Friday, May 1, 2015
The Myth about Bernie Sanders’ Versus Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Candidacies: Listening across Ideologies?
Keywords and Terms: Candidate Bernie Sanders; Candidate Hillary Clinton; Elizabeth Warren; Martin O’Malley; Presidential Campaigns; Leftist ideology; Progressive Values; Trans-Pacific Trade Pact; Overhauling Tax Rules and Regulations; Climate Change Issues; Social Security Expansion; Citizen United; Older population and working poor; party-level campaigns; Intra-Party Competition; Wage-Disparity; China; Mexico; and, America’s Economic Security
For those who likened Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ announcement of his 2016 run for the White House as a volcanic eruption within the Democratic Party or among progressives, it may be time to think again. For progressives, it is more like a call to listen across ideological lines regarding economic and social issues that continue to divide us. The issues of income inequality, racial opportunity inequality, climate change, over-burdening taxation regulations, expansive and expanding gaps in socio-economic indicators, that continue to befoul the dynamic and bluntly spoken Independent Senator from Vermont, are genuine; and for all intense and purposes, are reasons why Bernie Sander’s candidacy cannot be written-off; and, roars up against the establishment candidacy of Secretary Hillary Clinton.
Moreover, it is probably in the overall interest of all Americans that Sanders’ candidacy is calling for the woman in the mirror, the establishment candidate, to reflect once again. While Sanders’ Candidacy is perceived in some quarters as having the potential of drawing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy towards the left, there are no direct correlation to this inclination; rather, it is an opportunity for Democrats to look at those issues that seem to be papered over among progressives, in the national discuss, as we progress towards the 2016 nomination. Many leftist believe, while Republicans do not have answers to many of these problems, or are refusing to acknowledge them, there is a vacuum, a paucity, in communication even among progressives regarding the urgency or attention these problems deserve on the national stage. To some leftists, there is hardly anything wrong with an insurgent democratic candidacy; and better yet, there is hardly anything unappreciated of a candidate who believes that social security must be expanded and taxation of the wealthy is in order, to ameliorate poverty among the working poor, women and elderly.
Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the 2016 Presidential Campaign, launched on Wednesday, April 29th , in the Capitol, based on a populist income inequality platform, wants to thwart the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, overhaul tax regulations and rules that allow American Companies to invest overseas, draw attention to Climate Change issues, and address the Citizen United Ruling from US Supreme Court. A self-described Democratic Socialist, who believes in standing up for the middle income earners in America, is tired of American Corporations shifting jobs overseas in order to dodge paying IRS taxes. Acknowledging that it may take close to a billion dollar to win a general election, a privilege that his candidacy cannot amass, Senator Sanders agrees that, it is probably an uphill battle and improbability to launch a credible national campaign to topple a candidate financed by the enormous wealth of donors as the Koch Brothers in the Republican Party.
It is whimsical, if not awkward and cryptic, to assume that a candidacy like that of Sanders’ may win a general election in America of today; however, for a candidate who Associated Press reported as saying, he is ensuring that someone in the race is holding Clinton’s feet to the fire, on those issues that are important to the left, what are few banters or fights between two heavy weights in a family. Americans, progressives inclusive, must recognize that fierce interparty competitiveness would only enhance the chances of the party’s flag bearer come a national contest, not diminish it. For the candidate, who admonishes himself for running outside the two-party political system and prevailing over Democrats and Republicans in Vermont’s Senatorial races, no one must think his candidacy is inconsequential.
A reflection on how far an insurgency candidacy like Bernie Sander’s will last, can be garnered from the experience of Jack Kemp’s or Jean Kirkpatrick’s run for the Republican nomination in the 1984 White House race. Ronald Reagan was the assured establishment candidate for the Republican nomination, during the final balloting exercise however, candidates Jack Kemp and Jean Kirkpatrick still sustained one vote a piece, while Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush howled away two thousand two hundred and thirty one votes. Establishment supporters of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for 2016 probably and tentatively constitute over ninety percent of Democratic delegates; however, there is room for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Martin O’Malley to wiggle one or two ballots at the end of the exercise. Yes, Hillary Clinton like Ronald Reagan, will still carry the day; however, they both wouldn't, without a fight from other promising and astute candidates. The party-level campaign for nomination, is often an opportunity to give a voice to the voiceless, an opportunity to have democracy at play, where candidates, who for any other reasons of handicap, are able to make their point and have their say, in an often cut-throat, winner takes all competition, that is characteristic of the party nomination process.
For example, the morning after the party nomination process, the looser often seeks comfort in the fact that he or she gave it his or her best. There is often some sense of accomplishment at that point, at least the flag bearer does not see himself or herself as winning the nomination on a platter of gold. Subtle rebellion within the party often subside after the nomination process and the flag bearer wins new converts, who may have wished alternative candidate to be the flag bearer. Imagine what this could do for pressure groups within the Democratic Party seeking support for women health initiatives like quality maternity care, preventive health services, birth control insurance coverage and an emergency rape kit in all hospitals. If Hillary Clinton is temperate in supporting these initiatives, so as not to be seen as deferring to women issues on a national platform, or if she chooses to be more centrist in order to win national votes, the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Martin O’Malley may force her to negotiate on what goes on the party’s national platform. This is what grassroots democracy is all about.
Insurgent candidacy forces the party nominee to respect the competition’s ideals, even if she or he despises the competition that leads to victory. She or he may not want to be bothered by the theatrics that involve running against other candidates that may share some of her inherent values within the party; however, the competition and associated press appearances, newspaper interviews, talk shows appearances and intra-party debates that are seen on the television at the individual party level, seem often to embolden the party’s eventual nominee, and prepare her or him for the national contest against the opposing national party’s candidate. The usual premonition that intra-party’s competition bloodies the eventual party nominee, while may be true for some candidates, it has often prepared others better to withstand the brutal and challenging inter-party competition on the general election day.
“Bernie-Sanderism’ then, is an act of defiance, a candidacy thumbing its nose at the establishment candidate, one billed on leftist principles, that the Brooklyn-born Senator from Vermont, can take home as a badge of honor. The seventy-three year-old, second term senator can pride himself, even if he loses to Secretary Clinton, and say, ‘You see, my candidacy was built on solid Social Democratic principles one that puts the American workers, women, the poor and elderly on center-stage to ask pertinent questions as: 1) Are you on the side of working families who suffer as a result of disastrous trade agreements that often off-shore American jobs to China or Mexico? 2) Is there still room for the middle class in this widening income disparity war? 3) How many labor and tax laws are still enforceable in America and is the party’s flag bearer ready to see that enforcement of labor and tax laws are essential to combating the growing income inequality in America? 4) Will evolving understanding of the impact of Citizen United Ruling from US Supreme Court help the public see where this is taking our Democracy? And, 5) are Conceptual uncertainties tarnishing the debate over America’s Economic Security?
If it is plausible to argue that Bernie-Sanders’ candidacy will lead to inexorable change in the platform of the eventual nominee of the Democratic Party, it is possible to advance the thesis that listening across ideological lines, is essential for addressing the mammoth issues or problems facing America today. Modest assumption that the United States Congress is expected to work more cooperatively, once the race issue is extricated from consideration of the occupant of the White House, may gain greater credulity, if one buys into the argument that the present day dysfunction in US Congress may be adduced to the race of the current occupant of the White House. However, many progressives know that this is not true, America is a nation of complex incongruences that continue to evolve and often impacting attitudes and shaping the actual experience of resolving political, economic and social problems. That is why, it is important that each of the major political party has contestants vying for the status of the flag bearer, not just one, pre-ordained candidate, as is the case with the 2016 Democratic Party.
With the entry of Senator Bernie Sander into the Democratic Party nomination process, it is probably safe to conclude that the debate(s) for the party’s flag bearer position will take a turn for the better. Ideological and Philosophical issues will be trashed out at the party level, so also, will ideological-philosophical power-sharing, strengthen the eventual party’s nominee. Shaping and changing the party’s platform to accommodate plurality of all constituencies, will assist Democrats to better manage or fight back interruptions from Republican Party. Can party-level insurgency resolve the old-age question: giving everyone an equal chance of being heard and represented may ultimately control the influence of money in party politics? Can constructive and effective engagement within party, strengthen the party’s chances in the general elections? These are important questions which the entry of the Independent Vermont Senator into the Democratic Party Presidential nomination race, is about to answer.