Bernie?

I recently came across a most interesting piece on-line that deserves thoughtful consideration. It was written by a woman by the name of Rebecca Unger and it begins as follows:

I am a 22-year-old Democrat living in New York City. I work in a creative industry that pays a low salary. I am socially liberal: I believe in LBGT rights, a woman’s right to choose, women’s rights across the board, racial equality, gun control and confronting climate change in a major way. I am upset about income inequality. I believe rich people should be taxed more to help fund policy initiatives that benefit poorer people: healthcare and education and better infrastructure, for example. And yet the idea of voting for Bernie Sanders never once crossed my mind.

This is not about disagreeing with the message Bernie is preaching to Americans — I happen to agree with a lot of what he says. This is about the simple fact that his is an idealistic, naïve agenda that could never be put into practice in America. In this country, to legislate even one tenth of such an ambitious plan would take degrees of cooperation, sacrifice, even manipulation and such an immense amount of ‘give-and-take’ tactics that an idea that once stood untarnished, glistening at the campaign podium, would come out looking like a child’s napkin after a meal of spaghetti Bolognese. Yes, there may be some white patches left around the edges, but no bleach will ever get out all the stains.

Rebecca says much better than I do something I have been trying to say for some time. As exciting as Bernie is and as attractive as he is to all of us who care about the future of this democracy, there are serious questions about his ability to get a single thing done were he elected to the presidency. Unless he could somehow bring enough Democrats along with him into office (who are not bound to corporate sponsors), he would face a belligerent and uncooperative Congress — the same Congress that Barack Obama has had to deal with for eight years — and there is simply no way such a group would support any of his programs. And this is true even if it were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that his programs are feasible and of tremendous benefit to the country — as, indeed, they are.

The problem is the Congress, of course. It has been bought and paid for by the corporations and they are not about to allow a politician of Bernie’s ilk to stand in the way of inreasing their profit margins. They will doubtless meet and agree, as they did upon Obama’s election, not to support any of Sanders’ programs. And we will have another four years (at least) of gridlock. This would be bad for the country, to say the least.

Thus, despite the fact that Hillary has many battle scars and is a far less principled politician (and there are precious few of them any more) she does have the experience and political savvy to know how to get progressive programs through a recalcitrant Congress. She is flawed, to be sure, but those who now support Bernie Sanders and who insist that they will not support Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee are terribly naive. After all, the alternative — given the nature of the Republican candidates, especially the one who is currently leading the pack — is simply unacceptable. In the end, we must be realistic. And in this regard, Ms Unger’s determination not to vote for Sanders strikes me as equally unrealistic. Again, consider the alternative.

The sad fact is that Bernie has been an outsider all along as an Independent Senator from Vermont. He has few, if any, powerful friends in the Senate who could support, much less sponsor, any of his programs. He is right about so many things. But he is reminiscent of Don Quixote flailing against windmills. And, as we all know the windmills win in the end. It is sad, because Bernie represents a possible way not only to restore the middle class, as he says, but also to return a semblance of the democratic system to a government that is heading non-stop toward oligarchy. Hillary wouldn’t stop that trend, sad to say. But she is assuredly preferable to the alternative — no matter which off those clowns the Republicans finally come up with. And if Sanders were to become the candidate I would most assuredly vote for him even though I agree with most of what Ms Unger says. I prefer an ineffective idealist to an ignorant despot.

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7 thoughts on “Bernie?

  1. Bernie got my primary vote, despite the fact that I knew Hillary would win my state. I’ll reluctantly vote for her if she is the nominee. Yes, Bernie would have to battle the great behemoth of an obstinate Congress, but it’s so much better to try than to continue on and on the same, dreary path. That he has made it this far without becoming terribly jaded and morally defeated is really inspiring.

    • Inspiring indeed. From what I have seen and heard he would maintain that same demeanor throughout his presidency. But look at Obama now, compared with eight years ago. The job has taken its toll and it would on Bernie as well. I just don’t see this Congress changing all that much, sad to say.

  2. I don’t think there is an easy right or wrong answer here.

    Unless one can bring more Democrats into the Congress and/or more public pressure to bear upon congressional leaders, then NO democratic president can work effectively toward meaningful change.It would be truly naive to think otherwise. Senator Sanders, by the way, is the only candidate to have made this repeatedly clear.

    The question is, in part, whether Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders is more likely to achieve victory in a general election while bringing forth a greater voter turnout AND, at the very least, a few new Democratic Senators and Representatives. I do not think the answer here is automatically Secretary Clinton, though she is, without question, the most qualified candidate (assessed in conventional terms) ever to vie for the presidency.

    The messages of each of the Democratic candidates have been improved and broadened because of their competitive discourse with each other. This greatly pleases my democratic socialist soul.

    On the one hand, were Senator Sanders to become both the nominee and the president, I have full confidence that he would work heart and soul to carry out the agenda he has established over the past 40 years. On the other hand, were Secretary Clinton to become both the nominee and the president, I have little confidence that she would work to carry out the progressive agenda that has emerged from her campaign with Senator Sanders.

    Secretary Clinton’s background is that of a Democrat who has been consistently progressive on (most) social issues, to her great credit, and consistently conservative in her economic orientation and financial policies. This is what the history of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) has always been about. I refer to this as “Dixiecrat lite”, though with tongue in cheek.

    Secretary Clinton is very likely to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. I expect she would have a more difficult time defeating a Republican opponent than would Senator Sanders, based upon both the extant polling data and her own political history.

    Should Secretary Clinton be the Democratic nominee and become the president, I can only hope that she will make good on the progressive “turn” in her campaign. Skeptical though I may be, I will cast my vote for her and urge all Sanders supporters who have misgivings similar to mine to do the same.

    At the very least, liberals, progressives and democratic socialists have two primary candidates that have finally begun to address some of the basic issues the Party seems to have forgotten since the 1970s! This is hardly a bad thing, especially in view of ANY conceivable Republican alternative. The alternative prospects are altogether unnerving. Think Canada!

    At the last, I am mindful of Robert Reich’s observation: Hilary Clinton is adept at the politics we have; Bernie Sanders is adept at the politics we need.

    Idealistic, yes. Also true.

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