Hardball host Chris Matthews has been on a campaign to galvanize his party around the electoral slaughter that awaits if Democrats continue to support Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the primaries. The long-time Democratic insider has hit a fever pitch on his MSNBC program pounding away night after night at Sanders, which leads to two questions: Is Matthews right, and are the Dems paying attention?
A student of politics who knows his way around the Swamp set, Matthews has brought up several salient points about continuing to vote Bernie: He’s unelectable, his policies will never make it through Congress, and he’s only a few degrees of separation from Michael Bloomberg in terms of trying to buy the nomination by offering free stuff. Essentially, Matthews is warning his Democratic compatriots that a political holocaust awaits them in the general election should Bernie get the nod.
As a cautionary note, it’s worth remembering that the Republican establishment was saying the same thing about Donald Trump in the last election. However, the most significant difference is the political ideology of the two candidates. Mr. Trump was trying to restore a familiar system of American governance while Sanders is straining to tear it to shreds.
That Darn Electoral College
If all of America were California, Bernie would be good to go. Unfortunately for him and the Democrats, there’s that little obstacle known as the Electoral College, which serves to put power in the people’s hands from large and small states alike. You don’t have to be Larry Sabato with your Crystal Ball or a fortune-teller with an advanced degree in tasseography to understand that nominating Bernie will call up the ghosts of 1972 for the Dems. Matthews is old enough to remember that fateful year, and his PTSD flashbacks are what have him so agitated.
1972 – that’s when Richard Nixon carried 49 states and, as Liberty Nation Washington Political Columnist Tim Donner points out, McGovern’s campaign of “amnesty, abortion, and acid” provided an unmistakable lesson of just how to lose spectacularly. McGovern, Donner explains, holds the best teachable moment for the Democrats because even though Ronald Reagan similarly slaughtered Walter Mondale in 1984, Mondale wasn’t the ideological crazy aunt in the attic like McGovern.
So, Matthews and even his buddy James Carville – both political animals through and through – are issuing red alerts over the prospect of nominating Bernie, who they see as a more radical version of McGovern. “We’ll lose 49 states, and I was there in 1972 at the Democratic Convention when the people on the left were dancing in glee,” warned Matthews. “I saw them, literally — they were dancing in a circle … So that could happen again,” he continued. “So clearly, that is what I see.”
In case the party faithful aren’t paying attention, Matthews is using his Hardball forum as a megaphone to pummel Bernie and his supporters. “Bernie, you’re full of it,” Matthews thundered. And he sees the Democratic candidates “pandering” to the Bernie-cult as atrocious. “They’re just pandering to the Bernie people, and you know what pandering gets you? Nothing. It certainly doesn’t get you respect,” Matthews said. Then he sounded the alarm: “They’ve got to get out there and say, ‘I disagree with socialism.’ I believe in the markets. I think he’s wrong. I think he’ll never get it done, and this country will never go that direction, and, by the way, we’ll lose 49 states.”
If alarm bells are going off in the heads of people like Chris Matthews and James Carville, Democrats might do well to heed their words of warning. Backing Bernie, they portend, is a ticket to general election Armageddon for the Dems.
Will the Democratic primary voters stop, listen, and learn – from the past as well as what their soothsayers are presently predicting? Republicans can only hope they turn a deaf ear to the likes of Matthews, let him rail on, tune him out, and turn the channel.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.