As the Democratic Party race for the presidency heats up, there's been a great deal of discussion about what an impressive campaign Bernie Sanders has run, coming from nowhere, starting deeply behind Hillary Clinton with all the advantages she had built up, to challenge her seriously for the nomination. Whether there is enough time remaining to overcome her lead is the question. That gave rise to one comment I read to offset all this talk about how the math appears too much a hurdle for Bernie Sanders to get enough in delegates at this late date. Considering the challenges he has already overcome at this point, the author wrote in explanation of Sanders' efforts how “it has been one of the steepest climbs anyone who ran for President ever had to make” and that the race was unfairly "stacked against him." It was a strong, pointed defense, and what leaped out to me was a reality that the comment totally missed.
Let's step back a moment and, given the concept referenced for "ever," put on our Research Shoes, do a bit of scholarship, and cast our minds across the sweep of history to return to a distant time of...well, less than a whole decade ago. Y'know, the last time the White House would be left vacant from a departing president.
In 2007, at the beginning of the Democratic primary campaign, Hillary Clinton had most of the money tied up, and was leading hugely in the polls. The nomination was hers. Not "hers to lose," but hers. (I remember having lunch with a friend who had a lot of Washington-insider friends. Hillary wasn’t is first choice, and he was morose that all his Washington friends said the nomination was locked up. I said it was too early. "No," he replied, "no, they say that all the money is committed, it's over." I continued to disagree, there was still so much time left, but my friend was well-connected with People in the Know and adamant.)
Then Barack Obama got in the race. As far behind as Sanders is now. With just two years in Washington, compared to Sanders several decades. A black man. And carrying the name Barack Hussein Obama. And there is anyone who thinks this year by Bernie Sanders has been one of the steepest climbs anyone who ran for President ever had to make?? It isn’t the steepest climb anyone who ever ran for President against Hillary Clinton has made in the past nine years, since the last time.
And Mr. Obama overcame the hurdles and won.
Bernie Sanders has run a seriously impressive campaign. And perhaps history will repeat itself, even if the math argues against it. But perspective is always a good thing, especially when you don't have to go back very far to see it.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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