Day of Reckoning for Sanders

“We’re going national!” – Hillary Clinton

This is more than a battle cry for Hillary Clinton. Her pronouncement to cheering supporters came after an overwhelming victory in the SC Primary, and points to March 1 – Super Tuesday.

Both Clinton and her opponent, Bernie Sanders have much at stake on this day. Their campaigns must get out the vote in 12 states from the Deep South to New England all the way to the frosty north of Minnesota and the contentious western border state of Texas. However, earning those votes and the all-important delegates is not simply the effort of a single day. And this is where it gets dicey for Sanders.

Success depends on an overarching campaign message, delivered effectively via the candidate, his or her staff and surrogates, a well-organized field game and targeted political advertising in those dozen states. Understandably, this requires money and human resources. Also influencing voters are endorsements from media channels along with political and public figures.

Sanders sticks to his original message without variation. He condemns a “corrupt political system,” demonizes Wall Street and billionaires and calls for a political revolution that pivots on the “demands” of his mostly-young constituents.

Unlike Clinton, who plays to the individual concerns of individual voters, Sanders repeats his generic call to revolution in massed crowds with little personalization. Promises of legalized pot and free college beckon young voters.

This vague “revolution” has turned off the editorial boards of newspapers large and small with the Minnesota Star Tribune the most recent to show its disdain. In its endorsement of Clinton, the newspaper noted that Sanders failed to show how his revolution would be accomplished without “throwing the American economy into chaos.” In delivering its coup de grace, the editors likened Sanders to Donald Trump, calling both “polarizing” figures of the campaign.

Bernie Sanders and Killer Mike. [Jazz Inside & Out]
This polarization is enlivened by figures like Killer Mike, Cornel West and Nina Turner, who are the newest trio of Sanders’ surrogates. Each has alienated significant voting blocs. Killer Mike angered women and men when he likened Hillary Clinton to a uterus. Cornel West, long on record for his hatred of Obama, has alienated the Obama Coalition, as evidenced in the South Carolina primary.  And Nina Turner, recipient of Clinton’s support in her own political aspirations, betrayed her former endorsement and friend to join the Sanders camp. Her personal and political disloyalty isn’t likely to earn her new friends among Democrats.

The candidate and his surrogates are failing in message, and failing to attract a wider spectrum of voters. In fact, they are alienating rather than attracting. The candidate has failed to garner support from any of his Senate colleagues and only two members of the U.S. House have thrown an endorsement his way. Apart from Cornel West, known Democratic Socialists are also spurning him. Dolores Huerta and Gloria Steinem stand out in this category. Two of the largest coalitions in the U.S. House – the Progressive and the Black Caucus – also turned from Sanders and announced their individual and collective endorsement of Clinton. Unions, the stalwart base of the Democratic Party, are throwing their weight toward Clinton.

Where Sanders finds success is in raising money. It’s difficult to explain this anomaly when his support is shrinking, and his donations reportedly come from Millenials in small allotments. However, what is significant is that the FEC finds fault in its review of his political action committee, Bernie2016. The earliest review, covering donations during 2015, found $23 million in unitemized contributions. Other faults in campaign accounting were also noted. The PAC must correct these significant discrepancies by March 15, just two weeks away.

Ironically, the candidate who built a campaign by railing against money in politics is bringing in huge sums through his PAC. That raises questions about the integrity of his message. The competency of his campaign finance arm is simultaneously under review by the FEC. His surrogates are busily attacking Democrats of all color and gender. Three out of four states have already rejected him as the nominee. Congressional approval is nearly nonexistent. Socialist Democrats, political Progressives and civil rights leaders are pulling for Clinton. Media in many Super Tuesday states find his candidacy untenable. Polls are hugely favoring Clinton.

At the opening of this Super Tuesday, the Sanders campaign seems doomed. At the end of the day, the people of Alabama, American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia will speak.

Will Bernie Sanders listen?

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