Why Republicans Vote for Bernie

Ann Coulter knows who she wants to be the Democratic nominee for president, and who that person is, well, it may surprise you.

She wants Hillary Clinton to be the nominee, and thinks that if Bernie gets the nod, he’ll beat whoever the Republicans come up with to run against him.

You won’t hear this often on this show, but Ann Coulter is right.

If Bernie Sanders ends up being the Democratic nominee for president, and it looks more and more every day like he will be, his Republican opponent is going to have a very hard time beating him.

And that’s because of all the Democratic candidates running, Bernie Sanders has the best chance of capturing Republican votes.

I've seen how Bernie does this, up close and personal.

Despite its reputation as a place filled with liberal hippies, Vermont, like most of rural northern New England, is home to a lot of conservatives.

Anyone running for statewide office there needs to win these conservatives’ votes, and Bernie is great at doing that.

Back in 2000 when Louise and I were living in Vermont, it wasn’t all that uncommon to see his signs on the same lawn as signs that said “W for President.”

Seriously, I’m not kidding.

And as NPR’s Morning Edition found out last year, some of Bernie’s biggest fans are in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the poorest and most conservative part of the state.

It’s people from the Northeast Kingdom who’ve overwhelmingly elected Bernie to almost 20 years in Congress and two straight terms as senator, and it’s people like them in the rest of the country who will probably send Bernie to the White House if he gets the Democratic nomination for president.

So why is that?

Why is Bernie Sanders, a socialist, so popular with people who should hate "socialism"?

The answer is pretty simple.

While Americans disagree on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, they’re actually pretty unified on the bread and butter economic issues that Bernie has made the core of his campaign.

In fact, a recent poll by the Progressive Change Institute, shows that Americans overwhelmingly agree with Bernie on key issues like education, healthcare, and the economy.

Like Bernie, 75 percent of Americans poll support fair trade that “protects workers, the environment, and jobs.”

71 percent support giving all students access to a debt-free college education.

71 percent support a massive infrastructure spending program aimed at rebuilding our broken roads and bridges and putting people back to work.

70 percent support expanding Social Security.

59 percent support raising taxes on the wealthy so that millionaires pay the same amount in taxes as they did during the Reagan administration.

58 percent support breaking up the big banks.

55 percent support a financial transaction or Robin Hood tax.

51 percent support single payer healthcare, and so and so on.

Pretty impressive, right?

And here’s the thing - supporting Social Security, free college, breaking up the big banks, aren’t “progressive” policies, they’re just common sense, and 60 years ago they would have put Bernie Sanders smack dab in the mainstream of my father’s Republican Party.

This is why Ann Coulter is so scared of Bernie becoming the Democratic nominee.

She knows that he speaks to the populist, small “d” democratic values that everyday Americans care about, regardless of their political affiliation.

That’s the really radical part of Bernie’s 2016 campaign, and what’s what maybe, just maybe, might make him the 45th President of the United States.


Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 40 weeks ago

Thom, you're wrong about one thing. Socialism is not the welfare state, it is the workers' state, a society where workers are in charge and in control. Even democratic socialists are in favor of nationalizing industry, common public ownership of many resources, functions and istitutions and democratic control of them by the people.

Democratic socialism distinguishes itself from authoritarian socialism by its democratic charachter and doesn't dispense with democracy - which means that if the people at some point weary of socialism they can vote for something else and the socialists, then, accept the results of the elections.

It is therefore more possible in systems of parliamentary proportional representation that lack a constitution - or have one that does not preclude or limit public ownership - where the people vote to elect an idea or party rather than an individual.

For more essential information on democracy and socialism and some of its history check out my blog post http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/mark-j-saulys/blog/2015/08/socialism-a...

liz banker 7 years 40 weeks ago

Sanders needs presidential secret service security protection. If Sanders gets too close to getting the Democratic nomination, don't be surprised by some freak accident that takes him out like they did with Kennedy, King, Karen Silkwood, etc. And who would be indirectly responsible for that "tragedy"....Just asking, Chuck Todd, MSNBC, and other media and political apologists for Hillary Clinton.

agelbert's picture
agelbert 7 years 40 weeks ago


You left out one VERY IMPORTANT reason why most Americans will support Senator Sanders for President:

Senator Sanders has submitted legislation to eliminate the subsidies for Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power. That corporate welfare queen THEFT is a HUGE millstone around the neck of America that AIDS the polluters and HINDERS the 100% Renewable Energy transition that would provide jobs and a chance to survive Climate Change.

Sanders, with representative Keith Ellison, recently proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which they say would cut $135bn of US subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. “Between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility, and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8bn on lobbying, much of it in defence of these giveaways,” according to Sanders and Ellison.


Many conservatives are keenly aware of this. People get tired of being ripped off by the fossil fuel government. They can add and subtract.

For example, gasoline prices have not been cut anywhere near what they should have been cut.

The amazing way a pipeline here, or a refinery shut down there (accompanied by copious crocodile tears about wanting to provide us a "service"), manages to keep gasoline prices "inelastic" (on the way down, OF COURSE - they have a hair trigger on the way up!) so they go up at a moment's notice despite that bla, bla about all the "good, prudent, business" reasons they don't go down is more mindfork as per Orwell speak and Machiavelli.

One must know how to color one’s actions and to be a great liar and deceiver. – Niccolo Machiavelli

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato

Joe Mauk called BS on a recent crocodile tear piece by an oil industry shill titled "Why don't gas prices fall?":

"At $80 a barrel being 42 gallons of gas at $1.60 a gallon, then $49 dollars a barrel should be at about .95 to $1.30. The figures for a barrel of oil to a gallon of gas is over a $1.50 more per gallon than it needs to be so, they are making profit, what they report losses on is anyones guess."

BarbieRedSox's picture
BarbieRedSox 7 years 40 weeks ago

I'm a Vermonter and Bernie gets 71% of the vote. In the last gubernatorial election neither party got 50%. That should give you an idea about our split. The turnout is always greatest when Bernie's on the ballot. And I have a vet friend in Florida who is conservative, and he likes Bernie. The DNC doesn't get that Bernie has a better chance of beating the Republican nominee than Hillary. Hillary has way too much baggage, not the least of which is the role of Monsanto and Goldman Sachs in her campaign.

bobbler's picture
bobbler 7 years 40 weeks ago

While I agree Bernie will get conservative votes because his ideas just makes so much sense. I do not agree this is the only reason he is the better choice of beating the Republican nominee then Hillary. Too many liberals are burned out on Democratic candidates acting like liberals to get elected, then after the election is over there are not that much different than Republicans. I used to think I speak for myself but now I'm absolutely certain there are millions like me; whereas I feel if Hillary is the nominee I will be lukewarm on whether I bother to vote or not. I'll vote for Bernie for sure, but I am sick and tired of voting for Democrats who are corporatists ( trickle down economics) not much better than the Republicans.

flyguy8650's picture
flyguy8650 7 years 40 weeks ago


Finally, you have convinced me, Bernie is a Change we Can Believe In. I am a centerist independant. Social Moderate and Fiscal Conservative. BUT - It is clear that truth speakers like Bernie are much needed in DC. The old guard must be removed with a peaceful revolution. However, it does scare me about Bernie getting too much support and the Banksters and Power Hungry elites working up some diabolic end to the Bernie movement. I hope we can show just how strong the citizens are and how our democracy can improve. We need a radical change. I am a bit fearful of trying to turn a 300 million non-homogenous population into at Denmark/Swiss style Social Democracy. That is a big risky move if not done very thoughtfully and carefully. Our education system is putting out functional illiteriate citizens like water flowing down a mountain. Stupid voters get stupid results. Which is why we are where we are today. I support the movement with a slight fear of what could result without really caring and truthful support teams. Perhaps Bernie, Dr. Carson, Carly F. and O'malley, Rubio and a guy like Kucinisch could sit together and hammer out at new US system. Anyway, I hope we dont get Hillary or Bush because that means we are doomed. Thanks for finally moving me a little more to the left of center.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 40 weeks ago

Democratic Party bigwigs are more afraid of Bernie than they are of Republicans. His winning the presidency as a Democrat is much more a threat to their corrupt little status quo than any Democrat losing to a Republican.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 40 weeks ago

Bobbler, in the dictionary, where they have the definition of a Democrat acting like a liberal to get elected then, forgetting the people and serving the money instead, governing as a conservative, they have Bill and Hillary's picture.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 40 weeks ago

Trump vs sanders. I would pay good money to see that debate. I am not a big Bernie fan. America can't afford his policies but he would kick trumps ass.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 40 weeks ago

I don't trust a word Coulter spews out, she's attention seeking much the same way for example the Sex Pistols did......be extreme with attention grabbing statements/stunts, almost always offensive and dissolute. She's only in it for the shallow pursuit of money and self puffery. Who knows what she truly believes or thinks????...but she can't be as stupid as her rhetoric...I'm pretty sure of that.

The ridiculous demonization of the word socialism, and the ignorance asociated with the demonized meaning is Bernie's worst enemy. If Bernie wins the primary, Coulter will be the first to scream...he's a socialissssst, playing upon the average citizens misunderstanding of the word.

On the other hand I know for a fact that Trump is an under regulated capitalist in the true sense of the meaning.....a person obsessed with out of control self-enrichment with little or no regard as to how that impacts society as a whole.

Vegasman56 7 years 40 weeks ago

Thom here's something that you might like


mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 40 weeks ago

Before the 14th Amendment, U.S. citizenship derived from state citizenship, rather than the other way around.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 40 weeks ago

After all that the republican party has invested in Hillary Clinton, of course they want her to be the democratic nominee, They ASSUMED she would be the next nominee as soon as Obama was elected and began trying to discredit her so they could beat her in the next election. It's been said that when you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME and that is what the republican party is doing to themselves. Ann Coulter is right for once. All of their Hillary bashing is is telling people not to vote for Hillary but it's not telling them to not vote for Bernie. For republicans, Hillary is the beatable candidate. After all, they've been stockpiling ammunition to beat her with for years and when Bernie gets the nomination, because of their Hillary bashing, they are going to be faced with a candidate they weren't prepared for. I've never had much respect for Ann Coulter or her opinions but I believe she's right. Bernie Sanders will be the next president because FOX can't shut up about Hillary.

mannapat's picture
mannapat 7 years 40 weeks ago

What I love about Bernie, is he is educating the public about Democratic Socialism, and he's really dis-arming the fear-mongers by doing this...simple education. Our education of the masses is woefully lacking. Also, Bernie is not only seeking out and speaking to Republican groups, many of them are liking what they are hearing. Bernie is savvy to the actual numbers of Americans who like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and they like what he is saying. By the time of the actual election, he will be able to use Republican videos against the Republican candidate. And his solution to increasing and sustaining these programs is valid, and in fact, setting a transaction tax, and eliminating rich corp loopholes is necessary to sustain this country.

In fact, it's probably past time to support a real, viable opponent to Paul Ryan. Just get that sick puppy out of Congress. Maybe Boehner should be retired, too. :P

mathboy's picture
mathboy 7 years 40 weeks ago

If you think of it as a strategy, it seems brilliant to have Hillary Clinton up front taking all the Republicans' flak, so that Bernie can come in and sweep up when she bows out at too late a date for the Republicans to figure out how to bring him down. Just like Trump is taking most of the Democrats' flak, and that party doesn't seem to be worrying about Walker.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 40 weeks ago

Kend, we can afford Bernie's policies, we just have to have a more equitable sharing of the wealth. We've done it before we can do it again.
Bernie knows what he's doing and what he's talking a out. He's not any pipe dreamer.

ANNofARK's picture
ANNofARK 7 years 40 weeks ago

I still cannot agree with Bernie Sanders defining himself as "socialist" or "democratic socialist". Both definitions a/ not accurate ( after all, Socialism , by definition, is government MONOPOLY, which Bernie opposes ) and b/ tainted by negative connotations ( too many dictators fancied themselves as "socialists" ).
When I'm explaining Bernie's platform to my Republican and Conservative friends ( and even to one Monarchist among them.... ) , I use the definition which certainly catches their attention and opens their minds :
" Social Democracy as a political system and Free Market as an economic system".
I.e. the leaders of the country are to be elected by the democratic voting while the country's economy is to be free of monopoly and free of preferential treatments of corporations, so every business plays by the same rules. I.e. no "too big to fail" and no "too big to compete with".
( I'd say that the whole idea of "incorporating" / relieving business owners of liability for their actions should be outlawed , but I yet to see if any candidate comes with this point in his platform .
So far not even those who are not after corporate money are not likely to think about it, though for different reasons. (Mr Trump is exploiting corporate laws himself , after all )
Anyway, the platform offered by Senator Sanders is designed to create truly free market economy , friendly for small businesses and start-ups , with banks broken into small ones and barred from speculation - so funding businesses will be , again, their main source of profit. Which will encourage creation of new businesses - be it private ones ( for conservative -minded people ) or co-ops ( for democratically - minded folks ) .
Which , combined with social reforms of Bernie's platform , can only be accurately described as "FREE-MARKET Socialism".

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 39 weeks ago

Reply to #5: Bobbler, I couldn’t agree with you more. I a sick and bloody tired of corporatist Democrats. They’ve done much of the damage we’re suffering the consequences from now, and they’ve laid out the red carpet for the likes of Baby Bush. The best thing we can do for ourselves and our country is purge Congress of both Repugblicans and Blue Dogs. Unless we do that, Bernie Sanders (if elected) won’t be able to get much done, and then we’ll have to hear the conservatives tagging Bernie Sanders “ineffective” as Commander And Chief. So please, everyone, let’s take the congressional elections as seriously as the presidential one!

Reply to #18: ANN, the socialism we’re talking about is not government monopoly; it’s The Commons, those things we depend upon just to survive and function, that give us a stable platform from which to build a life. Things like healthcare, education, utilities, the post office and law enforcement, that are supposed to keep civilization civilized. These things should never be privately owned or serve private interests. Your assertion about “free-market socialism” is patently absurd. Privatization is not only monopoly, it is the theft of the commons. We’ve seen what that gets us and we’ve had our fill of it, thank you.

chuckle8's picture
chuckle8 7 years 39 weeks ago

We need to always repeat the facts. Free markets always fail. From Pictarin Island to Prez Harding to rayguns deregulation to Gov Brownback.

Adam Smith did not believe in free markets. Only Milton Friedmann and his billionaire supporters obsess for free markets. As FDR said, they do want private enterprise they want privileged enterprise.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 38 weeks ago

Reply to #8— WOW Mark!! What dictionary, and under what word?!

Reply to #9: Kend, America can’t afford NOT to adopt Bernie’s policies.

Reply to #10: 10K, remember that old adage about a stopped clock? Ann Coulter is that stopped clock.

Reply to #14: RFord, I wholeheartedly concur. Like you, I’ve never respected Ann Coulter or her opinions either; but I think she’s spot-on here.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 7 years 33 weeks ago

I think Bernie appeals to Republican voters for the very simple reason that he also appeals to everyone else. He tell the truth and stands with the people instead of the very wealthy and corporations. Even simple little wedge issues carries no weight any more. People on the other side of the isle are so fed up and disgusted with the corporatist agenda that is being shoved down our throats that Bernie is a breath of fresh air. As he has overwhelmingly appealed to Republican voters in his home state of Vermont, I predict he will also appeal to Republican voters in every other state as well. Once they learn about him they will be so hooked you'll see former Republican voters canvassing neighborhoods and volunteering at phone banks. I predict a landslide victory as more and more people "FEEL THE BERN!!"

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