Bernie Sanders is popular in New Hampshire, and so is socialism. But the rest of the nation feels differently.
When asked about this dichotomy during Friday’s Democratic primary debate, Sanders dismissed concerns about his Democratic socialist label and how it would isolate moderate voters in the general election. The moderators noted that President Trump will undoubtedly use Sanders’s socialist label against him if he wins the Democratic nomination, but Sanders didn’t seem to care.
“Donald Trump lies all the time,” Sanders claimed. “It doesn’t matter what Donald Trump says. This is a sad state of America.”
Sanders certainly has a shot at the Democratic nomination, and he could very well win the general election against Trump, too. In a two party system, any major party nominee has a chance. But Sanders’s self-proclaimed socialism is, in fact, a disadvantage, whether Sanders will admit it or not. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 52% of American voters support capitalism, while 19% support socialism. Even among Democratic voters, socialism only enjoys support among less than 40% of supporters.
This is a problem, and the moderate candidates on the debate stage made sure to remind Sanders of this reality.
“I’m not worried about what the Republicans say,” said Pete Buttigieg, who is closing in on Sanders’s lead in New Hampshire. “But we can’t have a candidate who insists on ‘My way or the highway.’”
When asked if Buttigieg was referring to Sanders, Buttigieg said, “Yes.”
Amy Klobuchar, too, insisted that the Democratic Party needs someone “at the front of the ticket who can bring people with her.”
Sanders’s campaign has its strengths, but socialism is not one of them — at least, not yet. And if Sanders does win the Democratic nomination, Trump will use this weakness to his advantage.
Nemo me impune lacessit