Former President Barack Obama and his network of advisors and consultants can’t stand Sen. Bernie Sanders, and it’s not hard to see why.
Sanders, a nominally independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats and is running for the Democratic nomination for the presidency, has come out against many of the former president’s viewpoints. The senator and his advisors have made no secret of the fact that they don’t view former President Obama as sufficiently progressive, a stance that clearly irks the former president and his allies.
However, the former vice president has found himself at a loss regarding how to handle Sen. Sanders’ rising popularity. The senator from Vermont is currently in second place nation-wide, far ahead of every other candidate besides former Vice-President Joe Biden. What is more, Sen. Sanders’ popularity is on the rise, as is evidenced by the fact that he has raised more money than any other candidate in the last quarter. Because Sen. Sanders’ support comes mostly from voters and not large corporations, his stellar fundraising stats make it clear that a large portion of the Democrat electorate supports him.
Obama has been wary of attacking Sen. Sanders, instead using social media to warn Democrats about “moving too far to the left”. However, he has yet to refer to the socialist senator directly.
At the same time, many of former President Obama’s aides aren’t taking Sen. Sanders seriously, openly stating that there is no way he will win the nomination. Neera Tanden, the policy director for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, simply stated that money doesn’t translate into votes, without noting that people who give to presidential candidates usually wind up voting for them as well. Another senior aide dismissed Sen. Sanders’ campaign by calling the senator a “zombie candidate,” and saying that his ascent in the polls wasn’t worrisome enough to plan a strategy for stopping him.
Others note that there are other progressive candidates running for office, and note that Sen. Sanders doesn’t have a lot of support from African-American voters. The dismissive comments sound familiar — many dismissed Sen. Sanders for this same reason in 2016 during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton. The conflict resulted in many hard-left voters staying home on election day, or voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein instead. Some even defected completely and voted for Trump.
Obama and other establishment Democrats clearly don’t appreciate the fact that Sanders challenges their status. It’s hard to tell what the long-term consequences will be at this point, but they could play out the same way they did in 2016 — and earn Trump a second term.