What 'revolution,' Sen. Sanders? A Republican one?
© Getty Images

I write this column on the morning of the New Hampshire primary. I expect Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP MORE (Vt.) to win the Democratic primary, probably by a substantial double-digit margin. Anything less would upset predictions made by virtually every single poll and pundit.


As I have said repeatedly during my TV interviews, I like Sanders; I like his progressive views, I like and respect him personally. But I must ask, respectfully: What revolution would occur if Sanders, a self-declared "democratic socialist" who calls for socialized medicine, higher taxes and a government takeover of — well — virtually everything, is actually the Democratic nominee? To answer that question, let's look at history first.

In 1968, other progressives and I worked for anti-Vietnam War candidate Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.) in New Hampshire and refused to work for the eventual Democratic nominee, progressive Democratic Gov. Hubert Humphrey (Minn.). The result: Richard Nixon's election as president.

In 1972, we worked for left-base candidate Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.), the Democratic nominee. The result: Nixon carried 49 states.

In 1980, we worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) against an incumbent Democratic president whom we did not consider liberal enough. The result: Ronald Reagan carried 44 states.

In 1984, we supported the great progressive Sen. Walter Mondale (D-Minn.), former vice president, who promised to raise taxes. Reagan won 49 states.

In 1988, we supported Michael Dukakis, progressive Democratic governor from Massachusetts. Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush won 40 states.

Only in 1992, when a liberal Democrat who governed Arkansas for a decade from the center with bipartisan coalitions — who supported liberal social programs but also insisted on individual responsibility, welfare reform and balanced budgets — ran as the Democratic nominee, did we win. Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonCybersecurity for national defense: How many 'wake-up calls' does it take? Who's in control alters our opinion of how things are Obama adviser jabs Hillary Clinton over Monica Lewinsky comments MORE was elected twice and left office after creating 23 million jobs, turned an inherited deficit in to a major surplus and left his second term with a 65 percent job-approval rating — the highest rating in the history of second-term presidents since modern polling was invented.

And in 2008 and 2012, we elected and reelected a president who was not only a progressive and the first African-American president, he also tried to govern, like Bill Clinton, from the center — attempting to reduce the deficit while enacting the Affordable Care Act; signing a global anti-global warming pact; and, through the Iran nuclear deal, getting a real chance to control or eliminate Iran's runaway race to create a nuclear bomb.

Yet in 2011, Sanders talked of challenging Obama, the incumbent Democratic president, for reelection because he was not progressive enough — just as he criticizes Democratic rival Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBudowsky: Closing message for Democrats Election Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach GOP mocks Clinton after minor vehicle collision outside Mendendez campaign event MORE now. Is it possible that today's pro-Obama Democrats would support Sanders over Hillary Clinton, who loyally served as Obama's secretary of State?


What is Sanders's message? Repeated over and over again (reminiscent of Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' Dems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism MORE [R-Fla.]): Tax billionaires; more anti-Wall Street rhetoric; abolish super-PACs.

But these are all positions supported by Hillary Clinton. And Vox's progressive editor, Ezra Klein, has criticized Sanders's proposal for socialized medicine as requiring higher taxes and one likely to lead to reduced medical services. And Nobel Prize-winning liberal economist, Paul Krugman, in his regular New York Times column, has analyzed Sanders's and Clinton's anti-Wall Street/big banks proposals and called Clinton's "tougher."

Why do progressives ignore these facts?

Many say their preference for Sanders is emotional — I understand and respect that. But do they seriously consider the consequences of a "Republican revolution" resulting in the GOP taking over the White House and the Congress if Sanders is the nominee — taking over the Supreme Court and overturning Roe v. Wade, repealing ObamaCare and all other progressive social programs?

Can they really trust current general election polls showing some Sanders's strength, while Republican super-PACs spend tens of millions attacking Clinton and ignore Sanders? Is there a reason why they are doing that? You bet.

To progressive Democrats, I respectfully ask: Do you want to take the risk that you are wrong — that in fact a Sanders nomination will more likely result in a Republican, not a Democratic, revolution?

At least before you vote today in New Hampshire or in future primaries, ask yourself those questions, look at the facts about Hillary Clinton's lifelong commitment to progressive fights and values, and then consider the risk: If you vote for Sanders and he ends up as the nominee and the country ends up with a Republican revolution, you will regret it for a long time.

Davis, a longtime friend and supporter of Hillary Clinton, served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton from 1996 to 1998 and is a Washington lawyer, crisis management specialist, and executive vice president of Levick Communications.