The links between campaign management style and presidential leadership are often overblown, but a Sanders’ presidency likely would look very much like a Sanders campaign.
Burns’ and Martin’s article in NYT portray a candidate who clearly walked out after Enjolras’ first victory in Les Miserables thinking “this Enjolras guy has got something – no way he could lose! That Marius has got no vision.”
According to Burns and Martin, Sanders essentially didn’t take strategic advice, refused to reach out to people for endorsements, and enabled his top advisors to feud.
Perhaps the most significant factor, as with every presidential campaign, was the candidate himself, and the stubborn ideological and stylistic consistency that both endeared Mr. Sanders to his supporters and limited his ability to build a majority coalition larger than his own progressive movement.
Consistency in message zealously binds his core constituency to him; but, as a result he could never make modest moves to convince not-Sanders voters to consider him.
The article does note that Sanders supporters were essentially unleashed; or, put another way, Sanders never really claimed ownership of their actions. Orders of magnitude less than Trump supporters, to be sure, but candidates along the campaign trail increasingly called him out on this (specifically Pete Buttigieg in the Nevada debate).
The authors don’t say it, but, one of Sanders major problems likely was that he didn’t know to be a front-runner. Or, put another way, he didn’t know how to be an established candidate.
Despite the divisions within his campaign, Mr. Sanders cut a winning path through the first few states to vote, culminating with a landslide victory in Nevada on Feb. 22. In his speech that night, Mr. Sanders sounded a unifying note, focusing on his “multigenerational, multiracial coalition.”
Encountering a pair of reporters in a Las Vegas hotel that evening, Mr. Tulchin — strolling to dinner with Mr. Weaver — crowed that Mr. Sanders had delivered a speech worthy of the general election. Mr. Weaver was more subdued, noting that the primary fight was not over.
The speech turned out to be a blip between Mr. Sanders’s anti-establishment diatribes. And there was little aides could do to steer him in a different direction: The chief speechwriter on the Sanders campaign was Mr. Sanders.
Sanders as chief speechwriter may make him authentic, but, also makes him the center of a campaign that he thought would almost run itself once Americans came to the collective consciousness about his candidacy.
Eventually, Sanders can go back to the Senate full time where he can deliver the same speeches he’s delivered on the campaign trail, but, largely to Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.