We’ve seen this movie before. An aggressive loudmouth with a loose grasp on reality promises to alleviate fears of economic hardship while simultaneously painting a minority of American residents as the source of all the evil in the world. He gathers a small but vocal following who then flood influential sites and pundits with calls and messages, convincing them to shift their allegiance to the new order.
In the Republican version, the other candidates saw the rabid following of Trump and thought to themselves that they wanted to control that group when Trump inevitably flamed out. They held their fire, not countering Trump’s aggression nor consistently demeaning his ignorance, not pressing his obvious lies about great health nor addressing any of the major scandals and failures which littered his past.
And, of course, Trump never flamed out. By giving him a pass, the “more serious” candidates instead fanned his spark into a bonfire which eventually consumed everything which the party had once represented. Certainly, its advocates still proclaim it is the party of patriotism, law and order, the military, and fiscal responsibility… but they do this as they refuse to guard against foreign intervention in our elections, cheer for the subversion of the law because of “Deep State”, elevate war criminals and spend recklessly.
Now Bernie is doing the same thing from the Democrat side. As seen in the Mueller Report, Bernie received significant support from Russian interference in 2016; he was the only candidate beside Trump to do so. It is likely that he will receive such support again, in the form of memes and sites and rallies carefully designed to seem like honest, grassroots-style promotion.
The Democrats may fall for it. Many of their activists did not read the Mueller Report, just like the Trump fans, and for similar reasons: their favored pundits preferred they not discover the exact extent of the abuses, instead trying to strengthen in the Democrat base the false narratives of the Russians directly changing votes and only working to aid Trump. Much as with the pro-Trump faction, these assertions were rarely made by the “serious” pundits, but they were implied and, when their callers or comment writers introduced such fallacies they were not corrected.
This leaves much of their base inappropriately arrogant about the Russian influence, certain that they were never affected… even though, as the weekend articles by MrsMaryLou have amply demonstrated, the Democrats were manipulated extensively by Russian attacks in the 2016.
Sanders is also touted as a certain winner against Trump, based on national polls. As demonstrated with Clinton’s popular vote victory, national polls mean nothing. Sanders is, by far, the least likely to win against Trump. Buttigieg and Klobuchar, who fare worst in national polling, both have much stronger changes against him because they remain relative unknowns and have the potential for significant growth of their support. Biden, for all that he seems to have been written off by many, remains the most likely to win against Trump. Bloomberg, whose Super Tuesday strategy is a proven failure, may yet reverse historical trends due to his unique ability to blanket the airwaves with ads. Sanders, on the other hand, is poison in most swing states and likely to remain so.
Does this mean that Bernie is a lock for 2020, and that he will give Trump a second term? Let’s hope not. The primary season is still early, and it’s possible that some of the other candidates may recognize what is happening and launch a needed assault on the myth of Sanders.
But it also explains why Trump and the Republicans are pushing so hard to promote Sanders. They recognize that the Democrats may be foolish enough to latch on to the candidate which has the worst chance against Trump.
What they’re forgetting is that the same thing happened with Trump. The Hillary campaign encouraged friendly media sources to cover Trump disproportionately and favorably during the primary season, especially early in the primary, to knock out Hillary’s more serious opponents. They thought that if they could only get Trump into the general election, Hillary was a certain winner.
Let’s go ask some of Hillary’s top-level support how that strategy worked, shall we?
This is playing with fire. Trump is far from a certain winner against Sanders, and a President Sanders could reasonably have a Democrat House and a Democrat Senate to work with. And, just as Trump corrupted the Republicans into becoming what the Democrat parody of them had always been, Sanders could easily shift the Democrats into becoming exactly what the most ignorant Republican stereotypes have portrayed.
Of course, all of this remains contingent upon many factors… with the health issues of Trump and Bernie, it’s plausible neither is alive in November. But the best course of actions for the moderate-lane Democrats is to stop attacking each other and insist that rivals drop out, and instead for some of their top-level candidates to swallow their pride and launch a full attack on Bernie before he becomes too strong.