Choose the Message or the Messenger. You Likely Cannot Have Both
Bonkers for Bernie
I know more than a few folks who really like Bernie Sanders. His supporters are dedicated to the cause. And his campaign is doing well now. He only has about 2.5% of the delegates needed to win, a long way from victory, but he is ahead of everyone else.
So why would I suggest Sanders supporters should vote against him? Before answering that, I need Bernie Buddies reading this to ask themselves a question. Is your support mostly for the agenda Sanders brings to the table, or to him as a person that you want to be President?
If it is the latter, I would caution to be careful what you wish for. There is not a lot in his record that is promising for getting legislation out of Congress. Nor for running the vast US Government. But if it’s a personal thing, you like HIM, then that is where your vote is likely to go.
If what is most important to you is the agenda, consider another approach. The difference between candidates on key issues is, as these things go, is pretty small. Everyone wants universal medical coverage, with two different routes espoused. All agree that college and trade school debt is crushing and must be addressed. Only two candidates are talking free everything in education for everyone. But all agree on relief for the vast majority of students. The differences on taxes, regulations, gun safety, etc. are not major.
Here is the challenge for the Bernie supporter. According to all the informed analysis, he is the least likely major candidate to beat Trump. I know there are polls showing him (and everyone else) beating Trump. Anyone with a modicum of experience with polls will tell you the numbers are pretty useless this far out.
Polls that are consistent say most Americans do not want a Democratic Socialist president. You might. It’s possible some others don’t understand the term. But the bottom line is that over 65% of voters find this problematic.
Similarly, overwhelming numbers support universal health care. But most want some choices and want to see larger government programs phased in. Health care is a winner for Democrats. Make the issue one of having a choice, and a winner becomes a looser.
Baggage That is Too Heavy to Carry
A good number of voters don’t see paying completely for everyone’s education as the right thing to do. Some of us can carry that financial weight. They also worry about Bernie’s shifting numbers for the cost of his proposals. Same for how he would fund them. People see these as indicative of someone who does not have a grip on what it takes to do these things.
Getting any of this done will need skillful dealing with the Congress. Bernie has spent a lot of energy irritating everyone else in the Democratic party. Calling those who disagrees with your approach the “obstructionist establishment” is not a great start.
So, Here We Are
I know what I have said here irritates Sanders supporters. But I see the reality as worth highlighting. Much of what Sander’s stands for, perhaps with variations, is good and important to the country. Electing a candidate who can deliver 70-80% of that in the near term, and build from there, seems a rational choice. Supporting it must be 100% now as the only acceptable course is the way to lose an election and get 0% enacted.
That is my perception of where we are. The Democrats can win with a solid base, a good share of independents, and a few Reformed Republicans. They cannot win on the base alone. The math is not complicated. The 2018 elections, for the most part, demonstrated what will win. Bernie cannot add up for the general elections. Even the Russians have figured that out.
Time to Make a Choice
So, if you love Bernie because he is Bernie, have at it. It’s likely a losing strategy, but it’s your choice. If the priority is to get things done, choose another candidate. That candidate is not your first love but is more likely to accomplish much of what we all want.
Just remember, we are all in this together. Let’s not sink a ship out of over-devotion to an individual.
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