Robert Talisse in Liberal Currents:
The Democrats are presently courting electoral disaster. Not only is the field of those seeking the Party’s 2020 nomination heavily populated and expanding by the week, but those already in the ring, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, seem to be configured in what former President Obama recently described as a “circular firing squad,” each poised to pull the trigger on some particular opponent. The worry is that, once the smoke dissipates, every plausible nominee will have been mortally wounded in the internecine battle. A greater political gift to the Republicans could hardly be imagined.
Thus the 2020 Democratic Convention will be fraught by the same Catch-22 that plagued its predecessor. If the Party nominates one of its old guard stalwarts, it will be seen as a political machine that mindlessly manufactures “politics as usual.” This will dampen support among younger, more progressive voters. However, nominating an especially progressive candidate carries the risk of alienating older, middle-of-the-road Democrats, who happen also to belong to the demographic that is most likely to turn out on Election Day. Thus the Democrats’ dilemma: A standard-issue nominee nearly ensures a progressive third-party spoiler, driven by the contention that the DNC is hopelessly rigged in favor of milquetoast careerists over visionary change-makers. But nominating a left-progressive candidate will depress Democratic votes in electorally crucial non-coastal states.