Jencunas: Trump, Not Sanders, is the Political Revolution
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
For the Democrats, the normal rules of politics still apply: endorsements matter, big rallies don’t translate into big vote totals, and the party establishment has the resources to beat back almost any insurgent candidate. No matter how much white people on the internet insist Bernie Sanders can win African-American votes, Hillary still has the credibility and connections to dominate in the Southern states where minority voters determine who wins. She won over 70% of the vote in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
Sanders did better where Democratic voters either went to Woodstock or wished they did, winning Vermont, Oklahoma, and Massachusetts. But outside of Vermont his margin of victory was small, which means Hillary still gets a respectable amount of delegates from the states she lost. At the end of the night, the current count for delegates is 541 for Hillary and 367 for Bernie.
For the Republicans, there’s only one rule of politics – it’s good to be Donald Trump. As he might say, Super Tuesday was a big huge victory. He won 7 of the 10 states. Alabama and Massachusetts have almost nothing in common, but they agreed that Donald Trump should be the Republican nominee for President. Even where Trump lost he essentially won. Cruz winning Texas means he’ll stay in the race and keep the anti-Trump vote hopelessly divided.
Trump and Sanders
Trump and Sanders have more in common with each other than either would admit. As I argued in an earlier column, they’re both giving voice to anti-government frustrations while peddling easy solutions to complex problems. Trump is doing better than Sanders because after eight years of Barack Obama, Republicans are a lot angrier than Democrats. Polling shows they are more distrustful of their party establishment and more pessimistic about the direction of the country.
Democrats are upset because Obama hasn’t been successful enough, while many Republicans believe their party has failed utterly to stop Obama from changing the essence of America. Seeing this failure, Republicans are angry enough to vote for Trump not in spite of his extremism but because of it.
Additionally, Trump is far less ideological than Sanders, which lets him transcend traditional divisions between moderates and conservative hardliners. The billionaire offers something for everyone – moderates get his support for Planned Parenthood and acceptance of government’s role in health care, while conservatives get his promises of massive tax cuts and ironclad promise to deport every illegal immigrant currently in the United States. His other major issue, taking on China and renegotiating trade deals is so outside the normal Republican platform that it’s normally a talking point of pro-labor Democrats.
Trump’s platform appeals to everyone who’s angry, while Bernie’s promises of higher taxes and vastly expanded government are traditionally liberal ideas that resonate with his supporters but drive away angry moderates. This is nothing new. Howard Dean and John Edwards both appealed to angry Democrats and drew large crowds, but like Sanders, they couldn’t expand their support beyond liberals. That’s simply not a winning coalition, no matter how many people show up to a rally or post on Reddit.
The campaign isn’t over. It’s still mathematically possible for Hillary and Trump to lose. But they’re the odds-on favorite to survive into the general election, since Trump will face divided opposition until most of the delegates are allotted and Sanders won’t be able to grow his support beyond a white, liberal base. It will be hard for Sanders and his supporters, watching as they get the revolution they wanted, but led by a living embodiment of capitalism instead of a man who would be the first open socialist to lead an American political party.
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