There is the age-old quote, often connected to Democrats, regarding their ability to snatch
defeat out of the jaws of victory. With the clown car of Republican contenders and the
Democrats having the most qualified candidate for the White House since perhaps Thomas
Jefferson. Her saddlebags are filled with campaign contributions, as the only truly
recognizable candidate in the race, Hillary Clinton. 2016 appeared to be the year the first
female would choose what rug would be going into the Oval Office.
Fearful of eight years of a Hillary presidency, Fox News and their rightwing brothers on
hate radio are doing what they have been doing to the Clintons for the last three decades,
creating scandals, knowing that even if nothing sticks, the average American is too busy to
pay attention to what is really going on. If one screams, “fire,” in a crowded theater long
enough, people are bound to think there is smoke somewhere.
Now something strange is happening. The well-oiled Clinton machine, that should have
learned its lessons after getting beaten by Barack Obama in 2008, looks like a jalopy pulling
out of the starting blocks. It wheezes and lurches, dripping oil on the pavement, and
backfiring. No one seems that excited about her candidacy. Certain members of the media
even seem a wee bit hostile towards her, cynically nitpicking everything she does.
That is not to say that a new set of mechanics won’t be sent out to get that engine roaring
again or that she will rediscover her mojo. With enough time and money, the American
people can be made to be excited about almost anything, like a new iPhone, soccer, a
Melissa McCarthy movie, the next Nickelback album, Mitt Romney, or a third failed Bush
In fact, her current strategy is to lie low and to quietly raise huge Scrooge McDuck-like
piles of cash from big donors, Wall Street insiders and Hollywood. After all, it is early. What
does she have to worry about? There is no Barack Obama out there to challenge her
Hit Hulk Hogan’s Real American music. Okay, that music would probably be a bit out of
character for her opponent. Think of something an elderly person might listen to in a coffee
shop as he finishes off his bran muffin and prune juice, looking forward to his morning
constitutional. Think Music that does not anger the blood.
Meet Bernie Sanders. He is no Barack Obama. Obama, when he beat Hillary Clinton in
2008, was a handsome man from the hip and happening city of Chicago. Bernie Sanders
comes from parts unknown. Okay, Vermont, but it might as well be parts unknown. I
guarantee you 95 percent of Americans could not find the Granite State on the map. Oops!
New Hampshire is the Granite State. Vermont is the Green Mountain State. Proves my point.
Barack looks like he was born to wear clothes. Bernie looks like he slept in his and
possibly spilled his lunch on them. Barack always looks well groomed. Well, what is left of
Bernie’s white hair looks like it is staging a sagebrush rebellion. Barack had the energy of
youth. Bernie looks like every one of his town halls and campaign rallies are going to end
with a campaign spokesperson saying, “The Senator has time for one last question before
he takes his nap.”
Barack didn’t want to give up his Blackberry, Bernie, his pony express. Republicans have
implied that Hillary Clinton is too old to be the president. The almost 74-year-old, Sanders
has probably mistaken her for one of his grandchildren a time or two. The last time Bernie
had his finger on the pulse was probably when the Lindy Hop was in style and Al Jolson had
a new talkie at the bijou. Bernie-mania is running wild. Okay, not really running wild. No
one wants him to break a hip, but how about power walking wild. Hillary has the brand
name, the money, the social and political connections, and the media behind her. Bernie has
a punch card at Subway.
Yet, something strange is happening. Liberals have not been this excited since they were
asked to be “clean for Gene.” Bernie is packing the halls and taking no prisoners. He is far
ahead of where Barack Obama was at the same point in his first run for the presidency. His
campaign is a snowball building up momentum and size.
While Hillary has to write checks, Bernie has people, really armies of people, volunteering.
He had 10,000 rabid voters show up in Wisconsin to hear him speak a few days back. That
is not a fringe candidate’s crowd. That is a cannon shot right across the bow of the Hillary
ship and the mainstream Democratic Party. Fox News and Rush Limbaugh love to claim
that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are wild-eyed liberals. Any examination of their
economic policies shows them to be moderates. Wall Street and the big banks have
prospered under them. The trend that started under Reagan of the rich getting richer and
the poor, poorer continue under them.
Bernie Sanders is a real liberal politician, the kind of liberal politician that school children
have to go to museums to see.
“If you look to your right, kids, you will see what used to be called a liberal. They believed that
government could solve some problems and help improve people’s lives. While we don’t know
what killed them off, some people think a comet or they hugged the wrong tree or possibly too
much blood loss due to their bleeding hearts. By the late 1980s they had disappeared from
their natural habitat. There have been false sightings here and there, but the last one was
found frozen in a grocery store cooler clutching a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia and a
photograph of FDR.”
Bernie Sanders is a living, breathing liberal. So, liberal that he served in the Senate as an
independent, not a Democrat. He has even called himself a socialist. Not the Vladimir Lenin
kind, but the western European, nobody shaves their armpits, big government is great, free
health care, free education, let’s wear a banana hammock to the beach kind.
Now every American is a wee bit of a socialist, even those that want the government to
keep their hands of their Social Security. It is all a matter of degree. But no politician says
they are. Bernie does.
Being called a socialist in our society is akin to being labeled a child molester, or a
murderer, or someone that watched every episode of According To Jim. Bernie has never
hidden his socialist light under any bushel basket. He did not get the memo or cared what
others thought. He might be the only politician on the left with a spine.
He might look like he should be driving his oversized caddy to the nearest early bird
special, but Bernie is causing some waves.
Clinton and Sanders are in a dead heat in New Hampshire and roughly a little over a third
of Democratic voters are in the Vermont Senator’s camp. If Bernie can chip into Hillary’s
stranglehold over women and minorities, which would be extremely difficult, he could win
the Democratic nomination. Yet, as Hillary learned when it came to Barrack, it is almost
impossible to stop a moving train.
In all probability, much like Mitt Romney four years ago, the Clinton team and “friends of
Bill” will be able to chip away at her opponent’s momentum with a media blitz, working the
media and friendly reporters, and plain old cash. Bernie seems almost oblivious of this
thing called cash.
Yet, Romney ultimately lost because he could never capture the enthusiasm of his base. If
the Party of Jefferson and Jackson is going to win in 2016, they need to get the Obama
voters that did not show up to the last two off-year elections. That involves enthusiasm.
The real question is why hasn’t the Democratic Party, with the exception of Obama, been
able to capture this energy to get voters to the polls. Bernie Sanders has everything going
against him in a cosmetic, youth driven culture.
Democrats seem to always be able to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. We will see
if it is true in 2016. The Democratic Party has been put on notice. Bernie notice that is.