The term the pundits are using now to describe Bernie Sanders‘ chances of winning the Democratic Party presidential nomination is “nearly impossible.” Looking at the cold hard math of the Democratic Party nomination process, especially the proportional rather than winner-take-all awarding of state “pledged” delegates, we agree. If Hillary Clinton does capture the requisite majority of delegates as expected, the blame game will begin as to why Sanders lost. Here, in no particular order, are the first five reasons for Sanders’ failure:
1. Castro Problem — In the March 9, 2016 Univision debate between Clinton and Sanders, Univision moderator Maria Elena Salinas played a video from 1985 showing Sanders praising Cuba‘s communist leader Fidel Castro. In the full version of the video, Sanders also praised Nicaraguan Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. For some Democrats, the Castro tape raised fears of a larger problem, i.e., what Republicans would do to Sanders should he become the nominee. It’s possible that this fear, and the realization that the mainstream media have neglected to vet Sanders publicly, contributed to Sanders’ primary losses six days later. Indeed, last Tuesday, after voting in her primary, Donald Trump‘s ex-wife Ivana declared: “Sanders is a communist. I was born in a communist country, so I know when I see them or hear them.”
2. In it for the Money — Since Sanders has never been a Democrat, a nagging question all along has been, why did Sanders change his registration and run in the Democratic Party primaries, instead of running a third party independent challenge like Ralph Nader in 2000? Sanders gave some reasons last Monday, admitting that he is running in the Democratic primaries in order to get the most “media attention” and money, i.e., to be able to use the Party’s structure instead of building his own. That gives little comfort to loyal, sometimes lifelong Democratic voters who strongly believe in the values of the Democratic Party, and who want to see a real Democrat nominated and hopefully elected president.
3. Running against Democratic Party — Perhaps because Sanders has never been a Democrat, he feels free to run a campaign against the Democratic Party. This includes framing his battle as against the Party, i.e., “the most powerful political organization in the United States of America,” and even suing the Party after being punished for improperly accessing proprietary Clinton campaign voter data. Sanders has also criticized President Barack Obama numerous times, including calling for Obama to face a primary challenge in 2011, as well as criticizing the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton. The problem for Sanders is, again, that Democrats are by and large loyal to the Democratic Party, and they are especially loyal to President Obama, giving him a whopping 87 percent approval rating. Many Democrats also think Bill Clinton did a very good job.
4. The Bernie Bro’s — While passion for one’s candidate is admirable, some of Sanders’ supporters have taken their enthusiasm too far. In particular, some Sanders supporters, nicknamed the “Bernie Bro’s,” have been accused of nasty, intolerant, even misogynistic attacks on Hillary Clinton and her fans. This is a especially problematic when it occurs in the Democratic Party, which stands strongly for women’s and minority rights. Sanders had to call the behavior of the Bernie Bro’s “unacceptable” and say “I don’t want their support.” Nevertheless, intolerance by some Sanders fans can reflect badly on their candidate, and raises the question why Sanders is attracting such fans.
5. The “Wall Street” Mantra — Bernie Sanders has correctly identified problems of economic unfairness and income inequality in America, which he often cites by the shorthand “Wall Street.” The problem is that Sanders overuses the term, frequently when it is not a direct or substantive answer to a question he is asked. As a result, Hillary Clinton now likes to say “I am not a single issue candidate and I do not believe we live in a single issue country.”
Our next post will list reasons 6-10 for Bernie Sanders’ presidential nomination failing. Stay tuned.
Photo by Max Goldberg, used under Creative Commons license. http://is.gd/FRoK0G