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Bernie and bust: Arizona Dems about to feel the Bern

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What the Devil won't tell you

Bernie and bust: Arizona Dems about to feel the Bern

  • Sanders, photographed campaigning with David Garcia in Tucson in 2018, is rolling toward a nomination Democrats would be stupid to rob him of, but his success spells trouble for Arizona Democrats.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comSanders, photographed campaigning with David Garcia in Tucson in 2018, is rolling toward a nomination Democrats would be stupid to rob him of, but his success spells trouble for Arizona Democrats.

OK, Democrats. You had two jobs.

Of the 2,589 candidates to choose from, all you had to do was not nominate the transcendental New Age guru or the 78-year-old socialist from Vermont.

You went one for two.

Apparently hoping the party wouldn’t go to Vegas and bet the country on Red 78 was too much to ask. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won the Nevada caucus running away — headlong into general election oblivion.

It’s not like you didn’t have options, Democrats.

The presidential field included a red state governor but he compromised and that's no fun. There were two swing-state senators and their inspirational vegan colleague from New Jersey but they were part of the system, and experience is boring for the most consequential job in the world. There were plenty of consequential candidates but they were greeted with a collective "meh." But the mayor of Smallville, U.S.A.? Oh, he could be president.

Democrats didn’t fall in love. Instead, Democrats reached into a treasure chest and pulled out the hermit crab named Bernie. 

Bernard Sanders is a far superior human being to Donald Trump and his heart is where it's supposed to be. If you don't like his policies, don't worry: None of it will happen, should he manage to win. At most, Congress will inevitably dumb down and dampen whatever he proposes.

Even so, this country is probably not going to elect a socialist who insists that you call him one. 

A month ahead of Arizona's presidential preference election on March 17, Sanders has the delegate lead, has won the most votes in the most states and has the money and organization none of his opponents do. He's winning pluralities, not majorities, with the opposition tied in a multi-candidate knot.

Sanders is the front-runner at a point where the only thing that beats a front-runner is a single well-funded and well-organized alternative. His opponent is a multi-headed hydra. Unless something dramatic changes on Super Tuesday, he's the guy. When was the last time something dramatic changed on Super Tuesday?

Taking the nomination from Sanders at the Milwaukee convention is the only way to make the situation worse.

Remember those columns about how Arizona could go blue? Yeah, not anymore. Take a look at what happened in the 2018 governor's race. There were candidates who could give Doug Ducey a run but the Dems went with David Garcia, who ran a race that Bernie Sanders could be proud of and lost by 15 points while pragmatic Dems won across the state.

Sure, it's early in this primary cycle. With 74 delegates picked, Sanders has a lead of 11 delegates out of the 1,991 needed to win the nomination (of 3,979 pledged delegates, and 4,750 total). And more than half of Democratic primary/caucus voters are picking somebody else. Still, he'll be the front-runner heading into Super Tuesday, when half the delegates are at stake. Candidates like that don't tend to lose.

But Sanders' bulldozing comes with repercussions down the ticket. Phoenix, you have a problem.

A month ago, Mark Kelly was probably a 7-point favorite in Arizona's Senate race. Martha McSally just scored two touchdowns without getting off the bench. Ann Kirkpatrick was a safe bet even with her trip to rehab to battle alcohol dependency. Now she needs … it would be wrong to say she needs “a drink”… Republicans can almost certainly bank their one-seat majority in the state House as the Democrats have just seen their best shot in 40 years at flipping the the Legislature evaporate.

Get used to the very stable genius, Donald Trump, who has never been over 50 percent in job approval, who most Americans think is a corrupt racist, suddenly becoming the overwhelming favorite for re-election.

This is going to be bad (but not necessarily fatal). Rule of law, the very nature of the Republic and the vibrancy of democracy is under attack by the Trump Party. And this is the election that the True Progressives have decided to ape Goldwater in 1964. Extremism, see, in the name of virtue is no vice but viciousness is OK if virtue can't be extreme.

Mass incarceration is tolerable without reparations. Climate change is only a crisis worth addressing with a universal jobs guarantee. The price of helping people see a doctor should be the dismantling of the private insurance market. Sanders supporters don't get that these are the prices they are putting on needed programs, but socialists can be confused by pricing. 

There's the way things are, and then there's wishing they were different. Understanding the difference, is usually the difference between success and failure. Just because you can dream it, doesn't mean you can be it... the next damn day.

Meanwhile, the criminal justice system and national security apparatus are loaded, cocked and pointed at the spot between the eyes of Trump’s political opposition. The law and the guns have the big money’s back. Russia is this close to exporting oligarchy. Trump just needs an excuse. The Democrats are going to hand him a mandate to open fire.

Polls show Sanders beating Trump nationally by a few points but Trump's campaign has been all but begging Sanders to win the nomination. They haven't even started tearing him to pieces.

Who's the Establishment now?

OK, Bernie people. Before you gas me for being "Establishment," you should know that you are winning now, therefore you are the establishment now. You are the front-runners. It’s no longer your job to smash and trash imperfect friends. It's time to build coalitions. And it’s your job to convince Democrats like Mark Kelly and Ann Kirkpatrick that you aren’t their doom.

See, the most immediate problem Sanders faces is that his insurgency has spent five years telling every other Democrat in the country that they suck. Just on Friday, he tweeted "They can't stop us" about the Republican and Democratic "establishments."

This is a bigger, harder fix than the last couple times. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama were promising instant revolution. Bernie is promising to upend everything that seems to be going pretty well right now, while being less concerned about pragmatically addressing the things that are going wildly off the rails.

A smart guy once said “compromise is necessary for pluralism” but Bernie and his supporters have as about as much use for intellectual pluralism as MAGAs do. They are right. Everyone else is corrupt. They want everything they want and they want it right now or Trump is fine.

So an election about restoring America to Americanism, will now be a referendum between Democratic Socialism and proto-fascism. And fascism comes with an economy that's pretty OK for a lot of people.

Sanders gets to run on an instructional program to educate voters about Democratic Socialism and Trump is going to outspend him 10 to 1 while tweeting “Venezuela!”

Arizona: Not that kind of red

From the standpoint of a guy who’s covered Arizona politics for quite some time, our state is off the board if Sanders is a player.

Arizona is likely to stay red but not that shade of better-dead-than-red.

Here's a real quick 2018 recap: Latino turnout was lower than the national average but the state took a decidedly blue turn because white suburban voters were disgusted by Trump. This has replayed across the country in places like Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

So there’s a whole new coalition to be had that could move the country leftward over the next 30 years.

Arizona is exactly the kind of place to look for Never-Trumpers. It’s a high-growth state, which attracts educated voters, who look at the president and say to themselves: “This guy is a corrupt, lying, odious asshole and holy God is he stupid.”

On the other hand… “Sanders and his kids are telling me that they plan on dismantling the system doing all right for me right now because I’m privileged and need to move out of the way for the disadvantaged. I vote in private, right?”

But to the new True Progressive establishment, those voters aren't really worthy. They aren’t cool enough. They’re not woke enough. They need to check their privilege. Trump can have those high-efficacy voters. The Sanders’ campaign has a better idea. Turn out millions of disengaged — albeit morally pure — voters who are passionate about certain issues but historically uninspired to cast ballots.

Can tell them, but can't tell them much

No, it doesn’t track. But you can’t tell Bernie voters that because you can’t tell them anything. The people who want us to suffer through all those teachable moments can't be taught anything. Like MAGAs, they believe they have a mortal lock on what’s right, what’s just and what works historically even though they have no real interest in history.

If they knew history, they’d know that the far Left thought Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s beloved New Deal was a total sell-out. Francis Townsend and the bombastic Huey Long complained FDR was too in bed with capitalism, which he proudly admitted. Father Charles Coughlin started as an FDR supporter, before turning into a proponent of nationalizing more of the economy than Roosevelt wanted (and then becoming an outright nationalist and fascist sympathizer — a total Nazi, really).

If they knew history, they would know Bill Clinton refused to compromise on universal coverage. He insisted that health care be a right and not a privilege and would veto any plan that didn’t provide as such. He didn’t sell out, and got nothing done. The health care system went unaddressed for 16 years.

If they knew history, they would know that three generations before them were all indoctrinated that every form of socialism is communism. Arguing for Truth, Justice and the Danish Way assumes Phoenix wishes it were Copenhagen.

The problem isn't that they are 26 and self-righteous. The problem is the rest of us remember ourselves at 26 and would never want to put that kid in charge. We are happy that we learned stuff since. Do they not think they will ever learn anything ever again — just like Trump?!

Dem leaders to blame

What there is of the Democratic establishment shouldn't look all innocent. For the last 30 years, the Democratic establishment has told the Left to stand down and shut up. The action and the power was in the middle of the party and on its "centrist" right wing.

By the way, this is kind of what happened to the Republicans leading up to Trump. The GOP used its evangelical base and then threw them away. Of course they were pissed.

After 60 years of voting Democratic, what have African Americans gotten, other than less racism and mass incarceration as a sop to frightened whites?

I was there during the SB 1070 debate inside the party and the smart people were adamant that the candidates knuckle under because it polled too well. Don’t stand on principle, ever. Principles, it was argued, were the enemy. What was important was to tell voters “I don’t care if it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, so long as it’s a good idea that moves Arizona forward again.”

One ballsy swing state progressive probably would have sealed the nomination but the party kept shooing those candidates away. Had the party leaders during the past decade gone in early for obvious talents of just one Stacey Abrams or a single Andrew Gillum, that person would have won a swing state and would be steamrolling toward an imperiled Donald Trump. But the party has always favored money over quality.

So now they're looking at the most extreme presidential candidate the party has ever fielded, in the most consequential campaign since 18-goddamn-60.

Republicans run strong on what they call principles. Democrats run scared toward a mushy middle and hope the GOP implodes. That’s not the Bernie team’s fault. That’s just the shape of the battlefield. Running on socialism is running straight into the fortifications of Team Trump.

Talk about taking the nomination away from Sanders is the only idea worse than nominating him.

If he's the leader heading to Milwaukee, using delegate shenanigans to rob Sanders of the nomination would forever scar a new generation of voters and wreck the party for 20 years. That’s the surest way to usher in a Russo-Centric Century based on kleptocracy and kakistocracy.

This may just be a mess the Democrats have to go through so the kids will learn and Michael Moore will be shown the way off the public stage.

Conventional damage

Four more years of Trump would push America to the breaking point and we should do whatever we can to prevent it from happening.

It’s not necessarily the end of the Republic, and I only point that out to suggest life exists with four more years of this bullshit.

This is just one guy’s take on why a Trump is more of a paper tiger than apex predator.

Trump is dumb, scared and lazy. It took him a year to fire Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. He could have done it with a phone call if he had stones. He could micromanage the Republican Senate from the Oval Office. He’s too much of a slacker. He’s more bewildered by information and the system than he is likely to rewire it. He doesn’t get the way to beat the Deep State is to stock it with loyalists, so he leaves those jobs open and howls about the bureaucracy he chooses not to control.

He’ll do what he can to protect himself and attack high-profile individuals he has grievances against but he’s proven more WWE blusterer than junkyard dog with a hunger for the rest of us.

Second terms suck. Trump is riding the business cycle toward re-election and inflated approval ratings. The odds of a recession during the next four years is pretty close to 100 percent. Trump will be right back in the 30s and he'd have to eat it if he wins. All of his shenanigans will get much more toxic to his supporters.

The damage will be done, but it will be wholesale conventional munitions loosed on the system; I’m thinking it won’t be nuclear.

None of this helps Kirkpatrick or Kelly. They are both feeling the Bern and their prospects are getting a lot more dicey.

Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for 20 years and also worked in Democratic political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.

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