How to Beat the Bernie Blues

By Jamie Stiehm

February 26, 2020 5 min read

The Democratic Party, to hear some tell it, got crashed by outsider Sen. Bernie Sanders, a crusty Vermonter and "democratic socialist."

Party insiders swear there's no way Sanders, the field front-runner after three contests, can beat President Donald Trump. They know these things, just as they knew Hillary Clinton would beat Trump in 2016. They also crowned Joe Biden, with no mojo, before a vote was cast in 2020.

"I've got news ... They can't stop us," Sanders vows, speaking of Democratic and Republican party establishments.

Guys, enough tears already. It's not even March yet. There are many miles to go before we sleep. Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada are small states. Texas, California, Massachusetts, Virginia and 10 other states "speak" next week on Super Tuesday.

Here's the haunting specter: Brooklyn-born Sanders facing Trump, a Queens native, in a mighty matchup between borough boys of New York.

Unlike Clinton — brittle and reserved — Sanders would give as good as he got in the debate ring with Trump. Make no mistake; Sanders is a formidable candidate with his own odd charisma.

Call me Elizabethan; I favor Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But there's something about Bernie, consistent as a grandfather clock. For a large swath, biblical anger is part of his charm, gathering for a November storm.

Righteous indignation sells in an era of rising economic inequality, markedly among young voters. That's just a fact, ma'am. Sanders galvanizes supporters such that Democratic elders wonder why they let a wild-eyed revolutionary (inspired by Cuba) join their primary race in the first place.

What hath they wrought? And now Russia, too? The nation's spies think Russia is on Sanders' side.

Yet another New Yorker in his 70s recently entered the fray, running hard for the Democratic nomination with almost all the money in the world. Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of the Big Apple, got bitten at his debate debut. Befuddled on race and gender grounds is not a good look.

Bloomberg may not be the moderate answer to party prayers. Then again, he may prove a national vote-getter.

Super Tuesday shall tell. The third day of the third month may bring the knell to Biden's lifelong quest for the presidency and quash the young former mayor, Pete Buttigieg. One is the face of the past; the other is the face of the future.

So, I have a plan for my distressed Democratic friends for the rocky climb ahead. Embrace the unconventional if you must, at the July convention. Above all, avoid fractious quarrels while the world is watching.

Democrats are known to forget that politics is a team sport. That's especially true of Sanders, the eccentric outsider. I saw the 2016 Philadelphia convention marred by his supporters who sulked and stormed on the floor when he officially lost to Clinton.

To make everybody happy, the field of dreaming Democrats who ran for president should get together in a Cabinet slate backing Sanders' or Bloomberg's ticket. (Or Warren's. A woman can dream.)

Just think, Buttigieg taking the world stage as secretary of state. He speaks lots of languages and has a diplomatic air. He'd present a Kennedyesque youthful vigor, assuring allies and adversaries that he can find Ukraine on a map. That's a giant leap for a guy from South Bend, Indiana.

Bloomberg is a shoo-in for Treasury secretary, a calming force for Wall Street bankers terrified of Sanders, a sworn enemy of billionaires like "Mike." (Bloomberg brags he's giving his money away.)

Similarly, if Bloomberg wins, he makes Sanders the Health and Human Services secretary to assure the liberal wing that the "Medicare for All" dream shall never die.

Let Biden be vice president again, to do no harm.

Give Harvard law professor Warren keys to the Justice Department to do some house-cleaning.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a climate change expert, heads the Environmental Protection Agency. Tom Steyer gets the nod for secretary of the Energy Department. Sen. Cory Booker, a former mayor and impassioned defender of Newark, New Jersey, directs Housing and Urban Development.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California? She stays in the Senate longer to get to know people.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar becomes ambassador to Mexico.

Sweet unity. This is what Democratic democracy looks like.

To find out more about Jamie Stiehm and other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, please visit the website

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