Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bernie Sanders kicks off in Burlington today

Would someone please e-mail those Bold Progressives people and tell them?

For Democrats who had hoped to lure Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into a presidential campaign, independent Sen. Bernie Sanders might be the next best thing.

Sanders, who is opening his official presidential campaign Tuesday in Burlington, Vermont, aims to ignite a grassroots fire among left-leaning Democrats wary of Hillary Rodham Clinton. He is laying out an agenda in step with the party's progressive wing and compatible with Warren's platform — reining in Wall Street banks, tackling college debt and creating a government-financed infrastructure jobs program.

"I think our views are parallel on many, many issues," Sanders said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing Warren as a "good friend."

I don't find much speculation -- certainly none that's assertive -- about his potential running mate.

For Sanders, a key question is electability. Clinton is in a commanding position by any measure. Yet his supporters in New Hampshire say his local ties and longstanding practice of holding town hall meetings and people-to-people campaigning — a staple in the nation's first primary state — could serve him well.

"Toward the Vermont border it's like a love-fest for Bernie," said Jerry Curran, an Amherst, New Hampshire, Democratic activist who has been involved in the draft Warren effort. "He's not your milquetoast left-winger. He's kind of a badass left-winger."

Richard and Margy Gerber of New York state plan to drive five hours to catch Sanders' hometown announcement. They also want to visit family in Burlington.

"I don't think I've ever been at a campaign announcement event in my life," Richard Gerber said.

Gerber remembers marching into Sanders' office during a visit to Burlington several years ago and telling a staffer that Sanders should run for president. Elevator doors opened, and Gerber suddenly found an opportunity to share the same message face-to-face with the senator himself.

"He sort of looked at me like I was crazy, I think, and just sort of thanked me for my support and got off of the elevator and went into his office," Gerber said, adding that he'd like to think his encouragement had something to do with the senator's decision.

Does Sanders have a shot at the presidency? "I'm realistic that it's not likely to happen," Gerber said, "but it'd be nice if it did."

And there you have the reality.  Wherever Sanders' campaign goes after today and wherever it ends -- shortly after the New Hampshire primary, I suspect, although he may still be on the ballot in March in Texas -- it's about sending a message.  No matter what anybody, including Sanders, may say.

He rejects the notion that he's simply in the race to shape the debate.

"Hillary Clinton is a candidate, I am a candidate," Sanders said. "I suspect there will be other candidates. The people in this country will make their choice."

Whether Sanders can tap into the party's Warren wing and influence Clinton's policy agenda remains unclear. But he has been on the forefront of liberal causes as Clinton has seemed to be tacking to the left.

Yes.  Ted Rall has some thoughts about Clinton's recent tilt.  And so do I.  It goes like this (again):

You can't tell us one day that Hillary is every bit as liberal or as progressive as Bernie, and the next day tell us that Bernie is too far to the left to get elected president.  (It would be as nonsensical to say that Sanders is too old, when Clinton herself is as almost old as Ronald Reagan was when first elected.)

You have to pick one argument.  You can't use both.

Meanwhile, you should let Democratic progressives -- the Warren wing -- have their moment in the sun without too much in the way of the continuing advancement of these obnoxious prevarications.

Once Sanders is out of the race, it will be your job to convince progressives that Clinton is someone they should get behind.  Personally speaking, I won't be doing that.  But you won't be able to blame me -- or anyone who refuses to get on the Clinton bandwagon for any reason whatsoever -- if she should lose.  Blaming the Green for the Democrat's loss is a 15-year old parlor game.  Let's stop playing it.

Votes are earned, not siphoned off.  Because the number of votes in an election is not zero-sum.  Because Clinton, through word and deed, has not demonstrated she is capable of earning mine.

Some additional reading if you are, or think you might be, like me:

-- Can the Democratic Party be used for good?

-- Debate: Bernie Sanders announces run for presidency. What should the left say?

-- Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

As I said on Twitter last night, I'm disappointed Bernie didn't arrange an F-35 flyover.