It is evident that Hillary Clinton is panicking. The former Secretary of State has lost the last seven out of eight contests (Democrats Abroad, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, and Wisconsin) and will likely also lose the Wyoming caucus on Saturday.
Bernie Sanders is beating her in the last three national polls and he is within striking distance in the delegate-rich, must-win states of New York and Pennsylvania (recent polling has Sanders down 10 and 6 points, respectively).
Clinton is worried, which means she is done playing nice. While she previously avoided attacking Sanders due to the need to “unify” the Democratic base once she locked in the nomination, her tone has changed. Her recent interviews exemplify the direction she is headed—she is going to attack Sanders with everything she has.
During a segment on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Clinton condescendingly explained that she believed Sanders’s supporters were simply enjoying protest-voting: “Look, I think it’s exciting to be, in effect, protesting. I remember I did that a long time ago when I was in my 20s, and I totally get the attraction of this.”
This not only assumes Sanders’s only voters are young and naive (he would not have won 16 states if this were the case), but also demonstrates an incredible lack of self-awareness in terms of her flaws as a candidate.
She also stated in Politico’s “Off Message” podcast that she feels “sorry” for voters who buy into Sanders’s “misrepresentation” of her record. (His “misrepresentation” is simply a direct statement of the facts.)
In this same interview, host Glenn Thrush asked Clinton whether she believed Sanders was a “real democrat,” to which she replied, “Well, I can’t answer that. He’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him.”
It’s true that Sanders is the longest-serving Independent in the United States Congress and only recently characterized himself within the two-party system as a Democrat. However, Sanders has caucused consistently with the Democrats in Congress and demonstrated adherence to Democratic beliefs.
The reason Sanders identifies as an Independent is due more to the fact that the Democratic Party has shifted and abandoned the values it originally stood for; it has moved further right, while Sanders has remained staunchly left.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton ushered in the era of neoliberal Democrats—corporatist, moderate Democrats who were willing to deregulate, advocate corporate-negotiated free trade, and essentially push through Republican-esque economic policies that drove income inequality through the roof.
Sanders, on the other hand, is what many refer to as a New Deal Democrat—the original Democrats of FDR, who pushed for social policies that benefitted lower and middle class workers: Social Security, bank regulations, wage increases, union strengthening.
Clinton is wrong; Sanders fits the original Democratic brand much more closely than she does.
Her toothless attacks will continue to falter as this race gets tougher and tougher for her going forward.
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