Bernie Sanders is STILL The Candidate The Democrats Should Nominate – Here’s Why
Bernie Sanders Is Still America’s Most Popular Active Political Figure
In recent years, there have been a number of truths in America’s political atmosphere that have remained consistently true. Donald Trump can be as awful and as heinous as he wants, and his supporters won’t budge. The left and the right will vehemently disagree on the color of grass. And Bernie Sanders is the most popular political figure active in the United States today.
Huffington Post’s aggregate polling on Bernie Sanders dates back to March 4th, 2015, more than a month before he announced his presidential campaign. Back then, only political wonks could tell you the Vermont Senator’s name, let alone anything about his platform, and it shows.
His poll numbers back then: 9.7 percent saw him unfavorably, 8.8 percent saw him favorably. And the other 81.5 percent had no idea who he was.
And then, the 2016 Democratic Primary happened. The end result? Today, more than a year after he conceded that primary to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is America’s most popular active politician, edging out all takers on both sides of the aisle.
A recent Harvard-Harris poll showed Bernie’s favorability sitting comfortably at 54 percent, versus a 36 percent unfavorable rating. It hasn’t budged since last year, and it shows no signs of shifting in 2018, either.
How is Sanders pulling off these numbers? Well, that’s a pretty simple answer. One that die-hard Clinton and Trump fans aren’t going to like, but simple all the same.
Sanders is popular because he’s seen as honest. He puts the American people first, ahead of his own political ambitions. He fervently supports popular policies like single-payer healthcare, universal college tuition, and paid family leave. He’s the antithesis of most other politicians, despite his decades of political experience, and the people love him for it.
Bernie Sanders Had Polling Numbers That Shamed Clinton And Trump… And Still Does
Looking back on the 2016 election, it’s pretty difficult to see how we ended up with Donald Trump in the White House. And it leaves a number of primary policies with sizable question marks hovering over them, too.
Clinton and Trump supporters hate it when you point this out, but it’s a fact: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were the two most despised presidential candidates in the history of polling data. Both of them had unfavorable ratings that eclipsed their favorability, and majorities of voters were backing them only to prevent the other from entering the White House, rather than supporting their policy ideas, experience, or visions for America’s future.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders maintained a higher favorability rating than either Clinton or Trump. From late July of 2015 straight through today, in September of 2017, Bernie Sanders has been seen favorably by a majority of Americans polled, and that’s on aggregate, too. And poll after poll during the primary season showed Bernie Sanders easily defeating Donald Trump in the primary, whereas Hillary Clinton struggled against Trump, or even lost outright, in those same polls.
So why on Earth would the Democratic Party pit Clinton against Trump? How could Bernie Sanders, with such impressive polling and an ever-growing fan base, lose to Hillary Clinton?
Ask anyone who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary, and you’ll hear about media blackouts, archaic party primary rules, DNC corruption, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, party registrations getting manipulated, questionable debate scheduling, and much, much worse. But I suppose all of that’s best left for another article… or twelve.
Can The Democratic Party Learn Anything From Bernie Sanders’ Monstrous Popularity?
Bernie Sanders’ popularity isn’t wavering, and neither is public support for the policies he champions. We already know where the Republicans stand on these issues, but what about the Democrats? Can the Democratic Party learn anything from Bernie Sanders’ monstrous popularity? If so, can they act on it? Do they even want to?
Democrats don’t like that Bernie Sanders doesn’t classify himself as a Democrat, despite his record of caucusing with Democrats on nearly everything. But therein lies the biggest lesson Democrats should take away from Sanders’ popularity: it’s impossible and downright foolish to expect party loyalty when the party itself doesn’t appear to stand for anything these days, apart from stopping Donald Trump of course.
Bernie Sanders is popular because he has a set of beliefs and he’s willing to fight for them. It’s not about some esoteric concept of party loyalty. It’s not about bolstering the party for the sake of political gain. Bernie Sanders wants what’s best for the American people. He has ideas for how we can get there. And he’ll tell you all of that to your face, directly.
Hillary Clinton is unpopular — less popular today than even Donald Trump, actually — for precisely the opposite reason. Her platform in 2016 was an amalgamation of party-bolstering ideas. Clinton’s views are machine-assembled from the scraps of polling data and focus testing results. Her supporters will gladly disagree, but most Americans feel Hillary Clinton wants what’s best for Hillary Clinton, and if the American people can benefit in the process, that’s lovely, too.
The takeaway Democrats should interpret and the one they will interpret are always two entirely different propositions. But Donald Trump is president, and shy of impeachment or resignation, we’re stuck with him until 2020. And if Democrats don’t spend an adequate amount of time trying to properly ascertain why Bernie Sanders remains America’s most popular political figure, this country could be stuck with The Donald for a very, very, very long time.
Featured image courtesy of Scott Eisen/ Getty Images
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Matt Terzi is a political satirist and essayist from Binghamton, New York, who has written for some of the most prominent satire publications in the country. He’s now moving into more “serious” subject matter, without losing touch with his comedic roots