Bernie’s Debate Performance

Is Bernie Sanders electable? That is the million dollar question. He has taken strides towards the answer of that question being yes, in last nights debate he made some strides, however overall he took a step or two back. Last night was the first time since campaigning started that all the attention was focused on Bernie. Bernie changed his opinion on Guns and released his health care plan hours before the debate and was questioned on it immediately. The one issue that Hillary trends more left than Bernie is Gun control and Bernie struggled on his stance on guns mainly because he was voting for his state not his policy. But, Bernie is suppose to be the “authentic” candidate, the candidate who is not the typical politician, he should have just come out and apologized for his previous votes and said that he has evolved on the gun issue and he will be more inline with the rest of democrats.

However, Bernie started to take the next step to electability and that is to play the political game. Bernie has run the “Nice Guy” campaign and as noble as that may be, he can’t win that way. He has to take shots at Hillary when they are deserved and he has to do so with facts, his record and with some cleverness. Hillary is a polished politician, she knows how to run a campaign, she nows how to use buzz words and speak to the audience that she is in front of. Last night, in a debate sponsored by the Black Congressional Caucus Bernie continued his stance on police reform and racial inequality as well as merging that with his constant message of economic inequality. Hillary on the other hand did what she does best, she used the correct phrases that potential black voters want to hear like “Systematic Racism” and ‘Black Lives Matter”, where Bernie had been saying and speaking to these topics and the campaign trail he really did not tonight. Bernie has policies that would be very beneficial to Black voters but he has trouble expressing them and more importantly reaching out to the Black community to bring more awareness to those policies. This is a big issue in Bernie getting elected, although he is trending well in Iowa and New Hampshire, those states voters don’t look like South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and other North East and Southern states.

Bernie and Hillary

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

Bernie’s policies are things that a lot of America could get behind…in theory. His main focus is income inequality and making sure big business and the rich are taxed appropriately. He also vows to end corporate campaign donations which he feels leads to the majority of political issues in the county because politicians are not making choices on their own accord, they are voting and introducing legislation based on the interest of these businesses who are funding their campaigns. Among other things he wants to make public college free, universal healthcare through Medicaid and DOJ to investigate all police involved killings. President Obama had lofty goals when he ran but quickly realized that congress would not go along with him. Bernie’s programs are even more left than Obama and cost a significant amount of money that he would not only have to justify with congress, but with the American people. As an informed black voter I understand that all policies cost money and that you have to take money to spend money in order to have a balanced budget, but Bernie’s plan to take money (taxing the rich) will be really hard to pass in a conservative congress. In order for a Bernie Sanders campaign and presidency to be successful he will need to create a groundswell of support in order to get people elected in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Bernie’s biggest problem

With all that being said about his performance in debates, his policies and his political strategy his biggest positive may also be his biggest negative, and that is his supporters. Bernie Sanders supporters follow and love everything he does. They will recruit new people, go out and campaign on his behalf and hold him up to be the Anti-Politician. But, quite often his supports turn to “Stans” and they turn people off who could be supporters specifically black people. Every time a black person says they did not like Bernie’s response to something or that they would like to hear more from him, his Stans come in your mentions with the same talking points. Yes we know he marched with MLK, yes we know he participated in some way in the Civil Rights Movement, yes we know he is a progressive democrat, but none of that means he is actually going to cater to our needs in office. Bernie starts off every race conversation with income inequality and that is an issue but that does not mean that middle class and well of black folks aren’t harassed, racially profiled, discriminated against and in the worst case scenario assaulted by the police. On Martin Luther King day, you would think that they would have a better understanding of what King was fighting for and that just marching with him 50 years ago is not what King would have considered an “ally”. King was more radical than people want to remember and his ideals were aligned with Malcolm X much more than people think, he just went about them differently and had the ability to express himself in less confrontational terms. If Dr. King were alive today he would not feel like Bernie is strong enough on race and that he needs to address those issues strongly and often in order to get the black vote that he needs, especially because Hillary is trending high among Blacks because of her husbands success with black people and he platform that she has had, that makes black people more aware of her.

At the end of the day Bernie has a long way to go, but he can make it if he runs a flawless campaign from this point out. Is he electable?? If he courts the Black vote, convinces the general public he can pay for his policies, creates an atmosphere where progressive liberals get elected in congress and overcome the Clinton establishment then, Yes he is electable but we will see.