How to Lose 50 States

By Susan Estrich

February 13, 2020 5 min read

Easy. Nominate Bernie Sanders. I've been through my share of blowouts. I was a kid when George McGovern won Massachusetts — and nowhere else. I was in Florida working for Jimmy Carter (on loan from Ted Kennedy's office) when we lost not only the White House but also the Senate majority in Ronald Reagan's first landslide. I was in Minnesota waiting to see if Fritz Mondale would carry any states. Two weeks before the 1988 election we were going to lose, with the help of then-Gov. Jim Hunt from North Carolina, I spread money all over the country for down-ticket races so Michael Dukakis didn't carry down the Democratic Party when he lost 40 states. I was on television looking at the exit polls from Ohio when I realized they were all wrong, and that John Kerry would lose. I canceled my law and politics class in 2016, the day before the election, because I didn't want to lie to my students and tell them that I thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.

I understand why Democratic ideologues are voting for Bernie Sanders. I used to be one myself. But losing one election after another, two to Reagan, one to George H.W. Bush, two to George W. Bush and, of course, one to Donald Trump, is painfully instructive. This is not horseshoes. This is not a battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. It is a battle to beat a dangerous president.

And the truth is that the only Democrat with a chance of doing that is Mike Bloomberg.

I never thought I'd say this, but I will: I will do anything to help Bloomberg win. Which is to say, I will do anything to beat Trump.

Bernie Sanders would lose in a landslide. So would Elizabeth Warren — if a senator from Massachusetts runs fourth in neighboring New Hampshire, he or she will do even worse in a general election. Her candidacy is all but over.

Pete Buttigieg is the brightest star on the Democratic side. If he were 10 years older and didn't look like Beaver Cleaver, I'd be ringing doorbells. Of course there are folks who would not vote for a gay man with a wonderful husband and a brilliant military record. That's not my problem. I'll vote for him in the future. I believe he will be president someday. But not in 2020.

And then there's Joe Biden, who lost to Amy Klobuchar, a senator who is known on Capitol Hill as the most impossible person to work for. She might get away with it if she were a man (see, e.g., Donald Trump), but a woman who talks about which bills she has passed on the stage with Donald Trump, with billions against her? I don't think so. Actually, I've yet to hear a pundit or a columnist or an independent pollster even make the case.

Former Vice President Biden is a fine man. I have always liked him. He has survived hardships that I could not endure. He would be a fine president. But he has always been a terrible candidate, and this year is no exception.

Which leaves the one candidate Trump is rightly afraid of. Trump claims to be a billionaire, even if it's not actually money he made. Mike Bloomberg is THE real deal. He makes Trump look like a piker. Which, of course, drives Trump crazy.

There was a Bloomberg event in Los Angeles three weeks ago. Hundreds of Clinton and Obama Democrats were there. People weren't asked for money. For most of my friends, it was the first time attending such an event. They were not there because they are lifelong Bloomberg supporters. They were there because, as Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packers coach said, winning is the only thing.

And the only Democrat who can beat Trump is Mike Bloomberg. Bloomberg-Buttigieg — that's my ticket. Trump has done enough damage. Given how strong the economy is, Trump should be a shoo-in. He isn't because he's Trump, a hopeless narcissist; a leader so unreliable and unpredictable that leaders across the world find him terrifying; a man who managed to escape impeachment when he shouldn't have and is now busy punishing a war hero who dared to speak the truth.

We have exactly one choice. Or we lose. And if Sanders is at the top of the ticket, it won't just be the presidency we lose.

Hillary Clinton is wrong: Plenty of people like Sanders. He has accomplished a great deal politically, energizing young people, strengthening the progressive movement, giving voice to concerns that millions share. But he can't win a general election. I'm not even sure he could carry Massachusetts.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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