How Bernie is helping Hillary win the nomination


by Mackenzie Bills, Special to The Simpsonian

Five months out from Iowa’s caucus and current polling suggests Hillary’s lead on Bernie Sanders is narrowing. Countless articles are published on Bernie’s surprising popularity, which causes everyone to wonder if Hillary’s supposedly easy nomination will be taken from her yet again. Hillary supporters everywhere are uneasy. Which causes many to ask, why is Hillary Clinton so calm, cool, and collected?

The answer lies in the democratic electorate. Bernie Sanders is actually helping Hillary Clinton win the nomination.

But, how? And why?

Yes, he may be giving her a run for her money, but that is the point of our competitive nomination system. Bernie is engaging the democratic progressives and the youth vote that the Democratic Party so desperately needs to win the presidency.

Common confusion over the purpose of a caucus versus the presidential election answers this question. Every time I register someone to vote, I ask him or her if they want to caucus in February. If so, I tell them they need to align with a particular party. If they choose to be an independent, then they are not able to caucus.

A caucus is a party-nomination system, not a government nomination system. It is exclusively for the republicans and democrats to nominate their candidate. It is the election process of a party that will elect a party’s leader, not a leader for the whole country.

This means that the competition for a nomination of a party puts leaders in a more unique position than it does when they are in competition for the presidency. Every democratic candidate is fighting for every democratic caucus goer rather than every democrat and independent voter.

This shifts the democratic rhetoric. Bernie and Hillary do not need to argue if climate change is real since the majority of democrats already believe it exists. Instead, they must argue what they will do about it. The pressure of every democratic candidate is to get out as many democrats as possible. To do so requires a focus farther left than an average presidential candidacy. The fight is for the far-left progressives, not middle-of-the-road moderates.

This has been and always will be Hillary’s issue. Hillary has already won every moderate democrat. With her stances and experience, Hillary’s need to prove her pro-union stance and family values is a lot easier than it is for her to show her young, progressive side.

This is the same reason why Hillary has had backlash for taking too long to support LGBTQIA issues. Democratic progressives have supported it for years and moved on to equality conversations, whereas Hillary needs to speak to democratic moderates that are only now jumping on the LGBTQIA bandwagon.

Hillary has known obtaining the progressives and youth vote was going to be difficult from the beginning. It always has been for her. In 2008, it was not the progressive and youth vote that caucused for her, but for Obama. The cold, chilly night of January 2008 was a rude awakening.

Hillary might lack the young, progressive vote, but that is Bernie’s entire base. Bernie’s authenticity and persistent progressive stances are what youth and progressives have been waiting for. Polls show progressives and youth want the “outsider”, not the politician. But most importantly, they want someone that will represent their pro-government, pro-social, pro-equality issues.

Bernie is succeeding at bringing out youth and progressives most politicians ignore. Bernie is engaging more of the youth vote than any non-profit focused on electoral engagement has been able to do. He is engaging the left that most strategists often deem as a non-existent, apathetic electorate.

This is significant because Bernie supporters will show up on caucus night, and when they do, it will scare the rest of the democratic caucus to show up to caucus for Hillary. Most Hillary supporters don’t know they are Hillary supporters yet. Many democrats are telling themselves they are independents currently, but come January, when they see Bernie might become the nomination, it will bring them out of their homes to see what comes of the Democratic Party.

Secondly, the straight Democratic Party aligners are going to do the same: stick to the middle of the party. Bernie’s capture of the left-of-left positions Hillary in the middle of the Democratic Party with O’Malley on the right-of-left caucus. Being in the middle of the party is an advantage. That candidate is able to cast the widest net. Those “don’t know yet(s)” will end up voting for Hillary because she is safe, secure and steadfast. Bernie is too radical and, therefore, alarming.

Over the course of the nomination process, the center-middle leader will come out on top. Hillary’s nomination will be in the bag. The best part will be that the enraptured Bernie voter will end up voting party line. They would rather have a democrat in office than a republican any day.

And all those Hillary voters, the independents and moderate democrats, will be thrilled to know their investment to caucus for her helped her win the nomination and will support her again on election night.

As every reporter inquires to Hillary if she is worried, she is smart enough to know that together they are creating a fervent democratic constituency that will bring about a continued democratic administration for the next eight years.