Return to moderation

Intersectionality is moderate. Campus radicals have always dreamed of building a rainbow coalition of all oppressed groups. But most black voters are less radical and more institutional than the campus radicals. They rarely prefer the same primary candidates.

If there’s any intersectionality it’s in the center. Moderate or mainstream Democrats like Biden, Clinton and Obama are the ones who put together rainbow coalitions: black, brown, white, suburban and working class.

The new Democrats are coming from the right. Bernie Sanders thought he could mobilize a new mass of young progressives. That did not happen. Young voters have made up a smaller share of the electorate in the primaries so far this year than in 2016 in almost every state, including Vermont.

Meanwhile there were astounding turnout surges in middle-class and affluent suburbs. Turnout was up by 76 percent in the Virginia suburbs around Washington, Richmond and parts of Norfolk. Turnout was up 49 percent over all in Texas. Many of these new voters must be disaffected Republicans who now consider themselves Democrats.

It’s still better to work the room than storm the barricades. Biden grew up in a political era in which politics was still about persuasion, not compulsion; building diverse coalitions, not just firing up your base. He’s been able to win over many of his former presidential rivals and cement a series of valuable alliances, especially with Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

As Ezra Klein pointed out in Vox, Sanders tried to win over the Democratic Party by attacking the Democratic Party and treating its leaders with contempt. In fact, some Sanders surrogates are attacking Biden’s skill in building coalitions as a sign of evil elitism, as something only those nasty insiders do.

David Brooks, enumerating lessons of Joe Biden’s comeback.

March 6, 2020

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