The misguided arguments by Democratic critics of Sanders


A new poll shows Sanders with a whopping 60%-33% lead over Clinton in New Hampshire.

Former secretary of labor Robert Reich offers comebacks to six of the most common criticisms expressed by skeptics of Bernie Sanders such as:

1. He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.
2. He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.
3. America would never elect a socialist.
4. His single-payer healthcare proposal would cost so much it would require raising taxes on the middle class.
5. His plan for paying for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean colleges would run by government rules.
6. He’s too old.

In addition to Reich’s responses, I would like to add my puzzlement to #2 by Clinton supporters that Sanders would be stymied by the Republicans in congress from advancing his agenda and so nothing would get done. It is very true that Republicans have tried to block everything that president Obama has proposed and would do the same with Sanders. But are they saying that Republicans are more likely to go along with Hillary Clinton? If so, what does that say about her other than that she is more aligned with them?

The idea that Clinton has incredible persuasive powers that will enable her to convert Republicans to a progressive agenda in ways that Sanders cannot is ridiculous. As an independent he actually has more experience working with those who disagree with him. What the critics really seem to be saying is that Clinton is more likely to adopt policies pleasing to the Republicans. Is that supposed to be a good thing? I would much rather have a president Sanders relentlessly hammering the message home to the nation that the Republicans are opposed to anything that benefits ordinary people than a president Clinton who will give away the store just to make a deal with them. As I have said repeatedly, we should be more worried by the things that the two parties agree on than those over which they fight, because they both agree on serving the needs of the oligarchy.

One encouraging sign is that critics who used to attack Sanders from the left and once spoke of him as a ‘sheep dog’ whose role was to keep Democratic voters within the fold and deliver them to Clinton at election time seem to be coming around to the realization that, for all the criticisms that they still make of him, he is not playing that particular game and is genuinely seeking to win on a progressive agenda. Andrew Levine is rethinking his earlier skepticism of Sanders and David Lindorff is warming to him . Cartoonist Ted Rall also is encouraged that Sanders is doing well despite the efforts by the Democratic party and the media to marginalize him.

Seth Myers tries to figure out the appeal of the Sanders candidacy, especially among young people, and thinks that it is because although he is much older than them, he has entered the ‘Betty White Zone’ of coolness.

Comments

  1. Robert,+not+Bob says

    #2 is true for any Democrat, no matter how closely aligned with the Republicans he or she may be. I’ve wondered what they could possibly say about an actual liberal President, having spent the last seven years acting as if a fellow conservative were the reincarnation of Karl Marx. Oh, well, the base has short memories. They’ll just say all the same things they said about Obama, substituting Jewish insults for black/Muslim ones.

  2. patrick2 says

    With #2, though, there’s also the question of whether Democrats in Congress will support Sanders’ programs.

  3. Holms says

    A poin that just occurred to me after reading #1 is that if Sanders wins the presidency, this could mean an interesting development in American-Israeli relations. Not only is Sanders significantly less belligerent than Clinton and Obama and thus less eager to go along with Israeli warmongering, he is also ethnically jewish. I wonder if Netenyahu would be brazen enough to get all ‘self-hating jew’ (and other ugly rhetoric) at him.

  4. doublereed says

    @3 Holms

    Yes, of course they would label him a self-hating Jew. It’s not even a question. Such rhetoric is used for far less than that.

  5. mnb0 says

    “The idea that Clinton has incredible persuasive powers that will enable her to convert Republicans to a progressive agenda.”
    That’s not even what argument 2 means. What it means is that Clinton won’t even try to get any of Sanders’ ideas implemented.

  6. Robert,+not+Bob says

    mnbo, while I agree that Clinton wouldn’t try to implement Sanders’ ideas, I don’t think that’s the point of argument 2. It’s that Clinton might be able to get some things done (presumably less bad than what Republicans want), while under Sanders it’d be even worse obstructionism than under Obama. Personally, I don’t think there’s much further they could go nonviolently (I do expect a lot of violence during the election).

  7. lorn says

    Voting records show that the number one determinate of the likelihood to vote is wealth. Wealthy people vote. Old people tend to be reliable voters. The youth vote is highly variable. Sometimes they come out, sometimes not.

    Depressingly the single most reliably consistent voters are right-wing nut jobs. Thinking that Obama is going to confiscate guns so he will be free to put all the Christians into internment camps and give their jobs to Mexican Muslims is both highly irrational, and a great motivator.

  8. Nick Gotts says

    I think point #6 is the strongest. Despite what Reich says, 75 is really not the age to begin one of the toughest non-manual jobs in the world, especially when you have limited relevant experience (Sanders’ executive experience being limited to terms as mayor of Burlington, ending in 1989). Sanders, if he wins the nomination, will certainly need a strong VP candidate who would follow a similar course if Sanders died or was incapacitated – whether O’Malley would fit the bill I don’t know (he’s surely only staying in for the VP slot, or on the offchance both Sanders and Clinton drop dead!). Suggestions? More generally, it should be worrying for the Democratic Party that there were few if any plausible candidates under 65.

  9. brucegee1962 says

    I figure O’Malley is running for president in 2020. When folks start looking aroung for Democrats with national exposure then, there will be him, possibly a VP, and that’s about it.

  10. brucegee1962 says

    I would much rather have a president Sanders relentlessly hammering the message home to the nation that the Republicans are opposed to anything that benefits ordinary people than a president Clinton who will give away the store just to make a deal with them.

    I’m sorry, Mano, but you sound depressingly like the Tea Party with rhetoric like this. “Ideological purity before compromise” is a nice slogan, but it’s poison for our democratic system. Compromise should never be a dirty word in a deomcracy.

    Arguably the most effective president in my lifetime was LBJ, who was unparalleled in counting votes, figuring out which legislation had a chance in hell and which did not, and targeting which lawmakers to call into his office and say “You can kiss that military base in your district goodbye unless you give me your vote.” The best case for Clinton is that she could probably do a better job of this than Sanders could. (Also, by all accounts it isn’t a skill that Obama possessed either, which explains a lot of the problems he’s had, especially after Emmanuel left as his congress rustler.)

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