I don't see any harm in Bernie Sanders having a debate with Donald Trump. The end result of it would be the humiliation of Sanders as a candidate and it would have a tinge of freak show attached to it, making both Sanders and Trump look like the side show attractions they really are:
Bernie Sanders is helping stoke talk of a debate between him and Donald Trump, telling ABC's Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday night that the network had contacted the Vermont senator about a matchup between himself and the presumptive GOP nominee.
Kimmel opened up the discussion when he asked Sanders if he had seen Wednesday's show, when the host told Trump he had a question from Sanders' campaign, asking if Trump would be willing to debate the Democratic hopeful.
Trump joked, "How much is he going to pay me?"
"You saw the show last night? You saw what I did for you?" Kimmel asked Sanders.
"You made it possible for us to have a very interesting debate about two guys who look at the world very, very differently," Sanders replied.
Sanders would approach this from the professional standpoint of having debated opponents in the Senate and House races he has won in the past. There's a decorum followed in political debating that Sanders has demonstrated that he understands and follows. He concedes points of logic and that plays to his strengths as a politician who wants to create opportunities for change. His debates with Hillary Clinton have never delivered a knockout blow, however, because he does not have that blood instinct.
Trump has delivered at least a dozen if not more knockout blows to people who have had as much, if not more, debate experience as Sanders. He is formidable when it comes to deploying the dismissive language of an elitist. This would rattle Sanders immediately, who would rely on his command of information and reasoning to "win" when, in the modern setting, he would lose. He's a good debater, but he is not on a par with Trump. Sanders would adhere to the rules and use facts and figures; Trump would bulldoze past that with lies and dismissive statements. Sanders would play to the thinking audience and Trump would win the room.
In many of the Republican debates, Trump relied on being entertaining as opposed to being right. He found a particular set of insults that excited the crowds that he knew would go viral and become the story of the night. In a debate with Sanders, he would lose on substance, of course, but he would ultimately win in the 48 hours after the debate by delivering enough zingers to go viral. The media has to have quick summation videos in order to gather the clicks they need on their websites. You had this during the early part of the Republican Primary season--Trump would never land a hit within the accepted rules of any modern political debate but he would play to the cameras and the crowd and deliver key phrases and statements that would be picked up by the media.
Now, there's an offhand chance that Sanders and his people will be ready for this by studying the game tapes from when Trump literally destroyed Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and whoever else. What they would learn is that you have to have a better insult ready for Donald Trump without looking opportunistic. Marco Rubio tried this before the Florida primary and looked like an amateur. Sanders would look and feel foolish because it would be an unnatural stretch for him to return insults and act un-Presidential. With Trump, you have to be calm and turn his statements back on him and get people to laugh. Sanders could get people to laugh if he attacked the legitimacy of Trump and hit him on his insecurities. But Sanders is not Larry David and he's not that fast on his feet.
Hillary will have her hands full with Trump in the "real" debates this fall. Each contest will require a hell of a lot of adjustments and she will have to be ready for a fact-challenged man who hates women and who will not play within any established set of rules or decency. I think much of the reason why you hear her laugh more nowadays is because the rules have changed and she needs to keep a sense of humor. That will be her strength this fall.
Trump has won by being the un-Presidential guy sticking it to the fact-laden politicos. Why Sanders would want to go up against that smacks of desperation and poor analysis of why Trump won the Republican nomination. You could win every argument with Trump and still look like a fool because his insults will be the only thing that will get any coverage.