Jeb Bush V. Bernie Sanders in 2016: Who Wins?

Dr. Munr Kazmir
4 min readMar 8, 2020

On a related note, do Democrats in leadership really know better than voters?

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. March 5, 2020. (photo: Gage Skidmore)

In the Democratic Party, NBC sniffily informs us, unlike in the Republican Party, the adults are in charge.

Democratic Party has its act together in a way the GOP in 2016 didn’t: Unlike the GOP, the Democratic Party remains an independent power source and counterweight to some of its adherents’ most extreme inclinations.” — Aaron Keyak, for NBC

The article goes on to suggest that if Republicans in 2016 had been quite as savvy as Democrats are being today in making certain Joe Biden gets the nod over Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush would have been the Republican nominee and Donald Trump would, even now, being starring in yet another season of The Apprentice.

Leaving aside all the breathless condescension for a moment- that the feckless, childish will of the voters must be tempered by their moral and intellectual betters who must save the voters from themselves- let’s think through this thesis.

Let’s play a game. Let’s go back in time to 2016 and imagine instead that the opposite of what happened in each party’s presidential primary actually happened. Jeb Bush v. Bernie Sanders.

Let’s imagine a match-up of Jeb Bush (Republican- Texas)- political legacy of the Bush family, best-loved son of late former-President George H.W. Bush, experienced politician, establishment-preferred candidate- versus populist folk hero Bernie Sanders (Independent- Vermont).

If Republicans in 2016 would have been foolish enough to buck the will of the voters and push the contest to Jeb Bush, Bush would have lost to Bernie Sanders in 2016.

In 2016 Republican voters were obviously deeply hungry for change and ready to back an outsider promising to get in there and shake things up.

Republican Party leaders, unsurprisingly, felt the exact opposite.

NBC is right about one thing: Republican Party leaders did not want Trump. Big-time Republican donors didn’t want Trump. The Koch Brothers still don’t like Donald Trump.

It was the Republican primary voters who voted for Donald Trump, reality television star, to be the nominee- not Republican Party leadership.