During Thursday’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders traded insults, complements, innuendo, and big government solutions to problems created by big government. Although there were plenty of absurd ideas tossed back and forth, perhaps the strangest comment came not from a candidate, but from a moderator.
After the debate had concluded, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wrapped up with a salutation and a supplication.
We also want to thank our host, the University of New Hampshire, and the people of New Hampshire. You guys get to vote in just five days. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Don’t screw up.
“Don’t screw up”? Huh?
Maddow seems to be implying that New Hampshire voters could “screw up” by selecting the wrong candidate when they go to the polls on Tuesday. But how?
How would choosing one of the two remaining candidates be “screw[ing] up”? Of course, they have their differences. But from the Democrats’ perspective, both are well liked (at least within their bubble) as highly experienced public servants with almost identical positions on almost every issue. It’s not like one of them is under investigation by the FBI. It’s not like one of them isn’t actually an elected Democrat. Their party is inexplicably okay with either of them as the nominee.
Even if she prefers one to the other, it would hardly be a devastating loss for Maddow or her party if the wrong person won in New Hampshire. This is just the second of 50 state primaries awarding delegates to determine the eventual party nominee for the presidential election. No one is being sent to office by the votes cast on Tuesday, so a even a “screw up” would be only a minor one easily corrected by the course of the next 48 votes to be held over the next few months.
Is it the Democratic primary nominating process itself that Maddow doesn’t trust? It’s not like the winner is being determined by a coin toss in contested precincts. It’s not like party bosses aren’t actually counting votes in some locations. It’s not like there is an all-powerful oligarchy that can sway the election away from state voters if it doesn’t go the right way. (The guy running on the platform of one-person-one-vote campaign finance reform chose *this* party?) What’s not to trust?
Maddow has actually hinted at what she meant in a Playboy interview published on the same day as the debate.
People love him. They really do feel the Bern. He gets tens of thousands of people to turn out, but that sort of economic populism is a tough sell. The diagnosis is right; the cure isn’t easy. My prediction for Bernie: populist hero forever but hard to imagine him still being there at the convention.
While she agrees with him and respects his campaign, Maddow doesn’t expect Sanders to go all the way and become the Democratic nominee. She prefers Hillary. And that’s fine; she’s entitled to her opinion. But she should probably stop insisting that she’s just a newswoman with no political bias or agenda at all.