Some Democratic observers panic their party is following the British lefts road to defeat

British politics rarely pries into a US presidential election. In 1988, Joe Biden was forced to abandon his first bid for the White House after it emerged that he had quoted without blame a hunk of oratory from the then Labour party leader, Neil Kinnock. In 2016, Donald Trump deployed Nigel Farage as an occasional mascot on the stump, the Brexit victory in that year’s referendum deemed a joyou omen that populists could elude the curious and prevail. In 2020, a third name has surfaced, offered as a cautionary narration to a Democratic defendant that this week proved a septuagenarian radical socialist and longtime backbench rebel as its frontrunner. That refer is Jeremy Corbyn.

” I don’t want the Democratic party of the United Commonwealth to be the Labour party of the United kingdom government ,” James Carville, the victorious administrator of Bill Clinton’s 1992 safarus, told gatherings on cable Tv and in New Hampshire this week, warning that if Democrat choose Bernie Sanders, they will almost certainly be following Corbyn’s Labour party to defeat.

On the US campaign trail, journalists, strategists for contender Democratic candidates, and even the occasional voter cite Corbyn in the case against Sanders, present research results of December’s UK general election as evidence. A week spent in New Hampshire watching the Vermont senator and his foes do battle provisions some answers to the question numerous US Democrats are asking themselves: is Sanders fated to be America’s Corbyn- or are the two men, and their two status, radically different?

Team Sanders is understandably reluctant to encourage the similarity.” I didn’t hear that on the street, I heard it in the bubble ,” Nina Turner, a national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, told the Guardian.” The talking heads and the elites said it to try to dismantle Senator Bernie Sanders, to say,’ Aha, this can’t happen !'” All the same, Turner was keen to add that” both men have a health respect for each other “.

Yet within times of that gossip, the first New Hampshire voter stopped by the Guardian at a polling station in downtown Manchester- retired airline aviator Paul Demars- volunteered, unprompted, that he was voting for Sanders even though” I was anxious about the electability business: it’d be a real bummer if he got Corbyn’d “.

Bernie
Bernie Sanders rallies supporters in New Hampshire. Photograph: Joseph Prezioso/ AFP via Getty Images

The similarities between the men are obvious. Both expended decades on the political perimeters, regarded as perennial troublemakers with no potential of gaining national strength. To their pundits, they are still obstinately stuck in the 1970 s; to their protagonists, they have stayed unwaveringly true-blue to their principles. They both excrete a rumpled authenticity, their appearance- Sanders’ wayward mane, Corbyn’s beard- visible proof that they are not careerist legislators of the usual stripe.

Their contents are similar too. Sanders craves” an economy that works for all , not just the 1 %”, while Corbyn stood as the champ of” the many , not the few “. Both are proponents of a particular brand of leftwing populism, offering themselves as tribunes of the hard-working majority against an upper-clas of bankers and billionaires that has rigged the economy in its own favour.

Both boast of the scale of their desire. Corbyn trumpeted Labour’s 2019 manifesto as the most radical programme in a generation, while the warmup way at a Sanders rally is Tracy Chapman’s Talkin’ Bout a Revolution. Both have predicted that succes for them would ensure their respective countries transformed.

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That has opened up a line of strike against both men which is remarkably same. Sanders’ resists criticise him for implausibly offering” free stuff” to voters, just as the last Labour manifesto was caricatured as a wishlist of hopeless giveaways. Sanders precipitates scepticism from Americans when he says his healthcare plan would not only guarantee free medical care for everyone but also free eyeglasses, hearing aids and dental charge. It prompts a chorus of questions about where the money would come from- a chorus with distinct echoes of the reaction that reacted Labour’s pledge of free broadband along with a series of other expensive measures. Some plans are identical, such as free university tuition for all.

The effect in both cases is to redefine internal defendant opponents as dull “centrists”, prudent supporters of the status quo. Corbyn did that to competitives Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall when he extended for the Labour leadership in 2015, and Sanders is doing it to Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar now, just as he did it to Hillary Clinton in 2016. If anything, Sanders proceeds further. Corbyn never indicated his Labour antagonists were agents of the City of London, the lane Sanders supporters cracked into sings of “Wall Street Pete” in New Hampshire last weekend.

Jeremy
Jeremy Corbyn at the proposed establishment of the Labour party’s youth manifesto in November 2019. Photograph: Joe Giddens/ PA

Which wreaks us to the followers of both men. The crowds at Sanders rallies are strikingly similar to the audiences that once came out for Corbyn. Huge numbers of young people, specially students, joined by sixty-somethings who are stimulated that, at last,” we have our party back “. The latter group anticipates Sanders is returning the party to the best institutions of Franklin Roosevelt, just as Corbyn liked to invoke the majesty of 1945 and Clement Attlee.

Some Democrat welcome the dose of much-needed youth and energy that Sanders has brought in, hopeful that the independent senator- he’s still not a registered Democrat- might make good on his promise to expand the electorate and bring in previous non-voters.( That was the promise of Corbyn too .) But others deplore what they regard as the vigorous intolerance of the “Bernie Bros”, accusing them of slamming those who dare voice anything but wholehearted devotion to the leader. A report this week described” the horde” that descended on a leftwing organisation that endorsed Elizabeth Warren rather than Sanders, detailing a rank of online misuse that would be familiar to those on the wrong intent of what they would call” the Corbyn cult “. When the MSNBC host Chuck Todd mentioned an article that had labelled Sanders sponsors digital “brownshirts”, a hashtag expedition by Sanders advocates soon had #SackChuckTodd trending.

The result is a wariness in some quarters- most notably among Sanders’ challengers- to attack him immediately, for dread of conjuring his supporters’ wrath. Several US writers declare, albeit privately, to a same nervousness at going too directly after Sanders- a fear that might resonate with at least some of their counterparts in Britain.

But if there are similarities, there are glaring changes too. Perhaps most significant is that Bernie Sanders has suffered nothing like the protracted raid of analysi that rained down on Corbyn, from press and internal defendant opposings alike, from the moment he became governor. It’s one reasons for numerous Democrat are sceptical of ballots picturing Sanders would beat Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. Sanders, they say, has never been on the receiving point of serious negative campaigning or even a exhaustive trawl through his back catalogue of statements and past relationships( including, for example, to the Socialist Workersparty of America ). Clinton steered clear of that tactic in 2016, calculating that it would backfire. So Sanders has never experienced the investigation that Corbyn weathered- not yet, at any rate. When it comes, say the doubters, his counts will tank.

Still, there are some opposes with Corbyn that might offer Democrats reassurance. For one thing, Sanders has no believable case to answer on antisemitism; on the contrary, he relates strongly as a Jew. A couple of his congressional followers have obliged unwieldy and insensitive mentions, but that is a world away from the decades-long, personal record of appearings with, and indulging of, antisemites that proved so poison for Corbyn.

Similarly, while Corbyn was often accused of” siding with his country’s foes”- observe the PS2 0,000 he was paid to be a presenter on the Iranian state network Press TVor his 2009 has met with Bashar al-Assad– Sanders is rather less vulnerable on that score. Some admiring terms for Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas, together with a honeymoon in Moscow, are about the most damaging items on the Sanders charge sheet. That’s largely because of a difference in world view between the two men. While the senator’s chief focus has long been on domestic issues such as economic inequality, for Corbyn, opposition to what he would call US imperialism was for many years the defining core of his politics. One sketch: Sanders subsidized and voted for the Nato-led armed involvement over Kosovo in 1999; Corbyn opposed it.

There’s one last comparison that should contribute Sanders boosters ovation. Even Corbyn’s most devoted supporters would never describe him as a great orator. Sanders, though, is a compelling speaker: focused, strong-voiced, able to land a rhetorical riff in a way that usually evades the Labour leader.

Sanders will need all those talents if he is chosen to take on Trump in November. A leftwing commander crusading a fair-haired populist with exclusively a casual affair with the truth has the peculiars stacked against him- as Corbyn knows all too well.

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