Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An end to pragmatism: the Impossible Candidacy of Bernie Sanders

In a functional, normal, give and take Democracy, it might make sense to elect a pragmatist, someone who "knows how to get things done" like Hillary Clinton.  But if Obama's presidency (and Boehner's resignation as Speaker of the House) has revealed anything, it is that pragmatism isn't enough in today's environment.  No amount of reasonable debate will bring the right wing to the table to hammer out a compromise on the top issues of the day.  They aren't listening.  They aren't coming.  They didn't come to play.

The classic insider saw is "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the possible"--but when compromise is impossible, there may be no downside to seeking the perfect.    When even Hillary's parsed, middle-of-the-road, compromise plan to reduce student loan debt is DOA on Capitol Hill, why NOT seek free public university education for all students like every other country has?  When even Obamacare's warmed-over Republican market-based system is considered Socialism, why not push to expand Medicare to every man, woman and child?  There was a time in this country which such things were possible.  Why couldn't that time come again?

Enter Vermont independent socialist Bernie Sanders who is rocking the establishment with his unrepentant class warfare.  And listen to them squirm.  Bernie did great in last night's debate, and yet the mainstream media is fawning all over Hillary Clinton trying to restore her to undisputed frontrunner status lest Sanders' insurgency disrupt BUSINESS as usual.

Last night and this morning I heard commentator after commentator say "he did well, but didn't expand his base"--they WISH.  How do they know this?  It sounded like a Wall Street talking point.  Plus it's one thing to say Sanders "didn't expand his base" if he was polling at 8% or something, but his "base" is getting bigger all the time and is infringing on Hillary Clinton's "base" which is why she had to do some serious podium thumping on one of Bernie's only weak points with progressives, his support of rights of gun owners (the other weak point is his support for Israeli hummus at the co-op).  (by the way, while we're on the subject of gun rights, while I disagree with Sanders this subject, if it were any other Democrat surging in the polls with this voting record, people would be talking about how he might be able to hold swing states like Pennsylvania or West Virginia in a general election but no one wants to talk about a Sanders candidacy that seriously).

At the end of the debate, Sanders reminded us that no other candidate is telling you the truth that he is telling which is that to get ANYTHING that he is talking about or any of them are talking about through Capitol Hill, will take a sea change.  It will take new voters.  It will take new energy.  It will take paying attention. It will require massive action.  And it will require campaign finance reform.  The policies that Sanders is pushing are worthy of all that.  To paraphrase FDR when he got elected President running on the New Deal platform,  "now go out there and make me do it."


Anonymous said...

Why not support Sanders, indeed. He is a radical centrist--his views are middle of the road, supported by the majority of Americans--left and right.
Here is a link to Ralph Nader's book Unstoppable.

Megan Bacon said...

Love this.