In recent weeks, I’ve tried my damnedest not to comment on the Democratic presidential race. After shooting my keyboard off a few times earlier on, I began to realize that I was overreacting to the latest development instead of focusing on the bigger picture.
Political coverage encourages this kind of short-term thinking. The media have an interest in hyping up the news, to keep you tuned in or reading or clicking or However You Are Accessing Our Content. But in the long run, most of this stuff washes out.
If you needed any proof, just look at a roughly 48-hour period in the middle of this week. On Tuesday, there was a good chance of continuing deep division sparking a battle-marred convention that could have paved the way for a Trump presidency.
And then, not necessarily in this order, we got:
— Clinton scoring decisive victories on primary night
— Clinton capping the night with a strong victory speech
— Key Democrats making skillful overtures to Bernie Sanders
— Sanders deftly changing his tone: vowing to continue the battle on issues, but forswearing any attacks on Clinton
— Elizabeth Warren issuing a strong endorsement of Clinton
— President Obama doing the same.
And just like that, all the drama and intrigue and potential disaster of the last twelve months was just gone in a puff of smoke. Turned out that all the key players are grownups who share a common agenda and work toward the same goal: keeping the White House in Democratic hands and gaining ground in Congress and state governments.
Some of us are still working through the stages of grief, but what’s happened in just a couple of days seems little short of miraculous — in light of the preceding months of breathless coverage focused on every little sign of division.
The events of this week leave no doubt that the Democrats will form a united front in the coming campaign. This week also erased any doubt in my mind that Donald Trump will lose. He’s already blowing it big-time, and the Dems have a Murderers’ Row lined up against him.
As someone noted on MSNBC, when Bill Clinton is your number-four campaign surrogate*, then you’ve got one hell of a rotation.
*Behind President Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, not necessarily in that order.
The other good news? Bernie has begun the process of transforming his “political revolution” from a personal crusade into a movement of lasting impact. He moved the Democrats to the left through the effectiveness of his campaign; his voters will be impossible to ignore going forward.
The accepted wisdom on “the politics of the possible” has undergone a seismic shift. For years we’ve been simply trying to limit the damage — accepting incremental reforms or slightly less harmful cuts, celebrating non-defeats as though they were victories. Now, a bunch of stuff is suddenly on the table: universal health care, a $15 minimum wage, enhanced Social Security, creating a fairer tax system, re-establishing a progressive Supreme Court, and bringing campaign finance under some semblance of control.
The liberals might just be back on offense for the first time since pre-Vietnam Lyndon Johnson. And I don’t think I’ve felt this good about politics since the fall of Richard Nixon.