April 9, 2020 - 11:22am

The race for the Democratic nomination was basically over a month ago, but yesterday Bernie Sanders made it official, formally throwing in the towel.

So that’s both the grand old men of Anglospherical socialism — Sanders and Corbyn — out in the space of one week.

In an echo of Corbyn’s “we have won the arguments” line, Sanders insisted that “we are winning the ideological battle“.

That’s right, Bernie — it’s an endless run of victories for them socialists! Unless, that is, you count actual votes, which, in a democracy, we do.

As for the battle of ideas, the only winner right now is the coronavirus. The crisis is forcing a series of unprecedented state interventions, but under the direction of governments battling to save the system not change it. Whether it’s President Trump or President Biden heading up that effort next year, it won’t make a huge difference.

In reality, what we’ve seen ever since the great financial crisis is democratic socialism losing the ideological war. Capitalism, at its lowest ebb, has nevertheless prevailed for want of a credible alternative.

Sanders didn’t even win the battle of ideas among the Democratic base. Looking back, the nomination was always Joe Biden’s to lose. That said, the former Vice President gave losing a jolly good try — running a low energy campaign, punctuated by a series of ‘senior moments’ (which may yet undo him).

In the early primaries and caucuses, despairing Democrats on the party’s moderate wing were clearly casting around for an alternative champion. However, none of them managed to break loose from the others. Furthermore Biden held on to the all-important support of black Democrats in southern states. Once that became obvious, the alt-Bidens (Buttigieg, Bloomberg, Klobuchar etc) were dispensed with.

And that brings us to another parallel between Sanders and Corbyn. While both men were immensely popular among young, college-educated Left-wingers — they failed to connect with whole sections of their respective parties’ traditional base.

Unlike Labour and the working class voters of the former Red Wall, the Democrats have yet to lose the overwhelming support they get from Black Americans. But the fact that such voters showed so little interest in what Bernie Sanders had to offer should give Democrats pause for thought. If socialism allied to super-woke social liberalism represents the future of the Dems then, at some point, a less off-putting Republican than Donald Trump could make a populist, yet bridge-building, offer to hard-pressed Americans of all ethnicities.

Voters across the western world are desperate for an alternative to the status quo, they just don’t want it to come from either extreme.

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.