Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may be in line with the Democratic Party when it comes to the 2020 contender, but his progressive supporters may not be, according to a Wednesday report in The Hill.
Although the Biden campaign has made every effort to court and win progressive support — including a push to put progressive and Democratic Socialist superstars like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on its policy teams — the relationship between the Biden campaign and certain far-left elements of the party is still tenuous and after a week of campaign announcements focusing largely on Republican (and former Republican) support for the former Veep, progressives are speaking out.
“Biden is transparently taking a bet to win over a group of anti-Trump Republicans but at the expense of what? Potentially losing some of the largest movements in history?” progressive activist and Sanders supporter Nomi Kurst told The Hill. “His excitement is extremely low and that should always be alarming for candidates. It’s the Hillary Clinton strategy all over again.”
Biden has been open about courting “compromise” voters, particularly so-called “Never Trump” Republicans and other conservatives who fear giving the current president another four years in office. Groups like the Lincoln Project are openly targeting Trump from the center-right, and just last week, a group of former George W. Bush administration staffers announced their own effort to unseat Trump, a super PAC named “43 Alumni for Biden.”
Biden has welcomed these efforts with open arms, and speaking over the weekend, stressed his ability to extend an olive branch across the aisle.
“It’s how our government was designed to work,” Biden told the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union. “I’ve done it my whole life. No one’s ever doubted my word, and I’ve been able to bring Democrats and Republicans together in the United States Congress to pass big things, to deal with big issues.”
Progressives say they may bolt the party, though, if Biden keeps up efforts to woo Republicans, stressing that partisan rancor is at an all-time high and Republicans are likely to oppose Biden policy efforts once he takes office.
“It’s very hard to understand why after going through eight years of the Obama administration that Joe Biden thinks we’ll be able to carve out grand deals with Republicans,” one activist told The Hill. “The way we’ll get Republicans to the table is by having a progressive movement in the Democratic Party that is strong enough to force them there.”
That is, of course, unlikely. Although Sanders was the last remaining threat to Biden in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, it appears his market-share has diminished since 2016. The Vermont socialist did not “expand the electorate” as he claimed, and his numbers with young voters and voters of color — two very important 2020 constituencies — declined from 2016 to 2020.
But if they can’t force Biden to the left on the campaign trail, progressive groups say, they’ll try to force Biden to the left in the White House, according to at least one far-left strategist: “We should be investing time in building a much more powerful movement that will have to, without a doubt, fight a President Biden and a tidal wave of corporate interests who never go away and will have the usual access to the White House.”