The idea of Republicans voting Bernie Sanders for President may sound about as likely as hell freezing over – but the fact is that the democratic socialist from Vermont is winning supporters across the political and social spectrum. There is even a group on Facebook called “Tea Party Patriots for Bernie Sanders in 2016.”

What’s happening? Has hell indeed frozen over?

The answer is simple: people may not agree on social issues, but when it comes to the basic economic issues that affect everyday lives, they come together. Bernie Sanders has understood this fundamental fact from the beginning. As he said on the October 8th edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe with conservative host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough:

People are disgusted with the fact that almost all new wealth and income is going to the top one percent, that we’re not dealing with climate change, that we have a campaign finance system, as a result of Citizens United, which is pretty corrupt, allowing billionaires to buy elections…I knew those issues would resonate.

Yet, even Sanders is surprised at the response: “I did not believe that they would resonate as quickly and as strongly as they are.”

Scarborough acknowledges that while he doesn’t share Sanders’ ideology, “ It’s gotta be exciting that a guy that doesn’t want to talk about the process…doesn’t want to talk about the horse race, but he’s obsessed with the issues…he’s been obsessed with since the early 1960s…[he] is actually getting a voice.”

Spot on, Mr. Scarborough. That is a big part of the equation for Sanders. He does not talk about polls, engage in idle commentary on Hillary Clinton’s hair and makeup, or make personal attacks on his opponents. He has consistently focused on the issues that matter to the real mainstream of America.

Sanders also wants his supporters to understand that “democracy is not a spectator sport.” He wants to see more participation in the political process:

This campaign really is not about Bernie Sanders.  It’s about transforming America, and the only way we can do that is to revitalize American democracy…bring millions of people who have given up on the political process back into it, and prepare to stand up [to] very powerful people today who have…incredible power over our economy and our political life.

Sanders adds: “You’d be surprised…there are more than a few Republicans for Bernie Sanders out there…don’t be surprised if we do well with a number of Republicans.”

How is this happening? Again, Bernie explains it in eloquent, simple terms when Scarborough speculates that there are card-carrying members of the GOP who are just as angry about Wall Street bail outs and are distrustful of ill-considered, secretive trade deals as Progressives:

Let’s not dismiss the fact that there are strong differences of opinion…many Republicans are pro-life, I’m pro-choice. There are differences on guns, there are differences on gay marriage…but Republicans have to send their kids to college…working class Republicans can’t afford to do that. Working class Republicans have seen their factories shut down and moved to China. Working class Republicans are equally disgusted about a campaign finance system that allows billionaires now to buy elections. The message that we are bringing forth –we have got to come together. Wall Street and Corporate America cannot continue to dominate our political and economic life, that we need an economy that works for working families and not just the 1%…a lot of Republicans will respond to that as well.

And they are. Sanders is uniting people – and the corporate oligarchy remains in a terrified state of denial as they continue to dismiss him.

Sanders is their worst nightmare come true: a statesman who has cut through the BS of “wedge issues” and is addressing the real problems of the country in a way that is resonating with conservatives, centrists, liberals and Progressives.

Come to think of it, in Dante’s The Inferno, hell actually did freeze over.

Watch the complete interview

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.