Never underestimate liberals, and their ability to let perfect be the enemy of the good. In these early stages of the 2016 presidential race, Democrats have a rare advantage: an obvious frontrunner, who’s well-known and broadly popular. In fact, Hillary Clinton beats every Republican in every hypothetical match-up — and in some cases, by wide margins.
One of the rarest feats in American politics is for one party to control the White House for three consecutive terms. It’s a rare occurrence because, frankly, the electorate tires of one party and simply wants change. Since World War II, a party has held the White House for three straight terms only once: 1981-1993, the Reagan-Bush era.
The fact that Hillary Clinton is posed to actually achieve this rarest of feats is reason enough to nominate her. But on top of that, there are many other very good reasons: she’s the most qualified; the most tested; the most vetted. She’s also a woman, which means her nomination and subsequent victory would be historic.
But some liberals within the Democratic Party are not amused with Hillary Clinton. They contend that she’s not liberal enough, and that she’s too cozy to Wall Street. Never mind that she’s spent the first two months of her campaign pushing for voter registration reform, criminal justice reform, and immigration reform — she’s still untrusted by liberals. They crave a “real” progressive like socialist Democrat Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.
Sanders is 73, has an extremely-low national profile, and believes that average voters will be able to draw a distinction between “socialist Democrat” — which he is; and “socialist” — which he isn’t. It would be political suicide for any political party to make Bernie Sanders its standard-bearer.
Sen. Sanders is a nice man, with great ideas — but his views are not within the mainstream of the United States. It would be simply too easy of a contrast between he and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). The youthful-looking Rubio would relish sharing a general election debate stage with Sanders, in which he highlights his genuine Latino roots and “American Dream” back story, while Sanders, who actually looks like a mad scientist, rails against the “billionaire class” that’s ruining America. There’s no way such a scene would end well for Democrats.
Nominating Bernie Sanders would be tantamount to forfeiting the presidency to the Republicans. Under no circumstance or scenario could Sanders win a national general election in 2016. So the question becomes, what’s the point of his primary campaign against Hillary Clinton? She actually could win a general election. Given the political environment and the history of voting patterns, she’s the best hope for retaining the White House for Democrats.
Despite all claims to the contrary, the Democrats don’t need a competitive primary. Hillary Clinton is the most vetted politician alive, and her positions are already sufficiently liberal. The primary challenge from Bernie Sanders will only serve to raise the hopes of his extreme liberal base of supporters — even though they have no chance of winning the nomination. And it will make Hillary’s job that much harder in making sure these voters actually support her in November 2016.
If the Republicans had a candidate like Hillary Clinton, you can best believe they would have coalesced around him or her early, and pounded the Democrats at every turn. With every possible advantage, the Democrats are spoiling for a fight that can only help the Republicans. Progressives have their hearts in the right place, but who knows where their brains are these days.