Independents will determine the general election. Trump attracts independents. Clinton does not attract independents. Uh oh. Does that trouble you? It should. But here’s another sentence in bold type:
Sanders attracts independents in large numbers!
And he’s still in the race. That is the most simplified argument to be made for Sanders right now. That’s it.
Yes, it’s simplified. But that doesn’t mean its wrong or unimportant. I contend it is currently the most important issue left in this campaign.
Independents make up between 42–45% of the electorate — of the entire electorate — of every single registered voter in America. Yes, even in our two-party system, where private organizations control the primary system, the media narrative, and almost every other aspect of the political system, the largest voting block in America is made up of people who have rejected parties altogether. As a piece of the pie, they are nearly double the size of either registered Democrats or Republicans! They are, uncategorically, the most important group of voters in America!
Democrats need them. Hell, never mind Democrats. America needs them. They will go left, or they will go right, or they will stay home. But right now, they’re going to Sanders. Or they’re going to Trump. But they’re not going to Clinton.
Trump is the worst thing we can let happen to this country. If defeating him is the most important thing we can do, and it is, then the fight is now. The discrepancy comes in how to do it.
We can run the strongest candidate to defeat trump — the one that attracts independents (and young people) in droves, or we can take our chances with the establishment candidate who is currently winning a primary that was closed to independent voters. We can run the candidate that is disliked by 55% of Americans, trailing only one candidate in history in terms of unfavorability ratings (Donald Trump). Or we can run Sanders, the one who… lest I forget to say it… attracts independents!
Lot’s of folks on the left are already planning for a general election between Clinton and Trump. Unfortunately it’s a bad plan, with a fatal flaw. It’s a plan based on fear, and it assumes that fear alone will be enough to unite independents to vote Democratic. Fear of Trump might be enough to inspire some of them to vote for Clinton, but I’m not so sure, and I’m not sure how many. The reason is simple: fear and inspiration are not really ideas that go well together. They’re pretty conflicting. Both Bernie Sander and Clinton inspire — the difference is who they inspire, and how many. Clinton inspires Democratic team-players, older voters, some women, even some independents. But so far, independents have proven overwhelmingly they prefer someone else. Bernie Sanders inspires them in some states as much as 2 to 1 over Clinton, and at least 10 points nationally.
So on one hand, you have an candidate who is inspirational amongst the general public (independents), and on the other you have an candidate who is inspirational amongst party-insiders only — let’s call her “inspirationally challenged,” especially when you factor the inspiration toward dislike or disdain or (fill in the blank with synonym for hatred) unfortunately held for her by the right (and some from the middle or left) in this country for decades. That sort of anti-inspiration is the type of thing that will inspire Republican turnout for sure, and will do who knows what to middle-to-right-leaning independents, or even hard-core progressives.
So we have a choice of electing the candidate that satisfies the desires of party insiders, inspires them even… and then fighting an extremely difficult uphill battle of inspiring independents, but more likely relying on fear tactics.
Or… we can address the fear factor now and elect the candidate who will inspire in the general election.
If Democrats think the electorate will be motivated and coalesce around fear of Trump, they should be convinced of their own argument and let fear motivate them right now. Because the fight is now. I don’t think independents are as motivated by fear as Democrats want them to be. But I know politicians are. If losing the Whitehouse to Trump is a scary proposition, then Democrats and the super-delegates ought to take every precaution against that right now, and not wait until the fall.
And this would be one type of argument if these were only feelings and ideology, but it’s been backed up by polls for months now. Bernie defeats Trump by wider margins than Hillary in national poll after national poll.
And one might say, yes but the polls still show Hillary winning. And you can take comfort in that, if you think Trump or his level of support is predictable, which it has not been. Almost nobody predicted Trump to be the hands-down, far-and-away winner of the Republican primaries. But he did it! The only person I know who predicted that is Anne Coulter. What does that tell you? I’m not sure, but one thing is, Trump should not be underestimated. And this year, the old rules of red states, blue states and swing states will be re-written.
Clinton is a dangerous gamble.
Bernie is an inspiration. Bernie is our home-run.
The fight is now.