The short answer is Bernie Sanders. I love everything he says, just as fifty years ago, as a young college student, I loved George McGovern. They were both non-party hacks. Pied Piper candidates with a vision for our country that matches mine. Thus, irresistible and unelectable.
Politics is a grubby business. One full of conflict and compromise. Winning the Presidency requires assembling a coalition of factions and diverse constituencies. Our Constitution’s Electoral College system deliberately stacked the deck to favor the interests of the conservative rural elements of society. McGovern lost every state but one to Richard Nixon, a crook, who in comparison to Trump now, seems squeaky clean. The 1972 disaster gave us Republican ascendancy for twenty years except for four years of hyper-inflation under Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both from the rural South with deplorable brothers, were able to draw enough support there to win against weakened opponents. In Carter’s case, it was an accidental President who chose to pardon Nixon. In Clinton’s, a third-party candidate opened the door. Also the Republican right pilloried George Walker Bush for putting the country’s fiscal house in order after Reagan ran up deficits.
Since then the bottom has fallen out of the nation’s middle. Obama barely won with a brilliant positive campaign that promised hope. Hillary barely lost because she couldn’t hold on to conservative democrats and independents nor Bernie and Jill Stein supporters. Bernie has all of her problems plus two more: his age and his lack of support among the biggest single block of democratic voters—people of color. If elected, there is little chance his promises will be enacted. Everyone knows that.
Politics is a team sport. There are not enough white, left of center, progressive liberals supporting “Bernie” to elect an elderly independent Northern white male who has always chosen to shun the label Democrat.
If in 2020, as in 2016 he is not the candidate, he and his supporters may well deprive whoever is, of the strength and legitimacy needed to win.