Can Socialist Bernie Sanders Defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016?

Last Thursday, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced his run for president. Sanders, 73, is the first to officially launch a presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, and he truly believes that he can defeat her by tapping into the far left base.

“Yes, I do think that if I ran, I could win,” Sanders told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos.

With the slogan of “a political revolution is coming,” the self-described socialist raised over $1.5 million in the first 24 hours after he announced his presidential campaign, a greater amount than any of the 2016 Republican candidates in the first 24 hours after their respective announcements.

“I am a socialist and everyone knows that,” Sanders said after winning his first congressional election in 1990. “They also understand that my kind of democratic socialism has nothing to do with authoritarian communism.”

The best performing self-described socialist was Eugene V. Debs, who ran on the Socialist Party ticket in 1912. Debs received 6 percent of the vote in a four-way election. While a lot of people disregard conservative radio talk show hosts, who frequently label liberals and progressives as socialists, a lot of left-leaning Americans actually embrace the label. A Reason-Rupe poll last year showed that 36 percent of Americans have a favorable view of “socialism,” including 52 percent of Democrats.

“I can hear the Republican attack ad right now: ‘He wants America to look more like Scandinavia,’” Sanders told ABC host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday. “That’s right. That’s right. And what’s wrong with that?”

Believe it or not, 73-year old Bernie Sanders is among the most popular 2016 candidates. He has over 1 million Facebook likes, which is more than most 2016 Republican candidates. This includes top-tier candidates Jeb Bush (173,000), Scott Walker (266,000 likes), and Marco Rubio (841,000).

Sanders also had no problem winning 8 terms as a U.S. Representative (statewide district) and 2 terms as a U.S. Senator in the ultra-blue state of Vermont. In his last campaign, he  garnered a staggering 71 percent of the vote in 2012. He is the longest serving independent member of congress in history and is the third self-described socialist to ever be elected.

Sanders holds pretty radical policy positions opposes fracking for natural gas, supports cap-and-trade/carbon tax, wants to make everything free, and pay for all of the new welfare programs by raising taxes on the wealthy. Most notably, he loves talking about income inequality.

Bernie Sanders may say he is for the little guy, but the fact is that his economic policies would make poor people poorer. As Winston Churchill once noted, “the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” His proposals would actually reduce opportunities of middle-class and poor people to move up the economic ladder by maintaining the public school monopoly, discouraging hard work, and making it nearly impossible to maintain a small business.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are gullible enough to believe that progressive policies actually work. Despite the overwhelming evidence, millions of Americans truly believe income inequality matters, not social mobility. They genuinely think that progressive and socialist policies lift people out of poverty and create a better society. This reality is why Bernie Sanders has an excellent chance of winning the 2016 Democratic Party nomination.

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