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That’s what his stare has been saying to me all this time: ‘At least I galloped – when did you?‘ Psychiatrist Martin Dysart talking about his patient’s passion for horses in the play “Equus”

Many Republicans are relishing the news that Bernie Sanders is creeping up on Hillary Clinton in national and Iowa polls and seems to be running away with New Hampshire. “After all,” they contend, “Bernie Sanders is a socialist there is no way he can win.”  Allow me to suggest that they should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it.

RCP Average Nat. Democratic Polls as of 1/19/16

RCP Average Nat. Democratic Polls as of 1/19/16

Going into Iowa in 2008 many of those same Republicans were saying the same thing about Barack Obama, that this first-term senator with friends as radical as his leftist ideas would be a much easier candidate to face than Hillary Clinton That didn’t work out very well, did it?

In an election year known for voter anger and unpredictability Republicans would be better off facing a “dynasty” candidate like Hillary than a true radical populist/socialist like Bernie Sanders

There are many reasons for Sanders’ rise in the polls, not the least of which is he is the Democratic Party Trump. The Vermont senator appeals to angry Democrats in a similar matter that the billionaire businessman appeals to Republicans.

On first glance, the cantankerous 74-year-old Vermonter seems better suited to be sitting on his porch telling kids to get the heck off his lawn.  But months of impassioned speeches about how millionaires and billionaires are screwing the middle class is finding a growing grass roots audience.  Perhaps it’s his message which takes the Obama class warfare to the extreme, or perhaps it’s something more, like passion.

And it is that passion which is appealing to progressives tired of the same old-same old coming from the establishment Democrats. Most interesting is that Sanders’ strongest appeal comes from the younger voters who according to the Boston Globe, favor him over Hillary by a 2-to-1 ratio. They see Sanders as more believable, more genuine:

Many said they see the white-haired socialist with the briny Brooklyn accent as an appealingly consistent crusader for the causes he believes in.

Some said they believe that bedrock authenticity is lacking in Clinton, whom they called more of a shape-shifting politician.

“I think Bernie is relatable, he’s cozy; he’s like your grandfather who tells the truth,” said John Anderson, a 32-year-old architect who was working on his laptop at Dirt Cowboy Café, a coffee shop near campus that doubles as an unofficial clubhouse for Sanders’ organizers.

“Your grandfather can be a little bigoted and a little off the cuff, but at least he’s honest,’’ Anderson said. “I don’t think Bernie is bigoted, but he comes across as being the most genuine of the candidates.”

Just like Trump’s GOP appeal, Sanders says he is fighting against his party’s “establishment” who did their best to rig the nomination process and guarantee a Clinton win. Their play of favoritism is especially in the limited amount of debates scheduled for times least likely to be seen by anyone who isn’t a shut-in, or lying in a hospital bed.

Sanders’ rise has come from attacking Clinton as the same old failed policies and a pawn of the establishment, the exact way that Trump’s rise to the top was initiated with attacks on Jeb Bush.

During the last debate, Sanders’ passionate responses made people stand up and notice despite the contest being buried on an evening opposite NFL Playoffs.

Sanders’ debate win has roused the party establishment to wake up and start attacking the Vermont Senator. And now it seems as if the Democratic Party establishment is starting to attack the outsider. An article in the newspaper of record for the party faithful, the New York Times sought to remind voters that Sanders is a self-declared socialist:

Governor Jay Nixon : “Here in the heartland, we like our politicians in the mainstream, and he is not — he’s a socialist.”

Senator Claire McCaskill : “The Republicans won’t touch him because they can’t wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle.”

[Former NCCC Chairman] Congressman Steve Israel : “’Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to explain socialism to suburban voters,’ said Representative Steve Israel of New York.

What happens if the national election is Trump vs. Sanders. Well first of all it will be very nasty. Neither candidate is known for holding his tongue. Sanders whose positions have been fairly consistent over his career, will attack Trump for his recent policy changes.  In this case rather being a question of whether or not Trump is really a conservative as it is during the primaries, the question will be– has Trump changed his opinions to get the nomination and what does he really believe? Trump is a moderate having supported things such as single payer health, partial birth abortions and higher taxes in the past.   It will be passion vs. political expediency.

I am not saying that Sanders would be an automatic (or any other kind of) win over Trump or any GOP candidate.  What I am saying is that a candidate with a galloping passion such as Bernie Sanders may be more difficult to beat than a scandal-plagued dynasty candidate, Hillary Clinton who veered leftward during the primaries and pivoted to the left center for the general election.

Remember, be careful what you wish for…you may get it.

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