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Why Bernie Sanders Isn’t My Candidate

January 27, 2020

bernie rally

Let me state right up front that if Bernie Sanders wins the Democratic presidential nomination, I will vote for him and campaign for him. (That goes for any of the others in the race as well, even–God help us–Tulsi.) But I have doubts about him, which is why he is not my first choice. Let me explain why:

  1.  He’s still not a member of the Democratic Party. That may seem like a nitpick, but it sticks in my craw. Why wouldn’t you join the party whose nomination you seek? The only explanation that makes sense is if he thinks that he is too pure. I distrust puritans.  (As for the “socialist” label, that doesn’t bother me a bit. I think this country could use more socialism, not less.)
  2. He’s probably too old. This may be a geriatric election year, but he turns 77 this year which is how old Reagan was when he left office, and his main recreational activity was the nap.  If he wins and lives out his term, he would be 81. He’s male and recently had a heart attack. I’m 76, so I get that people age differently, but let’s be realistic here. (And yes, I know that Biden is just a year younger–same applies to him.) At least, for heaven’s sake, pick a young 50-something for a running mate!
  3. I think he’s a charismatic movement leader, but I don’t really see him as presidential. I give him major props for putting into the national spotlight the glaring structural problems that plague this country, but I see more rhetoric than plans for solutions. I feel like I’ve been hearing the same speech for the last four years, and Sanders’ legislative record is, to put it kindly, modest.  I suspect his finger-jabbing, get-off-my-lawn rhetorical style will get old quickly. To be fair, I don’t know if anyone could actually accomplish anything with the Party of Trump, but Bernie seems less likely that some others to work any compromises to break logjams.
  4. His supporters. I don’t like to generalize, but there is considerable evidence that things are shaping up for a replay of 2016 where the Bernie-or-bust folks go sulk and don’t vote if he doesn’t get the nomination. According to a recent poll only 53% of Sanders supporters said they would definitely vote for the Democratic candidate if it’s not him. While that kind of zealotry might seem an argument for making him the nominee, it fits with the I’m-too-pure image and smacks of  political hostage-taking. Then there is the New York Times story about extensive on-line harassment and bullying carried out by Bernie supporters against other candidates and their staffers, which–to his credit–Sanders has condemned, but says he can’t control. It’s great to have supporters who are excited about you, but too many “true believers” scare me off.

The Democrats don’t have an ideal candidate, let’s face it. Each of them has his/her pros and cons, and none of us really knows which can beat Trump. So by all means, pick the candidate who best reflects the country you want to see. But in November, just remember that the alternative to whoever gets the nomination is another four years of Trump–this time with no restraints.

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