Donald Trump’s victory has come as a shock to Democratic supporters, who have rushed to work out why their presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton couldn’t cut it.
Many are keen to suggest that it is because their party “chose the wrong candidate”, and should have nominated the man she beat instead: Bernie Sanders.
The Berniacs are quite keen to push this theory. They even have their preferred polls to back it up, which is brave given how badly they mucked up the actual election.
The same polling that suggested Mr Sanders was ahead “99 per cent” of the time against the Republican billionaire was also gave Mrs Clinton a “98.1 per cent chance” of beating him to the White House. But that won’t stop the Sandernistas.
The Democratic party’s process of selecting its presidential candidate showed the limits of Mr Sanders’ appeal. Despite the crowds of idealists he attracted to his rallies, Mrs Clinton won many more voters over with experience and centrist message.
The hundreds of extra delegates she picked up for the nomination gave her a clear mandate, which Mr Sanders even recognised by backing her at their convention. But that hasn’t shaken his supporters resolve, who make out that the Democrats conspired to keep him out so they could ride on to defeat with Mrs Clinton.
As entertaining as it might be to consider what would have happened if Bernie Sanders had stormed in to scoop the Democratic nomination, Britain has already conducted its own practical experiment to save you the bother. We have something better to show for it than polling, which seems to be now as reliable a way of telling what will happen in politics as reading tea leaves or inspecting entrails. We actually elected our own grumpy veteran socialist to lead left-wing party, and voters will get to decide if he’s fit to lead the country in a few years. Meet Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour leader is the British embodiment of the Sandernista revolution. He loves to address his followers at packed-out rallies. He can’t resist a chance to rail against the establishment, capitalism and the banks. He is at ease on the picket line with his fellow workers, or on a march. He hasn’t been afraid to do the protesting himself, even if it means being arrested. He too has served in public office for over 30 years, although sets himself up as a contrast to career politicians. His only major difference seems to be in age, being 8 years younger than the 75-year old senator.
Mr Corbyn has taken the cause of socialism nearer power than Mr Sanders managed. As leader of Britain’s second-largest party, he can present himself to voters as the nation’s alternative Prime Minister. But he has been struggling to do this, as voters have drifted away to the ruling Conservatives, and his party’s working-class supporters are in danger of peeling away to rival parties. His followers insist that the electorate is crying out for his maverick left-wing strand of politics, although his core supporters privately despair about his lack of electability.
Bernie Sanders must be relieved on seeing comrade Corbyn’s woes to have missed his party’s nomination, as it meant he did not have to persuade America that he should be its next President.
How would the contest have changed if the Democrats had felt “the Bern” and picked the Vermont senator to lead into battle against the Republicans? It would certainly have been more colourful, but would not have ended any better for them. The Berniacs would have loved such a clash, pitching the arch-bank basher against the personification of wealth, Donald Trump. But the Republican billionaire would have seen him off effortlessly. He monstered “Crooked Hillary” throughout the campaign, and was ready to do the same to “Crazy Bernie Sanders“.
That label gives a sense of how he would have have taken apart Mr Sanders’ campaign, dismissing him as a radical socialist who couldn’t be trusted with power. By contrast, he could remind voters that he was already President — of a multi-billion dollar business empire. The contrast would have been one of leadership, as Mrs Clinton used to see him off and seize the nomination.
Hillary Clinton’s failure to defeat Mr Trump will fuel the theory among Mr Sanders’ supporters that he was the President America could have had if the Democratic party hadn’t stood in the way.
But if they look across the Atlantic to how the “British Bernie” is doing, they would find that the struggle just gets harder once a socialist has to make their pitch to the nation.