Hypotheticals And Wishful Thinking Fuel The Myth Of Bernie Sanders’ Electability

* The following is an opinion column by R Muse *

Most people who are entrenched in mythos understand that they are enamored with something that is fantasy. Of course, when that mythology or fantasy is the basis of a religion, mythos is a substitute for reality. Intelligent people may believe strongly in a myth or fallacy until they learn a few facts that changes their mindset; that is what makes them intelligent.

Over the past six months or so there has been a myth substantiated by polling claiming Senator Bernie Sanders maintains “electability superiority” over Hillary Clinton. As no small number of pundits and political observers have been saying for months, there is no Sanders’ electability superiority. Period.

During a press conference last Sunday, Senator Sanders said, “The evidence is extremely clear that I would be the stronger candidate to defeat Trump or any other Republican. We appeal to virtually all the Democrats, but we do a lot better with independents. And I hope the Democrats at the national convention understand.” What Sanders is ignoring, willingly, is that if “all the Democrats and independents” were informed, whatever “appeal” the Senator has would vanish in a heartbeat.

It is easy for a candidate to “appear” to be the “party ideal” when they are relatively unknown, unchallenged and untested, and except for being a champion fighting to end income inequality, most Americans on the left, right and center know very little about Senator Bernie Sanders because he has not been vetted. One thing is certain; Republicans are well-aware of Mr. Sanders history and coupled with his pledge to be a serious “tax and spend” socialist, they have a veritable “arsenal of reality bombs” to convince most voters that the idea of a Sanders’ presidency would be unappealing indeed.

There are a couple of related reasons why Bernie Sanders would be “eaten alive” and “eviscerated” by Republicans if he is the Democratic nominee; he has not been properly vetted publicly and Hillary Clinton’s campaign has not attacked him or his historical record. There are several theories for why the Clinton campaign has not attacked Sanders, not even one time, but whatever her reason it has lent credence to the idea that Bernie Sanders is a perfect candidate for Democrats, Republicans and independent voters. However, if journalists on the left had done their due diligence from the beginning, and Republicans thought Sanders was a threat in a head-to-head match-up with a Republican in November, he would not appeal to many voters other than his young idealistic supporters.

One of the primary reasons Bernie Sanders achieved a measure of success is because his base largely consists of young ideologues who are too politically naive to know if even one of his policies are realistic or not, or if their candidate really has any idea what he is talking about, or what his strategy is besides parroting “political revolution.” As many pundits have noted, when Sanders’ rabid acolytes see that there has been virtually no criticism of him, they naturally believe it is a clarion call that their devotion and enthusiasm for him is validated; obviously, some pollsters have fallen for the same myth.

There are enough recent articles by several esteemed political writers such as Sahil Kapur in Bloomberg Politics, David Corn in Mother Jones, Greg Sargent in the Washington Post, Ed Kilgore in New York, Michelle Goldberg at Slate and many others who laid out this argument; “if Republicans ever trashed Sanders the way they’ve trashed Clinton, whatever electability advantage he appeared to have would disappear.” The most recent polls inform that it is already happening and any kind of “attack on Senator Sanders’ weaknesses would hurt him badly in a general election.”

Just a few of the issues Republicans would use against Senator Sanders is raising taxes on everyone to “give more free stuff” away, and unlike GOP claims against Democrats in the past, there are myriad instances of Senator Sanders’ own words to validate that particular claim. Republicans would also “dig up Sanders’ quotes” calling himself “clearly anti-capitalistic” and “praising communist countries as superior to America,” and assertions that young people in China and Cuba are superior to “the young people in America.” Obviously, those sentiments would not go over well with America’s electorate and Republicans would hammer Sanders mercilessly with them.

Citing any of these “minor issues” are not part of a partisan hit job on Senator Sanders from this column, but if a Republican candidate latched on to them they would tear apart support for Bernie if used as an opposition campaign issue. In fact, William Saletan has recently written about how support for Senator Sanders’ positions falls apart when people hear the details; particularly when they learn that their own taxes would increase dramatically to give other people a bunch of free stuff.

One particular point that William Saletan revealed is that as the Democratic nominee for president, Republicans would force Senator Sanders to address his former opposition to the public school system and explain why he praised parents who believe that it is “better for their children not to go to school at all than for them to attend a normal establishment school.”

Republicans would also force him to justify claiming that sexual repression causes cancer, explain if he still opposes the concept of private charities, and whether or not he still supports the government takeover of the television industry; a standard practice in communist nations and an issue Republicans would use to beat Sanders silly.

This list of GOP opposition could go on for a few thousand words, and would certainly include Senator Sanders close relationship with “the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, for which he served as a presidential elector in 1980.”

In a general election Republicans would also revel in informing the electorate that Bernie Sanders called for abolishing the U.S. military budget during the Iranian hostage crisis in which Bernie “proclaimed solidarity with revolutionary Iran.”

Even though Republicans have had no reason or incentive to attack Sanders the candidate and in fact have worked tirelessly to aid his candidacy, imagine their glee at informing voters that the Senator spent time in Nicaragua in 1985 and joined a Sandinista rally where the crowd chanted “Here, there, everywhere – The Yankee will die.”

There is little doubt that many, if not all, of Senator Sanders’ economic ideas are good; they just are not realistic in this political landscape.  And, according to several highly-regarded liberal economists, Senator Sanders’ economic plans’ “numbers just don’t add up;” it is something Republicans would seize upon even if the media failed to report it.

It is likely that more voters would be skeptical of many of Senator Sanders’ plans but the media is too focused on attacking Clinton and aiding Sanders to report in a fair and balanced manner. Remember, it was about a year ago that the ultra-conservative National Review published a story detailing exactly how Republicans would help, donate to, and whenever possible vote for Bernie Sanders in the primaries to “weaken Hillary Clinton.”

The whole point of this screed is not to demean Senator Sanders, but to dispel the myth that his electability is far superior to Clinton in a general election. Not only is that not true, it is a fallacy along the lines of a democratic socialist single-handedly breaking up the banks, cajoling Republicans to raise taxes 36, 46, or 56 percent or appointing a SCOTUS justice whose first ruling will overturn Citizens United.

This column often bemoans the dumbing down of the electorate, but “dumb” or not, if Republicans attacked Sanders the way they attack Clinton, his electability would vanish. Because as political pundits around the country admit, “If you were designing the perfect target for Republicans, you’d create Bernie Sanders.” Fortunately for Senator Sanders, he will likely escape the unrelenting Republican attacks that would dispel his electability superiority as the myth that it is and put Donald Trump in the White House.