Based strictly upon his agenda, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be a groundbreaking president, and in a general vote-your-conscience sense, he's definitely worthy of support from the activist left. Here are just a few of the reasons why: he supports single-payer healthcare; he supports higher tax rates on the wealthiest one percent, especially when it comes to paying for wars; he'd prioritize global warming as the number one crisis of our time; and he's arguably the most vocal supporter of the middle class since FDR. In many ways, Sanders is a dream candidate...
This is the big "but." Supporting Sanders for the Democratic nomination is sort of like ordering a new-fangled As-Seen-On-TV exercise contraption. Making a conscious decision to get into better shape is admirable. However, there are about a ten thousand subsequent steps that need to occur after handing over your credit card number. Either you'll do all of the impossibly necessary work to look like the fitness models in the infomercial, or you'll have a medieval clothes rack festooning the corner of your bedroom until the big yard sale.
Likewise, there are five impossible challenges facing Sanders and his people.
1) Raising money. Evidently, Sanders raised over a million dollars immediately after his announcement, with the average donation not exceeding $43. That's significant and respectable. The question is whether he has the continuously generous donors to outspend not just Hillary Clinton, but the other potential contenders including the John Edwards of this election, Martin O'Malley, who's getting ready to announce soon. In order to do so, will Sanders accept support from big-money donors and various 501(c)3 organizations, along with the accompanying dark money? And how will his supporters take the news? It'll be impossible for Sanders to make a serious dent in the delegate count without going there.
2) Calibrating expectations. On Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sanders made it clear that we shouldn't underestimate his chances, given his track record of victories so far. Frankly, however, I don't think he seriously, deep down, expects to win. Historically, candidates like Sanders (see also Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Al Sharpton, Mike Gravel and even Ross Perot) never really believe they can win.
If that's the case... CONTINUE READING