Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Now (unfortunately) may not be Sanders' time

As Bernie Sanders handily takes the New Hampshire Democratic primary, it is worth considering what a tricky decision American Democrats are faced with.
While I may like Sanders for his straight talk, for his passion, and for his egalitarian leftist politics, and while I would trust him much more than Hillary Clinton to do what he says and not to get caught up in secret agendas, those are not - unfortunately - the only considerations in play here.
Like her or not (and most people don't, for a variety of reasons), Clinton is the consummate politician. She has name recognition, foreign policy experience, and a non-boat-rocking middle-of-the-road Democratic platform. She is the establishment candidate; Sanders is the maverick. And, while I hate myself for saying it, establishment may actually be what the Democrats need right now.
Always at the back of my mind is the thought of the Democratic candidate facing off against Donald Trump (and, yes, Trump also handily won in New Hampshire). Either Clinton or Sanders could run rings around Trump intellectually, that is not the issue. But would a disaffected, middle-ground conservative, unwilling to risk the country and the world with a vote for Trump, be more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton or for the "self-described socialist" Bernie Sanders? If we were coming off two terms of unpopular Republican rule, then Sanders could well benefit from the reaction. But that is not the case.
So, tempting as it is to wish a genuine leftist leader on America - just imagine the shake-up he could dispense! imagine the GOOD he could do! - I just have a suspicion that the time is not quite right, that America not quite ready for a socialist president. And if there is any risk at all of Trump exploiting the situation and thereby winning the presidency, then caution is most definitely the watch-word.

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