Why did Bernie Run? – By Amanda S. Green
Or, why didn’t he run further, faster and straight to the nearest Socialist country where he’d feel right at home?
In my last post, I started covering the “why did Bernie run?” question. He didn’t want a political dynasty taking control of our nation. He oh-so-conveniently forgot about the Kennedys or the Roosevelts. Instead, he focused on making sure another Bush or Clinton didn’t find their way to the Oval Office. While I appreciate not wanting Hillary as President, Bernie left us with Trump, who has done better than I ever expected.
But the potential of a dynasty wasn’t the only reason he ran.
Another reason he decided to throw his hat into the ring were the difference in their basic political positions between himself and Hillary.
Hillary Clinton was a key player in the centrist Democratic establishment, which had, over the years, been forged by her husband, Bill Clinton. In fact, Bill Clinton had been the head of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a conservative Democratic organization funded by big-money interests, which was described by Jesse Jackson as “Democrats for the Leisure Class.” The Clinton approach was to try to merge the interests of Wall Street and corporate America with the needs of the American middle class—an impossible task. (OR, p. 50)
Here’s a little hint. He spends the next few pages attacking not really Hillary but Bill. You know, the same Bill Clinton who often had Sanders’ support while Slick Willy held the Oval Office. He picks an issue, notes how Mr. “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” was responsible for it and then how Hillary supported it. Where he might have a point with regard to the Clinton’s failed health care reform initiative during Bill’s tenure – after all, Hillary was a driving force behind it – you can’t lay the credit or the blame for the lifting of certain regulations at her feet. Or are we going to start blaming every First Lady for the actions of her (or his) spouse?
Oh, wait, the media is already doing that, at least where certain First Ladies are concerned. But we aren’t the media and we should be able to figure out that they don’t hold all the power in the nation, no matter what we might want to believe. Yes, some have more influence over their spouses than others, but they still don’t wield the presidential pen and they sure don’t control Congress. But I get where Bernie’s coming from. Hillary didn’t have a long legislative history – like he did – to attack. All he could do was attack what happened during her husband’s political career, show how she supported his stances and only later changed her mind on certain issues and then focus on the few years she had been a senator and the Secretary of State.
My disagreements with the Clintons’ centrist approach were based not only on policy, as important as that was, but on politics—how you bring about real change in the country. What kind of party should the Democratic Party be? (OR, p. 51)
This is where I laugh hysterically. He refuses to run as a Democrat when given the Democratic nomination for Senator and has for some several terms now. He calls himself and Independent and not a Democrat. So why is he worried about the Democratic Party?
I know, I know, foolish question. He’s worried about it for political and not policy reasons. He wants to shape the party into his own version of socialism. He can’t do that if it is a centrist party, which it isn’t. So for him to piss and moan about the Clintons’ policies being based on politics and not policy is very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Not that Bernie will ever admit it. He does the same thing. If it is politically expedient for him to call himself a Democrat or to run on their ticket he will. Then he will turn around and spit in their faces – as he has already shown.
He goes on, and I’ll paraphrase here, to condemn the Clintons for receiving a great deal of money in contributions and speaking fees from “powerful financial interests and corporate America.” (OR, p 51) He points out how, whether in their political or personal lives, they seem to spend a great deal of time raising money. They’ve done it for so long and have done it so well there are now some who refer to them as “Clinton, Inc”
Well, that’s true. Between the Clinton Foundation and the enormous fees Hillary received for her private talks to various Wall Street firms, a butt-ton of money has been raised by the Clintons. If you remember, Hillary took issue with folks looking at her askance for those speaking fees. In What Happened, saying that if she had been male, no one would have questioned the fees.
Hmm, maybe we should ask Bernie about all his speaking fees? What do you think?
To me, a very basic political principle is that you cannot take on the establishment when you take their money. It is simply not credible to believe that candidates who receive significant amounts of financial support from some of the most powerful special interests in the world would make decisions that would negatively impact the bottom lines of these donors. The only way to bring about real change is to mobilize millions of people at the grassroots level against the establishment, against the big-money interests. (OR, pp 51-52)
Okay, I’ll admit that, on certain levels, I agree with him. However, there have been any number of politicians who have strayed from the interests of their donors. More than that, you can turn his own argument around on him. If it is impossible for a politician to vote against those who gave them significant financial support – and he doesn’t give any support other than philosophical for this – then it would also be impossible for that politician to vote against who give fewer dollars under reformed contribution rules. I guess we just have to do away with all campaign contributions.
However, Bernie once again over-simplifies the problem of campaign finance. Not that it surprises me. He knows how to find the argument that best supports his position, no matter how tenuous its roots in reality might be.
His next reason for running was that Hillary too hawkish as a senator and as Secretary of State. She made the mistake, in his mind, of support President Bus in his war on terror. But the more telling about exactly where Bernie stands is this quote, “While very few debate the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, I thought she did not pay enough attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” (OR, p. 52)
I’m sorry, but how can you say that with a straight face? To begin with, he says nothing about how the Palestinians were bombing Israel. How they were doing everything they could – and pretty much still are – to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. Instead, he worries about how the Palestinian people suffered. What about how the Israelis suffered? And what were we, as a nation, supposed to do about the Palestinian issue? Again, he makes a condemnation but doesn’t give us what his stance would be or how we would pay for it.
For me, the bottom line was that this country was facing enormous crises: the continued decline of the middle class, a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, high rates of real unemployment, a disastrous trade policy, an inadequate educational system, and a collapsing infrastructure. On top of all that, we needed bold action to combat climate change and make certain that this planet was healthy and habitable for our children and grandchildren. (OR, pg. 52)
Well, we know what he was worried about. But we don’t know what he was going to do about it or how he was going to pay for it. I guess he was going to plant that magical, mystical socialist money tree. Nah, he was going to do what every good socialist does, reach into your pocket and mine until nothing was left. Then he’d find someone else’s pocket to pilfer.
So why did Bernie run?
For all of the above reasons and more.
It seems he’d heard talk that folks wanted Elizabeth Warren to run. But she hadn’t said she would. So what was this good little socialist from Vermont to do? He couldn’t let Hillary run and win. No way did he want a Bush in the White House. So he had to bite the proverbial bullet and step forward.
What he doesn’t see, or at least admit, is he was playing the same game Warren was. He’d been asked if he was going to run. He hadn’t said he was considering it. In fact, in an interview I believe I referenced in my previous post (if not, it is at the beginning of the chapter we’ve been discussing), he said he was 99% sure he wouldn’t run. That was after a flat denial that he’d run.
But, you see, in the end, he realized he needed to do something. He needed to take his politics outside of Vermont and Capitol Hill.
Does that make sense? If he has his politics on Capitol Hill, isn’t he already influencing our national political bent? How much of Bernie’s run for President really a desire to spread his ideas as much as ego? Oh, I’m sure that like any good little Socialist, he wanted to spread the word of Marx as far as he could. But what did he accomplish?
We can thank him for that paragon of foot-in-mouth disease Ocasio-Cortez. We can also, in a way, thank him for Hillary’s defeat. Not only was she a horrible candidate who didn’t connect with much of the electorate, but she did not find a way to entice his followers back into the fold. Conservatives and libertarians should thank him for that. Not necessarily because Trump now sits in the Oval Office but because Hillary doesn’t. The problem comes in that his success – and we have to call it that, like it or not – has given socialism (or Democratic-Socialism) a legitimacy it hasn’t had.
The real question is how the Democratic National Committee is going to respond. Are they going to be so frantic to regain the White House and a congressional majority that they throw out the last of their scruples and fully embrace socialism or will they take a giant step back? I know where my money is, and it isn’t on a giant step back.
Next week, I’m going to finish my commentary on the book. There’s a great deal left but much of it is the same ole, same ole. My brain and my liver can only take so much. I’ve got a question for you. What would you like to see me tackle next? It can be more snarking material or something that will let my liver heal. The choice is yours.
(Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking. We’ll collect for her liver transplant later.
Hit her Pourboir jar now! – SAH)