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What a Bernie Sanders Presidential Run would really require

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Bernie Sanders
(image by Bernie Sanders)

Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is making news by declaring his undeclared status as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, when he will be 75 years old, 6 years older than Ronald Reagan (b. 1911) was when he ran for president the third and winning time, in 1980.

Age and politics are just some of the considerations to any run, but there are other more practical, and even mundane considerations in the real world of winning a campaign.

The heart of winning an election is getting the votes, and this does not always have anything to do with the candidate, but rather with the messy, somewhat corrupt political system - especially now when Obama's first term elections has galvanized so many on the Right to suppress the vote any way they can.  It certainly isn't for any lack of candidates.  There were literally hundreds in 2012!
I thought a bit about this when I - probably naively - proposed creating a local political party in NY in 2009: click here

Here is a list of registered parties just in New York State as of 2009:
  • America First Party
  • Communist Party
  • Conservative Party
  • Constitution Party
  • Democratic Party
  • Freedom Party 1994-1998
  • Green Party
  • Independence Party
  • Integrity Party
  • Liberal Party
  • Libertarian Party
  • Marijuana Reform Party
  • Natural Law Party
  • New Party
  • New York State Right to Life Party
  • New York State Taxpayers Party
  • Republican Party
  • Save Jobs Party (2004-2006)
  • Socialist Party
  • Socialist Workers Party
  • The Rent is Too Damn High Party*
  • Working Families Party
* Jimmy McMillan, Founder of The Rent is too Damn High Party, and 2009 candidate for Mayor, only needed 7,500 signatures to get on the ballot! He used a youtube video to get signatures.

The obstacles to getting on the ballot are huge, and vary hugely from state to state.  That's why even the well-established Green Party cannot get on the ballot in all 50 states, and none of the other third parties even get beyond the mathematical amount of states necessary to win a national election (well, I think the Libertarian Party did meet that criteria in the last Presidential election, but just barely, and anyway, they have to start all over again, under major-party favorable state rules).  The way things are structured, only the two major parties are guaranteed ballot placement on election day, plus, of course, they pretty much have the primary system locked up - all the third parties have to pick their candidates out-of-sight of the general electorate (to be fair, some of the major party primaries are far from democratic either; Iowa, I'm looking at you and your straw poll).

Anyway, for Sanders to have any kind of chance, an extremely strong get-out-the-progressive vote campaign has to be launched, and the GOP has mostly neutered that Post-Acorn.
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The good news is, it is mathematically possible for Sanders to win by tapping into the great un-voting public, plus picking up some of the regular voters.  Even in the Obama first term election - which saw an almost historic high voter turnout of over 60%, using more sophisticated than usual analysis that excludes the great, and increasing, number of people who have been made ineligible to vote (the green line in the chart below), even though they are over 18 (including felons, non-citizens), though since this chart was done, we would have to realistically exclude many minorities and students, or at least put them in a hard-to-vote category because of the registration hurdles the GOP has enacted.  This alone may make it impossible for Sanders to garner the required numbers of voters.

Presidential Turnout Rates - 1948-2012
(image by United States Election Project)

Sanders cannot do this alone.  He will need organized coalitions, maybe of several progressive third parties willing to put aside what, to the rest of the country, look like minor differences, in order to work on getting the vote out for him, and just as importantly, to get him on the ballot in as many states as possible, but especially the blue states.

Of course then, as Sanders points out himself, he may just turn out as a spoiler, a larger version of Ralph Nader, who, together with a corrupt Supreme Court, tossed the election to the popular-vote-losing candidate, George Bush, in 2000. 

However, Gore v. Bush aside, would modern presidential results have been worse with McCain/Palin or Romney/Ryan?  It's tempting to say "of course!" but consider how the traditional Left has been hobbled by feeling forced to support the faux-Left Obama Administration all these years.  If either of these other two Republican choices had won, we'd have had a square enemy to unleash our anger upon, no holds barred.  We might have even been more effective that way, and not have had to watch in dismay as Obama tilted to the Right of even Ronald Reagan.
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Perhaps Sanders is right, and today there is enough dissatisfaction for a viable third party to rise.  It may even be that the Republican Party is headed the way of the Whigs, but not just yet, I fear.  They keep winning.

Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is President of Common Ground-NYC (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens (more...)

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Important points analyzed ... but we are still at ... by Charles Roll on Friday, Mar 7, 2014 at 3:44:52 AM
Poison in your medicine cabinet could kill you ... by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 9:00:20 AM
Dear Intelligentsia:Your link gets me this message... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 1:48:06 PM
Bitley link might help:  http:// by Pal Palsimon on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 4:28:26 PM
You posted this same comment (about the medicine c... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 6:47:03 PM
Running against Senator Hatch in Utah, on the Jus... by Daniel Geery on Friday, Mar 7, 2014 at 12:02:59 PM
I adore Bernie, and I  regret the ordeal he w... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 12:08:21 PM
Further thought on this, that I mean to note earl... by Daniel Geery on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 1:29:58 PM
"I was mighty bent out of shape when we failed to... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 2:46:26 PM
Republican voters ('rank and file'), as well as c... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:02:02 PM
Your thoughts much appreciated. I worked my butt o... by Daniel Geery on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014 at 10:26:45 PM
Thanks for the compliments, DG! I also look for yo... by Charles Roll on Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014 at 11:41:30 PM
... by Clifford Johnson on Friday, Mar 7, 2014 at 12:04:38 PM
I voted for O'bummer in '08 to my everlasting retr... by Gregory Kozloff on Friday, Mar 7, 2014 at 8:38:47 PM
Sanders is not proposing his run to win it all, t... by Gustav Wynn on Friday, Mar 7, 2014 at 8:55:33 PM
It won't be easy for him to win, not if people lis... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Mar 8, 2014 at 6:11:37 AM
What Americans need to be asking right now is whe... by Charles Roll on Sunday, Mar 9, 2014 at 3:30:48 AM
Bernie does not need to be in those useless debate... by Pal Palsimon on Sunday, Mar 9, 2014 at 12:16:30 PM
Conversely, I remember the three-way debates betwe... by Scott Baker on Sunday, Mar 9, 2014 at 3:38:18 PM
Well, one thing would be to restrict media adverti... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:17:19 PM
Scott, I have a premonition that something is happ... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Mar 8, 2014 at 6:08:12 AM
"a larger version of Ralph Nader"?  San... by George Flower on Saturday, Mar 8, 2014 at 3:30:03 PM
The times have changed. Regardless of your usual p... by Pal Palsimon on Saturday, Mar 8, 2014 at 4:31:47 PM
One who lacks the strategic sense or knowledge re... by George Flower on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:12:59 AM
Your quote above "when you assemble a Number of m... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:27:30 AM
 The greatness of the Constitution lies in ... by George Flower on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 9:40:00 PM
I did respond to your article  12 Essential ... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 8:16:35 AM
You are right that there is a debate about Art. V... by George Flower on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 1:48:29 PM
If you think we have strayed from the Constitutio... by Pal Palsimon on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 3:52:59 PM
Bernie IS different! ... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 12:09:48 PM
I am sure that you know Bernie far better than I... by George Flower on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:32:04 AM
You always like to throw in some negative consider... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:30:45 AM
My only comparison was with Nader as a Green cand... by Charles Roll on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:08:38 PM
Mr. Flower: I gather two points from your post:A.... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:57:26 PM
B. In the primary/caucus system far fewer numbers... by Charles Roll on Monday, Mar 10, 2014 at 4:01:51 PM
"not stupidly like some kind of 'true believers',... by George Flower on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:35:20 AM
If you see no hope for a third party to win, and ... by Pal Palsimon on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 10:37:11 AM
Since Mr. Flower's comment was addressed to me, a... by Charles Roll on Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 at 8:33:04 PM
The two parties consist basically of 1) a name ... by George Flower on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 1:03:20 PM
If the sole focus of all political activity that ... by George Flower on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 1:06:31 PM
1) I agree, of course, about the nature of politic... by Charles Roll on Friday, Mar 14, 2014 at 11:36:34 PM
I went to Madison High School where Bernie attend... by Susan Lee Schwartz on Sunday, Mar 9, 2014 at 11:32:11 AM
A new petition to support Bernie Sander... by Scott Baker on Monday, Mar 24, 2014 at 1:31:18 AM