Renowned political satirist, Robert Brenner, is Different Truth’s columnist. Here is his second column on democracy and the forthcoming American Presidential Election.
Last time I wrote about Donald Trump. That left a bad taste in my mouth. Let’s talk about something more elevated this time. Let’s talk about Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders is the long-running Congressman—first as a Representative, now as a Senator—from the great state of Vermont. He’s currently running for President of the United States as a Democrat. (Up until 2015, he was an Independent.) Here’s why he has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the nomination, let alone winning the general election:
First, he represents Vermont. Vermont is a tiny New England state with a tiny population. There are more trees than voters. It also has a history of being ‘contrarian’. That’s a polite way of saying it elects oddballs who couldn’t hold office elsewhere. Anyone remember President Howard Dean?
Second, he’s Jewish. No Jew has ever been elected President of the United States. The closest we’ve come is Joe Lieberman, who was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000. And we all recall what happened then. Anti-Semitism is still a thing in the United States.
Third, he’s an atheist. This is even worse than being Jewish. In a country obsessed with Jesus Christ, most politicians have to at least pay lip service to believing in God. When Republicans aren’t busy calling Obama a secret Muslim, they call him a secret atheist.
Fourth, he’s old. He’s — an admittedly spry — seventy-four. If he were elected President, he would be the oldest occupant of the Oval Office by far. Yes, yes, Ronald Reagan was old too. But he was still a relatively young sixty-nine when he was first elected. And he developed Alzheimer’s in his second term. Nobody wants Nancy Reagan’s astrologer running the country again.
Fifth, he doesn’t look ‘presidential’. The election is as much a beauty contest as anything else. People are more likely to vote for a candidate if he looks the part. Sanders looks like the nutty professor from the Back to the Future movies, not the leader of the free world.
Sixth, and most fatal, he’s a Socialist. Unlike the rest of the world, in the United States Socialism is a dirty word. Yes, yes, Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist. Whatever. Most Americans can’t tell the difference between Socialists, Communists, and Fascists, so such niceties won’t cut any ice.
The Democratic establishment knows Bernie Sanders can’t win a general election. That’s why they’ve thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton. Clinton, unlike Sanders, has a reasonable chance of going all the way. Which is too bad? Sanders is a decent, honorable man who says and does all the right things. America would be a better country if he were electable.
(The Democratic establishment is haunted by the ghost of George McGovern. McGovern was the Democratic Senator from South Dakota who ran for President in 1972. He was another decent, honorable man who said and did all the right things. He lost in a landslide to Richard Nixon.)
Bernie Sanders’ supporters—and there are a lot of them, at least on the Internet—are quick to point out polls showing Sanders beating Clinton in the New Hampshire primary. But New Hampshire is another contrarian New England state; libertarians and other kooks are big here. If Sanders couldn’t beat Clinton in New Hampshire, he couldn’t beat her anywhere. The same state polls show Clinton winning most of the remaining primaries.
Sanders’ supporters also like to point out national polls showing Sanders running better than Clinton against various Republican candidates. What they don’t realise is that national polls mean diddley this far out from the general election. What matters is the poll of history, and here the numbers are very bad for Socialists. There’s been a self-described Socialist in almost every American presidential election since 1904, and they’ve all gotten crushed on Election Day. For better or worse, capitalism, like guns, is hardwired into the American psyche.
So who are these Sanders supporters? Most of them are disappointed Obama supporters. They call Obama a DINO—a Democrat in Name Only — and accuse him of being a secret Republican, not a secret Muslim or atheist. Worse, they buy into the Republican narrative that Clinton is ‘untrustworthy’. They would rather lose the general election than compromise their precious principles. In short, they are whiny children who don’t understand how the game of politics is played.
The rest are secret Republicans. They know Sanders is the weakest Democratic candidate, so they are propping him up on Facebook and Twitter. On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a GOP operative. (In 1972, Nixon’s infamous CREEP — the Committee to Re-elect the President — secretly supported McGovern in the primaries for the same reason). Expect many of these Sanders ‘supporters’ to mysteriously vanish after Clinton gets the nomination.
So that’s how our democracy’s going. How’s yours?
Your American friend,
All pix: From Net
Robert Brenner is a columnist, satirist, and critic. In addition to blogging for the Huffington Post, his work has appeared in New York Magazine, Grin & Tonic, Open Salon, Theory In Action, and Happy.