Society

Why Bernie Sanders Won't Be Our Next President

| by Nik Bonopartis
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In eight years, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has come full circle.

It was right about this time in 2008 that Clinton, the front-runner and presumed lock for the Democratic presidential nomination, suddenly realized then-Sen. Barack Obama was a serious candidate. As an anonymous Clinton campaign aide told The New York Times, the former first lady had decided to throw the "kitchen sink" at the young upstart, in the hopes of finally sinking his campaign and getting down to the important business of claiming her rightful throne.

If Clinton's rhetoric at the time sounds familiar today, it's because she's leveling many of the same charges at Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, another candidate who wasn't supposed to impede Clinton's inevitable win, but stubbornly just won't go away.

In the 2008 campaign, Clinton painted Obama as an idealist, saying his hope and change message was naive and empty. In 2016, Clinton's using the same tactic against Sanders, painting him as a hopeless daydreamer, in contrast to her pragmatic, get-it-done style of politics.

At a town hall debate, Clinton dusted off another tactic from her failed 2008 playbook: Painting herself as a foreign policy expert who knows the ways of the world, while claiming her opponent is ignorant on global affairs.

"Journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who that is," she said to Sanders at a February town hall debate.

"Well it ain't [former Secretary of State] Henry Kissinger, that's for sure," Sanders shot back.

Clinton could have just recycled lines from her 2008 speeches.

“We’ve seen the tragic result of having a president who had neither the experience nor the wisdom to manage our foreign policy and safeguard our national security,” Clinton said in a 2008 campaign speech at George Washington University, urging voters not to support Obama. “We can’t let that happen again.”

It was also around this time in 2008 that Clinton's lead among female voters began slipping, and powerful female voices like media mogul Oprah Winfrey came out in support of Obama, assuring other women that they weren't obligated to vote for Clinton.

Fearing a repeat this time around as women and young voters latch on to Sanders, Clinton tried to shame female voters into pulling the lever for her. Appearing with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Clinton decided the best way to win back female voters was to scold them, and have her allies threaten them with fire and brimstone if they don't vote for Clinton.

"A lot of you younger women think it's done," Albright said in early February, describing the fight for gender equality. "It's not done. There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other!"

So if Clinton's campaign tactics are pretty much identical this time around, and they didn't work for her last time, why is she falling back on the same rhetoric and the same tired accusations?

Because this time they will work.

It hardly needs to be said, but Sanders is not Obama. While Sanders has done an admirable job as a political David against the Goliath of Clinton's campaign machine and he enjoys the stated support of young voters, pundits aren't calling him a "rock star," and people aren't lining up by the millions to hear him speak, as they did for Obama on the campaign trail in Berlin.

Sanders is also a 74-year-old white man, making it easier for Clinton to go after him with negative attack ads and withering criticism. That's a luxury she didn't have in 2008, when her campaign was loathe to criticize Obama on certain topics lest the attacks backfire.

But mostly, it's about money.

Hillary Clinton has raised $188 million. That's more than twice the size of Sanders' $96 million war chest, and almost as much money as Republican contenders Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ben Carson, Donald Trump and John Kasich have raised combined.

When critics accuse Clinton of being the candidate of Wall Street, it isn't just hyperbole -- four of her top five donors are Wall Street banks, and those banks will expect access and an open ear if she finds herself sitting in the Oval Office.

Sanders has run a solid campaign, and managed to force Democrats to look themselves in the mirror, if only temporarily, and ask themselves if Clinton is the person who should be leading their party into the future.

But Sanders doesn't have the tide of history behind him like Obama did, and he just doesn't have enough money. This time around, Clinton's dusty playbook will work.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: The New York Times (2), The Daily Beast, Reuters via Daily Mail, CNN, Politico / Photo credit: Ted Eytan/Flickr

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