In the wake of the attempted theft of the Iowa caucus from Bernie, it's important to understand the process that put him in such a fragile state to begin with, where a small perturbation could drastically affect the overall outcome. In some states like New Hampshire, he may prove robust to such perturbations because he'll have such a giant lead. But in no states, or nationwide, does he appear what Nassim Taleb would call anti-fragile, or benefiting from attempts to hurt him.
This is due to the class and ideological make-up of those who have steered his coalition / campaign / movement post-2016.
Four years after a tie in the Iowa caucus against the representative of the neoliberal status quo, Bernie Sanders has scored another tie in the Iowa caucus. He'll do better than the others in New Hampshire -- just like four years ago. Might narrowly win rather than narrowly lose in Nevada. And won't get wiped so thoroughly in the non-white states on Super Tuesday.
Four years ago he lost the popular vote by 12 points, so with a showing so far in 2020 that is only meagerly better than last time, he can expect not to win this time either. The only open question is whether he ekes out a plurality of the popular vote and delegates, then gets denied the nomination when all the other candidates pool theirs against his at the convention -- or whether he loses the popular vote already by the end of the primary voting, presumably by a narrower margin this time around (say, 5 points or less).
The signs that the Bernie coalition needed to see in Iowa to expect a groundswell of support in 2020 vs. 2016 largely turned out the other way, foreshadowing his likely ultimate loss. The three main signs:
1) Failed. A surge in overall turnout, indicating that he was drawing out of their houses all sorts of people who normally don't vote in Democrat primaries (non-voters or GOP crossovers). They would have been the cavalry coming to the rescue if his regular army had gotten themselves surrounded. Turnout was about the same or lower from 2016, nowhere near the surge of 2008. If anything, turnout skewed even more toward college-educated voters, who favor yuppie candidates like Warren and Buttigieg, not the bottom 80% that Bernie is relying on for a revolution.
2) Succeeded. A fracturing of the centrist / machine lane of his opposition. It split into multiple candidates -- Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar -- all of whom scored in the double digits, rather than voters coalescing around one to overwhelm Bernie.
3) Failed. A consolidation of his own lane, the populist / progressive / non-machine lane, i.e. by eliminating Warren. National polling from last year showed that his 2016 coalition had more or less evenly split into Bernie loyalists and defectors to Warren (along with some going to Buttigieg, and with Bernie being the 2nd choice of the greatest share of Biden supporters). His team needed to prevent Warren from entering, or from enduring in the double digits if she did enter. Instead she sucked up 20% of the popular vote in Iowa, not so far from Bernie's 27% share.
The progressive professional faction that has hijacked Bernie's coalition over the past several years is directly responsible for the two failures, and acted against the one success.
By gradually molding Bernie into just another prog, with the sole exception of the single-payer healthcare issue, the professional-class progs have alienated the would-be surge in turnout among irregular primary-stage voters.
That includes disaffected voters with no particular affiliation, as well as the Trumpian populist reservoir that I've been arguing for years that Bernie should be registering, organizing, and mobilizing for Democrat primary day -- whether or not they'd stick with him in the general, at least help him over the main obstacle of all the Clinton and Warren cucks among the Democrat base, since Trumpian populists hate both of them with a passion and were sympathetic toward the Bernie of 2016 (as was Trump himself).
Especially in Iowa, where this reservoir put Trump over the top by nearly 10 points in a state that not only voted for Obama twice, but has been a solid blue state, except for 2004, all the way back to 1988. Iowa voted for Dukakis when Illinois, California, Vermont, and Maryland voted for George Bush.
But to the professional progs, this just makes them crypto-racists or even crypto-fascists who never should have been allowed to vote Democrat for all those decades. Worse, it's in flyover country with rectangular-shaped counties. No way on Earth could those Trump voters be motivated to turn out for the other party's Trump on caucus day.
OK, then: leave all those would-be voters on the table, and wait for a deus ex machina to deliver shitloads of new caucus-goers. For atheists, professional progs sure do stake a lot on divine intervention.
The flipside of this is that turning Bernie into just another prog has made him too similar to Lyin' Liz Warren. They're two peas in a prog pod, as far as most voters are concerned. And the professional progs were directly responsible for softening or outright rehabilitating Warren's progressive bona fides during 2019, equating her with Bernie, and concern-trolling Bernie on identity politics issues that Warren could dominate him on (reparations, open borders, and the like).
Only a few people on the left with any audience whatsoever were crying to eliminate Warren in early 2019, go scorched earth on her neoliberal record, and either bully her voters into un-defecting back into Bernie's camp or at least scare them into sitting out the primary. Aimee Terese's Twitter account was the clearinghouse for this faction (her own, and what she re-tweeted), along with her podcast What's Left? that she co-hosts with Benjamin Studebaker.
In true black humor fashion, she had her account suspended right as Lyin' Liz stuck the dagger in Bernie's back on a national debate stage, depriving him of 20% of the Iowa caucus, and promising to continue bleeding his support till the bitter end. At least you can still hear her analysis (and mellifluous voice) on her podcast. She still tweets under @whatisleftpod, but in a more muted way to avoid detection by the commissars, rather than her natural manner as a Levantine prophetess thundering down condemnations of all the ways that the people have abandoned God's ways, what punishments God will mete out of they persist in their blasphemy, and what they must do to return to the path of righteousness.
I was making the argument to split the non-Bernie vote as many ways as possible, while specifically preventing the spoiler Warren, all the way back in January of 2018. But then I was only part of the online movement that helped Trumpian populism win both the primary and general against all odds, while predicting most of what happened in 2016, so what would I know this time around? *
The only good news for the Bernie coalition in 2020, the professional progs have done their damnedest to prevent at every step of the way -- the fracturing of the lane occupied by Biden and the others. They should have welcomed Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Steyer, Klobuchar, etc., who would eat away at Biden's share until no single one of them could overwhelm Bernie. Obviously none of them would eat into Bernie's share.
Instead, they have treated it like a video game (in their most commonly used analogy), where they're going to defeat the lesser bosses before defeating the final boss, Biden. Back on planet Earth, driving Buttigieg et al into low single digits or even out of the race, only consolidates those anti-Bernie voters behind Biden (or whichever one remains after the others are eliminated). In the total opposite way of a video game, if the lesser bosses are defeated, it ends up strengthening the final boss -- perhaps to such a degree that he becomes unbeatable.
But when your primary draw into politics is the entertainment value, especially in a serial drama form, then what good is keeping all the lesser candidates through till the end, where the hero dispatches several weak enemies, rather than gradually conquering his way up to one final worthy fuckin' adversary?
They want to see a different bad guy defeated every month or so, and then it's on to another quest in another land where the next bad guy is camped out. Every several episodes, a threat-battle-resolution with one bad guy, repeated over several cycles until the season finale. If all the bad guys hang around the whole season, and they can't really pose much of a threat to the hero, then there's no real battle or catharsis until the very end, and viewers will get bored and restless.
It's telling that the professional progs have largely left Warren alone, while savaging the others. They don't view her as the final boss -- that's Biden -- so shouldn't she be one of the lesser candidates who gets eliminated sooner rather than later, and in a scorched-earth humiliating fashion to fulfill their revenge fantasies?
Nope: they have no seething fantasies of revenge against Warren, since she's a good yuppie prog like they are. And so are her voters, who largely overlap with the audience or clientele for professional progressives. If professional progs torched the Warren voters, they would be putting themselves out of business too, and they're not about to sacrifice their own livelihood for the greater societal cause. Christ, they might have to move back to Michigan and leave all their status points behind in Brooklyn!
If you want someone who fantasizes about revenge against Warren, you'll have to deputize a whole bunch of Trump voters into your posse. But that goes back to the original problem of polarizing and alienating the population rather than building a broad coalition.
The Trump campaign faced these problems in 2016, since the conservatard movement was bitterly opposed to him and largely settled on Cruz early on. Only a small faction of high-profile conservatives were Trump loyalists (Ann Coulter among commentators, Alex Jones for the talk radio audience, and Jerry Falwell Jr. for the evangelical audience).
They were willing to sacrifice the ties to friends and colleagues within the conservative world, if it meant getting Trump through the primary and into the White House. There's almost no one of similar stature within the progressive world who's ready to cut ties to their fellow progs in order to get Bernie the nomination.
And fortunately, this minority found a broad resonance in the population. Lots of people who don't consider themselves true conservatives were only too happy to vote Trump in the primary, and then general. And most important of all, these newcomers were not turned away by movement gatekeepers, but were welcomed aboard. Tattooed women who liked it when they heard that Trump talks dirty and grabs pussy -- they may not fit in at the suburban country club with GOP regulars, but Republicans didn't care. It was a political movement, not a social club.
So, even though Lyin' Ted Cruz (the Lyin' Liz Warren of the right) battled it out until the bitter end, he still wound up fully 20 points behind Trump, with Rubio a further 5 points behind him. No way is Bernie going to finish 20 points over Warren, let alone Biden, Buttigieg, or whoever it is in that lane.
The last party realignment required the GOP to expel their cultural gatekeepers -- the evangelical Christians. They were still allowed to vote in GOP primaries, and for the GOP general candidate, but they were gradually stripped of their cultural gatekeeper role once the Reagan revolution kicked off. They needed a big tent to go from the tiny opposition during the New Deal era, to the dominant party during the neoliberal era. Libertarian economics and militarist foreign policy were more important than cultural conservative issues.
For the next realignment to succeed, the Democrats must expel their own cultural gatekeepers -- the woke progressives. Oh sure, they can still vote in Dem primaries, and for the Dem candidate in the general. But their toxic alienating effect on the general population must be cleansed from the party's image and reality, if they want to dethrone the GOP as the dominant party and usher in a new multi-decade regime.
The mass media-entertainment industry, and the info-tech sector (especially the online content cartel), seem to be the most invested in woke progressive culture. So that leaves the finance sector as the Democrat party patron that can pull the plug on the gatekeeping progs. Simply pull their funding, which ultimately comes from their money-printing at the central bank or Wall St. investment banks. Or de-financialize them -- don't let them have a bank account if they're going to keep carrying on with their progtard bullshit. Maybe having trouble paying their bills will be enough of an incentive. None of this will interfere with their money continuing to make money, since woke progressive gatekeeping is not baked into the business model of a bank, unlike much of the media content and online social media platforms.
In any case, this is all stuff that will have to happen over the next 4 years, as the professional-class progs have fragilized Bernie's coalition too much this time. Bringing in the non-progs and even anti-progs to his coalition will make it anti-fragile -- the more Lyin' Liz tries to out-prog Bernie on cultural issues, the more back-up he'll get from culturally conservative populists. Otherwise he continues to be fragile, and it'll only take a few little interventions to bury his campaign altogether.
* I've largely stopped trying to reach a general left / Bernie audience after trial-and-error. Did they want someone who knew what the hell they were talking about, or were they just into politics as therapy-tainment, especially in the revenge fantasy sub-genre? Mostly the latter. Alrighty then. Only the Aimee Terese wing of the left (the anti-woke faction) actually give a shit about winning and changing things in a realigned populist direction.
If you're an Indie or a GOP populist, they're the only ones worth interacting with. On the plus side, it does include some media figures with large audiences, like Michael Tracey, Kyle Kulinski, Jimmy Dore, and others, who are happy to go on Tucker's show to reach a broader audience and bring them aboard the Bernie train. Hopefully the woketard backlash against Joe Rogan hasn't scared him off of supporting Bernie's coalition.
This faction can be identified electorally by supporting "Bernie and Tulsi" rather than "Bernie and Warren" or some other combination. The woketards who fragilized Bernie's coalition are lukewarm toward Tulsi at best, and are hysterically hateful at worst, because she is a realigner rather than a polarizer -- the opposite of AOC.