The Colonies: Bernie Sanders’ Son Suggests a Campaign of Competing Gimmicks

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Bernie Sanders’ only begotten son, Levi, is running for Congress in the state of New Hampshire, though he doesn’t have to file papers for three months and doesn’t yet live in the target Congressional district. (The Constitution only requires one to live in the relevant state, but a campaign away from home would be an embarrassment.)

Levi’s home in Claremont is in the Second of the two districts: rural inland towns to the west and north. That district is already solidly in Democrat hands, while the First District is suddenly open, former social worker Carol Shea-Porter early in her term saying she would need more time with family, which for a career politician can only mean that, after boycotting the Trump inauguration and joining the unanimous resistance to all legislation, she has nothing left to prove and no one left who wants it proven to him.

The more urban First District covers the coast and the state university and extends inward to the big city, Manchester. Republicans drew the district to contain and neutralize Democrats, but it has recently been in play, reverting to Shea-Porter when Republican Frank Guinta got bogged down in a past episode in which $355,000 of his parents’ money wound up in his own campaign account. The conventional wisdom is that people move north from liberal Massachusetts to New Hampshire’s First District but bring their disease with them. However, border towns like Plaistow are the state’s most conservative, whereas the outstate district is poorer and eager to hear that it is someone else’s fault. Claremont itself is notorious for underfunding its town schools and then successfully suing for statewide equalization.

Levi has so far done nothing beyond declare his candidacy and state his famous surname. Another famous surname, Chris Sununu, is the governor, having none of the wit that father-and-son John placed in the service of all things Bush, nor the stones to follow the law and relocate an aggressive bear, once an Internet petition got started.

Levi was not present as his seven competitors for the Democratic nomination imitated one another last week, regarding a gun control bill Shea-Porter co-sponsored. She said, “One law can’t stop every mass shooting, but we can make them less deadly and less frequent,” though the previous ban on “assault rifles” did no such thing; and on the next less-frequent massacre, we can trot out another bill. “We need to take action now.”

The state whose motto is “Live Free Or Die” has two other interchangeable leftie women as its U.S. Senators. Democrats have moved solidly left but Republicans have drifted in the same direction.

The notable contenders for the Republican nomination are Andy Sanborn, a prominent conservative in the state senate; a county executive who has already called Sanders a “carpetbagger” (the obligatory reference to northerners rushing in to kibitz in the pacified South after the Civil War); and Eddie Edwards, a newcomer who touts Republican values but is little past slogans when it comes to stating what those values might be. The older Sanborn brought folksy to a local-party meeting in the southern tier, whereas Edwards brought aides, lawn signs, and literature on every table. Also black skin, which will delight the Gimmick Wing of the party, those who tout one candidate’s “electability” each year regardless of whether he gets elected, the assumption being that you are less electable if someone needs to explain actual ideas. And someone needs to explain Sanborn’s; he made activists’ eyes bug out by stating that his abortion “position” is “pro-life, with the standard exceptions,” the Bob Dole dodge under which the fetus is a person when the politician wants to use it as a poster child, but is not when the politician instead wants to use a victim of rape or incest. Edwards got substantial press, several months ago, delivering a rebuttal in the name of the Republican Party for Charlottesville, Virginia (where Antifa thugs encircled a “free speech” protest with racist undertones, a driver mowed down a protestor, and Trump was vilified for not suitably stereotyping and disavowing his own supporters). Edwards’ gratuitous speech suggested he would be perfect at carrying the Republican flag on any ideological battleground the Democrats choose.

The city of Laconia, in the north of the First District, got national headlines last week for becoming one of the latest two places where Republicans lost a state-level by-election “since Trump was elected.” The NEA teachers’ union and the AFSCME government workers’ unions spent the money and got Democrats’ baseline turnout; for the Republicans, the statewide newspaper says “Americans for Prosperity, the National Right to Work Committee, New Hampshire Right to Life, and Gun Owners of New Hampshire all sat this one out.” But Edwards was there campaigning, as he will be whenever policy specifics are not required.

The eventual primary is not the notorious Presidential Primary where New Hampshirites trudge through snow; it does not even happen until September 11. There is plenty of time for fireworks; and a Sanders versus Edwards final campaign could give the state one more bout between extremism and equivocation, a black guy hoping blackness is enough versus a white guy trying to prove he is blacker.