It is obvious to just about everyone that Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont is staring to skyrocket in a lot of polls, just as the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire are drawing nigh. The Hill has even pronounced Bernie the front runner with a good chance of taking both Iowa and New Hampshire. The Real Clear Politics average has Sanders on top in the first two states, though former Vice President Joe Biden remains in the lead nationally.
“Private concern among moderate Democrats has steadily escalated into public alarm about whether Sanders becoming the party’s standard-bearer would make it easier for President Donald Trump to be reelected and complicate the party’s chances of winning control of the Senate and holding its majority in the House. The heart of those concerns stem from Sanders’ proud embrace of being a democratic socialist, a moniker that many worry would be a godsend for Trump and particularly hurt Democrats in swing districts the party won back in 2018.”
Democrats have seen this movie before. George McGovern was seen to be so extreme in his policy prescriptions that he lost 49 states in the 1972 presidential election. The difference between McGovern and Sanders is that the former was mild-mannered, perhaps a little too much in some minds while Bernie is loud, uncompromising, and perpetually angry. If President Reagan proclaimed “morning in America”, Bernie has sounded like the harbinger of the apocalypse.
The angst being felt by establishment Democrats is nothing compared to the abject fear coursing through the ranks of the “conservative” Never Trumpers. The Bulwark, the house organ of the Never Trumpers has a long analysis of how President Trump is going to take Bernie apart if he is the Democratic nominee.
“Bernie Sanders is having yet another political moment, this time the result of a belated realization that his 2020 campaign is sturdier and more strategically balanced than the insurrection of 2016—auguring trench warfare through the primaries all the way to the convention. He is, in short, the Democrats’ waking nightmare: Sanders remains more likely to split the party than win its nomination. And in the unlikely event that he does, Democrats would then be tethered to the candidate of Donald Trump’s most ardent dreams.”
Remember, the favored scenario entertained by the Never Trumpers is that Trump loses this November, but to someone who would not do too much damage to the country, like Joe Biden. Then, in 2024, suitably chastened, the Republicans will nominate someone more to the liking of the Never Trumpers, in the style of Jeb Bush or John Kasich. Whether either man wins four years from now is beside the point. At least the scary orange man will be sent back to reality TV land where he belongs.
The Bulwark article notes that Bernie has become a better campaigner than he was in 2016. He has raised a lot of grassroots money and has a good ground game with fanatical supporters ready to do his bidding (and more besides by some accounts.)
The fly in the ointment, as the saying goes, is that Bernie’s proposals are not widely supported by Americans.
“Take his signature proposal, single-payer healthcare. A poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 60 percent of swing voters in the pivotal states of Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin consider it a “bad idea.” Other polls consistently show that most Americans favor protecting their access to private insurance—including working people happy with the coverage their unions fought to secure. One wonders whether Sanders envisions using a general election campaign to undertake their reeducation.”
And the cost? Details, Bernie replies, but one estimate pegs it at $60 trillion over ten years, a little steep for the privilege of standing in line for healthcare.
Bernie’s early life provides lots of ammunition. He was not only a wastrel until middle age, but he once wrote an essay that suggested that women fantasized about being raped by three men at once. The article suggests that there is a nuance that softens that shocking revelation, but of course, political campaigns are not about nuance.
The article concludes that as ill-used as Sanders felt he was by Hillary Clinton in 2016, he is not ready for the hell that is about to rain down on him in 2020.
The Never Trumpers fear what will happen is Trump wins a landslide victory in 2020. With such a mandate in hand, who knows what he will do. Those who are in the president’s corner smile and reply, “Indeed.”