The Leftist blogosphere is all excited about the entry of Bernie Sanders into the presidential race for the Democratic Party. There are many questions regarding his motivation for declaring his candidacy. Personally, I think he entered the race to make Hillary Clinton look younger and fresher. Many actually believe he has a legitimate chance against the Clinton machine and Clinton, for her part, has welcomed him into the race. Why wouldn’t she? With Sanders as a primary opponent, she would come off as the rational Democrat in the race and his far Left ideas. Some have even speculated that with Sanders, Clinton can now be more aggressive against corporations and Wall Street because no matter how tough she comes off, there will always be someone tougher in Sanders.
Others have speculated that he entered in order to force Hillary to move further to the Left. The mere fact that there is such support for Sanders- indeed, almost anyone but Hillary- indicates that even they do not trust her. In any case, it should be interesting theater to watch Sanders and Clinton try to out-liberal each other with Martin O’Malley crying on the sidelines, “I’m the real liberal! I’m the real liberal.”
From an electoral standpoint, there is nothing to fear from Sanders. Should he pull off the near impossible and somehow thwart the coronation of Hillary, he would be easy prey for even the worst Republican nominee- even Jeb Bush. What his entry into the race will likely achieve is a fracturing of the liberal base of the Democratic Party torn between reality (Clinton) and principle (Sanders). Being the unprincipled bunch they are, they will likely choose Clinton.
As proof that Sanders stands a chance against Clinton, some of his online supporters note that he raised $1.5 million from people in his first 24 hours of his candidacy. No doubt he did and one surmises he may have even gotten a bump in the polls, but then going from 0% to anything would be a bump. That is, Sanders has nowhere to go but up and one suspects that final fundraising figures will drop off to something less than $1.5 million per day. And it is amusing to note that many on the Left were comparing Sanders’ candidacy to the impending liberal victory in Great Britain- something that failed to materialize.
Of course in order to do anything of significance whatever his motivation for entry into the race, Sanders must first defeat Clinton. The first states up are Iowa and New Hampshire and one would think that a sitting Senator from neighboring Vermont would have somewhat of an advantage in New Hampshire. No one expects him to pull off the impossible and even come close to Clinton in Iowa. Thus, he must stop the Clinton train in the Granite State.
To do that, he must first get on the Democratic primary ballot. New Hampshire requires that in order to get on that ballot, the person must be a registered member of the party in whose primary election they wish to be. The problem for Sanders is that he is technically an independent. Some have mentioned that in Vermont, one does not have to register with a party and that is true. They then sarcastically note that New Hampshire, should they wish to keep Sanders off the ballot by enforcing their own law, is being silly since other states with registration requirements like Vermont’s have had candidates placed on the ballot in the past.
In fact, they would be true. For example, the states of Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, and Illinois are just four other states and they gave us Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama and all of them, although not registered with a party in their home states, nevertheless appeared on the their party’s primary ballot in New Hampshire. But even though not a registered Democrat in Georgia, Carter was the Democratic Governor of Georgia before he was President, not the “independent” Governor who hung out with Democratic Governors. Bill Clinton was the Democratic Governor of Arkansas while Bush was the Republican Governor of Texas and Obama was the Democratic Senator from Illinois.
Meanwhile, let’s look at the political resume of Bernie Sanders. In 1972 and 1974 (geez…he is really that old) Sanders was the unsuccessful independent or Labor Union Party candidate for Senate. In 1972, 1976 and again in 1986, he was the unsuccessful independent candidate for Vermont Governor. From 1981 to 1989, he was the independent mayor of Burlington before finally winning a US House seat as an independent in 1990. It should be mentioned that in all these elections he ran against both a Democrat and a Republican candidate as an independent. Sanders can call himself a Democratic-Socialist (a scary term in and of itself) all he wants, but his electoral history shows that he clearly is not a Democrat.
Thus, not being a registered Democrat and never running as a Democrat in any of his political races, Sanders now finds himself conveniently a Democrat. How this plays out remains to be seen. But if allowed, then perhaps some “Republican” independents should consider a run in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire come 2016.