Let me start off by saying I love Bernie Sanders. He’s a good man, with a good political sense in many ways, although he is in no way perfect. He’s a really good Senator for the state of Vermont, and he’d also make a great candidate for president, except for two things…
The first one he can fix. He has a low profile, and most people don’t know who he is. I know this comes as a shock to his supporters, who drool over him as if he was a supermodel at a frat party, but most people really don’t know who he is. That can be addressed, but it would mean that he start with him and his supporters introducing himself to voters, to increase his name recognition and profile, rather than giving stump speeches. No one can only give stump speeches for 8-9 months and expect to do well in primaries; it doesn’t work that way. To win in the primaries, you have to build to a crescendo, and the way you do that is by getting your name out there first and listening to people and finding out what matters most to them and honing your campaign to meet that.
See, here’s the thing people need to realize about primaries; they’re not actually elections. You’re not choosing the president; you’re choosing the Democrat best able to beat whichever Republican emerges from that Klown Kar. It doesn’t matter what your ideals are or what a candidate says on the issues, it’s about who can win. Even if Sanders was to win, he’d still have the party create the platform. Passion doesn’t sell during primary season; voters are looked to competence and confidence. Having big crowds is great for the image to an extent, but when the candidate seems shocked by every huge crowd he sees, the positive effect is blunted. Consider Howard Dean in 2004; there was lots of enthusiasm for Dean, and he was looking to be a shoo-in as an upset winner of the Democratic nomination, until he screamed.
With that scream, every issue position didn’t change. What changed was his image as cool, calm and collected. And then…
This is the second thing that could sink Bernie Sanders; his followers. It wasn’t the scream that sunk Dean, it was his hardcore followers, who went into “defense” mode and started trashing everyone who wasn’t as “passionate” about him as they were. And the same misguided fervor is what could sink Sanders.
Sanders’ hardcore far left progressive base (known on this blog as PUBs, or the Progressive Unicorn Brigade) is made up of people who think that whatever or whoever they support is wonderful and perfect and will make the entire world a great big rainbow full of singing and peace and all that crap. And that’s okay; I have no problem with idealism. It’s a little sappy at times, but it’s harmless. What’s not harmless is that these followers have a tendency to belittle and smack down those who aren’t as enthusiastic as they are. They are preachy and whiny and they feel like the only way they can win is to tear down the other candidates running against them, which is the opposite of true.
All Democrats are on the same team. The ultimate goal of every Democratic candidate, including Bernie Sanders, is to make sure Democrats get and keep the White House. I know for a fact that Bernie feels the same way; I’ve even heard him say that. He’s running as a Democrat because he doesn’t want to run an independent campaign that would make it a lot easier for a Republican to win. We can’t afford that. And yet, in the last week, I have seen numerous professional left articles, as well as Facebook posts and Tweets from high profile Sanders supporters trashing Hillary Clinton, as if the only way Sanders can possibly win is to pull Clinton down into the mud. I even saw one prominent pro lefty Sander supporter attack Martin O’Malley, and I wonder, what would be the point of that?
To be fair, I’ve seen a few Clinton supporters do the same, but I think the ratio is about 10-to-1 in favor of Bernie, and since there are roughly five times as many Clinton supporters as Sanders supporters, in all, that is disturbing.
Sanders supporters need to understand, if they really want their candidate to win, alienating every other Democrat is not the way to do it. Telling, or even implying, that everyone who doesn’t support Sanders is stupid and clueless and not a “real progressive” because they don’t get sexually aroused whenever they see a Sanders bumper sticker is not the way to win. Consider the plight of Hillary Clinton in 2008. Barack Obama took a positive approach to his campaign, while Hillary supporters, who started pouty, whiny groups such as Party Unity Means Authority, better known as PUMA or 18 Million Voices, were forced to lick their wounds in second place, precisely because they were nasty.
Now, Hillary Clinton is playing it smart. She’s letting Sanders have his day and she’s on a “listening tour;” something that every serious candidate should engage in. Her demeanor this time around is as a statesperson; a rational, reasonable person who can attract enough voters to beat whoever emerges from the GOP Klown Kar. That is how you win elections; by looking like you should be president.
You do not win elections by tearing down opponents. The only candidate I can think of who won that way was Ronald Reagan, and only the first time. People want to elect a president who works hard and who looks like he’s up to his job. Having out of control supporters trashing everyone who doesn’t think like them is a guaranteed loser.
Bernie Sanders could win the nomination, but not as long as his biggest and loudest supporters are self-righteous assholes.
If you want a progressive president, act like it, for chrissakes.