WaPo: ‘Bernie Sanders Has Emerged As The Donald Trump Of The Left’

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Bernie Sanders is on the come back trail, no question about that. He’s raised $18.2 million in the year’s first quarter, and at a recent rally where eight Democratic candidates were present, only he was lustily greeted with cheers of “Bernie! Bernie!” when he took the podium. But there’s a difference between now and 2016. In 2016, Bernie was the populist contender, polling 43% against the front runner, Hillary Clinton. Now, in the age of Trump, Bernie is the other populist contender, i.e. the Donald Trump of the left and that is certainly an appellation worthy of serious contemplation. While other candidates are already showing weak spots, most notably Joe Biden, suffering from accusations of inappropriately touching women (a rumor that ostensibly was started by the Bernie Camp) Bernie soars above the fray. Washington Post:

Meanwhile, Sanders himself remains untouchable, in a Trumpian way. Claims of mistreatment by male staffers from women who worked on his 2016 campaign? Yawn. His resistance to releasing his tax returns? Whatever. The idea that Democrats need a unifying figure to lure disaffected Trump voters in key states? Never mind.

Sanders isn’t Trump in the race-baiting, lender-cheating, fact-avoiding, porn-actress-paying, Putin-loving sense. But their styles are similar: shouting and unsmiling, anti-establishment and anti-media, absolutely convinced of their own correctness, attacking boogeymen (the “1 percent” and CEOs in Sanders’s case, instead of immigrants and minorities), offering impractical promises with vague details, lacking nuance and nostalgic for the past.

Sanders’s supporters hope he’ll fight Trump’s fire with fire, refusing to be conciliatory (the way Biden and O’Rourke are), or to be goaded by Trump the way Warren was into taking a DNA test. Maybe answering belligerence with belligerence will work; Trump-era predictions are worthless. Either way, the support for Sanders shows that the angry, unbending politics of Trumpism are bigger than Trump.

Now here’s the scary part. Bernie Sanders, at least this go around, is sounding exactly the same notes as Trump. Trump demonizes immigrants — Sanders, the 1%. Trump identifies as a “nationalist”  — Sanders as a “socialist.” Most chilling of all, Trump never really was a Republican and Bernie Sanders is no Democrat.

And take a listen to how Sanders sounded just the other night, dissing the “establishment,” and God forbid, the media:

“The crisis that we are facing today is not complicated. . . . We have a government that ignores the needs of the working people . . . yet works overtime for wealthy campaign contributors and the 1 percent.” He mocked those who questioned ideas such as Medicare-for-all (“the establishment went crazy, media went nuts, still is”), and he celebrated his prescience. He channeled rage at the “vulgarity” of a “grotesque” and “corrupt” system, the “absolute hypocrisy” of Republicans, corporations that “lie” and billionaires who “buy elections.” Of the wealthy, he said, “Many of them are bandits,” and he said if Republicans “don’t have the guts to participate in a free and fair election, they should get the hell out of politics.”

Wow. Two thoughts: Maybe the only way to beat Trump is to fight fire with fire. And beating Trump is the goal, no ands, ifs, or buts about that. But, the larger question is, has American politics morphed into populist demagoguery, and is that where it’s going to stay? Because there is no message of unification in Sanders’ words, only the same vitriol that Donald Trump pours out, except aimed at different groups. But the message is the same.

If that’s the case, so long civility, let alone nuance. It looks like 2020 is gearing up to be the blood bath that people have predicted. This is very sobering, because if we have two populist demagogues vying for the White House, it portends an all out cultural war and tribal identity like never seen — or at least not since the Civil War.

Sanders may have a good shot at the nomination, as may Joe Biden. This strikes a lot of people as totally incongruous, because the Democratic party is majority-female, and ethnically diverse, not to mention the party of the young. Be that as it may, both Biden and Sanders have one thing going for them that the other candidates do not: visibility. Never lose sight of the fact that the American electorate is, for the most part, comatose when it comes to politics. Every four years there’s a presidential election and people bestir themselves to watch the political circus and vote for the candidate with the most visceral appeal, and telegenic presence. This is who we are in the age of television, and why we’re in the mess that we’re in.

I’m not taking a stance for or against Sanders, at this point. I personally want to see how all the candidates weigh in and figure out what’s what. All that I want to point out is that 2020 needs to be different from 2016. We need to exalt substance over form, and savvy over style. Getting our country back, is the important thing, not introducing a different flavor of political extremism and tribal identity into the White House.

Keep a sharp eye on how the Sanders campaign shapes up, because this may be the direction we’re going. And truth be known? If he wins the nomination, I’ll move heaven and hell to get him elected, and so will every other person I know, because we’ve got to be rid of Donald Trump. Maybe the antidote for the toxic Trump presidency, which has poisoned our culture, is a little hair of the dog. Maybe we need to be Donald Trump in order to beat him.

 

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49 Comments on "WaPo: ‘Bernie Sanders Has Emerged As The Donald Trump Of The Left’"

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Shockwave
Member

Bernie is the anti-thesis of Trump. But no symmetry. If you are an idiot (that is what the ancient Greeks called those who did not participate in the direct democracy they invented) you voted for Trump and still support him as a brainwashed cult. Bernie supporters are intelligent people who knew HRC had “issues” and Bernie, minus rotten primary process, could have beaten the monster we now have in the WH. No brainwashing on Bernie’s side. No Faux News no right wing radio, just Bernie and his vision for a better America.

JosephW
Guest
I don’t want Sanders anywhere near the Democratic primaries and caucuses until/unless he FORMALLY becomes a Democrat. Not just “with the caucus” but IN THE PARTY. The Party made a serious mistake in 2016 letting him participate without that full party membership deal. And after he reneged on his post-Convention promise to “run as a Democrat in ALL future elections,” he doesn’t deserve any support from ANY Democrat. And, quite frankly, I don’t want anyone participating in the selection of a DEMOCRATIC nominee if that person is not going to come out AS A DEMOCRAT. Forget any “independents” who whine.… Read more »
HollyValera
Member
Damn, I didn’t want to say this, but after 2016 I can’t stand it anymore. Sanders’ intransigence regarding party affiliation is a feature of who he is, not a bug. If the Democratic Party allows him to run again as an Independent, riding on the coattails of all of us who’ve been loyal Democrats for decades, and if through some miracle he not only wins the nomination but the WH, don’t expect him to give a damn about Democratic issues and concerns as President unless it suits him to do so. Sanders will go his own way; he always does.… Read more »
HollyValera
Member
If enough of Democratic voters fall for Sanders the way they did in 2016, suiciding on him and him alone, then say goodbye to the presidency. Facing the certainty of enraging core Sanders-supporters–something I’ve managed to avoid until now–I don’t find him at all convincing, never have, for exactly the reasons you’ve enumerated above. If I, a thorough Democrat with strong Progressive values, react that way to Sanders, imagine how more moderate, centrist Democrats view the man: it’s why he lost the nomination in 2016. Assuming, though, he gets it this time around, the chances of swing voters and disaffected… Read more »
anastasjoy
Member

I couldn’t agree with you more, Holly. Worse, he has encouraged his supporters to be hostile fanatics in much the same way Trump does, although he has encouraged contempt more than violence. But that contempt for all who are not true believers could be a massive stumbling block to his election, as would the mountains of baggage he’s got the no one touched last time.

LeAnn
Guest

This. I’m over the divisiveness that Sanders and his supporters trail in his wake.

anastasjoy
Member
If Sanders gets the nomination, you’ve just described why he’s possibly the only candidate with no shot at beating Trump. You NEED the Democratic foot soldiers – the long time loyal Democrats who do the day-in/day-out work — to win a presidential election. He has demonized and attacked them, not only alienating THEM but arousing his faithful to view them with contempt. I know a lot of people who not only won’t “move heaven and earth” to get him elected, but will feel judged, alienated, bullied and attacked (because they will be) and will be burrowing underground to hide from… Read more »
SuzC
Guest

Lay down with coyotes, get up with fleas! No hair of the dog. The end is the product of the means. And in a head to head I think Trump would destroy Sanders more easily than he did Ted Cruz et al.

It’s early days. There are several candidates I won’t vote for. But maybe the stand-out is yet to come. I think Biden was our best shot! Apparently so did some “progressives” who thought it appropriate to destroy another member of their own damn team!

LeAnn
Guest

The rumors and discussions of Biden’s behavior have been swirling for years. Frankly none of this is new.

I’ve observed discussions online about it that go way back to the W years, and remember it being briefly discussed during the Obama campaign as a potential issue. It bubbles up and simmers, bubbles up and simmers. I figured with the climate now it is poised to hurt his chances.

Denis Elliott
Member
I started out 2016 preferring Bernie to Hillary simply because while she would have made a better President than Bernie (and Trump of course) I couldn’t get past the sick feeling that decades of unwarranted & unfair attacks would, especially with what Trump unleashed make what should have been a blowout in both popular & EC vote totals a close election. I also feared that despite being a woman, Hillary wouldn’t do nearly as well in that demographic as people assumed. Especially among older women. My feelings were based a lot on anecdotal stuff I’d heard from women in my… Read more »
anastasjoy
Member
Reading your comment, something came to mind about Biden I hadn’t thought about before. There’s been a lot of discussion about his reassuring pleasantness and also about what his touchy-feeliness means. But what about what he stands for, policy-wise? One thing I like about the four woman Senators is that each has staked out particular issues she’s advocating for. What are Biden’s issues? And he can’t sneak past this with some glossy, skillful rhetoric like Buttigieg, who has a completely blank resume, can. His issues have to synch up with his past actions and statements — a very lengthy list… Read more »
Cynthia Feaster
Guest

Bernie Sanders is NOT equal to the fake ignorant racist russian asset president trump. He is NOTHING like trump. There is NO equivalency here. Bernie Sanders’ advocacy for the 99% of us who still actually believe in this imperfect Democracy, is SUPERIOR to anything the idiot trump might think of saying, assuming he even has a working brain. Bernie will make an excellent president. Who cares if he is an Independent and not a Democrat? I WILL vote for him if Biden doesn’t run for president.

Nick Sullivan
Member
Every time that lemon-sucker stands apart from the Democratic Party, he plants the idea that he is too good to stand with his famous “us” and that something is just too lacking in the party itself. This hurts, insidiously, like a pressure sore. It whispers ‘the parties are the same.’ And I believe most Bernie fans are the same folks who rip Obama for “losing 1,000 state level seats” during his 8 years; his fault of course, being an evil ‘centrist.’ But when their hero never misses a chance to spread his anti-D horseshit across the country, what is he… Read more »
mcartichoke
Member

I still want to hear more about the BEST CANDIDATE DEMOCRATS HAVE to offer: ELIZABETH WARREN! WARREN is Sanders without toxic masculinity! WARREN is Sanders without Tax Troubles. WARREN is Sanders UN-TRUMPED!

rory darjiit
Member
I’ve been reading old Sanders’ essays from the newly available archives…mostly stuff from his 1970’s campaigns. What I notice is that his policy ideas are always couched in two objectives – helping people who do honestly need help, but also in hurting people he dislikes or disdains. There’s a visceral, vitriolic manner to his…as Usrsulafaw calls it…demagoguery. It scares me. I was physically abused as a kid, and when I grew up I helped at a crisis hotline for LGBT youth. The way Sen Sanders speaks of others…the intolerance of it hearkens back to those experiences for me. It’s the… Read more »