So Bernie Sanders has tossed his hat into the ring. In one day, he raised kajillions of dollars, and that was enough to make him the “front runner” in the primary campaign. Nevermind that fundraising does not directly correlate with votes, and that the first actual primary is a year away, his supporters from 2016 (perhaps “fans” or “acolytes” would be a better term) are rallying around the banner.
His campaign was questionable back then, and it has some questions now. This time around, because the circumstances are quite different, he’s got a few additional hurdles in the way. We’ll leave out the fact that he’s four years older….
He’s got to know that the GOP already has an attack file on him. They never had to use it in 2016, but since then it can’t have gotten any smaller. Is he still confident that he can parry all their attacks? Perhaps, having gone through this before, he’s fully convinced that he’s got nothing to worry about. But society has changed since then; different things will draw unwelcome attention. Are there any yearbook photos he’s forgotten about?
Also, people need to remember the lesson we were taught in 2016. It’s not the popular vote that you need to win, it’s the electoral votes. You need to win states, not just people. Can Sanders win enough states to collect a total of 270 electoral votes? As it seems to me right now, going farther to the left will just get you more votes in the coastal urban enclaves. The Democrats don’t need more votes in California and New York; those states are already locks for them. It’s the Midwest where they need to attract voters. States like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – where fewer than 80,000 votes in total put El Presidente in the White House. While it’s true that Americans in general are easing to the Left in their opinions and what they want from their government, does Sanders have enough appeal there to get voters out to the polling places? How’s he polling on a state-by-state basis, anyway? There’s a truism in national elections that you appeal to your base to win the nomination, then to the center to win the election. Can Sanders manage that pivot?
Finally, if he wants to win the nomination, he simply has to come up with something to distinguish himself from all the other candidates out there (and those yet to come). In 2016, in a very small field, the Democrats heard what he was advocating – and found it worthwhile. Being a more pragmatic politician, Clinton didn’t adopt his proposals word-for-word, but she and the party began to lean that way. Since then, the Democrats as a whole have pretty much adopted all his policy ideas and ideals. In some cases, they’re going even farther. Last time, he was the radical Leftist. This time, he’s a run-of-the-mill liberal.
If he truly believes that he’s got what it takes to win the nomination and attain the greater goal of defeating El Presidente, great. Good for him. But with all other things (policy positions and the like) being equal, why does he think that today’s liberal voters will support an Old White Male Democrat-In-Name-Only when they have so many other exciting candidates to choose from?
And can he manage to keep his acolytes under control so they don’t trash the nominee if he doesn’t win?