Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Clint Eastwood and the Democrats’ dilemma

COMMENT

In this Feb. 19, file photo, from left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC.

TAGS: Politics, US

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal over the weekend, Clint Eastwood endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg. Support for Bloomberg from one of Hollywood’s few Republican directors and actors says a lot about the situation the Democrats find themselves in at the moment as well as the choices dawning upon them.

Eastwood, who endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, told the WSJ he approved of some of the incumbent president’s policies. However, he also criticized Trump, saying that he would personally like to see him act “in a more genteel way, without tweeting and calling people names.” Eastwood said he would prefer it if Trump did “not bring himself to that level,” adding that “the best thing we could do is just get Mike Bloomberg in there.”

Eastwood’s comments echoed the concerns among many moderate Republican supporters regarding Trump’s antics. At the same time, they point to Bloomberg’s appeal among a group of disaffected voters who backed Trump in 2016.

As attention shifts to the Super Tuesday presidential primaries, the landscape is clearing. Following one-time front-runner Joe Biden’s recent lackluster performances, Elizabeth Warren now also looks unlikely to regain the lost ground. Meanwhile, the youth arm and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party have clearly thrown their weight behind Bernie Sanders.

The raw numbers and an objective analysis suggest that the most serious contenders for the nomination are three: On the one hand there is Sanders, the independent Vermont senator and de facto leader of the leftist wing, and on the other, there is former New York mayor Bloomberg and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg – both moderates.

If Bloomberg, a billionaire, manages to overpower Buttigieg, the Democrats will be faced with the choice between two 78-year-old candidates: one who is too left-wing for the American mainstream, and a billionaire, which would be hard to swallow for the party’s base. 

Eastwood’s remarks have underscored a real dilemma among Democratic supporters: Should they rally behind “progressive purity,” which would risk alienating moderates? Or should they select a centrist billionaire precisely because of his appeal among that particular chunk of the electorate?

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