I don’t like what I am seeing as Democrats position themselves to run for president in 2020.

While the intermediate objective is to win the primaries, the final objective is to get an Electoral College majority in the general election. The battle that broke out in the Democratic primaries in 2016 pitting Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, a battle identifying Clinton as a traditional Democrat and Sanders as a leftist progressive,  did not end well for Hillary Clinton or for America.

Playing an insider game, Clinton was able to use the levers of power in the Democratic Party to capitalize on her base of women, “responsible” activists, i.e., centrists, and office- holder super delegates who respected her after years of close contact, and in some cases, political indebtedness to her and her husband.

On the other side, Sanders–a back bencher “independent” who had not done very much in decades of Congressional service– inspired an idealistic flock of newcomers and old fashioned activist liberals to hope for a new government dedicated to hard left initiatives to build up Americans who believed that government had left them behind.

It didn’t work in 2016. But that spirit is seen in many, if not most, Democrats seeking the nomination in 2020. These potential candidates seek sustenance in many of the 2018 results; in hatred of Trump caused by what they consider his manipulation of government institutions and reprehensible personal behavior; and in anger at wealth to which most Americans cannot even aspire.

Today, Bernie Sanders is the most popular American politician. Believe it.

But popularity in a 50-50 nation means that Sanders’ high approval comes from only the 50% who identify as Democrats or independents who consider themselves progressives. It’s just that he has the highest approval in that group or of any one else on the other side.

Assuming that Trump is the Republican nominee in 2020, his Democratic opponent will have her hands full. There is no panacea for Democrats in arguments that Trump is a nefarious nincompoop; Trump is agile and clever in defining his opponent’s danger to the nation.

My real concern in 2020 is that a leftist candidate is limiting. A centrist Democratic candidate will have the votes of Americans who prefer a progressive but will never vote for a Republican. But a leftist Democratic candidate can lose because many Democrats and most independents will reject the politics of wealth redistribution, abolition of health insurance in favor of unsustainable universal free health care, universal guaranteed income, and free higher education for all unrestrained by merit.

The fight among Democrats in 2020 will make victory harder for the nominee. Is there a way to moderate the views of both leftists and centrists? I hope so but I don’t see it.