Is there a Democrat who can stop Bernie Sanders?

I think there might be, but he probably will choose not to.

Suppose Barack Obama endorsed his former VP for president. The endorsement would probably carry Joe Biden to victory in South Carolina and position him for a solid showing on Super Tuesday.

Suppose Obama endorsed Pete Buttigieg, the gay Obama. Biden, who is campaigning on the fact that he was Obama’s number two, would be finished. Buttigieg would suddenly be able to capture more than de minimis support among African Americans.

In either scenario, Bernie Sanders might show up at the convention with a plurality of the delegates. But the candidate endorsed by Obama would probably have enough support to be a plausible nominee at a brokered convention. Obama would take a lead role in the brokering.

However, the former president has shown no inclination to endorse a candidate in this race. I very much doubt that he will endorse one now. I have heard no talk about him doing so.

Why wouldn’t Obama move to stop Sanders now that it’s clear that the Vermont socialist is the frontrunner? One reason is that, ideologically, Obama probably has more in common with Sanders’s socialism than with Biden’s traditional liberalism.

In any case, Obama may see socialism as the emerging Democrat ideology and Biden’s liberalism as tired and outdated. The last thing Obama wants to do is to stand on “the wrong side of history.”

Obama might also fear that he can’t stop Sanders. Biden has tried to turn the battle for the Democratic nomination into a referendum on the “Obama-Biden” presidency. However, few take Biden seriously on this score. If Obama were to endorse Biden, the race would truly be a referendum on the Obama presidency. Obama might lose the referendum.

Finally, Obama might not want to spoil things for Michelle Obama. I doubt that the former First Lady wants to run for, or be, president. However, her husband might not want to alienate Sanders’s army of supporters, just in case.

One can imagine a scenario in which Sanders is crushed this year, and battered Democrats turn to Michelle Obama to rescue the party in 2024. I don’t know whether the Obamas imagine such a scenario, but if they do, they have no incentive to stop Sanders this year.

For these reasons, and maybe for others, we can expect Obama to remain on the sidelines until the Democrats pick their nominee, who probably will be Bernie Sanders.

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