Note to the Reader: The same message applies as before. Please note: No matter how unrealistic you think a Sanders win is, please put that aside and just bear with me. I do not like Sanders personally, and this is not a fanboy article for him. I just want to lay out a possible scenario of what could have happened if he had won.
Bernie Sanders, despite the rigged Democratic primaries, beat Hillary Clinton soundly, and swept the country with a 65% share of the total Blue vote and 62% of the delegate count. The Senator did this by focusing on his socialistic ideals and went after Clinton a lot. He attacked her age, career, and the fact that she hung onto her husband. He never said the “Nobody cares about your emails” bit, and refused to endorse anything she said that was in his camp. He acts like a true outsider, and this behavior enchants the Democratic base. Hillary does not concede defeat until the party nominates Sanders as it’s nominee. Obama realizes that there isn’t going to be a Clinton presidency, and shuts up about the race altogether. He knows Sanders is to the left of him, and tries to live out his presidency as best he can. Clinton, on the other hand, doesn’t stop. She first claims that Sanders colluded with the DNC to stop her from winning. Evidence comes out that the opposite is actually true, and she drops that allegation. She then picks up the ‘Russia narrative’, that the Russians hacked the DNC to release the emails proving her collusion against Sanders. This action goes largely unnoticed. Nobody cares anymore about her. She’s the little child at the birthday party, screaming because she’s not the center of attention. Clinton sues the DNC, but then drops the lawsuit after Bernie starts to point out that she was the one committing collusion. Bernie’s actions further popularize him in the Democratic Party. During the primary season, he was seen more as a loose cannon; one who would say and do something to blow up the Democrat’s chances of winning. However, him being the victim of the scandal now puts him in a good light, and his support among the Democrats and some Independents grows. He reaches a 68% favorability rating among Democrats overall, and retains a 20% favorability among Independent voters until Election Day.
Donald Trump notices this shift long before Clinton concedes defeat. He stops attacking Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and instead starts going after Bernie mid-April 2016. However, he only has a few topics to go off of. His message shifts to: “Bernie wants to prosecute and re-try Citizens United. Sanders also wants a hike on the minimum wage. He wants to tax businesses at an insane rate. Besides all of that, Sanders is a devout Socialist. What American would want a European-based ideology? Trump touts all of these points up until the day of the DNC’s nomination.
In their own race, Cruz and Rubio notice the shift, and Cruz, the more daring of the two, chooses to attack that point. “Trump is already choosing the nominee!” He parrots. “He’s so arrogant!” This rhetoric makes Cruz lose support among Republicans, and his favorability drops to a critical level. This is because most of the GOP voting base realizes that the Democratic race has indeed slimmed to Sanders over Clinton.
Rubio takes the opportunity, and chooses to drop out of the race. He then endorses Trump, and urges voters of Ted Cruz to abandon their ‘desperate’ nominee. The action works; Cruz further loses support among Republicans, and is all but forced to drop out in shame. Trump capitalizes on the event, and calls for Republican unity. Since he’d stopped attacking his fellow running mates long before, his call is listened to a lot more than in our timeline. John Kasich still remains in the race, but continues to suffer defeat after defeat by Trump. Thanks to the call to unity, Trump gains more and more support from the GOP, and whips Kasich into submission (politically). Kasich withdraws sooner than he did in our timeline, and Trump takes a portion of his small base into his own. The GOP convention passes, and Cruz still refuses to fully and vocally endorse Trump. This bankrupts Cruz’s popularity and support, and the move effectively ends his political campaign for a while.
As the summer rolls on into fall, Trump and Sanders battle it out over who’s better at being themselves. Sanders somehow claims the moderate vote, and Trump secures the evangelical vote base. This proves to be his weakness as Election Day approaches.
On Election Day of 2016, Bernie edges out a win over Trump, as he gets a vote of 298-240. Bernie gains 28 more than the needed 270 votes, and flips Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and all 4 votes in Maine. Of the states that voted, Vermont (of course) votes over 80% for Sanders, and Florida is the lowest gain percentage, with Sanders winning that state with a margin of 50.1% to Trump’s 49.9%. Of Trump’s states-won, Oklahoma was his biggest block, with him winning 86% of the vote there. Montana was close behind, with him winning 82% of the vote. Iowa was Trump’s lowest state win, with him only irking out a win with 50.01% of the vote to Sanders’ 49.99%. All of these vote totals were after recounts, by the way. Before the recounts, both states were flipped the other way; Florida had been 50.1% Trump to 49.9% Sanders, and Iowa was 50.00% Trump and Sanders even splits. Recounts in both states showed that .2% of votes in Florida had been miscounted, while 0.01% of Iowan votes were miscounted for both candidates. Republicans and Democrats both called foul for both races, and Iowa, the least of the issue-states, called the recount after November 8th at 2:05 p.m. Florida, the worst of the two, called it’s race on November 12th at 3:45 p.m.
In the Senate, of the 34 seats that were up, Democrats gained a net of +15 seats. That means that the Democrat’s balance in the Senate sits at 63 over 37. In the House, the Democrats take it back; once the final seat is called, the Democrats hold 255 seats to the GOP’s 180.
The reason I say “Sanders irked out a win over Trump” is because one has to look at the voting data to know that. In Electoral College data, the win is huge. The victory of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida add up to 65+ votes for Sanders. Without all three of these states, the win would turn into a huge defeat. Trump lost all three of these states by narrow margins. We already covered Florida, but we forgot Michigan and Pennsylvania. In Michigan, Trump lost the state by 48% to Sanders’ 52%. That’s a 4-point difference. That’s a difference of ~191,000 voters. That’s around 2,000 more voters than Clinton had in Idaho (in our timeline; she had roughly 189,000). In Pennsylvania, Trump lost that state to Sanders by 2 percentage points. That’s around ~122,278 votes. To put that in perspective, Trump only got around 6,000 more votes in Hawaii. To put it further in perspective, Trump’s tally in Hawaii was only 29.4% of the total vote. So, Bernie flipped Pennsylvania by around 20% of Hawaii’s total vote (based in our timeline).
Republicans are mad. They just lost all three branches of government to the Left, and lost the Presidency to a self-described Progressive. In our world today, if someone went on the Progressive tag-run, they’d get less than 50% of the national vote. What happened to the South? What happened to Florida, Michigan, and the other states? Don’t they know what they’re getting themselves into? This candidate wants to ‘equalize the middle class’ and provide ‘equal pay’ for all minimum wage jobs.
The economy takes a downward turn. No, it doesn’t crash, but it never does rise again under Sanders’ reign.
Sanders’ promise of a $15 minimum wage has mixed effects on the US. Currently, as of 2018, there are around 7-8 states that have a minimum wage lower than 7.25 or even none. Places like Georgia and Alabama (who have federal rules in place to supplement lower-earning businesses) can pay their employees less than 7.25 per hour. I imagine Sanders’ policies would not spare these companies; he’d make them pay the full $15. There are literally states that don’t even have a set minimum wage (6 states, including Tennessee). These states would probably suffer the largest profit-decrease, as they would have to set businesses to an actual paying standard. Of the ~40 states that pay above the current minimum wage (like California and Michigan), their profit margins would take a lesser hit from these hikes, as they would only need to increase employee pay anywhere from 7-2 dollars (for instance: DC’s MW is $13, while Montana’s is $8.30). These increases on MW, in addition to the tax increases from the Democratic-controlled House, would cripple and hamstring the economy. Not only would businesses start laying off mass amounts of workers, but small businesses would start to wink out of existence, as they would fail to either meet the tax burdens or pay their workers (if they weren’t paying $15 already). Despite all of this, I do believe Sanders’ plans would call for a break for those companies that had already been paying their workers more than 15 dollars per hour. Maybe he would push for that, maybe he wouldn’t. I’ll only propose that idea for now.
Let’s shift to energy. Another aspect of Sanders’ energy policies is the TPP, Keystone, and the Paris Accords. Sanders and Clinton met each other on the topic of energy: both wanted ‘clean, renewable energy’ and to ‘cut carbon emissions’ from companies. While America is nowhere near the largest producer of CO2 emissions on the world stage, it would be good to reduce emissions for a while. However, the politics Sanders would want probably go too far. First, Sanders would call for the (either) shutdown of CO2-producing factories, or that those factories be charged for producing too much CO2 (they’d set a national limit; I believe Obama either had a similar policy or proposed a similar policy). In addition, Sanders would want an increase to the Paris Accords. He’d pour in more funding to the Accords, effectively wasting money on a mandate that we were already shouldering the burden for anyway. The money for the Accords would be taken from the military; Sanders is more of a non-interventionist (to my knowledge), and he’d keep his stance alive by defunding more of our military. He would probably cut funding to several training/building programs, and would even possibly de-commission several ships from our fleet as well. I don’t say this out of spite for Sanders-I honestly think he’d do something like this. And no, it’s not because ‘he hates our military’. The TPP was another issue on Sanders’ campaign trail. He wanted to scrap the TPP and NAFTA, as it didn’t help America out in the end. So, what would Sanders do instead with NAFTA and the TPP? Well, I think Sanders would renegotiate both deals, and would re-establish both under different names and have different parameters. It would help both America’s trade places and it’s revenue stream. However, I don’t believe Sanders would be a strong negotiator. Yes the deals would largely remain in place, but there would be no actual change to them. Keystone would be different, though. Sanders would get his wish, and Keystone would be shut down. We would instead have to rely on oil and energy from other sources, which would hurt the coal and oil industry even further, and the unstable market of ‘renewable energy’ would crop up. The government would cut funding from other programs supporting coal and ‘nonrenewable’, and would focus entirely on these renewables. It’s because he probably thinks we don’t need all of the military power we have. This lowering of one budget and raising of another would also take into account another budget: Healthcare.
Sanders was most popular during the 2016 campaign for proposing universal-style healthcare for America. He used several countries in Europe as a possible modeling system for his plan. Like these countries, Sanders would lower the military budget to pay more easily for healthcare. Either that, or the mandate would go unfunded for many years. I’ll go off the first path for right now. Sanders would cut spending in key areas like the military and space exploration, and would transfer the new budget space to the Healthcare arm of the government budget plan. His proposal would be very expensive (‘trillions of dollars’ expensive). The proposal would not work, as it would bankrupt the US’s current economy. We’d first be taxing businesses-that would result in fleeing companies and lower tax revenue nationwide. Second, we’d have increased the Minimum Wage-that would result in both small businesses closing their doors and medium sized businesses hiring less workers. Third, the added burden of cutting CO2 emissions and pouring more cash into the Paris Accords would add up to a lot of missing revenue. Cutting the military budget would only lessen one portion of spending-and would only liquidate a small amount of money for the Healthcare Mandate. Economists have speculated that the Sanders-Cortez healthcare plan would be so costly it would mean we’d be paying it off for years. According to http://www.usdebtclock.org, the current US National debt as of December 11th, 2018 is in the 21 Trillion dollar range, and thousands of dollars are adding by the second. Multiple sources, including NPR (a liberally-leaning news outlet) estimated that Sanders’ plan would cost the US 32 Trillion dollars. That’s almost twice the national debt. Now, I can’t make an accurate prediction of how the market would suffer with the new burden; I haven’t seen any models which can accurately show the outcome of a 32 trillion burden, but I will tell you, our economy would look a lot worse than it did in 2018. There would be little growth, and a lot of lessening potential thanks to fleeing businesses.
Taxing the rich would hurt Sanders’ appeal to the richer elites of the Democratic Party. He would advocate UBI (Universal Basic Income), as well as the establishment of a far more rigorous tax-police system. Loopholes would disappear, and middle income families benefiting from these loopholes would start to dislike Sanders’ plans. Another aspect of this would be income inequality. We just talked about the Minimum Wage, so now let’s discuss the issues with wealth dispersion. Sanders would advocate for a redistribution system where wealthy people like Tim Cook or Jeff Bezos would have to pay a certain amount of money per year into a shared distribution center-fund. This fund would also require normal citizens to pay an equal percentage of their income into this fund. It would act like an insurance agency, but would hire, house, and shelter those who were poor or underclass. This would further anger more fiscally-conservative rich businessmen, as they would hate to fund such a ‘lazy’ endeavor. This would result in more businessmen and their businesses leaving the US for a more money-friendly country nearby, like the newly Capitalist Brazil. This wealth distribution would also affect charities. Since people would be forced to give to a government-run charity, they’d shy away from larger donations to private charities. As a result, some smaller charities would cease to operate, and their causes dropped.
One last section of the discussion should be reserved for ‘campaign finance reform’, ‘free college education’, and the Supreme Court.
We’ll cover the ‘Free college’ first. Sanders promised to fight for lower tuition costs, as well as less loan debt for college students. He’d achieve this by going after the universities. While Sanders likes the college education system, he would want the system to listen to him. How would he do this? He’d provide incentives for those colleges. If a college wanted to receive a tax break, they’d have to include a certain number of ‘free tuition’ certificates (for number verification) when they asked for such a break. In a matter of words, ‘You scratch my back, and I’ll play nice with you’. This would spark accusations of corruption from fiscal conservative-liberals, and would also trigger anger from a lot of anti-tax break advocates. The legislation would be praised by Progressives and millennials, but a lot of other people would oppose it. The reason Sanders didn’t get a full ‘Free college education plan for all’ is because it would be way too expensive. At this point, with free healthcare and the struggling economy, it couldn’t handle much more abuse from this addition. So, Sanders would push for a deal of sorts.
Secondly, we’ll move on to ‘campaign finance reform’. For one thing, we have multiple cases to go off of. Dinesh D’Souza would not be pardoned for his ‘crime’ of violating campaign finance laws. He would be made an example of, and wouldn’t be released for the foreseeable future (or at least until Sanders is out as President). Rosie O’Donnell used multiple addresses to skip around the number limit of donations, and was never prosecuted. I don’t believe Sanders would go after her, since she’s not really a great target for him to act on. Sanders would push for stricter limits on donations, as well as a possible tax increase on those who would donate more than the allowed amount. However, the loopholes would not be closed, as Sanders would overlook these. In addition, the Senate and House would not want their political finances to dry up. Thus, campaign finance reform would die in the Congress.
Lastly, we’ll cover the Supreme Court. Scalea’s replacement would be a progressive ‘living and breathing constitution’ kind of judge, who would side with the Left on a large majority of issues. Nobody else would be replaced; Kennedy would not want his position taken by a radical, and Ginsburg wouldn’t trust Sanders’ nominee. The Court, however, would then have a Progressive/Left wing majority. The Left would have Kagan, this new judge, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor. The Right would have Thomas, Kennedy, Breyer, Roberts, and Alito (possibly). I may be wrong: I know the first four are definite left-leaning. However, I’m not sure about either Breyer or Alito, so that tips the balance to either 5-4 Left, or 6-3 Left. This means that Sanders’ more progressive policies, like the restrictions on Minimum Wage decreases (that could happen) would be free to go through. The only possibility I can think of the Court being more balanced here would be the scenario that Alito or Breyer side against the Left in certain cases.
MAPS: 270towin.com was the site I used to compile the possible outcomes of each election. If you have any questions about each state flipping a certain way, please let me know through the comments section of this blog, or on Twitter.
BERNIE WIN (2016, Trump v. Bernie): https://www.270towin.com/maps/BRdJk