Bernie Sanders has two serious problems. Obviously, too many of his supporters are dicks, but there’s more…
Look, I’m going to start by saying, I like Bernie Sanders. He’s a good man, and he wants to do right by the American people. He has little chance of winning, but that should actually be a plus; he should actually run with that.
Now, I have already written about Bernie’s supporters, who are the biggest lead weight around his campaign imaginable. After nearly three months, one would think that problem would actually get better, but it hasn’t. Many of his most fervent supporters are dragging him down still. But Bernie has another problem, and that’s Bernie.
I don’t know who’s running his campaign, but whoever it is, even if it’s Bernie himself, should be replaced. Sanders’ biggest problem is a lack of name recognition; he’s a Senator from Vermont, which is one of the tiniest states in the union, which means he’s not exactly prominent in the Senate, or the House before that. Sure, he’s been appearing on Thom Hartmann’s program and a few other radio shows whose audience is exclusively liberal, so we know him, but few other people do, and it’s “other people” who will decide this election.
Last night, Stephen Colbert talked about the debate, and he did a killer impression of Sanders that was illustrative of the problem Bernie has. Watch it here:
That impression is more accurate than you can imagine because that’s what the average person sees and hears when Bernie appears on the screen. WE on the left love Bernie. He says a lot of great things. But it does not resonate with anyone else, because he says the same things over and over and he and his handlers apparently think that, because they resonate with hard-core liberals, they will resonate with everyone else. That is a mistake.
Just like his speech here in Tucson last weekend, I thought his performance at the debate was purely awful. Actually, that’s not fair; it started awful, but it got a little better as the night went on. In fact, his greatest moment of the night came when he agreed with Hillary, that America was tired of hearing about e-mails. Otherwise, it was him yelling about what’s wrong with this country, which does NOT resonate with most voters, especially Democratic voters.
Bernie’s stump speech is like manna for his base, who are PUBs, professional lefties and “political junkies,” but the average person doesn’t relate to his constant talk about “income inequality” and his incessant spouting of statistics. And he really has to stop telling us about the size of his… crowds. In 2004, Howard Dean drew far larger crowds than John Kerry, but it was Kerry who won the nomination by a wide margin. And what did it? The scream.
That is my advice for Bernie Sanders. Stop screaming and start talking and listening. Many of us agree with you on most issues, but then, we follow this stuff closely and we know what’s going on. The key to any election is getting people to know you, to trust you and giving them the impression that you can do something about anything that comes along. Screaming at the top of your lungs and demanding things change is great for attracting the left wing, just as Trump’s screaming and Ben Carson’s lunacy are wonderful for attracting the right wing, but most voters are neither of those. His performance at the debate wasn’t something that will appeal to most people, which is why most people gave the night to Hillary Clinton.
All day yesterday, Bernie’s supporters were all over social media, butthurt over the fact that all the online polls said Bernie won (because Bernie’s campaign brazenly tried to “push” them) and “the media” gave it to Hillary. Well, you know how I feel about “the media,” but they got this one right. In fact, of the three candidates who seemed to be serious about the debate, Hillary was first, Martin O’Malley was second (his people need to stop rehearsing him for these things so much; too many of his “zingers” were too rehearsed) and Bernie came in third. And he came in third for a basic reason; he didn’t come off as likable.
For one thing, for a guy whose name recognition is so low, he spent the “introduction” part of the debate telling the voters who were watching him how bad they have it. I assure him, they know this. When he was asked about his bona fides as a democratic socialist, he was far too defensive and basically gave part of his stump speech in reply. In fact, every answer was taken directly from his stump speech. Repeating a laundry list of what you think are the country’s worst problems is not how you win. At some point, you have to listen more and talk less and relate to people. One reason Hillary Clinton has a substantial lead is because she started her campaign with a listening tour and she’s saying things on the stump that resonate. Bernie’s constant repetition of “income inequality” and “the richest one percent” and “campaign finance reform” simply does not resonate with the average American, nor should anyone expect it.
Voters will never care about “income inequality.” Sorry, but that’s true. They don’t give a rat’s ass how much money the one percent makes; they care about how much they make, and whether they can make the mortgage or rent payment.
Likewise, they really don’t care about statistics saying that “one percent” of Americans make more than most of the other 99 percent. In a nation where people who have to work three jobs just to pay the bills still buy beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets, they don’t want to take from the rich, they want to BE one.
As for “campaign finance reform,” the average voter doesn’t know or care what you’re talking about. Citizens United doesn’t register with them, and they assume that all politicians are corrupt and in it for the money, anyway, so you’re not telling them anything new.
He needs to talk about things that matter. Raising the minimum wage is great, but “people who work hard should be paid well” would work a lot better. By the next debate, Bernie needs to be himself. Drop the stump speech and BE Bernie Sanders the man, instead of Bernie Sanders the robotic politician. I know, #FeeltheBern people; I know you think he’s running a “populist” campaign, but you would be wrong. He’s saying little that the average non-left-winger cares about. Instead of telling the people who are living it how bad they have it, he needs to tell them why HE is the guy who can change everything. He needs to present a vision of what life would be like under a Sanders Administration.
And one more thing — and this is the most important thing — he and the other candidates must explain to the American people that they can’t do anything they want to do without a Congress that isn’t dominated by bozos. Bernie made a great start by mentioning low turnout. That is the biggest problem we have, and we will not solve it by screaming at people.
If Bernie wants to win, he has to run a much smarter campaign.