The race between Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders, which voters will begin deciding a week from Monday, is not just about the White House anymore. It has intensified into an epochal battle over their vastly different visions for the Democratic Party.
Mr. Sanders, a New Deal-style liberal from Vermont, last week became the party’s first top-tier candidate since the 1980s to propose broad-based tax increases. He argues that only muscular government action — Wall Street regulations, public works jobs, Medicare for all — will topple America’s “rigged” economy.
“Something is grotesquely wrong in America,” he said Thursday in New Hampshire, urging voters to deliver a landslide in November that would cow Congress into enacting his agenda.
Mrs. Clinton, a mainstream Democrat, has started contrasting herself with Mr. Sanders by championing a “sensible, achievable agenda” and promising to build on President Obama’s legacy in health care, the economy and national security. She is the classic continuity candidate: seeking support from blacks, Hispanics, women, union members and suburban voters, and proposing policies that are friendly to families and businesses — strategies that have defined the party since President Bill Clinton’s election in 1992.
Sanders reminds me very much of Ralph Nader: right on many things, but with virtually no chance at the nomination, and unelectable nationally. Even Barack Obama, arguably the most talented politician of our time, only barely beat Clinton and won a distressingly narrow victory over Mitt Romney. Sanders has less appeal. The Times piece draws parallels with McGovern and Mondale. Fortunately, there’s no real need to speculate: primary voters will render their verdict beginning pretty soon.
What do you think?