Are Democrats behaving like they want to win?

Full disclosure: I voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Illinois primary. When I thought he didn’t have a chance at the Democratic presidential nomination, I wanted to show support for his positions.

That was before we had a President Trump. Now I’m fearful that Sanders will get the nomination.

I like Sanders. I find him refreshingly authentic for a politician. In an fairy-tale scenario, I’d favor many of his positions.

But I can’t see a self-described democratic socialist garnering enough Independent and Republican votes to win the presidency.

There’s something wrong with the nominating process. Democrats overwhelmingly tell pollsters that their main goal is defeating Donald Trump. Then a candidate who mainstream Democrats think is unelectable rises to the top.

After Saturday’s caucuses in Nevada, only the third state to select its delegates, Sanders has been declared the front-runner. Before more than 90 percent of the states vote, news outlets are asking whether Sanders is unstoppable.

Many voters clearly prefer Sanders. But not the majority. Moderates have the most delegates in total, but they’re splitting the moderate vote among them. None looks willing to drop out to unite behind one of them.

There’s a lot of discussion about fixing the process for the future — including a same-day national primary and ranked voting — but it’s not clear how to make states go along. Each state makes its own rules.

The Republican Party faced a similar scenario in 2016 when insiders didn’t want Trump. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have little in common except that they do not represent their parties’ mainstream. Four years ago Trump railed against the establishment and beat a slew of establishment candidates in the Republican primaries.

Maybe leaders who promise to blow up the system are what the country wants. Just as I was shocked by Trump’s unexpected win, I could be clueless again. If Sanders is the nominee, I hope so.

And if he were able to defeat Trump, I hope he could somehow ease our divisions. More divisiveness across the country, and gridlock in Washington, would be ruinous.



PBS Masterpiece’s broadcast of Sanditon, an eight-part series based on an incomplete Jane Austen novel, ended Sunday night. As were viewers in the UK, where the ITV production was shown last fall, I expect American Janites are outraged by the un-Austen-like unhappy ending.

Austen had finished only 11 chapters of Sanditon when ill health forced her to put it aside four months before her death. As one critic of the television production wrote, only about the first half-hour — one-sixteenth of the whole — were Austen’s. At first I scoffed at screenwriter Andrew Davies’s sexually explicit script — so different from Austen’s subtlety — but then forgave him for bringing the 19th century into the 21st.

But the finale’s 180-degree turn from Austen was inexcusable. As Charlotte and Sidney moved toward a traditional Austen happy ending, Davies threw an impediment in their way in the last half-hour: Sidney must marry a rich woman in order to save Sanditon, the town on which his brother Tom has staked everything.

The ending reminded me of a midway point in Sense and Sensibility, when Edward, though loving Elinor, feels that he must be honorable and keep a long-regretted prior engagement. But the impediment is overcome, and Edward and Elinor are husband and wife at the conclusion. Perhaps, as rumor has it, Davies didn’t end Sanditon’s series one happily because he hoped for a series two. ITV cancelled the show in the UK because of low audience numbers, however, and hinted that a series two might depend on its success in the US.

If series two doesn’t come off, we’re left with a so-called Austen adaptation that PBS would be wise not to add to the Masterpiece rerun schedule. I doubt that any Austen fan, knowing how it ends, would want to watch.



“Thanks to Donald Trump, we have a new definition of a criminal justice reformer: a rich person who is shocked to see his felonious friends punished as though they were poor.”

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, February 20

Leave a comment