The Democratic Party has a fever, and the only prescription is more socialism. As a result, Bernie Sanders is on fire, and Clinton, Inc. is starting to sweat:
The enthusiasm that Mr. Sanders has generated — including a rally attended by 2,500 people in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Friday — has called into question Mrs. Clinton’s early strategy of focusing on a listening tour of small groups and wooing big donors in private settings. In May, Mrs. Clinton led with 60 percent support to Mr. Sanders’s 15 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. Last week the same poll showed Mrs. Clinton at 52 percent to Mr. Sanders’s 33 percent.
The rise of Sanders tells us a number of fascinating things about the current state of the Democratic Party and of its many enablers in the mainstream media. David Harsanyi hit on what I believe is the most startling aspect of Sanders’ newfound popularity: that his populist brand of socialism doesn’t put him on the fringe of the party, but square in the middle. Sanders didn’t move to the center in order to build support for his candidacy.
Instead, the center of the Democratic Party took a hard left turn:
Sanders correctly points out that his positions on higher minimum wage, pay equity, and other state interference in markets enjoy high approval rating with most voters. “It is not a radical agenda,” he says. “In virtually every instance, what I’m saying is supported by a significant majority of the American people.” This is almost true. […] What is wholly true is that big majorities within the Democratic Party support these policies and they would probably go a lot further if they could. Hillary is lucky there isn’t a more compelling and charismatic candidate making a more comprehensive socialistic case to Americans as there was the last time around. The difference between her adopted position and his real one is scope.
Bernie Sanders gives modern Democrats something that they’ll never get from Hillary Clinton: actual passion for something other than political office. Progressives are drawn to Bernie Sanders because they know he believes the things he says, and that he says them only because he believes them. In that regard, he’s strikingly similar to Howard Dean, who quickly shot up in the polls only to spectacularly flame out in Iowa. Sanders offers Democrats what they want – 200-proof progressivism – but Hillary gives them what they need – a politician with the veneer of electability.
The other aspect of Sanders’ candidacy that is so interesting is the media’s coverage of it. Sure, he’s said a ton of nutty things that would make Todd Akin blush (e.g., claiming that cervical cancer is caused by an insufficient number of orgasms), but the lack of coverage of those remarks is not what I’m talking about. As Stephen Miller has noted on Twitter, what’s interesting is that while reporters at his events will regularly tweet about the size of his crowds or energy of his supporters, they rarely mention the substance of his remarks. Why that is so is unclear. Is it because he’s saying things that make Democrats look strange, or is it because he’s saying things that make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look bad? I suspect it’s a combination of both. Either way, the disproportionate amount of media coverage given to Trump vs. Sanders is instructive of how many reporters view their roles: as amplifiers of Republican nonsense and silencers/explainers of Democratic nuttery.
It’s rather obvious that Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in 2016. He’s a little too raw and unpolished. Plus, he defends gun rights and gun owners, and that obviously cannot be tolerated. Bernie Sanders represents the id of the Democratic Party, while Hillary Clinton represents the ego.
The real question facing Democratic voters is whether another candidate, one who represents the superego the way Barack Obama did in 2008, will jump into the ring this year. Democrats are not ready for Hillary. They’re resigned to Hillary. And they’ll remain that way until someone better comes along.