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Dem Dilem*: Would an Angry Old Socialist** Lose to an Angry Old Autocrat***?

* Dilem: short for dilemma; n. a difficult situation in which you have to make a choice between alternatives.
** Socialist: n. someone who believes a country’s land, transport, industries, etc., should be owned or controlled by the community as a whole.
*** Autocrat: n. a ruler who has total power; a person who expects obedience.

Democrats are desperate to defeat Donald Trump (the Autocrat); but their current leading candidate, Bernie Sanders, is a Socialist.

Many believe defeating Trump, panderer to his far-right base, requires a nominee appealing to Independents, suburban women, and Moderates, weary of Trump’s erratic behavior, vindictive ego, and endless power grabs (the other “P-Grabs” he enjoys).

Sanders is NOT that candidate. Self-described Democratic Socialist, he appeals mostly to HIS base, mostly young liberals.

But would enough young people (consistently unreliable voters) vote in the general election to secure Sanders’ victory?

And a Washington Post-ABC poll found 37 percent of Independents say they’ll oppose Sanders because of his Socialism.

Sanders’ surprising ascent to front-runner mirrors Trump’s in 2016 Republican primaries. Both won chunks of primary/caucus votes; and with many candidates splintering the rest, both gained momentum by winning more delegates.

But if you compare the percentages of New Hampshire votes for Moderate candidates (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar) and Progressive candidates (Sanders, Warren, Steyer), Moderates win.

Sanders’ apparent invincibility, then, is misleading. However, like Trump, he could amass the most delegates (but not a majority), arriving at his party’s convention with a commanding lead.

A “brokered convention” would ensue, controlled by party insiders. Worried Trump would defeat Sanders, they could manipulate processes in favor of other candidates.

But if insiders deny Sanders’ nomination through back-room deals, many (especially young) voters wouldn’t support the party’s nominee, dooming Democrats’ chances – like 2016’s bitter Sanders-Clinton battle cost Hillary precious votes.

Other Sanders concerns:

1. His Socialist label.

Trump ridicules Sanders’ Moscow honeymoon destination. Sanders’ praise of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in a recent 60 Minutes interview didn’t help (especially in swing-state Florida, with strong anti-Castro sentiment).

Trump will castigate any Democratic nominee as Socialist, but Sanders validates that charge by identifying as one. And recent intelligence reports that Russians plan election interference to benefit Sanders (and Trump) are revealing.

2. His health-care plans.

While most Americans agree our system needs improvement, many believe improving Obamacare is preferable.

Obamacare (largely based on moderate reforms originally proposed by Republicans) incited intense partisan warfare, with opponents brandishing weapons at town-hall meetings, shouting down supporters. Hard to fathom the divisiveness Sanders’ plans would inflame – transferring control to government and eliminating health insurance, angering voters who like theirs (especially union members who surrendered raises for better insurance).

Sanders is vague about costs for this radical transformation (estimates run up to $60 TRILLION), or how he’d pay for it. “Wealth taxes”, partially, but he admits middle-class taxes would increase – a ballot-box loser. He argues health-care savings offset tax increases; a complex argument to sell, while Republicans’ mantra “Democrats will raise taxes” is more marketable.

3. His other promises (free college tuition and child care, forgiving student loans, etc.).

Appealing to idealistic young – but not to older voters. Many worked hard, for example, putting themselves or their children through college and paying off student loans. Now they’re supposed to pay for others (who didn’t) with their taxes?

4. His inability to inspire minority voters.

A major cohort of successful Democratic campaigns (including Obama’s), Sanders was unable to rally them in past campaigns.

5. His negative impact on down-ballot candidates.

Democratic candidates at all levels could lose if they’re labeled Socialist supporters of government-run health care. Congressional control, critical to checking Trump’s power if re-elected, hangs in the balance.

6. His lukewarm Democratic Party support.

Party establishment has been feckless in recent years (mismanaging the disastrous 2016 campaign, allowing Trump’s victory), but can provide organization, volunteers, and MONEY to its favored nominee.

Too late to stop Sanders’ runaway train? Maybe not, but the tunnel is rapidly approaching – with no light at the end of it.

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