Bernie Sanders announced for president today.
We Vermonters get asked a lot about Bernie Sanders – should he run? Can he win? Is it right that he run? Isn’t he too old? What’s he like?
But what people really want to know is – Should he run again when all these other candidates are running? Shouldn’t he step aside? Hasn’t his window closed?
The question gets confusing and here’s why. The Internet and cable TV have made all of us into instant experts on politics/sports/culture. Suddenly we are all political prognosticators, giving our opinion as if we are David Gergen or Gloria Borger on CNN.
In the end the questions boil down to this: Can he win? AND Should he run?
The answer to the first is I don’t know. Maybe. Answer to the second is – Of COURSE he should run! Let’s all stop trying to play pundit on CNN and assess the chances of any candidate. NO ONE knows what is going to happen. Just read your political history to understand that predicting anything is a fool’s errand. No one predicted Gary Hart would flame out in 1988, or that George HW Bush would win a war and then lose to Bill Clinton with Ross Perot in the race, or that the African American guy would come out of nowhere. (Greatest person ever after Michelle BTW), or that HRC would lose to Trump. No one predicted AOC.
So do yourself a favor and stop trying to predict what will happen.
I will tell you this about Bernie Sanders from years of watching him up close. He is relentless. He has been consistent in his proposals for 30 years. He is singularly focused. He is smart. He is not interested in wealth so won’t steal. He is pragmatic and knows how to make a deal. I think he would make a good president. When the red phone thing happens at 2 a.m., he would be fine. Does he have blind spots? Sure. He despises the media and the inanities of modern politics. He is cantankerous and intolerant. Can he adapt to a younger, more demanding electorate? Maybe. Can he beat Senators Harris, Warren, Booker et al.? Don’t know. But he has been at this for a very long time and it is a mistake to underestimate him. To win, he will have to adjust to a newer world that requires different staff, different strategy choices, and the way he tells his story to voters.
This is a Democracy. Let everybody run. Our crazy, irrational sometimes corrupt system will squeeze them all through a terrible ringer and the best (MAYBE) candidate will come through.