The Bernie Factor

To hear the press talk, Bernie Sanders is leading a liberal insurgency within the Democratic Party.  His rising poll numbers in Iowa and New Hampshire suggest Hillary Clinton may have a tougher path to the Democratic nomination than originally believed.  However, it needs to be emphasized that although rising in the polls, he still remains a fair distance behind Clinton.  When a party starts with one and only one viable choice as their candidate, there is nowhere to go but up for anyone else because there will never be 100% support for the original “one.”  The opponent will always tap into that segment not convinced of “the one.”  The Leftist blogs attribute this love for Sanders as indicative of an overall American embrace of liberal policies.  The policy solutions of a Sanders are liberalism on steroids.  They point to the issue of same sex marriage, opposition to the TPP, and other liberal causes as proof that the country is moving left.  Of course, recent electoral history dictates otherwise.  In response to the liberal policies of the current occupant of the White House, the Democrats lost control of the House in 2010.  As Obama continued his liberal ways, they lost the Senate in 2014.  Throw in their losses at the state level and it becomes clear that although they’ve kept the White House for eight years, the nation is not drifting left.  The liberal press’ recent love affair with Bernie Sanders is misplaced idealism where they see America through the rose-colored glasses of liberalism.

In fact, Bernie’s surge is indicative of the sad state of the far Left.  They are looking for a hero- any hero- and Bernie is it.  They had nothing to latch onto previous to his entry into the fray.  The far Left is leery of Clinton and do not see her as a standard-bearer of their policies.  It is not that they would go out and vote for the Republican opponent in a general election; it is that they would simply not vote.  Bernie’s surge is their one say to show their displeasure with Clinton.  They will come out in the caucuses and primaries and vote for their man, but it is perhaps 25% a vote for Bernie and 75% a vote against Hillary.  And given the press coverage of his larger crowds and surge in polls where he had no place to go but up, this this does not bode well for Clinton among the most liberal of the Democrats.

Even still, Sanders’ larger crowd counts are probably more a function in the difference between his campaign and that of Clinton.  She is avoiding large crowds and rallies while he is embracing them.  He has also given more interviews and with a variety of news outlets than Clinton who is avoiding the press behind rope lines as if they suffer from leprosy.   Sanders is preaching to a choir disenchanted with the “politics of the past.”  That does not bode well for Clinton in a general election campaign because someone who has been running for President for the better part of the past 25 years clearly does not represent the future.  It is also an important reason why the GOP must avoid a candidate who represents the past.

In that vein, Sanders has simply found a new platform for old liberal ideas.  People are cheering on his idea of a single-payer, government-run health care reform agenda not because there has been an epiphany among Americans, but because Obama has so screwed up the health care market that is failing to deliver on its promises.  The support for “single payer health care” is a vote against Obamacare and a vote for “anything else.”  Yet, “anything else” could also be a repeal of Obamacare and true free market reforms.  In an era when unionism is dying a slow death, he is at the forefront of championing unions.  And the list goes on.

And history is replete with these insurgent Democratic candidates.  Before a single vote was cast in a primary or caucus in 2004, Howard Dean was all the rage in 2003.  Dennis Kucinich’s candidacy also comes to mind.  Sanders is basically this year’s edition of Dean or Kucinich- only a lot older.  He is certainly not this year’s Obama.  In 2008, Obama’s victory in Iowa proved to the black community that he could win.  It gave them realistic hope.  That “hope” spilled over into South Carolina where greater than 50% of the Democratic primary voters are black.  If anyone wants to pinpoint when the 2008 Clinton campaign went off the rails, it was in South Carolina.  It also explains why this year Clinton’s speeches and statements are appealing to the baser instincts of the black community and why she is portraying herself as the “dismantler” of bogus institutional racism.

Sanders may do well in Iowa where Democratic caucus-goers tend to be populists and dovish.  He may even win New Hampshire especially if he overwhelmingly wins the western spine of that state which is more liberal and borders his home state of Vermont.  But, the black electorate in South Carolina will eventually look at his electability and choose the lesser of two evils.  Perhaps that explains Sanders’ recent swing through the South.  And yes- there are liberals in the South just as there are conservatives in California and New York.  Sanders will draw large crowds of the staunch Southern liberals just as a [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] will draw large crowds of staunch conservative Californians, but does anyone expect a [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] to win California in a general election any more than they expect Clinton to win Louisiana or Texas, let alone Sanders?

In the interim, Sanders serves an important function for the GOP.  While the Left is relying on likely unrealized idealism as they swoon over Sanders as this year’s anti-Hillary, the GOP should embrace his candidacy and increasing numbers in the polls and crowd counts as it hinders Clinton’s “hide from the public” strategy.  Eventually she will have to come out from her bubble and as Sanders and Clinton hope to out-liberal one another, their visions for the future of America will be on vivid display and be more in contrast with what will hopefully be a better GOP vision.


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