Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders

3/2/16 UPDATE: Bernie Sanders Sweeps to Victory
in 4 Super Tuesday States
– Tom Cahill (U.S. Uncut)

It's "Super Tuesday" today here in the U.S., that day early in the presidential primary season when the greatest number of states hold primary elections.

More delegates to U.S. presidential nominating conventions can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar. Candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to secure their party's nomination.

I'm hoping that Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders does well today. I support him over the other Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, and over all the Republican candidates (in particular the disturbingly racist and xenophobic Donald Trump and the fanatically reactionary Ted Cruz).

The "single issue" candidate

Bernie Sanders' detractors often dismiss him as a "single issue candidate." I actually think this is his greatest strength as this single issue is justice – in all its multi-faceted dimensions . . . . economic justice, racial justice, political justice, environmental justice, criminal justice, and international justice.

Accordingly, Bernie Sanders is what the U.S. needs most: a leader unbeholden to corporate interests and dedicated to justice for all.

Perhaps Ramon Castillo says it best: "Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to lead the broken, corrupt political system we now have. But it is Bernie Sanders who is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have."

Above: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during the fourth Democratic debate – Sunday, February 17, 2016.

Accordingly, it absolutely astounds me that anyone who considers themselves liberal or progressive would choose the hawkish and "Wall Street Democrat" Clinton over the consistently progressive Sanders. In doing so they are, in the words of author John Atcheson, "missing the point and the moment."

"At this moment, in this time," writes Atcheson, "we have a chance to rewrite history . . . to restore government to a role in which it assures an equitable economy and society; a role that isn’t one of a scapegoat, a punch line, or a tool of the Oligarchy; a role where once again, government is the vehicle we use to accomplish great things together."

Academic Cornel West makes a similar point when he writes that "the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is unique in American history. Never before has there been such a popular upsurge within the two-party system, led by a democratic socialist rooted in the best of the prophetic Jewish culture. This historic campaign is more than a monumental battle over the soul of the Democratic Party. It is, more significantly, a moral and spiritual awakening of fellow citizens for the rebirth of American democracy."

In a recent MPR News story, Domenico Montanaro outlines six scenarios that could play out today, Super Tuesday. Given my support for Bernie Sanders, I hoping for what Montanaro puts forth as his second scenario for the Democrats:

Sanders holds serve in whiter, more liberal states and cuts into Clinton's margins with African-Americans and Hispanics, even pulling off a win in a place like Colorado and keeping her delegate advantage to a minimum out of Texas. He mitigates what could have been a disastrous day and lives to fight on. Money continues to roll in, and even though he very likely trails in delegates, he is not tremendously far behind. His message resonates in other, more liberal states to come – and a path [to the White House] is still conceivable.

"Feeling the Bern"

In terms of a succinct statement of support for Sanders, I greatly appreciate the words of Twin Cities-based theologian and author David Weiss (left). In his February 28 blog post, "About that Bern I’m Feeling," Weiss writes, in part, the following:

Bernie is the best candidate to run for president in all my voting years. I trust his character, consistency, transparency, and authenticity. I’m also struck by his candor about his secular faith. He would bring to the presidency a moral vision grounded in compassion that is as explicit and more universal than has ever been the case. The philosophical commitments I see in his politics: prioritizing peace, ecology, sufficiency, diplomacy, equity, and global respect, resonate with my own convictions. I admire his willingness to hear others out – especially the voices of marginalized others—and then learn from them.

I appreciate his stance on a wide range of issues.

• He has supported workers’ rights both on picket lines and in policy proposals. As a recently unionized part-time college instructor, and as someone earning less than $15/hour at one of my other jobs, I live in the economy that undervalues honest work and workers’ rights.

• His policy views on racial justice, prison/police reform have been directly shaped by what he’s heard from Black Lives Matter activists. This reflects his lifelong commitment to listen to minority voices, stand with their bodies, and act for their civil rights. Plus, he opposes the death penalty – a principled position that, in practice, actively protects Black lives.

• His views on LGBT issues, women’s pay equity, and women’s reproductive rights are all unapologetic.

• He has consistently opposed trade agreements that unwisely put the environment at risk and harm workers’ pay and other protections (both in the U.S. and abroad).

• He has been working to protect the environment as seen in his opposition to fracking, the Keystone pipeline, and offshore drilling, and his support for alternative energy.

• His criticism of the power that large corporations, banks, and those with immense personal wealth have to rig our economy, buy elections, and otherwise leave the U.S. a democracy in name only has been fierce and is spot on.

• He is setting priorities that will make us a stronger nation, from accessible education to universal healthcare, from rebuilding infrastructure to solidifying Social Security.

• His foreign policy views show a persistent moral-practical critique of U.S. militarism and empire-building. He may have less direct “frontline” foreign policy experience than Hillary, but his moral compass has been far more reliable on these matters.

• Bernie’s position on gun control is evolving. His Vermont context is different than in those areas most affected by gun violence. But, precisely because of this – and because of his vision of a society where all can flourish without fear – he’s uniquely positioned to help us as a nation navigate this most necessary issue.

. . . Bernie Sanders is running for President on a platform remarkable for its hope and its commitment to justice. It may be imprecise as yet and imperfect in what it accomplishes. No single person can “redeem” a broken political system or a broken politics. But in Bernie’s candidacy I hear an unmistakable echo of Langston Hughes’ words, residing still in so many hearts and minds: “America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath – America will be!” And that’s why I #FeeltheBern.

Weiss also compellingly debunks the two most persistent critiques of Sanders: that he isn't electable and that if he were elected, he couldn’t get anything done because of Congress. Finally, Weiss outlines two primary reasons for why he finds it very difficult to support Hillary Clinton. To read his testimonial, "About that Bern I’m Feeling," in its entirety, click here.

"The stakes are just too high"

I also appreciate the perspective of Representative Tulsi Gabbard (right), Democrat of Hawaii, who resigned as a vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday in order to endorse Sanders. Gabbard explained her decision in a video on YouTube in which she said that, as a military veteran, she wanted the United States to avoid “interventionist wars of regime change.” Gabbard is the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, and one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress. In her video statement, she notes that . . .

As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know first hand the cost of war. I know how important it is that our commander-in-chief has the sound judgment required to know when to use America’s military power and when not to use that power.

As a vice chair of the D.N.C., I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer. The stakes are just too high. That’s why today I’m endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander in chief of the United States.

While not mentioning Hillary Clinton by name, Gabbard casts Sanders as being more interested in peace and as someone who would be better trusted with the lives of American troops. She also implies that Sanders has better foreign policy judgment than his rival.

We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people, and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change. We can elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change, or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.

And the president we can elect who is best inclined and experienced to usher in an era of justice, peace, and prosperity for all, is Bernie Sanders.

I wish him all the best on this Super Tuesday of 2016.

Above: Bernie Sanders and his wife, Dr. Jane Sanders
– February 2016.

Bernie Sanders Sweeps to Victory in 4 Super Tuesday States
– Tom Cahill (U.S. Uncut, March 2, 2016)

Sanders Wins Vermont, Oklahoma, Minnesota,
Colorado, Virtually Tying Clinton in Massachusetts

– Brian Hanley (HuffPost Politics, March 2, 2016)

Rubio and Sanders Score Big Wins in Minnesota Caucuses
– Tim Pugmire and Brian Bakst
(Minnesota Public Radio News, March 1, 2016)

Would Democratic Superdelegates Steal the Nomination
from Bernie Sanders? Probably Not

– Edward Hasecke and Scott Meinke
(The Washington Post, March 1, 2016)

Don’t Cry About Super Tuesday:
Bernie Sanders is Winning the Future

– Alexander Reed Kelly
(TruthDig, March 2, 2016)

Why Bernie Sanders Won Super Tuesday
– Cenk Uygur
(HuffPost Politics, March 2, 2016)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
Something to Think About – February 4, 2016
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Democratic Socialism
Something to Think About – December 14, 2011
Quote of the Day – August 17, 2011
Capitalism on Trial

Related Off-site Links:
Five Reasons Bernie Sanders Supporters Should Be Hopeful Going into Super Tuesday – Amanda Girard (U.S. Uncut, February 29, 2016).
Bernie Gets It Done: Sanders' Record of Pushing Through Major Reforms Will Surprise You – Zaid Jilani (AlterNet, October 17, 2016).
Tulsi Gabbard, Rising Democratic Star, Resigns as a Vice Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee to Endorse Bernie SandersThe New York Times (February 28, 2016).
Economist Robert Reich Endorses Bernie Sanders – Jacqueline Pine (U.S. Uncut, February 27, 2016).
Stunning New Reuters Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Making Huge National Gains – Tom Cahill (U.S. Uncut, February 24, 2016).
Jane and Bernie Sanders Would Be the First Interfaith Couple in the White House – Jennifer C. Martin (Fusion, February 22, 2016).
Why Baby Boomers Don't Get Bernie Sanders – Bryan Williams (New Republic, February 22, 2016).
New Survey Reveals Why Millennials Are Flocking to Bernie Sanders – Luke Brinker (Policy.Mic, February 23, 2016).
Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, A Trump Nomination Means A Trump Presidency – Nathan J. Robinson (Current Affairs, February 23, 2016).
The Sanders “Economic Plan” Controversy – Dave Johnson (BillMoyers.com, February 23, 2016).
On Second Thought, Maybe Bernie Sanders' Growth Claims Aren't As Crazy As I Thought – Kevin Drum (Mother Jones, February 20, 2016).
The New York Times Invents Left-Leaning Economists to Attack Bernie Sanders – Dean Baker (BillMoyers.com, February 19, 2016).
Establishment Democrats Missing the Moment – and the Point – John Atcheson (Common Dreams, February 19, 2016).
Why Bernie Can Win – Matt Karp (Jacobin, February 18, 2016).
The Rise of Bernie Sanders: The U.S. Enters a New Political Era – Thomas Piketty (The Guardian, February 16, 2016).
The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders – Christopher D. Cook (Atlantic, February 15, 2016).
170 Economists Endorse Bernie Sanders' Plan to Reform Wall St. and Rein in Greed – Jason Easley (PoliticusUSA, February 14, 2016).
Hillary Clinton's Disastrous Foreign Policy Record – Scott Ritter (HuffPost Politics, February 12, 2016).
This Election is a Mass Insurrection Against a Rigged System – Bill Curry (Salon, February 7, 2016).
Bernie Sanders' Foreign Policy Judgment is Better than Clinton's Experience – Trevor Timm (The Guardian, February 6, 2016).
Democrats Fear Bernie Sanders’ Supporters Won’t Back Hillary Clinton If She Wins Nomination – Kelly Riddell (The Washington Times, January 19, 2016).
University with 100% Accuracy Record Predicts Bernie Sanders Will Be the Next President of the U.S. – Matt Terzi (Firebrand Left, November 9, 2015).


Christopher said...

Bernie did great! We need to keep on winning, and his campaign keeps growing, so we will!

Colorado was a pleasant surprise! and Minnesota was not at all a given, but he pulled it off!

Word to the wise: the southern states, surprise surprise, have voter repression in place that makes people register way before anyone has even heard of caucusing or primaries. Only like 10% of voters vote for this, and when you make people register so far in advance its ridiculous. Less of that above the Mason Dixon! California and New York and many more will go for Bernie!

Feels good to be part of a progressive movement saying we can make things better, instead of a "don't even try" squad that cheers against its own interests ... not much different than the working class who vote Republican, in that way, except by degree!

Mick said...

Wishful thinking now, I'm afraid. It's highly improbable Bernie Sanders win enough upcoming states by over 60% (or winner takes all primaries) to secure the popular vote and majority of state delegates. The math is against him.

If Bernie should win big in MOST of the remaining states, but superdelegates push Hillary over the finish line, then the threat of "stealing" an election may come into play. And, yes, superdelegates would vote with the popular majority if Bernie's win is decisive. However, I doubt pledged superdelegates to Hillary would willingly secede to Bernie in a close-call election. She would send in her powerful donors, electeds, and attack dogs (Debbie Wasserman Schultz) to ensure loyalty. Clinton knows a brokered convention favors her, too, since it's party insiders who vote. She will not publicly abdicate and release her delegates if she has a LOT more delegates than Bernie. It's unfair, but the fix is in.

Unfortunately, superdelegates are no longer the real issue anymore. Bernie needs to win, and he's not performing. He should have started earlier in engaging black and Latino communities while as a Senator to build history with these critical voter blocs. He should have explicitly and naturally integrated racism and fairness into his economic justice message. He should have held rallies in more diverse cities and diverse college campuses. His "revolution" message should have been built upon his civil rights bio and lead by his personal bona fides. The campaign misunderstood how to use Bernie's personality as a Populist (see: Trump). "Funny old socialist crank" has a limited hipster appeal; "Unwavering civil rights/working class hero" is cross-sectional. As an unknown going against a Goliath and biased media/party machine, his campaign could not afford to make these mistakes – all of which are about judgment and not lack of resources.