Although America is still waiting for the full results from Iowa and wondering whether or not they can even be trusted, it appears as though Mayor Pete and Comrade Bernie are going to essentially tie for first place in terms of actual awarded delegates. So one might ask in their best Hillary voice – What difference does it make?
The difference is simple.
A contest between Trump and Buttigieg is essentially a referendum on Trump.
A contest between Trump and Sanders is essentially a referendum on socialism.
As far as voters are concerned, Pete is a vapid tabula rasa, devoid of any real policy or personality. He’s such a blank slate that who he is can be defined more clearly by those observing him and imposing their own values than anything he could insist on his own. He seems plain, painfully nice, unbearably boring, and the kind of guy who thinks the mayo is too spicy.
Being a mayor of a small town doesn’t leave much of a paper trail as to where he stands on major national issues, and his lack of voting record and relative obscurity doesn’t inspire much confidence one way or another as to whether or not he means what he says. It’s possible the positions he does have could come from calculated public polling, and it’s equally possible that he’s the kind of guy whose positions are indistinguishable from focus group consensus.
Not that he hasn’t tried to opine on national politics. The last time I checked his website, there were a good 30 issues covered. Tribal relations, LGBT relations, race relations, gender equality, unions, veteran affairs, election reform, housing policies, and consumer protections. Plenty of niche issues. But the largest things the federal government does, by the numbers, in a fiscal sense? Zero on monetary policy, social security, the national debt, the deficit, trade policy…
This is probably a good thing for him. If he was speaking about the things that mattered most rather than niche issues and pet projects, he would have been wrenched left like everyone else in the primary just to stay competitive. Not speaking on these things with any specificity leaves him free to take whatever positions he wants in the general, or better yet… none at all.
One of the best arguments for Donald Trump in 2016, was that we had no clue what he’d do or what kind of President he’d be, while there was plenty of reason to assume that Hillary would be predictably awful. Voting Trump was rolling the dice because it wasn’t likely to be worse.
But we’ve had years of Trump, and we see what he is even if what he is isn’t exactly stable. For those who support what they’ve seen, there is no reason to take a chance on something new and ill-defined. Among those who can’t stand Trump, there’s plenty who think literally anyone would be better. And for those who see Trump as a mixed bag full of good and bad that neither deify nor vilify him? Well, they’re rolling the dice with either candidate, I guess.
Sanders leaves nothing to the imagination, and nobody questions what he stands for. He went from protests and communes right into politics, without ever so much as holding a real job. And he’s said the same shit the entire time.
He’s so committed that he had his honeymoon in Moscow while it was still the USSR, praised leftist dictators, and has openly embraced the socialist moniker for decades without shame. Say what you will about whether his revolution is positive, but he’s always been this way, and he’s too old to change now.
Bernie’s ideology may terrify many voters, while inspiring and motivating others. It may doom his candidacy completely, or it may ensure his tenure. After how wrong everyone was about Trump’s chances, it’s hard to have enough confidence to say. Regardless of whether it’s an electoral concern or a policy one that Democrat voters are wrestling with, there’s simply not enough information to make an educated choice.
A Bernie Sanders nomination ensures that the next Presidential election will be a conflict of ideas. Namely, Sanders’ ideas versus Trump’s relative lack of them. A Pete Buttigieg nomination ensures the next Presidential election will be a conflict of personalities. Namely, Trump’s massive, oversized, larger-than life personality versus Pete’s lack of one.