For the 74 year old Independent senator from Vermont, the 2016 presidential election has been the pinnacle of Bernie Sanders’ political career. Sanders started off as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont from 1981 to 1989, during which he led multiple city revitalization projects that placed Burlington on U.S. News and World Report’s list of “most livable cities,” effectually labeling Sanders as one of “America’s best mayors.” From 1991-2007 Sanders served as a member of the US House of Representatives and later as the incumbent Senator of Vermont from 2007 to present day.
The decades of political experience, dedication to social reform, and relatively clean record more than qualify Sanders to sit behind the desk in the Oval Office (I say “relatively” because Sanders was arrested in his 20’s and charged with resisting arrest; but his “rap sheet” is nowhere near as sullied as that of democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s). Sanders’ campaign bus also has the ability to keep running on the over 200 million dollars raised from political donations alone; but after a quick stop at the White House for a meeting with President Obama, one can sense the brakes on the Sander’s bus beginning to engage.
Clinton’s procurement of the over 2,383 delegates needed to secure the democratic nomination was met with President Obama’s video endorsement of the nominee on June 9th, effectually condemning Sanders’ legitimacy in his continued campaign. The only viable path to the White House for Sanders is if Clinton’s email scandal somehow disqualifies her from holding a position in public office.
If by some miracle that were to happen for the Senator, his poll numbers, when matched against Trump’s, suggest that he would emerge victorious in the event of a Trump/Sanders match-off. According to Real Clear Politics, if an election were to be held today, Sanders would defeat Trump by a 10 point margin of 49% to 39%, with the same poll also predicting Clinton defeating Trump by only 4 percentage points, 40% to 44%, well within the margin of error.
Much of Clinton’s poor polling numbers are attributed to the lack of support for Hillary from fiercely loyal Bernie supporters. When millions democrats look at Bernie, they see a man who has challenged the American political system his entire life by organizing sit-ins and protesting unjust social issues. The essence of Bernie’s life is that he practices what he preaches. When those same supporters look at Hillary, many of them see a corrupt government bureaucrat who serves only herself, made rich by hour-long speeches, kickbacks from foreign country dealings, and is in Wall Street’s back pocket.
For Bernie supporters, voting for Hillary simply to vote within party-lines is a difficult decision to make, but one that can easily be remediated if she plays the correct cards.
Hillary knows she cannot defeat republican nominee Donald Trump without the support of Bernie and his supporters. With this in mind, Hillary must select Bernie Sanders as her vice presidential nominee and running-mate to ensure a decisive victory against Donald Trump. Sanders’ supporters would not vote for Hillary because of Hillary…but instead because of Bernie, irrelevant in the eyes of the Clinton campaign since all that matters is receiving enough votes to secure the White House.
It is typically thought that Vice Presidential candidates do not “make or break” a candidate’s campaign, which is true to a certain extent. If Hillary were to select an individual like Elizabeth Warren as her running-mate, her decision probably would not have a profound impact on Hillary’s largest downfalls of trustworthiness and likability. Some may even argue that having a two-woman-ticket could hurt Hillary’s chances of securing the presidency. Sanders, however, more than makes up for Clinton’s shortcomings and will undeniably add much needed life to her campaign.
The brakes on Sanders’ campaign bus may appear to be engaging, but the act is merely temporary; if Hillary is serious about winning this election, she’ll hop on the Bernie Bus and ride it all the way up to the West Wing.