Opinion: Bernie Sanders’ Popularity is a Double-Edged Sword

The Hill reports that Team Clinton is “worried” about Bernie Sanders. “He will be a serious force for the campaign and I don’t think that will diminish,” said Clinton communications director Jennifer Palmieri.

The Clinton campaign is right to be concerned. After polls showed Sanders surging in New Hampshire, he then went on to raise a larger-than-expected $15 million in 60 days.

Unsurprisingly, conservatives are gleeful at the sight of Hillary Clinton’s vulnerability among Democrats – as well they should be. Such gladness on the part of the Right should be tempered by a reality: Sanders popularity is a double-edged sword.

Every person who is willing to support Sanders over Clinton is willing to support an avowed socialist. Therefore, any increase in support for Sanders is an increase in the number of Americans who support – or at least are willing to accept – socialism.

With the exception of Sanders’ position on gun control and his common ground with non-interventionists and libertarians on some foreign policy issues, those to the right of center have no agreements with the direction he would take this country.

While a Sanders presidency is almost certainly never going to happen, the idea that so many American voters would punch the ticket for a socialist simply out of dislike for Hillary Clinton either means that socialism has gained a disturbing amount of acceptance in America or that the Clintons and their many scandals generate a whole lot of disgust even on the Left.

The truth is surely some combination of the two. Conservatives naturally should hope it is far more of the latter than the former.

This is not to say that conservatives should not be happy at evidence of Hillary’s weaknesses; we should. At the same time though, conservatives should recognize that the image of a semi-viable socialist candidate like Sanders could represent or result in a leftward shift among American voters.