Democrats might not fall in love with Joe Biden, but they'll need to fall in line
"Special guest" Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden, during a livestreamed video conference Monday. But will the Bernie supporters care?
Any hopes that the heartfelt endorsement would end the long-boiling tensions between the party's liberal and moderate wings quickly went up in steam as a couple of prominent Sanders supporters tweeted out their dissatisfaction.
"With the utmost respect for Bernie Sanders, who is an incredible human being & a genuine inspiration, I don't endorse Joe Biden," tweeted Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders' former national press secretary. "I supported Bernie Sanders because he backed ideas like #MedicareForAll, cancelling ALL student debt, & a wealth tax. Biden supports none of those."
No, but he does support more moderate alternatives to all three of those goals. For example, Biden would offer a choice between private health insurance and a "public option." Sanders would exclude the choice of private insurance, for which he was opposed by labor unions that are trying to protect the plans they have won through many years of negotiations with management.
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Gray, by contrast, called it "almost insulting" for Biden to suggest lowering the Medicare eligibility age to 60, in lieu of adopting universal health coverage.
Progressive journalist-activist Shaun King, a Sanders surrogate, also chimed in with this criticism: "In his conversation with @BernieSanders, @JoeBiden is clearly reading from a TelePrompTer. It's supposed to be a CONVERSATION. I've never seen this happen in my entire life."
Considering how Biden is running against President Donald Trump, for whom the teleprompter has not always been a friend, you might think the left would be relieved. Not King. He posted an opinion piece outlining a list of requirements for his endorsement, and alleging that Biden "blatantly lied" about his past participation in the civil rights movement.
These are the sort of attacks from one's own side that are hardly unique to Democrats. Remember RINOs? Short for "Republicans in name only," that was a right-wing put-down of the party's moderates who supposedly were not conservative enough. Today, there's little doubt that the party has moved to the right with Trump's rise, which is what progressive-wing Democrats want their party to do in the other direction.
All of which brings up an adage I first heard from Democratic consultants in the early 1990s: Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love -- or want to.