On Electability

A few days ago I posted some opinions on Facebook, arguing vehemently Bernie Sanders can't be elected despite the overwhelming enthusiasm of his supporters. My view isn't driven by polling and Sanders supporters have pointed me to public opinion findings showing Sanders doing well against Trump or Cruz. As Huck Finn would say, “I don’t take no stock” in these polls because I've been through so many democratic (small “d”) disappointments. I’m skeptical of wishful thinking. I bitterly recall how Jimmy Carter lead Reagan in the polls until just a month before the election; remember Mondale leading Reagan by double digits and losing dramatically after he argued for a tax hike; remember perhaps most sadly how Ted Kennedy failed to oust Jimmy Carter—I saw Kennedy’s campaign the way Bernie people view their candidate's effort now, as a push to restore the Democratic party to its liberal roots. Carter after all, was the man who pushed neoliberalism to the forefront of our politics, so much so Reagan had only to pick up where Jimmy left off. I’ve always voted for the most liberal wing of the party. I voted for Jesse Jackson, preferred Paul Tsongis to Bill Clinton. I’ve no dispute with Bernie and his supporters, save that I sincerely believe he can’t win. I think so because middle Americans (who do not think as I do) will never vote for a man who proposes more government regulation and higher taxes—even if those taxes are part of a beneficial vision of single payer health care. It’s possible they might vote for someone like FDR but Roosevelt was a genial plutocrat, the kind middle Americans trust. Sanders is not FDR, which means at the core he likely won't get the broader votes he'll need to defeat the GOP.

 

When I say this I'm told with confidence the right will batter Hillary Clinton just as much if not more so than Sanders and I'm sure this is true but Clinton has the potential and even the likelihood of getting some of the business vote, a thing that FDR managed and which is essential for any candidate hoping to reach the White House. Saying so does not make me a neoliberal quisling or a cynic.