Senator Bernie Sanders is currently running as the lone challenger to Hillary Clinton for President. Now that Bernie is running as a Democrat, I would like to suggest some ideas. While Bernie runs for the Democratic nomination, he doesn’t have to follow the same old primary path of past Democratic candidates, especially in the run up to the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primary.
First, run for President of All Fifty States! While the primary schedule still starts with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, there are 47 other states where working Americans live. Bernie has already made trips to other states, and I hope that continues. Iowa and New Hampshire voters are nice folks, but their demographic makeup doesn’t represents America.
Travel between Iowa and New Hampshire alone can be costly and time consuming. But with the Internet and social media, I’m sure Bernie will reach out to voters in other states.
Don’t forget the non-Swing States. For years, the folks in non-Swing States have been ignored. If a Presidential candidate suddenly paid attention to them, it might result in more engagement by those voters: donations, volunteerism and votes. Bernie needs those voters on Super Tuesday and other primaries.
Second, don’t kowtow to the “First in the Nation” status of Iowa and New Hampshire. Don’t kowtow to their media pundits and political leaders.
True story: One morning in late 2007 on “The Exchange” radio program with host Laura Kinoy on NHPR, the guest was Presidential candidate Senator Chris Dodd. Laura Kinoy asked Sen. Dodd: “I understand that you are on the ballot in Michigan?”
Senator Dodd’s response to Kinoy’s question was a blatant pander to New Hampshire voters. First he declared that “He” (his campaign) did not put himself on the ballot. Rather, there were some “people in Michigan” who passed around a petition.
Next, Chris Dodd stated, “I can assure you that I have not been talking with ‘those people’, out in Michigan”. He also made sure he mentioned that he supported New Hampshire’s “First in the Nation” status. Being a native of Michigan (one of “those people”), I wasn’t very thrilled by his comments.
So, when Bernie is interviewed by Laura Kinoy, if she asks about their “First in the Nation” status, I hope that Bernie will smile and respond with, “I am running to be President of All Fifty States”. If pressed further, he can say that’s a decision for the political parties, and he’s just following the 2016 schedule.
Third, if time permits, I hope that Bernie will occasionally cross the borders of Iowa to talk with folks in neighboring states. If it upsets the Iowa media, he can just smile and say, “I am running to be President of All Fifty States”.
If you look at the county-level 2012 election map, you can see a large group of “blue” counties in eastern Iowa. Across the border in southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin and northwest Illinois is a large swath of blue territory. So spend the morning in Iowa and the afternoon in Minnesota. Or spend the day in Iowa and the evening in Illinois. Wouldn’t it be fun to see Bernie visiting Madison, Wisconsin at the same time Gov. Scott Walker is in Iowa?
Over near western Iowa are Clay County in South Dakota and Thurston County in Nebraska. Despite their small populations, they are two blue islands in a sea of red. If Bernie were to visit Little Priest Tribal College or Nebraska Indian Community College, how might folks in other Native American tribes react? Wow, a Presidential candidate actually paying attention to Native Americans. With cell phone video, who knows, such a town hall event could go viral!
Fourth, bring the “Bernie Town Hall” format to other states. I have attended two of Sen. Sander’s town hall events in Vermont. At both events, there was a light meal for participants before Bernie’s remarks and Q&A session.
Why not have Bernie Town Halls with a light meal in Iowa and neighboring states? If the campaign does not want to spend a lot of money on food, perhaps a potluck event would work. This could be a great platform to talk about local food and building up our rural economy. This might go against the grain in Iowa and Monsanto’s GMO Empire. But I’m sure there are small organic farmers in Iowa who could be supported by the Sanders 2016 campaign for town hall events, in lieu of spending money on TV and radio ads.
Fifth, go long! Remember when Tim Pawlenty put all of his eggs in the neighboring Iowa basket and dropped out early? So, also focus on the primaries in the other Fifty States, ahead of time.
Senator Sanders can run in the Democratic Presidential Primary, but he doesn’t have to run like a typical Democrat. I’m sure he already knows this.