Far too often, the Democratic nominating process is a prolonged demolition derby, one that goes on far too long, leaving bad feelings, a divided party, and a wounded candidate. By some bizarre mix of random events and luck, this could be the year when the nominee is effectively known before the first primary.
As readers of these posts will know, I have been a huge admirer of Elizabeth Warren since I first met her more than 15 years ago. She has published in our pages. She is one of the most authentic and decent people in public life, and has a gift for turning people’s personal struggles into a believable narrative of needed radical change. She also speaks about race as effectively as any white candidate.
Due to her own talents, which have steadily gained broader recognition, plus some sheer flukes, Warren increasingly seems to have a clear path to early nomination.
None of the outsider candidates really caught fire. Kamala Harris was never clear about what she stood for. Mayor Pete, a deeply good man, got tangled up with police racial conflicts in his own city. Beto O’Rourke had his moments, but couldn’t get out of first gear.
Bernie Sanders seems to be laying the ground for staying in the race long enough to keep raising issues, but eventually suspending his campaign. Unlike his well-justified anger at Hillary Clinton, Sanders has no animus against Warren. The two are longtime allies.
It looks increasingly as if Sanders’s historic role will be that of prophet who doesn’t get to the promised land. He has been the leader with the courage to open the door to an analysis and set of policies that seemed extreme but are in fact mainstream and imperative.
As for Biden, his candidacy was slowly sinking even before the Ukraine mess. And even though he and Hunter did nothing illegal, the optics were terrible and the last thing the Democrats need is a candidate whose son evokes comparisons with Trump offspring.
This is to say that Democrats will be unified. Some on the Wall Street wing of the party, with their whole predatory business model at risk, could even back Trump. But if a radically progressive, broadly plausible Democratic candidate is on course to win the nomination early, it almost makes you believe in miracles.