The United States (US) presidential election campaign is officially in full swing, but all the debates are taking place on one side. They indicate a deep divide within the Democratic Party about how to address the social ills of the US and how to defeat Donald Trump. The results of the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary have consolidated Bernie Sanders as the front-runner for the left-wing of the party. The surprise has been the rise of Pete Buttigieg as a favourite of the party’s centrist supporters. While former vice-president Joe Biden is not out of the running, it will take a small miracle for him to resurrect himself. Added to the mix is the intrusion of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is not yet on any ballot but is spending his way up the poll rankings.
The goal of Democratic voters is to choose a candidate who can defeat Mr Trump. If Mr Sanders wins a few more primaries, the Left-wing will have settled on a candidate. Mr Buttigieg’s path is longer, but so long as he comes first or second in most of the remaining primaries, the only other centrist alternative will be Mr Bloomberg. The polling totals of all the centrist candidates are roughly equal to those of the leftists. The intra-party fissures within the Democrats perfectly reflect those existing in American society today. While New Delhi is obviously neutral in all this, it would probably wince if a left-wing candidate wins the Democratic nomination. Democratic primaries may seem boringly parochial but they are not without global significance.