- - Wednesday, February 19, 2020

In life as well as in politics, the head follows the heart.

Led by a brew of emotions, we use our minds to contextualize, rationalize, much less articulate what we’re feeling inside even if we don’t know why.

Well, this explains the increasing partisan hysteria among Democrats panicked that Bernie Sanders is back, a redux from 2016 that for establishment Democrats four years later feels like a drug relapse.

Individually and collectively, they are openly riffing that Mr. Sanders as their presidential nominee would be a calamitous colossus for “every other Democrat on the ballot,” an election year disaster waiting to happen.

The Boston Globe, like others in the media, attempted to offer a ‘yes, but’ analysis by posting, “Is Sanders the Democrats’ best hope, or worst fear?” (before, of course, treading more toward the fear and froth angle).

While the party elders attempt to steer the herd closer to the center line — to an experienced Mike Bloomberg, an underdog Amy Klobuchar, an insurgent Pete Buttigieg, or a once-front running Joe Biden — the drove continues to buck, attracted by a stray bull unafraid to speak his truth.

Of course, Bernie’s truth includes Medicare-for-all-insurance-for-none, free college (and free everything else, screw business big and small, and sports a foreign policy influenced by past friendships with such stellar role models as Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega.

Yet Bernie Sanders scores high with the public, always has, when it comes to believability. We trust what he says, even when what he says drives us nuts.

Ergo, a new USA/Ipsos poll proclaims that Mr. Sanders is trusted, far and away, more than any other Democrat among voters, all voters. The poll affirmed that 40 percent admire Mr. Sanders’ character, values and empathy, 9 points higher than Joe Biden, 10 or better than Mike Bloomberg and Mayor Pete. Despite Hillary Clinton’s documentary film rant that “nobody likes him”, people like Bernie plenty, even if they fundamentally disagree with most of his policies.

Trump confidante Kellyanne Conway once put it best regarding which two things voters ask themselves about any candidate: “do I like you, and are you like me?”

Bernie Sanders may be irascible but he’s real; he may be off-putting but he’s not with purpose; he clearly has full-throated spleen for corruption and greed in the private sector, but also a full-spirited passion for the plight of the downcast and the down-trodden.

Bernie Sanders also fits the new paradigm, a populist out to disrupt and dismantle a system he believes is stacked against the little guy, the establishment elites who have demeaned and discounted them. Kind of reminds you of the big guy on the other side of the fence who nearly four years ago was widely discounted before being wildly supported.

Both the president and Bernie Sanders have figured it out. At a time when huge majorities of Americans distrust both government, and each other (Pew Research pegged that distrust last year at 75 percent and 64 percent respectively), both are directing their messages at a public thirsting for someone, something, anything, to believe in and to trust.

That same Pew study painted an even starker picture about American confidence, about how Internet-fueled invective spawns individualism and isolation.  Beyond affirming Americans are now almost 50/50 on whether to accept the results of any election, the biggest “distrusters” are minorities and the young, the very groups Democrats need to power a national election.

Yes, Mike Bloomberg is a self-made American success story. Granted, Joe Biden has given his all to public service. Sure, Mayor Pete’s emergence is a positive sign in the body politic.  

Yet while pragmatism drives general elections, passion wins primaries.

Right now Bernie Sanders is bringing it, in defiance of the DNC deniers out to stop him and media out to get him, in the only way he knows how: Full-throttle.

• Adam Goodman is a media strategist who has advised Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Jeb Bush. He is the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3

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