Bernie Sanders Photo © Gage Skidmore

President Sanders, What If?
Political commentator Carol Gould looks at the similarities between Trump and Sanders and the tranquil world we might have been living in if Bernie had won
Posted May 30, 2017

Recently Hillary Clinton came out of hibernation to reiterate her belief that former FBI Director James Comey’s late-October bombshell about her emails, along with Russian interference in the election process had cost her the White House. It is time for Democrats to let it go. President Trump is right when he says enough is enough.

Hillary Clinton should have won Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania in the November general election and no amount of screeching from Clinton supporters will convince me that Russia had anything to do with her wretched performance in those states. Her reference to Trump supporters as ‘a basket of deplorables’ did more genuine damage than any Russian hacker could accomplish. And then there was her comment in Ohio in March 2016, which bordered on the insane: ‘We are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business and we’re going to make it clear that we are not going to forgive those people.’ What? In fairness to Mrs Clinton we must acknowledge that she won the popular vote by some three million votes - and my contention has always been that if the Russians are such geniuses at hacking she would have lost by millions, just as George McGovern lost in 1972, winning only Massachusetts and District of Columbia.

In this context my thoughts turn to Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders, whom an Israeli friend of mine has called 'scary’, as we hear news of his sold-out events across the United Kingdom this June. Scary? Bernie, so loved by the young? 'Scary' and Bernie Sanders don't go together. Millions upon millions of young Americans sensed his warmth and integrity and flocked to vote for him last year. The majority of voters for him in Iowa and New Hampshire were under-25s. He was an outstanding and greatly loved 2-term mayor of Burlington and then Vermont sent him to Congress - a Jewish socialist in a conservative, Catholic state! - over and over again. He was a fine constituency congressman, I had a home in Vermont, so I know, and then the state voted him to the Senate. Vermonters do not suffer fools gladly. It is notable that on recent broadcasts with Emma Barnett and other anchors they have not shut me down when I bring Sanders into the present world political equation.

Over the past 18 years he has reached out to Republicans and is enormously respected by Washington legislators on both sides of the aisle. There are millions of overseas Americans and last year Sanders won the Democratic Global Primary by a landslide over Hillary and they duly sent delegates to the Philadelphia convention. Scary? Never. In the week before the general election he was 20 points ahead of Trump and Clinton in the national popularity polls. What I loved most about Bernie’s success is that millions of non-Jews voted for him.

The ultimate irony about Sanders is that he and Donald Trump AGREE on several issues: the detrimental effect on the American workforce of both the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership - TPP - as well as the need to break up ‘Big Pharma’ - the power of the pharmaceutical industry. Sanders and Trump also had ambitions to make college tuition easier to bear for working-class families. It is notable that Donald Trump is yet to traduce Bernie Sanders in any public appearance, only to repeat over and over again 'Bernie was stitched up by the Democratic National Committee'. Exactly my sentiments. Earlier this year Sanders told a television interviewer that he would support any program that President Trump proposed if it merited his support and that of Democrats.

My point? Here is a man who campaigned for the presidency for a year, and in that time the establishment Democratic machine and the Republicans could not find any ‘dirt’ on him, but the rancour directed at him by the Democratic establishment will not soon be forgotten, most particularly by the young people who campaigned tirelessly for him. In the week before the November election, the executive editor of the New York Times was on BBC Newsnight and reminded host Evan Davis, 'Do not underestimate the fury of Sanders voters'. It is said that 33% of Bernie’s supporters voted for Trump in the general election out of sheer bitterness.

Had Sanders, who won just under 2,000 delegates and twenty-two states as well as the Global Primary, been the candidate and won in November, what a tranquil world we would inhabit. And yes, Hillary Clinton did win more states than Sanders in the primaries but failed to win the hearts of voters in the months leading up to election day. I am one of those curmudgeonly observers who will always be troubled by her email practices and by her lack of culpability over the brutal murder of United States Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi in 2012.

As of mid-May 2017 the Dow Jones Industrial Average is jittery and shares are falling. The uncertainty in world markets is a reaction to the issues being raised around the firing of FBI chief James Comey; the prospect of hearings scheduled on the connection between former National Security Adviser Gen Michael Flynn and Russia and rumors about Israeli intelligence agents being betrayed by the White House do not help the markets.

I stand by my belief that Bernie Sanders would have been another Franklin Roosevelt - a politician who reached across the aisle and got Republican John Gilbert Winant to convince fellow GOP legislators to support Social Security - and that the world would be a happier place had the Democratic National Committee not dismissed him as irrelevant.

Carol Gould is the US-born, London-based author of ‘Spitfire Girls’ and ‘Don’t Tread on Me - anti-Americanism Abroad,’ has written for the Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Jewish Chronicle and is a regular broadcaster on BBC television and radio as well as on Sky News and LBC Radio.

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