What a difference a week or so makes. Through Iowa and New Hampshire, with some youthful and diverse gender options available in the field for the Democratic primaries, Joe Biden could barely manage a distant fourth place in Iowa and a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire. Bernie Sanders should have won Iowa (thanks to some last-minute fudging for Pete Buttigieg) and won New Hampshire, although with Buttigieg hot on his heels.
Biden dominated in North Carolina and within a few days both Buttigieg and Klobuchar mysteriously dropped out of the race. Suddenly these two teamed up with Beto O’Rourke to throw their support behind Biden. With Buttigieg looking formidable and possibly cluttering up the results, the powers that be obviously saw an intolerable situation if he were to complicate things leading up to Super Tuesday. He was allegedly promised a high position in a Biden administration if he would patiently wait his turn, thus dutifully marched to Party whims. Meanwhile, the Bernie Sanders camp must be suffering from serious Déjà Vu.
It was clear in 2016 that Bernie Sanders was pushed aside for the Party’s anointed in Hillary Clinton. He accepted this role graciously and deferred in support of Clinton, a move that left many of his supporters scratching their heads. It is now obvious that for 2020 the Democrat National Committee has anointed Biden as their candidate. It remains to be seen of Sanders will play nice with this occurrence. He certainly has the incentive to press his candidacy forward in spite of Party parlor games.
Fast forward to Super Tuesday and results show that Sanders has the legs and the delegates to give Biden a run for his money. This must have the DNC seething with concern. Another day later and Mike Bloomberg, after torching a half a billion of his own dollars in incessant advertising on every imaginable media outlet, dutifully gets the message, steps aside and buddies up to Biden. One more day and Elizabeth Warren toes the line by dropping out, although she seems peeved at the dictate and has yet to endorse Biden.
A few things are becoming clear from all this. The first is that in the Democrat party the will of the people is not necessarily the first priority. The Party machine wants its way and all paths needed to be cleared for Biden. This is concerning for any Democrat who feels an old, Establishment curmudgeon like Biden is not the best choice, especially if unseating Trump is a priority. Second, it sends a message to the youthful, radical leftists like Ocasio-Cortez that the old guard still has some game.
Third, and perhaps more concerning, is the state of Biden himself. Bumbling and gaffe-prone, often looking and sounding bewildered, he shows real signs of cognitive decline. As a man who will turn eighty in the office were he to prevail, questions of capability and competency are legitimate. Even though he is the candidate who can be controlled by Establishment, is he a candidate that can actually execute the many pressing duties of the office?
The Democrats have a real struggle ahead. It seems apparent that Sanders will not step aside gracefully this time and threatens to take the party in the direction of a brokered convention. Should that occur anything is possible. The Democrat elite knows that Sanders cannot be controlled, at least to the extent Biden can be. The situation can quickly become complicated, and unforeseen consequences loom, when Party elites fiddle with time-tested processes to engineer a specific outcome. It looks like the Democrats learned very little from their failures in 2016.