When Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007, I turned to my girlfriend and said “that guy on TV right now? He’s going to be our next President.” I was confident beyond reason itself that Senator Obama would defeat Hillary Clinton and serve as a great Commander in Chief… for a week, anyway. It didn’t take long for the naysayers to start taking their toll.
On a daily basis, I was repeatedly told by friends, family, and perfect strangers alike that Barack Obama had no chance of winning the primary, let alone the presidency. They’d scoff at the notion that a black man sporting “Hussein” as his middle name could ever defeat Hillary Clinton, one of America’s favorite First Ladies and a highly experienced Senator, who represented my state of New York for eight years. I stood by Obama through thick and thin, but in those early few months of his candidacy, there were many a night where I wondered if perhaps this skinny Hawaiian community organizer had bitten off more than he could chew.
But over time, Obama’s campaign stops grew bigger. Rallies started setting and breaking records. Nonpolitical TV shows were mentioning Obama and making jokes about his meteoric rise. And by that summer, several of my liberal friends, who had previously rolled their eyes at my endorsement of him and cynically wrote him off as a future Super Tuesday burnout, were suddenly telling me that they were fired up and ready to go.
Today, I’m seeing much of that same attitude on display as Bernie Sanders is making bigger and bigger waves. My liberal friends who once passed him over as a pipedream are closing out every social media message with #feelthebern. Sanders’ rallies are getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. The web is starting to flood with pro-Sanders memes. The momentum is starting to turn, and it’s becoming easier and easier to realistically imagine Bernie Sanders parking himself behind the Resolute desk.
Of course, Sanders still has those pesky naysayers. Those Hillary supporters who refuse to acknowledge the Sanders campaign as anything more than a passing fad, a millennial-powered fluke that won’t put up much of a fight once the real primary fights start heating up. It doesn’t matter that Bernie Sanders is outpacing Obama’s 2008 campaign. It doesn’t matter than Sanders recently beat Hillary in a New Hampshire poll, or that he’s been gaining solid momentum in other polls. To them, Sanders doesn’t stand a chance, and backing him is a waste of energy.
That negativity passed down to others as well. It’s quite common to encounter would-be Sanders supporters, who say “I want to see Bernie Sanders win, but I don’t want to get behind him just to see him lose.” Of course, one would point out that if enough people do get behind him, he can’t lose. But that pro-Hillary negativity certainly does seep its way into Sanders’ base. Luckily for us Sanders fans, those sentiments tend to be overwhelmed by the growing popularity Sanders is receiving.
Will Bernie Sanders win the primary? It’s still too early to really tell, though there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful. One thing is abundantly clear, above all else: Sanders’ meteoric rise shares a number of striking resemblances to Obama’s campaign in 2008, and if I were Hillary Clinton, this is around the point where I’d start thinking about part-two of her famous “glass ceiling” speech.