I always admire people who have issued themselves the WTF license to say whatever they truly feel and believe without worries whether it is politic or polite. Today's "Damn the Torpedoes" Award for Political Discourse goes to Vermont Senator and potential Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for his interview with Thomas Frank appearing today in Salon Magazine. (Thomas Frank is the well known author of "What's the Matter With Kansas).
Bernie Sanders: Longterm Democratic Straegy is "Pathetic"
Please read the interview and then join below for discussion.
What exactly is the pathetic part of the Democrats long-term strategy? Bernie defines it as the belief that inertia and demographics will carry the day in the not too distant future:
I’ve been to those meetings with very high-ranking campaign leaders. And that’s exactly what they say. So what they say is, during the Obama campaign, “This is how we’ll win this election. We’re going to get a huge percentage of the African-American vote. We’re going to get 67 percent of the Hispanic vote. We’re going to get 58 percent of the women’s vote. Et cetera, et cetera. All those trends are on our side. And that’s how we win elections.”
During the course of that discussion, the issue of how the party that created Social Security and Medicare is losing the senior vote—or even the issue of seniors—was not there. They have a list of the 87 different categories, and kind of toward the bottom is seniors. The white working class of America, which now votes overwhelmingly for Republicans, was not mentioned. Now, how can it be that the party that is struggling to raise the minimum wage, to fight for pay equity, do reasonable things for working-class people — not enough by any means — is losing the white working class to the other side? Very little discussion about that.
So I am not a great fan of this. I understand demographics. But it has to do with what your political values are. And if your value is to expand the middle class of this country, provide healthcare to all people, educational opportunity for all people, it’s not just winning elections. It’s not just being better than another party, which is now an extremist party with racist overtones. You can’t go through your life saying, “Hey, you think we’re bad! You should see them! Vote for me! Yeah, we’re pretty bad, but they’re worse!”
Thomas Frank then comments that being the lesser of two evils appears to be the reason the Democrats exist. (my paraphrase )
Bernie then advocates standing up for policies that benefit the entire swathe of the working class which encompasses all demographic groups and to FIGHT Wall Street and the "people who finance campaigns" and says this is not where the Democratic Party is today.
He goes on to say that while there are clear differences between the two parties, one being Right-Wing Extremist and the other being"Centrist", that what is needed is not "centrism" but a clearly defined "Progressive" agenda that works to address the needs of a collapsing middle class as well as confronting the other issues of poverty, high unemployment, campaign finance reform, 40 million people still with no access to health care, and climate change.
So, if Bernie runs, what are his chances?
I was in a diary the other day where someone made the simple observation that good policies make good politics and attract people regardless of media support or lack thereof. I believe that the economic situation of many Americans is so dire that they are finally at the stage where they would be willing to vote for whoever they think will address their bread and butter pocketbook issues.
I think Bernie might do a lot better in a Democratic primary than TPTB might think. He was effectively ignored by the media for turning out 350 voters to a basement in Iowa the other week. I actually wrote a diary about it, but didn't get around to publishing it - it was titled "We Can Like Bernie Sanders, We Can Admire Bernie Sanders, But We Can't Be Serious About Voting For Him" and cited a piece by Charles Pierce in Esquire wherein he noted that of all the potential contenders running for President, i.e. Jindal, Perry, Warren, Walker, Cruz, Christie, Clinton et al, the only one being castigated as "unelectable" seems to be Bernie Sanders. Pierce referred to a Crooks and Liars piece where the great minds of Chris Cilizza and Andrea Mitchell agreed that Bernie could never fund raise enough to reach a level of credibility.
Pierce's column made me realize that I myself have already been co-opted into the "You Can't be Serious" contingent when I have signed onto and repeated the meme about how valuable Bernie Sanders would be "if only" : to further the discussion, to push Hillary left, to embarrass the moderates, to give voice to the Progressives, yada, yada, yada.
The author of the Crooks and Liars article cited by Pierce, Susie Madrak, indulged in some political heresy by opining that it might be possible for some candidate like Sanders to rise and thwart the Big Money media dollars:
But what is that money needed for? Advertising. Does Bernie Sanders really need all that much advertising? He's a brand. Most Democrats know who he is and know what he stands for. I think he's going to attract lots of grassroots support -- and a ton of small donors.
At the root of their oblivious comments is that fact that our Corporate Media denizens have no idea how hard life is for most people now, and how many people are struggling. They read charts and graphs that says the unemployment rate is improving, and they don't have a clue about life with the crappy, low-paid jobs that are pumping up those numbers.
They don't feel our pain. They never will. But Bernie Sanders does, and I think he has the potential to be a credible candidate. I guess we'll see.
A few more musings like that and Madrak will never see another cocktail weinie!
So what d you think? Should Bernie run? Is he "credible"? Could he mount a campaign that could actually threaten the candidacy of Hillary Clinton or anyone else? Will the media accord him any respect or will he be consigned to UFO questions like Dennis Kucinich or asked questions like who he admires more- Che Guevara or Fidel Castro?
Let me say here that I personally am not interested in supporting any candidate who enters the race simply to "move the conversation leftward". I am only interested in supporting a candidate who "is in it to win it" as the bromide goes. What Bernie has to say has a lot of appeal for me as a voter.