BY: M. TOMOSKI
Three months on the road feels like one long fruitless year when your days are committed to driving from town to town listening to the same old speeches that end up on the cable TV news loop for the rest of the day. Each war-room sends their candidate out with well-practiced speeches, and reporters spring like vultures at the first sign of deviation from the script. It’s a time-honored tradition and the natural order of every campaign. That’s exactly why Trump’s ‘just wing it’ approach came crashing into 2016 like a rogue wave, leaving a tattered Republican ship as flotsam. For the Dems on the other hand, everything seems to have gone according to plan.
Of course, there were a few bumps along the road and whispers of a $27 revolution fee that got the Occupy crowd excited enough to consider breaking out the tents again. But with over 500 super-delegates on her side—and a healthy lead in the real vote count—this fall is starting to see a lot more pantsuits and spray-tans. Clinton v. Trump is a battle of the brands that Stephen Colbert called “the matchup that America did something to deserve.”
Even Bernie seems to have given in to the idea that he was seen not as a serious contender but a grindstone for Hillary to sharpen her progressive side.
It’s a sad sight still: some poor souls cling to the waning hope that the Sanders’ revolution will make a comeback in time for the convention in July. Last weekend in Fargo, North Dakota, one supporter was heard shouting “We need you!” at the Senator, to which he replied: “If there is any person here, any person here, that thinks I’m coming to you as some kind of savior, that I’m going to do it all—all myself, you’re wrong.”
So there you have it, the selfless leader of the cause has lost all hope and so should you…but wait just a minute. This all sounds a little familiar. In fact, he’s been saying this all along. Bernie has repeated the words “I can’t do this alone” so many times across the country that either all the concern of his old age may be entirely justified, or that the rest of us haven’t really been listening.
In any case, it’s not looking good for the Senator and we seem to have reached the point in this drawn-out freak-show where we have to consider what it was all for? What was the point of running if he can’t win?
We can take some comfort in the idea that he made it possible to have a reasonable debate about socialism in America. Studies have shown that attitudes toward the once feared ideology have become more positive during the campaign, especially among youth. Except it’s important to note Bernie didn’t make socialism acceptable. The end of the Cold War and an entire generation that’s grown up hearing about the threat of radical Islam rather than the Red Menace did.
But he did bring out the youth vote in record numbers…unless you count the first time Barack Obama was elected. The youth vote in 2016 is around the same as it was in 2008, when young Democrats first asked the party change—and that might just be the point.
The Sanders campaign is a reminder that eight years after Barrack Obama promised to wash away the stench of the Bush administration, we still can’t smell the difference.
So why oppose Clinton? Why do a quarter of Sanders supporters say they would never vote for Clinton? How could 18-year-olds possibly relate to a 74-year-old dude over the best shot we’ve had at a first female president?
Unlike Clinton’s supporters, who are largely 45 and older, the most dedicated supporters of Sanders’ revolution aren’t even old enough to remember who was under Slick Willy’s desk in the Oval Office, Gennifer Flowers, the Whitewater and campaign finance scandals, and every other reason the Trump campaign is bound to give voters to stir up some Clinton hate.
But one way to crack this nut could be that Hillary has openly promised more of the same. Her own scandals aside, she’s promised to please everyone at the same time by protecting Obama’s legacy, adopting some of Bernie’s ideas, trying to win the votes of Republican Trump-haters, and by putting her husband in charge of “revitalizing the economy.” It’s the same Third Way compromise-politics Bill gave the country in the ’90s, which brought on the 1994 crime bill, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, The Defense of Marriage Act, and pharmaceutical advertising.
For young voters, feeling the Bern has nothing to do with the first female president or the last Clinton administration, and it’s not because they’re ignorant, uneducated, or unambitious. It’s because they understand that choosing to continue a political dynasty isn’t progress, it’s the worst kind of nostalgia.
From the moment he announced his candidacy in April 2015, Democrats have been asking themselves, “How can Bernie Sanders make Hillary Clinton a better candidate?” Four months into Primary season, it’s become clear that Sanders has had an effect on Clinton, who’s adopted some of the Senator’s policies live on the debate stage and on the trail, even down to a talking point which she borrowed word for word: “no bank too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.”
Yet the fact that Democrats have had to ask this question at all means that the party establishment is knowingly throwing their support behind a weaker candidate with a stronger name.
Republicans may not know which way is up, but at least they’re asking the question. Party unity is a problem that both parties are experiencing right now, but only one side is openly addressing it, and in four years the Democrats could be asking themselves: “how did we isolate such a large group of voters and what do we do now that we’ve run out of Clintons?”
If Donald Trump has proven that you can play the major cable news networks like a cheap fiddle for free air time, Bernie has proven that you can run a successful campaign without them. His ideas have made him the candidate of the party’s future. A future in which campaign coverage will be brought to you by YouTube and Snapchat rather than CNN and FOX. It’s a future in which the party will have to rely on the age group that would rather stay home in 2016 than vote for a candidate they didn’t choose.
The Dems are now in a place they never thought they’d be: lagging behind the Republicans to choose a candidate. This time last year Clinton’s biggest obstacle to becoming the Democratic nominee was booking a hotel in Philadelphia for her acceptance speech. In the past four months we’ve found that the only reason a large chunk of Democrats didn’t abandon her sooner is because they had to take that time to ask “Who the hell is Bernie Sanders?” And if a relatively unknown elderly man from lily-white Vermont can stir up this much opposition, then maybe the Democrats should consider putting their faith in an idea rather than a name, because as Bernie’s said from the start: no one can do it alone.