“Feel the Bern” was the war cry for supporters of Vermont’s senior Senator in Washington Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist who, despite triggering a massive following in last year’s Democratic primary race, finished in second place to Hillary Clinton.
After New York billionaire and long-time reality TV star turned non-traditional presidential candidate Donald Trump beat Clinton in the Electoral College—after winning three midwest Rust Belt states by a cumulative total of fewer than 78,000 votes then losing the popular vote to her by three million—Democrats were left to ponder what the former Secretary of State should have done to win?
Why didn’t she go to Wisconsin or Michigan to campaign like Trump brags about? Why wasn’t her message more about economic programs that would help all the white working class people who said they feel left behind than so-called “identity politics” with its focus on interests and perspectives of social groups?
Many other criticisms could legitimately be leveled at Clinton, like why she didn’t pick Sanders as her running mate after seeing the “revolution” of enthusiasm that roused tens of millions to follow the senior senator from one of the smallest states in the nation who talked big about upending the billionaire class and ringing in socialist-style programs and policies? Had Hillary and Bernie teamed up to bridge the nuanced gaps separating them, election hindsight tells us the first woman president and first socialist vice present would have blown away the Donald like Hurricane Harvey blew away Houston. Instead, Trump eked out a win in the Electoral College due to poor voter turnout in just three states.
In spite of her personal flaws (defined by media as too robotic, not authentic) or her political wounds (Benghazi, classified emails) that pale in comparison to colossal personal flaws Donald Trump prides himself on exhibiting, Clinton was let down by a majority of women (53 percent) who voted the openly misogynist, pussy-grabber-in-chief into the Oval Office. After eight months of bearing witness to Trump’s daily abuse of presidential privilege and power that undermines the pillars of American democracy that make it great, reliable polling shows a growing number of voters have buyer’s remorse. Trumpism is waning for all except his die-hard base voters that include the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. Trump’s job approval numbers, never high to begin with among the general population, continue to decline.
Election gurus like Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight say don’t be surprised they slide from the low 30s to the 20s, where they will hit voter bedrock. These core voters will stand with him no matter what, including shooting someone on Fifth Avenue as he brazenly trumpeted he could do during the election last year without losing support. Finding himself in special FBI counsel Robert Mueller’s cauldron of investigation, where water is heating up as Trump’s connections to Russia begin to be revealed, POTUS will never resign from office just so he can retain the exclusive power of the pardon reserved to the president by the U.S. Constitution to pardon his loyalists, from Michael Flynn to son-in-law Jared Kushner to others, who might find themselves starring at jail time.
There were many people who could have voted for Clinton but didn’t, producing Trump’s narrow wins in Wisconsin (22,748), Michigan (10,704) and Pennsylvania (44,292) that pushed him into the winner’s circle. It’s been noted by Michael More and others that upwards of 90,000 Michigan voters voted for all offices except for president. It’s likely there are similar statistics for Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Bernie Sanders Crowd Burns America
The big news that hit the headlines this week is that 12 percent of “Feel the Bern” supporters handed the election to Trump by not voting for Clinton. A total of 216,332 from the three states Trump won that put him over the top could have more than put Clinton over the top had they picked the candidate who agreed in substance if not in detail with Sanders on virtually all critical subjects.
“Fully 12 percent of people who voted for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for President Trump in the general election. That is according to the data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study – a massive election survey of around 50,000 people.”
How strange it is that people who would have voted for Sanders had he been at the top of the ticket were not fans of President Obama? It strains credulity to wonder why they would want an avowed socialist to be president when they didn’t like a president who saved the nation from a second Great Depression and then had the courage to tackle healthcare when it was as much a third rail in American politics as is tampering with Social Security, a trusted and hallowed social safety net since 1935 that has kept many retirees from living in poverty.
Complicating matters is the fact that “Sanders-Trump voters were much less likely than Sanders-Clinton or Sanders-third party voters to have been Democrats,” said the report by Danielle Kurtzleben.
Meanwhile, the deception from Sanders’ voters was nowhere to be found with Clinton voters who stuck with Hillary through thick and thin.
“I found basically no Clinton primary voters who voted for Trump,” said political science professor Brian Schaffner of University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who performed the study. The rub lies not with trade or political party but with two other of America’s historic albatrosses, as data from the Public Religion Research Institute showed a “relatively strong indication that racism and sexism were more important in 2016 than they had been in previous elections.”
So, to all Democrats running for election next year to state or federal offices, and to all Democrats thinking about a run in 2020 for president, remember that who’s your daddy today may turn into who’s your enemy tomorrow. Good jobs, a good education, affordable health care, voting, and women’s rights are among presumed winning issues for Democrats, thoughtful independents, and energized progressives.
There has been a lot of soul searching by some Democrats for a new message and messenger. So far, no one has been able say with any accuracy what the new message is and who the new messenger is. “A Better Deal,” the slogan Senate Democrats in Washington have come up with has already been mocked for its vagueness, equating it to Papa John’s Pizza’s slogan of “Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.”
For those who wanted to “Feel the Bern” last year, then voted for Donald Trump instead of the most prepared and able candidate in history to hold the Office of President of the United States, you just handed the pinball wizard championship to a deaf, dumb and blind mule who can play football.