Guest post by JoAnne Tybinka Blasko
The piece included this quote from Politico: “Operating under the assumption that Sanders will win the California primary but still fall far short of amassing enough delegates to claim the Democratic nomination, the document calls for the Vermont senator to exit the race and launch an independent political group far larger than any other recent post-campaign political operation, such as those started by Howard Dean or Barack Obama.”
When I first read that, I thought “Damn, what is it with Bernie that he always has to do the independent thing and can’t simply get behind the winner like Hillary did in 2008?” And now, in light of recent events like last month's Nevada debacle, I’m sadly convinced that Bernie can only do the independent thing. He doesn’t know how to be part of something larger than himself. Compromise is not in his nature. He’s very good at being “against” but doesn’t know how to be “for.”
Bernie has an incredible opportunity ahead if only he will grab it. While he has clearly demonstrated that he is not presidential, he continues to be a commanding speaker capable of addressing the angry mood of a significant portion of the nation. The trick is to transform that anger into action that will lead to changing the system that he increasingly abhors. So far, he has failed to do that.
What if his entire group of supporters were encouraged to get behind progressive candidates for senate? Electing a Democratic majority in the senate would be a revolution complimentary to electing our first Madam President and a goal worthy of Bernie and his supporters.
By carefully targeting democratic senatorial candidates that have a good chance of winning and using that extraordinary fundraising capacity, Bernie and his supporters could turn the senate blue again. And with Hillary in the driver’s seat appointing excellent candidates for the Supreme Court, ratification would come quickly and we’d be well on our way to overturning Citizens United and getting big money out of politics. Isn’t that one of Bernie’s dreams? Isn’t this his quest? He could accomplish it if he encouraged his supporters to focus on a battle they can absolutely win. It will take a lot of effort to fight the money pouring into the senate race from the likes of the Koch brothers, but Sanders has often been the king of fundraising. Can he get his ego out of the way and instead get his supporters interested in moving the system forward instead of fighting the system? That is the real question.
Hillary will certainly need a Democratic senate to forge ahead with her solid proposals for:
Child care, equal pay, and paid leave
Preschool for every four year old
A K-12 education for every child
Free community college tuition
Affordable student loans
Scholarships for parents juggling school and work
Affordable healthcare for all including prescription drugs
Expanded medical leave
As well as defending:
Planned Parenthood and a women’s right to choose
LGBT rights for equal treatment under the law
The rights of Veterans when they return home
The rights of Muslim Americans to be safe
The right to vote and register without difficulty
The right of women to earn equal pay for equal work
The rights of HIV/AIDS patients to live long productive lives
The rights of the mentally ill to safe treatment and support
The right to treatment for those struggling with addictions
And addressing issues of income inequality:
Increasing the minimum wage safely and systematically
Balancing CEO and employee pay
Increasing middle class income
Reforming taxes so the wealth/corporations pay their fair share
Investing in manufacturing
Revitalizing communities who have lost jobs
Increasing small businesses
Securing Social Security and Medicare
And that's not all:
Insuring safe drinking water for everyone
Investing in infrastructure; safe roads, bridges, public transit
Initiating comprehensive gun control legislation
Preventing gun violence
Reforming our justice system including prison reform
Alternatives to incarceration
Reforming the federal reserve to include full employment
Building coalitions with other nations around the world
Keeping us safe
Addressing climate change
Moving toward a sustainable economy
Surely these are Hillary and Bernie’s joint goals. Aren’t they? I once thought so.
It will take a lot of Democrats in congress to achieve these lofty goals. And a Democratic Senate could help pave the way for a Democratic House in the perhaps not-so-long run.
If Bernie plans to keep income equality front and center in this election cycle, getting his young new voters interested in the full spectrum of politics would be a worthwhile goal, nothing short of a revolution. Is Bernie this charismatic guy who excites large crowds and moves them to action? Or is he this angry guy that can only be “against.” I want to believe he will do the responsible thing and harness that power of persuasion for the common good.