When it comes to a brokered Democratic Convention, the odds are good because the goods are odd.
In Wednesday’s debate, former front-runner Joe Biden confused “moderators” for “monitors,” said “secondly” on a thirdly or fourthly, and talked about the five million black men stop-and-frisk detained in New York, a city of 8.5 million people. Seventy-seven is the new 97.
Iowa winner Pete Buttigieg subconsciously impersonated Eddie Haskell during his best moments and Eric Cartman during his worst. The smarminess voters overlooked during earlier debates came across in HD Wednesday in Mayor Pete’s exchanges with Amy Klobuchar, who, although easily baited, unconsciously baited Buttigieg to show his insincere self.
Not since Roy found himself bracketed by that tiger’s jaws has a celebrity endured such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day in Las Vegas as Michael Bloomberg did Wednesday.
Elizabeth Warren pulled off an Ocean’s 11–style heist at the Paris Theater. She snatched the $427 million spent by Bloomberg on advertising and flushed it down the toilet. Despite a record 33.5 million viewers watching this strong-arm robbery on live television, Warren emerged from the casino freer than Danny Ocean. Unfortunately, the monster debate performance may prove too little, too late, as her earlier attempts to out-Bernie Bernie (nobody out-Bernies Bernie) earlier this cycle pushed her out of the mainstream without a way back to the middle.
Current front-runner Bernie Sanders comes across as an angry old man to everyone save for the journalists who reserve that designation to caricature Republicans. His posture conveys an ogrish picture that matches the volume, cadence, and tone of his voice. He rarely smiles. When he does, the forced, stiff manner of the expression expresses merely this: smiles do not come naturally. Otherwise, his facial gestures and hand gesticulations convey exasperation, rage, and other negative emotions. So, too, does his coloring, which goes red whenever he gets excited, more the agitation of one prevented by hassling TSA workers of making it to the gate on time than the excitement of a child opening Christmas presents. He does not brook disagreement and never seeks compromise. Even something as mild as Michael Bloomberg noting his three homes provokes anger. He needs a nap.
The hopefuls all offer Democrats hopeful of retaking the White House something to hang their hopes upon, e.g., Bloomberg’s bank account and appeal to moderates, Biden’s ability to snatch back those Rust Belt Trump Democrats, Sanders’ authenticity and principles, Warren’s debating prowess, and Buttigieg’s youth and intelligence. But the aforementioned flaws make this a none-of-the-above nominating season, which incentivizes staying in the race in case one’s ship comes in again, which increases the chances of a brokered convention, which FiveThirtyEight.com now places at 41 percent, which causes many Democrats to confuse Xanax for Tic Tacs.
“If you want to see a complete s#!+ show,” an anonymous Democrat told the Hill on Thursday, “tune in to the brokered convention.”
The most infamous example of a brokered convention, which ended after 16 days and 103 ballots, occurred in 1924, when the Democrats failed to condemn the Ku Klux Klan by a half vote and nominated John Davis, a compromise candidate receiving less than three percent support on the first ballot. He won 28.8 percent of the vote in the general election.
That past, as well as this future predicted by Sanders organizer Kyle Jurek — “If Bernie doesn’t get the nomination or it goes to a second round at the DNC Convention, f—ing Milwaukee will burn” — scares mainstream Democrats about a brokered convention. And the non-Democrats seeking to wrest the party from actual Democrats surely understand that the superdelegates voting in the second round likely spurn a socialist for an actual Democrat. This expected outcome, one not requiring Nostradamus to predict, causes both Jurek to attempt to frighten Democrats into nominating Sanders and Sanders to insist, in an about-face from 2016, that Democrats nominate the candidate with the plurality of votes in the first round rather than follow the rules to cast votes on as many ballots as they need until one man or woman, cisgendered or otherwise, receives a majority of delegates.
Given the Democratic electorate’s mercurial, none-of-the-above response to the declared candidates, might a brokered convention compromising on a nominee not currently in the race boost the party’s chances in November? Yes, a brokered convention gave Democrats John W. Davis, the most disastrous presidential candidate in its history; eight years later, a brokered convention gave Democrats Franklin Roosevelt.
Democrats, like most people, opt for situations untenable over unknown. But at least the unknown offers a chance of victory (even if it presents a chance of disaster). The smart money, when confronted with Bernie, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Biden, or bust, bets on bust.