All Quiet on the Clinton Front: Why Bernie Sanders Will Win the Democratic Nomination
Hillary Clinton Accused of Dodging Tough Questions
How Will Hillary Clinton Fare When the Questions Catch Up to Her?
While critics are still needling Bernie Sanders for having too few nonwhite supporters, pointing out that the 100,000 fans who tuned in to his livestreamed message on July 29 were almost entirely Caucasian, they are overlooking the fact that Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner for president, has yet to face the same uncomfortable questions about race as either Sanders or O'Malley. Sanders' alleged "race problem" first came to prominence after he faced Black Lives Matter protesters at the Netroots Nation conference in Phoenix. When confronted by the protesters, Sanders provoked their ire, and the ire of "Black Twitter," by reiterating his longtime personal support of civil rights and his belief that economic reform would help Americans of all races.
Since then, Sanders' critics have constantly wheedled the increasingly-popular progressive by insisting he has a "race problem." Hillary Clinton, whose husband was once called "the first black president" and who served as the real first black president's Secretary of State, enjoys much higher name recognition and support among nonwhite voters. However, unlike Sanders or O'Malley, Clinton has yet to face the tough questions. After all, she did not attend the Netroots Nation conference.
Recently, the frontrunner has gotten a controversial reputation for ducking and dodging tough questions. She has infamously asserted that she will reveal her position on the Keystone Pipeline "when she becomes president." Her release of State Department e-mails from her private server has been strangely slow. She has avoided talking about national defense, despite her close relationship with the subject due to her recent role as Secretary of State. Her economic reform proposals have been criticized as insufficient.
Clinton has played it safe on the campaign trail, avoiding taking strong stands on the most important issues. While Bernie Sanders has been scrutinized for his racial justice and immigration stances, his prompt and honest answers have reinforced his widely-known reputation for integrity. Unlike most other politicians, including the entire batch of other presidential contenders, Sanders has not flip-flopped. He will come through the fire of scrutiny even stronger than before. His opponents, particularly Hillary Clinton, may be soon undone by their past flip-flops and their current hesitancy to speak plainly.
An analysis of Hillary Clinton's campaign reveals that her primary assets are amazingly weak. She has near-universal name recognition, has the chance to be the first woman president, and is the default choice of the Democratic Party establishment. She has offered nothing in the way of effective policy proposals, public trust, or appealing personal narrative. Her policy proposals are weak and frequently differ from past positions, she is widely seen as rather distrustful, and many voters do not see her as likable. To put it eloquently, reactions to her candidacy have been largely "blah" and "meh."
She remains the frontrunner largely because she is a known quantity. She enjoys the bandwagon effect.
Over time, however, she will inevitable lose the advantage of name recognition. Bernie Sanders will continually close the gap in this contest. Like him or not, eventually he will be known to the majority of voters...of all races. It is a virtual guarantee that, as Sanders becomes more widely known, he will erode Clinton's support. We still have several months until the primaries, and Sanders' name and appealing policy proposals will only proliferate. In terms of the recognition gap, Clinton has nowhere to go but down.
As for running specifically as a woman candidate, Clinton will likely earn more devoted support from many female voters. However, she will also open herself up to dangerous charges of divisiveness. Bernie Sanders, who has remained focused on his message of economic inclusiveness, is more immune from Republican charges that he is trying to exploit identity politics. Clinton risks being accused of playing favorites and trying to blatantly win the women vote on the backs of men. Once Clinton is accused of not striving to be a "president for all," it will be tough for her do undo the damage.
The last advantage enjoyed by Clinton, of being the establishment candidate, is extremely tenuous. Right now, buoyed by name recognition, Clinton enjoys the support of most other Democratic political figures. But, in the blink of an eye, this can all crumble. While Bernie Sanders is building a campaign from the ground up, relying on grassroots efforts, Clinton is largely held aloft by a relatively small group of wealthy donors and endorsers. They feel that she will offer them future advantages when she wins the Oval Office. The second her support erodes beyond a certain point, however, they will leave her. In a flash, the establishment will flock to Bernie Sanders. The same thing happened to Napoleon Bonaparte: Once his army was expelled from Russia, many of his vassal states turned on him and led to his unexpectedly swift defeat by swinging their support to Napoleon's foes.
How many of Hillary Clinton's supporters are willing to switch sides quickly, based on self-interest? Few pundits seem to think that Clinton enjoys deep support. If someone better comes along, their endorsements and dollars will be up for grabs. While Clinton may have seemed the "inevitable" nominee this spring, her legions of supporters could quickly switch to Sanders by the middle of autumn.
In the end, only Clinton's status as a woman candidate remains secure. This will obviously not be enough to protect her from the multitude of scandals that circle her like sharks: State Department e-mail hijinks, the Benghazi affair, lucrative speaking fees, controversial fundraising, and Bill Clinton's sordid past. Plus, there are numerous quasi-scandals that paint Clinton in a negative light, ranging from accusations of carpetbagging when she ran for a U.S. Senate seat from New York to her questionable ties to Wall Street insiders to her "evolving views" on same-sex marriage between 1996 and 2013.
Thus far, Clinton has avoided a resurgence of many of her older scandals and controversial votes and comments...but the Republican rhetoric machine is certainly gearing up for battle. Those who support Clinton today may waver in their loyalty once the entirety of her past become fair game for the myriad of Republican candidates. Now numbering seventeen, the GOP presidential contenders are like a school of piranhas. Upon whom will the school of piranhas be unleashed? Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders, whose past is comparatively spartan, can easily defeat and outwit the piranhas by not triggering their bloodlust and competing against them where they are weak: On the issues. This is how Sanders will end up securing the Democratic nomination. He will show that he is the Democrat who is most immune to Republican attacks and who can force the GOP to debate on issues of substance.