We are hearing a lot about which Democrats might run for president in 2020.  Among them are Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.  We know that Biden is a corporate Democrat, but how about the others?

Following are five litmus tests that, IMHO, differentiate progressives from corporate Democrats.  An example of a corporate Democrat who fails all five tests is Nancy Pelosi.

  • Refuses corporate PAC money. Given the complexity of campaign finance, refusing corporate PAC money does not guarantee a clean candidate, but it does represent a first step in the direction of getting rid of big money.
  • Against increased military spending. Only ten senators voted against the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act for 2019, and two of them were Republicans.
  • For Medicare for all. Sixteen senators cosponsored Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Act, which is supported by a majority of American voters.
  • Against the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (for BDS). This bill would make it a federal crime to support the international campaign to Boycott, Divest, or Sanction (BDS) Israel for its continued occupation of Palestinian lands.  The United Nations calls for boycott, and the ACLU believes the right to boycott is protected by the First Amendment.
  • For universal basic income (UBI). About half of American voters now support UBI in recognition of the fact that there will never be enough jobs for everyone who needs one.  Another option would be support for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Green New Deal, but so far I have not been able to find positions on that for our list of candidates.

The following table rates each candidate on each of the five issues.  The ratings are based on the best news I could find as of today; their positions could evolve.

Candidate Refuses corporate PAC money Against increased military spending Pro-Medicare for all Opposes Israel Anti-BDS Act For UBI
Biden no no no no no
Gillibrand yes yes yes yes no
Harris yes yes yes no yes
Sanders yes yes yes no maybe
Warren yes yes yes yes Declines to state

Considering that Biden’s positions are pretty much the same as Hillary Clinton’s were in 2016, it does seem that progressives have something to be thankful for if one of the other four on the list, or someone like them, is nominated.  And with the influx of newly-elected progressives, maybe someone will hold their feet to the fire.

However, we can expect major pushback from corporate Democrats like Pelosi and Biden, who want to stop the movement that Sanders has spearheaded.  Corporate Democrats represent the Wall Street wing of the party,  and they have the rich and powerful on their side.  Where the majority of American voters are on the spectrum is a matter of debate.  Progressives believe that Hillary Clinton lost because Americans were tired of rule by the rich and they thought that a vote for Trump was a vote for change.  Progressives also believe that Bernie Sanders, who also represented change, might have beaten Trump in 2016 if he had been the Democratic candidate.  Corporate Democrats, on the other hand, believe that the majority of American voters are still middle of the roaders rather than progressives.  They think that, since Republicans now represent the far right, there is a chance that moderate Republicans and Democrats both will vote for Democrats.

In my view, even if corporate Democrats manage to win in 2020, we will be back where we were in 2016, with most people unhappy with extreme income inequality and militarism.  Except for the corporate Democrats that profit from it, centrism pleases no one and leaves the field open for right-wing oligarchs.  The only remedy is to move left.