Eight years ago Barack Obama took the oath of office to become President of the United States. His election won on the mantra of Hope and Change. His platform would rebuild what it meant to be an American for all. Opportunity was in the air, and it was exciting. At least for the Democrats.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders is looking like the most obvious Obama-candidate. He too wants to revolutionize the political games and believes strongly in helping people and not the corporations who have promised and failed to help people in return.
This week saw Senator Sanders catch up with, and in many polls lead, Hillary Clinton. Especially in Iowa and New Hampshire where the primary caucuses are imminent. Should the Vermont Senator defeat Mrs. Clinton he will perhaps go on a run which would knock the former Secretary of State out of the race. It could indeed be 2008 all over again.
Sanders’ platform is attractive; free college for all, single payer healthcare, breaking up the large banks, and raising taxes on the rich while closing loopholes abused by corporations. Economic equality is at the front of his campaign. Solving that would return opportunity to the people, no matter where they grew up. He is the north eastern Robin Hood many have been waiting for.
Great- how do we do this?
Either the voting population are not asking the right questions or getting the right answers, because this is where Sanders has fumbled in an otherwise magnificent run.
The Democrat Town Hall forum: the three blue candidates were in turn asked questions by Iowans preparing to vote in their caucus on February 1st. During Mr. Sander’s chance to speak with the people, he was asked one of the more important questions any entrant into the presidential race must consider:
What specifically will you do to overcome the resistance, cure the gridlock and garner the necessary support to implement your initiatives and actually get something done in Washington?
The significance of this question is easy to understand when looking at the last six years of the Barack Obama presidency. Gridlock is more like deadlock given how unproductive the federal government has been. Opposed at every instance by a GOP-led, Tea Party inspired Congress, much of the President’s agenda has been compromised. And not just between the executive and legislature, but across party lines in Congress. Grandstanding at every chance, both sides have received dire approval ratings, most notably during the 2013 shutdown.
Mr. Sanders has a very adventurous and very liberal agenda. So with the typical congressional congestion in Washington, what is his specific plan to combat the inevitable fight he’ll have as Commander in Chief?
If we are serious about rebuilding the American middle class, if we are serious about providing paid family and medical leave to all of our people, the real way to do it is to have millions of Americans finally stand up and say, enough is enough, the people to get engaged in the political process, to finally demand that Washington represent all of us, not just a handful of very wealthy people. That’s the way you bring about real change.
Cue rapturous applause.
All questions, no answers
Bernie is for the people. He is a modern revolutionary. He isn’t afraid to go after big money. He has credibility and intelligence. He has will. He has inspiration. What he doesn’t have is the answer to the question.
Specifically, Senator Sanders would get people to rally behind him to have Congress do his bidding. What he doesn’t seem to realize is Congress doesn’t tend to listen to the people, even millions of people, when they stand up. Millions want strict gun control policies. They’re still waiting.
The GOP are locked in an unrestrained confrontation focused on insulting each other and Hillary Clinton, in an attempt to win over the “soul” of their party. Comparatively the Democrats are respectfully disagreeing and focused on debating the future. Sanders is part of the inspiring side of the campaign. As the joint leader or actual front-runner, it is time Sanders put aside the rhetoric to tell us exactly how he intends to get to work.
The Democrats could possibly win back the Senate but it would take a massive shift to win back the House. It’s simply not going to happen. And with Paul Ryan as Speaker, there’s going to be challenges every day to fight off President Sanders.
Socialism and anti-socialism
A self proclaimed Democratic Socialist, Sanders will have a harder time than Mrs. Clinton to build workable relationships on the other side of the Mall. The opinions between the two sides would raise the level of partisan politics, with ideological differences too huge to work under the current format. Take healthcare: repealing “every word of Obamacare” is a key part of most of the Republican Party. Mr. Sanders would also like to abolish it, in favor of a universal system. What’s the chance single-payer healthcare would get through through a conservative House? And that’s just considering the Republicans.
We have a habit of often lumping every right and left leaning politician and voter into singular boxes. There will be many representatives who remain silent or endorse Clinton rather than endorsing “the socialist”. Sanders isn’t a true Democrat after all, favoring the ‘Independent’ label. But he will need to find support somewhere and alienating two thirds of Congress will achieve nothing.
With no intended disrespect to Governor Martin O’Malley, the choice for Democratic Party members in Iowa on Monday, followed by New Hampshire and then the other 48 states, will be between Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders. Clinton is the safe option. She will get things done, however slowly, but on a smaller, more focused agenda. Her main positions on the issues follow on directly from President Obama’s administration. There’s not much change but activity nonetheless.
Sanders offers an exciting image of what America could be, but hasn’t revealed a plan to get it done. Clinton hopes her grand vision for America will happen, but will at least guarantee some success.
Right now it’s a simple case of hope-galore, but with little change.