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Saturday, February 13, 2016
Politics ...

There has been a river of words, sentences, paragraphs and articles flowing on-line and off about Bernie Sanders’ 22 point victory over Hillary Clinton in last Tuesday’s New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary. I’ve sampled quite a bit of this river of words, opinions, facts, conjectures, observations, predictions and such; it all flows in a number of different directions, not surprisingly. Some people look at the Sanders rout as a little bump along the road to Clinton’s inevitable nomination and victory in November. Others see the long awaited downfall of the House of Clinton, the beginning of the end for both Hill and Bill. Oh yea, and a handful of writers also think that Bernie Sanders might actually have a shot at the nomination, and perhaps even the White House.

Another faction takes the position that I basically take — that barring an Obama Administration decision to seek charges against Hillary Clinton for her potential violations of national security laws viz a via her use of a home e-mail server for high-level government communications while Secretary of State, Hillary’s nomination cannot be stopped. But, the growing popularity of Sanders amidst young voters and Hillary’s own weaknesses as a candidate put her ultimate victory in November more and more in doubt — she has taken additional scars as a result of the New Hampshire outcome.

As to Sanders, the key reason why he is still written off by most pundits despite his good showings in Iowa and New Hampshire is his relative lack of support amidst minority Democrats. Hillary has strong established ties with black and Hispanic politicians and political groups, and is reaping a bumper crop of endorsements from them. Sanders is now scrambling to make up for lost time in terms of minority outreach (e.g. his recent meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton). It looks as if Bernie is now taking himself more seriously as a candidate, and thus realizes what he has to do to maintain his new momentum. It will be interesting to see if Senator Sanders will ultimately be able to attract significant numbers of minorities behind him; from what I’ve read, he has a shot at capturing some of the younger activists who got involved with Barack Obama’s movement in either 2008 or 2012. The older generation will probably stick with what they know (i.e., Hillary).

So, with a bit of silliness, the question can be phrased in terms of the unofficial motto of the Sanders campaign: i.e., will minorities “feel the Bern”? Going back to that wordy pundit river that flows from the mouth of the New Hampshire primary campaign, I have seen in it a number of references to a Sanders campaign theme song with just that title, i.e. “Feel the Bern”. Hmmm, I wondered, what could THAT sound like? I decided to kill some spare time at work by using the usual internet search tool, and I soon came across a YouTube video for the “Bern song”, as one would expect. I looked at a video of Senator Sanders at a rally at some New Hampshire college watching a live performance of “Feel the Bern” by a white folk band called “The Magnetic Zeros”, written by lead singer Alex Ebert. The song definitely has the flavor of where Sanders comes from — i.e., Vermont, very white, laid-back, sort-of country-ish but with more of a 1960’s anti-establishment twist to it (think Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Paul Stookey, Pete Seeger and the original Bob Dylan).

In the video, Bernie is doing his best to clap and sway to this tune, but finding any beat at all to a song like this is not easy; it’s like trying to find a pulse in a frozen frog. But nonetheless, this is supposed to be the semi-official theme song of Sanders’ supporters.

Interesting and perhaps somewhat confusing is the fact that there is a second “FEEL THE BERN” song out there, and it’s nothing at all like the first. This one is by a black rap musician named Tony Tig, and it is a whole different animal than the Magnetic Zeros version. To be honest, I like the Tig version a whole lot more. It’s got attitude, edge, verve. It hints of revolution. Not a revolution that I personally would like to see, but at least this song has some life in it. I need to see Sanders groovin’ to the Tony Tig thing; then maybe he might have a better chance to gain some traction in the heavily minority-dominated primary states, and thus really give Hillary a run for her money.

C’mon Bernie, catch the vibe. Even Ta-Nehisi Coates is now willing to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt, despite his many expressed doubts about Sanders. It’s time for the good Senator to get out of his white socialist-liberal comfort zone, or else go down as an interesting political footnote like Senator Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

Hey Bernie — feel the burn from the fire you started. You’re gonna have to grow and change if you’re going to really mean anything in the political big leagues. You’re gonna need to start getting real, start offering more than lofty platitudes that excite idealistic college students and well-off educated Baby Boomers, but leave everyone else scratching their heads. Otherwise, you’re not much better than a socialist-populist inverse of Donald Trump. It’s gonna be really interesting to see just where all of this “Feel the Bern” stuff goes over the next 6 weeks.

I’d still bet that Sanders will be revered and honored but mostly ignored when the Democrats hold their convention in Philadelphia in late July. The Queen Hillary coronation will proceed as planned, despite the temporary interruption provided by Sanders. But the situation is still pretty fluid, and there are still land-mines out there that could sink Clinton. If Bernie shows some strength in the less white and liberal regions, then in the event of a Clinton emergency he could argue that he earned the nomination and the Party owes it to him, and not to some last-minute fill-in like Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. So, stay tuned!

◊   posted by Jim G @ 11:56 am      
 
 


  1. I had a nice long political conversation with a black co-worker earlier this week. She indicated that the reason she likes Hillary is because Hillary goes out of her way to talk about black people. I would add that Hillary does the same towards women, LGBT and Latinos. To me, that comes across as pandering.

    Sanders has a progressive record that is second to none. He supported same sex marriage in the 1970s. He spoke out against discrimination towards black people while Hillary was supporting Goldwater. No one should doubt his commitment. But he doesn’t pander – at least not to the extent that Hillary does. I find that refreshing, and that is part of the reason why independent voters overwhelmingly prefer Sanders over Hillary.

    Comment by Zreebs — March 9, 2016 @ 9:47 pm

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