Democrat Party politicians are, if nothing else, keen analysts of their own electoral chances. So even though they are cheering on socialist Bernie Sanders and his agenda, they’re smart enough to realize that America isn’t ready for “democratic socialism” and the party is likely to be creamed at the polls in 2016 if he is the nominee.
“No matter how well you think of Bernie — and all of us do — … when the politics of it all hits the road, I don’t feel — and I feel most members don’t feel — that he can be elected,” said Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.).
The doubts have nothing to do with policy.
Indeed, Sanders’ career-long advocacy for economic and social justice — a vision of wider safety nets, higher wages, universal healthcare and corporate policing — overlaps almost directly with the policy priorities of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her liberal-leaning Democratic Caucus on Capitol Hill.
It’s a convergence the Democrats have been quick to hail.
“I’m proud of what Bernie is saying out there, and it’s a reflection of what we fight for here,” Pelosi said last week.
And yet there remains a lingering sense among many Democrats that a Sanders’ nomination would spell doom for the party in 2016 — a sentiment highlighted by the fact that not a single Democrat in either chamber has endorsed the No. 2 primary contender.
“Bernie Sanders is raising some issues that are important,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), the Democratic whip and a Clinton supporter, told reporters last week. “But I don’t think there’s an expectation that’s he’s going to be president of the United States.”
The dynamics surrounding Sanders’ campaign present Democrats with an uncomfortable question: If the candidate trumpeting the party’s agenda most loudly and clearly is unelectable, what does it say about the agenda, itself?
Hastings, another Clinton backer, said the answer lies in political expediency. He said he supports Sanders’ economic agenda to a tee. But he also remembers too well the losing presidential campaigns of liberals George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy — both of whom he supported in the Civil Rights era — as well as the saga surrounding Ralph Nader, the consumer-rights advocate turned third-party candidate he blames for securing George W. Bush’s victory in 2000.
“Some argue, and I do, that Ralph Nader cost us that election … and I don’t have time for that. And I think that’s what members are saying: That I don’t have time for fringes, at this point. And that’s where Bernie is, and it’s regrettable,” Hastings said.
“Mine and Bernie’s philosophies regarding the disparity of economic well-being of America’s citizens [are] in direct alignment with each other. I agree with him — [but] I support Hillary Clinton.”
So they agree “to a tee” with Sanders’ economic agenda but don’t think he’s electable? They don’t think a “fringe” candidate like Sanders can win but they agree with his ideas?
This is the demonstrable dishonesty of the Democratic Party in a nutshell. As bad a campaign as John McCain ran in 2008, would the voters have elected Barack Obama if they knew this was what they were going to get? Obama couched his radical “transformation” ideas in soft, soothing rhetoric of “inclusion” and “opportunity.”
What these politicians are complaining about Sanders is that he’s too upfront and honest about his radical proposals to cure income inequality. He hasn’t learned how to blur the truth as Obama has done. It is a deliberate attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of voters and they’ve been very successful in recent elections in doing so.