WOLFEBORO, New Hampshire — I have watched each of the Democratic frontrunners up close in the past several days. And while my bias is obviously a conservative one, and I hope President Donald Trump wins re-election, if I were voting in the Democratic presidential primary, I would consider voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
I don’t mean I would vote for him for strategic reasons, to help Trump. I mean that he looks like the strongest candidate.
That might seem a difficult sentiment to defend, given Bernie’s age. He is 77 years old, and will turn 78 in a few weeks. If he wins in 2020, he will be 80 years old before his first year in office is through. But he has incredible energy, and seems healthier than some of the journalists assigned to cover him, half his age or younger. At a press scrum in Homestead, Florida, in June, I watched Bernie move so fast that a photographer tripped over his own feet.
Besides, the rest of the field isn’t exactly young. Sure, Pete Buttigieg is in his thirties, and other candidates are quite fresh, but the three frontrunners are all over 70. Even Elizabeth Warren, who looks younger than her seventy years, is a year older than Donald Trump was at this point in his 2015-6 campaign. Warren sprinted to the front of a town hall meeting here on Wednesday afternoon, perhaps to prove a point. She spent the first few minutes out of breath.
Warren is basically running on the same platform as Sanders. Though she does not call herself a socialist, there is little substantive difference between their policies. What Warren calls “structural change” is the same thing Sanders calls “transforming the economy of the United States.” But Warren’s ideas are still in development; Bernie’s ideas are clear, stark, and rather familiar. They may not be good ideas — indeed, they are terrible — but they are coherent.
The junior senator from Massachusetts admits she is still developing her agenda. Indeed, that is part of her pitch: she is the one “with a plan for everything,” and will tell you that plan just as soon as she finishes writing it up on the campaign bus. Confronted Wednesday with the fact that she had repeated a divisive lie about Michael Brown being “murdered” in 2014, Warren assured reporters: “I have a more comprehensive plan coming out just a little bit later.”
Plans — five-year and otherwise — fit nicely into the socialist utopia Warren, Sanders, and other Democrats covet. The difference is Bernie has been there, done that, taken off the T-shirt. He is an unrepentant “fellow traveler” — but he also has a sense of humor about it.
Warren, who once voted Republican, has to do more to prove her radical bona fides; as a result, she spends much of her speech introducing herself. Sanders just gets to the point: revolution!
Joe Biden is being touted as the “moderate” alternative. But he is not a “moderate” — as he himself would argue — and under the pressure of his rivals, as well as criticism from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who is the true ideological leader of the Democratic Party today, he has reversed many of his old positions. Biden now wants to eliminate coal and other fossil fuels; fund abortion with federal money; and end the death penalty.
Aside from concerns about his health and his “gaffes” — which are reportedly prompting aides to trim his already-thin schedule — Biden appears inauthentic to the “woke” progressive gentry who are the most active donors and volunteers.
Bernie, on the other hand, is the real deal. He was a socialist before it became cool. His supporters believe he is the strongest candidate to challenge Trump in 2020.
Right now, I would have to agree.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.