Thursday, June 30, 2016

Something that should give Bernie Sanders pause

As I watch Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the stump with Hillary Clinton -- and know Joe Biden and Barack Obama are just weeks away from joining Clinton on the campaign trail -- I wonder how relevant Bernie Sanders remains.

I know he still has his passionate supporters, but their numbers are dwindling. As well they have to.

I mean, can anyone truly say with a straight face that Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren aren't liberal "enough?" Or (to use Trump's word) "crooked" and just in the arena for their own self interest, to just continue benefiting from the status quo? Does anyone still think that if an indictment of Hillary was still in the offing, Syracuse law grad Joe Biden, U of C law professor Barack Obama and Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren would support her?

I don't dislike Bernie Sanders. I don't not support Bernie Sanders. After Philadelphia, I will work for the Democratic nominee. Because for me, it's never been about Bernie and Hillary. It's about:

•  Gun control*
•  The Supreme Court
•  A woman's right to choose
•  LGBT rights
•  Infrastructure**
•  Healthcare
•  Education
•  Poverty
•  Climate change
•  Stopping the "ludicrous tangerine ball bag"

So all this has got me thinking about Ralph Nader. When I was growing up, he was revered as the man we could count on to speak truth to power. Unsafe at Any Speed took on the auto industry. He helped establish the Public Interest Research Group. In Illinois, PIRG is a loud voice for smart transportation reform and food safety. Nader has been tireless in fighting to protect pensions and Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid.

He should be lauded as a liberal hero.

Except for his stubborn 2000 Presidential Campaign. Because of his quixotic quest, nearly 100,000 Floridians cast a protest vote for him. And George W. Bush won Florida -- and the Presidency -- by less than 600 votes. We can parse the theories as to whether the math holds up, and I know there are those who maintain Nader took as many votes from Bush as Gore. They may well be right. But here's the deal: Nader is no longer remembered first as a crusader. Now he's known as the ultimate spoiler.

Often -- perhaps even usually -- protesting feels soooo good. Being heard is a good, empowering thing. But sometimes by protesting, we find ourselves living the old "cut off your nose to spite your face" adage.

Vocal Sanders supporter (and former Clintonista) Robert Reich understands this and has said that both Bernie and Hillary are excellent choices: Bernie for the system we need, and Hillary for the system we have. The bad choice is Donald Trump.

I hope, for the sake of our country and his legacy, Bernie Sanders understands it.

*OK, maybe that means it has been about Bernie and Hillary.
**OK, so this is why in my heart of hearts I wish Biden had run.

1 comment:

  1. I think your list of what it is about is the definition of a liberal. Nicely said.


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