Bernie Sanders Is Crazy, But The Only Democrat Candidate Voters Actually Like

Bernie Sanders Is Crazy, But The Only Democrat Candidate Voters Actually Like

Bernie Sanders, for all his flaws and eccentricities, is a genuine sympathetic leader, a quality the other serious contenders have yet to display.
Kylee Zempel
By

The results are in, and the socialist swept Nevada. That’s right, Bernie Sanders soared to victory Saturday for his third straight win — first Iowa, then New Hampshire, and now the Silver State. Things are looking pretty good for the Vermont senator, the 2020 presidential front-runner who leads second-place candidate and gaffe-machine Joe Biden by more than 12 points in the latest polls.

Notwithstanding the media’s endless campaign to smear Sanders, his support is stronger than ever — and, it appears, so is he. Despite a health scare in October, Sanders soldiers on determined and forceful at his rallies and on the debate stage. Next to the former vice president, Sanders presents like a spring chicken.

But aside from his physical resilience, how is he doing so well? He’s a 78-year-old white male millionaire seeking the affections of the wokesters, a gruff socialist with bedraggled hair and terrifying policy proposals, a 2016 presidential reject, and a divisive populist — which, in case you hadn’t noticed, we already have one of those.

Sanders praises the radical Green New Deal, champions a Medicare for All plan with a $34 trillion price tag, nods to abortion as a means of population control, and defends bread lines and Fidel Castro’s Cuba. How is this fanatical rerun boomer mopping the floor with a Rhode’s scholar veteran, two progressive women, the other half of the beloved Obama administration, and Michael Bloomberg?

Bernie Sanders, for all his flaws and eccentricities, is a genuine sympathetic leader, a quality the other serious contenders have yet to display. Every time Sanders opens his mouth, I believe he believes everything he’s saying. Unlike Obama-wannabe Buttigieg, Sanders feels real. His authentic brand is a perfect blend of “I wrote the damn bill!” fire and witty one-liners. Passion over pandering. Compassion over calculation. Compared to the other candidates, Sanders is the obvious choice.

Sanders Is So Much Stronger Than Biden

Biden is struggling. With each debate, he appears increasingly frail, lacking the crucial stamina Sanders would bring against President Donald Trump in a general election. Since the beginning, Biden has been grasping at the coattails of America’s first black president and relying on his administration’s laurels related to Obamacare, race relations, gun restrictions, and climate change. He’s flaky, having flip-flopped his stance on China and the Hyde amendment, which bars the use of federal funding for abortion in most circumstances.

Biden’s Hyde reversal was “never a good thing in politics,” said David Axelrod, an Obama senior adviser. “And it raises questions about his own performance and his own steadiness and his campaign’s performance.”

This isn’t to say Sanders’ policy has undergone zero evolution over his long tenure in the public eye. Critics assailed him during the 2016 cycle, saying he flipped on gun control and health care, switching from a state-run model to favoring federal administration. But unlike other 2020 contenders, Sanders says what he means and means what he says, remaining overwhelmingly consistent in his advocacy even if his forecasted outcomes for democratic socialism are irrational.

Biden’s endless lane-changing between moderate and progressive induces unpredictable whiplash. In 2020, voters know Sanders offers a much smoother ride.

Michael Bloomberg Can’t Keep up with Bernie

Speaking of whiplash, let’s talk about Michael Bloomberg, the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat. Bloomberg may be outspending every other candidate by vast margins, but his Super Tuesday strategy, resulting in a non-presence in all but the last debate and absence in Iowa and New Hampshire, isn’t a great look.

“In Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states in the presidential nomination process, candidates brave freezing temperatures to get out and shake hands. In those states, voters don’t expect to be won over with ad buys and policy papers, they want to meet the candidates personally and be wooed,” wrote Rich Cromwell in The Federalist this month. “Mike Bloomberg doesn’t have time for that.”

Not the case with Sanders, who called out Bloomberg for his absence. “I didn’t see Mike in Iowa when we were holding town meetings with folks there,” Sanders said. “Didn’t see him in New Hampshire, hey you know what, I didn’t see him here in Nevada. Didn’t see him in South Carolina. But he thinks he can buy this election. Well, I got news for Mr. Bloomberg and that is the American people are sick and tired of billionaires buying elections.”

Not to mention, Bloomberg’s first debate showing was abysmal — while Sanders never broke stride, even ripping Bloomberg for his filthy billions.

Sanders Discards Buttigieg and Warren Robotics

At her peak, Elizabeth Warren led Sanders in the polls by 12 full points, and now she trails him by over 16 points. In an intersectionality battle, Warren should come out on top, but she isn’t. And it isn’t as if the two progressive icons are running on vastly different policy platforms.

Unlike Sanders, Warren wreaks of insincerity. If she can’t even be honest about her heritage, how are voters supposed to trust her promises and endless plans? Despite her best efforts to appear nonchalant and relatable — think Instagram beer video — Warren just can’t quite get the authenticity thing down. It’s as if all her rehearsed-to-appear-unrehearsed talking points pass through a cringe machine on the way out of her mouth.

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg is another robotics champion. The media has propped up Buttigieg as smooth and articulate, but his once-punchy and polished phrases, such as “future former Republicans” and “God doesn’t belong to a political party,” are tired. The novelty has worn off. Having apparently learned nothing from the failed campaigns of Beto O’Rourke and Julián Castro, Buttigieg continues “Hispandering” in a way that feels forced.

But authenticity matters to voters, and they seem to see it in Sanders. One of Sanders’ volunteers, 33-year-old Shawn Nevarro, thinks of Sanders like a grandfather. “He’s kind of stern, a little grumpy at times. But, at the same time, you really know he’s looking out for you,” Nevarro said recently after a Nevada Spanish-language campaign event. “There is a huge distrust among the Latinx community with the Democratic party that they’re not following through on their promises. … Bernie is the exact opposite. He has a real authenticity.”

That authenticity could shore up the nomination for Bernie Sanders. Wonks in Washington, journalists buzzing around D.C. newsrooms, Twitter pundits, and campaign strategists would all do well to realize most people vote with their gut. They care more about who candidates are than what they say. Donald Trump wasn’t the smoothest candidate in 2016. He didn’t do Instagram lives from his kitchen, didn’t break out in Spanish at his rallies. He made forgotten voters believe he cared about them — because he did. And now Sanders is doing the same. So far, it’s paying off.

Kylee Zempel is an assistant editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter @kyleezempel.

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