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Bernie Sanders may have better odds of beating Trump or Cruz than Hillary (Post 1 in my election series)

February 12, 2016

The most common reason Hillary supporters I’ve encountered give for supporting Hillary over Bernie: electability. (I’ll deal with others in future posts) Here is why I think they are wrong:

I) Establishment figures don’t have a lot of luck beating right wingers who appeal to populist sentiment. Jimmy Carter beat Ford when Carter was an insurgent, but as an incumbent he not only lost, but was blindsided by Reagan. Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral college against Bush. And yes, cheating, media bias and (in the Gore case) a dishonest Supreme Court were involved.  Overcoming this type of obstacle is not a matter of personal toughness, or insider baseball resume. It requires the ability to mobilize large numbers of people. Nobody on the Democratic side rioted when the Florida Republican machine and the Supreme Court stole Florida from Gore. The Republicans managed a Brook Brothers riot throughout the recount. Passion matters.

People are angry right now. A lot of that anger is among racists and among Taliban evangelicals.  To beat that requires someone who can tap into less misdirected anger, anger at the 1%.  If you are a former Secretary of State, a former first lady who redefined the position of first lady to mean co-president, good luck portraying yourself as the outsider in the race. That is especially true if you boast publicly of your long relationship with Henry Kissinger.

2) Turnout:  To win you have to turn out not only the activists who show up during primary season, but the less engaged voters who may or may not show up during general elections.  Someone who can point to a clear enemy, the very rich, and a long record of fighting them will do better than someone who has a long record taking their money, of serving on their boards of directors. (Hi Walmart. Serving on the board of a woman bashing, union busting behemoth like you is a really good feminist and pro-worker credential.)

I know the Democratic establishment’s line: “We are the experts. We know practical politics and Clinton is the practical choice. ” Just remember, these are the geniuses and “realists” who in the past picked Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Al Gore and John Kerry.

 

[Correct typo. as happens when typing while fighting off blindness]

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