In the race for the White House, Bernie Sanders is the Dems’ worst option – and Hillary Clinton created him
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BY TOM HARWOOD
It was supposed to go without a hitch. The Clinton campaign machine had quietly exerted pressure, fear, and promises of favours across the board in the run up to the 2016 Democratic Party primary elections. Her heavies were so successful in their efforts that by the time of the election, not a single serious Democrat would stand in her way. What a mistake that turned out to be.
It’s fitting, that a third way ‘tame the market’ worldview candidate set out to fix a race free from serious competition. It’s also fitting that this interventionist worldview massively backfired.
In the end Clinton faced a rag tag handful of relative nobodies; former Governors of Maryland and Rhode Island Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee, alongside former Senator Jim Webb. The only serving politician to stand against her was the kooky independent Senator from Vermont – Bernie Sanders.
As the lightweight former-politician candidates faded away, the race quickly became Clinton verses Sanders.
This is the same trap the Conservative Party fell into in the aftermath of the EU referendum. A commuted leadership race led to an untested Prime Minister, and as a result a shock failure in the following year’s snap election. The lesson is clear. Politicians should never obstruct competition. It rarely helps them in the long run.
It was inconceivable that a self-declared socialist who is running on a platform of stripping American consumers of choice and whose past positions include praising the Soviet Union’s breadlines, should become the beacon of a plurality of registered Democrats. Until he became the only viable opposition to Clinton, that is.
Suddenly those who would not have previously seen themselves as socialists ended up – by sheer anti-establishment sentiment – drifting into Bernie Sanders’ column. It’s a depressing irony that the very voters who did not wish to be defined by a top down machine politician ended up in the camp of the one candidate who would choke off choice and invalidate individualism by an even greater degree.
Being free to choose is the American dream, and thanks to its initial erosion five years ago, that light is dimming even darker today.
There is a sincere lesson in this sorry story. Although it is unlikely it will be learned. As Ronald Reagan laid out more than half a century ago in his seminal A Time For Choosing speech: “The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.”
Clinton’s obstruction of competition helped her clinch the Democratic nomination, although arguably doomed her party even against a historically unfavourable Republican opponent. The failure of allowing genuine competition in the summer of 2016 was good for Theresa May initially, yet almost fatal for the Conservative Party and the country just eleven months later.
The oh-so-clever obstruction of an open race in 2016 gave birth to a sinister movement that is now on the verge of hijacking the Democratic nomination – creeping closer to controlling the world’s only superpower. Americans need to wake up to that fact. Fast.
Tom Harwood is an award-winning journalist and commentator. Follow him on twitter: @tomhfh