Does It Matter Who the Democrats Choose?

In terms of actual policy, probably not very much.

Comments: 229

  1. I have finally decided who my top choice is for the Democratic nomination and his name is Michael Bloomberg. He can beat Trump. Bernie can not because he is too far left.

  2. @Julie As an Independent, I tend to agree. Here in Texas, the only ads we're seeing are for Mr. Bloomberg, whose policies I agree with. Especially the one about removing Mr. Trump, which Mr. Bloomberg will support even if he is not the nominee. Mr. Bloomberg is not active in Iowa because he entered too late, and he's not in the debates because there is a certain minimum amount of donations required. But he is not accepting donations. (!!!) He is concentrating on the big states that vote after the four small states, e.g. Texas - 38 electoral votes vs. Iowa's six, and with a highly diverse population. Yes, he has had controversies, but compared to Mr. Trump they are miniscule. Overall, pretty refreshing.

  3. @Steve Kennedy "As an Independent, I tend to agree. Here in Texas, the only ads we're seeing are for Mr. Bloomberg, whose policies I agree with." Here in Texas, it's doubtful that the likes of the anti-2nd Amendment Bloomberg will find any footing here (and this comes from not only an Independent Texan, but one who originally hails from NY). Also, he's been attacked here in the pages of the NYT for his anti-Due Process "Stop and Frisk" policies, so I can't imagine him succeeding when attacked from both left and right. For these reasons, he just doesn't come across as viable to me.

  4. @Steve Kennedy : Steve: As a NYC native, I can attest to the fact that Mike Bloomberg, a three term NYC Mayor is the only person who can defeat Donald Trump - and he will do so by a landslide. Bloomberg was an excellent Mayor and will be an excellent President. He is the other end of the Trump spectrum - honest, no scandals, a self-made billionaire who is so concerned about the direction Trump has taken this country, that he is personally funding his own campaign without outside contributions. A true patriot who is willing to put his own money on the line to end this Trump nightmare. Bloomberg can't move into the Oval Office fast enough!

  5. I feel that it is a patriotic duty to vote whichever of the candidates wins the primary. And I plan to do so wholeheartedly and inspire others to do the same.

  6. Thank you! Please askyour friends in Michigan to do the same!!

  7. True but some of the absolutist positions that Sanders has taken do worry me-- like on expanding the ACA vs Single Payer Medicare for All. While I don't endorse Hilary's petulance, she does have a point-- about him alienating many-- needlessly. On the other hand he has been right about many things for years and now's when the country is catching up to him. I would think it better if he joined the Democratic Party for real and also if he didn't inflame his supporters to the point of them wanting to take their ball and go home like many of them did in 2016 for the General.

  8. @ecclect-obsvr The ACA continues the inequality of private healthcare. By not removing inequality from the equation you not only continue to keep millions uninsured or underinsured (those who have insurance but can't make copays, coinsurance, deductibles), but a large portion of the money spent on healthcare goes straight to private corporations as billions in profit. Why? Under Medicare for All not only is everyone covered, but doctors get paid to do what they trained for. No more you can only see these doctors or go to this hospital because your insurance isn't good enough. No more getting denied needed treatment. Everyone would get exactly the same: complete coverage for everything they'll ever need.

  9. @TR Doing it incrementally means more deaths, more suffering, and more obscene profits for an industry whose sole purpose is to deny care. Whatever for?

  10. I used to agree with this but have changed my mind. Warren, for example, has a very expansive view of executive power. She has said that she will ban fracking and cancel almost all student debt by executive order, which would both be highly consequential. Warren also seems to have a more robust view of antitrust enforcement in areas ranging from tech to agriculture. Finally, any Democratic president will probably have to rely on executive power for climate policy, including setting emissions targets for cars and power plants. Their targets vary from very ambitious (Klobuchar and Biden) to straining plausibility (Sanders and Warren).

  11. @Andrew Clark Agree. Warren’s policy platform is diverse with the largest number of new and novel ideas among the Dem candidates. Bernie and Yang are focused on “one big thing,” Medicare for All and a universal basic income, respectively. It’s most likely a Democratic president can introduce a lot of small changes to improve people’s lives that aren’t individually too controversial. That’s right up Warren’s alley. Bloomberg was a similar kind of guy when he was NY mayor.

  12. Much needed clear-eyed analysis, thankfully; if Dems take the Senate as well as the White House, not only will there be the rule of law, there will be Infrastructure!

  13. @R. Law Yes, lots of infrastructure after first 2 years of Obama when Democrats had supermajorities. Apparently, the public was not impressed by all the bridges and roads.

  14. @SG 1) The Democratic supermajority in the Senate under Obama lasted exactly 1 year and two weeks, ending when Scott Brown won the special election to replace the deceased Ted Kennedy. 2) There was a meaningful amount of infrastructure created by the funding of projects designed to both raise counter-cyclical spending in the midst of the deep recession and replace aging structures. New York State has never been a recipient of lavish federal disbursements, but examples of this infrastructure spending in New York City alone include the shoring up of major portions of the FDR Drive and the ceilings above it, as well as the complete replacement of three crumbling 80-year-old bridges on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, one of which was a drawbridge (This eliminated a frequent source of 30-45 minute standstills as the bridge was raised and lowered to enable ships to pass into and out of Mill Basin.).

  15. @SG 1) The Democratic supermajority in the Senate under Obama lasted exactly 1 year and two weeks, ending when Scott Brown won the special election to replace the deceased Ted Kennedy. 2) There was a meaningful amount of infrastructure created by the funding of projects designed to both raise counter-cyclical spending in the midst of the deep recession and replace aging structures. New York State has never been a recipient of lavish federal disbursements, but examples of this infrastructure spending in New York City alone include a) the shoring up of major portions of the FDR Drive and the ceilings above it, b) the complete replacement of three crumbling 80-year-old bridges on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, one of which was a drawbridge (This eliminated a frequent source of 30-45 minute standstills as the bridge was raised and lowered to enable ships to pass into and out of Mill Basin.) and c) the complete replacement and lane expansion of the crumbling 80-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens. Many New Yorkers are very impressed.

  16. Biden has established a solid record of siding with Republicans for their objectives such as cutting Social Security and reducing bankruptcy rights. More recently he has said that he could work with Republicans - but the only way he could do that is by again working for their objectives since they don't compromise. His proposals are now more to the left, but why would anyone trust him of all the Democratic candidates to keep his promises on those things rather than his promise to work with Republicans? Anyone would be better than Trump and electability is an important consideration, but it is totally unjustified to claim that Biden would turn out to be equivalent to Sanders or Warren on economic issues. Big-money influence is not going to vanish instantly from Congress, whatever the result of the 2020 election, and it is not obvious that there would be a "backlash" if Biden did not fulfill all his promises on economic policy.

  17. As every sensible Democrat says, "Vote Blue No Matter Who."

  18. @Leading Edge Boomer If that's the goal, then why not move all the Democratic primaries up to February and March, and hold the convention in April? Who cares if you don't get all the napkins, cups and hats printed in time? The sooner you unite the party, the better your chances. Letting the early primary states dominate the nomination has an impact not unlike that of the Electoral College which Democrats claim to detest.

  19. @Leading Edge Boomer Let's see how Democrats will vote blue for Bernie Sanders who sided with the mullahs of Iran on hostage taking in 1979. As for Biden, he is basically the one who will be indicted in the Trump impeachment with Hunter stuck to his neck before every independent voter. Democrats may ALL vote blue (and Republicans vote all red) but it is the independents who decide the final outcome.

  20. @Leading Edge Boomer ….what an original, persuasive, impressive comment--- 'vote blue no matter who' ---if I hadn't read it, I might vote for Trump. Thanks so much. Repeat the comment to future columns, in case I forget.

  21. Thank you, I calmed down quite a bit after reading this.

  22. Hogwash! In terms of policy, aside from reversing every last thing Trump and his GOP did in the last three years, there is still the matter of neoliberal policy that has cost this nation's middle and working classes their futures and their children's. There is the matter of the environment. Not all candidates are equally or even committed to doing everything and more to reverse the catastrophic conditions that are about to hit us here in the US, never mind Australia. One candidate was part of an administration whose last act was to brutally treat a Native American tribe just so fracking can take place. That is unacceptable. That same candidate was reported by the NYT as telling wealthy donors that nothing much will change if he wins. Unacceptable, again. Healthcare. Housing. Higher education. Good jobs and regulating the gig economy. Regulations for everything, including what goes into our food that is making us all sick. Water. Air. Money in politics. Social media and privacy. Our national treasures. Rewriting the constitution. This one's been gamed to death. Listen to Prof. Sanford Levinson. Business as usual and triangulation, what Biden calls bipartisanship with a party of traitors, can't do. So, yeah, who matters a great deal. --- 1/31 9:35 am PST

  23. @Rima Regas yes. The “who” should first be anyone not named Donald Trump, and then we’ll go from there.

  24. @Matt That is not how it works. The who is decided at the same time as all the others. We don't go from there until the next election when, again, we are told we will go from there. Rinse, lather, repeat - and then there is an election in which so many are disaffected that evil wins. Here and now is what matters. What does this nation need? Whose vision closely fits that? Who seems the steadiest, most honest choice? Vote accordingly.

  25. @Rima Regas What does this nation need? Whose vision closely fits that? Who seems the steadiest, most honest choice? If those are the criteria, I will not be voting for Bernie in the primary.

  26. It’s hard to say which is more detrimental to the likelihood of a Democrat victory: a Bernie Sanders win, or a non-Bernie Sanders win. Truthfully, knowing a bit about the DNC myself, I fear that Sanders’ momentum will be undermined in a insidious way. And that will turn off far more undecided voters than we could ever imagine. We are seeing both scenarios playing out in a terrifying way, and I certainly hope that the candidates’ respective supporters follow the lead of those they support in showing solidarity when necessary despite differences of opinion on certain topics.

  27. @Matt I'm very concerned that what the DNC did to Bernie in 2016 appears to have started again. It seems not to have learned yet that, just as it is our responsibility as the electorate to vote for the most electable candidate, its own responsibility is to nominate the most electable candidate. Advocating for a particular candidate during the primary phase (thereby devaluing the others) dissuades far too many voters (and potential voters) from voting at all, and, thus, isn't in anyone's best interests but the competition's.

  28. Cynical take: the DNC cares more about the stability of the stock market and the ability of its corporate donors to retain their riches than it does about a Democrat winning any particular election.

  29. I don't care who gets the nomination. Any of them are better than what we have now by an order of magnitude. What's important is that the Dems win both houses of Congress. Without that it will Obama's second term again, with the GOP blocking everything. This election has to be pivotal in our history. If the liberals of America don't put their phones down and vote, America will keep sliding into mediocrity and stagnation.

  30. @markd Neither Democrats nor Republicans will decide the final vote no matter how of many of them put their phones down and vote blindly for their party. It will the independents who will decide.

  31. "It’s true that Sanders enthusiasts believe that they can rally a hidden majority of Americans around an aggressively populist agenda, and in so doing also push Congress into going along." For Mr. Sanders to win, his supporters will have to swarm to the polls. That means a lot of younger voters, many of them first-time voters. This is the only way to gain control of the Senate: pick off two or three Senate seats in 2020, and a couple more in 2022. Without control of the Senate, nothing significant will happen. If RBG, bless her heart, can't make it until then, McConnell & Company will likely refuse to vote on a replacement.

  32. While I appreciate that you focus your commentary on your areas of expertise, it's worth noting that your article makes literally no mention of foreign policy, which is, of course, the area in which the US president has the most independent authority to act without Congressional involvement. There are real differences between the democratic candidates in regards to foreign policy, and they're differences that could have life-and-death consequences for millions of people. It makes sense that you, an authority in economics, don't take it on yourself to analyze the details of these consequences. But your conclusion there's no meaningful difference in actual implementable policy is severely limited, has a major qualification that has to be attached to it—one that the reader should be aware of—when your analysis is ignoring this core function of the presidency, as reasonable as it might be for you to ignore it.

  33. @Bryan Yes! There is a wide range between Obama's regime change in Libya, and Biden's similar attitude, and Sander's attitude towards endless war, and since Congress has abrogated its responsibility to rein in the Executive, this area is wide open.

  34. It’s an important point. Which candidate can best motivate the party (and the states!) to work together on achievable goals? Which one can best form a consensus on priorities? Which one has the perspective to articulate the needs and goals of the times, whatever these turn out to be by 2021? Pet projects that can’t get the votes won’t be helpful in the long run. Imagine if we could find a president of all the people.

  35. "Now, the Democratic Party is very different from the G.O.P. — it’s a loose coalition of interest groups, not a monolithic entity answering to a handful of billionaires allied with white nationalists. But this if anything makes it even harder for a Democratic president to lead his or her party very far from its political center of gravity, which is currently one of moderate progressivism." This paragraph is definitely a leading contender for most cogent political statement of the year. But beyond that, Krugman is right that given the constraints of the diverse coalition and of our, ahem, elected legislators, there's very likely to be little de facto difference, except perhaps in rhetoric, among any of the Democratic contenders if they make it to the Oval Office. And yes, what the circular firing squad needs to learn is that the big difference involves getting anybody Blue into that Office. The odds of having a brokered convention are high--it's hard to see any one hopeful getting a majority of delegates right now. And then, of course, the superdelegates and the horse trading will come into play, meaning there'll likely be hurt feelings whoever eventually comes out with the nomination. (You know Bloomberg is betting on this.) But if any of the disappointed stay home or vote third party this time, they will just wear that stubbornness like a mark of Cain (which only makes one easier to identify when the brown shirts come).

  36. Despite the fact that I'm a millionaire, I believe strongly in the type of social welfare state that's working so well in advanced industrial nations as different culturally as Japan, Taiwan and Germany. Notwithstanding, I think that Bernie Sanders winning the Democratic nomination for POTUS would be a disaster. No one wants to say this out loud because it's so ugly, but in this country a left wing borderline atheist Jewish candidate would loss every state between the Appalachians and Rockies. Trump and his people, and by that I mean the entire political leadership of the GOP, will have a field day pushing out anti-Semitic and anti secular memes on Facebook and Twitter targeted squarely at Mr. Sanders - Putin probably is already helping them with their designs. So a Trump vs. Sanders battle will probably be the ugliest U.S. presidential campaign since John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson squared off in 1826 - actually, it will probably be worse. I don't really think that the rightness of Sander's positions on the issues I care about can overcome that degree of hatred.

  37. I so hate to agree, but I do. And the same anti-Semitic hatefulness would come out if the candidate were Bloomberg, or any Jew. Not only Trump supporters, but a big segment of the electorate believes America is a Christian nation, doesn’t believe Jews are patriotic Americans and owe their first loyalty to Israel, and as it stands, our government and especially the Republican Party are already in the grasp of Opus Dei Catholics and Evangelical Christians who count accepting Christ as first on any list of positives.

  38. There are tens of millions of voters under 35 that don't normally vote. Bernie will get them to the polls. Come on Dems, you don't need Trump voters to win but you'll get many because 12%of Bernie voters went for Trump in 2016. If Dems get the Obama coalition plus tons of young voters, Bernie or maybe Liz would win in a landslide!

  39. @Bosox rule Be cautious. Like you said, they don't normally vote. They are unreliable.

  40. @Disgusted The age group in question increased their voting participation in the 2018 mid-terms by 18%, that was pivotal in the dems taking back the house.

  41. And worth pointing out that since we will get the same policies if a Dem wins, regardless of who, it would be a great advancement for our society and an added bonus to finally have a female president. Girls would have a great leader-role model and would finally be assured, even in their subconscious, that they can do anything they want to in life. They need it and they deserve it.

  42. "Even if he has a lingering desire to strike a Grand Bargain with Republicans — which I doubt" I agree with Paul Krugman's basic thesis but this claim is utterly dishonest. Biden has repeatedly and recently stated his desire to strike grand bargains with Republicans, and made it clear that he thinks that given half a chance they'd be completely reasonable. This is a replay of the most infuriating and disappointing aspect of the Obama/BIden Administration, with Barack Obama widely lampooned by progressives like Tom Tomorrow/Dan Perkins in his strip "This Modern World" which Obama in an ongoing gag as "Middle Man", constantly being played by Republicans and each time learning the lesson that darn it we just have to compromise more with Republicans. Yes, Bernie Sanders won't be able to unilaterally enact his most progressive agenda, he'll have a Congress and judiciary to contend with. And yes, Joe Biden won't be able to be as conservative as he was 20 years ago, times have changed. On the other hand there are other dangers to Joe Biden's openly and often stated belief that Republicans just need someone to compromise, most notably that acting this way in the past enabled Republicans to feel that they could become as extreme as they wanted and weak Democrats would help enable it by living in denial. So yes, all in for whoever becomes the nominee but until then, choose wisely and when seeing advice as dishonest as this column is, beware of letting it influence your choice.

  43. @Jeo Compromise with the GOP? I'm hoping that whoever the Dem president is starts the equivalent of a truth and reconciliation tribunal. The GOP members of the Senate just told the American public, who probably weren't listening, that their party is more important than the country.

  44. @Jeo Obama had to compromise because the Republicans controlled the House for six of his eight years in office and held both the Senate and House for the last two. That's the way our system works and no amount of "commitment" or "determination" to progressive goals on Obama's part would have changed that.

  45. Biden's a decent, if occasionally confused, guy... but he holds very little appeal to anyone under 45. His poll numbers among the younger crowd might as well be zero. His platform of "Let's go back to the way things were in 2012" is not inspiring. The constant references to the 1970s and 1980s (record player, bussing, etc) mean literally nothing to anyone under 45, and reveal an old man slowly regressing back in time. He knows next to nothing about the American experience of anyone under 45. Frankly, I doubt he even understands the struggles of many Americans his *own* age. For once, instead of the young being dragged along to support their AARP-member relatives' desired candidate, I would like the opposite to be true. The under-50 crowd now has the demographic majority. I pray they use it.

  46. This is an ageist comment. You have no basis for your position except that for some reason experienced, accomplished old people do not excite you. You know what, Trump is very exciting, I am tired of exciting. I definitely would vote for a great young Democrat, but the older ones are also great and worlds better than what we have.

  47. Not only do we need to raise taxes on the rich and corporation, we need to divert military funding to things that actually benefit the country, like healthcare, education an infrastructure.

  48. Thank you, Mr Krugman! You are absolutely right. We have to unite behind the nominee; whoever it is will be a vast improvement over the other option.

  49. Some of the Democratic contenders are more progressive, some more moderate. Some are more experienced, some less. And, yes, actuaries might conclude some would live to fulfill a first term, or even a second, statistically speaking, and others probably not. But all are patriotic, honest, and smart. And then, we have President Trump, the impeached putative incumbent. After next November, unless Trump wins and burns down the Reichstag, we will also still have Congress. So, support the candidate you think is best for America. But in the end, listen to the Professor. Anyone running for the Democratic nomination would be a game changing improvement over Trump and - who knows? - we might be able to pull back from the brink and save America from self-immolation.

  50. @Pottree I certainly will be voting for whoever is the nominee.

  51. Boy I hope you’re right Paul. There has been so much gnashing of teeth by Democrats this time around. They’ve found reasons why none of them can win against a guy who threaded an electoral college needle last time, has not expanded his base one iota, and turned millions of undecideds into never Trumpers. Yet they say Bernie and Warren are too far left, Biden is past his prime and is so shaky Trump will obliterate him in the debates, and do the same to Mayor Pete, who is too young and gay to boot. And of course, Warren and Amy are women, so they’re out. So how does all this gibe with the fact that the last time around the supposed most unelectable nominee ever won?

  52. I would have thought you’d get out of the prediction business after 2016. You’re sounding a lot like the “Very Serious People” you excoriated not so long ago. And you’re also inconsistent: Sanders’ polcies would merely catch US up with almost every modern democratic society. You never described these policies as radical when you praised the virtues of France and Scandinavia. But I shouldn’t be surprised because Inconsistency has become a hallmark of yours ever since Bernie came on the scene. We’ve seen it many times before in modern history: it seems inconceivable - until it’s not.

  53. I had this very conversation with my brother this afternoon. He is a Bernie devotee, I a pragmatic progressive. To me, Bernie is an idealist pursuing an utopian vision. Joe is a realist pursing what is possible given Republican opposition with their white male "Christian" nativist ideology. The changing American demographics AND enlightenment will soon make Republicans the Irrelevant Party, in the meantime let's put the brakes on Trumpian corruption and Republican collusion, stop the hemorrhaging of the Constitution, and put America back on the path of righteousness...leading ultimately to making Sanders' utopian vision a reality.

  54. @JABarry Interesting. The GOP before Reagan were great deficit scolds thought Supply Side econ with its tax cuts would balloon the deficit and light inflation. But Reagan pursued his "utopian" vision and sold the GOP on the daft economics and the Republicans and their rich supporters thrived for 30 years till the Great Recession. Their economics were bunk but it got them what they wanted. Get on board and let MMT rule for the next 30. And maybe it is not even bunk!

  55. This is fine but I can't help but think Biden will be a serious friend of the financial industry. Look what he did to Delaware. Biden will not be aggressive enough in turning back trump's devastating environmental edicts. The Democratic president elect needs to hit the ground running to make a dent in Trump's destructive policies. I just don't see nice guy Mr. Biden being up to the task.

  56. @Suzanne Wheat Suzanne: fine, then vote your choice in the primaries, but whoever wins the primaries, support them in the general election against trump. Biden is my least favorite candidate, but if he wins the white house, every Democrat will have a seat at the table. Four more years of trump and the door remains slammed in our collective faces. And vote to turn the Senate blue and dump all GOP senators: it's essential.

  57. The vote to have witnesses is just over with the expected acquittal soon. Every Republican Senator that holds a contestable seat needs to be defeated and the energies of the Democrat party should be as robust in that effort as well as the effort to replace Trump. The House should expand its majority. That's the country I wish to sit down to next Thanksgiving.

  58. Democratic. Democratic party, Democratic candidate, Democratic nominee, Democratic senator, and so on and so forth. Some republican, probably Rush Limbaugh, started the “Democrat” nonsense. Republican is a noun and an adjective. Democrat is a noun. Democratic is the correct (and proper) adjective.

  59. Why are media mentions of Warren and Klobuchar so consistently curtailed? It was disappointing to see it in your column too. You begin "At this point, the Democratic presidential nomination is very much up in the air." and then mention the four current top candidates. However, your analysis of progressive vs. centrist drifts off to repeated name Biden and Sanders and sometimes use he or she. Name awareness is key to being nominated and elected. Language matters and choosing to lump the two women candidates under ideology categories headlined by the names of male candidates unfairly diminishes Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Amy Klobuchar.

  60. I care less about which Democrat wins the nomination, and more that all of those who DON'T will campaign vigorously for the nominee. Democrats have been painted as disorganized and disunified because the party boasts both centrists and progressives, but that's not necessarily true. Sure, candidates don't all land in the same place on the spectrum, but at least the Democrats HAVE a spectrum. Better than the monocultural Republicans. Democrats have always touted themselves as the big-tent party. No matter who wins the nod, 2020, is the year to prove it.

  61. We don't have to look too far back for an example of the Democrats running both chambers and the White House. President Obama, no radical progressive, could barely rally his party to support his signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act. Despite years of policy planning by all manner of think tanks and politicians, there was no consensus or even a modicum of agreement as to how health insurance reform should work. The legislation itself was so bloated and contorted to conform to a whole host of special interests that it was minimally effective, expensive, and didn't include the magic bullet -- a public option/medicare available to all. There is no way President Warren or Sanders will achieve anything close to their pie-in-the-sky goals. So, really, what is the point? We need to elect a moderate who can actually reach across the aisle and horse trade for realistic accomplishments. I don't see Bernie working it like Bill Clinton did.

  62. @HowieBsd Yes and like clinton they would be more like republicans and keep hurting the country. The income inequality increased. Welfare was cut, harsh penalties were given to blacks for drug possession, while penalties for whites didn't change. That resulting in a large increase in arrests and prisons for black, while whites got off lightly. No, we don't need to have moderates who support the republicans. We have had enough of them.

  63. How is it all you Democratic establishment economists are always preaching that the USG budget is not like a household. Then when you get down to basics all you talk about is the impossibility of running the government like anything but a household! Taxes in, spending out, deficits bad. Balance the budget. As long as you are trapped in this box the real problems of this country can't be addressed. Joe Biden and the other centrists are trapped with you and you are right they won't make any difference. They'll just find bankers like Geithner to run the economy and keep Wall Street in the drivers seat. Bernie or Warren may not be able to make a lot of change but at least they might get us on the right track for meaningful change. Perhaps they can postpone the Climate Catastrophe long enough to get a grip on fixing things.

  64. @L F File Mr Krugman is certainly not the type of economist you cite as his policies are well known regarding the insignificance of deficits in and of themselves (as opposed to the policies that have given rise to the deficits, like a major tax cut to corporations that results only in increased shareholder value). The column simply recognizes the restraining role that Congress will play; the first term may be unlikely to see a Democratic Senate majority (and perhaps even less likely with Bernie (or Warren) running. But even with a majority Democratic Senate, the most extreme measures advocated by Warren and Sanders will not pass at this stage.

  65. While I agree with your premise, I think its disingenuous to suggest that the Democrats are not a monolithic entity answering to a handful of billionaires. Granted they're not aligned with white nationalists, but are still disinclined to insert themselves between climate science and profit. I'm inspired and still hopeful that Sen. Warren will break into the lead, but I am also very turned on by Yang's slogan: not left or right, but forward. Small steps may be all that's possible, but that doesn't mean that giant steps shouldn't be fought for.

  66. If you ask for the stars you might get the moon. With that in mind I support Sen Warren because she has the ability to get things done in DC. As you point out Dr, she would not get everything but she would get farther along than Joe or Bernie and what she gets would work. I can settle for a few moons. For the same reason I can support Sen Klobuchar too.

  67. @John Smith So much depends upon whether a Senate majority is wangled or not.

  68. It may not make much difference to you, Mr. Krugman, but to those of us who live on the razor’s edge of the poverty line, it matters a great deal. We will never be allowed, after the forty year disenfranchisement of the promises of the American Dream: a life with a living wage, a modest home and Social Security upon retirement that would allow us to live our elderly years with a modicum of dignity, will not happen if a centrist Democratic just tweaks the existing system. We live in a time with the highest division of wealth since the Great Depression. For those of us who, now, live in constant fear of poverty or illness, big changes are needed. Take everything regarding wealth distribution that has happened since Reagan and reverse it. We, the children of the generation who won WWll were promised the world, but all we want is to be able to live a life without fear and with dignity.

  69. @Dr B It's not the boomers, it's the GOP. What matters is not the total debt but debt as a percentage of GDP. Debt per GDP was fairly constant until the 1980s, when it turned up sharply, leveling off in the early 90s. It rose again (more modestly) in the 2000s and jumped sharply with the great recession in 2009. After a small dip it is increasing again. Except for the crash in 2009, the periods of increase are all around tax cutting periods. Check out the 50 year trend on

  70. @Viroquan "Take everything regarding wealth distribution that has happened since Reagan and reverse it." That is a great idea - how do you think it is going to happen? Even if Sanders is elected, the Democrats obtain a Senate majority and increase their majority in the House, the Republicans will have a solid 40+ votes in the Senate to filibuster almost everything. .

  71. @Dr B Reagan, who lead this country into unprecedented debt, was a member of The Greatest Generation.

  72. 1. There are so many D Presidential candidates there won't be a enough dissafecteds from any single losing candidate to make a difference. Besides, Ds are already united behind the idea that any candidate is better than Trump. 2. Big difference between Sanders & Biden on executive orders. 3. Sanders could finance his reforms by freezing defense spending for one year. 4, Biden's problem is that he's an establishment candidate in a reform cycle, same problem Hillary had that lost her labor's vote. Sanders doesn't have that problem; hes running against his Party's establishment: Biden, Hillary, Obama. Sanders would have more trouble with a D congress that Biden because he isn't part of that establishment. 6. The idea that Sanders will ever be tempered is as unlikely as the idea that Trump will ever be tempered.

  73. @Skezix I have a hard time seeing African Americans and union hands coming out in force for Elizabeth Warren. I don’t think your party is nearly united as you think it is.

  74. I am disappointed by all the objections. For one’s candidate to get the nomination is nice, but worthless if the person doesn’t win the election. What Dr Krugman is saying in effect, list all the candidates for President in order and almost all, if not all, Democrats are going to list Trump last. Let’s make sure we hang together so the last on the list doesn’t win. Further, when you look at the changes that will come, the direction will all be the same and different from Trump’s. Further, I volunteered in college for McGovern, and he was blown away. So I understand the desire to be pure. But after too many losses, Nixon, Reagan,Bush, Bush it became clear we need winners. I think Dr. Krugman’s hit it out the park. Let’s debate and campaign and then unite and Win.

  75. @Elliot Rosenthal The worst thing about Dem wannabes is they will abandon the winning candidate the moment they lose instead of campaigning for the winner candidate with all heart and soul. May be they are exhausted, and go back to their pre-campaign business, but they can at least minimally go about campaigning for the dem nominee to win. This rarely happens. I hope they go vote. As regards, respectable and sincere Sanders, my fear is he may not have all the energies needed of an effective and robust US President that can galvanize the nation like say Roosevelt. And did he get a clean chit from his cardiologist?

  76. I think Obama was right to give bipartisanship a real chance, from Obamacare (built on conservative Heritage Foundation ideas) to going to Congress for the authorization to use force in Syria. But we saw how that worked out, just as we saw how Newt Gingrich responded to the Clinton presidency. So because of that I don’t think the D candidates are more or less interchangeable. When Mitch McConnell or his successor acts like a big meanie and won’t schedule bills the public wants for action or abuses the filibuster like nobody ever did before (except McConnell during the early Obama presidency), we need a president who will persistently and effectively take the case to the voters. To me, Sanders looks like the champ on this score and Biden seems the least likely to do what’s necessary to call out intransigence. (I think Biden might do just fine when it comes to calling out misrepresentation.) I’m open to Biden and the other candidates convincing the voters that they’d do what’s necessary in this regard.

  77. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will be eviscerated by the republicans and their leadership at Fox News. What does electability mean today? It is going to be very very nasty and beyond a doubt criminal. We are now at war. I agree with the Professor. It is nearly impossible to move the “football” completely down the field. We need a strong and consistent ground game to incrementally move forward. I desperately want Medicare for All but I agree it will take more foundational blocks before that will happen. What, do you think we live in a democracy? The scales have fallen from my eyes, and no doubt from the rest of the world’s. We must elect Democrats everywhere. That is are sole objective. We are at war now for democracy.

  78. If you’re right Paul, it’s time for Bernie and Joe to take one for the team for the sake of unity and to win in November. They should announce they are teaming up for the primary contest and pool resources and supporters and win this thing since it doesn’t really matter who is the candidate. They could probably decide who will be president with the flip of a coin or maybe two out of three.

  79. While I agree with you in general about big policies. I think the ability to govern through regulatory changes is key. I'm not supporting Elizabeth Warren because I don't think she can win, but do I think she will be able to harness the power of the regulatory process to make change better than Biden: Yes. And do I think Biden will do more to bring our standing back to where it was in the world community better than anyone else: Yes. So, big picture, you are right, but not on the edges which in this case has a big impact. Still confused on who to vote for. I just want to beat Trump.

  80. I appreciate this opinion because I have been debating these thoughts with myself. I came to the conclusion that I can feel good about voting for whoever wins. I fear that the Trump campaign (not to mention the Russians) will try to damage to the Democratic unity and we must remain steadfast. Turnout is the key.

  81. NO. Any Single one of the Nominees would be exponentially better than the current Occupant. Period.

  82. @Phyliss Dalmatian Right on!

  83. Thank you Dr. Krugman. This makes sense. We absolutely need progressives and centrists to be in the same team in November. Let's also not forget that Bernie has voted for Obamacare at every single occasion. If it's the best he can achieve, I trust he will not squander the rare opportunity of two trifecta years to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But it doesn't hurt to aim higher as a starting position, too many times Democrats start from the center and end up right of it. I do believe that Trump might reveal a replacement of the ACA between now and the election, as he's vulnerable with the workers after the free trade deals and now he's chipping away at Obamacare and Medicaid. And of course it's also Obama's signature legacy, the highest value target to dismantle out of spite. If my suspicions are correct, it will be a big challenge for Pelosi to take a smart position on Trumpcare that doesn't undermine our chances.

  84. Will Rogers described one aspect of this subject well: "I don't belong to any organized political party. I'm a Democrat." Herding cats is not a sufficient metaphor. The herd has leftist cats, many of which don't like one another, but also a similar number of wildly various moderate dogs and the occasional other animal. By this analogy, Bernie Sanders, who is not a member of the party until every four years when it's primary season, would certainly be neither cat not dog.

  85. Amen, Mr. Krugman. My favorite is Warren, not because of her more ambitious proposals but in spite of them. I find her passion, brilliance, and energy inspirational. I will vote for her in my state's primary, which most likely will go to Bernie. Then, in November, I will vote for whichever Dem candidate makes the final cut. I also will do so without even a thought of holding my nose or any other part of my body as I check the box. Everyone running is smarter, more accomplished, more driven, and more diligent than I am; unless many other voters, apparently superior beings, I feel no need to view any Dem candidate with disdain.

  86. The consolidated Trump base controls so much sheer territory that he will either capture the Electoral College or contort the results sufficiently to simply refuse to vacate the Oval Office. Several Democrats appeal to specific constituencies, but both fatally segment the vote and disappoint essential groups, such as African-Americans. Turnout may favor GOP. Then, if the Senate stays Red, the historical trauma will be irreversible. Dr Krugman, this systemic concern threatens our democracy itself. The political, economic, climate debacle could blow up a tottering system. Beware.

  87. I wish Krugman had also weighed in on what difference a Biden or Sanders Presidency would mean for Climate Change---a not insignificant topic right now.

  88. Of course, the real problem is that we are no longer a representative democracy. That is the real problem. If our elected officials were actually proportionally representative of our total population's views we would probably be a center-left country. But the hold on the country by states of the old South, the fact that the House is no longer representative as well as the un-proportional nature of the Senate means that all policies are skewed far right. In addition, we are now a true plutocracy where money drives policy and elections. Just look at Mike Bloomberg. He will get on the stage at the next debate purely because he is a billionaire oligarch. Unlike Trump, he is likely to be a benevolent oligarch, but he is still an oligarch. Our country will not emerge from our current polity unless these fundamental issue are addressed.

  89. If Mr. Krugman is right, and I think and hope he is, it's just another argument for the Democratic Party to go for a moderate nominee. The end results won't matter much, so go with a candidate that has a better chance of beating Trump with the all important Mid-Western moderates/independents. Of course, I'm biased as a moderate myself. Go Bloomberg!

  90. @EMH Dr. Krugman, please do your analysis with Mike Bloomberg as the Democratic nominee?

  91. Who the Democratic candidate is doesn’t matter. The self-imposed purity tests of the party faithful will ensure that a significant number of Democratic voters will stay home and sulk on election day. Add voter suppression, help from Putin and his minions and the financial power of his wealthy backers - and if all this is not enough, the shambles of the Electoral College, and it’s a cinch that Trump will be back for a second term. Too bad, really.

  92. Here is why it matters. Joe Biden: Republicans who are exhausted and sick of Trump will flock to Biden. He can win all of the democratic states and spike the ball in the swing states. Bernie Sanders: An actual socialist running will finally be the warning the GOP has been giving voters since Obama took office, even before. It will not only rally the base but it will draw out people who would never have bothered voting for Trump just to stop Bernie. It is a disaster in the making. Landslide win for Trump. Elizabeth Warren: She struggles even now in match-up polls with Trump. Her question to John Roberts during impeachment was an example of how her poor judgment gets in the way. She called for impeachment too early, rousted out Al Franken too early and just doesn't seem to really have the kind of steady hand needed. Landslide vote for Trump. Bloomberg: Who can say.

  93. @Sasha Stone You might being overstating that republican crowd...the Senate has confirmed 192 judge picks by Trump..25% of total fed judges..overturning liberal lean in 2-3-11th circuits and 4 from overturning the 9th circuit. I think Trump won over republicans who didn’t vote last time. Trump is two people...the rally comedian...but also a worker who is part judicial goldmine for many republicans.

  94. @Sasha Stone "Republicans who are exhausted and sick of Trump will flock to Biden." Both of them? Quite a flock.

  95. “Here’s why it matters: I like Biden” -Sasha in Hollywood

  96. Likely longevity is the most important qualification for the next Democratic presidential candidate I will vote for in the primaries. I want a candidate who will be alive, healthy and capable of a vigorous second term campaign. Whatever amazing progress a president might make in his first two years in office becomes ephemeral if Congress changes from one party's dominance to the other. Look at how Obama care has become shamefully vitiated by the Republicans. Otherwise, I agree with the views expressed in the column. In the general election, I'll vote blue no matter who just to be rid of you know who.

  97. I'm ahead of the curve on this question Mr. Krugman raises in his title. I already have a bumper sticker on my car that reads, "ANYONE BUT TRUMP 2020." A bit off the topic but still related to the upcoming election is my complaint about Trump's more-than-likely acquittal. If Trump were impeached, do you realize that he would immediately be removed from office? That. Very. Moment. I doubt he'd even be allowed to clean out his desk (so much for the extra boxes of KFC in there). On the other hand, if we have to wait until November 2020 and defeat him at the ballot box, he'll still have until January 20th, 2021, to commit mischief and mayhem as our president. How much mischief and mayhem could Trump commit in those 78 days? Chills the soul, doesn't it? And that's only one reason why impeachment of DJT would be better than defeating him in the election.

  98. Unlike most Krugman columns, this is poorly reasoned. Biden has little understanding of or concern about the extent to which corporate dominance of our politics has corrupted both parties, and he would initiate nothing significant to begin to correct the balance of political power. He will do little to address the inequities and resulting resentments that led so much of the population to support Trumpism in the first place, thus paving the way for the next Demagogue. Bernie, on the other hand, has no history of interest in the Democratic Party and is unlikely to work on strengthening it. But parties are vital to American democracy, and it is vital to reconstitute at least one of them if we are to have any buffer from raw populism and demagoguery on the one hand and raw economic power on the other.

  99. Dr. Krugman's position seems reasonable. I do think there are some different long-term implication. in the long term a Sander's presidency may drive the party to the left while Biden will keep the party firmly just to the left of the Republicans. Mr. Krugman does overlook foreign policy differences however. Biden will be much more likely to start a war somewhere than Mr. Sanders.

  100. @Keitr I think Biden's foreign policy experience would be more likely to avoid a war than electing yet another neophyte who really isn't interested in geopolitics.

  101. @Keitr I'm curious - on what facts do you base your last statement? "Much more likely" is a pretty bold thing to say. Why do you think so?

  102. You are at least largely right in what you say. However, the problem with saying that electability is very important (because policy differences are not) is that primary/caucus voters are ill-equipped to evaluate it. First, there is the problem of objectivity; many voters tend to think that the candidate they like best is the most electable. Beyond that, even if you can maintain objectivity, how can you know, at this early stage, who is really electable, who isn't? An alternative is to evaluate the candidates in terms of your assessment of their character, their qualities, their humanity, as opposed to the policies they advocate or oppose. Who provides the best example? Who is the most leader-ly? Who can do the most to restore comity, to get Americans to feel better about each other, and themselves? Who do you look up to the most? This is of course touchy-feely, and also difficult to assess, but if we are not to distinguish among them on the basis of policy, it might be the best means for doing so.

  103. "...from its political center of gravity, which is currently one of moderate progressivism..." Mr Krugman, I know progressives. I am to the left of them. The center of gravity of the Democratic Party ... until there is an election that ordains it otherwise ... is nowhere near moderate progressivism. It's Republican Lite, well to the right of Richard Nixon's Republican Party.

  104. @unreceivedogma This.

  105. If you held an election today between Trump and an unknown Democrat, then held the same election in November between Trump and the actual nominee, the numbers wouldn't move much. The people in his camp aren't budging and the people repulsed by him would vote for a cream cheese bagel if the Democrats so chose. Whatever is said or done in the campaign only matters for the sake of sparking turnout. There aren't enough minds left undecided to make a difference either way.

  106. @StuAtl How about some evidence for this assertion.

  107. Under Obama the US became the world's largest producer of fossil fuels. If we don't light a fire under our actions to slow global warming the planet will light one under us. Is Biden the man to do this or Sanders? You can decide, but now that the planet is responding faster than scientists have predicted it is not for your grandchildren, or your children, but for yourself.

  108. @Erik Frederiksen Biden says that doing something meaningful about climate change could damage the economy. That isn't true and he won't do anything anyway.

  109. Bernie's attacks on Biden are deeply dishonest. They aren't out-and-out Trumpian inventions, but they are tiny slices of reality so shorn of context that they are simply untrue. He did this to Hillary in 2016. I've had enough of dishonesty in the White House, especially dishonesty in "blunt truth-teller" drag. But I'll vote for Bernie if he's the Democratic nominee. Hope he picks a good VP.

  110. @NFC - As a woman, I’ll find it very difficult to vote for Bernie, whom I consider a sexist as well as a con artist. However, in the end, I’ll have to vote for him in the general election. I’m hoping he loses to any of the Democrats running.

  111. There might be big differences in foreign policy and national security, where the president has more freedom to act.

  112. I agree. It doesn't matter which Democrat wins the nomination. None of the candidates making grand pie in the sky proposals have answered two questions. First of all, how are you going to pay for it? Secondly, how are you going to get it past the Senate filibuster and a hostile Supreme Court? All campaign promises are nonsense. How many of his campaign promises did Obama fulfill?

  113. Well a good question , now it has become a yo yo game with the Democratic presidential candidates. Biden, Sanders , Buttigieg going up and down, then Amy Klobuchar moving up and Elizabeth Warren down a bit. Then Michael Bloomberg is getting on trump nerves , who knows. I know for certain that I will vote for the Democratic nominees whoever that person might be. As of today republicans have lost their identity have become trump’s puppet with the exception of Senator Romney and Susan Collins.

  114. Regarding electability, remember what happened the last time we ran a centrist democrat against Trump? A lot of Trump supporters are those left behind by the US economy. Consider that if we adjusted 1970s' national minimum wage for inflation it would now be $22 per hour instead of the current $7.25 per hour. Sanders is the only one who can believably speak to their concerns. And remember the polls, Sanders performs best of all against Trump.

  115. @Erik Frederiksen I remember talking Bernie up to my Dem friends, there response was “There’s no way Sanders can beat Trump that’s why I’m voting for Hillary because she’ll squash Trump”.

  116. @Erik Frederiksen Yes, and where were all of the centrist democrats these past forty years when wages continued to slip into the gutter? Did they advocate for living wages like Bernie Sanders? Or did they accept money from large donors to suppress wages while closing factories and sending middle-class jobs out of the country?

  117. @Lou - And she did. And how can anyone believe that Bernie could beat Trump when he couldn’t even beat Hillary in the primary? Maybe those who still insist that Bernie could’ve beaten Trump believe that because Bernie is a man and Hillary is a woman. They seem to forget that Hillary actually DID beat Trump.

  118. Thanks Paul. Now explain this to Bret Stephens, to Tim Evans and the others on the NO BERNIE fence. It will be THEIR fault, if Trump comes back. Not Bernie's.

  119. If Biden wins, nothing will be done about endless wars, nothing will be done about income inequality, nothing will be done about raising corporate taxes, nothing will be done about climate. Meanwhile, Democrats will be congratulating themselves about the return of civility and decency to our fair land.

  120. @PeterC That is so funny and so true.

  121. Question. It's my understanding that Social Security can't be changed through the Reconciliation process becuase of the Byrd Amendment. Which means there has to be 60 votes to make any changes, not 51. So, don't any changed to Social Securuity require - either bipartisan support or ending the legislative filibuster which even McConnell didn't want to do.

  122. Once again we have the corporate/establishment sounding more and more like Fox News and Trump himself, create the narrative you already fully believe in, add in some "alternative facts" and keep repeating it over and over again hoping that some will believe you and this Krugman column is no exception and we have seen it all before with others in the NYT like Timothy Egan, elsewhere today in this publication and there certainly are "distinct" differences between the candidates. Is there any wonder why different super pacs are throwing everything against the wall with negative ads in primary states aimed solely at Sanders while stacking the DNC with anti-Sanders lobbyists and political hacks? It has nothing to do with the idea that he can't possibly win, they are very worried he CAN. It ALL comes back to the fact that regardless of the different narratives, the "establishment" cannot come to grips with the "horror" that Sanders could actually be the nominee and regardless of what is claimed, poll after poll confirms he has the BEST chance of beating Trump and by the widest margin, not Biden not Warren not anyone else.

  123. @Deus It is true. And when you consider that incumbent presidents usually win a second term, especially popular ones with great economic numbers, you realize that not just any candidate will do. We are looking for a miracle-worker, someone with extraordinary skills in inspiring large numbers of people to vote because that is what will be required to unseat Mr. Trump.

  124. I agree with the thrust of this column in so far as it pertains to policy. But I beg to differ with the argument in so far as politics are concerned. Keep in mind that pendulum swings in the political realm are much more violent than pendulum swings in policy. A sharp swing to the left occasioned by a Sander’s victory would generate a much more violent surge of conservative reaction than would either a Bloomberg or Biden win.

  125. @carl mosk Sorry, doesn't equate. Obama governed like a moderate. The Trump result is the farthest Right in recent history.

  126. @carl mosk Or, you can have a Trump Dictatorship and be the pariahs of the world, by 2025, if not sooner.

  127. Your theory of pendulum swings in politics predicts a President Bernie Sanders.

  128. The 2020 election will be owned by Trump who just got the green light from the U.S. Senate to invite Russia, China, Iran and any other agreeable foreign power to get him elected in November. Trump’s already collaborating with Zuckerberg. Does anyone think the two of them will not facilitate another “corrupt Hillary” job on whoever the Democratic candidate is?

  129. @fishergal I totally agree. For those who love their country, the question has to be not how the Democratic candidate will govern, but whether they can defeat our corrupt and treasonous current head of state. You can be assured that Putin is working to support Bernie as nominee as much as assisting the Republicans in weakening the US economically and militarily.

  130. @fishergal Yeah, you're right. Let's just throw in the towel. The American voter is simply too stupid and easily led to make election of a Democrat possible. Our electoral system too irreversibly vulnerable to allow for an honest vote tally. Thank you for saving everyone all that wasted time and expense. I'll just watch TV and eat Doritos from this point forward. Thanks again.

  131. We can be sure Sanders and Warren would lead and prioritize real reform in Healthcare and Washington Corruption for which they would win a strong broadly based mandate and coattails. Biden is not even seeking that, so to expect significant outcomes from Biden, significant in relation to the scale of the problems, is simply wishful thinking or delusion.

  132. @Prad - It’s wishful thinking to think that Warren or Sanders can get even a tenth of their ideas made into law. Republicans won’t vanish if Warren or Sanders is president. And it’s wishful thinking to think either of them will win the presidency to begin with.

  133. Mr. Krugman, Does it ever really matter whomever either party chooses when it comes to actual policy? I mean, really, do you think presidents determine policy? Or do factions supporting, or nor supporting, candidates, determine candidates, and then determine policy? I think you agree that factions e.g. where a candidate lies on the political spectrum "help" determine policy...not so much candidates. But maybe that is old-timey American politics. Policy now seems to be shifting to who the candidate is very much, irrespective of "fancy" policy considerations. Given that the current incumbent could probably have run for either party and won the nomination last go round, and defeating that style looks to be pretty difficult this next go-round. Thereby inviting imitators (no shortage), who will surely have an easier time of it next next go-round. You have met the enemy, and it is you all. I don't have much hope for your future.

  134. I just want the most electable candidate to win, and I want the candidates who don't get the nomination - and their supporters - to rally enthusiastically...unlike what happened in 2016. We need this man out of office and we need a changing of the guard in the Senate. Republicans are well aware their time is winding down and they're trying to push through as much legislation as possible and all the judicial appointees they can cram through on their way out the door. It's a mistake to think what happens now goes away in 4 years - what they're doing will have lasting effect on our country and on the gains we've made in the last several years. I truly believe Sanders would be a polarizing figure and hope he does not win for that reason, but I will support him if he does.

  135. @Sky - I keep hearing from those who don’t like Bernie that they’ll still vote for him if he wins. I don’t remember hearing Bernie supporters saying they’ll vote blue no matter who, if Bernie loses. One more reason I really dislike Bernie and his supporters.

  136. @A Dot , I acknowledge your fear, but if you haven't heard the Bernie supporters saying—again—that they will support the nominee, you aren't listening. I think your last sentence is telling.

  137. @Sky Well said!

  138. Maybe I should begin by disposing of the deceptions in the article first. 1) When Sanders talked about adjustments in Social Security. he was referring to increased taxes on the wealthy. He has a history of supporting SS expansion for decades. He was never a member of the Beltway consensus. Unlike Biden, Because Krugman regards Biden as a " Very Serious Person" his proposals for SS cuts in the past are forgivable. If Sanders proposals for SS expansion in the past were adopted, millions of elderly would not be impoverished today. If Biden concession to the Beltway consensus were enacted, there would be more impoverished elderly. Yeah, Biden now has some modest proposal for SS expansion. It is election season. 2) Progressive candidates in deep red districts were given limited support by the DCCC and one who lost in West Virginia gained on Clinton's vote count by 25% Margin of victory is crucial. Biden's message is I am not Trump. Sanders is also not Trump and he has a populist agenda. If he wins by a large margin, Democrats will embrace Sanders as Republicans currently embrace Trump. They will have no choice but to embrace his populist agenda. which, unlike Biden, is significant. You are right that with a Republican Senate , any change from either is unlikely. However, Sanders will change the political culture, vigorously oppose accommodation to Republicans, like Medicare and Social Security, and will have a giant megaphone that he will use passionately.

  139. @mbaris1 and he won't be able to get anything done. But that's okay because he won't be Trump. Which is the point of this article.

  140. No

  141. @Suzy Sandor Is that really your best shot?

  142. In case you haven't noticed, the real reason it doesn't matter who the Democrats choose is because we no longer have a democracy. If the Democrats actually pull off a majority of electoral votes in November, Trump won't budge and the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General will back him up. The Republican party represents the gravest threat to life that the Earth and history have every faced.

  143. @David R The republican organization is the most dangerous in human history. An outrageous statement? Consider that through just one of their policies, that on climate, they are uniquely dedicated to the destruction of organized human life. Think about it. Their policies will take our climate beyond human experience and adaptive capacity, this century.

  144. @David R Very accurate David … only when Democrats are in power the country is a democracy. Not when Republicans are in power.

  145. In case you haven't noticed, the real reason it doesn't matter who the Democrats choose is because we no longer have a democracy. If the Democrats actually pull off a majority of electoral votes in November, Trump won't budge and the Senate, the Supreme Court and the Attorney General will back him up. The Republican party represents the gravest threat to life that the Earth and history have every faced.

  146. We have a problem. When liberal columnists say things like: "So turning Sanders’s vision into reality would require large tax increases, not just on the wealthy, but on the middle class..." Ohmigod--higher taxes!... while failing to mention that a 5K tax hike might also mean a 10K savings in insurance premiums and copays. As long as this reasoning, or lack thereof, is promoted both by FOX and the NYT editorial page, we Americans will always be stuck with "health care" which costs twice as much, delivers poor results, excludes 10% of the population altogether, and promotes medical bankruptcy, a bizarre phenomenon known only in the world's richest country.

  147. You are so right! The average Joe needs to have this explained! If they don’t understand that it’s still a net gain of money in your pocket they are not going to vote for it! The media has been sadly lacking in making that clear.

  148. The fact that we are worried about the chance of Trump getting elected again says a lot about the miserable state of education in the US which has failed to instill in people the ability to think critically. We have left the gentle, farming friendly Holocene period and entering what? the Anthropocene, the Plasticene, or the Idiocene. Take your pick.

  149. At this point in the campaigns the absolute purists are in a paroxysm of outrage that You People don't understand that they and only they can save us. Blech. We have several entirely serious people at the top of the ticket. We also have sone entirely serious people, with perhaps less experience, at the second level. Sadly, in my view, we also have Bloomberg but hey... Dr. Krugman is absolutely spot on. Look at what cadet bonespur and the boys have done so far, and imagine what another term would be like. Time to get serious folks.

  150. I am as ABT as anyone. The reason I hope Biden is not the nominee is this: I read some of the conservative social media and there is one meme time and again (I know, redundant). They all accuse Biden and Hunter of being corrupt. They’re actually not anymore problematic than Hillary’s emails or Benghazi. But the republicans will hammer corruption home time and again and again and....

  151. @pbilsky, President Trump will go after the Democrats' nominee whoever it is with both fists.

  152. What matters most is vigilance over Republican dirty tricks, foreign involvement, voter suppression, bogus complaints, and, unless a Democrat wins in a landslide, demands for recounts, allegations of "stealing the election", and appeals to the Republican Supreme Court. The possibility exists also of a Trumpist October surprise, a fake crisis, and even declaration of a national emergency. The result of the impeachment "trial" shows we have moved from the republic to the imperium, and anything goes.

  153. What "gigantic spending increases Sanders has proposed"? American families are drowning in college debt. So you think creating free public university tuition, exactly what most of Europe and Asia enjoys, and helping American families, would be a gigantic spending increase? You don't see how desperately America needs this? And Medicare for all is a "gigantic spending increase", Paul? Are you truly unaware that America spends double per person on health care compared with every other developed country on the planet? You don't get that a public healthcare system that covers everyone is desperately needed? This is precisely the sort of distortion and dishonesty that the Hillary campaign spewed out that so infuriated Democrats and independents alike. And this is the continuation of the anti-Sanders campaign by The Times that is inexcusable.

  154. Read what he is writing. He is not anti Bernie or anti anyone candidate. Thats the whole point. Bernies supporters should come out and say that they will wholeheartedly support any of the dem candidates if Bernie is not the nominee. That would be a win for Bernies candidacy and it would creaty unity between left and centre. Biden, Bernie,, Bennet, Bloomberg, KloBuchar - all willbe better for America and the world - Dont you agree?

  155. @Sean TRILLION AND A HALF DOLLAR tax cut to the wealthy and corporations, a record 768 BILLION DOLLAR gift to the military industrial complex, BILLIONS in tax subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year, but to Paul Krugman that is OK and yet, he claims Sanders is going to be involved in gigantic spending increases? Of course, they claim the country cannot afford medicare for all, a better minimum wage or free public college. This attitude just confirms the total disconnect between the corporate/establishment of Paul Krugman's world and the REAL people, they just don't get it and wonder why a clown like Donald Trump got elected in the first place?

  156. @Simon - Certainly everyone should say what the public wants to hear. Trump is very good at this. Look at all things he said he would do but yet backtracked on almost everything he promised. Or how about all the voters who said "No way, no how" will we vote for Trump to the pollsters but then when they got behind the curtain, pulled the lever for him.

  157. Right on! Just give me a sane, adult Democratic nominee and he or she will have my vote, my money, and my active participation in working for their election. The stakes are too high for dissension, the alternative too horrific to contemplate.

  158. I suspect Dr. Krugman has hit the nail on the head. I support Elizabeth Warren and hope she wins the nomination, but whoever becomes the standard bearer for the Dems will have my support. My enthusiastic support. What a difference it will be for millions of Americans and for American democracy if ANY of the Dems wins the White House and Democrats win the Senate. The stakes have probably never been higher. Thank you Dr. Krugman for giving us the "view from 50,000 feet". Hopefully it will temper some of our inclination towards sectarianism (mine included).

  159. @Gary A. Neither Democrats nor Republicans decide who the winner is. It is the independents.

  160. Will Bernie mess it up again is the question I ask myself? I would have voted for him had he won the primary in 2016, but I know many-and I mean many, of his supporters who did not vote for Hillary when Bernie lost the primary, and I fear they will do that yet again if he fails to win the primary this time. I am very concerned about his ego driving this...this is not a man who compromises, which is one reason I won't support him.

  161. @Eva Lockhart OR, perhaps, unlike the rest of the politicians who serve their corporate "masters" and NOT their constituents, the man who doesn't compromise as you claim is the one that actually sticks to his principles and won't waver on the issues, something other "corrupt" politicians have continually been doing in America for decades because their corporate donors told them to.

  162. @Deus That is right. Why should we vote for corporate democrats who line their own pockets and pass legislation to benefit their donors at the expense of the American people. Your "moderate" candidates may be for sale, but our vote is not.

  163. @Eva Lockhart Spot-on analysis!

  164. As we saw today, fear drives the stock market in only one direction: down. If Sanders wins, fear will drive it far down. In fact, a Sanders win in Iowa next week will give a short preview. That result isn't as likely if Biden wins and any drop will be less steep.

  165. When did the stock market become THE defining charcateristic of our economic well-being? It's time we worried about people more than the inexplicable and irrational fluctuations of a stock market that is only one part of the economic picture.

  166. @blgreenie Not fear of US politics, in this case, fear of a global epidemic.

  167. But the question Paul isn't able to answer is this: will Trump, if he loses, leave the White House voluntarily? And that leads to the next question: will the GOP force Trump to obey the law or back him up and agree that the election is fake? I'm not an alarmist but I can see these two things happening. Our founding fathers gave us a republic/democracy if we could keep it. Putting Trump in office and watching the GOP enable, abet, and support him gives this reader serious pause about the alleged impossibility of these things. They are quite possible especially with Trump's willingness to defy anything and everything. The GOP is not composed of patriotic citizens. No patriot could allow the farce of an impeachment that the GOP dominated senate just put us through. Democrats may not be a solid wall but there's a huge benefit for all of us in that. They are willing, on occasion, to listen to the people. A government that doesn't listen to it citizens is not a democracy or a government: it's a dictatorship. 1/31/2020 9:58pm first submit

  168. @hen3ry Well, actually, as we have already seen, it is Oligarchy that destroys democracy by buying politicians and the government who strictly serves their interests at the expense of everyone else, hence, politicians ignore their constituents on important policy like healthcare even though the majority of people want it.

  169. @hen3ry The electoral college determines the winner. If it isn't Trump, his term ends on Jan. 20, 2021. He may contest the electoral college vote, and if that is not resolved by Jan. 20 he is still out. It is not clear who would become president pro-tempore, the constitution has a procedure in case of electoral college ties, which if unresolved by Jan. 20 would put the Speaker of the House as the interim president.

  170. @hen3ry So, you can't sleep either? And for the same reason. Already I can see his tweets on November 4, "Fake election".

  171. Krugman is right that a realistic Democratic policy package post-election victory will look basically the same no matter who the candidate is. Congress is Congress, and its close split will determine the parameters of what is possible. This is not shaping up as a landslide election. Victory by a leftish candidate will meaningful long term to the extent that it shapes the party's future vision. The left versus center argument is mainly consequential in terms of how it affects the candidates' ability to appeal to people on the fringes. If Bernie loses the nomination and his young supporters blame manipulation by party elites, they will stay at home in November. And even if the process appears objectively fair, many of his newly activated supporters will be beyond consolation in their disappointment. On the other end of the spectrum, centrist independents and a few principled Republicans will struggle to vote for Sanders and his socialist rhetoric -- even if they understand that his election is unlikely to bring any of it to quick fruition. The key to Sanders' success here probably lies with the perception of his impeccable integrity. After bathing for three plus years in the sewer of Trumpism, some conservatives will vote for Sanders' honesty and ignore the rest. The wild card here is that dealing with the immediate crisis of climate change and environmental collapse poses a radical challenge. There is no effective moderate answer. Can people unite around this reality?

  172. Krugman is right: the Democratic Party has shifted so far to the left that regardless of which one wins the presidency we will be faced with crippling tax increases, massive and burdensome new regulations, and a further erosion in individual freedom.

  173. @Ken M. Yes crippling tax cuts and the elimination of all environmental regulation for air and water is just what we need. Also,just how has your freedom been "eroded"?

  174. Most important criterion: who can carry the Senate on his/her coattails. McConnell is destroying our democracy singlehandedly. He has done more damage than Trump.

  175. @Satter Yes. This may be true. But it's the citizens waking up and realizing how important it is to take back Congress completely.

  176. If either Elizabeth Warren (my favorite) or Bernie Sanders win the nomination. Republicans will use the old "S" word relentlessly. But that is okay because then Republicans will have to explain that they don't consider Social Security or Medicare as socialism and have no plans to cut them even though Trump recently said that he was thinking about it. Another thing: After the Senate's farce of an impeachment proceeding, a non-trial and cover-up, Republicans are going to be on the defensive until election day. Thinking Americans and Democrats are furious about the Republicans' failure to allow witnesses and that will rally Democrats, independents and anybody who cares about the Constitution, Democratic principles and decency. It's going to be a slugfest.

  177. @Whole Grains Be realistic, the Republicans. especially Trump, will say anything to get votes and deny everything they said previously that would cost them votes. They will say it repeatedly ad nauseam. Neither will they be on the defensive, they will celebrate Trump's acquittal as a sign of the Democrat's sore looser status and out of touch with the American electorate- never mind the polls or anything to the contrary. They do not speak to the likes of you and I or most of the NYT readers, their targets are the casually informed and those who feel victimized by being left behind- never mind that it is the consequence of the very Republican policies. It worked before in 2016.

  178. @Rudy Ludeke Bear in mind that Trump will campaign as an impeached president, not exactly a plus. Also, polls show that 75 per cent of the public, including Trump supporters, wanted witnesses in the Senate impeachment cover-up and Republicans thumbed their noses at them. Trump will need more than his base to win - independents will be the deciding factor. And according to the polls, independents are moving away from Trump. I don't think that most NYT readers are giddy with unreal expectations as you imply but a defeatist attitude won't help defeat Trump.

  179. @Whole Grains I don't think the Senate GOP did a cover up. They basically stated flat out that they didn't think Trump was wrong in using his power as President to go after a political rival. He feels being re-elected is in the country's best interest, therefore he is correct in using any means to that end. A few GOP Senators are uncomfortable with his actions, but they know Trump has complete support from GOP voters. They don't want culture wars.

  180. I disagree with the Professor. Policy does matter. Fiscal policies, social policies, environmental policies, trade policies, industrial policies. This country has tilted extremely to the right, to what some call Savage Capitalism, but the answer cannot be moving to the other extreme, to the destruction of Capitalism and the revival of Sovietism in our land. So it can not be Sanders, old Marxist Leninist that he is. It can't be either more of the same with Biden, if I ever understood what he stands for. We badly need to preserve Capitalism, but not this version of Capitalism that is inhumane, which seeks zero investment in people, in their health, their education, their well being. We need Capitalism in order to make the pie grow, but a version of it that will give a bigger share to the people, to the Middle Class, to the workers, to the sick , to the old and to the young. The only ones who seem poised to deliver policies that make sense and seek the center, based on their statements and past history are Steyer, and maybe Warren and Bloomberg. So it cannot be just anybody, because just anybody will lose.

  181. @Leon Bernie Sanders is no Marxist Leninist. To say something like that only makes people realize you don't know what you are talking about. When you call for a version of capitalism "that will give a bigger share to the people, to the Middle Class, to the workers, to the sick, to the old and to the young", you are describing democratic socialism; Bernie is a self-described democratic socialist. If you are serious about what you want, vote for Bernie.

  182. I agree with the woman on TV a few months ago who stated she’d vote for a ham sandwich over Trump - speaking of women, that demographic is crucial in producing another blue wave in December, and I think, generally speaking, women are more comfortable with the avuncular Joe Biden.

  183. @the doctor Almost every woman I know is going to vote for Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders, and I know a lot of women, in every age group imaginable.Some were interested in Harris, but she has dropped out (and a very small number like Amy Klobuchar). You underestimate women mightily, I fear.

  184. For the progressives to succeed in the eyes of their fervent supporters they need a super majority (60) in the Senate and retaining a solid majority in the House, whose Democratic center is not overly enthusiastic about some of Sander's or Warren's more radical proposals. Even getting a mere Senate majority in 2020 will be challenging, as both will not have the necessary coattails to assure a nearly universal straight ballot vote. Moderate and independent voters, as well as centrist Republicans, who are loath of Trump, but quite suspect of the left wing policies of Sander and Warren, will most likely split their vote with the expectation of keeping Congress near center. The result of such a scenario will be a nearly deadlocked Congress unlikely to advance the promises presented by the progressives. And it may get worse if the traditional gains by the out-of-power party are realized in the next midterm elections of 2022.

  185. The Democratic Party is in reality two political parties under a single roof. The part with Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar is more like the liberal parties of Canada and Australia. Sanders and Warren are like the social Democrats of Germany. Both camps may agree broadly on ends, but differ sharply in priorities. We see that across the country, In Virginia, the Dems passed the Equal Rights Amendment and several gun control laws. This reflected the priorities of the liberal wing. But there is no movement on repealing the right-to-work law, which the social democratic wing wants.

  186. The big question is - who are the rich? After all, Donald Trump raised taxes on the top 5% in income by eliminating the deductibility of state and local income taxes, but that doesn't seem to have thrilled the Democrats - quite to the contrary. Now the Democrats may just try to tax people with incomes over $1 million a year, but if they do that they will discover how few of them there are and how little money they would take in. In order to raised substantial amounts of money, they would have to tax the large number of people with incomes between $100K and $500K. Unfortunately, these people are the Democrats' most reliable voters and supporters, and if they hit them hard, they will forget about global warming and gay rights and start voting for their economic interest. In fact, I think this is why Bernie Sanders would be defeated, and not by a small margin. He cannot conceal that to fully enact his program would require much higher taxes on everyone, not just a few billionaires. The Trump campaign would pound on this point, and quite correctly.

  187. @Jonathan This is spot on. My wife is as reliable democrat voter as they come, and she wouldn’t vote for Bernie for exactly this reason. She sees him as a clear and present danger to our current standard of living. Simply “removing the cap” on social security taxes alone, as Bernie proposes, would be the single biggest tax increase in history by a large margin.

  188. @Rob hmmmm. please share with us how your wife thinks we're going to pay for social security in the future if we don't raise the cap.

  189. People are far too dismissive of how toxic Bernie would be as a nominee. Expanding the social safety net at the expense of our economy with higher taxes isn’t going to get suburbanites running to the ballot box. They have healthcare, making ends meet on 175k a year dual income household, already struggling with high taxes, and halfway home to saving enough for college for their kids. His platform will hurt them more than help them. It’s not what he will be able to do legislatively, it’s what he says he would do if he could, that will scare away voters.

  190. @Rob If your hypothetical suburbanites are halfway home to saving enough for college for their kids, why wouldn't they be HELPED by a Sanders presidency. They can sock some of that cash away for retirement. We paid for our kids to attend college and grad school using money we could use for retirement. We funded IRAs as soon as they were working summer jobs in high school, again with money we could have used for retirement. We did this out of fear for their futures in a country that refuses not just to guarantee health care but which refuses to rein in the high cost of that care, just so that the very richest can become richer. So by your reckoning, since we won't directly benefit from free tuition, we should just throw future generations under the bus. That's not the way we were raised. Bernie or Elizabeth are our first choices for the nomination. I hope to see a sane, intelligent person in the White House who will address income inequality and also our #1 threat, climate change.

  191. @SCL I don’t want for my 3 children a world of government guarantees of healthcare and education in exchange for oppressive taxes and reliance on government. That sounds like an awful future to me. We simply want different things.

  192. @Rob Sadly I believe you are quite correct.

  193. Krugman is spot on and could easily add the fact that there is likely to be at least one Supreme Court nomination during the term and any Democrat would provide a huge role in maintaining a balanced court.

  194. Finally a realistic view without a preferred candidate endorsement of what life without Trump will be like. Refreshing and encouraging and realistic. I expect that when Trump is finally gone the country and the world will be almost as excited as when President Obama was elected. Now all we have to do is vote !

  195. It would appear logical to anyone in the country that Mr. Krugman is correct. President Obama, who claimed he wanted to alter many more policies then he did, and it appears political opposition was the main reason he did not do more, obviously did not find it easy to enact legislation. If anything is to be done about this someone should come up with a way to hold presidential candidates to their pre-election claims. The policy of allowing someone 4 years per election to prove their worthlessness is ridiculous. If people (voters), are so inclined to vote for whoever promises them the most future benefit without the consideration of ability to carry through with the promises. In this regard President Trump might actually be a highly successful president. While he has not made everyone happy he has at least done and tried to do what he promised.

  196. @David Obama wanted a “ Grand Bargain” with the Republicans. That is, he wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare. Fortunately he failed, because Republicans didn’t want to give Obama what centrists would see as a great victory.

  197. The things is, Bernie is way ahead of you, Mr. Krugman. As the new ad Killer Mike dropped for Bernie -- the best political ad since the 2016 "America" ad (I encourage you all to google it) -- we are all in this together. Unless you are in that 1%, really that .01%, who has been soaking up all the material wealth of the planet, we are being denied basic dignities and a planet to continue to inhabit. Bernie doesn't punch down and he is the most popular politician in the U.S. There are no scandals, no record of flipflopping, so people trust him. For these reasons, not just for his policy agenda, he is the candidate that can and will pull this off. As the ad says, everyone is welcome. And if you are comfortable, you might be a little bit afflicted -- but that is far better than being totally cooked by climate change.

  198. @Parapraxis if only he were a Democrat!

  199. @Parapraxis Too bad he can't beat Trump. The idiot calls himself a "socialist" and Trump will bash him into oblivion with that label. And ironically he isn't even a socialist. He is a "Nordic Capitalist."

  200. Sanders or Warren are the only two candidates that are going to be able to turn out a significant number of younger people to pull the proverbial vote lever for them. Youth votes are going to be the key the for the Dems winning this election and saving the world by disposing wannbe King Trump before he can do further damage. And it is my contention that a lot of older voters, like myself, are also going to come down on Sanders/Warren's sides when all is said and done. We need big change and Biden/Klobuchar cannot bring it.

  201. @Joseph I think some younger voters are enthusiastic about Buttigieg.

  202. @Joseph Socialists will never win the center, the mid west or the south. Get ready for 4 more year of trump.

  203. I'm pulling for Bernie. Why? Two reasons. First, once the public would actually start paying attention, his anti capitalist, everyone deserves to make exactly the same amount regardless of results or effort idealism will start to scare hard working people. Second, in the event the electorate actually likes the concept of a free lunch, it won't really matter if he is elected. How old is he? 110? Not likely he would serve long under the pressures of the position before his VP, AOC steps in. What a cluster this would be.

  204. @Guy Thompto Hate to break it to you but AOC at age 30 will be too young to be VP next time around.

  205. But if the GOP holds onto the Senate, it will just be continuing more resolutions on the budget and executive orders.

  206. If the name of the game is Realpolitik, then the name of the candidate should be Bloomberg. He (and his money) are best positioned to endure and eventually prevail in what is going to be the dirtiest campaign in American history.

  207. The economic and financial market experience during the past three years suggests that markets can survive and even thrive despite political leadership that may be incompetent, corrupt and/or ignorant of some basic economic principles. That same resiliency should be taken into account by those who fear the possibility of a radical left-ward swing resulting from the 2020 election. The biggest problem with Warren and Sanders is that they do not seem to be willing to learn from mistakes made in other countries. The head of a group called "Democratic Socialists of America" was interviewed after his group's membership increased to 50,000 from 5,000 after Bernie Sanders candidacy. He was asked if there was any place and time in history that was closest to where your view of democratic socialism flourished. His honest answer was: "Sweden in the 1960s." Sweden remained capitalist throughout that period and has since rejected many of the things that were tried in the 1960s. Today the student loan issue is a bigger problem in Sweden than in the USA. Of course, those who think that the USA can retain market-priced healthcare indefinitely are also unwilling to learn from other countries. In any case, in a county with extensive checks and balances, such as America, regardless of the election results, changes resulting from legislation occur very slowly, if ever..."

  208. Sigh. It doesn’t matter whom the Democrats choose because trump is likely headed for a second term, especially now that the Republican-controlled Senate is poised to give him free rein to invite every country on the planet to meddle in the 2020 election on his behalf. That and the number of Democrats who, in a fit of pique, are already threatening to sit out this election, vote for a third-party candidate, or vote for trump if their favorite candidate doesn’t win the nomination.

  209. It matters who the Dems choose because if they pick Bernie, we will get Trump's policies after Trump defeats Bernie. So it makes an enormous difference in policy.

  210. Professor Krugman, along with many others I cannot thank you sufficiently for the clarity, information, guidance and wisdom you have provided since the buildup to the Iraq War back in the grim days of the early 2000s. You have been an authentic hero and source of necessary for analysis during our era.

  211. If America wants to have a future, it must come to grips with the reality that Trump was just not a blip on the screen of American politics but, actually forty years in the making started by the Reagan Presidency and his obsession with limiting government in the everyday lives of Americans. Of course, what he really meant was that weakening government was done to benefit major corporations like Exxon/Mobile and Goldman Sachs, NOT the average American who looked to government to help with securing decent healthcare, social security, medicare and medicaid and all those institutions that protect Americans. Fast forward to today where the 20 yr. Princeton/Northwestern study confirming that almost ALL public policy decisions have been made in favor of corporations and/or lobbyists, that is, despite overwhelming public support for the contrary. Trump came along and told them what they wanted to hear and the system was rigged, they were desperate and bought into it, of course, he lied. In order to have the best chance of preventing other demagogues from emerging from the scrap pile, the major issues that ultimately elected Trump, must be seriously and concretely dealt with, no more tinkering around the edges, which ultimately solves nothing and will just create another Trump down the road. Moderate/centrist candidates like Joe Biden are definitely not the answer nor the solution, history confirms, they are the problem.

  212. Whoever wins will need to do a lot of backtracking just to get our government agencies functioning again. Even so: The environment won’t wait. Universal healthcare has to be a priority. And for god’s sake give women equal rights. Taxes on corporations and high incomes have to increase. Military spending has to decrease. Who wins the Presidency matters a lot less than voting out every single Republican we possibly can. All of them. The only good Republican Congressman is an unemployed Republican Congressman.

  213. Any of these Ds are pretty much guaranteed to lose, it’s about preserving your chance to run again in a more open contest, not against an incumbent President. Pete and Amy might get another chance in 2024. Bernie, Liz and Biden not so much as all may be deceased by then. It likely won’t be Pense, but rather Nikki Haley or Tim Scott. Accepting a second slot on a likely D losing ticket is a move to retirement like Paul Ryan or retired in place like The Senator in VA who has become so irrelevant that I can’t recall his name

  214. "[I]t probably doesn’t matter much who the Democrats nominate — as long as he or she wins, and Democrats take the Senate too." This is exactly what we need to fight for: Trump's defeat and a Democratic Senate and House.

  215. I take this as an excellent response to a recent column by Brett Stephens, in which he had explained why he couldn’t vote for Sanders.

  216. Seriously, all the plausible Democratic candidates sound so intelligent, articulate, and mostly civil by comparison with any of the Republicans that I would be thrilled with any one of them.

  217. So I agree but... Exactly was the same was true of Corbyn and the arguments were made: he could only govern in a tempering coalition . Result, a Tory landslide. Bernie just can’t win. All he will do is re-elect Trump.

  218. I don’t think anybody really knows who has the best chance of defeating Trump, so people might as well vote for their favorite candidate. I mean that it would be just as well if people put less energy into trying to guess who is the most “electable” and more into finding out about the relevant issues and where the candidates stand on them and make their decision on that basis. I am getting the impression that the voters are driving themselves nuts over this issue of who is the most electable, when that is a question nobody can answer.

  219. Thank you, Professor Krugman! Thanks for reminding us that electing a Democratic president is JOB ONE this November. Let’s forget about the political purity tests: like, for example, this candidate is too much of a socialist, or that candidate is Old School, much too moderate, and tied to the past. Political purity is a luxury we can’t afford right now; the downside risk is just too awful. So let’s back the Democratic nominee: anyone or anything would be better than a Trump victory. I really, really wanted Cory Booker, but I’ll vote for whoever is on the menu in November. Professor Krugman and I recommend that you do the same.

  220. I'm surprised that Dr. Krugman of all people would throw out the middle-class tax increase for Medicare-for-All without acknowledging that premiums would disappear. Whatever people pay for private insurance is likely more than the tax replacing them. I say this as someone who doesn't think Americans can handle single payer, politically. Too many vested private interests. I agree with basically the entire rest of the article.

  221. @Roarke I agree also. The reasoning on medicare for all does, however, have the fatal flaw of ignoring that healthcare is much cheaper in other countries (including Canada while providing better health outcomes and longevity for those countries.)

  222. I agree with Krugman that it does not matter that much which Democratic candidate gets elected, the policies actually enacted will be fairly similar. Although with Bernie I am not sure how willing he is to compromise with Congress. He may end up vetoing legislation hoping for a more aggressive one and end up gumming up legislation and slow down any progress. What is really important is to get rid of Trump, and there I must say I think Bernie will win the popular vote but is less likely to win the electoral college than others. The arithmetic is simple: his promises may appeal to Trump fans but they are not going to abandon Trump, while more moderate former Trump voters who could shift are likely to fall for the socialist bugaboo. If some Bernie supporters are such that they will not vote for anyone but Bernie they become the equivalent of Trump supporters. I hope they are more open minded than that, otherwise we are doomed to live with Trump for another 4 years.

  223. Part of the reason the left didn't do well in the 2018 midterms was the Democratic leadership recruited candidates for the districts they thought they could win. The left was left with the remaining, harder, districts. Yes, the party isn't going to magically transform itself if say Sanders gets elected. But we shouldn't assume Trump's incompetence and fecklessness have anything to do with what might happen under a progressive President who comes into office having thought through hope to get things done. An inspiring President can indeed lead our country in a new direction, for better or worse. We are at a turning point inn our history. Let's hope we make a good decision.

  224. Another commonality: anyone who gets the Democratic nomination will be described by the Republicans and Fox News as a socialist. Of course they would say this about Bernie or Liz; they would also say this about Amy Klobuchar or Joe Biden. So the idea that we can't have somebody from the progressive wing of the party because of what the Republicans would say about him or her is nonsense. They will carry on about socialism no matter who the candidate is. So we should choose our own candidate, not let the Republicans choose one for us.

  225. @Kathleen Martin Everyone seems to forget that unlike in 2016, Trump now has a record AND baggage. He certainly can sell whatever he wants to his base, however, when it comes to actual policies and how he has continually lied about the dozens of promises he made in the primaries, Sanders will have no problem. He can just start with the failures and lies about healthcare, record debt and deficits, fighting never ending wars and their mammoth costs and when its over, they will have forgotten about the label "socialist". Trump has already warned he might not show up to any debates, of course, because he thinks they would be rigged in favor of his opponent. If Sanders is the nominee, Trump will mot be there.

  226. @Deus I don’t think his base cares about his baggage. And, I’m not sure anyone who is somehow “undecided” when it comes to Trump cares either. Hope I’m wrong though ;)

  227. One of our best reforming Prime Ministers, Gough Whitlam, declared: "Only the impotent can afford to be pure". An core asset in politics, the possibility of compromise is essential in any democracy; to believe otherwise, results in the dystopia which is Trump's America (as noted elsewhere in the NYT, Senator McConnell completely rejects any bipartisanship), and regrettably in Australia, a lost decade of any effective action on climate change, because the conservatives in our govt have been intransigent in compromising on the primacy of fossil fuels over sustainable renewable technology - and the consequences are being seared into our souls forevermore. We are reaping the results of that decade of apathy ... how will it play out in the US of A?