"We are starting a political revolution tonight"
That was the comment from Bernie Sanders after his expected win in neighboring New Hampshire last night. Sanders and his followers believe that their close lose in the closed caucuses in Iowa and their win in the tiny Granite State are signs that America at large is embracing the idea of Democratic Socialism. But when the Clinton Political Machine and the "establishment" at the Democratic Party eventually win out in this long process, who is going to lead the "revolution"?
Keep in mind that Bernie Sanders is 74-years old. Ronald Reagan was 73 when he was elected to his second term in 1984. And he's not even a Democrat. He was elected to the House of Representatives and to the Senate as an Independent in Vermont. He's running for President as a Democrat because he knows a third party candidacy would be political suicide--and by at least claiming to be a Dem, he would get a place on stage for at least a couple of early debates.
So if a 78-year old Bernie Sanders decides not to run in 2020, who becomes the Democratic Socialist candidate? The next most-liberal member of the Senate is Al Franken. The convenient thing about Al running for President would be that he could do his own parodies on Saturday Night Live--since he is very familiar with how the show works. Would Russ Feingold pick up the Democratic Socialist flag and run with it--even if he doesn't win a return to the Senate this fall?
It's easy for one candidate who makes for good late night television appearances and who delivers a populist message of being Robin Hood to build a niche following for one election cycle. But that doesn't automatically mean the next person who claims to be "next Bernie Sanders" will enjoy the same popularity. And would Sanders even "anoint" someone as his "successor"?
The scary thing is that there could be a local "revolution" brewing--as city councils and school boards across the nation would eventually fill up with people who believe in high rates of taxation and government promises to fix all of your ills--without actually having to run as declared Socialists. That is much easier to do in elections with 10% turnout and no major media campaigns. That may be an even greater threat to America than some old hippie enjoying a couple of months in the spotlight.