Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sanders Puts Out A Feeler

Senator Bernard Sanders says he's "prepared to run for President of the United States." In an interview with The Nation, he explains

One of the goals that I would have, politically, as a candidate for president of the United States is to reach out to the working-class element of the Tea Party and explain to them exactly who is funding their organization—and explain to them that, on virtually every issue, the Koch brothers and the other funders of the Tea Party are way out of step with what ordinary people want and need.

There is little chance tea party Republicans will take Bernie Sanders up on his offer.  When NBC's Mark Murray suggested that Rand Paul, skeptical about the excesses of national security and foreign adventurism, could bring more minority and young voters into the GOP fold as Howard Dean did with the latter, Digby noted

... the Democratic party has been the home of the anti-war faction in American politics for the past 50 years while the Republicans have run on law and order and national security. Howard Dean tapped into an existing strain of voters who were already Democrats and who were with the Party on most other issues. I suppose Paul can theoretically get a few libertarian isolationists out there who have never voted, but I suspect he'll have a big problem with anyone who currently identifies as a Republican.And young people as a whole may be anti-war but they're not anti-government, anti-taxes or pro business.

In any case, I'm going to guess that unless we're involved in WWIII (always a possibility) "war" is not going to be the salient issue in 2016, and even if it were, the Republican Party of Taft died out long ago and is a long way from resurrection.

This is a critical problem Sanders faces While Sanders emphasizes to audiences the importance of "standing up to the big-money interests who have so much power over the economic and political life of this country," He would be talking to conservatives more concerned they not be taxed, as they see it, to give goodies to the poor and undeserving.  And they are unlikely to be receptive to Sanders' belief that- contrary to proposals at the recently concluded Conservative Political Action Convention- there are better ways to give a hand up to the urban poor than by privatization of Social Security, abolishing the estate tax, or eliminating reproductive freedom.

Pity Bernard Sanders, who would make a better president than Hillary Clinton or any of the Repubs she would oppose who as a registered Independent, knows he would need to appeal to voters who aren't registered Democrats and aren't part of the Hillary Club, who believe it is Her Time.  But not only are his views unlikely to attract much approval aside from Democrats, as someone outside the two party system he would be perceived as a spoiler, as someone getting into the race because, God forbid, he has a coherent, principled ideology.  He would find the media, which appears to lust for bipartisanship, is anxious for the bipartisanship (once) represented by Chris Christie- yell at a teacher whether she is a Democrat or a Republican, and close down a bridge to inconvenience Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.

Further, as no one's fool, Sanders understands

given the nature of the political system, given the nature of media in America, it would be much more difficult to get adequate coverage from the mainstream media running outside of the two-party system. It would certainly be very hard if not impossible to get into debates. It would require building an entire political infrastructure outside of the two-party system: to get on the ballot, to do all the things that would be required for a serious campaign.  

His would be a message lacking in the upper reaches (really, anywhere) of either party, and one which tea party sympathizers would hardly sympathize with when they hear

... the corporate media ignores some of the huge accomplishments that have taken place in countries like Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. These countries, which have a long history of democratic socialist or labor governments, have excellent and universal health care systems, excellent educational systems and they have gone a long way toward eliminating poverty and creating a far more egalitarian society than we have. I think that there are economic and social models out there that we can learn a heck of a lot from, and that’s something I would be talking about.

When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, there was a virtual embargo on talk of how health care costs in the United States of America were substantially higher than anywhere else in the industrialized world (graph below from Wikipedia).  And mention that press freedom here is eclipsed by that afforded in 46 nearly nonexistent.

The mainstream media would be very uncomfortable and unusually scornful of Bernie Sander's message because... American exceptionalism.

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