Monday, February 08, 2016

Electing A Socialist President In U.S. Is Just Not Realistic

Many progressives and young people are deluding themselves. They have become excited about the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, and because they are willing to believe, they think most Americans can be convinced to do the same. One look at the chart above should show that is not a realistic hope.

The chart above, from the Gallup Poll, was done with interviews of a random sample of 177,991 adults throughout 2015. It shows the percentage in each state that self-identify as conservative, moderate, or liberal. Note that only one state (Vermont) has a larger percentage of liberals than either moderates or conservatives. And only two other states (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) have more liberals than conservatives (although both groups are outnumbered by moderates). In all other states, both moderates and conservatives outnumber the liberals.

And that's just liberals. You can bet that most Americans consider socialism to be significantly to the left of liberalism. It is hard enough to get good liberals elected in this country, and it would be impossible to get an avowed socialist elected -- especially after the Republicans started running ads against him (calling him not just a socialist but also a communist).

I am old enough to remember the last time the progressives and the young combined to nominate a leftist to be their nominee -- George McGovern in 1972. McGovern was a good man, and would have made a good president, but Americans saw him as too far to the left -- and the result was disastrous. McGovern carried only one state, and lost the electoral vote 520 to 17.

I know the Bernie supporters claim this is nothing like what happened in 1972, but I disagree. I see many parallels. In 1972, a candidate was nominated that excited Democrats, and in 2016 many Democrats are excited by Sanders. But we need to realize that progressives (or even all Democrats) won't be electing a president (and neither will the Republicans). The next president will be elected because he or she won over most of the moderate independents -- and that isn't going to happen if a socialist is nominated.

And nominating a socialist would also hurt down-ballot Democrats (most of whom would separate themselves from the national ticket to survive). But many would not survive, because they will be tainted by Bernie's socialism.

I am glad Vermont sent Bernie to Congress, and I think he's a great senator. But getting elected senator from Vermont (the most liberal state in the nation) is a lot different from getting elected was the nation's president. We need to remember that politics is the art of the possible --n and right now, it's just not possible for a 74 year old socialist to be elected.

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