Stop rubbing your hands with glee over the opening turmoil in Democrats’ primary struggles centered on the current front-runner status of ancient Bernie Sanders.
Yes, he’s older than anyone ever to occupy the White House, entering or exiting. Sure, he’s a loon. He’s done some crazy stuff in writing and speaking. You bet party elders are worried sick about nominating a socialist in a center-right nation.
But it’s still quite early in their selection process. We’ll know a little more come Saturday night with the results of South Carolina’s primary, assuming that beautiful state doesn’t pull an Iowa or Florida with a flood of irregularities and hanging chads.
But even then, the party will have selected barely six percent of the delegates sentenced to spend a week in downtown Milwaukee in mid-summer. We’ll know a lot more after next Tuesday’s results come in from 15 jurisdictions.
These include eight states and American Samoa where anyone can vote. Five states with mixed primaries where some independents can vote. And, of course, Maine, which is always different; only Dems can vote there.
The selection of 1,344 delegates that day, making the running total about 40 percent, will tell us much about the direction of the race. And it won’t likely be Super for most of the surviving candidates who’ve spent so many millions of your money.
But here’s what’s dangerous about enjoying Bernie’s early success and Dems’ early troubles: Most people say he can’t win and he’ll hand four more years to the other party. Many of those people include the alleged elites of his own party.
Sanders has a cadre of hardcore nobodies who feel alienated from both parties, especially the establishment types who inhabit the once uninhabitable swamp that Maryland so generously donated to the new nation back in 1790.
Those cadres, many of them young, ignorant and inspired, get excited at the mere mention of the name of the man who’s lived off taxpayers virtually his entire career and still managed to acquire three homes.
He’s grumpy, often angry but he is what he is, an authentic, angry grump. His disciples pack the rallies to the rafters or the farthest street corner, cheer everything he says, especially the angry stuff.
The candidate talks about implementing a most ambitious program of reforms that no one thinks can get through Congress. Many fellow party officeholders are already running for fear he’ll drag them down to defeat.
Any of this sound familiar? It’s a parallel phenomenon to the Trump Train of 2015-16. A rich guy from Queens (Bernie is a Brooklyn native) who instinctively tapped into the anger and frustrations of millions of overlooked Americans he has nothing in common with and harnessed that power to a surprise upset ticket into the White House.
The parallel is, of course, imperfect. Sanders is older, Jewish, no friend of Israel. He doesn’t know from tax cuts. There’s hardly anyone safe from the many trillions in new taxes the lifelong politician promises.
There’s a very long way to go in this process. But winning has a way of adorning anyone with campaign credibility and more admirers. You can smell it already.
No one, for example, yet knows the damaging skeletons that Bernie’s opponents will leak to ravenous reporters eager to protect their party. The Trump campaign is wisely holding its fire for now. But an opposing bevy of alternate Democrats who can’t agree on who best can stop him has a fast-closing window to damage his campaign, much like the large GOP field was incapable of doing four years ago.
The similarities are, however, close enough to warrant extreme caution assuming any kind of an automatic victory should Sanders be the nominee of the party that right now doesn’t want him.