The Bernie Revolution
For all those Bernie supporters who contend that he will cause a 2016 electoral revolution even bigger than Obama’s 2008 victory, a few facts of life.
when Obama was running in 2008, the Democratic/Republican/Independent split in the House was 236/199/0. In the Senate it was 49/49/2. In his WAVE election, the House added 21 Democrats (257/178). The Senate added 9 (58/40/2)
Today, the split in the House is 188/247, in the Senate 44/54/2.
To control the House, a party needs 218 seats. So the Democrats would have to pick up 30 seats (https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_Congress_elections,_2016#U.S._House). You can play with a map on how to do this at 270ToWin (http://www.270towin.com/2016-house-election/#).
That’s nine more seats than were added in Obama’s Wave election. Yes, the GOP added 64 seats in the 2012 election but gerrymandered districts, as well as considerable public anger about Obamacare, TARP, and the economic meltdown helped a lot. Those districts still heavily favor Republicans and probably will until 2022.
The Senate is possible. Again, per Ballotpedia (http://www.270towin.com/2016-senate-election/), “24 Republican and 10 Democratic seats are up for re-election.” Democrats would need 5 to get control This is possible (you can play with the 270ToWin Senate map (http://www.270towin.com/2016-senate-election/), but it would lead to a razor-thin Senate majority with a GOP minority determined to filibuster everything.
2016 DEMOCRATIC POTUS
If a Democrat wins the 2016 election, he or she will face a GOP House and, at best, a barely Democratic Senate.
Bernie’s fans insist I am being negative, I don’t understand the Bern. I want them to prove to me where Democrats are going to get those 30 House seats (without losing any) with gerrymandered House districts in states with Republican Governors and Republican legislatures and a raft of laws designed to keep Democratic voters away from the polls. Spell it out. How will you beat those Republican Representatives? Where will you find opponents? How will you fund their elections? What arguments will you use that haven’t been used before?
BUT LET US DREAM
OK, let’s suppose that Bernie (an atheist, Jewish, socialist) does the miraculous. He flips 30 seats in the House. And 14 out of 24 currently Republican Senate seats for a Senate Super-Majority. Will we get Medicare-For-All? Will Glass-Steagal be reinstated? Will Citizens United be repealed? No.
I spent most of Obama’s first two years glued to C-SPAN. I am not exaggerating when I say I watched every committee hearing, and many of the floor debates, on Dodd-Frank and Obamacare. Those meetings were brutal. Anybody who thinks it is easy to pass legislation, even with a Majority, should be forced to watch all of those hearings on C-SPAN.
I doubt you could find more than a handful of Democrats in either the House or the Senate who would be willing to touch health care, except at the margins, again with a 100-foot-pole. Bernie’s supporters don’t remember, or blithely dismiss, the 2010 election slaughter. Democrats in Congress have not forgotten. They are not going to risk their seats again, no matter how often Bernie harangues them.
As for Citizens United, only a Constitutional Amendment can repeal it. However desirable I think that would be, crafting an amendment that would reign in billionaire money without hobbling campaign funding from unions or other progressive groups would not be easy. And it would have to get a 2/3 majority in both Houses of Congress as well as 2/3 of the States. Please tell me how we do that with a majority of State governments in the hands of the GOP.
Vote for Bernie if you think he will make the best President, but don’t ask me to vote for him because of some mythical wave election that is going to turn all those Red States Blue. You are not going to flip Cruz/Trump voters with economic arguments. If you could win them that way, the Congress would still be Democratic.
Lastly, please note: I do not believe that Hillary would have an easy path to the White House, no matter who the GOP opponent is. It could easily be a repeat of 2000 or 2004. Hillary Haters exist in both parties and sexism will be a bigger problem for her than racism was for Obama. But she isn’t promising the sun, moon and the stars. She doesn’t expect an election miracle. I admire that.