Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie Sanders - A Pragmatist View

I will admit that that I like some of the positions that Bernie Sanders is taking on economic issues and, of course America's broken American Dream.  But the former political party activist in me knows that the ultimate goal is to back a party candidate that can win come the general election. Given the swamp fever that has overcome the Republican Party it is even more important that no Republican win the White House in 2016 and thereby allow the Supreme Court to be further tilted against average Americans and needed regulations that hold robber baron like corporations in check.   It is this reality that has caused former Congressman Barney Frank to make the case why progressives should not back Bernie Sanders and in the process potentially weaken Hillary Clinton in the 2016 face off with the GOP nominee.  Here are highlights from his piece in Politico:

Republicans fear that if Hillary Clinton is nominated fairly easily, while they are locked in a bitter, lengthy, ideologically charged series of primaries with a large cast of characters of varying degrees of plausibility, she gets a head start for the real fight. . . . they believe boosting Sanders’ candidacy is their only way to prevent Clinton emerging as the nominee with broad support early in the process, strengthening her position in November.

They are correct.

I know that there is a counter-argument made by some on the Democratic left that a closely contested nomination process will help our ultimate nominee — that Clinton will somehow benefit from having to spend most of her time and campaign funds between now and next summer proving her ideological purity in an intraparty fight, like Mitt Romney in 2012 — rather than focusing on her differences with the conservative she will face in the election. But neither an analysis of the current political situation nor the history of presidential races supports this.

I believe strongly that the most effective thing liberals and progressives can do to advance our public policy goals — on health care, immigration, financial regulation, reducing income inequality, completing the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination, protecting women’s autonomy in choices about reproduction and other critical matters on which the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will be sharply divided — is to help Clinton win our nomination early in the year. That way, she can focus on what we know will be a tough job: combating the flood of post-Citizens United right-wing money, in an atmosphere in which public skepticism about the effectiveness of public policy is high.

Without any substance, some argue that she has been insufficiently committed to economic and social reform — for example, that she is too close to Wall Street, and consequently soft on financial regulation, and unwilling to support higher taxation on the super-rich. This is wholly without basis.

And as Paul Krugman documented throughout the 2008 nomination campaign, she was, on the whole, to Barack Obama’s left on domestic issues.

True, not on Iraq. Having myself voted against that terrible mistake, I agree that her position on the war is a legitimate concern for those of us on the left. The question then becomes whether this was a manifestation of a general tendency to support unwise military intervention, or the case of her joining every other Democratic senator who had serious presidential ambitions in voting for a war that the Bush-Cheney administration had successfully hyped as a necessary defense against terrorism.

I regard liberal senators’ support for the Iraq War as a response to a given fraught political situation rather than an indication of their basic policy stance — like Obama’s off-again, on-again support for same-sex marriage. . . . . Most relevantly for this discussion, she will clearly be for less military spending and intervention than the Republican nominee.

There is not only no chance — perhaps regrettably — for Sanders to win a national election. A long primary campaign will only erode the benefit Democrats are now poised to reap from the Republicans’ free-for-all.

Regrettably, I believe that Barney Frank is correct.  Therefore, we need to focus on making sure the Republicans go down to defeat in November, 2016. 

1 comment:

EdA said...

Ralph Nader owns some part of the responsibility of hundreds of thousands of people killed in Iraq, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and the destruction of the American dream for tens of millions of Americans.

I hope he feels proud.

I agree with many of Bernie Sanders' positions, but I also have to agree that beyond a certain point, it would be counter-productive to encourage his candidacy.