If you are planning to cast your vote for Bernie Sanders in your primary, read this first. You owe it to yourself to understand what the consequences might be. This could be a vote you wish you had thought through better.
Because if you vote for Bernie you want a world that is diametrically opposed to the world we are getting with Donald Trump. But what your vote could set up, if Bernie wins the Democratic nomination, is a win for Trump, loss of the House and a Senate still in the hands of Mitch McConnell. Yikes! That could mean not only four more years of chaos and damage to our country, but the end of our democracy, the courts and the rule of law and no liberal legislation whatsoever. If you love Bernie, that is not your intention. You want the opposite. I do too. So hear me out.
Note: I analyze handwriting for personality traits. This is something I developed as a hobby since I was 9 years old. I got good enough at it that my friends would type letters to me instead of writing their letters to me. Eventually I used this skill as a prosecutor to assess opposing counsel and judges. Today I use it to rapidly understand my clients who come for professional development help. As part of this series of blogs on the pros and cons of each candidate, I have analyzed the handwriting of each one of them to get a better sense of their personalities. I have also met a number of candidates running for president in person and talked with members of their campaign teams as well as friends of the candidates who know them personally. And just like you, I have been listening to them and watching their debate performances. These are totally my own conclusions and opinions.
The good news about Bernie Sanders is that he is authentic. He means what he says and he tells the truth as he knows it. He is inspirational to his followers and very convincing that he can get done what he believes in. He will pursue as his goals whatever obstacles there may be. He has become a celebrity in his own right with a following on the left of next generation young people with a lot of energy and hopes for the future. Bernie’s handwriting analysis reveals a strong will, certainty, obstinacy, rigidity, self-absorption, ability to cut people off abruptly, he can fill up with emotion and get choked up at times, focus, determination, pride, some lack of deeper insight into himself, altruism, energy and forcefulness to pursue goals, seriousness of purpose and structural ideological thinking.
I was raised by parents who wanted the world that Bernie Sanders envisions. I was raised wanting that world to be a reality and I still do. My mother’s father died when she was 9. My grandmother was deaf and crippled and unable to work. My mother had to beg for money so the family could keep going. Two of her siblings were raised by wealthy relatives who abused them. There was no safety net for my grandmother or my mother.
I deeply believe in the world that Bernie envisions. When I hear Bernie talk, I get excited and feel hopeful because he is describing the policies I believe would be the best for our country: education for everyone who wants it, social safety nets and health care for everyone, the Green New Deal. I want all of that!
But… here comes the con part…
I am a realist. I have become very politically active since Trump was elected and because of that I understand more of the realistic barriers to immediately getting the world Bernie describes in a general election. Part of the problem is that there are a lot of old guys in red districts who need to kick the bucket before we can move further left as a country. I believe it will take time before we could get a Bernie Sanders elected in a general election. Part of the problem is that Fox “News” has indoctrinated many Americans who live in those all important swing states, that must be won by Dems to win the presidency because of the Electoral College.
Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Iowa, Florida, Arizona. These key “swing” states are called “swing” because they swing Democrat or Republican. These swing states are THE gateway, the only gateway, to the White House because of the way the Electoral College works. We might not like the Electoral College, but we are currently stuck with it. This is our playing field. It doesn’t help to say “Let’s get rid of the electoral college”. Of course, we need to do that. But it will not happen fast enough.
When you look at a color coded map of our country based on whether the people in those key swing districts vote red (Republican) or blue (Democrat) or purple (swing), these all important swing states are generally code red with blue patches in the cities. Suburban areas are often purple zones. Rural areas are bright red.
These rural areas of our country are chock full of Republicans who love Trump and their votes are weighted more than the votes of any one person in California or New York no matter how committed or passionate that coastal person may be.
Here is the mindset of Trump lovers:
“Socialism is bad. It will ruin our country. Bernie is a friggin Commie. I’m not paying for a bunch of grifters to get free college. I don’t believe in climate change. That Green New Deal is stupid. I want a wall at the border. Obamacare is bad but I want MY healthcare. No one better take my guns. I need my guns because of all those criminals coming in at the border and I don’t care if their children are separated from their parents because they never should have come to our border in the first place.”
They are a nasty bunch. But they vote and they are definitely going to show up at the polls in November, 2020. In 2016 they voted for Trump reluctantly and shamefully. But today they are shameless, feel vindicated, and proudly wear their MAGA hats in public.
So where can the Dems get enough votes in the general election to win?
Cities across the country are generally blue and vote for the Dems because of communities of color . And the exciting news is that the suburbs around these blue city zones are chock full of potential votes for the Dems this time around. Why? Because there are a lot of suburban moms and disaffected Republicans living there who are appalled by Trump and would vote for the Democrat but only if the Democratic candidate for president is palatable to them. Bernie Sanders is not. They will not vote for him because of his ideas and because he insults them. Elizabeth Warren disses them too. They will stay home if Sanders is the nominee. They might stay home if Warren is the nominee. You can’t expect to spit on people and gain their vote. But if a moderate Democrat like Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg or Pete Buttigieg was the choice offered by the Dems, those suburbs would vote blue as they did in 2018. This election is going to be razor-thin close. Dems need those suburban voters.
Red Districts Won in 2018
In 2018 there were 40 brand new Democrats elected to the House in a landslide. I have met and spoken with many of them. They are wonderful people who believe in serving their constituents. All of them came from those areas where Trump won the state or the district had been Republican before. These candidates convinced the people in their districts that they would help them get the health care they need and the policies that would be best for them if they were elected to the House. Without those new lawmakers we would not have had the impeachment inquiry and without them in the future, our country would be unable to put even the smallest limitation on Trump.
If Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee, all of those 40 hard-won seats could be lost. Don’t take it from me. The candidates themselves running for the House are saying this.
Can we be patient to get closer to our goals?
The concern is that Sanders at the top of the ticket will act as a huge suppressant for Democrats down-ballot. Our country could end up with unitary government House, Senate and White House all in the hands of the Republican Party which is a fully owned subsidiary of Trump’s now.
Sanders and AOC represent the future of our country, but we are not there yet. Older people vote. Younger people? not so much. As Millennials and next generation people get to the polls and vote we can move further left. Bernie has been predicting a large numbers of Millennials would be rising up to vote for Bernie, but (this is important) given the first primary numbers so far that has NOT happened. Where are they?
The hope was that if Bernie is the nominee an army of energized Bernie supporters by sheer force of their conviction, could convince those people in purple and red places to vote for Bernie. But most people do not change their minds. They cannot give up what they deeply believe and when confronted, they dig in deeper. Not only would Bernie’s missionaries have to combat Fox and Rush Limbaugh, but there is a lot of Russian money at play to help Trump win again and those detested billionaires that Bernie hates are going to do everything they can to take Bernie down. There is a lot of opposition research on him that Trump and his goon squad cannot wait to detonate. Bernie’s youthful revolutionary army of hope and radical change is no match for the likes of the Republican Mafia.
Does that mean we cannot move to the left and have most of the policies we need for our country to thrive? The short answer is that we can, but we can accomplish more change if we elect a moderate.
Let’s play out what happens if the Dems nominate Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, or Mike Bloomberg. There is a lot of agitation in our country in blue and purple areas about what Trump is doing to damage our country and our standing around the world.
Because of this unique set of circumstances, a moderate would have a far better chance to be elected president even if that person was less inspirational because the agitation about Trump will drive voters to the polls. Instead of getting unitary government run by Trump, Democrats would have a real shot at unitary government run by the Democrats. If that happens, we could get sweeping change that will help us move left and get closer to the world that I want, you want, Sanders and AOC want too. By moving left more slowly, we can get much closer to our goals.
The final problem for Bernie is that even if he did manage to get elected, he would not be able to fulfill his promises unless he passed tons of presidential orders without the support of Congress. And they could be erased by the next president. He would need a far more left wing Congress to achieve his long-term goals. He would also probably need to be more capable of working with others than he is. Truth is he does not have a lot of friends in Congress and he is considered to be a curmudgeon. He doesn’t shake hands with his followers or take lots of selfies with them, for example. Larry David’s Saturday Night Live’s portrayal of him seems accurate. Congress reflects the make up of our center right country. Compromise is the name of the game especially with so many people in Congress who do not want Bernie’s revolution.
If he was elected, Bernie’s promises would stay dreams and our experience of Washington would be a continuation of the tribal gridlock we have suffered for so many years.
If you are thinking about voting for Sanders, the result you are hoping to get will not be the one you will get.