Political News

'This primary is going to be a choice between socialism and a more just form of capitalism'

Posted February 19, 2019 7:36 p.m. EST

— Can you guess who that quote is from?

No, it's not President Donald Trump. (You probably figured that out from the "more just form of capitalism" part of it.)

It's actually from former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, who has been running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination since, approximately, 1991. And while Delaney is a long shot to be a long shot in this race, he's not the only one who is thinking about the two lanes of the Democratic primary fight that way.

"I will tell you I am not a democratic socialist," California Sen. Kamala Harris said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Monday. And in a CNN town hall on Monday night, another Democrat, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, was careful to make her skepticism of things like "Medicare for All" and the "Green New Deal" very clear.

What you see in all of that is a clear line being drawn between Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who announced his presidential bid formally on Tuesday, and the looming figure of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez on one side, and the likes of Klobuchar and, assuming he runs, former Vice President Joe Biden on the other.

All the other candidates in the race fall somewhere along that spectrum -- roughly like this:

Sanders   Warren   Gabbard   Castro   Gillibrand   Booker   Harris   Klobuchar   Biden

From Booker leftward, the candidates are, broadly speaking, in favor of the "Green New Deal" and "Medicare for All." Both those programs would fundamentally reshape our society -- whether by handing the government control of our health care or overhauling our economic and environmental realities with a big cash infusion via taxing the very wealthy -- in ways that would make the federal  government more and more powerful. From Harris rightward, there is a healthy skepticism of the practicality (and political savvy) of backing those massive government programs.

To be clear: There is not a massive amount of policy difference between Sanders and Biden. And you are splitting hairs on hairs when trying to determine whether Gillibrand or Booker is closer to the democratic socialist view of the world.

Some of these differences are in tone and emphasis. For example, Klobuchar calls the "Green New Deal" something to aspire to while others to her left on my spectrum see it as the sort of thing that should be put front and center for Democrats right now. Still, that's a difference!

The Point: The dynamics of the 2020 Democratic primary are still sorting themselves out. But there's no doubt this will be one -- if not the only -- dividing line in the race.