Harvey Mansfield on Bernie Sanders

"Bernie and the Democrats," City Journal, March 28, 2020.

Harvey Mansfield analyzes Bernie Sanders’ candidacy and what it says about the Democratic party and our two party system.


After Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders was no longer the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Within four days of Sanders’s Nevada victory, the Democratic establishment roused itself in a move publicly initiated by South Carolina congressman James Clyburn, privately managed by still unknown hidden actors, and culminating in the decisions by Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar to drop out. Then, even more remarkably, the Democratic primary electorates in most of 14 states did their part eagerly and obediently: voting, in sum, to put Joe Biden in the lead. In the primaries since that point, Biden has moved further ahead. So far, the Democrats have produced a feat of coordination rarely seen, requiring mutual understanding among the principal actors and the sacrifice, or lowering, of ambitious hopes by the dropouts from the campaign—all spurred by their ferocious dislike of President Donald Trump. The disdain is sharpened by the bitter pain for the “party of government” of writhing in the role of frustrated opposition for a joyless three years. Democrats rallied together just when everyone had said that party loyalty was killed by the primaries. Never Sanders—without the slogan—seems to have put Never Trump to shame.

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