Sanders can still win despite obstacles

Several things anger me about American politics, especially during a Presidential election cycle. They include: exclusionary rules and institutions, mudslinging and uninformed voters. In order to become President, Sen. Bernie Sanders may have to overcome all of the above.

There are many ways in which the two-party system can derail a legitimate candidate by disregarding (or, in a sense, excluding) the votes he’s collected. One of those ways is to hold state primaries in which people think their vote actually counts. In the Democratic Party, primary votes are apportioned according to results,

but that’s no guarantee that a candidate will benefit from his own vote totals. That’s because delegates to a party convention are morally, but not legally bound to vote for the winner of their state’s primary. Hillary Clinton has a lot of pull with state party leaders, so Bernie could actually win a majority of primaries and still lose the nomination.

Presidential politics has always been a rough and tumble sport, and certainly mudsling and misleading ads are nothing new. In 1828, for example, John Quincy Adams attacked Andrew Jackson for marrying a divorced woman who, it turns out, was not legally divorced. Today, nearly 200 years later, Republicans have dogged Hillary Clinton about keeping top-secret emails on her personal server. But Bernie Sanders came to her rescue, telling a debate crowd, “Enough about the damn e-mails!” Unfortunately, Hillary hasn’t returned the favor. Ever since Bernie started gaining in the polls, Ms. Clinton and her minions have started running attack ads, excoriating Bernie on everything from his healthcare plan, to his vote against making gun manufacturers liable for gun crimes. Disseminating misinformation about an opponent has become an accepted practice among political party hacks, and I truly hate it. Untruthful ads intended to incite and misinform viewers should be illegal, instead they are encouraged.

Exclusionary rules and institutions are dangerous, and mudslinging can cause untold damage to candidates, their families, and their campaigns. But perhaps the thing I despise most about Presidential politics are uninformed and lazy voters. These are the folks who have never heard of fact checking. For example, they believe Carly Fiorina when she claims to be a job creator, even though her favorite past time at Hewlett Packard was laying off employees. Uniformed voters also believe that Hillary will crack down on Wall Street investment firms, even though she accepted $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs. These are the same lazy voters who say, “I would vote for Bernie Sanders, but he can’t win.” Pardon me while I scream.

First of all, who says he can’t win? A month ago, Hillary had a 50-point lead on Bernie in the national polls, and today, that lead has been in cut in half. Moreover, his numbers keep rising every time he visits a new State. As of this week, Sanders is crushing Hillary in New Hampshire by 60% to 33%, and leading her in Iowa by 51% to 43%. If Bernie wins those two contests next month, his national poll numbers will skyrocket. Translation? Time is on Bernie’s side.

Speaking of growing support for Sanders, Hillary’s African American spokespersons have told the media that Bernie has no support in the minority community. But just last week, Dr. Cornell West told Bill Maher that Black voters support “Brother Bernie” once they get to know him. Hillary has underestimated Bernie Sanders the same way she underestimated Barack Obama in 2008, and now she’s starting to panic.

But even if Bernie’s poll numbers weren’t rising, why would anyone not vote for him just because they think he won’t win? You should always vote your conscious, and, the more people who do that, the better chance Bernie has of actually winning the nomination.

Lazy, uniformed voters also make me mad because they don’t take time to learn about Bernie’s platform. How can anyone not be in favor of a plan that eliminates monthly healthcare premiums? Sanders rolled out his comprehensive healthcare reform proposal last week, which pointed out that if an average family paid $10,000 per year in insurance premiums, they would instead pay about $500 in additional taxes. I’m no math whiz, but paying $500 sounds a lot better than paying $10,000. Hillary’s only response to that plan? Maintain the status quo.

I sincerely hope that uniformed voters will wise up, and if they don’t I hope they stay home on Election Day.

Clearly Bernie Sanders may have to overcome a number of obstacles in order to win the White House, but his supporters can take comfort from news out of Western Illinois University. The research department at that school has accurately predicted the winner of every Presidential election since 1976, and they predict that Sanders will be our next Commander in Chief. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As Bernie might say, “Enough with the damn polls! Let’s talk about the issues !” !

JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).