On Bernie Sanders

I know, I know: What possesses me to devote a post to Sen. Sanders at this point? BETO IS RUNNING! However, since I need some time to compose myself — to quiet my beating heart about the promise of a six-year U.S. representative and failed Texas Senatorial candidate – it seems likely that I’ll address Mr. O’Rourke’s candidacy for the Democratic nomination in the coming weeks. In the meantime …

This note is different from those I’ve done on former Amb. Nikki Haley and MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar. As with President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, virtually everyone in America knows VT Sen. Bernie Sanders, what he looks and sounds like, and what he stands for.

Even so, the basics. Of the measures that I indicated a while back that I consider to be of paramount importance in selecting the Democrat that can defeat Mr. Trump, the Senator fares well in some, not in others. He will be able to hold the stage against the President; facing the President, his advanced age won’t be a drawback; he has a core base that if not as large as the President’s, is as dedicated; he’s not an identity candidate, but will undoubtedly receive the full support of identity-focused Democrats in a race against Mr. Trump; he has significant seasoning in Washington’s ways; he’s endearing in a curmudgeonly way; and even those that question his philosophies recognize his authentic dedication to helping our economically desperate people. On the other hand, he is susceptible to Republicans’ stirring voters’ fears about socialism; many of his ideas appear impractical to centrists, the voting segment that I submit will decide the election; and I’ve not seen him demonstrate any marked expertise in foreign affairs (while Mr. Trump, by dint of four years in office, will be able to credibly claim some expertise). Mr. Sanders is what he is.

What I find most intriguing about Sen. Sanders’ candidacy is the effect that it may have on the prospects of other Democratic candidacies. I find it striking that he received $6 million in donations within 24 hours after he announced his candidacy (as in 2016, through contributions averaging about $25). That remarkable (at least to me) outpouring seems clear evidence that his supporters are ready to march for him again, notwithstanding the plethora of other progressive candidates in the Democratic field; it means not only that he can compete widely against a field generally less well financed than he is [save, perhaps, Mr. Biden (if he decides to run), Ms. Harris, and Mr. O’Rourke], but that he still has supporters everywhere. One might reasonably surmise that Mr. Sanders may significantly dent the support that each of the other progressives (including the currently most notable – CA Sen. Kamala Harris and MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren) might otherwise receive in their regions, and that such a split of the progressive vote in a significant number of early primaries could pave the way for a moderate to secure the nomination – if only one (Mr. Biden, Ms. Klobuchar, or other) pulls ahead in the nominating process’ center lane relatively quickly.

Since I believe that Democrats need to nominate a moderate in order to beat Mr. Trump, I accordingly consider Sen. Sanders’ entrance into the race a positive. I will, however, also venture this: if I knew now that a progressive was going to win the Democratic nomination, I might well prefer Mr. Sanders, since I currently think that among the progressive candidates, he has the best chance to beat Mr. Trump in Wisconsin, which serves as my gauge for the swing states. Of one thing we can be sure: he will liven up the Democratic primary and debate process ;).

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