Biden and Sanders represent two different strands within the party. One is a pragmatic centrist, closely associated with Washington; the other is an avowed socialist, calling for the dismembering of the United States political and corporate establishment(AFP)
Biden and Sanders represent two different strands within the party. One is a pragmatic centrist, closely associated with Washington; the other is an avowed socialist, calling for the dismembering of the United States political and corporate establishment(AFP)

The Democrats veer towards the centre

For a winning platform, Biden would do well to study the Democratic left
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON MAR 12, 2020 08:07 PM IST

The Democrats prefer a candidate who can save the Oval Office over a candidate who can save America. Former vice-president, Joe Biden, has a near hammerlock on the Democratic Party candidacy following a slew of primary victories over the past six weeks. The only other serious candidate, Bernie Sanders, will continue to soldier on, but will require a miracle to win. They represent two different strands within the party. One is a pragmatic centrist, closely associated with Washington; the other is an avowed socialist, calling for the dismembering of the United States political and corporate establishment. Mr Biden’s support comes from black Americans and middle-class white liberals. Mr Sanders dominates the youth and does well with working-class whites and Hispanics. The deciding factor for Democratic voters has been simple: Which candidate has the best chance to defeat Donald Trump?

The Democrats had two schools of thought on how to bring down Mr Trump. Mr Biden — and candidates like Pete Buttegieg and Michael Bloomberg — argued the party base was suitably mobilised and needed to focus on the 30 to 40% of voters unaffiliated to either party. Many of these are Republicans repulsed by Mr Trump, and would consider backing a centrist Democrat. Mr Sanders and Elizabeth Warren represented the alternative school. Underlying socioeconomic problems afflicting the white working class were the drivers behind the voter revolt that brought Mr Trump to victory. An anti-establishment figure, touting radical solutions such as universal health care and an anti-Wall Street attitude, would resonate with this class — and actually resolve some of their problems as well. There was evidence to support both points of view. In the end, it is the centrist position which has come out on top. But Mr Biden would do well to take a closer look at the policy agenda of the Democratic left if he wants to stitch together a winning platform.

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