Bernie Sanders speaks to independents

At a local coffee shop, a friend told me he spoke with a number of independents who almost always pick up Republican ballots. This year, they’re all picking up Democratic ballots to vote for Bernie Sanders. They like what Bernie says and they trust him.

At a local gas station, the guy filling up next to me said he’s been a Republican in New Hampshire for 36 years. He says he can’t stomach today’s Republican field, so he’s switching parties to vote for Bernie.

Something is definitely happening here.

There is profound worry about Donald Trump or Ted Cruz becoming the Republican presidential nominee. We in New Hampshire have a unique power to stop this bizarre and dangerous reality TV show.

Particularly powerful in this matrix are independent (undeclared) voters.

At roughly 40 percent of the New Hampshire electorate, they have the power to rescue democracy itself from the precipice at which it currently stands. 

One option is for independents to pick up a Republican ballot and vote for a normal, sane Republican. But then anti-Trump/Cruz votes will be spread among that party’s many candidates. That strategy actually helps Trump.

The other option is for independents to pick up a Democratic ballot.

But in order to beat Trump/Cruz, the Democratic nominee cannot be seen as more of the same establishment politics.

Many voters are angry the government is no longer working for average people. America’s founders fought to overthrow a government of, by, and for only the very richest. And we’re back there again. The winning candidate has to tackle this head-on.

We in New Hampshire have an ability to discern who is real and who is just mouthing the words. Enter Bernie Sanders.

Trust is paramount, and currently 41 percent of all voters feel that Clinton is definitely not honest or trustworthy. That won’t do to beat Trump or Cruz.

A new Quinnipiac University national poll shows Bernie Sanders is not just well-placed to defeat Hillary Clinton for the party nomination, but that he would beat Donald Trump by “a landslide” (their words, not mine).

A report published in The Hill showed Sanders defeating the Republican candidate in a general election by 13 percentage points. That is a much greater margin than for establishment Clinton.

The fact is there are a lot of independent moderates who would vote for Bernie in the general election but not for Hillary.

Then there is the money factor: With an average contribution of less than $30, Sanders’ campaign is powered by over 2.5 million individual contributions from over 1 million donors. This is a measure of the depth and breadth of support for Bernie Sanders.

Trump and Cruz’s appeal speaks to many Americans who are sick and tired of the same old politics, which Hillary Clinton personifies. Bernie connects with many of the same people Trump does. Real change is being demanded, and Bernie Sanders offers practical solutions, consistent with historic American values. 

I know of a lot of Republicans who are deeply upset with what has happened to their party. They have to wait to vote until November. But there are a lot of independents in New Hampshire, and they are in a uniquely powerful position to stop Trump or Cruz. Bernie Sanders’ crowds are amazingly big and enthusiastic. That’s exactly what’s needed to beat them in November.

Burt Cohen, a former state senator, lives in New Castle.

Categories: Opinion