Amid the post-election outrage, a prevailing lesson for Democrats stands out among all the other excuses and scapegoats Hillary Clinton partisans and mainstream media have focused on: Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump.
They say Sanders was too liberal, as Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum claimed in a December 14 editorial alleging the Vermont Senator would have lost to Trump in a landslide. The Huffington Post published a similar article on December 15. These takes have been regularly published since the election, and of course throughout the entire campaign season.
This notion that Sanders would have lost to Trump for being too liberal is baseless. Trump won without much support from the Republican establishment, while Clinton touted dozens of elite Republican endorsements, but got nowhere. Trump’s appeal was based on being an outsider. Clinton’s appeal to insiders from both parties repelled many of the voter demographics she needed to win the presidency.
Clinton’s record was filled with scandals and corruption, fueled by her evasive nature. “Crooked Hillary” and “Hillary for Prison” were mantras developed by the right wing that would never have been applied to Sanders, who even Republicans have praised for his integrity.
“I like and respect Bernie Sanders because he is honest, he’s candid,” said Sen. Ted Cruz in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball. “We are philosophically different, but Bernie was an honest man,” Sen. John McCain said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I think he’s an authentic guy. I think he’s an honest guy,” 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. On CNN, conservative and former Fox News host Glenn Beck admitted, “Bernie Sanders is at least honest about who he is.”
Sanders is, across the board, respected and revered by his colleagues because he has remained true to his principles, no matter what government agent or corporation disagrees with him. He has the record of bipartisanship needed to bring together both parties, and enact meaningful reforms demanded by a public disenfranchised by a dysfunctional Congress. The words “socialist” and “radical” have been used to describe Sanders in a condescending manner, but those same labels have been used to describe past presidents who brought about significant changes and progress for the United States. Liberal elites still have a difficult time grasping this reality, and remain oblivious as to why Clinton couldn’t beat one of the most unpopular presidential candidates in modern history, wasting $1.2 billion in the process.
The past few years in America have been marred by a dysfunctional government, vast increases in wealth for the richest one percent, and perpetual warfare and threats from abroad. The problems facing the United States today call for revolutionary actions. The Democrats’ answer to that call was to coalesce around Clinton, who embodies the status quo. Voters chose the only other candidate who offered any semblance of challenge to that status quo, Trump—many based solely on the reasoning that he isn’t Clinton.
Voters were given a choice between the establishment (Clinton), and something new (Trump). However, as a recent MSNBC forum with Sanders revealed, given the ways in which Sanders’ candidacy would have challenged the establishment compared to Trump, many voters would have chosen Sanders. Too bad they weren’t given the chance.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.