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Bernie Sanders Is A Thing That Is Happening

Bernie Sanders is the canary in the coalmine for how much progressives aren’t ready for Hillary.


Bernie Sanders is a thing that is happening. “The Vermont Independent has drawn huge crowds of supporters in Iowa and New Hampshire, and pulled within striking distance of Clinton in some Granite State polls.” The problem for Hillary is that her supporters, outside the strongly feminist portion, are not particularly excited about voting for her. The only argument for Hillary is that she controls the machine, and that it’s her turn. But this is not an argument for the coalition of the ascendant – they aren’t machine apparatchiks like the labor bosses and Clinton Inc. cronies and coalition power brokers. If you are of the mindset of the hope and change Occupiers bent on transformative change, and you have the belief – strongly animating many Democrats – that you can’t lose in 2016, why not roll the dice? Is it really impossible that some liberals will take the same view of Hillary they always have, sprinkle in some au cerise silliness and end up with Bernie freaking Sanders?

No. It can’t happen. The Clintons won’t let it. Sanders can’t actually win because the Clinton machine would nuke him from orbit if he got to close, which they can do because he’s an old white socialist – but there’s no question he’s closer to today’s Democratic base voters on questions of ideology than Hillary Clinton. For Democrats who see Hillary the way some Republicans saw Romney or Dole – support borne out of grudging resignation that this is the best of a series of bad options, that it’s their turn, that you’re ready for it – the frustration is still palpable. Just as Republicans in 2012 were desperate for someone to jump in and present a challenge, so Democrats are today.

And just like in 2012, part of this is about voter frustration with the personality vacuum and the “Lie back and think of England” quality to Hillary’s campaign. This presents an opportunity for someone to come in and just neg the situation and get crowds. That’s all Sanders is really doing, and when De Blasio did a tiny amount of it, it set off a storm.

Just think of the list of people who could beat Hillary Clinton easily for the Democratic nomination if they wanted to run, and actually tried. Elizabeth Warren. Oprah. Stephen Spielberg. George Clooney. The cancer lady from ESPN. Michelle Obama. Tim Cook. Patty Murray. Basically every rich tech industry liberal donor except Chris Hughes and Sean Eldridge, or every Hollywood liberal with a Q rating above zero. This is a long list.

So the question is: why aren’t any of these people running, if only to fill the progressive personality vacuum? There’s no real negative to getting in, making some noise, representing the progressive wing of the party throughout the fall and then taking your lumps come February. Is it that they all really are ready for Hillary, ready to believe in the Clinton machine? Or is it that you just needed to see Bernie Sanders get to 30 percent to wonder if this god still bleeds?