afraid to act - really aggravating to the law abiding, fare paying citizen. To just vote "blue" because you don't like President Trump is voting without much thought about state and local matters.

  35. @John Farrell How's this state and local matter? Trump's tax "cut" was a tax rise for me, since he capped the SALT (state and local taxes) deduction at 10,000. I don't know what the property taxes are in Yonkers, or maybe you rent rather than owning, but out here on LI homeowners got shafted. And crime is low out here.

  36. The three years with Trump as president have been a depressing time for many people, and I think Mr. Egan has been affected. He sees only the negatives, not mentioning that Bernie was the most popular presidential candidate in 2016; that Hillary Clinton had been smeared by Republicans for 20 years, especially in the Benghazi hearings; that Trump has several 2016 campaign staffers sitting in jail; and so forth. And as for William Jennings Bryan, he never ran against am impeached president.

  37. what would impress me more about Bernie would be a record of getting things done. not just having a strong opinion.

  38. @dk Bernie Sanders, as someone who doesn't care about the wishes of donors, never could get those who do care about their donors to support his bills. That is why he is the amendment king. If the system won't let him in, he finds a way around it. Just like he'll do as organizer-in-chief. Recent examples of his action include raising wages at Disney and Amazon. Speaking on behalf of workers at the Walmart shareholders meeting.

  39. So the fact he’s known as the “Amendment King” in Congress for all his successful attachments to other legislation didn’t catch your eye? Or his ability to forge legislation from across the aisle helping Veterans or the War Powers act during otherwise complete stagnant polarization has eluded your ability to be impressed? Or his ability to work outside the halls of congress and help workers at Amazon and Disney get better wages isn’t impressive? Or how he has been fighting the good fight but surrounded by corrupt politicians who are working against the average citizen’s interests in favor of big businesses, this doesn’t effect your evaluation?

  40. Bernie's authenticity and idealism are admirable, even inspiring. What has he accomplished in all his time in Washington? He finally got Hillary to drop the mask and be herself...

  41. Thank you, Mr. Egan. There is another factor to keep in mind. Could Sanders bring any of his ideas into operation? I believe not given his Senate record. Look it up online. It's a short read. Sanders can babble but not implement. Note: Some of his ideas are removed from current reality and would do harm. He gets a double NO from me.

  42. Watching American politics with a keen interest from this side of the Atlantic, I'm noticing an increase in Trump's slurring of words, forgetting of words, inability to finish a sentence etc. People cleverer than me insist the man is suffering from some or other degenerative neurological condition which will only become worse over time. The man might well end up debating Bernie while wearing a diaper. As for the GOP members of the Senate: every time you think they've hit a new moral rock-bottom, they manage to dig a little deeper. Mitch and his friends manage to choose wrong every time when having to decide between shameless short-term self-interest and anything with even a whiff of altruism. Has the GOP ever been so unpopular as now? So yes, Bernie Sanders can win. Of course he can win. If he doesn't get a heart-attack or aneurysm before November, that is. And that's the problem, surely?

  43. @Paul Any of the candidates can die suddenly for a number of reasons....even former mayor Pete...aneurisms, strokes cancer etc....age is not the issue, health & vitality are.

  44. @Paul - Yes, Trump has something very wrong with his brain. But if he can still be at the debates, he’ll be debating Biden, or maybe Klobuchar, not Bernie. Bernie will not win the primary, no matter how much his supporters think he will of how big his rallies are. He might as well start compiling his excuses (“It’s the DNC’s fault - wahhhh!”) now. Anyway, even if Trump can still form words by debate time, he won’t debate. He’ll ignore anything the Democratic candidate says and will just attack. He knows his base thrives on his trigger words, just as Bernie’s base thrives on *his* (much kinder) trigger words —Bernie’s words that can’t be put into law, given Republican obstruction.

  45. Thank you, Mr. Egan. Bernie is a major influencer but no more of a true leader than Donald Trump. If we were in France, he would be a Melenchon, not a Mitterand.

  46. The Republicans have taken over most of the federal & state governments advocating policies that aren’t even supported by their own voters—eliminating Social Security & Medicare, outlawing abortion, accelerating climate change, etc. There’s a lot more to politics than matching up polls to candidates. Americans supported the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, the abolition of slavery, labor unions, and a lot of other “radical” ideas. One thing I know for certain: unless we escape the political narrative the powers that be have been imposing on the country for the last 40 years, in which Republicans win by being extreme enough & Democrats win by compromising enough, the country is doomed.

  47. Look, can we please confront the dire truth of our situation if Trump is acquitted today? There will ONLY be an election this November if Trump knows he can win. If he thinks he can't--and wind up in prison if he loses--Trump will concoct any number of stratagems to prevent the 2020 election from happening at all. If you concede this is true--and you haven't been paying attention if you won't--then you might as well hope that Bernie wins the nomination and has a platform to proselytize. Better to have a Democratic candidate make it to November and lose rather than have no election at all.

  48. The democrats who support Sanders consider more realistic politicians to be democrats in name only: DINO. As an independent voter, that doesn’t make sense to me. Mr. Egan doesn’t have to go back to William Jennings Bryan. Adlai Stevenson, after losing to Ike the first time, got another opportunity to try it again. No one is going to tell those Eleanor Roosevelt dems that they might be a bit to rigid for their own good! And how about George McGovern? Does anyone remember the results of that election? So I would agree with Mr. Egan that Senator Sanders would lose the election.

  49. Right, because McGovern's landslide loss had nothing to do with Nixon cheating in the 1972 election. Man never resigned from the office either. Makes sense to me.

  50. The democrats who support Sanders consider more realistic politicians to be democrats in name only: DINO. As an independent voter, that doesn’t make sense to me. Mr. Egan doesn’t have to go back to William Jennings Bryan. Adlai Stevenson, after losing to Ike the first time, got another opportunity to try it again. No one is going to tell those Eleanor Roosevelt dems that they might be a bit to rigid for their own good! And how about George McGovern? Does anyone remember the results of that election? So I would agree with Mr. Egan that Senator Sanders would lose the election.

  51. As a Pittsburgher, who is stuck inside when the air quality index days rocket up (thank you, US Steel and uh oh Shell Fracker Plant), I whole heartedly disagree with you piece. I support the Sanders campaign and will canvas, donate, call, raise money, and vote. Bernie provides a consistent message that resonates with me and my family.

  52. Yep, and I really believe Bernie can flip PA too. Western Pennsylvania is a weird place that doesn’t fit into the political dichotomy the way people think it does. Trump had a wide appeal here because he spoke to those who feel they have been left behind and Bernie does the same. My mother is a lifelong conservative who’s lived in Pittsburgh her whole life and now she plans on voting for Bernie. She likes his authenticity, she likes that he’s not part of the Democratic establishment, she likes the Green New Deal (because the planet is dying and those of us from coal country know this first hand), and she likes the idea of free public college because she’s struggling to help pay for her children’s education. She’s not alone either, people might begrudgingly vote for Biden, but I don’t know if that will be enough. We need a candidate that people will vote for with the same enthusiasm that they voted for Trump with, the only one who has that is Bernie.

  53. @C ". Trump had a wide appeal here because he spoke to those who feel they have been left behind and Bernie does the same." An incredibly important point rarely acknowledged or even noticed by the mainstream media, C.

  54. FDR had to fight for Social Security and every other program that allowed the average man and woman to crawl out of a depression caused by an inflated stock market and greed. You fear Sanders is too rigid? Are you watching the impeachment hearings? Trump has failed to provide wirtnesses to clear his name of crimes. As he did in his private life, he offers 5 or 6 lawyers to do it for him claiming despite any actions the President should never be removed from office because it wouldn't be fair to the voting public. Middle of the road Republicans are like conservatives of the past. They are responsible for slowly relinquishing power until the opposing party became authoritarian, my way or the highway. I'm 70 give me a break, we need jaws that have teeth to rip the grip the McConnell's, Trumpians, Graham's have around our throats. There is a dismal future for the disappearing middle class if this sorry state continues. .

  55. @rhdelp, Even with polio, FDR was 30 years younger than Sanders and never suffered a stroke that would cap future work capacity. Sanders would be the wrong choice even if the Senate was ready to pass major health reform (something the current Trump impeachment shows is not even close to true). As the more modest Obama heath reform demonstrated, this will require at least a decade and Sanders is not going to be working a day job over that time period.

  56. @DoctorRPP So what is your suggestion?

  57. Egan, you have of course a right to your opinion just as I have a right to mine. And my onion is that you are wrong. Out here where the electoral college is won or lost people need help for the most basic things like health insurance, access to health care which is decreasing in rural areas, quality affordable day care and education. Enforcement of laws that protect our are and drinking water and some resolution of climate change that has dumped so much water on the earth that farmers cannot plant until too late and the cannot harvest. Right now the soil in WI is 99% saturated and Republican policies of uncontrolled water use for irrigation and mega dairy farms with excess manure has left wells with dry or contaminated. Bernie and I are not interested in class warfare, That is a canard. We want the 2% to pay a lot more taxes to finance some things and want to ameliorate the adverse affect Citizens United has had on the body politic. That is not class warfare. That is Justice.

  58. Then vote for Klobuchar or Biden. One of them CAN actually win against Trump, and we’ll be much further ahead towards getting a government that helps all of us, not only the rich.

  59. @Edward B. Blau wish you were right but I come from Vermont and know Bernie. He maybe the only democrat who could reelect Trump. I said I would vote for Howdy Doody v Trump and I will. But Bernie is worst choice and will lose with his Revolution.

  60. In a purple state, many of my Republicans friends say they will not vote for Trump again. But given the choice of voting for Bernie or Trump, they will do as the Arizona Star said of one electorate, “Hold your nose and vote.” His question to the Senate about our lying president was unsettling to me. I cannot vote for Bernie, he has too much baggage and is not electable.

  61. @Mary Jo Jacoby Many, and maybe you, voted for Trump, even though all the facts of his narcissism and corruption was evident before the election, because they had been told that Clinton was so much worse. With regard to Trump this election, in a democracy, you have the right of your vote, but don't blame Sanders. After seeing Trump in action the only reasonable response is anyone ... anyone other than Trump. Among a majority of voters, it is a case of not Trump, period!

  62. @Mary Jo Jacoby Apparently you are unsettled by pointed questions but not by brown kids in cages.

  63. The real problem with Bernie is that, like Hillary, Biden, et al, long years in Washington leave him with a record and, therefore, too much junk he’ll need to be defensive about. In current politics, shelf life expires rather rapidly. Inexperience seems to be a feature, not a bug.

  64. I don’t agree that Sanders can’t win. Americans aren’t afraid of major reforms and certainly not of the reforms he advocates. But Bloomberg could make use of his candidacy to narrow the field and then block it: either by positioning himself as the centrist savior and seizing the Democratic nomination (his money won’t hurt), or - should this fail - by running as an independent candidate and splitting the vote of those who want to end the Trump regime. In my view, most wealthy people would prefer four more years of Trump to a principled left-wing reformer. Mike is their backstop. I like Bloomberg, but he would help the country most by joining the Republican party and trying to return it to the realm of reason.

  65. Timothy Egan cannot predict who will or can win. I’m pretty sure he was surprised in 2016 when Trump defeated Hillary. What he’s saying is that he doesn’t want Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. But if we have a fair system, the voters and not the pundits will decide.

  66. @Ray Katz ---"what he's saying is that he doesn't want Bernie Sanders to win the nomination"---you got that right! Now that Bernie's doing so well, the corporate media is finally paying attention to him, negatively, of course! But I must say that I am both surprised and disappointed that it was Timothy Egan who wrote this.

  67. You're ignoring the donkey in the room. Millions of young people will vote in 2020 because they believe in Bernie and his vision for the future of the Democratic Part and the nation. If you think they're scared away by the label "socialist" or the media's constant drumbeat of negativity towards a truly transformational candidate, you aren't paying attention. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 2018 election the participation rate of all generations after the Boomers (of which I am one) skyrocketed, in some cases nearly doubling the rate in the 2016 election. Young people, those under 45, ARE the future of this country, and they overwhelmingly support Bernie and his approach to the issues facing us. Anyone who ignores the surge of youth participation in the electoral system is in for a severe shock. They're not going away. They want structural change, REAL change, and they aren't going to settles for demagogues like Trump or middle-of-the-roaders like Biden, Buttgieg or Klobuchar. For many of the young people who support him, they see Bernie as the real thing, a politician whose laser-like focus on the disturbing trends of the past 4 decades - environmental degradation, rampant privatization of the commons and a spiraling cost of living with no concomitant increase in wages - whose vision matches their own experience.

  68. @scoff. My 23 year old is pumped about Bernie. And so are his friends. If younger people turn out to vote in sufficient numbers, the White House resident will be out office. A GOTV strategy that focuses on younger people seems more likely to put a Democrat in the White House than efforts targeted to swing voters.

  69. @scoff I am also a Boomer strong for Bernie in 2015 all the way through today. Let our youth decide their future. It is theirs to hold, not ours.

  70. @Pika, history repeatedly has demonstrated that those youth do not show up at the polls. Moreover, the election is already decided in Oregon and 45 other blue and red states in this union. We need a candidate who will convince the boomers and independents in the Midwest (an area whose largest corporate employer is now insurance companies, not auto factories) that they should support the Democratic candidate.

  71. This article reads like satire. The privilege and obliviousness the author has is astounding. Too little Americans stop and ask themselves how the rest of the world views us. Countries like Canada, the U.K., Norway -- pretty much every developed, democratic country -- take for granted the policies and benefits that many Americans somehow convince themselves is "radical." There's nothing radical about universal healthcare. Even the conservative parties in Europe support it. There's nothing radical about free/cheap education or taxing the wealthy far higher than what we do now. The author once again fits the bill with the media's greatest flaw: centrist bias. Things in the media/pundit bubble look great and the status quo works great for them and their friends. They are often unable to see just how broken this country is outside of their affluent bubble. It is a deeply broken country where we somehow can't achieve things that have been achieved in far less wealthy countries long ago. I'm tired of being told that we can't achieve things. I'm tired of being told by people oblivious to their own privilege that things like universal healthcare are radical. This article is an indictment of the author and deeply embarrassing. And it doesn't offer a shred of empirical evidence to back up such a claim. In fact, all evidence suggests Bernie would beat Trump.

  72. @BReed Bernie might win the coasts. Canadians and Europeans do not vote in American elections. And most Americans cannot be taught by democrats to think like Canadians and Europeans. It is always the mistake of Democrats to think that they can talk people into agreeing with them because their ideas are so clear, true and necessary. Even though they may be true clear and necessary.

  73. @BReed Andrew Yang says "Not left not right but forward". The centrist motto "Run in place".

  74. @BReed you're right. Borowitz could have written this!

  75. Curious how Mr. Egan has to reach back more than a century to give us the reason why Sanders shouldn't be nominated. Perhaps he can tell us that if Stephen Douglas had beaten Lincoln in 1860 we wouldn't have had a civil war that cost the lives of 750,000 Americans and black people would continue to be enslaved for who knows how much longer. As far as Trump attacks go, he's already called all the candidates socialist and the Democratic Party in general as being filled with communists so he will continue those attacks no matter who the nominee is. Finally, as to the continuing predictions that Sanders can't win. We heard that back in 2016. I don't know if Sanders would have won but he certainly couldn't have done any worse than Clinton.

  76. Here's a more recent one: How about McGovern....1 state.

  77. @Steve, you write: "Curious how Mr. Egan has to reach back more than a century to give us the reason why Sanders shouldn't be nominated"........ It is strange that you have to go back nearly 80 years (nearly a century) yourself to find a candidate that will change the future. schedule for our President.

  78. @Steve Oh yes he could have done far worse than Clinton, who really only lost by under 100,000 votes in the EC. Sanders the candidate would have taken the full brunt of the Republican attack and have withstood it far less well than Clinton did. The Democratic moderates who voted for Clinton would have held their noses at Sanders and his obnoxious Bernie Bots, believe me --- whoare at it again in this election too. The Trump slander machine would have shredded Sanders as a commie rabble rouser who wants to turn the U.S. into Venezuela. Instead they just stood back and let Sanders defeat Clinton. Saved them a lot of work. They are laughing up their sleeves at Sanders's campaign doing their work for them again and knocking out the only Democrat, Biden, who could give Trump a fight. Which Trump knew, ergo his Ukraine venture. The African Americans will never come out for Sanders (or the other candidates, either) in the numbers and strength they have for Biden. And that's just the beginning of people who find Sanders and his broken-record agenda to be not workable. The Bernie Bots could sulk and stonewall their way into a Republican victory again, and they will never blame themselves when it happens, because they are that myopic.

  79. I want you to be wrong but fear you are right. Biden/Kasich (maybe Biden/Klobuchar) would win. So would Adam Schiff, so would Sherrod Brown. Bernie might win 2 or 3 states. Bernie believes he can win, and I wish he could, but if he wins the nomination Trump wins and the country loses bigley.

  80. @Robert How do you mitigate your statement with the fact that all polling (Dems nationwide, Independents polling, even most of the battlegrounds and head-to-heads vs. Trump), all fundraising, all favorability numbers, all trustworthiness numbers, all of these things say the opposite? Is it a feeling?

  81. Bernie is the only answer to the trump situation that America has found itself. We have been worn down, now we need to rise up. As a NYer, I travel to Pennsylvania in the fall to campaign. In ‘08 we were sent to a more republican area of Scranton to campaign for Obama, even though we were outsiders, we could feel the ground swell. We were sent to democratic Philadelphia in ‘16, knocking on doors, there was a noticeable lack of passion, I knew we were in trouble. We need a huge response to this assault on our democracy. Bernie can do it. He will create new voters. I have also done voter registration every 4 years, this next election will be decided by the 100 million who usually don’t vote and who can be convinced to believe in something different.

  82. @Alexis Adler, with all due respect, one thing history has taught us is not to look for political truths in those on the street knocking on doors for the love of their chosen candidate. Bernie Sanders could draw an even larger electorate in Blue states (but the Democratic candidate already will be winning those electoral votes). This election will be decided in states dominated by private insurance headquarters (I now live by one employing 10,000 people in rural Michigan), coal, and fracking. Sanders is not the guy to win in PA and MI, which means Trump is back in office for another 4 years of environmental armageddon.

  83. @DoctorRPP That's a pretty wild and incorrect premise to base your "Bernie can't win" take on. He performed incredibly in MI in 2016 and polling shows he's still wildly popular there. Not only that, but he is showing promise in battleground polling vs. Trump in Texas, Florida, and the rest of the Rust Belt. HE is the guy who can take back the Rust Belt, the numbers all show that. HE is respected in coal country, no other Dem. is, HE is respected in former steel and manufacturing country, no other Dem. is. It's simply not true that the Dems who supported NAFTA and TPP can send anyone into the Midwest, Rust Belt, and Texas that'll be more effective than Bernie, whose popularity, trustworthiness, and favorability is very high in these places.

  84. @Marc He didn't perform well in Michigan. He didn't perform at all—he wasn't running. The result of a single-party primary election doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the final two-party election.

  85. A more recent analog to Bernie would be George McGovern in 1972. He had a huge, fanatical, following among the young and idealistic. And he got one state in the election.

  86. @John Vesper In 1972, the Vietnam war had driven a wedge between most of organized labor and young people facing the draft. This time, labor and young people are on the same side.

  87. @Eric Stenshoel, you mean organized labor and young people. The majority of union members voted for Trump and recent interviews in UAW locals (carried by this paper) suggest that will again be true regardless who their leadership endorses.

  88. @John Vesper The other analog to Bernie is Ralph Nadar who gave us Bush by syphoning off votes from the Democrats.

  89. The Establishment doesn’t actually think that Bernie can’t win. If they did, you wouldn’t be seeing all these articles panicking at the eleventh hour. They’re scared of what’ll happen to the powers that be if he wins. Remember when the mainstream media laughed Bernie’s candidacy off when he announced his run in 2016? He proved them wrong by seriously threatening the democratic establishment and the Clinton powerhouse. I think he is about to prove them wrong and go all the way to the White House. This is just the first wave of the upcoming plutocratic panic. Settle in, progressives. We’re in for a wild ride.

  90. @Shamanth You’re wrong. I’m a progressive and I would love to see Bernie’s ideas implemented, so I’m not scared of the change he advocates. I am scared of Bernie and the Bernie Bros need to come to grips with the fact that grumpy, intractable old codgers lack electoral appeal. The ideas are one thing, the candidate is another. After all the animus of DJT, it appears what the electorate really wants is a kinder, gentler, credible, and capable president. Grumpy Bernie is not passing that image test.

  91. Spot on. We have to understand the readership of The Times, to fully appreciate the demand for capitulation of a democratic socialist, although one would assume that the readers here are wider read than elsewhere. No Walter Lippmann was right , after he had sampled public opinion in war years. Democracies are vulnerable when ideas are floated by the media among the great unread. Steve Fraser explains the outcome in The Age of Acquiescence: The life and death of American resistance to organize wealth and power.

  92. @No Slack Jack I don't know, he seems to be able to generate a lot of enthusiasm among the young, and huge crowds of young people being hopeful have a lot of electoral appeal for me.

  93. Class Loathing? No that's in your mind, not the minds of Sanders supporters. Have you ever been to Vermont Mr. Egan? Do you think the people there, in New England, almost entirely white, christian and middle class, surrounded by beautiful North American scenery and small town life, with farms, lakes and woodlands are somehow freaks, not "real" americans — because you've implied that. Without the help of a major party machine, Senator Sanders turned his chair in the Senate into a safe seat. How? By consistently and honestly advocating for the things ordinary Vermont Voters hold dear. Living by the golden rule. Compassion. Caring for others. Equality, tradition and freedom. People see that across the nation because 30 years is a pretty consistent message. Sanders stands for the best in us, and we like that.

  94. Much as I wish it was not so I agree with Timothy Egan that of all the candidates Sanders is probably the one that is easiest to beat by Trump. In a general election he may end up with even more votes than Hillary in blue states but he will lose the electoral college, so we will end up with an even less popular Trump for the next 4 years. Bernie fans will vote for him so he will end up with at least 30% of the primary voters. Given that the other 70% will be distributed among at least another 4 candidates there is a good chance Sanders will prevail, like Trump did in the Republican primaries. That scenario is a disaster for the US if the Senate does not change hands, four more years of Trump and McConnell will take at least a generation to recover from, if ever. Given the compressed primary schedule there is only one month left to prevent that by the other candidates dropping out except at most two. Sanders has done the country a great service by forcing Democrats to face the fact that some fundamental change is needed to make the US into true democratic country not beholden to plutocrats. But by persisting in his candidacy he is making it even more difficult to achieve that goal.

  95. Absolutely correct. And even if by some bizarre chance he did win he could not govern. He would never be able to retain the loyalty of the Democrats like Trump has the Republicans. No imaginable Congress over next 8 years is going to pass single payer mandatory Medicare for all. And that is the only thing Bernie has thought or talked about for the last 30 years.

  96. "So-and-so can't win"? If the last four years have taught us nothing else, it should be the folly of such assertions.

  97. @Bob Sacamano Right! And the last 12 years if you count Obama.

  98. A Bernie Sanders pushing Medicare For All, but first step is to implement Medicare For All Who Don't Already Have A Private Equivalent, would "beat Donald Trump like a drum", to use a phrase from Joe Biden. Same for Elizabeth Warren. Despite some grumbles from the right about free college, taxing the wealthy (not so much grumbling as might be expected, though), immigration (open borders!), Green New Deal, and other initiatives, M4A will be the policy that gives trump the biggest chance to squeak another one by any otherwise Democratic shoe-in opponent. There are Big Ideas a Presidential candidate can run on and, if not win based on them, at least not turn off too many voters who just can't bring themselves to support such bigness. There are other Big Ideas that can only happen from an elected President that proves capable and popular, and thus earns enough cachet to drag the country with her or him - with some kicking and screaming - into bigness. FDR's New Deal, I think, came about that way: I haven't researched what his campaign platform was before he was elected. I don't remember Obama pushing a fully realized ACA proposal when he was running; his Big Idea was Yes We Can/Hope, and he made the country believe that was doable. Now, more than ever, we can't afford to end up with a Trump four more years. Unless someone can do an Obama-like break out, the Democrats can't afford to take the chance of losing in November.

  99. @Barry Williams, I agree with your strong argument. I am not a spring Chicken myself, so I also find it unrealistic that an 80-year old president is even the right choice for FDR like Big Ideas that take 8 years to even start working.

  100. If a columnist really opposes Trump and his Republican gang of supporters, he should not be using their arguments about how Sanders is a crazy "Socialist". For the most part, the proposals of Sanders and Warren are things which either existed in this country before Reagan or exist now in other countries where capitalism flourishes. Someone who thinks that the effective control of this country by big corporations and Wall Street has to be changed should probably be advocating for Republican candidates, if not Trump. Maybe Egan should come out in the open for a repeat run of Mitt Romney.

  101. @skeptonomist Last paragraph should read "does not have to be changed" instead of "has to be changed"

  102. @skeptonomist That is NOT the point. Sanders and Warren, for all their good “technical” intentions, are NOT audible by the majority of American voters. Period.

  103. Excellent comment. Now it’s time for Bernie and Warren to step down. I have absolutely no interest in Biden on himself… BUT WHAT DO WE WANT ? Vote Sanders or Warren and congratuler ourselves how righteous we are while watching American society turning more conflictual and divided while nothing is done about the challenges of our future during four more years ? Or vote for the only candidate that can defeat Trump and start working NOW at healing this country and address the challenges facing our nation : how we relate to each group and how do we grasp what must be done to live together in a viable environment ?

  104. I am generally a fan of Timothy Egan's columns but he ignores the fact that the "Bernie is unelectable" narrative is something amplified and pushed by elements of the Democratic party and donors who oppose him for policy reasons.

  105. @JNC primarily readjusting the tax rates so that rich pay more. The billionaire's tax is what propelled Bloomberg into the race whether he admits it or not.

  106. Egan has it wrong about Sanders’ appeal. It is not in taking money away from the rich, it’s in returning power to working people. The rich are a footnote to Sanders’ emphasis on the people of this country, and on the value of their labor. Hillary lost because she couldn’t admit that the country was broken, but it was, and is. No more denial. And stop pretending Sanders is such a socialist. Going by his policy ideas he’s a Roosevelt Democrat.

  107. @Jeremiah Crotser And that's the way his campaign should market him, as a Roosevelt Democrat.

  108. We liberals have always wondered about Trump’s loyal “base”: what do they see in this guy?The same question about Bernie’s appeal gets the same answer. BothTrump and Bernie are gifted demagogues. Both appeal to the anxieties and dreams of their constituency projecting “authenticity “. Both identify enemies responsible for all that ails us.”Authenticity” for Trump even though he is a confirmed liar, because “he says what we are thinking.” Bernie’s authenticity is presumed by all. In reality, Trump can deliver on many of his promises to each of his targeted audiences. He can deTAXify the rich and toxify the environment, he can deregulate capitalism and regularize divisiveness and bigotry; he can deliver “righteous” justice to his unholy allies the (tel)evangelicals. Without a wall paid for by Mexico, he has done much to deny hope of freedom to the tired, poor and huddled masses. Bernie, on the other hand, offers the unachievable, unaffordable and by many, unwanted solutions while denigrating practicality and comprise. In his many years of service he has been unable to legislate his agenda or build a progressive coalition. BErnie and Liz still serve us well in the Senate. Both well represent the interests of the common man with integrity; they not only represent the conscience of the Senate but they are a check on the monied, special interests. They can advance progressive legislation. Trump’s base is satisfied . If Bernie wins his destined failures will disappoint.

  109. @Asher Fried "We liberals have always wondered about Trump’s loyal “base”: what do they see in this guy?" This summarizes the problem with many liberals (I'm a liberal, by the way): They have been unable to imagine why They don't think like Us. And it's the same on the other side: "What's wrong with those idiot Libs? Why can't they see the common sense of conservatism?"

  110. So Tim (and all dems who don't think Bernie can beat Trump), it's election day and it's Bernie against Trump. What are you gonna do? Stay home? Vote for Trump? There is only one issue I can think of that might make some dems stay home (very few will vote for Trump). And that is the issue of Israel, and Bernie's support of fairness for the Palestinians. I think that Bernie's position on Israel is far better for long term peace in the middle east than any other candidate's, but that aside (and I realize that for some people that is a big aside), I see Bernie beating Trump pretty handily because most all dems see the need to defeat Trump. Bernie has already said he'd support whoever the nominee is. Y tu, Mr. Egan (and everyone else reading)?

  111. @Joel Schwartz, I guess you skipped the reading the article part that usually precedes a trip to the comment page. The author specifically provides weaknesses in Bernie's position (and your Israeli concern is not even on the list but a fair addition). The next election will be decide in only 4 states (we know the outcomes in the other Blue and Red states), but Bernie has huge weaknesses in the other states based on his opposing fracking in PA, euthanizing private insurance in the insurance-employment centers of central Michigan and the Midwest. I will go to the polls to vote for Bernie in November, but I am certain that Trump's defeat of Bernie is no less certain than Reagan's defeat of Mondale in 1984.

  112. I disagree, Mr. Egan. I genuinely think that Bernie can win, because he is a good, decent human being who is not involved in politics for personal gain. Which candidate is the best foil against Trump once the general election begins? Whose personality and record provide Trump with the least room to draw contrasts that undermine the candidate's honesty, integrity, and political strength? Who can credibly make the case that Trump was a fake populist, and that the American people can trust them to be a true populist and fight for their interests? Bernie can. Among top-tier candidates (Biden, Warren, and Bernie) only Bernie can successfully discredit any flimsy accusation by the Trump campaign that he is part of the establishment. Bernie can use his rhetoric to court disaffected Obama-Trump voters and non-voters (largely working class and voters of color). Bernie can win.

  113. @rupert1994 Rupert, agreed, Bernie is a decent and credible person, but compared to DJT, all the Dems candidates are. Please don’t take this badly, but there is one major flaw in your argument: You assume that the majority of voters and electors want an outsider. In the end, I suspect most likely Democratic voters want competence, credibility, and integrity. Those are all needs proven by a record of established service for the greater good, “greater” being an operative term referring to a great and BROAD appeal. That is going to take someone from the establishment.

  114. Author believe that people say NO to better wages, affordable healthcare and debt relief because the Republicans will use magical word "socialism". Honestly that is laughable. And the "strong economy" argument is another weak one when even 47% of low income Republicans admit that current economy is hurting them. And if you worried about price tag of M4A I can assure you it will be cheaper then current system. How could I know? Single payer system is far cheaper in every single country that has it. It's just the author who doesn't want Bernie Sanders to win so he is projecting his belief to the whole country.

  115. Timothy, as you well know we are living in ominous times. This next election is crucial. Little by little we are seeing the end of a Constitutional democracy. We are watching not only an unhinged "president" abuse and exploit all that is decent, civil, ethical, moral, just, and even lawful, but we are also observing with angst a Republican Party walk lock-step with Mr. Trump to destroy American principles. Truthfully, at this point I do not know who or what can defeat Donald Trump. We are not living by the old rules anymore. It is a not-so brave new world we are enduring. Let us sit back and watch our Democratic primaries play out. Let us speak. If it be Sanders, Biden, Warren, even Bloomberg, or another, let it be. In spite of their different ages, they are equal in their ability to beat Trump. If we lose again, we can say a final good-bye to our health and the health of our environment as well as our social and economic safety nets, or what is left of them.

  116. For a very long time now, we keep getting these sage assessments from writers like Mr. Egan. A little humility would be so refreshing. Just to hear them admit that unless there is a foolproof rigging of the election in place and the writer has firsthand knowledge of it, no one can say with certainty who will win. Case in point, Trump 2016, which surprised everyone. I am trying to hold on to the optimism I have left that the majority of voters will rise up and send Trump to the dustbin of history, in a just world, that should happen. Keeping us together to do that is hard enough, but made much harder when day after day we get these judgments about candidates who want to offer more support for those who need it most. None of us who are comfortable and secure have reason to fear that. The danger is in forgetting the risks we face with Donald Trump and the Republicans in charge. They are not going to get better.

  117. @Margo Stone With this line of argument Trump wins at all times. Many voters are keen on Trump because they still believe in the trickle down thing, because they are enthralled by his demagoguery, because he has all the luck with an excellent economic situation (mostly thanks to Obama…), because he’s good at stirring up crowds, because his gross and crass lies are swallowed by his voters, and all the etc, etc… … you know as well as I. Worse ! The man still ranks around 40% approval rates, something unheard of since the last 30 years in most Western democracies. PLEASE, DO NOT DELUDE YOURSELF.

  118. @vincent7520 Vincent, what do you think is my argument? There is not a Democratic candidate yet, so Trump is running against all of them. I expressed my hope that Trump can be defeated by getting fewer votes, also saying I reject the certainty with which some declare who will win, it is not a sure thing until we get the votes counted. 40% is still less than 60%, I could say it en francais, si vous voulez.

  119. Many non voters will vote, he will still get many change voters. Bernie needs to win and can win.

  120. @hoffmanje Trump disbanded his Voter Fraud Commission because it was a fraud.

  121. Well now we’ve had a column declaring that Sanders can win, a column fretting that he might not be able to win and a column declaring that he can’t win. Can we now put this to rest and get back to a discussion of the issues? When we do that, Sanders has better than a good chance, he’s leading the way.

  122. @Jeremiah Crotser He may have chances to win the Dem primaries. He has NO chance at all vs Trump. Sorry, simple as that.

  123. Sometimes I wonder if columnists and pundits ever read anything but headlines. Grabbing onto the latest zinger and amplifying it, reinforcing the stereotypes and ignoring any substance. Playing right into Trump’s con by supplying a few quotes for his enablers. Stop warning us against our candidates that have a clear vision of life after Trump where we face up to climate change and corruption and work on empowering everyone to work together for the good of us all, not the chosen few.

  124. @Gus That is NOT the issue at all. The point is clear and very very simple. Knowing Sanders has 100% chances of loosing against Trump, would you prefer to live 4 more years under this presidency with deterioration of climate regulations increasing or do you accept to lower momentarily your expectations and vote for the candidate who is most likely able to win over Trump ?

  125. @vincent7520 Except that numerous polls show Sanders beating Trump by as wide a margin as Biden, and more than Warren.

  126. @vincent7520 You and Egan don't know anything about who can win or not. Egan and his ilk thought Trump wouldn't even get the Republican nomination. There is no "normal" American politics in the age of Trump.

  127. What a lot of people overlook is that there is a segment of the electorate, made up of people who are struggling economically, for whom voting Republican is aspirational -- "I may not be a rich guy but I can vote like one, some of the good stuff will eventually come my way". That that isn't true is beside the point: the trickle-down myth has immense staying power.

  128. @M Johnston Sadly yes. The Democrat radicals, despite their eagerness and good intentions, are playing a very dangerous game akin to those who said in 2016 they “would rather turn green” than vote for Clinton.

  129. @M Johnston So called "Social Status" is a factor. Have seen some real clunkers - in 2016 - with Trump/Pence bumper stickers. A few of them still have those stickers in place. Same cars.

  130. What’s the alternative? Whomever gets the Democratic presidential nomination, I will vote for. And, I am not alone. Given that many Democrats are not progressives, and many still remember Bernie’s serious lack of support of Hillary Clinton when she received the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders is not very popular among this large Democratic electorate constituency. Given the choice of another 4 years of Trump, and Republicans’ in senatorial power, voting for an air conditioner (or whoever wins the Democratic nomination) is a more than a likelihood!!!

  131. @Rainne Sanders campaigned vigorously for Hillary Clinton during the fall of 2016. They appeared on the campaign trail together. And Clinton thanked him for his support.

  132. @Rainne Bernie campaigned for Hillary, especially throughout the midwest, and especially in states she declined to visit. Saying he did not support her is nonsense that not based in fact. Check your facts and you will see that Bernie DID support her. Don't blame Bernie for Trump!

  133. @Rainne So, the narrative that "Bernie did nothing to help Hillary" is getting old. In 2008, when Obama ended up as the nominee, Hillary grudgingly "helped" him by promoting him in 10 campaign events. TEN. When HRC became the nominee in 2016, Bernie Sanders "helped" her by promoting her in 41 campaign events....FORTY ONE....who really helped? Who recognized that keeping the White House out of the hands of a Reality TV star was pretty important despite the fact that there had been some pretty shady actions to take Bernie out of the running. Instead of sour grapes, he went out and campaigned for her to the tune of 4 times the amount of support she showed for Barack Obama. He did NOT show a serious LACK of support for her after she became the nominee. He did far more for her than she did for Obama...please review the facts.

  134. Implementing the Green New Deal in its entirety is the most urgent thing that whoever wins must do. Everything else comes in a distant second. So far, only Bernie has endorsed it and committed to making it happen. When we can no longer drink the water, breathe the air or escape the coming fires and floods, nothing else will matter.

  135. @lrb945, that would be one perspective on the best green choice, but you overlook the harm that another 4 years of Trump will do to our environment (and the world with no US leadership). We may not get Bernie, but we need someone on his side of the aisle because the alternative is the fast lane to the fires and floods you mention.

  136. @lrb945 There is a difference between what MUST be done and what CAN be done (to flatter your radicalism note this is taken from Engels…). Before getting to what must be done for the future of the country we have to assess what we can do. It is a well known fact the Green New Deal is seen as “socialism” by most Americans and thus is a strong repellent against all who claim it is the only way. What CAN be done now is electing a new President who knows environmental issues are not a whim from the elite and who will take strong measures to make this country united again in order to look forward. Saying Sanders must be elected with the Green New Deal agenda (which he has not fully endorsed) is the surest path to MASSIVE DISASTER.

  137. @lrb945 Climate change has long been underway. We even had a Little Ice Age in the distant past. So, part of what we see now may actually be a natural phenomenon. Don't scream. Do believe human activity has been a significant factor. But politically, we have a right now disaster with Cadet "Sharpie Bone Spurs. First things first - Dump Trump. VOTE!!!

  138. This was spot on. Democrats need to focus on cutting the cancer (Trump) out. Then, the body (the US ) can heal. More progressive agendas can happen but have to win first.

  139. Mr. Egan, Such an interesting column! Listing all the reasons Bernie can’t be elected and all the fine qualities of Trump that got him elected!

  140. Dear Mr. Egan, I'll follow my informed conscience and you follow yours. And Bernie or Elizabeth are precisely what this country needs. I will vote Elizabeth for the primary and be happy to vote for Bernie if he should become the nominee. I would love to see them join forces as a ticket.

  141. @Dissatisfied I think the point is not what the country needs but what it can get. It's very difficult to bounce an incumbent President, and more so by trying to do so with impractical wild-eyed idealism matched with an utter lack of campaign savvy.

  142. @Rocky - Utter lack of campaign savvy? Bernie is raising more money than those that sup at the big money trough and is polling first in many polls. How is his campaign not savvy?

  143. @Rocky A ticket of Bernie/Warren would trounce Trump. Biden is not a sure thing. Everyone else is an after thought.

  144. The question is, can any Democrat win without the wholehearted support of social media? Can any Dem win without Fox News? Is the White House the only race that matters? Dems are hyper-focused on the Presidency, but they should be equally focused on taking the Senate and keeping the House. Our current problems did not start in the White House, but in the House, and the Senate. That is where the focus should be.

  145. @et.al.nyc The Democratic Party always makes election season about the presidency; and nothing more. Republicans figured out a long time ago that if they could control the state legislature they could shape electoral maps and win congressional seats in the House. It makes no difference who the president is if Congress is determined to "make the president fail". (See Mitch McConnell re: President Obama). If the Democratic Party ever stressed winning at state and local levels, and made elections about House seats instead of messaging targeting the presidency alone, Democrats would have generational dominance. Perhaps for the Republican lite Democrats who took control of the Democratic Party under Bill Clinton a progressively minded Democratic Party is scarier than a fascist leaning Republican Party any day?

  146. Amen! I couldn't agree with you more, and you did even mention that he is profoundly unfamiliar with what is basic to Econ 101.

  147. Mr. Egan writes as if he has no children. The planet's oceans are heating up at a rate faster than originally predicted by climate scientists. And the Democratic Party has lost three elections with allegedly moderate Democrats as their candidates. Has he forgotten Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton? Isn't the cliched definition of insanity doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results? It's not hyperbole to say the planet is on fire or that we have a direct pipeline for black and brown men to private prisons. The circumstances are not the same today. William Jennings Bryan has nothing to do with the current argument for a Sanders candidacy.

  148. @Barbara Elovic Just a reminder -- Perception is 90% of reality. Perception - Bernie = Socialism. Third rail.

  149. "The United States has never been a socialist country, even when it most likely should have been one, during the robber baron tyranny of the Gilded Age or the desperation of the Great Depression, and it never will be." If you are interpreting the literal definition of socialism which is the dissolution of private property and collective ownership of the means of production, then yes you are correct. That isn't what Sanders is advocating for, and this hasn't been implemented on a large scale in any country since Leninist Russia. This style of economics failed horribly, but isn't what Sanders represents. If you are meaning social democratic policies then you are engaging in historical revisionism. Until Reagan, we had an ultra-progressive tax system where, in some years, the highest marginal tax rate was 90%. The minimum wage was the equivalent of just under $20/hr when adjusting for inflation. The Republicans of the day would be at least, center left today on economic issues. Richard Nixon almost passed a minimum basic income (essentially UBI that Yang talks about) of $10,000 a year. We saw the greatest expansion of social welfare programs from the 1930s until the 1970s and then their repeal in the 80s. So yes, policies like this have been implemented in the US before. Yes, the American public was once very friendly to this style of economics. The pendulum swung to the right to neoliberal economics in the 80s with Reagan. Now, the discourse has swung left again.

  150. Timothy Egan talks about how Sanders’ views never change. Meanwhile, he presents his own tired and entirely predictable observations about what the United States needs or is willing to entertain. There is no possibility of big change in his vision, only a hankering to go back to an imagined decent past - the very one that produced the current state of affairs. The situation is dire, both nationally and internationally, and it calls for the major changes contained in Sanders’ platform

  151. All I took away from this piece is that Egan, who has been untouched by the slow-grinding economic and social malaise of American life (and who presumably has good health insurance), hasn't really grasped the depth of frustration with establishment politics. Even after three years of Trump, he can't see how much scorn ordinary Americans have for the neoliberal consensus they've suffered under. And he sees their exasperation with the fundamental (and unsustainable) inequities in society as little more than an opportunity to get riled up on "endorphins." Egan sees us as a country basically filled with status-quo loving moderates, even though the establishment candidate (McCain, Romney, then Hillary) has lost the last three elections, and the swing voters who decided them were drawn to a message -- real or not -- of economic populism. Of course, his analysis hinges on the idea that Bernie is not a "broad-vision optimist" but a "fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist." This itself depends on facile comparisons between Bernie's DemSoc and the hard socialism (communism) of bread lines and central planning. What Egan and the neolibs need to understand is that DS is just the system that the rest of the modern, devleoped West already has: free enterprise and capitalism with a common-sense, humanistic approach to health care and education. If the Dems want to win in 2020, they can't keep parroting the GOP line that something so ordinary is somehow radical and unpopular.

  152. @Austin Seriously. We basically have two center-right parties (though the GOP has some far right fringes). The boogeyman of democratic socialism is basically just slightly left of center in the rest of the West.

  153. @Ryan You're exactly right. Americans need to realize how pervasive (and normal and functional) Bernie's ideas are in the rest of the West, and how compatible they are with free enterprise to boot. Egan is also naive to think that if the Dems run another candidate they'll avoid being slandered as Venezuela-style communists by the GOP. Trump describes the whole patry as being "overtaken by radicals" -- he's been telegraphing this strategy since the midterms and said as much at his rally in Iowa last night. It doesn't matter if we end up with Biden or Klobuchar, he'll say the same thing. But neoliberals somehow believe they can blunt this rhetoric by basically appeasing it.

  154. Reagan was a “neoliberal.” Look it up. The Democratic candidates are not “neoliberals.” If you want progress, elect a Democrat and be strategic about it. Flipping the game board to telegraph your emotional distaste with “politics as usual” will only get you four more years of Trump. It’s time for Democrats to think strategically.

  155. Generally agree re Sanders. Problem is, the recent batch of "broad-vision optimists" we've elected from the "Democratic" Party has been Rockefeller Republican in drag, and a deserved cynicism has set in place about the party establishment's integrity. What do we do when the party ostensibly in opposition to the Reagan Restoration isn't after all?

  156. I could not disagree more. Buttigieg, the most “broad-vision optimist” on the list is well left of Obama. There is a progressive-fueled myth of the “corporate Democrat” in play here. Even as Democrats move left, progressives move the goal posts. Progressives need to learn not to let idealistic perfection get in the way of solid progress and focus on winning, rather than losing with self-righteous indignation. Four more years of the current administration will not advance progressive objectives.

  157. 'Bernie Sanders Can’t Win' Indeed. But, barring major intervention by the Dems 'black hand', sort of as in 2016, he is right on the way to get nomination and then gloriously finish his political career behind Trump. Bottom line - of all the Dems so badly clamoring for the place in the ring vs. Trump, none has any promising chances of winning, despite the herculean efforts of the majority of media, now totally openly in the services of one of the parties. But, there is 2024, so heads up!

  158. We Americans have lived in a mixed capitalist-socialist economy our entire lives. Candidates like Sanders and Warren stress upping the proportion of socialism in our current unsatisfactory recipe. Others like Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar want to fiddle less with the recipe. The Scandinavian countries also have mixed capitalist-socialist economies, only their proportion of socialism is significantly higher than ours. Sanders is not nearly so radical as critics make him sound. And he doesn't do himself any favors by describing himself as "democratic socialist," because that makes him sound more radical than he is. We're just arguing about recipe portions, folks.

  159. Bernie is in a far better position to beat Trump than Biden is, for three reasons. 1. Bernie will turn out young people in historic numbers. 2. Bernie stands for a positive vision: an America that works for all of us. He's stood for this his whole career. Voters are realizing it. This is a unifying vision, as opposed to Biden's "I'm not Trump." 3. Trump will rip Biden apart in the general contest. Biden is already faltering, and has about a million skeletons in his closet and a lot of the corruption allegations have serious weight behind them. Bernie is the most principled politician of our era, and that's exactly the kind of candidate you want running against Trump's uber-corruption. The Biden v. Trump and Bernie v. Trump polls has them in a margin-of-error tie (a 1% difference), but as Bernie starts to win states and the false narrative that somehow Biden is more electable is increasingly revealed as false, Bernie will continue to surge ahead.

  160. @Peter Kalmus Nope. I disagree. Socialism a 3rd rail in America. Bernie a curmudgeon with a loud voice. Lifelong ideologue. Dangerous. Sorry.

  161. @Peter Kalmus Obama turned out young people in record numbers, but Bernie is no Obama. Next, Egan just told you how Republicans will rip Bernie apart. He spelled it out for you.

  162. Stopping at point one: If young progressives don’t turn out full force for any candidate opposing Donald Trump than they deserve the lifetime of consequences they’ll get.

  163. This is exactly what the media tried to convince Democratic primary voters in 2016, when Bernie had better head-to-head poll numbers against Trump. Perhaps "pundits can't get it right" would be the better take.

  164. Do you mean 2016, when Sanders lost to Clinton by two million votes in the primaries. And really, don’t embarrass yourself by keening that Bernie was robbed.

  165. The Egan recipe, joining droves of other columnists repeating the same tired old schtick of 30 years ago. Well, I want to make a more original suggestion. And that is that the people in this Democratic field best placed to win are those who are operating at the greatest distance from the Democratic Party structure. That means Bernie Sanders, Mike Bloomberg and to a certain extent Elizabeth Warren. A key problem that everyone misses is that running against the Democratic Party is almost as popular as running against the Republicans. Oppo research doesn't have the value it did, at least not after Trump. It's all about whether you're on the voters' "side" or not.

  166. I think the bigger Sanders Problem is: what if he wins? Then Democrats will be permanently identified as a party of ideas that probably won’t pass Congress and that people will hate if they do. I think losing is the least of his problems

  167. Nothing is permanent

  168. I like most of his his opinions, but Bernie as candidate in 2020 would repeat for Millennials what Boomers experienced with McGovern in 1972.

  169. I find Mr. Egan's analysis thorough and spot on. While I'd vote for Senator Sanders a million times over Emperor Trump, I fear Sanders v. Trump could wind up being a remake of McGovern v. Nixon. We can't risk a 2nd (or maybe a 3rd or 4th) Trump presidency. We just can't.

  170. While Bernie is a very scary character in so many ways, perhaps the worst of Bernie is his isolationism - so reminiscent of the isolationism of the 1930s. Tens of millions of people who don't want to vote for Trump, could not vote for Bernie either for the reasons in this column and his isolationism.

  171. @David What's scary about wanting people to have healthcare, access to public education, better wages, and a pristine environment?

  172. @Ryan It concerns me that Sanders would govern in much the same way as Trump, through the use of extra-Constitutional executive orders.

  173. @Jeff That's a possibility I can't discount. You might be correct. If he does win (and I am under no illusions that he will), my hope is that he will be able to pass parts of his agenda rather than governing by fiat. Like you, I'm not a big fan of executive orders. I also realize large parts of Bernie's agenda will have zero traction in the Senate. I think Biden is comfortable enough to where I can use my Bernie vote here in the CO primary and then gear up for Joe one it's time for the general, anyway.

  174. I would like every single person to remember that 2.8 million people did NOT want this president and that the electoral college and the way the country is ruled by that broken system during an election is the reason we have this mess today. The majority of people want a moderate, sane, non-chaotic president that has a foreign policy that puts the USA as the leader of the world, cultivates our allies, works to promote peace and democracy the world over. A great many people do feel that the system is rigged against them and they don't have a chance. The majority of people would be glad to be a billionaire also. So, how can you expect people who want to be billionaires to condemn billionaires? They won't. They admire them. That's what 45 represents to a lot of his base: a guy who cheats and wins, just as they would if they were president. No one person when elected is going to fly in on a white horse and save the country in distress. It is going to take all of us working together to get out of this mess.

  175. @mouseone "The majority of people want a moderate, sane, non-chaotic president that has a foreign policy that puts the USA as the leader of the world, cultivates our allies, works to promote peace and democracy the world over." I'm a liberal cosmopolitan from NYC and even I wouldn't have the arrogance to speak for the majority or pretend I knew what they were thinking.

  176. @Number23 . . .thank you. My assumption was pure hubris.

  177. Oh Timothy, you aren't going to get much support here in the progressive echo chamber. Bernie is their guy!! But out here in the hinterlands, Bernie barely registers. I've been a Democrat since I was 10 and watched the Democratic convention. I found it thrilling. That was back when the convention chose the candidate. I'm also a "card carrying 60s style liberal" who thinks along with Teddy Kennedy that "the dream shall never die." And I support Joe Biden. Thank you and Amen.

  178. @Katherine I'm not sure progressives are super concerned with carrying Georgia. I still think Biden is the likely nominee, but this is what primaries are for: allowing people to vote for those candidates whose ideas they support. Sanders will win a few states (possibly IA, probably NH, maybe even my home state of CO), which means he registers beyond the "progressive echo chamber."

  179. @Ryan We have Stacy Abrams here in Georgia and that will command a lot of attention in the coming years. But I agree that progressives aren't concerned with Georgia. We have many African Americans here, you know, the backbone of the Democratic party, and the ones I know support Biden.

  180. @Katherine I don't disagree at all or discount that. I'm certainly not going to tell African American voters what's best for them. Like I said, I think Biden will win the nomination, and I will be giving money and volunteering and voting for him when that happens. My only point was that Bernie registers in places beyond Brooklyn and Seattle. He may end up as the only other candidate who will win a primary this season. If Joe gives us a shot in Georgia, then even better. Whoever our nominee is will have my full support.

  181. We need not look as far back as William Jennings Bryan’s three defeats to see what happens when the Democrats nominate a passionate, well-intentioned candidate with overly ambitious plans. In 1972, months after the Watergate burglary, Richard Nixon thrashed George McGovern.

  182. @Howard Udis And how much of a chance would Donald Trump have of getting elected 50 years ago -- absolutely zero. He wouldn't have lasted a day without his campaign being derailed by scandal or obvious incompetence. Yet he's president in 2020. Maybe the political climate has changed since 1972?

  183. This is nothing against Bernie Sanders personally, but Trump ran as someone who would upend the political system. Sanders, although worlds above Trump, is essentially running as someone who would upend the political system. I think what we need at this moment is someone who will simply make governance work again. Not the time for revolution.

  184. It's not class loathing. It's a loathing of a flawed economic system. Bernie may not have all the answers but he clearly sees the problems and this is what is resonating with people. More and more people are seeing him as someone who get it. He knows that the system is rigged and can explain how it is rigged. Extreme income inequality unchecked always leads to revolution eventually. That's how it's worked since the beginning of time.

  185. @William Democrats don't loathe the rich: we just don't want them controlling our country and our lives.

  186. I had supported Buttigieg as the best candidate. I still think he is. Then Joe Biden because for me the single issue that allows any other issue to have any meaning whatsoever is to get the current president out of the White House. But now, with some regrets, I feel that on the whole Elizabeth Warren -- with her creds as a previous Republican and her actual plans to do something possible, and her standing as a life-long woman who will draw chicks and get out the base, has the best long shot chance to win this thing that we have. I like Bernie but he is McGovern on steroids. Liked, even loved, McGovern, too, who was also shellacked by a barely human force for darkness in an election. That's why the President and other Republicans keep saying how worried they are about Bernie. They'd love to run against him. WISH we had Sherrod Brown, with maybe Kamala Harris for Veep. We don't.

  187. Can we please stop conflating taxing the rich and broadening the social safety net as "socialism" with a capital S? Stimulus programs for the working poor and the elderly have been around in America since FDR. No one is controlling the means of production here. We're simply suggesting that if you're making exorbitant profits that perhaps (a) some of that money should go back to maintaining the public infrastructure and education your workers need to be productive on your company's behalf, and (b) to pay for the things charities don't cover. Like, for example, mental health care for the poor and homeless. It should be illegal for companies raking in billions to pay no federal taxes. It should be illegal for profitable multi-national organizations to take government subsidies. It should be illegal to give tax breaks to profitable companies whose employees use public transit, fire, and police services simply to lure them away from other cities. So, until we see a day when employees are elevated to a stakeholder status every bit as important as shareholders, then the government should step in to equalize the playing field and enforce taxation rules.

  188. Timothy Egan is right. Like it or not "Politics is the art of the possible," and the kind of change that is wanted and needed--ending global warming and environmental pollution, greater income equality and access to healthcare and the like--is only achievable if you have the votes. Victory lies in a willingness to acknowledge and celebrate our common humanity and recognize the individual struggles people in different circumstances face; it also requires us to acknowledge that we don't all address our trials in a similar manner and with an identical world view. Purity of ideology and a sense of "virtuous us versus the bad them" outrage will only lead to crushing defeat. Once elected every president faces a practical problem that may thwart any grand plans: unless you control both houses of the legislature and the White House or have supermajorities in Congress, you must have compromise and collegiality, rather than rely on demonizing the opposition. My greatest concern is that if a moderate is nominated, the self-righteous Bernie Bros will stay home or make a third party protest vote. An untethered Trump in a second term is the worst of possible outcomes and Sanders' followers may be his final enablers. That would be the greatest disservice to Sanders' supporters' values--and to the country--of all.

  189. The unstated in Egan's good piece is that a campaign which starts in a negative position, having to explain itself - we're social democrats, not socialists! - will lose. Voters have no appetite for such nuance, and Trump (sadly) is a master at tarring and feathering a person with moniker or label. Bernie = Socialist is an unchangeable impression in voters' minds. A Sanders' general election campaign may bring 1-2 million voters out, but cause 3 million moderate/ conservative/ independent voters to stay home.

  190. @Rashaverak Yes but "I'm not Trump!" is a pretty good rallying cry too.

  191. "Democrats win with broad-vision optimists who still shake up the system — Franklin Roosevelt, of course, but also Obama." How did Obama shake up the system? A large amount of support for Bernie stems from disappointment that Obama did not shake up the system as he said he would.

  192. @Michael Sander Bernie wasn’t wise enough to get what damage undermining Obama would do at a critical time, pre-2010 elections. But he saw a way to edge his way onto the national stage (tapped into the worst in us but hid it behind a more noble-seeming cause), at such a terrible cost.

  193. as a black Democrat let me tell you buddy how Obama shook up the system. first by being black in an office no other black person ever held. second by saving fai!ing capitalism in 2008-10. third by reducing unemployment from levels unseen since the great depression. fourth by being the only presidential candidate to win a MAJORITY of the vote twice since Eisenhower. fifth by delivering health care reform through Obamacare so that numbers of uninsured Americans fell by unprecedented millions. sixth by the number and breadth of his appointments of blacks and women to important poditions. seventh by his environmental and affirmative action steps through executive order. eighth by the moral example he set in his personal life and his high standards of probity in office. and that's off the top of my head. how dare you question that.

  194. About time someone said it. If Bernie is the Nominee, Trump wins the Election. If that’s what you want Bros, have at it. This Boomer supports Biden AND Warren, hopefully together. As the great philosopher once said : “ You can’t always get want you want, but sometimes you get what you NEED “. What we NEED is Trumps REMOVAL.

  195. Hanging on to the past can be comforting, but it is ultimately self-defeating. Bernie 2020.

  196. @Steve Bernie IS the past. Crazy how that gets swept aside because people don’t want to do the hard work of really studying even recent history and have gotten so skilled at taking shortcuts that let them ignore details they don’t want to see.

  197. I'd vote for Bernie in November, but don't think he can beat Trump for a singular reason. He could easily win the popular vote just like Hillary, but lose in the Electoral College where working-class whites give Trump a far disproportionate advantage. The only number that counts is 270. The election goes through Oh., Pa., Mi., Wi. and Fl. Trump won all 5 in 2016. Are they really going to switch their votes for a "socialist?" I can practically see the GOP tv ads now, over and over. In the Ca. Primary on Super Tuesday my plan is to vote for the Democrat polls show will beat Trump in the battleground states. Remember, no issues important to Dems and the majority of Americans will see the light of day if Trump is re-elected.

  198. Listen closely to Mr. Egan: the candidate may echo your sentiments perfectly, but this is absolutely and totally meaningless if he/she loses the elections. Winning is everything! Is there still a candidate that can win?

  199. Timothy Egan is one of my favorite authors and a brilliant man. This is the best column I've read concerning the folly of making Sanders our nominee. Thank you Mr. Egan, for writing a clear-headed, common sense article. I'll be sharing it with everyone I know.

  200. Bernie Sanders energizes his base and engages less likely voters in the same way that Trump did. Clinton's loss in 2016 was a push-pull effect - democratic voters were not energized by her message, some couldn't imagine that a many like Trump could win, but equally importantly, people who mostly ignored politics identified with Trump emotionally. I won't say I have great love for this type of voter, who is motivated more by emotional engagement with a candidate but who otherwise finds politics "boring". I think they abdicate great moral responsibilities when they don't honor the sacrifices and heroism of countless men and women by participating in their government. But in the present era, we need to engage this type of voter to win. And Sanders brings much more than hot air to the table. His ideas are sound, and consistent. Yes, the right-wing media will turn up the "socialism" knob to 11, and break it off - but anyone who is uncritically accepting of this characterization at this point is already drowning in Kool-aid. Do you think Fox or OANN is going to be kinder and gentler towards Joe Biden? Who do you think in the Democratic field has the strongest grassroots and virtual presence, which are the types of engagement far more important to persuadable voters than mainstream TV news? After 2016 I hope we all look askance at anyone proclaiming who "cannot" win an election. Sorry Bret, but I don't trust your math on this one.

  201. Sorry but your premise is wrong. Bernie Sanders can totally win. How do I know that? Because I'm voting for him, and people like me don't support Bernie Sanders according to conventional political and demographic wisdom. Problem is, there are a lot of people like me who will also vote for Bernie Sanders. Here's my voting history: Jimmy Carter/Ronald Reagan/George Bush/Bill Clinton/Al Gore/George W. Bush/Barak Obama/Mitt Romney/Donald Trump/Bernie 2020. I'm the exasperating swing voter and I'm not beholden to any party or fixed political belief system. I've registered as a Republican, and as a Democrat, and as an Independent. I'm gay but reject my grievance group assignment in total. I'm socially liberal but detest political correctness. So I'm equally socially conservative. I'm closer to 60 than 50, I'm white and Southern, and I'm down to earth but urban. So I cannot be pigeonholed or pressured or defined. My motivations are my own and I couldn't care less what anyone thinks about my choices. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who also will not be assigned to a box, and who will vote for the candidate they want, not for the candidate one of our broken political parties and their respective pundits tell them they should vote for. I'm sorry to burst your bubble.

  202. @David Congratulations on voting for Trump in 2016.

  203. Just 39% of Americans view socialism positively? Well, they didn't ask this American. The problem with going by polls is that they are no longer accurate. Many people under 50 no longer use landlines. Even fewer answer calls from numbers they don't recognize. Polls told us Hillary was a sure thing. At this point I've given up on the "but is he/she electable?" thing. Whoever can build enough enthusiasm to get Democrats to the polls should be the nominee, and then we need to throw our money and if possible, our presence into getting out the vote in key states.

  204. We already have socialism but do not call it so. We all pay into a system that provides highways we all use, police we all use, military we all use, firefighters we all use, government employees, judges, etc. We pay taxes to federal or local government and they provide services that we cannot provide for ourselves individually. This is socialism. It's called "pooling resources" for the benefit of all.

  205. @dharmagirl I absolutely agree but the challenge is, as Egan pointed out, that socialism is a dirty word. No amount of advertising spend is going to change the minds of a majority of Americans during a 6-month campaign. Bernie = Socialism in the minds of 60+ % of Americans. It's a (sadly) losing argument. :( Maybe the next generation will be more enlightened.

  206. Bernie supporters don't have anything against Super Rich, watch the Joe Rogan/Bernie podcast. He is simply for Billionaires to actually pay taxes instead of using loopholes to avoid it. Simple, you and i pay taxes, so why can't someone who has $50+ Billion? The 2nd piece of this and the most important piece is to make politicians disclose every dollar they receive in support and put laws in place that prohibit lawmakers from selling their legislative powers. The healthcare and education are nice bonuses that are when everyone starts playing by the rules.

  207. The corporatocracy and their minions in the mainstream media will do ANYTHING to defeat the Sanders candidacy, including engaging hitmen like Egan. Look for a lot more, and worse, as the year goes on. And yet, here is Bernie, ahead in IA and NH. The country may finally be heeding Dennis Kucinich's exhortation at the 2008 Dem Convention. We're waking up to the fact that our country is being swallowed up by the forces of big money and thuggery, and if we don't support as radical a revolution as we can muster against that tide, we, our country, and our world are lost.

  208. All I want is the peace of mind that my family, long after I am gone, will never suffer for lack of timely, appropriate medical care. Why is that "the impossible dream" in the wealthiest nation in the world, Mr. Egan? Bernie Sanders is the only one I trust to fight to his last breath, with our help, to make that reality. So, say what you will about Sanders, I know what I want.

  209. Honestly, I'm so tired of opinion columns like this one: Just one guy's opinion, based on little more than personal observations and an arguably debatable view of history. It adds little if anything to the debate. It does, however, fuel negativity, and that's a luxury we cannot afford right now. If we're going to defeat Trump amid the structural disadvantages Democrats face with the electoral college, we need to stay focused on why a Democrat - any Democrat - will be a better president and stick together. In any case, I'm quite well able to weigh the candidates for myself, thank you. Just one more thing: Vote Blue, No Matter Who.

  210. As predicted... The better Sanders looks in the polls -- the stronger his chances of actually wining the nomination -- the more we see the mainstream corporate media ramping up their attacks, using the myth of "electability" as their rallying cry. So we need to be clear: what's really motivating the Stop Bernie movement is not fear that he _can't_ win, it's fear that he _will_ win. Not only do poll after poll show Bernie to be more "electable" than any of the other Democratic candidates, his donor and volunteer bases are the largest, youngest, and most diverse of any of the candidates. Moreover, the notion that repeating the same mistakes they've been making since 1984, that going with the "safe" establishment will magically become the winning strategy -- how's John Kerry working out for you? or Michael Dukakis? or Hillary Clinton? -- is belied by the facts, by history, and by common sense. But as became painfully clear in 2016, the neoliberal Democratic establishment and its corporate overlords preferred losing to Trump to giving a self-described democratic-socialist the keys the to the White House. As Luke Savage points out in Jacobin: "'Electability' is the public rallying cry of the Stop Bernie campaign. But look a little closer, and the real issue becomes clear: the establishment fears having a democratic socialist in the White House."

  211. @Daniel I wish I could recommend 10x. The corporate media hit-piece op-eds against Bernie are now being published at a rate proportional to Bernie's momentum in the polls. It should cause informed Americans to ask why they are so afraid of a candidate who will not take big money, and can lead a people's movement to effect real change in a capital run by big money on both sides of the aisle.

  212. Spot ON Tim! If the Democrats nominate Sanders they will go down in defeat and lose any chance of taking the Senate as well. Trump's re-election will spell disaster for this nation. He has done more damage to our foreign policy and international standing then any prior president in our long history in the last three years - four more years will certainly consign the US to the ash heap of history. Of all the current Democratic candidates - Biden alone has the international experience to right the ship of state and restore our relationships with our allies and restore America's reputation in the world. The other candidates will make great cabinet officers in the Biden administration and gain the experience necessary to run in future years but they are not ready now! Sanders and Warren will lead us down to defeat with their radical left positions that they can not sell to the majority of the Democratic Party and certainly can not sell to the majority of the American people who vote.

  213. @Joe I'm not sure what race you are watching or what polls you are relying on but it seems that Biden has reached his zenith and is hurtling down the hill to defeat. Preaching that the old guard is the only way forward lost its attraction with HRC. Her current screeching of absurdities is damaging whatever little hold the Democratic neoliberals have left to hold onto in the party. It's time to move on and understand that democratic socialism is NOT the same as socialism and the voices of Bernie and Yang resonate more with the public than the current polling methods have any capacity to indicate.

  214. @John Mills Well I don't know where to start but it certainly will be with objecting to a Canadian characterizing Biden as a neoliberal! You might want to do a refresh on your understanding of US politics and US political parties before opining on our Presidential race.

  215. "Socialism, despite its flavor-of-the-month appeal to young people, is not popular with the general public. Just 39 percent of Americans view socialism positively, a bare uptick from 2010, compared to 87 percent who have a positive view of free enterprise, Gallup found last fall." These ideas are not mutually exclusive. The Untied States has a mixed economy. Socialism is just a label and their are different varieties . Just as their are different varieties of capitalism

  216. @William Exactly. Democratic Socialism means a capitalist society with more functional, humanisitc ways of paying for/executing health care and education. Egan, though, wants you to think of failed, hard-communist kleptocracies like Cuba. When he says socialism he means bread lines, planned economies, and Cuban grocery shelves that are empty besides canned pheasant. I really expect a columnist from such a distinguished paper to try harder and do better.

  217. Do the Democrats even have one single candidate who can inspire and energize voters who have never voted before to camp out overnight in the cold to support their president at a rally of tens of thousands? It is hard to imagine and now too late for the party to search for another candidate like Obama who was able to do the same or was he simply just a once in a lifetime phenomena which can also be said of Trump?

  218. @Realist Um ... that would be Bernie! His rallies are massive, with people often waiting in line in the cold for hours and overnight. His donor and volunteer bases are the largest, youngest, and most diverse of any of the candidates. He's inspiring millions, and if we pull together, we can get him into the White House!

  219. @Daniel You're correct. I worked on his opponent's campaign in 2016 (my apologies) and am now supporting Bernie. The enthusiasm for Bernie was real, as were all of the new voters he brought in to the process.

  220. @Daniel Perhaps things look a little different behind the redwood curtain than they do here in the Midwest (I used to live in Arcata). Not only would Bernie lose, he would lose so badly it would appear than Trump has a mandate. For the love of Pete, support Bernie now if you must, but vote democratic no matter who the nominee is...I will.

  221. Your "flavor-of-the-month" shows your disdain for young people. This is not a fad; this is the need for affordable education, housing, and healthcare. The current system is not working for us, and we support a candidate who recognizes that and is pushing for change.

  222. @Jen Yes, you're so right, that part of the column stung. Somehow wanting an educational and healthcare system on par with the rest of the developed West is just a flashy bandwagon to jump on. Somehow, wanting to address the existential crisis of climate change instead of literally pretending it doesn't exist is a marker of youthful naivete. Egan might as well ask: When will these young people learn that its normal for citizens of the richest country on earth to pay much more for healthcare but still have a lower life expectancy than other developed countries? When will they learn that it's normal to pay over half your paycheck for rent? When will they learn that the price for an education is to be locked in crippling debt for most of your life? If Egan talked about politics with people who weren't 1) Also on the NYT editorial board, 2) Members of his squash club, then he might see this issues with a little more clarity.

  223. @Jen Then go vote

  224. @Jen “Disdain for young people”? I’d say just the opposite. Have you read Egan’s columns and books? He’s a wise, intelligent human who clearly cares very much about people and this country and studies history, among other vital tools.

  225. The Democrats tried the boring centrist route in 2016. You'd have to work to come up with two more boring centrists than Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine. It failed, but yet the conventional wisdom is to try it again. Why? Also, please no McGovern comparisons, the electoral map is vastly different, there aren't more than 10 states which are in real question. The other 40+ are locked up red or blue no matter who is on the ballot.

  226. @FW , oh please, Hillary was an exciting, although polarizing candidate. The race was close. And the falsehoods created by bots on social media definitely hurt Hillary.

  227. Senator Sanders has good intentions and plenty of experiences but his message tells me I'm going to be more heavily taxed to meet his very costly agendas. It's ironic, however, that Trump, who gave a huge tax cut to oligarchs and corporations, is now hinting at cutting Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and SSI to compensate for the extra trillion in debt he created. Maybe we need Sanders and Warren to fight for us after all.

  228. @R. Anderson Maybe so, but look at your potential bottom line. If we get single-payer health care, your taxes may go up a bit, but you won't have to pay insurance premiums or crazy high deductibles, which will leave you with money in your pocket.

  229. @R. Anderson Americans object to higher taxes because so little of their hard-earned money comes back to them in services from which they directly benefit. Citizens in the EU pay significantly higher taxes, but they get things like health care, mental health, vision, dental, elder care, home nursing, free higher education, unemployment compensation close to what they were earning in their job, significant personal leave for the birth of a new child or for taking care of an elderly parent. And they don't pay large insurance premiums, they have no deductible, no co-pays, no lifetime maximums, no student loans, no tuition, etc. They have much fewer expenses in their life than do Americans. All they pay are housing, transportation, food, clothing, entertainment, and savings. Ask any European if they'd trade lower taxes for the American system. You'd find few takers. The amount of money normal people have to spend will actually increase. You think the economy is good now? Higher consumer speeding will drive the economy to much higher levels than in the past.

  230. Some skillful writing here, succinct, with valuable insights. Of course, Timothy Egan is correct. If you think you hear unexplained laughter these days, it's from the White House as they relish how easy it will be to take down Bernie Sanders. He's avoided scrutiny by Democrats and the press. His time is coming.

  231. @blgreenie This comment is belied by a video of a fundraiser that Trump held with a few uberrich corporate executives in 2018 which was available on the front page of the NYTimes website a couple of days ago. Trump told the audience that a Clinton-Sanders ticket would have been much tougher to beat in 2016 than the Clinton-Keanes one. And he explained why, reminding the audience that Trump got 20% of the Sanders vote in the general election. It's true that the audience laughed a lot, but not at that.

  232. @blgreenie Does Biden as an opponent evoke more or less White House laughter?

  233. Great column. Pay attention to centrists. Pay attention to the non-Acela corridor. They will pick the next President. And they will vote for Trump over Sanders.

  234. @Steve If they vote for Trump, they're not centrists. They're right-wingers, plain and simple.

  235. @James S They're right-wingers, just like the 10-12% of Bernie fanatics who voted for Trump (remember #NeverHillary?) are right-wingers.

  236. Socialists hated the New Deal. They ran a Socialist candidate against FDR in all 4 of his elections. They have always reviled the Democrats as "liberals" (i.e. capitalists). And they were right. Liberal Democrats saved capitalism in the 20th century by regulating markets and providing enough social programs to create social stability and economic growth. Across the world in the 1930s, while others fled to the radical left and radical right, liberal Democrats offered a via media with a strong economy and strong social programs. We definitely need to work on the social programs these days, but we need a liberal Democrat who knows how to pass legislation and lead the vast majority of Americans who agree with Democratic policies. Donald Trump proved that you can win a nomination with 20% of a party's support, that doesn't mean it's a good thing for the country.

  237. Hmm, somehow the US Senate has survived a democratic socialist in its ranks for the past 25 years without capitalism screeching to a halt. It's the American Dream and the promise of a better future for our children that's been destroyed in that time frame. You think that the masses haven't noticed that no democratic POTUS, not even Obama, has stopped the lurch toward a class society, with a small percentage holding sway over the rest? Do you think folks haven't noticed that its the privileged few that go to the best college and get the best jobs and only the most exceptional and fortunate of the rest can elbow their way in? It's not 1972 and it's certainly not 1908. Nobody expects a revolution -- until it happens. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania. If our criterion for picking a president is to please that small sliver of the electorate, the democratic party is just as lost as the republican one.

  238. @Number23 What dem socialist has been in the Senate for 25 years?

  239. Thank you, Mr. Egan. Thank you for pointing out Bernie can't win, and for pointing out why he is a feel-good choice. If only all Democrats would take your message seriously.

  240. Let's be clear, Trump won by less than 120,000 votes over 3 states and lost the popular vote. These same columnist wrote many articles about why he couldn't and wouldn't win, and they are just as wrong now. What doomed Hillary was her innate inability to win middle class voters and convince minorities to even leave their houses to stand in long lines in gerrymandered districts. Bernie can do both. And a moderate Democratic Senate can be a check on any extreme policies.

  241. @Andrea , many middle class voters in New York cannot stand the Bern. He gets traction by being outrageous in his vilification of wealth.

  242. I almost fear Sanders beating Trump more than I do his securing the nomination. He will certainly fail at governing. "We'll have a revolution!" is not a governing strategy that has any chance of success, and a failed Sanders presidency will set back the progressive movement for a generation.

  243. One more in the NYT conga line of distortion and oversimplification in service of upholding a lost status quo. The changes that Bernie Sanders advocates are actually a restoration of the societal agreements that used to be in place between employer and employee, government and citizen. This isn’t radical, this is what used to be normal in post war America until the conversation changed in earnest with Reagan who advanced the notion that government funding is bad and its recipients undeserving. It was then appropriated by Clinton who felt that governing by poll numbers and triangulating for the political win was more important than the lives of those affected by welfare reform.

  244. Although I was pro-Bernie in 2016, I no longer see him as a viable candidate. For all of the reasons you note, AND because he is 78 years old and recently had a heart attack. When I think of the way the Presidency aged even vibrant young leaders like Barack Obama, I think Bernie is too past his prime to realize his vision in the office. A vote for Bernie is a vote for whoever he chooses as VP. I'm pulling for Elizabeth Warren. She is action-oriented. Also, like Obama, she is open to finding the best ideas and surrounding herself with smartest people to build a government that works for ALL Americans. A Sanders presidency feels cantankerous. A Warren presidency gives me hope for our country.

  245. The last three times we ran middle-of-the-road Democrats of the pragmatic style, Democrats lost. Al Gore and John Kerry lost to Bush, who promised his "Compassionate Conservatism". Hillary Clinton lost to Trump, who promised to "Make America Great Again". The last three times Republicans ran middle-of-the-road candidates, they lost. Bush Sr. lost against Clinton, who promised a new way of doing things. John McCain and Mitt Romney lost to Obama, who also promised change. Americans don't elect politicians to President of the United States. They elect leaders of ideas. Probably the best and the worst of American political traits. Bernie has ideas which are good. Bernie understands he needs public, not just support, but advocacy, for his ideas. He understands he needs to delegate the execution and he understands he needs to draw from youth to find new ideas and inventive ways of executing those ideas. He starts with a big ask; I expect he'll draw it back as practice requires. But the math, from a 50 thousand foot level, works. If we can afford spending trillions in the middle east, we can afford to fund healthcare, education, and basic living.

  246. @Brian Ratliff , this year's Democrat will be running against a demagogue with a base strong enough to perhaps win again, so a moderate Democrat is the best idea.

  247. @NR, Trump will win over any moderate. He understands the central truth that the US public never elects a politician to President of the United States. Biden - can you imagine him firing up people at the same level as Trump? Plastic face and is basically the second coming of Hillary. People will literally stay home if he is the democratic nominee. Warren? Bernie-lite. Buttigieg? Who's that again? No name recognition, no notice. He'll go down in history like Tim Kaine. Bloomberg? Another billionaire.

  248. Yeah, let's run the 2016 playbook again instead! middle of the road democrat is sure to do much better this time. Especially if it's a rambling old man who's the only other candidate enmeshed in the current impeachment. Not only can Bernie Sanders win, he's probably the only candidate who can. The timidity of the Democratic machine is what will lose the next election, just like it lost the last.

  249. @Ben How about running the 2018 playbook instead? Dems won by sticking to the middle (where they flipped some R seats) and talking about healthcare. Ideologues are poor leaders, and besides, nobody really wants a revolution.

  250. @Maryellen Simcoe I would posit that Bernie Sanders popularity is evidence that many people very much want a revolution, myself included. Many of the people elected in 2018, by the way, are the carriers of Bernie's message of returning power back to the people, so if anything it is further evidence that Bernie's message is exactly the one we need to win 2020.

  251. Likewise, Biden also likely cannot win. His lead vs Trump has been cut in half down to 4 pts (Clinton was up 3 pts on the eve of the election), and is even tied in some polls. We can't discount the parallels to 2016: 1 - Baggage and damaged equity thanks to the Trump/Rudy contrived Ukraine scandal, which will become the “emails” and “lock her up” of 2020, and which he will have to answer for in the general. 2 – Perception as the insider/establishment “more of the same” candidate vs Trump who is still posturing as an outsider, particularly at a time when public disdain for insiders is high. 3 – Associations which will look bad to the average American, such as his long donor history with Wall St., big insurance, big pharma, etc. 4 - An extensive record, in this case 40 years, which will take much of the focus off Trump and onto himself. One of Trump’s strongest attacks in 2016 was him chiding Clinton for not addressing the issues when she was in office. 5 - The Iraq War vote. Other reasons: 6 - He looks and sounds old, has less energy than Trump, and his ability to go off script has diminished. Also, the risk of a major health event for a 78 year old occurring in the next 9 months is relatively high. It’s sad that the Democrats don’t have anyone better.

  252. I support Yang, and think he would be a better and more electable president than Sanders, but the entire premise that Sanders couldn't win is just wrong. If Donald Trump could harness class rage into electoral success in spite of an impossible platform, then I see no reason Sanders cannot have similar success, especially since his policies and convictions are actually genuine. I like the Times a lot, but it is has become increasingly clear to me that many of the writers here are out of touch with the working class. Old theories of electability have been proven useless by Trump, so we should not continue to disregard the incredible strength of Sanders' campaign.

  253. "Flavor of the month"? It's a social system that defines most of Europe and Scandinavia, with countries that are safe, prosperous and have the happiest citizens. Nice try, Timothy Egan. You don't understand how many Americans have missing teeth and stomachs gnawing with hunger. You don't understand the hopelessness of millennial debt and unemployment or lack of meaningful employment. We've seen what Democratic centrists call progress and it's totally ineffective. Time for a real change.

  254. You may be right. But, frankly, Joe Biden is going to have a hard time winning as well. I have yet to meet anyone who is a passionate Biden supporter; they simply think he's better than the alternative. That will lead to a depressed vote. Between the two of them, I'd say Sanders has the better chance because he has a sincere vision for our future and truly inspires people. Biden is an old school grinning and spinning politician who promises a return to a tweaked status quo at a time when many of us perceive our country as in crisis. It's that sense of crisis that helped to give rise to Trump, not vice-versa. The winner has to address it, not gloss it over.

  255. Sadly, Mr. Egan is right. Class hatred toward the wealthy is politically self-defeating. It doesn't garner significant donations and no one will return your calls. Disdain and fear of the poor is another matter altogether however. No, what sells in today's Democratic Party are appeals to the forgotten middle class, a subtle signal for the discerning voter that the Democratic Party has abandoned the misguided policies of the sixties.

  256. "Class loathing" is a terrible feeling, without even a bit of Schadenfreude. The sight of people who never learned to behave correctly is heartbreaking.

  257. Well. In the face of Elizabeth Warren's own zeal for martyrdom in nomination choices, and Pete Buttigieg's challenge to be taken seriously for studiously other reasons, the fragment of the Party which is obsessed by politics is richly endowed with suitors. But Americans who may vote Democratic, together with those who negligently plan to vote Democratic but might not quite get to the polls, would like something more promisingly responsive to their incongruous preference for calm. That's Michael Bennet.

  258. Another hit job on Bernie. It's presumptuous to tell readers how the election will go, especially with such an unusual President. Progressives can cherry pick past elections too. Like how moderate Democrats win when the economy tanks (1992, 2008) but lose when it's great (2000, 2016). Correlation or causation? Nobody knows, so let's stop selling our own agenda with worthless predictions.

  259. @Liz That's an interesting point. Humphrey losing in '68 and Carter winning in '76 fit your take.

  260. @Liz , it's not a hit job. The Bern polls poorly in out-side Iowa districts that we will need to beat Trump. Why is it presumptuous to point out that Bernie's odds of beating Trump nationally, even in the last 24 hours of the Iowa polling, are less than Biden's in the key states Democrats need to win. Here in NYC, there are many Democrats who view Bernie's "revolution" as a disaster.

  261. @NR Here in NYC, there are many Democrats who view Bernie's "revolution" as the only solution to the ills of contemporary American society. What's your point?

  262. It's still a long way until November 2020. A little too early to say who can and who will do what. Maybe Sanders will not be the candidate but a good backup will be Michael Bloomberg. The plain reality is that this country is in deep decline thanks to McConnell and the Republican Senate who have sold this country out to the highest bidder. The Health system is broken. Ask the people on the street. Ask two physicans in my family. Without some form of universal healthcare, the entire middle class and poor are at risk. But...it doesn't take Sanders to accomplish this change. Bloomberg could easily be the changemaker and be accepted by most of the people. The point is, most people want anybody other than Trump.

  263. Eagan is a reliable voice so this article is particularly terrifying, but the truth is, no one knows what is the best way to defeat Trump and his Senate majority. My grand children are all old enough to vote this year and they want either Warren or Sanders, but they will vote for anyone that isn't Trump. It's their world now and the least I can do is support them.