All the unbiased experts agree that Bernie Sanders demolished Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary debate that nobody watched on Sunday night. The affable socialist from Vermont is surging in the polls and raising millions by the day. Hillary Clinton is doing what she does best: underperforming in a Democratic primary due to an egregious lack of charisma and political skill.
Not surprisingly, the elite liberal establishment is terrified. Its members realize that the grassroots revolution Bernie Sanders has inspired threatens to deprive them of their inflated salaries and pampered lifestyle in the Acela corridor. The thought of working-class citizens rising up to demand real change has prompted a coordinated pushback from the armchair economic justice warriors who would prefer to keep writing their hot takes about poor people in the abstract.
Since the Democratic debate concluded on Sunday, the liberal establishment, acting on Hillary Clinton’s direct orders, has unleashed its heaviest hitters to attack Bernie Sanders in an effort to portray him as unelectable.
Paul Krugman, New York Times:
Obamacare is, however, what engineers would call a kludge: a somewhat awkward, clumsy device with lots of moving parts. This makes it more expensive than it should be, and will probably always cause a significant number of people to fall through the cracks.
The question for progressives — a question that is now central to the Democratic primary — is whether these failings mean that they should re-litigate their own biggest political success in almost half a century, and try for something better.
My answer, as you might guess, is that they shouldn’t, that they should seek incremental change on health care (Bring back the public option!) and focus their main efforts on other issues — that is, that Bernie Sanders is wrong about this and Hillary Clinton is right. But the main point is that we should think clearly about why health reform looks the way it does.
Ezra Klein, Vox:
In the absence of these kinds of specifics, Sanders has offered a puppies-and-rainbows approach to single-payer — he promises his plan will cover everything while costing the average family almost nothing. This is what Republicans fear liberals truly believe: that they can deliver expansive, unlimited benefits to the vast majority of Americans by stacking increasingly implausible, and economically harmful, taxes on the rich. Sanders is proving them right.
A few days ago, I criticized Hillary Clinton for not leveling with the American people. She seemed, I wrote, “scared to tell voters what she really thinks for fear they’ll disagree.” Here, Sanders shows he doesn’t trust voters either. Rather than making the trade-offs of a single-payer plan clear, he’s obscured them further. In answering Clinton’s criticisms, he’s raised real concerns about the plausibility of his own ideas.
Matt Yglesias, Vox:
[Sanders’ ideas] just don’t look very much like a governing agenda or even a basis for grinding general election campaign.
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine:
Suddenly, liberals who have used the nominating process to unilaterally vet Clinton, processing every development through its likely impact on her as the inevitable candidate, need to think anew. Do we support Sanders not just in his role as lovable Uncle Bernie, complaining about inequality, but as the actual Democratic nominee for president? My answer to that question is no.
Michael Cohen, Boston Globe:
“The simple fact is that there were three candidates on the debate stage Sunday night — and only one of them is qualified to be president. It’s not Martin O’Malley, and it’s not Bernie Sanders.”
Agree with this on Bernie https://t.co/xYav37L2v7
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) January 18, 2016
Sorry, elites, but the people will not be silenced.