Roger L. Simon

What if It's Donald vs. Bernie?

Time for a change. Republicans should start wishing that Hillary Clinton not be indicted for her email scandal because she’d be a lot easier to beat than Bernie Sanders, if you believe the latest Fox News poll. It shows Sanders defeating Trump by a whopping 14%. Bernie also demolishes Cruz and ekes out a victory over Kasich, who was previously the Great Republican Hope (in head-to-head battles anyway).

Not a great situation.

Yes, I know it’s only one poll and, yes, like 98% of humanity I’m familiar with the vaunted Clinton Machine, but the results of that poll oddly compute with the zeitgeist. There’s something brewing and that was clear during the Democratic debate in Brooklyn Thursday night.

The folk like Bernie. And it’s easy to see why even if you, like me, despise practically everything he stands for. The truth is he’s authentic — he actually believes what he says — which provides a rather pronounced contrast with his Democratic Party adversary, who is about as inauthentic a human being as could be drummed up in some future DNA laboratory.

If Sanders manages a victory in New York next Tuesday, all bets are off. The super delegates will be looking over their shoulders. Bernie will start to have a real claim on the nomination. If Hillary actually is indicted, or anything close, he will clearly have it. No way will the Democrats be able to get away with installing a last-minute candidate and risk alienating Sanders’ army of backers.  That’s over.

Ironically, what looked to be the settled convention (Democratic) may be the contested one and the Republican convention, which was supposed to be contested, may actually be taken by Trump fairly comfortably in advance. This latest poll shows Donald at his highest-ever national number (45%) while Cruz is fading at 27%, barely ahead of Kasich at 25%.

The Colorado delegate situation may have hurt Cruz more than expected. Although Trump should obviously have been better prepared in advance for this selection process, winning a nomination by backroom delegate hanky-panky rather than a primary or even a caucus does not look good to the public, especially if you claim to be a tribune of the people, an outsider, as Cruz does. Playing insider games is not what outsiders are supposed to do.

Whatever the case, things seem good again for Donald. He performed well at the Republican Party dinner Thursday night, focusing his speech on his construction achievements — why the New York Post calls him a “do-er” in their endorsement of Trump today — and laying off the cheap shots. The stars look lined up well for Donald from the New York primary onwards.

But be careful, the saying goes, what you wish for. When Republicans first speculated about the then remote chance of opposing Bernie Sanders, the talk was it would be easy to overcome a socialist. All that had to be done was remind the public of that ideological fact and Bernie would be toast.

Sorry. In 1978, maybe, but this is 2016. The American public has been educated by socialist teachers for decades. Most of the younger voters think that’s what our government already is (and maybe they’re right). How many out there have actually read The Federalist Papers?  .004%?  They don’t even know basic civics.

The Republican candidate is going to have to educate the public, particularly the younger public, on what socialism is and why it is bad. This will not be an easy thing to do because Bernie is such a true believer and sounds so idealistic. He appeals to what people think is their better nature.

Deconstructing  this for Donald will be difficult because he is a builder/businessman — not by nature an intellectual educated for ideological debate. He will need help. He will have to differentiate his own policies from Bernie’s. Trump’s ideas on trade may seem close to Sanders’, but in the final analysis I would imagine they are not. Trump has to prove it.

He will also need to reach out to minorities and women or Bernie will sweep all their votes.  Democratic Party women are already deserting Hillary for Bernie in the latest poll. Regarding minorities, he cannot rely on the usual Republican rhetoric about treating everyone equally (but never talking to a black person to explain that to them). He will have to go into their neighborhoods. His asset is that he’s Donald and will be sure to command their attention.

Either way, Bernie vs. Donald would be an epochal battle for the soul of America. Bernie wins and we’re Europe, but without Notre Dame and The Last Supper.

 

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and cofounder of PJ Media.  His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.