Like in life, in every campaign there are high points and low points. In the early running Hillary Clinton had only highs, she was the Democratic frontrunner with no apparent political rival. Then along came Senator Bernie Sanders to challenge Clinton from the left.
Suddenly, a 73-year-old socialist from Vermont, with a thick Brooklyn accent and an anti-Wall Street message showed up. Crowds of more than 20,000 people filled arenas all around the country. Democratic partisans were in love.
The poll numbers began to shift. Clinton’s lead began to falter. She even lost the support of white women, one of her strongest constituencies.
But, believe me, the only appropriate reaction to this is: so what!
Sanders' chances are close to zero. Joe Biden's as well. Clinton will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee for president in 2016. She has raised the most money, she’s secured the most endorsements and quite simply there’s no one else in the party who comes even close to her. Her rating among Democrats is well above 80% and she continues to lead in national polls. The most important single constituency within the Democratic Party, the minority vote, is solidly in her camp.
Unless Sanders can make serious inroads among African Americans and Hispanic voters it is nearly impossible to perceive how he could assemble the kind of political coalition necessary to beat Clinton. His backing is a function of the exhaustion with the Clintons, a dash of sexism and a perception that Clinton is too much of a centrist.
The truth is that there are no policy differences between these two candidates. Both support same-sex marriage; both want a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; both want to expand family and medical leave; both support pay equity; both support the Iran deal; both want to expand voting rights and both want to maintain Obamacare. When Clinton announced her candidacy she criticized the “financial industry” and “multinational corporations” but she has not called for prosecuting CEOs, as Sanders has. She hasn’t spoken of the “grotesque level of inequality” in America or presented it as a moral issue in the same way that Sanders has done.
Clinton’s views are more tempered and less aggressive than those of Bernie Sanders. She is a reflection of where the majority of Democrats would ideologically place themselves. In fact, Sanders might actually be giving Clinton a boost. He is energizing liberals to get more politically involved and shaking them from political apathy. He’s raising the profile of these issues and his critique of a political system that is controlled by the wealthy is not undermining Clinton’s candidacy, rather it is boosting it. Sanders is actually reinforcing Clinton’s emerging populist message.
Bernie Sanders may challenge Clinton on the campaign trail but he’s actually helping her make it to the White House. I'm telling you, only a fool would bet against Clinton.
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