About three weeks ago, I blogged about Senator Bernie Sanders surging in the polls and the establishment freaking out and I’m happy to post today that he is continuing to surge, but a little dismayed that the establishment continues to lose its mind. In a stunning development, Sen. Sanders now trails the so-called inevitable Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by just two points, in the latest nationwide Quinnipiac University poll. The poll has the Democratic frontrunner just ahead, and within the margin of error, 44%-42%. Maybe somewhat surprising to some, the poll also has the anti-establishment Sanders faring better than Clinton against the Republican frontrunners Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.
The political establishment has started to get more and more knives out in sharper and sharper attacks against Senator Sanders. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has been attacking Bernie Sanders as too liberal for months and she was initially joined by a false attack on Sanders’ healthcare policy by Chelsea Clinton and then the inflammatory right-wing-attack-dog-turned-Clinton-attack-dog David Brock who had the nerve to state that “black lives don’t matter much to Bernie Sanders.”
As the prospect that the longtime Vermont Senator may actually defeat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, a state where she defeated Barack Obama in 2008, more of the Democratic political establishment has brought their knives out. Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) are now joining McCaskill and are lashing out at Sanders as too extreme and a liability to other Democrats on the ballot if he is at the top of the ticket. The Democratic co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison have Sanders’ back.
These charges against Sanders are odd because Bernie Sanders positions are in the mainstream of Democratic politics from FDR’s New Deal policies to Harry S. Truman calling for universal healthcare to Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law to the campaign of Barack Obama. Also, Democrats have been getting defeated badly in the House of Representatives and will continue to lose badly due to the gerrymandering of districts absent the political revolution that Bernie Sanders is leading. And most importantly, Senator Sanders is polling better than Hillary Clinton against Republican frontrunners in many polls and actually does better with the independent voters that are the key to the 2016 general election.
The political establishment is making a grave mistake by attacking Bernie Sanders as too liberal. Sanders’ progressive positions are not only in the mainstream of the the Democratic party, but also the general electorate, when they are actually asked about the issues. If Bernie Sanders is such an unelectable candidate and Hillary Clinton has such a tremendous electability advantage, then she should have no problem defeating her anti-establishment challenger.
By unfairly attacking Sanders as too extreme, the establishment runs the risk of demoralizing the base if the former Secretary of State manages to win. The Democratic Party should welcome the enthusiasm that Senator Sanders garners from young voters and the progressive foundation of the party. Progressives and young voters are drawn to a political revolution that includes ending the Drug War and lessening the influence of Big Pharma. Turnout is key for Democrats, both nationally and locally and whether Bernie Sanders wins or loses the nomination, the Democratic establishment is going to want to harness the heat generated by those that #FeelTheBern.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a great debate going head-to-head for the first time.