A while back, when Bernie Sanders was still being compared to the nutty uncle you hide in the basement, I wrote a column that began with this: “I have a hunch, a hunch that Bernie Sanders is going to do a lot better than the smart money thinks.”
If I weren’t so modest, I’d tell you how brilliant I am. So I won’t tell you. But I am.
Bernie’s poll numbers have been going up almost daily, and so have the number of fans who show up at his rallies. The other day, Bernie drew a crowd of nearly 10,000 in Madison, Wisconsin.
I know, it’s Madison … but still.
Yes, progressives as they like to call themselves — since ultra left-wing liberal sounds so off-putting — like his message. But there’s another reason he’s doing so well. Bernie is authentic. Hillary is anything but. As a general rule, people don’t like phonies.
That, of course, doesn’t mean he’s going to win the nomination. That still remains a very, very long shot. But Democrats in the early voting states seem to be taking him seriously. Bernie’s got ideas that the Democratic base likes. And journalists might want to ask the “inevitable” winner of the nomination, Mrs. Clinton, what she thinks of those ideas.
After all, when Donald Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists” … journalists were all over his GOP opponents demanding to know what they thought of the Donald’s remarks. The big question on the Sunday talk shows was whether Trump was “hurting the Republican brand.”
But journalists don’t seem all that interested in whether Bernie Sander’s positions are hurting the Democratic brand. Isn’t it possible that he might scare off independents who don’t want to be associated with a party that embraces someone like Sanders — independents Hillary will need to become president? And the press hasn’t shown much interest either in what Hillary thinks of Bernie’s progressive ideas – ideas about how he would like to fundamentally change the United States of America.
Bernie thinks that a $15 minimum wage is “reasonable.” Does Hillary?
Bernie has proposed breaking up the nation’s largest banks. Does Hillary want to break up the banks?
On immigration, Sanders wants to rein in the guest-worker program that provides many American businesses with low wage labor, arguing that it drives up unemployment. How does Mrs. Clinton feel about that?
On health care, Bernie wants to go beyond ObamaCare. He wants Medicare for everyone – a single-payer system. What’s Hillary’s position on that?
Asked by a reporter if a 90 percent top marginal tax rate would be too high, Sanders said “no.” How high would be too high for Mrs. Clinton?
One of the reasons we don’t know where Hillary stands on these and other issues is because she finds it too distasteful to actually engage the riff-raff known as the press corps. But at some point she’ll have to actually talk at some length with reporters, who, if they’re doing their jobs, will have to ask how she differs from Bernie.
Hillary may still be the main attraction at her coronation, but Sanders does have one big advantage over her. His name. Bernie. Don’t you just love it?