Now that Hillary Clinton is in trouble, the media apparently wants Bernie Sanders to pile on. Sanders, the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” who came from left field and is now hot on Clinton’s tail in pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, has become a formidable political contender. Though Clinton still enjoys the status as presidential frontrunner, Sanders has taken the lead in New Hampshire polls and is running a surprisingly close second in Iowa. He also packs in record-setting crowds and has won the deep, passionate allegiance of most of his supporters.
Clinton, by contrast, appears to enjoy only shallow support from a wide swath of voters. Pushed to the front of the pack by universal name recognition and a powerful bandwagon effect, she is likely to crumble fast on the campaign trail once she loses a critical mass of supporters. Her shrinking lead is only maintained by the erroneous belief that she is the one Democrat who can win against the eventual Republican presidential nominee. Aside from voters who passionately want to elect a woman to the Oval Office, there seem to be very few die-hard fans of Hillary Clinton.
As Clinton’s grip on the Democratic nomination continues to slip, and especially if Joe Biden enters the race, will her camp go negative on Bernie Sanders? Over the past few days, it appears that the media may be spoiling for a fight. On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell apparently wanted to provoke Sanders into criticizing Hillary Clinton over her festering e-mail scandal. In Iowa, Clinton supporters have tried to portray Sanders as a draft-dodger and question his ability to serve as commander-in-chief. Some pundits, perhaps in the pocket of the Clinton camp, have tried to paint Sanders as the leftist version of controversial GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, insinuating that his rise is due more to anti-government animosity and curiosity than good policy.
Is the media trying to provoke a Clinton-Sanders brawl to kick off autumn? Clinton may now feel threatened enough to stop playing nice, and Sanders is now powerful enough to appear formidable…September could prove to be a powder keg if she continues to erode and he continues to strengthen. Fortunately, Sanders has refused to take the bait. He remains adamant about advocating for his policy proposals and insists that he is not running against Clinton. He is maintaining a positive campaign that is about fighting for everyday Americans.
Running a positive race demonstrates Sanders’ leadership. It makes him look wise and strong, confident in his beliefs. While he could undoubtedly generate many cheers by criticizing Clinton, it would remove his aura of positivity. Remaining publicly supportive of Clinton as an individual is also shrewd politics, for Clinton gained some ground during her 2000 campaign for U.S. Senator from New York when Republican candidate Rick Lazio allegedly invaded her personal space during a debate. Clinton and her supporters will likely be quick to point out any possibility that she is being criticized, attempting to garner sympathy for “Clinton the victim.”
Even if Clinton does attack, Sanders will probably be wise enough to avoid retaliation. His policy proposals, far superior to hers due to their bold and comprehensive nature, speak for themselves, as does his lengthy resume. Despite Clinton’s supporters routine touting of her experience, it is actually Sanders who has the far more impressive resume. He was first elected to political office in 1981, well before Clinton took on the role of First Lady in January 1993. And while Clinton won a spot in Congress in 2000 with the help of Democratic bigwigs and the powerful connections of the Clinton White House, Sanders earned his way into Congress in 1990 after many hard-fought campaigns.
Sanders is a tenacious fighter who has proven himself in the political ring and has a depth and breadth of experience that meets or surpasses what Clinton can bring to the table. He has no need to stoop to the level of impulsive personal attacks or play the media’s clickbait games. In fact, Sanders’ ability to remain cool under media pressure and opponent’s jabs should make more Democrats look at him as a shoo-in for the party’s presidential nominee. While Clinton might lash out in gaffe-prone attacks against Republican jibes, Sanders is more likely to hold his tongue and prepare a more eloquent, written response.
We need a president who is confident in his policy proposals and who is dedicated to being a positive uniter. Bernie Sanders, by refusing to attack when the media goads him, shows himself to be that president.