This is part 2 of a two-part series on the presidential campaign trails. In Part one, we look at how things are shaping up on the Republican side. Now, we take a look on the Democrat side.
Even the birds are curious; so, we took a pass with them over the Democrat debates sites. You won’t believe how things look through the birds’ eyes. Let me show you.
Rumors have it that the “Bern” is so severe Mrs. Clinton may have to stay in the intensive care unit for much longer than anticipated. Both her husband Bill Clinton and her daughter Chelsea have been by her side, praying for a miracle. Bill believes she will pull through for “she is a fighter”; Chelsea “believes in her mom’s ability to recover quickly”. From a birds’ eye view however, it does not look good at all for Mrs. Clinton.
According to the latest polls reported on RealClearPolitics.com, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been playing the musical chair dance for the first place. From a birds’ eye view, that should be quite troubling for the Clinton’s campaign; in an interview with Matt Lauer of NBC on Wednesday, January 13, 2015, Mrs. Clinton suggested she was not nervous about the latest polls. I understand she could not possibly state to a national audience, much less so to her supporters, how she really feels but for her sake, I hope she is nervous.
A few months ago, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was just the Independent Senator from Vermont who aspired to become president; the polls then showed Bernie at just seven percentage point while Mrs. Clinton was enjoying an unchallenged ranking of well over fifty percentage point. Her closest challenger at the time was someone who had not even expressed any interest in running for president, Joe Biden, pulling at just about 17%. Put differently, Mrs. Clinton was considered the anointed nominee for the Democrat Party. Didn’t we see that movie before? We have. In 2008, Mrs. Clinton was considered the anointed nominee for the Democrat Party, except for the fact that she was challenged by an unknown, inexperienced, junior (forgive the redundancy here) Senator from Illinois Barack Obama who would later capture the Democrat nomination. Of course, Mrs. Clinton has to be nervous now. From a birds’ view, she has yet to recover from a humiliating defeat in the hands of a Junior Senator. She still has the scars to prove it.
Granted, Bernie is no junior (although he is considered a Junior Senator in Washington); he is not inexperienced like Barack Obama was but in comparison to Hillary, a few months ago, Bernie was just an “Extra” in the presidential elections movie starring Hillary Clinton. Ironically, it is the “Extra” who has been stealing the show. To be fair, Bernie Sanders is no ordinary “Extra” either; he has made appearances in many political venues for several decades. – He was elected mayor of Burlington, VT in 1981 and re-elected three times before becoming Vermont U.S. Representative in 1990; he served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected as U.S. Senator of Vermont in 2006, a post he stills holds while running for president – Bernie has the experience of a fulltime actor.
He started his campaign just like any other “unfamous” candidate who may simply want to add “running for president of the United States” into his/her resume but Mr. Sanders is no ordinary candidate either. i) in 2012, he got re-elected into the Senate capturing 71% of the popular vote; is there any other Senator in Washington who comes close to such high approval rating?; ii) Mr. Sanders was an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War; iii) he filibustered in 2010 against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts; iv) he is a leading voice on social issues (income inequality, universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change, LGBT rights); v) he is a major proponent of campaign finance reform; vi) he is outspoken on civil rights and civil liberties; vii) he is very critical of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and mass surveillance policies. Translation, Mr. Sanders is the embodiment of what a candidate of the people should be like, an image he has nurtured during his political career; a characteristic his opponent has underestimated greatly; it is however that very characteristic which has gotten him elected and re-elected several times in the State of Vermont.
When he announced his candidacy for president, there was no fanfare, no balloons coming down, no large crowd cheering; in fact, there was no crowd at all. Well, from a birds’ eye view, a crowd of reporters asking questions about the announcement does not qualify as crowd. He could not have a crowd; Mr. Sanders took a 15-minute break from the Senate floor to tell the nation it is his intention to run for president of the United States. The announcement itself lasted four (4) minutes; another six (6) minutes were used to answer questions he fielded from the media. Bernie’s announcement was different, short, “un-hollywoody” but right to the point.
In fact, during those ten (10) minutes, Mr. Sanders was able to define what his bid for the presidency is all about. His candidacy announcement is the simplest, the shortest and the most boring of it all but don’t let that fool you. Within 24 hours following the official announcement of his candidacy for president, Bernie’s campaign coffers ballooned to $1.5 million; after only four days following the announcement, his campaign raised $3 million, equivalent to $43 per donor according to the campaign. By the end of 2015, Bernie’s campaign had raised approximately $73 million and announced to have reached 2.3 million donations, putting the average at a mere $27 per donation according to Politico. This type of momentum has made it possible for Bernie Sanders to break Obama’s 2011 record for the highest number of contributions for a White House bid.
With a very aggressive social media campaign and involvement, Bernie has tapped into a source of energy – the young, the opinionated, the future – with a synergy unforeseen even by the campaign. Bernie has attracted an army of young voters who share his vision for the country. He refuses to be associated with Super PACs, vows to return the country to its rightful owner, The People, promises to address the various social issues (wage inequality, racial discrimination, gender inequality, LGBT rights, civil rights, etc.) that have plagued the country for so long and is determined as president to steer clear of international conflicts and involvement as much as possible. “Feel the Bern” is a slogan which has picked up steam in the social media domain and has already started to cause serious burns to the Clinton’s campaign.
Before “the Bern”, Hillary Clinton’s only fear was to have to challenge Joe Biden and fight for the nomination; Bernie Sanders was just an afterthought, someone who will be on the stage, mostly invisible just like a real “Extra” in a high profile movie. Following Joe Biden’s announcement not to seek the office of the presidency, Hillary’s smiles turn brighter, her confidence elevated; the polls, immediately after Joe Biden’s announcement, pushed her rating higher making it thus official that she would be the nominee for the Democrat Party. On the debate stage, Mrs. Clinton is a real star, a true celebrity. She owns the stage; she is politically savvy, very comfortable debating any topic you throw at her and she also thinks very quick on her feet. Bernie Sanders is no match for Hillary on the stage. Together, Bernie and Hillary capture 90% of the support, leaving the third candidate still vying for the post of the presidency, Martin O’Malley hovering around five percentage point since the very beginning of his campaign.
There was a time when Hillary didn’t even bother to address or respond to any remark Bernie made on the campaign trail; that was then. Today, Bernie challenges her for the first place in Iowa and is already leading in New Hampshire according to the latest polls; what’s even most troubling for the Clinton’s campaign is that the latest polls show she would only beat Donald Trump by four percentage point but would lose to Cruz and Rubio by four and twelve percentage point respectively. In a twist of fate, Bernie Sanders would beat Trump, Cruz and Rubio by 19, 18 and 9 percentage point respectively. Of course, this is very early in the race; the first vote has not even been cast yet but the Clinton campaign cannot rest if she wants to avoid another humiliating defeat; that’s why she has deployed her husband very early on to lure the voters into remembering how good it was during his administration. Mrs. Clinton has also brought to the fight her daughter Chelsea to echo her talking point.
When Obama ran against Hillary in 2008, he jokingly suggested that he was running against two Clintons, a comment which would later sour his relationship with the Clintons. Today, Bernie Sanders has to fight three Clintons, a tall order for someone who was virtually irrelevant as a candidate just a few months ago. From a birds’ eye view, the Clinton’s campaign has already committed the “political campaign sin”, that of attacking the opponent instead of debating the issue. Bernie Sanders on the other hand, who has climbed to a challenger status of Mrs. Clinton has never run any negative campaign during his political career and vows not to give in this time either no matter what. In fact, during his candidacy announcement, he implored the media not to make such an important matter as the presidential elections a football match or a gossip affair. Besides, Bernie has no reason to resort to negative campaign; he has thus far reached a successful political career without doing so. Mr. Sanders appeals to the good nature of the constituents to help him get to the next level, that of becoming the president of the United States.
Mrs. Clinton should follow Bernie’s ideal to run a clean campaign, to debate the issues, to disagree when necessary and offer a better vision but to abstain from going negative, at least during the primary. Besides, it’s not to her advantage to bash her opponent. For instance, after wrongly accusing Bernie would take “your healthcare coverage” away, clearly a tactic to scare the supporters away from Sanders, the Bernie’s campaign has seen an increase in donations. Mr. Sanders has made it clear from the onset that he is not running against Hillary Clinton or anybody else, he is running to become the next president of the United States; as such, he has a duty to explain his vision for the country to the constituents.
Mr. Sanders does not shy away from any debate; in fact, he welcomes it. He sees such interaction as democracy in action. Despite his determination to win the nomination and eventually the presidency, Mr. Sanders would not object to lose to someone who is able to offer a better vision for the country. If Mrs. Clinton wants to win the Democrat nomination this time around, she needs to adjust her campaign strategy to debate Sanders instead of attacking him. Coincidentally, Mrs. Clinton is excellent on the debate stage; Bernie sucks at it. To that end, the Democrat Chair hurts Hillary more than intended by limiting the number of debates in the primary. From a birds’ eye view, Bernie Sanders is winning the Democrat Party.
Although Mrs. Clinton is able to raise as much money as Bernie, she is losing on support. As of December 2015, the Bernie campaign claimed to have received donations from 1.5 million individuals, a number that is surely increasing, a scenario which closely resembles that of Barack Obama in 2008. From a birds’ eye view, this spells trouble for Mrs. Clinton but all is not lost for the former first lady; she is indeed in luck, negative campaigns work, proven time and again, and Mrs. Clinton’s Super Pacs will make it difficult for Bernie to clinch the nomination. The Clinton campaign however should be aware that it could become a bloody fight from which she may not be able to recover fully for the general elections, should she win.
If I were to have Hillary’s ears, I would advise her to play nice with Bernie – unless she is not afraid of the Bern – to reserve any harsh language, negative campaign, mudsling for the opponent in the general elections. From a birds’ eye view, that is quite possibly the only sure way to avoid serious bruises and burns.
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