What’s so bad about promising everyone a pony, though? Republicans do it all the time. Annie Lowrey puts it well:
It tells you something profound about the way that Bernie is running his campaign. He has no interest in garnering respectability and credibility among Establishment Democrats. (He is not even a Democrat, after all!) He has no problem trotting out what many would call magic math, given that he disputes who gets to brand different things fantastical or crazy or extreme in the first place. He is acting much more like a Republican than a Democrat: appealing to the base’s heart, à la Donald Trump, rather than the Establishment’s head. And to be fair, it is a campaign that in its embrace of big, big liberal ideas and promise of big, big liberal accomplishments has thus far proven pretty magical.
This is a good point too:
Lots of liberals seem to believe:
1) GOP are political masterminds.
2) Acting more like the GOP is a terrible idea doomed to defeat.
— Jeff Spross (@jeffspross) February 18, 2016
I guess I don’t think Democrats will be allowed to promise ponies in our current political environment. The media will beat up on Bernie’s bogus predictions much harder than they’d ever beat up on Republicans’ bogus predictions, partly because the media likes to punch hippies more than it likes to punch wingers and partly because the Democratic base isn’t quite Jonestownish enough to defend everything its candidate says the way Republicans do.
I also don’t think the Republicans are political masterminds. Yes, they’re brilliant at getting away with things they shouldn’t be able to get away with. They’re a lot like like 90s New York Knicks. The whole Knicks strategy was to hack the other team brutally on defense and then blatantly travel every time they had the ball themselves (especially Ewing) and just see if they could get the refs not to call too much of it. It worked reasonably well, but they never won a championship.
But I also think maybe there should be some kind of pony Democrats can promise. Something simple instead of a complicated tax credit type thing. Atrios is right that “Modern life shouldn’t be so complicated.” Free college for everyone and free health care for everyone are simple ideas, and that’s got to be part of why Bernie’s doing so well.