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It's Official -- Bernie Sanders Has Overtaken Hillary Clinton In the Hearts and Minds of Democrats

06/25/2015 11:14 am ET | Updated Jul 07, 2015
  • H. A. Goodman Columnist published in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, The Hill, Salon, The Jerusalem Post www.hagoodman.com
Win McNamee via Getty Images

According to PBS, Bernie Sanders is "gaining against Clinton in early polls." Salon's Bill Curry believes "Hillary Clinton is going lose," primarily because millions of voters longing for a truly progressive candidate will nominate Sanders. POLITICO explained recently that Early-state polls hint at a Bernie Sanders surge, a headline that was unthinkable only several months earlier. Yahoo's Meredith Shiner calls Sanders a "progressive social media star and pragmatic legislator" and states that "Sanders also has a much more substantial legislative history" than any GOP challenger. In Iowa, 1,100 people packed a gym to hear Bernie Sanders speak in May.

In contrast, Team Hillary had an intimate business roundtable discussion with five "ordinary" Iowans. The only problem was that according to The Washington Post, "All five were selected to attend her events." In fact, Clinton's "staged roundtables" were attended by a total of 13 Iowans, picked by either the campaign or the host.

Therefore, a paradigm shift has taken place. Many Iowans drove 50 miles to hear Sanders speak in Des Moines, primarily because Bernie Sanders has surpassed Clinton as the ideal choice for Democratic nominee. Regarding electability, Sanders has also surpassed Clinton as the realistic choice for Democratic nominee in the minds of many voters, because as one Salon piece illustrates, Hillary "just doesn't get it."

When it comes to everything from immigration to climate change and economic issues (most Americans side with Democrats, according to Pew research and other data) some writers believe that Democrats "can nominate a ham sandwich and win the presidency." Although once thought of as an impossibility, a closer look at the electoral map shows why Bernie Sanders could realistically defeat any GOP challenger. If voters around the country still care about middle class economics, the federal budget, trade and other hot button issues in 2016, Sanders has a legitimate chance to win. Also, since Sanders isn't tied to Obama fatigue like Hillary Clinton, it's quite possible the Vermont Senator re-energizes an America that just recently decided the Confederate flag doesn't represent its value system.

According to a POLITICO piece titled The 2016 Results We Can Already Predict, "Assuming the lean, likely, and safe Democratic states remain loyal to the party, the nominee need only win 23 of the 85 toss-up electoral votes." Therefore, there's no need to jettison cherished values for the sake of pragmatism; those days are over. Senator Bernie Sanders, known in Washington and throughout the nation as an advocate for middle class Americans, veterans, the environment, and other cherished causes can win crucial electoral votes just as easily as Hillary Clinton.

Finally, we're all asking a question that we've been too frightened to ask, for fear of seeming unrealistic:"Why Not Bernie?"

Not long ago, many Democrats emphasized realism over progressive values. Sure, Hillary voted for Iraq and has close ties to Wall Street, but she'll raise $2.5 billion, so doesn't this represent our best chance to beat the GOP? This mindset, however, ignored the fact that the Associated Press, Vice News, and others are suing the State Department for access to tens of thousands of Clinton's emails. A Bloomberg piece titled Hillary Clinton Monthly E-Mail Releases Must Begin in June Court Rules highlights the reality of eventual email disclosures:

The U.S. must begin to make public 30,000 e-mails belonging to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a monthly basis beginning June 30, a federal judge ruled Wednesday amid competing proposals over their disclosure...

The State Department proposed releasing as many documents as possible at 60-day intervals, ending by Jan. 15. Attorneys for Vice News reporter Jason Leopold, who sued to gain access to the e-mails, proposed releases every two weeks.

Leopold's case is one of several seeking access to all or part of Clinton's State Department e-mail through the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Not long ago, winning meant voting for Hillary, even though someone like Bernie Sanders represented a candidate who spoke to the value system of citizens throughout the country. In reality, though, even billions of dollars in campaign funding won't help if a controversial email is uncovered before Election Day, or debated endlessly like other Clinton scandals.

As for why Bernie Sanders is finally being given the attention he deserves, the Vermont Senator is intimately involved with issues that affect the lives of everyday Americans. While Clinton supporters reference their candidate's experience, many people aren't aware of the various Congressional Committees that Sanders is involved with on a daily basis:

Environment and Public Works
The United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is responsible for dealing with matters related to the environment and infrastructure.

Energy and Natural Resources
The United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has jurisdiction over matters related to energy and nuclear waste policy, territorial policy, native Hawaiian matters, and public lands.

Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) generally considers matters relating to these issues.

Budget
The United States Senate Committee on Budget... is responsible for drafting Congress's annual budget plan and monitoring action on the budget for the Federal Government. The committee has jurisdiction over the Congressional Budget Office.

Veterans' Affairs
The United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs considers matters relating to the compensation of veterans, life insurance issued on account of service in the Armed Forces, national cemeteries, pensions of all wars, readjustment of servicemen to civil life, and veterans' hospitals and medical care.

Joint Economic Committee
This joint committee of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives focuses on promoting maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.

While Hillary voted for Iraq, Sanders knows how the repercussions of this decision continue to affect veterans and their families. As for jobs, the federal budget, healthcare, energy, and the environment, Sanders has far more experience than Clinton, Bush, or any other candidate in 2016.

Finally, perhaps the biggest reason Sanders is surging is because he's a genuine person with real beliefs, while others become chameleons when votes and public image are at stake. It's important to note that Hillary Clinton just recently "evolved" on gay marriage and in 2004, Clinton's speech (forward to 0:22 on the Slate video or read the transcript of her passionate defense of marriage between only a man and woman) highlighted her views on the "sacred bond" of marriage:

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): "I believe marriage is...a sacred bond between a man and a woman....a fundamental bedrock principle that it exists between a man and woman, going back into the midst of history, as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization. And that it's primary principle role during those milennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults."

According to The Atlantic, Clinton's stance remained unchanged for years, and "she also opposed gay marriage as recently as 2013, long after a majority of Americans already held a more gay-friendly position."

In terms of identity, Hillary Clinton might be a liberal according to fivethirtyeight.com, yet their analysis gives her a free pass on war, gay marriage, and other issues liberals had championed before they were popular. Adhering to polls is fine, but the words "poll driven," not "progressive," come to mind for someone with this type of persona. If one's views on war and foreign policy are enough for The New York Times to publish an article titled Are neocons getting ready to ally with Hillary Clinton?, then Bernie Sanders becomes an even better candidate for people opposed to never-ending American counterinsurgency wars. Clinton might say she was duped by faulty intelligence, but Bernie Sanders had enough intelligence and wisdom to vote against the Iraq war back in 2003.

In contrast to Clinton, Sanders has supported the issue of gay marriage since 2000, vehemently opposed the Iraq War, opposes TPP, wants student loan debt reforms, fights for veterans, and isn't afraid to blast "too big to fail" Wall Street firms. As for him being an "avowed Socialist," George Bush's $700 billion bailout of banks was textbook socialism, so Sanders will be able to shrug off the label after one or two televised debates. Bernie Sanders represents a new era in American politics; one where values trump Citizens United cash or cold pragmatism. America needs a human being like Sanders, now more than ever before.

Read more on Bernie Sanders below:

Bernie Sanders Ran For Office While On Unemployment

Jimmy Carter: Bernie Sanders Is A 'Surprising' Democratic Competitor

Bernie Sanders: The American People Are Angry

Claire McCaskill Thinks Bernie Sanders Is 'Too Liberal' And 'Extreme' To Be President

Bernie Sanders Hints At What A Sanders Administration Cabinet Could Look Like

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