In his Wall Street Journal column Daniel Henninger tries to identify the Democrats’ core problem:
Now that Bernie Sanders—once an obscure socialist senator from Vermont—is officially the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, it is time to confront what that means.
It does not mean the U.S. is flirting with socialism. That’s not going to happen. The meaning of Bernie’s ascent is that the Democratic Party, older even than he is, has simply run out of gas.
The Democrats resemble Europe’s aging political parties—Britain’s Labour, France’s Socialists, Germany’s Social Democrats and Christian Democrats. All have simply deflated with voters.
Signs of public fatigue with the Democrats could be seen in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Besides incompetence, the big story out of Iowa was low turnout. In New Hampshire the story was voter indecision. Once past Bernie’s 25% cement-block base, many voters were flipping a coin in the voting booth to pick from the other candidates.
What does it mean that Elizabeth Warren, by now a household name, got dropped to fourth place? Joe Biden’s humiliating fifth is a personal disaster, but what does that say about the party itself?
Circling overhead is Mike Bloomberg, supposedly the party’s savior. The truth is Barack Obama was the party’s final savior, and a second coming isn’t likely. Recall the talk after the 2016 election about how the Democrats had “no bench.” They just rolled benchless into 2020.
The Democrats’ floundering to find a candidate is deeper than the split between moderates and the left. It looks to me like the accumulated costs of its long history as the self-declared party of government are finally coming due.
The party’s problem is that it doesn’t look competent anymore.
I don’t think that any of those is the Democrats’ core problem. I think their core problem is conflicting objectives. For the Democratic nomenklatura, who depend on influence peddling and public office for their livelihoods and those of their families, the Prime Directive is keeping both of those alive. To do that they are paying lip service to the often conflicting goals of the financial sector, blacks, Hispanics, and young people, maintaining their loyalty without actually fulfilling the at least implied promises they’re making.
I think the solution for that nomenklatura is to be satisfied with a smaller cut of the take and to start fulfilling their promises. They can’t do that without angering some of those constituencies. They must choose among them.