“I’m not going to try and get into his mind because I don’t think there’s a whole lot of space there. I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office.”
“You saw those images last night. We’re going backward here. This is a frightening, grotesque, and disturbing development in American politics.”
Were the above quotes from the Tuesday night Democratic freakout debate attacking Bernie Sanders? Well, they certainly could have been. But actually, the first one was from none other than lead Donald Trump sycophant Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) during the 2016 campaign. The second quote, also from the 2016 campaign, was from fellow Trump boot-licker Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). My, how time flies.
Back then, if you remember, Trump was the reality TV show host attempting to win the Republican nomination for president of the United States. It was a crowded field, and nobody in their right mind believed he had any chance whatsoever of winning. We know what happened. Not only did he win the nomination, but he won the presidency outright, beating Hillary Clinton in what might have been the biggest upset in American political history. Ok, Russia helped, but you get the idea.
Many in the Republican establishment had similar quotes regarding Trump. “He’s a moron,” “He’ll get trounced by Hillary,” or “He’s unhinged.” Yeah, we heard them all. And most Democrats felt the same way. The American people wouldn’t vote for such an absolute disaster of a candidate. Hillary was far and away one of the most qualified candidates in recent memory. We had nothing to worry about.
But here we are. The nightmare that began on that fitful night on November 8, 2016, continues. Another election is quickly approaching. It’s do or die time for democracy. It’s the primary season, and the Democrats are in full-scale panic mode because the man leading the field is a 78-year-old Democratic socialist, who was just quoted on 60 Minutes praising the Castro regime in Cuba for having an excellent education and health care system.
Never mind that he qualified those remarks with an indictment of the regimes autocratic and dictatorial rule. The quote that the media and some of his Democratic rivals seized upon was his praise of Castro. Sometimes, context doesn’t matter—especially in today’s hyper-sensitive 24/7 news cycle.
But, and bear with me here, there’s a much broader point to what’s going on right now. Senator Bernie Sanders and the current president have something in common. No, it’s not their political views. Nor is it their personalities or lifestyles. It’s about the movement; as in, they both have one. Most of us disregarded Trump’s in 2016. Democrats would be wise not to do the same with Sanders.
Please keep in mind that I have some of the same concerns when it comes to a possible Bernie Sanders nomination. I too, wonder how he will appeal to voters in the middle or other disaffected former Trump voters. It’s a real concern, and I’m not endorsing him one way or the other. But folks, he can win. And here’s why.
Sanders’ main base of support comes from liberals, people with a lower standard of living, and young people. I know the concern about young voters. They traditionally do not vote with the same vigor as Trump’s older and whiter base of support. Seldom can you count on them to show up on a consistent basis.
But you know what? Things may be different this time around. Young people today don’t have the same kind of visceral response when they hear the word socialism. Many of them associate the word with Bernie himself, and that seems fine with them.
I think young folks today are seeing things in a much different light. They observe the world teetering towards a climate change disaster that may leave them to be the ones who have to deal with its most terrible effects. They know that some form of higher education is a must, especially if they want to have a decent chance at a good life in America. But they also see an education system that will leave them with thousands of dollars worth of debt—debt that will put their prospects for getting ahead, years into the future, if at all.
So Bernie says to them: “I’ve got your backs.” And he says it over and over. He’ll provide free education and health care. He’ll also enact a ‘green new deal’ which will immediately begin to attack the impending climate disaster that’s coming soon to a community near you. He gives them hope.
When I was fresh out of high school in 1979, both of my parents worked. They didn’t make a lot of money. We had a very modest house in a working-class neighborhood. But, they were able to pay for my college, own a couple of cars, and go on a decent vacation every year. The fact I didn’t take college seriously and blew my chance is another story for another day. The truth is, they were able to do it. How many families can do that today?
With the American dream now becoming more and more of a pipe dream for so many, is it any wonder these young people are latching on to someone who says he can make it better for them? It’s right to be skeptical of how we’d pay for everything. But Bernie’s supporters are saying, “Who cares?’ “We pay trillions for wars and give massive tax breaks for the rich and corporations. It’s time to start cutting a lot more slices into the proverbial American economic pie, so everyone has a shot.”
It’s a compelling argument. And the idea that a 78-year-old democratic socialist is generating this much enthusiasm ought to give the rest of America pause. Folks, something is happening out there in the real world. And we need to pay attention. Do not underestimate the will of an aggrieved group of people. Did we not learn anything from 2016?
Again, this is not an endorsement of Bernie Sanders for President. I still feel that Joe Biden is the best hope to defeat Donald Trump. But what do I know? Right up until election day in 2016, I thought Hillary was going to win. This year is still wide open, although on Super Tuesday, maybe we’ll have a better idea as to who our nominee is going to be. Maybe.
I know many of you out there are scared out of your mind that Trump will win again. I get that. But the idea that Bernie can’t win doesn’t add up, in my view. Because he’s got a movement, and never underestimate such a thing. Remember this: Reagan, Obama, and Trump were all leaders of a change election—and they all won.
There’s an old saying widely attributed to former President Richard Nixon, and it goes something like this: “When you have a candidate that’s trying to stop X, bet on X” Could Bernie be Mr. X?