Bernie Sanders gives modern Democrats something that they’ll never get from Hillary Clinton: actual passion for something other than political office. Progressives are drawn to Bernie Sanders because they know he believes the things he says, and that he says them only because he believes them. In that regard, he’s strikingly similar to Howard Dean, who quickly shot up in the polls only to spectacularly flame out in Iowa. Sanders offers Democrats what they want – 200-proof progressivism – but Hillary gives them what they need – a politician with the veneer of electability.
The other aspect of Sanders’ candidacy that is so interesting is the media’s coverage of it. Sure, he’s said a ton of nutty things that would make Todd Akin blush (e.g., claiming that cervical cancer is caused by an insufficient number of orgasms), but the lack of coverage of those remarks is not what I’m talking about. As Stephen Miller has noted on Twitter, what’s interesting is that while reporters at his events will regularly tweet about the size of his crowds or energy of his supporters, they rarely mention the substance of his remarks. Why that is so is unclear. Is it because he’s saying things that make Democrats look strange, or is it because he’s saying things that make Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton look bad? I suspect it’s a combination of both. Either way, the disproportionate amount of media coverage given to Trump vs. Sanders is instructive of how many reporters view their roles: as amplifiers of Republican nonsense and silencers/explainers of Democratic nuttery.