Scared of the GOP? It’s time to back Bernie

Suddenly, there’s a lot less laughter at the Republican field — the House vote to defund Planned Parenthood reminds us that for all the absurd quotes that came out of the GOP debates, there are real, tangible consequences. It’s fun to hear Trump spout something backwards and offensive that any other candidate would get slammed for saying; it’s not so fun to see those candidates step up their warmongering or roll out plans to obliterate the 14th Amendment. A decade ago, we couldn’t imagine another president as awful as George W. Bush; now we have an entire field ready to race past him.

And while the GOP is getting record exposure, Bernie Sanders’ continues to tear into Hillary Clinton’s lead. The Democrat establishment is quick to call Sanders unelectable — he’s too much a fringe candidate (despite already leading in the first two primary states), but is that really the case?

If we dive in a bit, it becomes crystal clear that Hillary’s nomination would give the GOP the best chance at the White House, while a Bernie primary win would be the closest thing to a guaranteed win for the Dems. (Note: I’ll let Biden announce his bid before I toss him into the equation)

Let’s start pre-primaries: Although DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is trying her best to limit Democratic debates, they will happen soon enough, and millions will be tuned in. Though Sanders and Clinton are both seasoned debaters, Bernie has a sizeable advantage. Sanders has been unwavering and far ahead of the curve on progressive issues (he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and the Iraq War in 2002, to name a couple), making him as hard as any politician to attack.

Meanwhile, Hillary’s stance on both issues has changed over time (Remember the John Kerry flip-flops?). Add in her hemming and hawing on the TPP, support from private prison lobbyists, and some seriously scary conflicts of interest and any number of tough questions will make it hard for her to come out on top.

Once we reach the primaries, we’ll likely have one of two outcomes. If Hillary is able to stave off Bernie’s attack with the help of her $40 million Super PAC, she’ll still be limping into the general election.

It’s no secret that Democrats usually perform best when there is high turnout at the polls. Unfortunately for Hillary, a Clinton primary victory would cause a large chunk of Sanders’ anti-establishment supporters to stay at home next November, tired of politics-as-usual for either party.

And for all the years of love Hillary has gotten from her own party, she’s gotten just as much hate from the right — making it near impossible for her to pull many votes from the right. Her emails will be combed through, her hits will be rehashed, and some of them just might land. Then she’ll have to do her debate dance all over again. When the dust settles, could Hillary be our next president? Absolutely. Could a member of the GOP clown car? Without a doubt.

But what if Bernie wins the primary? First, we can expect a massive turnout: his outsider stance would bring countless new voters to the polls. Of course, there are plenty of Democrats who might think Bernie is a bit too far left (perhaps you’re reading this right now!). But with the GOP having gone so far right, it’s safe to say that most Dems would rather go left of their comfort zone than to whoever gets the GOP nod.

Despite the party rift, Sanders would be able to pull more Republican support than anybody. His sincerity resonates with people of all stripes who are fed up with the status quo, while his support for civil liberties would net him libertarian votes. And once more, he’ll be hard to trip up in the general debates since he’s been fighting for the same things for over forty years. So if you have the idea that Bernie just couldn’t win the presidency, maybe it’s time to reevaluate.

Could Sanders lose the election? Of course.

Is he the best chance to stave off the GOP? No question.