Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Real Difference Propelling Bernie Sanders' Candidacy

Could it be that he's the change candidate?

Barack Obama was transformational. Why stop now?

I haven't the faintest idea if Bernie Sanders can overtake Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination. He looks poised to compete well in Iowa and New Hampshire, but it's easy to see him hitting a wall in South Carolina and having his campaign bog down in the South. I don't know.

But watching Hillary Clinton this past week -- with a sorrowful assist from daughter Chelsea -- defend the status quo of Obamacare will dire warnings that Sanders might upend the progress made on healthcare alerted me to a shortcoming of Hillary's that may, or may not, diminish her appeal: Other than possibly becoming the first woman president -- another transformational moment for America, to be sure -- Hillary Clinton is, in the main, a status quo candidate. Sanders is not.

Clinton would be an extension of the Obama presidency. After all, Obama is barely center-left, while Clinton is ever so slightly left of that. In the main, Clinton won't budge the needle. Don't get me wrong. She'll move the country in a good direction and will certainly be competent in every way one would want an executive to be.

But will we see progress like we've seen under Obama? Not likely, at least not as likely as it would be under a Sanders presidency. What's more, I have trouble imagining Clinton assembling the Obama coalition during the general. What I can see is Bernie Sanders igniting all the elements of an Obama-style coalition, mostly because millennials will unite behind him. Sanders is the change they've been waiting for, something Hillary is not.

There it is. I'd be happy with either, happier with Sanders. If Hillary wins, which she well might, at least we can say Bernie pushed her left. Here's hoping she stays there and doesn't get stuck rushing back to the center. Been there, done that, both in her husband's administration and in Obama's. Enough with the triangulation. Let's move forward. That's what people want, that's what will defeat the Neanderthal Caucus, also known as whatever survives of the Republican Party.

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