The Democrats' Bernie Issue

(AP photo)

(AP photo)

WaPo reports on the Vermont Senator’s surprising strength:

Sanders — a self-described democratic socialist — has seen his crowds swell and is gaining ground in the polls on the formidable Democratic front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In New Hampshire, where Sanders was on yet another weekend swing, one survey last week showed him within 8 percentage points of Clinton.

Sanders’s emerging strength has exposed continued misgivings among the party’s progressive base about Clinton, whose team is treading carefully in its public statements. Supporters have acknowledged privately the potential for Sanders to damage her — perhaps winning an early state or two — even if he can’t win the nomination.

“He’s connecting in a way that Hillary Clinton is not,” said Burt Cohen, a former New Hampshire state senator and Sanders supporter who attended Sunday morning’s event, where a nasty rain didn’t seem to deter many people from coming. “He’s talking about things people want to hear. People are used to candidates who are calculated, produced and measured, and they see through that. Bernie’s different.”

Different how? Sanders would further impoverish the middle class by increasing welfare dependency, all dressed up in the shopworn platitudes of democratic socialism. Clinton would further impoverish the middle class with her corporatist policies, all dressed up in the shopworn platitudes of market-tested Democratic talking points.

But at least it’s nice to see that Democrats are aware that Sanders wins on style points.