As the dust settles after a frenzied Super Tuesday, one thing is crystal clear: the race is now narrowed to bumbling, billionaire backed Joe Biden and movement-based, “organizer in chief” Bernie Sanders. Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, with his uninspiring “moderate” program tailored to corporate interests and his general weakness as a candidate, provides a real opportunity for Trump to win another four years in the oval office. As Bernie correctly pointed to in his speech last night, the options for working people couldn’t be starker.
The most startling news out of last night is that the Democratic Party elite managed to pull off an eleventh hour coup to undermine Sanders’ political revolution.
On the eve of Super Tuesday, following a blow-out victory for Biden in South Carolina, the establishment pulled back the curtain on their sheer desperation to get rid of Sanders.
Beto O’Rourke reemerged out of obsolescence to throw his weight behind Biden hours before voters in his home state of Texas would go to the polls. Earlier in the day, Amy Klobuchar announced she was dropping out of the race and endorsing Biden. The day prior, Pete Buttigieg announced he was dropping out. He too announced he would be supporting Biden on Monday.
Bloomberg was the one remaining challenge to Biden from the “moderate wing” and after a poor showing last night he too has dropped out and thrown his weight behind Biden.
The corporate media diligently reported Joe Biden’s “reemergence”. As his campaign aide said themself, “It’s been an earned media tsunami into Super Tuesday. All you’re seeing is Joe Biden. And that’s been by design.” Alongside Biden’s positive coverage, a dark money PAC called the “Big Tent Project” with connections to the Democratic elite spent nearly $1 million on anti-Bernie ads. This is on top of the potentially tens of millions spent by Bloomberg on savage anti-Bernie ads including ones entitled “How the NRA paved the road to Washington for Sanders.”
Despite his bumbling incompetence, the establishment of the Democratic Party has managed to prop up Joe Biden as their last line of defense against Sanders cinching in the nomination.
What Are The Results?
As we go to press, Biden will walk away from Super Tuesday with a total delegate haul of 566. He won a majority in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.
Bernie, on the other hand, stands at 500 delegates. He won outright in Colorado, Utah, Vermont and is winning California by bigger and bigger margins as the mail-in ballots are tallied.
Bernie won voters under 30 by a huge margin and led the pack with Latino voters by similarly wide margins. According to exit polls in California, 50% of primary voters called for an “overhaul of the economic system in the United States.” 55% said they support single-payer health care and 73% said they support free college. On top of this, 53% of voters said they have a “favorable view of socialism.”
While Bernie may have lost in North Carolina and Virginia, his ideas are winning. Exit polling showed more than half of voters say they support replacing all private health insurance with a single-payer government plan. In South Carolina, that number was 49%.
In the Southern states, Biden had a distinct advantage with older, more conservative voters. His ability to invoke nostalgia for the Obama era is to thank for handing him a victory in a number of these states. In exit polls in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama, nearly half of voters said they wanted to “return to the policies of former President Barack Obama.” Unsurprisingly, Biden was able to capture those voters purely because of his relationship to the Obama era.
Huge portions of Biden’s vote last night came from voters who landed on a nominee in the past few days. This is not at all surprising and it indicates an overall challenge for Biden as the race progresses. The past week will no doubt be the height of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. He has been given cover by the corporate media, by the last minute dropouts Buttigieg and Klobuchar, and by an overall crowded field where he could avoid being in the direct line of fire. With the field now narrowed to three, Biden, Bernie, and Warren, he will not be able to seek shelter behind the chaos of a seven candidate debate stage. It is for precisely this reason that Bernie needs to draw sharp distinctions between his political revolution and Biden’s status quo, big business politics.
Biden Is Not Your Friend
Biden’s Super Tuesday blitz comes in spite of his tremendous weakness as a candidate. Not only does he openly represent a continuation of the status quo politics that helped create Trump to begin with, he’s not even an articulate representative of those politics. Despite a victory last night, it is by no means guaranteed that Biden will win in a drawn out race between himself and Bernie Sanders.
Two-thirds of the delegates are still up for grabs. While Biden can certainly sink his own ship with continued gaffes and incompetence, Bernie needs to fire the cannon. He cannot pull any punches in exposing what Joe Biden represents.
Biden opposes Medicare for All, he opposes a Green New Deal, he supports disastrous free trade agreements that are a race to the bottom for workers globally. He supported the Iraq war, he’s argued time and again for cuts to social security, he was an architect of the 1994 crime bill which led to the racist mass incarceration state. He opposes cancelling student debt, in the years after its passage he said Roe v. Wade “goes too far”, and he’s happily voted to roll back bankruptcy protections for working class Americans.
This disastrous record exists alongside the clear question of his current mental competency. Last night during his Super Tuesday victory speech he mixed up his wife and his sister. Just days prior he talked about “Super Thursday” and announced he was “running for the U.S. Senate.” Again what will happen if Biden is the nominee and he has to debate Trump on national television? It is a testament to the overall weakness of the Democratic Party elite that this is the best they could come up with to bring down Bernie.
In fact, the Democratic establishment spent months looking desperately for an alternative to Biden only to wind up backing him in order to stop Sanders at all costs. But given that they know Biden’s terrible weakness better than anyone, their full scale intervention on his behalf was equivalent to saying: we prefer another four years of Trump to a Sanders nomination.
At this point, if our movement for a political revolution is going to win, Bernie Sanders needs to stop referring to Biden as “my friend”. He needs to urgently take the gloves off and expose to millions of Americans what a disastrous opponent Biden would be to Trump and what a disastrous president Biden would be for ordinary Americans.
Why Did Biden Win?
Among a big section of the Democraic electorate, there has been a desperate search for someone “electable” to take on Donald Trump. The corporate media has sought to inoculate millions of people with the idea that Sanders is too far left and that he does not stand a chance in a general election. This is, of course, despite countless polls showing Bernie as the best and most reliable candidate to beat Trump. They relentlessly reported on the “down ballot carnage” that would be allegedly triggered by a Sanders nomination, pointing to the threat of losing the Democratic majority in the House.
Their relentless and hysterical red-baiting of Sanders, depicting him as an untrustworthy salesman promising the world with no plan to pay for it, facilitated many voters gravitating toward Biden in the past few days. In many cases, these Biden voters have had to actively suspend their knowledge of how desperately weak he is as a candidate.
The Democratic establishment and ruling elite owe a debt of gratitude to the corporate media who worked overtime in the days after South Carolina to report on the inevitability of a Biden sweep on Super Tuesday. In many ways, they relentlessly spoke it into being. The state of semi-hysteria about finding an “electable” candidate combined with the lack of popular confidence in the other “moderates” allowed the media and the ruling class to engage in mass psychological manipulation.
Of course thanks are also in order to Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar whose last minute departure from the race propped up Biden as the only reliable choice for “moderates” in the party. They also owe their most sincere gratitude to the black misleadership class in South Carolina, most notably Jim Clyburn, whose endorsement of Biden almost single handedly gave him that critical victory before Super Tuesday. According to exit polls in South Carolina, 61 percent of Democratic voters identified Clyburn’s endorsement as an important factor in their vote and 27 percent identified it as the most important factor.
Similarly, the leadership of trade unions like the ATU and IBEW lining up behind Biden without a serious democratic process represents a betrayal of the real needs of their members. If the union leaders in the U.S. had coalesced behind the candidate who wants to build a stronger labor movement, it could play a big role in pushing back against decades of ever-widening inequality. There is still time for this to happen but it will require massive pressure from the union ranks.
An outstanding question in Biden’s bump is the role played behind the scenes by Barack Obama. It is rumoured that Obama spent significant energy in the days leading up to Super Tuesday currying the favor of key representatives of the Democratic elite. Despite Obama’s verbal commitment to support “whoever the nominee is,” we should not mistake this for genuine neutrality. Obama himself is a loyal soldier for the ruling elite and views Sanders, like they all do, as an existential threat.
But we must also say that as the Biden surge developed, the Sanders campaign should not have hesitated to go on the offense first in South Carolina and then in the other Super Tuesday states. For example, they should have gone after Biden’s record on Social Security, a major concern for the older voters disproportionately represented in South Carolina and a number of other states.
Elizabeth Warren: Drop Out and Support Bernie
The writing was on the wall the day before Super Tuesday that the Democratic Party establishment was finally settling on its candidate. Klobuchar and Buttigieg’s last minute exit was a declaration of war on the Sanders campaign. At that precise moment, if Elizabeth Warren were truly committed to nominating a progressive to go toe to toe with Trump, she would have exited the race and thrown her support behind Bernie.
Instead, despite knowing full well that she has no path to the nomination, she stayed in the race and siphoned off hundreds of thousands of votes that could have instead gone to Bernie. She did not make it into the top two in a single Super Tuesday state, including her home state of Massachusetts, and split the progressive vote, effectively handing delegates to Joe Biden.
In fact, Elizabeth Warren has been shifting to the right for the past couple months, abandoning a clear commitment to Medicare for All and more recently beginning to take money again from a corporate PAC. She also performed valuable service for the establishment with her own line of false attacks against Sanders.
She is now understandably on the receiving end of wrath from progressives across the country who are calling on her to drop out and get behind Bernie. With key states like Michigan going to the polls next week, this is precisely what she should do.
There are signs that she might exit the race in the coming days, with emails going out to her campaign staff indicating their “disappointment” with the results and that they will need to assess where to go from here.
What Does This Mean For Bernie?
Primaries are never ideal terrain for working class representatives. The electorates tend to be older and better off than the electorate in a general election and this no doubt contributed to the results last night. Despite Biden’s very slim delegate lead coming out of Super Tuesday, two-thirds of delegates are still up for grabs and the race is far from over. This will be the highest point of Joe Biden’s campaign and Bernie could still win a plurality of delegates going into the Democratic National Convention. There is an outside chance of Bernie winning outright if Biden implodes which can’t be ruled out. But it is far more likely that neither Biden nor Sanders will win an outright majority of delegates at this stage, which means a showdown at the Convention – which we’ve been pointing to – is still most likely.
Last night should serve as a rallying cry to working class and young people across the country that we need to ferociously build the movement behind Sanders. The Democratic elite have enormous tools at their disposal, including their tight grip over the corporate media. The only defense we have against the establishment stealing yet another election is our grassroots movement.
While Bernie is no doubt appealing to young people, particularly young people of color, we did not see the type of voter turnout last night among young people that could have tipped the scales to Bernie. There are a number of reasons this could be the case, including the at times prohibitively long lines and waiting times to vote. It could also be due to a certain complacency that set in after Bernie’s sweeping victory in Nevada where it seemed almost inevitable he would remain the frontrunner.
Regardless of the exact reason, one thing is for sure. If Bernie is going to defeat the establishment’s war against him, we need to build a grassroots campaign the likes of which this country has never seen. Bernie’s supporters cannot simply cast their vote for him and call it a day. Every single Bernie supporter needs to get active in his campaign, canvassing their neighbors, organizing their classmates, convincing their coworkers.
A key part of Sanders’ winning strategy in California was the grassroots organizing that was done in the Latino community. Young Latino Bernie supporters hosted “Tamales for Tío Bernie” cook outs and neighborhood meetings to convince their friends and families to go out and vote for Bernie. We need to extend this strategy across the whole country.
Beating the Establishment
Winning this race and beating back the Democratic elite was never going to be easy. Their ability to prop up Joe Biden and propel him through Super Tuesday speaks to their capacity to anoint even the least competent person as their chosen candidate. Our movement is not just running against Biden, it’s not just running against the individuals that make up the DNC, it’s running against the entire apparatus of the Democratic Party which includes its corporate talking heads in the media, its billionaire donors, and even its own rules.
We cannot win a political revolution with our hands tied behind our backs. There is no clearer proof than what happened yesterday that the Democratic Party is a tool of big business and that we need a new party in this country for working people.
The battle is only going to get more vicious and intense from here and we need to be prepared for a showdown at the Democratic National Convention in July. If Sanders goes into the Convention with a plurality of delegates, the establishment will almost certainly attempt to deny him the nomination.
Socialist Alternative is calling for a #Million2Milwaukee this July to back Bernie up. We need to meet their attempted sabotage with a show of tremendous force that we will not accept the outcome of a rigged primary and convention. Beyond the Democratic Convention, win or lose, we need to organize conferences of Sanders supporters across the country to discuss how to carry the struggle for the political revolution forward. Crucially, these conferences could open a serious discussion about building a working class political force independent of the Democratic Party.
Now, as the race narrows to two real candidates, one with the support of the entire establishment and the other with the support of a mass movement, we need to double down on our efforts. We need to go all out to elect Bernie Sanders.