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What Bernie Needs to Win the Presidency

If he really wants to win the Democratic nomination, and the presidency, Sanders will have to get his hands dirty and really fight

If Sanders and the rest of the left is actually going to not only win, but govern, they will have to develop a will to power that they have so far failed to display. (Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)

If Sanders and the rest of the left is actually going to not only win, but govern, they will have to develop a will to power that they have so far failed to display. (Photo: REUTERS/Eric Thayer)

It's time to talk about the very real possibility of President Bernie Sanders.

I know, I know: The midterm elections are just barely over. And the 2020 presidential election is more than 700 days away. But the sad reality of the U.S. electoral system is that positioning over the 2020 election has already begun. And it seems likely that Sanders will run again, despite his advanced age, and that he will be by far the favored candidate for the American left — by simple process of elimination if nothing else.

Donald Trump is a weak, unpopular president whose party got wiped out in the midterms despite unemployment being at a 50-year low. Sanders consistently tops Trump's approval numbers by 20 to 30 points. He could legitimately beat Trump in a general election, as could plenty of other would-be Democratic nominees.

America and the world can't afford another decade of feckless centrists screwing everything up, or losing to Trump again. It's time to develop a little swagger.

But if Sanders and the rest of the left is actually going to not only win, but govern, they will have to develop a will to power that they have so far failed to display.

When he announced his run in 2015, Sanders was regarded as an adorable joke by the political media. When his campaign rapidly caught fire, and suddenly he had a legitimate challenge to Hillary Clinton, Sanders was palpably nearly as surprised as anyone. His candidacy had been meant as a long-shot challenge mainly to raise the profile of his ideas, but it turned out he had tapped into a huge wellspring of discontent with centrist liberalism.

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Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent at TheWeek.com. His work has appeared in the Washington Monthly, The New Republic, and the Washington Post.

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