Opinion / Politics

Presidential Politics 2020 – Democrats Face Big Dilemma

democratsThe Democratic presidential race is becoming a classic “prisoners’ dilemma,” no pun intended. Logic and human nature are conspiring to put Democrats in a lose-lose position. Here is how.

Socialist Bernie Sanders is widening his delegate lead, with the Nevada win. While the primary race is early, each Sanders win – Iowa, New Hampshire, now Nevada – creates momentum. At the same time, each Sanders win raises concern for moderate Democrats, who cannot imagine supporting a socialist. Accordingly, moderates are beginning to line up behind ABB – “Anybody But Bernie.”

Here is how the “prisoners’ dilemma” works. In game theory, which often applies to real life, two criminals are caught and held separately. They cannot communicate. If neither betrays the other, both face a light sentence. If one betrays the other, the squealer goes free, and other faces a stiff sentence. If both betray the other, both face an even stiffer sentence.

What tends to happen? Logic says self-interest will cause each to betray the other. The prevailing assumption is crooks are not charitable; neither assumes the best of the other. Betraying each other, both end up worse – thinking they will end up best. In the real world, human bias is to cooperate, if possible. That sometimes upsets logic.

In simple terms, the “prisoner’s dilemma” amounts to this: Two parties that could gain from cooperation or charitable thinking, often do not cooperate – believing they will win everything alone. In the end, they lose it all – and so do those with whom they might have cooperated.

How does game theory apply to the 2020 Democrats? Socialist Bernie Sanders appears convinced – as do his followers – that a socialist message will win everything. He is encouraged in that thinking by his sequential primary wins. Meantime, moderates supporting ABB are increasingly convinced that Sanders’ socialist message is the Democratic party’s death knell. They are in no mood to cooperate.

Not only are moderate Democrats not willing to support Sanders, they are increasingly determined to find an alternative to him, even if it means changing debate rules, questioning caucus and primary outcomes, and perhaps ending his nomination bid with a brokered convention.

The problem is this: If the two sides cannot cooperate, and there appears little chance of that – since no overlap emerges between John F. Kennedy Democrats and Socialist Sanders, sides will harden. Rather than being charitable, both will become more aggressive with each other. They are already do this, advertisements increasingly casting the other as “the end of days.”

But the prisoner’s dilemma gets worse. If Sanders prevails in a majority of remaining primaries, effectively cornering enough Democratic primary votes to put a claim on the Democratic nomination, moderates will go one of three ways. They will either push for a brokered convention, push a third-party candidate, or resolve to stay home, effectively opposing Sanders by abstention.

Each of those choices punishes Democrats severely in November. Why? Sanders and his followers share have charity in their hearts for the Democratic National Committee, which appears to have boxed them out in 2016, and some think tried to nobble Sanders in the Iowa caucuses this time around.

As a result, do not expect many Sanders votes to support a “brokered” moderate emerging from the 2020 convention. Even in 2016, a significant number of Sanders voters were so disgusted with the Democratic choice, they voted for Trump. That was especially true in swing states, and by large margins – in some cases, twice what Trump needed to beat the Democrat.

Likewise, if the Democratic base splits between Sanders and a third-party, history teaches – even when that third-party candidate was Theodore Roosevelt, who ran in 1912 as a “Bull Mooser,” the third-party candidate and split party loses. In 1912, TR beat the candidate of his former party, Republican William Howard Taft, but both lost to Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

Similarly, Independent John Anderson in 1980 helped assure Republican Ronald Reagan’s first win, as Independent Ross Perot in 1992 helped assure Democrat Bill Clinton’s win. In short, idealists tend to vote for a third-party candidate, in protest of their party’s weak or unpopular nominee. This allows even a modest turnout for the unified party to produce victory.

Last, if Sanders is the nominee, many traditional all-American Democrats, who simply cannot stomach a Socialist who has praised the Soviet Union, Cuba, and Venezuela, subscribes to Marxist ideology, embraces class warfare and despises capitalism – the heart of America’s prosperity – will just stay home. Or worse, they will hold their noses and vote for Trump, who is accumulating labor union, trade association, minority, and other traditional Democratic sector support.

All this comes back to the idea that cooperation – within the Democratic party – is a two-edged sword, as the party continues to tip hard left. The longer the Democrats tip left, the more unlikely compromise becomes, as the left hardens and moderates balk. And the more likely a brokered convention becomes, the more caustic the Socialist Sanders branch becomes.

If not the classic prisoner’s dilemma, perhaps this is just a no-win situation, where both sides appear increasingly distressed with the other, preoccupied by blocking the opposing branch from winning. The 2020 cycle is shaping up as a battle for the soul of the Democratic party, not a battle between our popular president and some equally popular opposite number.

In the end, as Sanders rolls forward and party moderates roll out, the Democratic party is breaking in two, one side becoming overtly, unapologetically, belligerently socialist – and the other discouraged, disaffected, and dismayed to the point of disillusionment.

What does all this mean? In short, President Trump appears to be hitting on all cylinders, rolling into 2020 at full throttle, economy, border security, moral authority, and international affairs tipping his way.

The Democratic field is in a state of chaos, allowing a socialist to run the table. That is likely to set up an interesting November, perhaps the most interesting since 1984 when Ronald Reagan beat another disillusioned Democratic Party in a historic landslide.

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5 months ago


5 months ago

America has never had such a clearly defined choice in an election. We now have the opportunity to go the way of Venezuelan, Cuba, China, Russia, and yes, Canada (I feel so sorry for our northern neighbors as their once healthy, thriving nation is dismantled by socialism). Or we can choose to continue on the current path that has made America great since 1776. It is only with the continual propaganda from the left. And the compliant collaboration of our ‘News’ media and ‘Education’ system that we have come so close to this precipice. Take the wrong step here, and… Read more »

Mr. Mtzplytlic
5 months ago

Complacency will be the downfall of right thinking Americans. Please vote. Do not assume anything.

Rick J.
5 months ago

This article has left out one variable; The unlimited money of Mike Bloomberg, who in last nights debate blurted out how he bought congress for the dems in the 2018 election. One uber rich man on a mission
could shift the balance. Our democracy can be bought just ask Mike. Billionaires like Bloomberg and Soros are a real and present dangers to the American way of life, the rule of law and free and fair elections.

Josephine pooley
5 months ago

Prayera continue for a Trump victory in November. Take nothing for granted. Conservatives, Republicans, Christians MUST vote!

Patriot Will
5 months ago

The non-communist Democrats can either allow their country to go to hell, or they can do their best to weaken Evil Bernie. This should be an easy decision if it were not for their rabid hatred of President Trump. Those Democrats who understand that Sanders is an existential threat to our way of life will do the right thing. Those that insist on beating down President Trump, no matter what, are in reality just as stupid and evil as Comrade Bernie.

anna hubert
5 months ago

democratic party of JFK is still alive,it is called Republican party,democrats are clones of communist party,Sanders has a party of his own with plenty of brainwashed indoctrinated followers,product of our educ.system.

Orville Figgs
5 months ago

At moments like this I sometimes wonder what a Perot presidency would have been like.
No way I was voting for the NWO aka George Bush. We still got it shoved down our throat.
Don’t be Complacent! Don’t assume President Trump will win. Make sure you vote. Make sure your family votes.

5 months ago

I suspect the Dims secretly hope that the Corona virus becomes a pandemic and wrecks the world economy – including the U.S. They can then claim that Medicare for All would have saved more people. That is the ONLY way the Dims can win in November

Mark B
5 months ago

Thousands have fought and died against communist tyrants like Sanders for a hundred years. Voting for Sanders is a slap in the face of every person who is, or was, in the military. It is also spitting on every grave of every veteran.

5 months ago

The movement to subvert the American democratic republic for communism… which is where socialism leads… began 70 years ago. But with history not taught at all or at best poorly taught in public ed at every level, most voters today smirk at the McCarthy era when an earlier effort began to oppose communists within the political and mainstream media/entertainment systems…. same place communism exists today. For those not knowing history, they’re doomed to repeat history… poor pathetic fools. I do hope they sink the DNC.

John Karkalis
5 months ago

Okay, so order your tickets now for Mr Trump’s 2nd inauguration. It seems the prisoner’s dilemma is precisely that because much as we would wish otherwise, our species is not inherently altruistic or self sacrificing. The saints are the exception not the rule. I naively considered the possibility that the Dems would unite behind a single candidate long before now for the “good of the party” in a full court press to defeat Mr Trump. Last nights feast of the cannibals put the lid on any cooperation among this group! Oh yes, it doesn’t help the Dem’s prospects that there… Read more »

Stephen Russell
5 months ago

Dems made this bed let them lie in it, NOT US.
For thier voter allies Yes.
More Dem division the better, awaiting riots at Dem Convention or at DNC Hqs.
Help Dems Lose or we lose all IF voted in under Sanders.

Lois Keel
5 months ago

One of my rabidly NeverTrumper friends was telling me, just 3 more voters for each voting precinct here in Michigan would have elected Hillary. As others point out, assume nothing…be sure to vote.

Brenda Blunt
5 months ago

I wish to continue to live in a capitalist society and be able to live, feel, think, and love according to me. If others want a socialist society, then they can move to China, Venezul, and Cuba.

Nancy Lipkins
5 months ago

There is not one candidate worth voting for EXCEPT President Trump

5 months ago

Socialist Norman Thomas ran as the Socialist Party’s nominee for POTUS seven times and lost 7 times. I have never understood why the Democrats allow anyone who is not a member of their political party to run for their nomination for POTUS.

Bob T
5 months ago

But let us not be blindsided by the billionairs! God help this nation if any one of the candidates buys his/her way into the White House. President Trump is getting along well, but there are still traps out there into which he could fall. I ptay that he will stay the storm. This nation needs him at this point, notwithstanding the attacks of Mr. Mike and Mr. Steyer. It seems that both of then suffer from “Obama Complex.” God forbid that there shoud wind up a ticket of Bloomberg-Steyer!

5 months ago

A very interesting and well presented article but would suggest Proof Reading by a 2nd party. Typos and omissions are readily understandable in the Comments Section since these are quick ad libs. The 10th paragraph contains 2 stumbling blocks as one reads it.
Each of those choices punishes Democrats severely in November. Why? Sanders and his followers share have (NO) charity in their hearts for the Democratic National Committee, which appears to have boxed them out in 2016, and some think tried to (HOBBLE) nobble Sanders in the Iowa caucuses this time around.
Otherwise, VERY good.

5 months ago

Curious…where is the potential for Bloomberg rising like cream to the top of the heap?

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