March 22, 2016

Why is Bernie likely to lose the Democratic nomination?

First, yes, Sandernistas, the enthusiasm is good. But, if you're over the age of 30 and think Bernie Sanders is still going to win the Democratic nomination, it's probably time to stop believing in the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, and instead wake up and smell the coffee. More than that, it's time to start thinking seriously about Plan B, after it's even more clear that he won't win, that is, voting Green in the general rather than sitting out.

Not only is he behind on straight delegates, not counting supers, the remaining slate, rather than favoring him, is stacked against him. Only Wisconsin, among remaining primaries, is an "open" one. Large California and two small states are "mixed," allowing for day-of party registration. (And I'll stand by this prediction even if Clinton is right, and not just lowballing her odds on March 22 events.)

And, independent voters have been huge Sanders supporters, as shown above, but, of course, if you can't vote for him in the primary, then you're unable to support him.

So, why IS he going to lose, assuming my analysis about the greater uphill sled he faces for the rest of the way is true? Several reasons, some of them at least partially self-inflicted, or at least self-induced. I'm going to start with those first.

1. Getting a late start into the race. He played footsie with waiting on Elizabeth Warren too long. He should have said: "I need an earlier declaration, either yes or no." If Warren couldn't or wouldn't deliver, he should have declared himself, period.

Personally, I don't think Warren will ever run. So, anybody on the left-hand side of the Democratic party, no matter who wins the general election in 2016, needs to throw their 2020 rose-colored glasses in the trash.

(Sidebar: Warren said some vaguely nice things about Sanders, but never endorsed him. Sandernistas still yearning or hoping for such an endorsement are apparently clueless that the Massachusetts primary has already happened.)

2. Not having a top-level campaign organization. It's not been bad, and probably is no worse than Hillary Clinton's in a number of ways, but it's not great. While Bernie's gotten all those small donations, those aren't necessarily a sign of good staff and they're definitely not necessarily a sign of good Web-savvy staff. In other words, battling an Establishment candidate, he needed as robust a staff as the guy who was successful eight years ago — Dear Leader.

3. Adopting the "socialist" label when he didn't need to — and when he's not one. As I've blogged before, in calling for a British-style National Health Service, and said elsewhere in supporting nationalization rather than bailout of problem banks, I'm more of a socialist than Bernie Sanders is. And, no, corporate welfare, whether for Big Ag or for the military-industrial complex, doesn't count as actual socialism.

Now, the Bernie Sanders of 20 years ago might have been neck-and-neck, and the Bernie of 25 years or more ago would have been ahead of me. But, that's what happens when you're in Congress that long. He could have called himself something like "a new New Dealer," or campaigned on a pledge to "restore the Great Society," and both been more accurate about his actual politics and possibly scared off some Democrats less.

I say "possibly," because there is no guarantee of that, as we start transitioning to elements less under his control.

That said, why put an unnecessary millstone around your own neck? True, the label may have attracted a few people, but it may have scared off more.

4. The "he's not a Democrat" theme. Actually, he is, other than the technicality of the last initial of "I." And, he has been since he first got elected to Congress. He's even participated in Congressional Democratic fundraisers. That hasn't stopped the utter bullshit, uttered by both Democratic professionals and Inside the Beltway pundits, claiming that he's not. That gets back to No. 2, and looks ahead to ...

5. Fighting an Establishment candidate. Hillary Clinton may have claimed she's not a good politician. But she is a well-connected one, as those of us who have bitterly complained about Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Iowa caucus shenanigans and other things know. Per the Clinton Foundation, she's also a well-heeled politician, no matter Bernie's small-donor fundraising prowess. And, she's one that, even by political standards, at least among Democrats, is unafraid to be brazen in her lying. And, again, per the "he's not a Democrat" bullshit, you've got others unafraid to be brazen in lying on her behalf, too.

That said, we're going to do a whiplash transition back to something very much in Sanders' control, and that is ...

6. Running inside the Democratic box. Per the "he is" link, he's long been a Democrat. Per the fact that he refused to call out Clinton for the Honduras coup or Dear Leader himself for the semi-coup in Ukraine, he's long been very much inside the bipartisan foreign policy establishment box. Criticizing coups 60 years ago is nice, but when you focus on GOP coups, and ignore actual or attempted coups by Democratic presidents in the past decade (or 50 years ago — JFK with Bay of Pigs, Diem and Trujillo), you're clearly determined to stay in that box. Being a warhawk-lite, not quite as bloodthirsty as Clinton, further underscores this, as does a debate failure to make a straightforward "I will cut the Defense Department" statement. In turn, things like this are why, even if Sanders had gotten the nomination, I likely would have voted Green again anyway. I wanted a bit more of a domestic policy revolution, and something a lot different in foreign policy. And, related to that, Sandernistas' refusal to face reality about Tulsi Gabbard has become more irritating by the day. (Jewish organizations not part of the Israel-first lobby, like Mondoweiss, have defended Zaid Jilani.)

Beyond that, as things like farm bills and foreign aid show, foreign and domestic policy aren't always inseparable.

I'm not disillusioned. I knew about Sanders' shortcomings months ago, just like I knew about Obama's shortcomings in 2007 and knew before the end of that year that I would vote Green in 2008. That said, an earlier announcement and a campaign staff even better than it is in some ways would have made Sanders last longer as a useful cudgel to beat Democrats over the head.

Could Sanders win the election if he were nominated? Sure. So could the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus.

In all of this, I'm not anti-Sanders. I pulled the lever for him here in Texas. It's just that I'm a realist in terms of how I view the two-party box, and also how I see the need to get Sandernistas to sign on to the Plan B of voting Green in the general election.

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