The real reason Hillary Clinton won the debate: optimism

Roundup
tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016, Bernie Sanders



Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Education.”

In 1987, when I was teaching social studies at a Vermont high school, Bernie Sanders visited my classroom. Sanders was running for a third term as mayor of Burlington, the state’s biggest city, but you could sense that his sights were set much higher that that.

Sanders would go on to win a seat in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate, where he has served since 2007. But he’ll never be President, for reasons that were also apparent when he came to my school. Put simply, Sanders was — and remains — something of a downer. And when it comes to electing people for the White House, American prefer sunnier dispositions to darker ones.

That was clear in Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, when Anderson Cooper asked Sanders if he considered himself a capitalist. Sanders replied with a gloomy attack on “Wall Street’s greed” and “the casino capitalist process.”

That left a perfect opening for Hillary Clinton, who provided a much more optimistic gloss on the matter. “When I think about capitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to ... make a good living for themselves and their families,” Clinton said, as the audience applauded.

Moments earlier, Sanders had urged Americans to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway” as models of welfare states that care for “working people.” Clinton wasn’t having that, either, highlighting the historic dynamism of America even as she acknowledged its present-day problems. ...




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