Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton?
Many are calling foul. Hillary Clinton has unleashed her supporters to question Bernie Sanders viability based on him self-identifying as a Socialist Democrat. The reality? That is a very good thing, ultimately the president of the United States will be determined by all Americans, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and everyone else in between.
It is a fact that electing anyone identifying themselves as anything with the word socialist in it will have a problem getting elected. A June 15th, 2015 Gallup poll listed a socialist as the least electable person in the United States at 47%. Even an Atheist fared better at 58%.
Even more interesting is the breakdown by party affiliation. 59% of Democrats, 49% of Independents, and 26% of Republicans would vote for a socialist. That only 59% of Democrats would vote for a socialist while 74% and 51% of Republicans and Independents respectively wouldn’t is a reality that must be reckoned with before any party puts a socialist on a national ticket.
Does all this mean that Bernie Sanders supporters should call it quits, sulk, and go home for a lost cause? Is it a lost cause? Absolutely not. Given that activist are the most enthusiastic people voting in primaries, even with those numbers Bernie Sanders could win the Democratic Primary. But what good is winning the Democratic Primary if the ultimate winner of the primary cannot win the general election.
When the Democratic Party decided to limit debates they did the entire party a disservice. It meant people never got a vigorous and lengthy debate on issues including what democratic socialism would mean to them. As usual, Democrats leave the door open to be defined as opposed to being the definer.
Hillary Clinton’s current fears are justified. Democratic establishment politicians who are scared that a Bernie Sanders primary win will hurt the party in their states are justified. In times of change, in times of flux, that is to be expected.
The problem is that a status quo election this year means the Republicans could put up a dog and win a close election. Why? They are angrier. Angry people vote. Democrats are not as angry. And from my work on the ground, empirically for many that are angry, they are disillusioned with the Democratic Party. Giving our limited debates and limited choices in candidates by design of the Democratic Party, whoever is the primary victor must make Democrats believe that they will make worthwhile for them to vote in no uncertain terms.
Democrats have a fundamental misunderstanding of people and the level of their ‘awareness’ of realities that affect them. Polls show what many Democrats want to ignore. The American electorate wants a big change.
The head to head polls where Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump by single digits or loses by single digits should be probative. For those who think Trump cannot win, remember Ronald Reagan won twice and George W. Bush won 1-1/2 times.
Recent polls indicate that Bernie Sanders would do better in a head to head match with Donald Trump. There is a caveat here that one should heed. Hillary Clinton is right. Bernie Sanders self-identified Democratic Socialist stance has not been vetted nationally. And again, based on polling when that is done, all things being equal, those numbers are likely to change.
So are Democrats in a pickle irrespective of which candidate wins. The short answer today would be yes. If the Democratic status quo remains, neither Bernie Sander nor Hillary Clinton will make it into the White House.
The task is difficult for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. If Hillary Clinton is to win she must move from Obama 2.0 incrementalism to radical change that can be articulated to the masses so that they believe she will “make America great again” for them (Trump parlance on purpose). Many know President Obama had an impossible task that could not be completed in his term. Most know that irrespective of that they are still in dire straits.
The task for Bernie Sanders is even more difficult. He will needs Americans to have a quick transformation in a delta acceptance of a socialist, equivalent to the transformation that occurred for same-sex marriage. This cannot occur unless the entire country sees the discourse that Hillary Clinton has unleased on the electability of a Democratic Socialist.
Over the last debates, Bernie Sanders has been tepid in boldly defining democratic socialism as the programs that people want. He does not specifically make the link. Everything that Sanders stands for is what the vast majority of Americans want. From increased Social Security, to Medicare-for-all, to subsidized college education these democratic socialist policies are what Americans want.
If Bernie Sanders is to win, the country must have the debate. He will be defined as a communist socialist un-American candidate no matter what by the Republicans. That can only work if the ground is left barren for those weeds to grow. Sadly, many in the Democratic Party are pre-planting those weeds. Bernie Sanders and his army must be boldly fertilizing and planting the seeds that will over power the Republican and Blue Dog weeds.
After the debate throughout the primaries, the party will see whether or not America will resolve its fear and demagoguery with the word Socialist Democrat. The Party should be represented by someone who will win.