Friday, March 07, 2014

Bernie Sanders for President

I'm all in.

In some senses, Sanders is the unlikeliest of prospects: an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate but has never joined the party, a democratic socialist in a country where many politicians fear the label “liberal,” an outspoken critic of the economic, environmental and social status quo who rips “the ruling class” and calls out the Koch brothers by name. Yet, he has served as the mayor of his state’s largest city, beaten a Republican incumbent for the US House, won and held a historically Republican Senate seat and served longer as an independent member of Congress than anyone else. And he says his political instincts tell him America is ready for a “political revolution.”

In his first extended conversation about presidential politics, Sanders discussed with The Nation the economic and environmental concerns that have led him to consider a 2016 run; the difficult question of whether to run as a Democrat or an independent; his frustration with the narrow messaging of prominent Democrats, including Hillary Clinton; and his sense that political and media elites are missing the signs that America is headed toward a critical juncture where electoral expectations could be exploded.

Keep reading that piece or watch this interview with Bill Moyers.

I don't care which party he runs in -- Dem, Green, or as an indy -- he's got everything I can give him in terms of money, time, shoe leather, and unlimited cell phone minutes. As for where he shows up on the ballot, these tea leaves suggest that, while still undecided, he's leaning blue.

If and when you do start a full-fledged campaign, and if you want to run against conventional politics, how far do you go? Do you go to the point of running as an independent? That’s a great challenge to conventional politics, but it is also one where we have seen some honorable, some capable people stumble.

That’s an excellent question, and I haven’t reached a conclusion on that yet. Clearly, there are things to be said on both sides of that important question. Number one: there is today more and more alienation from the Republican and Democratic parties than we have seen in the modern history of this country. In fact, most people now consider themselves to be “independent,” whatever that may mean. And the number of people who identify as Democrats or Republicans is at a historically low point. In that sense, running outside the two-party system can be a positive politically.

On the other hand, given the nature of the political system, given the nature of media in America, it would be much more difficult to get adequate coverage from the mainstream media running outside of the two-party system. It would certainly be very hard if not impossible to get into debates. It would require building an entire political infrastructure outside of the two-party system: to get on the ballot, to do all the things that would be required for a serious campaign.

The question that you asked is extremely important, it requires a whole lot of discussion. It’s one that I have not answered yet.

Hand to heart, I'd like to see him run as a Green.  That's where he fits best, and he could really help build the GPUS into the kind of player it is in Western Europe (particularly Germany).  A thriving democracy needs more options, but it just won't happen until we get the money out of our system, and there is simply too much entrenched opposition -- from the media, consultants, and even the electeds who profit from it -- for that to happen in my lifetime.  In a craft beer world, it's a shame that Americans only have Bud and Bud Lite from which to choose politically.

But if Sanders ran as a Democrat, he would disrupt the stale conventional wisdom and quake the so-called liberal party to its foundation.  And that also needs to badly happen.

Let's be clear: after yet another long, loud, somewhat divisive Democratic presidential primary season in 2016 -- as in 2008 -- Hillary Clinton would emerge as the nominee.  Not wounded either, but battle-hardened.  And Sanders will have accomplished as much of his task as is possible: pulling the establishment away from the right and back to the left.  And perhaps a few other beneficial things as well.

Good thing, because we're in for a couple of miserable years, as I take reckoning today.  Greg Abbott is more likely than not to be the next governor of the Great State, with Dan Patrick running the state Senate as lieutenant governor.  The Texas Legislature will be 2/3 majority in both houses, which gives the worst conservatives in the country carte blanche to do whatever they like.  The United States Senate stands a better than 50% chance of flipping red after November 2014, leaving Barack Obama without a working phone but with a pen he will have to use to veto every bill he gets from Congress.

We ain't had no gridlock until you see what that looks like, folks.  No SCOTUS justices confirmed (to say nothing of appellate courts and Cabinet nominees), debt ceilings fail to get raised... just your basic governmental apocalypse, that's all.  Thanks, Tea Party!

But in 2016, another Democrat will get elected to the White House and the US Senate will flip back to blue.  Hell, the moderate Republicans may have even iced Ted Cruz by that time, after he loses to Hillary in an electoral landslide.  He returns to being a loud-mouthed backbencher in the upper chamber, though, so not exactly the most fortuitous outcome.  You can't have everything.

Bernie Sanders running for president shakes up the Etch-A-Sketch a little.  Not enough, but it's as close to a revolution as America is capable of.


Gadfly said...

Actually, the GOP state rep here expects the party to lose numbers in the House and come in at about 95. Small glimmer of hope.

PDiddie said...

Anything is possible at this point (I suppose) but I see a 2010-like Red Tea Tide sweeping the state. Perhaps marginally less worse than that. Lots still to play out.

Unknown said...

It would be great if he ran, and running as a Green would be a good idea for him, since he'd have automatic ballot access in so many states as a Green. He'd be able to focus funds on the OTHER states and on actually campaigning that way.

If he ran as an independent, even getting on the ballot in a state like Texas would become a VERY expensive challenge.

I will not be voting for Clinton under any circumstances, so having someone like Sanders to vote for come November 2016 would be a dream come true.

PDiddie said...

There's already that "Nader Traitor" crap being spewed at him for considering a run as a Green, which I have previously and thoroughly debunked). So that is really my only hesitation about Bernie as a G: the shit he will have to endure from blind partisan Ds.

I'm with you on Clinton, Katy, and I'm with Sanders no matter what.

Greg said...

Speaking as a Republican who would never vote for Sanders or Clinton, I would be thrilled to see him run for President as a Green in 2016.

And not just because I think that would guarantee a Republican victory.

I think having a major third party candidate who is not crazy (see Ross Perot), racist (see George Wallace), or a no-name (see John Anderson) would dramatically improve the political discussion in this country.

PDiddie said...

Nothing guarantees a Republican elected to the White House in 2016.

And I do mean nothing.

Hillary Clinton could die after she is nominated and the country would still elect whomever replaces her at the top of the ticket.