Which party does Bernie Sanders mean? Oh, the Democrats. Well, yes, but the erstwhile presidential candidate’s argument sounds somewhat incoherent on its own. Sanders insisted that he could plant the progressive flag in all 50 states as the party’s nominee … without noticing that he’s not even managing to do that in the primaries:
Bernie Sanders called out the Democratic party for lacking a “50-state strategy” and failing to purport a cohered message “about which side they are on,” and insisted that he is the best candidate to take on the Republicans in November.
“We need to plant the flag of progressive politics in every state in this country,” Sanders said at an outdoor rally here Thursday afternoon.
Sanders pointed out that Democrats do well in New England, the East Coast, the West Coast, and some states in the Midwest. But he believes that is not enough.
“That’s fine, but you can’t turn your back on working people and low income people and children and the poor in 25 states in this country. We’ve got to fight for every one of those states,” Sanders said.
Attempting to run on the far-left progressive platform in every state would produce a landslide … for Republicans. That platform would play just fine in the northeast and on the West Coast, but it would fail miserably practically everywhere else. Even in the Midwest, states have moved away from so-called “prairie populism” on the local and state levels, with perhaps Minnesota being the only exception. There is a reason why Republicans control more state legislative seats since Herbert Hoover, and it’s because they have taken advantage of the Democrats’ shift to the progressive left over the last eight years. Marching through these states as the party of the far Left might even turn Minnesota red … maybe. (I’d settle for purple.)
Even Barack Obama realized that when he first ran in 2008. He didn’t campaign on an ideological basis in most states, although he certainly allowed his progressive flag to fly where it made sense. Obama won the swing states in 2008 by positioning himself as a post-ideological pragmatist who would offer common-sense solutions to issues specific to the communities in which his campaign invested. The message was the ambiguous, it-means-what-you-want-it-to-mean “hope and change,” but the applications were very specific to voters on the ground and the issues that touched their lives. It was less of a 50-state strategy than it was a 435-Congressional-district strategy, as I wrote in Going Red. Sanders is calling for a George McGovern campaign of nationalized ideology, and it would produce a similar result against a Republican campaign of any competence.
It’s all theoretical anyway, since Sanders has less chance of winning the Democratic nomination than John Kasich has of winning the GOP’s. That has prompted Donald Trump to troll Sanders into considering an independent bid, as CBS News reports:
This is also completely theoretical. Sanders would have the same problem Trump would have if he bailed out of the GOP — the sore-loser laws in most states that prevent a presidential primary candidate from running in the general as an independent. Sanders would also have fewer resources and almost no time to organize a campaign to get on enough ballots to matter, even absent those sore-loser laws.