Yes, Bernie Sanders is Electable.
Now here’s why.
There have been a wide variety of narratives surrounding Bernie Sanders that the mainstream media outlets love to peddle. Whether it be that he’s too angry, too consistent (yes, they view that as a problem), too extreme, or too old, they certainly have not failed to come up with new, “unbiased” critiques in a search of one that will stick.
Out of all of their criticisms, there is one that I and many other Sanders supporters find particularly irritating, and that concerns his “electability”. The idea that he can’t win a general election has been a constant drumbeat since the beginning of his first presidential campaign, and I suppose it’s no surprise that with Trump in office this concern has only intensified among those who spout it.
But here’s the thing: poll after poll after poll has shown Bernie annihilating Donald Trump in general election head to head matchups, and that’s been the case since the first time he ran.
Bernie Sanders is electable. As much as those who don’t want him to win would like you to believe otherwise, there is no denying that Bernie Sanders would do incredibly well as the nominee. In fact, I would argue he’d do even better than the polls indicate, as he has a history of that as well. But it’s one thing to just say that he’s electable. We must also explain why.
With the election of Donald Trump, the right wing effectively seized the populist narrative in a way that should terrify all of us. Donald Trump was able to stand on the debate stage against Hillary Clinton, and rail against all the disastrous decisions she and many other more moderate democratic candidates have made. While of course he meant absolutely none of what he said when talking about the disastrous trade deals, ending the wars, and bringing jobs back, there is no denying that his message allowed him to claim the populous sentiment in a political climate where that energy is desperately needed.
If any candidate running can reclaim that populist energy, it is Bernie Sanders. For far too long, Democratic politicians have carried a sense of entitlement, snubbing their base with the idea that we will just vote for them because they aren’t the Republican and we have no other choice. Well, we’ve all seen seen the ending of that movie, and it isn’t a happy one.
That being said, Bernie Sanders has been the spark of a movement — both encompassing and entirely separate from him — that has served as a clear indicator of the kind of energy that a candidate who is of, by, and for the people can generate. We actually have an opportunity to elect a candidate who doesn’t make people feel like they’re picking the lesser of two evils, who gives voters something to vote for rather than against. He has shown that politicians can in fact walk and chew gum at the same time, proving to the public that we can resist Trump and run a substantive, policy-oriented campaign.
Since before the primary season of the election cycle even began, moderates have been telling us that in order to get elected Democrats have to try to win back the Obama voters who turned to Trump, while the leftists have been telling us that we should focus on rallying the base. While I’m more inclined to agree with the leftists, polling in critical rust belt states showing him soundly defeating Trump has indicated that Bernie is able to do both. He performs the best in the states that democrats need in order to win. If that isn’t electable, then I don’t know what is.
Perhaps my biggest fear of this upcoming election is the idea that voters are so concerned about the prospect of Donald Trump having another four years, they’ll vote against their own best interests. It cannot be stressed enough by both Bernie’s campaign and his supporters that Bernie is in fact electable, and there are years worth of polling showing him defeating Donald Trump to prove it. If they want to come out on top at the end of this primary, they cannot afford to stop reiterating that point. I’m not saying Joe Biden doesn’t perform well in those polls as well, but I will say that at the end of the day, history has shown us he is much more vulnerable.
But let’s put polls aside as an indicator, and talk about grassroots support. No question, Bernie’s base is unprecedented in modern history. The New York Times literally had to make a separate interactive map that excluded Bernie Sanders’ donors in order to show where the other candidates were getting their donations from, because Bernie’s cross country support was so powerful. He has motivated people more than any other politician in recent times, and that speaks in ways that polls can not.
With Bernie, we have the chance to elect a once in a lifetime politician. Let’s not allow an unnecessary and baseless fear to get in the way of that.