The music group Blondie was hugely successful in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They sold 50 million records, and played to sold out arenas.
Then they broke up.
In 1997, Blondie reunited, and experts expected a massive, sold-out tour and fan frenzy.
It didn’t come to pass.
They released a well-received single, but overall the second coming of Blondie fell far short of phenomena levels.
The music group The Police was enormously successful in the early 1980s. They sold 75 million records, and played to sold out stadiums.
Then they broke up.
In 2007, The Police reunited, and experts expected a massive, sold-out tour and fan frenzy.
And they were right.
The Police had the highest grossing tour of the year and again played to packed stadiums.
So why the difference in reunions?
There are probably dozens of issues to focus on, but I’m only interested in one: image.
When Blondie stepped on stage for the first time in years, every member of the band looked their age. Debbie Harry, once a glamour model lusted after by many, looked like any average middle-aged soccer mom.
When The Police stepped on stage for the first time in years, Sting wore a sleeveless vest with nothing underneath. Muscles showed. Stewart was still wiry. Sure, Andy looked slightly puffy, but he was never the focus of the band, Sting was. And Sting looked great.
In his novel Blink, Malcolm Gladwell described our immediate, unconscious reactions to… well, everything. Repeated studies show humans pass judgment on one another within fractions of a second. So, even if people didn’t admit so openly (or even understand consciously) what was going through their head when each band took their respective place on the reunion stage, before a note was played or a lyric sung, each band was scrutinized by how they looked.
As fans, we get angry when our Gods are proven mortal.
So what does this have to do with Bernie Sanders?
Many jokes have been made at the expense of Bernie Sanders and the way he looks. “Crazy Grandpa,” “Wild eyed Uncle…” He has unkempt hair, and ill-fitting suits. Should any of that matter when it comes to the content of his speeches?
“But he’s drawing arenas of supporters! His message is resonating with the people!”
All well and good, but we’ve been down this path before. In the year 2000—say that like you used to while watching Late Night with Conan O’Brien, if you must—Ralph Nader laid the template for a “Man of the People” run at the presidency. He filled arenas, spoke his mind, flew coach, inspired people…
…and ended up with 2.74% of the popular vote.
Two reasons: one, when people get into the voting booth, they vote fear and “strategy,” not conscious. Two, the machine.
The political (specifically Democrat) machine doesn’t want a Bernie Sanders nomination. The machine likes safe, middle-of-the-road candidates. Boat rockers always appeal to the fringes, but never the masses.
Donald Drumpf is currently leading the Republican candidates, and his supporters love the way he speaks his mind and is unfiltered. This might not be a popular statement, but Bernie Sanders is the Drumpf of the left. He’s not being called out as being such, because his thoughts are rooted in intelligence. Drumpf gives wonderful sound bites about war heroes and immigrants; Sanders discusses student loans. Only one of those is fun enough to make the news and excite the masses.
While they hold completely different ideologies, they are following similar trajectory paths. Immediate, early support that will hare to the eventual party nomination tortoise.
“But if every person who says ‘Bernie can’t win’ would actually vote for him, he would win!”
Right, but they won’t.
People will stand in the voting booth and think they’re doing the right thing by holding their nose and voting for the “electable” candidate.
It’s how it’s always been, will always be, and falls directly in line with the Men In Black argument against the line, “But people are smart.”
“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals.”
Not that it means anything, but what do Bernie Sanders supporters really believe he could change once ensconced in the mess that is American Government? Will Congress or the Senate let him get away with his agenda?
“But he’ll fight for it!”
Do you not remember the enthusiasm surrounding Barack Obama?
We love to build our idols up, only to tear them down.
Again: we hate watching our Gods become mortal.