The last two days have been a convincing argument for big-tent politics. The uncovering of opposition to Bernie Sanders by party elders such as Debbie Wassermann Schultz advanced the claims of his supporters that the party is in need of democratizing reforms. The speeches and drama at the first day of the DNC were likewise a perfect combination of unity and discord. We saw a mixture of Popular Front-style determination to defeat Trump and the realization that, as the Republican Party slouches toward insanity, the primary content of political life will increasingly be the debates within the Democratic Party.
However, if we consider the scale—of political allegiances and ideological stripes—of this Democratic Party, we are forced to consider if the tent has become too big. Are “Bernie-or-Bust” supporters purely “ridiculous”? Can the same audience that cheers Sanders’s denunciation of the American oligarchy be expected to respect the presence on Wednesday before the DNC of a figure of the likes of Michael Bloomberg?
If the Republican National Convention last week was any indication, then the age of the big-tent Democratic Party is here to stay despite the centrifugal forces pushing the party apart, if only as a temporary grand alliance to allay Republican victories.
All this may explain why Sanders has been so laudatory in his support of Clinton over the past several days and weeks. He sees that the big tent, however shaky, is here to stay, that the progressive left must have a seat inside, and that the tent cannot get too comfortable for moderate Republicans-cum-independents like Bloomberg.