But in their analysis of the 2016 election results, elite Democrats have bucked this trend, and now, apparently deceive as brazenly as Rush Limbaugh. For whereas all of the data suggests that Bernie Sanders would have soundly defeated Donald Trump in a general election, some elite Democrats are simply ignoring the key data as counterarguments. Rather, Limbaugh-like, they rely on a thin and tortuous path of speculative argument.
In a widely read article, Kurt Eichenwald argues that Sanders would not have defeated Trump, but omits all of the relevant statistics. To wit,
– Hillary Clinton was the least popular Democratic presidential nominee of all time (since polling began).
– Donald Trump was the least popular presidential nominee of all time. (And his winning 1.5 million-and-counting fewer total votes than Clinton only confirms this.)
– Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in the United States.
Because he does not acknowledge these powerfully compelling facts, Eichenwald has already lost the argument, before trying to make one. He has an astronomically high burden of proof, which he does not begin to assume.
He does note that “Sanders supporters often dangle polls from early summer showing he would have performed better than Clinton against Trump.” But this is a gross mischaracterization, for once Sanders became a national political figure, he destroyed Trump in literally every poll. From mid-February through June, Sanders led Trump in 24 consecutive polls, by an average of 13.7 points, with leads as high as 24 points – according to realclearpolitics.com.
All that matters to Eichenwald is the opposition research on Sanders that he was privy to. This revealed that Sanders attended a Sandinista rally in 1985 in which chanters disparaged the U.S.; that he somewhat respected Castro, and that he penned a short story in the 1960s in which a female character seemed to enjoy being raped.
The suggestion that some ill-advised prose piece that Sanders wrote 50 years ago would have caused him to be perceived as less moral than Trump is, on its face, risible. In addition to Trump’s general loathsomeness, Trump’s own wifeaccused Trump of rape, and as the world knows, Trump boasted to Billy Bush of his history of sexually assaulting women. Sanders, by contrast, is famous for elevating our political discourse, staying scandal-free, and serving Vermont with integrity for decades.
Thus, Eichenwald’s only plausible arguments for why the beloved Sanders would have lost to the hated Trump is that while Sanders was in Nicaragua, the Sandinistas whom he supported, chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ at a taped rally that Sanders attended, and that Sanders occasionally said nice things about Fidel Castro.
What Eichenwald, trained to reject anyone who is inadequately flag-waving ignores, is that by supporting the Sandinistas over the Contras in the 1980s civil war, Sanders was supporting patriots who were defending their country against U.S.-supported gangsters who committed the overwhelming majority of human rights abuses that occurred in that war, and whose tactics famously included rape, torture, murder, and massacre.
Now, it’s true that stupidity dominates our political discourse, thanks to cretins on the right who think that whatever the U.S. does is always wonderful, no matter how murderous and shameful, and cowards on the left, like Eichenwald, who wouldn’t dare criticize the genocidal forces that Reagan supported in Central America in the 1980s. These elites collaborate to suppress our worst crimes. And hence, most Americans don’t know about them, and distrust or hate those who apologize for them.
But Bernie Sanders is popular because he tells the truth about a range of issues, including U.S. war crimes. Recall that Clinton touted her support from Henry Kissinger in two Democratic debates. On the second occasion, Sanders boldly condemned Kissinger for indiscriminately killing 100,000 civilians in Cambodia through illegal bombings, and even blamed Pol Pot’s rise, and genocide, on Kissinger.
That’s right. Sanders blamed an American Nobel Peace Prize winner for a genocide that communists committed in Cambodia. According to Eichenwald’s understanding of American voters, such a “gaffe” should have destroyed Sanders’s political career. But the debate audience rewarded it with roaring applause.
Likewise, Sanders would have crushed the know-nothing Trump on the Sandinistas, as he did Clinton on Kissinger and Cambodia. Recall, after all, that Trump was afraid to debate Sanders.
It may be true that Sanders’ words of respect for Castro would have harmed him slightly, but not enough to lose against the worst (or second-worst) candidate of all time; Donald Trump.
Contrary to Eichenwald’s fact-free speculation, an embarrassing wealth of data suggests that Sanders would have eviscerated Trump in a general election. The notion that he would have lost because he supported the opponents of raping, murdering psychotics in Nicaragua, and because he didn’t dutifully pretend to despise Castro for all of his life, is as out of touch as Newsweek magazine.