Populists' initial reaction to Oprah's candidate announcement speech may be dread -- even more so if many others like her join the race. Then it will be the Democrats who will be holding a clown car show in 2020.
But that will benefit the Bernie wing of the party, if they manage to run only one candidate, whether Bernie himself or a suitable successor.
Oprah is just going to be another tired and hated identity politics warrior, more focused on her personal story and generic motivational speeches than on re-industrialization of the economy, shrinking our military footprint around the world, single-payer healthcare, and so on and so forth.
And she will definitely have at least one other rival for that sales pitch -- Michelle Obama. Neither of these "strong black women" will step aside for the other, and since they will both be selling the same appeal to voters, they will get similar slices of the electoral pie.
The more candidates there are who are selling one form or another of Democrat politics as usual, the smaller each of those slices will be. They won't take away much from Bernie's share of the pie, since he is such a qualitatively different choice.
Let's say Bernie only gets 45% of the delegates, based on winning over voters who want populism and major change -- but that the remaining 55% are divided evenly among 11 candidates in an over-crowded Establishment field. That leaves each one of the non-Bernie candidates with a puny 5%. Some may do a little better at 10% or 15%, some worse at around 1%. But nothing close to 45%.
In that case, it would start a nationwide riot to give the nomination to anyone other than Bernie. Not even all of the superdelegates could raise a candidate from 15% to 50% -- let alone the lesser candidates who got 5% or 1%. Robbing Bernie of the nomination would require a real bald-faced rigging like re-writing the rules, also bound to set off a riot.
The ideal plan to get a populist or progressive into the nomination, then, is to only run one candidate in that mold. Don't let individual ambition and hyper-competitiveness get in the way of the team movement. Bernie has better name and brand recognition than anyone else, including Elizabeth Warren. He's also more motivating to listen to, compared to Warren's schoolmarm demeanor.
Zogby polling for potential candidates shows Bernie with a solid 10-15 point advantage over Warren, as of late 2017. So the first move is to persuade Warren not to run, and better yet to endorse Bernie early on to solidify his status as the only populist candidate.
Then the goal is to encourage as many candidates to run who would blindly go along with the Wall Street and Pentagon agendas. Ideally they offer different flavors of Democrat politics as usual, to split up the non-Bernie vote.
Offer the strong black woman story, perhaps in two flavors itself with Oprah and Michelle. Offer the gay Hispanic story. Offer the futuristic tech overlord story. Offer the token ethnic on Wall Street story.
None of their substantive policies would differ from one other -- they would simply be rubber-stamping whatever Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the CIA slid onto their desk. But they would split up the non-Bernie voters, with black women choosing Michelle or Oprah, white male nerds choosing Zuckerberg, tax-avoiding yuppies choosing Andrew Cuomo, etc.
The more hyper-competitive the non-Bernie candidates are, the better. They will spend so much time tearing into each other, and not wanting to be the one to fall on their own sword in order to block Bernie. We want maximum chaos and internecine warfare on the Establishment side -- just like there was among Republicans in 2016, clearing an easy path for Trump, who was from a different universe compared to the rest of them.
The more petty, the more egotistical, the more vapid and devoid of anything to say on real policies -- the more disgusted the non-airhead voters will be, and the easier the choice will be to go with Bernie. "Airhead" voters here meaning those going with identity politics.
The sense of desperation to "stop Trump" and to take back the White House will give these freaks the delusion of grandeur, as though they were heroic for wanting to return to the Clinton-Obama ways of the past. And that phony sense of heroism will keep them in the race for as long as possible, splitting up the non-Bernie vote all the way.
Here is an off-the-cuff list of ideal candidates to crowd the non-Bernie field with:
In contrast to the backbiting shitshow going on among these Establishment candidates, I'd like to see Bernie pick Tulsi Gabbard early on as the de facto running mate -- a regular opening act to his rallies, a regular surrogate in the media, and a regular activist to mobilize larger networks to GOTV. Supposing Bernie gets the nomination, she's already a familiar presence, ideologically in step with him but making up for his weakness in foreign policy.
She's charismatic, and not that it matters to non-airhead voters, but she can deflect charges of the Bernie campaign being the white guy ticket. Being much younger makes her a credible and reassuring back-up President in case anything happened to Bernie in office.
In general, the image on the populist side would be harmony and productive teamwork, juxtaposed with the cynical individualistic ambition on the Establishment side.
If there's not much excitement going on in the GOP primary -- a big if, assuming Trump is running again after being sidelined by "his own" party for the first term, and assuming further that no bitter Republicans challenge him -- then only Bernie could draw a large number of populist Trump supporters into the Democrat primary. He won't need to point out what horrific prospects they would face if Kamala Harris or Cory Booker were President.
That would also ease fears about him being less electable -- he's the only one who can bring back the Trump voters who generally sympathize with the Democrat side in presidential races. We want populism, not identity politics.
So please, let's encourage as many Oprah Winfreys, Mark Cubans, and Mark Zuckerbergs to run as possible. And lean on Warren to not run herself, if she were considering it, rather than split up the populist / progressive team.