Exposing the "con" in conventional political wisdom

The problem with applying conventional wisdom to political campaigns is that it can suddenly be upended by an unconventional campaign.

The problem with applying conventional wisdom to political campaigns is that it can suddenly be upended by an unconventional campaign.

National media pundits have been riveted on Donnie Trump’s flagrantly-narcissistic run for the Republican presidential nomination. But Exhibit A for the most remarkable political challenge to conventional wisdom is Bernie Sanders’ totally-unconventional, unabashedly-populist run for the Democratic nomination. When the Vermont senator launched his campaign last May, the snarky cognoscenti pronounced his effort D.O.A. Not a chance, they snorted, that a 74-year-old, Jewish, democratic socialist going against Hillary Clinton’s powerhouse machine – and daring to call for a people’s revolution against Wall Street and reckless corporate elites – can come close to winning.

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But – oops – Bernie’s authenticity and straight talk have mocked the cynicism of the “wise ones” and shocked the self-assured Clintonites. Huge crowds have turned out to hear and cheer Bernie denounce the chasm of inequality ripping America apart. Moreover, the same grassroots folks have made Sanders’ run financially competitive. A record 2.5 million individual donors chipped in an average of $23 each last year to gird him with an impressive campaign fund of $75 million.

And now, polls show that “no chance” Sanders has surged into the lead among Democratic voters in both Iowa and New Hampshire, including taking a 12-point lead among New Hampshire women. Yeah, say the scoffers, but he can’t win the general election. Oops, again. In fact, polls now show he would handily defeat Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio, while Clinton trails all three.

Not only is Bernie defying the odds, but he’s doing it by showing that an authentic candidate with an authentic message can generate an authentic people’s movement.

“Bernie Nabs Double-Digit Lead in NH as Women Ditch Clinton for Surging Sanders,” www.commondreams.org, January 13, 2016.

“Bernie Sanders Has Snagged His First Lead in the Polls Over Hillary Clinton in Iowa,” www.news.vice.com, January 12, 2016.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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