I have always said that the policies proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders are very close to my societal ideals of equality and justice. I believe his views on what should be done in this country are right and righteous.
Please allow me to posit, develop and support an argument that only Senator Bernie Sanders can beat Donald Trump on the debate stage and in the general election.
I believe in the uniqueness of our American democracy. We are a representative democratic republic with three separate but equal branches of government, keeping checks and balance on each other. It is a sublime yet exquisite system when it works as it was intended. This system has brought about effective social change, albeit slowly, for the history of our nation. That is, until recent times.
Both our system of government and our electoral process have been corrupted and subverted. These are dangerous days for our country. We are facing, in some manner, a constitutional crisis. We are slipping from a government of "We, the People" to an oligarchy.
President Barack Hussein Obama was twice elected by the people of the United States on a platform of hope and change. President Obama's moderate agenda called for bi-partisan cooperation. Throughout his presidency Mr. Obama consistently and repeatedly pledged to work with anyone, from either party, who had reasonable solutions to the nation's problems. But, from the first day of his presidency the Republican opposition's agenda was to obstruct any and all progress from this Democratic president, regardless of the merits of Mr. Obama's proposals.
This unprecedented un-American partisanship and the obscene influence of large financial contributions to political office-holders has crippled our once-exemplary form of government. Exacerbating our governmental crisis is the increasing factionalization of the American electorate into a myriad of single-issue constituencies. A principled position used to mean one held in good conscience, but one that could be changed by reasoned persuasion. Now it means to hold ground without compromise. Seeking consensus, as president Obama has attempted for eight years, has become demeaned, labeled as unprincipled.
Up to now I have been arguing for candidates who will bring the nation and our government back to the center. I have called on my fellow voters to find candidates on the Left and the Right to come together on common ground. In that spirit I have supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton because I believed she had the best chance of putting together an effective governing coalition of the Washington establishment, Wall Street and a growing roster of disparate interest groups, all for the common good. I no longer see that as a likely outcome.
Too often President Obama began his negotiations with the belief that the best, most progressive option was unattainable in a Congress shackled by partisan gridlock. So, he accepted defeat before even mounting a battle. That meant that people supporting those options would never get the chance to make their argument, to persuade others to join their cause.
Hillary Clinton is taking the same approach. She has already dismissed such Sanders' goals as universal health care and free public college as unattainable. I understand her thinking, that they are "dead on arrival" in a Republican Congress. But, frankly, everything she would propose as president would be DOA on a Republican Hill, as they despise her as much as they despise President Obama. Regardless of which party winds up controlling either house of Congress, there will continue to be entrenched opposition to liberal or progressive ideas.
Conversely, a debate on the socialist/liberal agenda in the public square is overdue. Let the American people decide. Let this agenda be the centerpiece of the conversation in the presidential campaign and a referendum in the general election. Polices that hew to the Left, and are generally supported by a large segment of the electorate, deserve to be proposed, challenged, debated and amended. They deserve to be written into legislation that can be given a vote in Congress. To that end, I support progressive candidates who have practical, workable plans for achieving peace and prosperity, regardless of whether or not their plans will be met with radical, politically-motivated objection.
Up to now, I have argued that a progressive presidential candidate, especially an avowed Democratic Socialist, can not win the general election. That belief was predicated on the supposition that the Republican candidate for the presidency would be a former or sitting governor or senator. In that scenario a battle between the GOP candidate and Hillary Clinton would hinge on a debate over who had the best policies and experience.
But, the likelihood that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate changes that calculus. The appeal of Donald Trump to his supporters does not rely on any of his vague policy positions. He is the epitome of a charismatic leader, in the worst way. His supporters don't look to him for solutions. He, himself, is the solution. His supporters see him as a winner, who can "Make America Great Again." That makes them winners. That makes them great again.
Trump's supporters and a large part of the Republican electorate are angry, particularly with the government, the establishment. They blame "the other" for their loss of power and pride. They see Donald Trump as delivering them back to their rightful place on the economic, social and religious ladder. No rational debate will turn them from Trump. They are immune to reason.
Hillary Clinton can not defeat Donald J. Trump. Trump is the master of insult and attack. He will blister Clinton on her ties to Wall Street, Bill Clinton's philandering, her so-called scandals, her ties to the political establishment. If Ms. Clinton was running against Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or John Kasich the debate would be mostly about policy. They would, of course, try and capitalize on Ms. Clinton's tarnished reputation. But that would only get them so far, as they are all part of the same political establishment.
Donald Trump has no policies to debate or record to defend. So his campaign would turn on vitriol. Clinton would have to be brutal, in kind, forever on the defensive. A Clinton vs. Trump match-up would be a cage fight. I don't believe Hillary Clinton could survive a campaign of pure negativity, especially as she starts with a large segment of both Republicans and Democrats holding deep animus towards her.
On the other hand, Senator Bernie Sanders would not have to endure a Trump onslaught. Trump has only two insults to launch against Sanders - his age and his avowed allegiance to democratic socialism. Attacks on his age are silly, as he is gaining a growing number of young supporters. And Mr. Sanders has done an effective job of informing the voting public that many of this nation's programs are, in all practicality, steeped in democratic socialism. Americans still need and support Social Security and Medicare.
Senator Sanders would continue to bring the conversation back to policy. He does not waver from the drumbeat of his political tune, that our political system and the Washington establishment are corrupt. He speaks eloquently, passionately and authentically about social justice, economic equality and peaceful prosperity. Trump would be forced to debate policy and record, neither of which would hold up to reasoned challenge by an enlightened electorate.
Sanders, like Trump, is an outsider leading a political revolution. Sanders, like Trump, is not beholden to special interests for financial support. But, most importantly, Sanders, unlike Trump, has specific plans to "Make America Great Again."
Today I contributed $27 to the presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and will be caucusing on his behalf in Washington state on March 26th.