Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Even If Trump Disappears From The GOP Primary, There Are Republicans Who Will Support Bernie


My friend Danny-- we met as elementary school crossing guards at PS 197 in Brooklyn, where Bernie, Schumer, and Norm Coleman were all students as well-- mentioned to me that his daughter, a college freshman just got home from school. "She told us she's the only liberal progressive on her dorm floor," he wrote to me today, "which comes as  bit of a surprise, but she is meeting some like-minded people through clubs and stuff. But what is really hilarious (and interesting) is that her roommate-- from a VERY conservative, military family in southern Delaware (which is actually quite Southern)-- is for Bernie Sanders!"

Not such a stretch. Perhaps you recall a little buzz not even 2 months ago about how popular Bernie is with Vermont Republicans and how he's tied with Trump and Carson in the Republican primary in his home state! That makes it easier to understand the senatorial polling Morning Consult released this week. In a state-by-state analysis Bernie turned out to be the most popular senator in his home state. His approval rating is an astounding 83%-- the next highest is Maine's Susan Collins with 78%-- and Bernie's disapproval rating is just 13%, while the next lowest disapproval rating is 15 North Dakota's John Thune and Wyoming's John Barrasso. The other senators running for president don't exactly do as well. These are all the approvals/disapprovals of the senators running this cycle:
Bernie- 83/13%
Ted Cruz- 52/32%
Lindsey Graham- 51/35%
Marco Rubio- 50/33%
Randy Paul- 48/37%
And yesterday Clare Foran, writing for The Atlantic did a feature, The Lifelong Republicans Who Love Bernie Sanders about how, in her words, "some conservatives are defying expectation and backing the Vermont senator." Many Republicans are just so disgusted with what a circus the GOP's "Deep Bench" has turned into that they're just opting for Independent Sanders whose message appeals to them. "There are," she wrote, "Facebook groups and Reddit forums devoted entirely to Republicans who adore the Vermont senator."

These Republicans for Sanders defy neat categorization. Some are fed up with the status quo in Washington, and believe that Sanders, with his fiery populist message, is the presidential contender most likely to disrupt it. Others have voted Republican for years, but feel alarmed by what they see as the sharp right turn the party has taken.

“I have been a conservative Republican my entire life. But the Republican party as a whole has gotten so far out of touch with the American people,” says Bryan Brown, a 47-year-old Oregon resident. “I switched my registration so that I could vote for Sanders in the primary, but the day the primary is over I’m going to register as an Independent.”

...In some cases, longtime Republican voters who have decided to support Sanders... are rethinking their political affiliation entirely... Far from claiming to have experienced a political conversion, other Republicans argue that Sanders actually embodies conservative values.

“When I think of true conservative values I think of Teddy Roosevelt who earned a reputation as a trust-buster,” says Jeff DeFelice, a 38-year-old registered Republican voter living in Florida. “Now look at Bernie. He’s the only one willing to stand up to the big banks. The big banks control an obscene amount of wealth in this country and he wants to go after them.” If Sanders looks like “a viable candidate” by the time the primary rolls around, DeFelice says he’ll switch his party affiliation to vote for the senator.

Sanders’s promise to wrest power away from Wall Street and return it to the American middle class taps into the same vein of populist anger that fueled the rise of the Tea Party. It’s also a message that resonates with mainstream Republicans and Democrats. Sixty-two percent of Republicans, for example, believe that large corporations wield too much influence on American politics, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in May.

“Sanders has focused primarily on economic issues on which Americans are not divided,” says Elizabeth Coggins, a professor at Colorado College who studies American political psychology and ideological identification. “There is a strong consensus in agreement with Sanders on many of his core ideas, and his rhetoric has been largely centered on these sorts of issues.”

It’s difficult to say how deep conservative support for the senator runs. But its existence nevertheless challenges the notion that Sanders won’t be capable of building a diverse coalition to back his campaign during the 2016 presidential contest.

...Some conservatives readily admit they don’t love everything Sanders stands for, but insist that doesn’t change their affinity the senator.

“I’m not 100 percent behind his platform but I like him as a person. For me it really comes down to authenticity,” says Edwards. “We’ve seen so much deadlock in Congress and I think people are looking for someone who can be passionate and authentic rather than being partisan.”

Republicans who support Sanders don’t like being labeled liberals either, but that’s not enough to deter them: “There’s a mentality of ‘you’re either this or you’re that’, but the world doesn’t work that way,” DeFelice says. “Things aren’t always black or white. The world operates in shades of gray.”
If you'd like to help Bernie beat the establishment candidate in the Democratic primary and the extremist, or even neo-fascist, in the general election, please consider contributing to Bernie's grassroots campaign.

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