I'm not in the habit of watching primary-night candidate speeches, but I was watching the Bernie Sanders speech last night and was struck by how long it took him to start talking about the issues that supposedly motivated the campaign.
After a round of thanks, Sanders spends several minutes talking about what a longshot his campaign was supposed to be and tells us, with great satisfaction, how much better he's doing than the "pundints" (why does everyone pronounce it that way?) expected him to do. He rails at those in the establishment of his party who don't like him and boasts of how he's succeeded despite their opposition. He recites poll numbers. He recites exit poll analyses.
He sounds very much like Donald Trump.
Well, that's American presidential politics, right? Our campaigns ought to be about issues, or about the prior achievements of the candidates, but the campaigns are so preposterously long and the media coverage is so focused on the horse race that eventually -- or maybe just this year -- they're about how well the candidates are campaigning. Trump has told us for months that Trump is great because his campaign is great. We know Trump will be a great president because he took on so many challengers and did it by campaigning in an unconventional way. The Sanders message for the first twelve or thirteen minutes of this speech is very similar.
I like what Sanders says when he stops talking about the glorious nature of his campaign. I understand that the "revolution" he talks about would not magically happen if he became president, but I know that Hillary Clinton will also be stymied if she's president, because we'll have the same Congress we have now, or a slightly more Democratic one. (Even a much more Democratic Congress bottled up much of the Obama agenda in 2009 and 2010 because of Republican sabotage.)
So, screw it, maybe Democrats are making a mistake by nominating the popular-vote and delegate leader. Maybe we should give the Sanders zealots what they're demanding, sometimes with threats and abuse directed at people who are perceived to be standing in their way. It seems obvious that the Trump campaign actually drew strength from reports that the candidate's supporters engaged in thuggish behavior; similar reports on the Sanders side don't seem to be hurting Sanders at the polls at all, even when Sanders refuses to distance himself from the worst of his supporters.
Or maybe it's because he refuses. Maybe, this year, that's what the American public regards as "presidential": you fire your voters up so much that some of them doxx their enemies and threaten them with physical violence. Nobody ever would have done that out of loyalty to Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. Nobody seem to want to do it on Hillary Clinton's behalf. That's a sign that they're weak. That's a sign that they're not presidential.
Is that where we are in America now? You're presidential only if some of your followers scare people?