Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Bernie Sanders has been telling us for some time that he recognizes how important it is to defeat Donald Trump in the fall. Most observers have taken that to mean that he'll endorse Hillary Clinton and be an enthusiastic Clinton backer once she's officially the nominee.

I've expressed my doubts about that, and now we have a New York Times op-ed from Sanders that reinforces my suspicions.

Is it an attack on Trump? Yes, in part -- but mostly it's a continuation of Sanders's attack on the Democratic establishment and, by implication, the Clinton campaign.

The title is "Democrats Need to Wake Up."
Surprise, surprise. Workers in Britain, many of whom have seen a decline in their standard of living while the very rich in their country have become much richer, have turned their backs on the European Union and a globalized economy that is failing them and their children.

And it’s not just the British who are suffering. That increasingly globalized economy, established and maintained by the world’s economic elite, is failing people everywhere. Incredibly, the wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population -- around 3.6 billion people. The top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the whole of the bottom 99 percent. The very, very rich enjoy unimaginable luxury while billions of people endure abject poverty, unemployment, and inadequate health care, education, housing and drinking water.

Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could.

During my campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, I’ve visited 46 states. What I saw and heard on too many occasions were painful realities that the political and media establishment fail even to recognize.
This goes on for six more paragraphs. It's basically the Sanders stump speech from the primary campaign, retooled for the post-Brexit moment. It makes many excellent points.

However, we're not going to solve the problems Sanders cites in the next four months. Right now, we have an election to win.

But Sanders still thinks the top priority is advancing his agenda right now. He's won quite a few battles in the struggle over the Democratic platform, yet he's still fighting with Democrats -- oh, and, incidentally, with Trump as well:
Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite. We need real change.

But we do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign’s rhetoric -- and is central to Donald J. Trump’s message....

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. We must create national and global economies that work for all, not just a handful of billionaires.
In this op-ed, Sanders never endorses Clinton. He never mentions her by name. He doesn't repeat his promise to vote for her (or to vote for her "in all likelihood") -- he just ungraciously tosses off a reference to "a new Democratic president" in the very last paragraph of an eighteen-paragraph op-ed. And his attack on Trump is subsumed in a finger-wagging warning to the Democrats.

This is still a campaign document -- and please note that the capsule bio that appears with the op-ed, which Sanders probably approved, reads as follows: "Bernie Sanders, a senator from Vermont, is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination." Yes, "is," not "was," or even "has been."

Sanders has said, "I’m going to do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump." His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, has said that Sanders "will work seven days a week, night and day, to make sure Donald Trump is not president."

But I suspect this is going to be his idea of working seven days a week to defeat Trump: He's going to fold his anti-Trump message into the same message he used to attack Clinton for a year in the primary campaign.

And that's not going to help elect her.


AllieG said...

Sanders has shown himself a fool. Forget fighting for his ideas, he even fails in terms of raw self-interest. If Clinton wins, Warren as either Senator or VP (doubt the latter) will supplant his brief tenure as leader of the lefter wing of the Democratic party. If Clinton loses, Sanders will get the blame from the bulk of the party, and he'll end up seen as a vain old crank.

Charon04 said...

Bernie is effectively a Marxist class warrior focused on demonizing the 1% and Wall Street, so HRC will always be in the enemy camp as far as Bernie sees things. Bernie's top priority is leading his imaginary revolution, always. Actually electing Democrats, apart from Tim Canova types, not so much.

Charon04 said...

Bernie plans to use campaign funds to defray his delegates' costs to attend the convention. Presumably he plans to attend with his delegates not released, which suggests an intent to engage in confrontations or floor fights.

Tom Hilton said...

I can't remember when I was less happy to be completely confirmed in my initial negative impression of a politician.

The New York Crank said...

Listen, Allie G, I have a bone to pick with you.

I don't mind if you call Bernie Sanders a vain old fool.

But please don't say things like, " Sanders will get the blame from the bulk of the party, and he'll end up seen as a vain old crank."

Yours very crankily,
The New York Crank

AllieG said...

Sorry about that NYCrank.

Unknown said...

Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat. He has no obligation to elect Democrats.

Charon04 said...


And yet Bernie persists in claiming to be a Democrat while not behaving like a de facto Democrat. The core organizing principle and purpose of political parties is to get people elected.

Herbert Freeman said...

Dear Unknown,

As a candidate dedicated to the people's interest he does have an obligation to defeat Trump.

Gene O'Neil said...

Yeah, c'mon Bernie. Just bend over and take it. It's for the good of the.... party.
If Bernie shuts up any chance for demos to be demos is gone.
more republican ideas coming from demos mouths. Can't wait.
Of course trump is a shit and must be beat. Bernie will eat trump alive.
His supports will expect it and he will deliver.
As my mom used to say, "You're crying before your hurt."
Clinton supporters shit on Bernie at your own risk.

Steve M. said...

Yeah, only Bernie supporters are allowed that sort of defecation, right?

AllieG said...

The Clinton campaign and Clinton herself, as opposed to random citizens on the Internet, have treated Sanders with punctilious respect since Day One. Don't bother answering guys like Gene, Steve. At a certain level, they want to feel persecuted, just like their candidate does. It's what they want out of politics. I don't get that, it's much easier to be dissed and persecuted in normal everyday life if you try.

Never Ben Better said...

Sanders? He is what I thought he was. Fuck him.

pbriggsiam said...

Sanders supporters don't care about how he will appear. We want our agenda advanced via the leverage we've built during the primary campaign. This happens best when Sanders continues on as he has.

We do no damage to Clinton and in fact are making the Democratic Party better by forcing it to confront its failings on Israel, trade, environment, economic inequality to name a few. We may lose on the platform on all of these but this does move the ball forward in remaking the Democratic Party into a more authentic one.

Really, it's kind of silly, by the way, to think that Sanders explicitly endorsing Clinton will suddenly cause the same excitement and energy that his campaign generated with us. That totally unrealistic, particularly after seeing Clinton surrogates shut down so many of the our demands 7-6 on the platform committee.

His endorsement will just be a symbol for the mainstream media, and maybe a necessary one for the election. Nothing changes for us...most of us will vote for Clinton; it's an obvious political necessity. Her campaign won't have our money or our energy or enthusiasm....because she's not going to do anything different than Obama. It's not personal. We just don't believe in wasting time and money on her when we could use that money in ActBlue and working locally to change/elect progressive leaders that will change the party to one we can believe in.

Elizabeth Warren is great but making her VP isn't going to do it either. Hope Warren is smart enough to stay in the Senate. She'll lose her leverage as a progressive .... which I can't help thinking is exactly what Clinton would want in making her VP.

And by the way, don't blame us if she does lose. This is her election to win or lose. She and Democratic Party will own it.

Leo Artunian said...

pbriggsiam -

" . . . we could use that money in ActBlue and working locally to change/elect progressive leaders that will change the party to one we can believe in."

Great -- do that. That's how one can most effectively bring about progressive change in the Democratic Party, which after all is a coalition of folks with different agendas and points of view. But telling those folks to "wake up" when most of them are well aware of (and suffering from) income inequality isn't the way to do it. What you suggest is practical -- what Sanders does in his peevish NYTimes piece is not.

KenRight said...


"If Clinton loses, Sanders will get the blame from the bulk of the party, and he'll end up seen as a vain old crank."

Not by as many people as will continue viewing Clinton as worse.

Maxwell's Demon said...

Steve, it's time for you to give it a rest, maybe trashing Bernie gets you some clicks but it certainly isn't going to change any hearts or minds. As noted in this link "..recent polls show Sanders supports rally to Clinton faster than hers did to Obama in 2008".

WHy are you and so many surprised that Sanders is a bulldog and curmudgeon when that's what he;s been his while life. He has always been With the Democratic Party but not OF the party until because he needed its platfom to ;us his agenda. And the results show that while he is not a particularly charismatic candidate his vision resonates with many.

Hillary is/will be the nominee and deserves to be. She is much better prepared to do the hard slog of governing against and intransigent, anti-intellectual and bought off disloyal opposition. But it is exactly Bernie's doggedness that has shifted Hillary;s stances to one that is/will prove acceptable to Progressives.
Yes each has issues that are flaws (e.g. gun control, hawkishness) but the Dems need Bernie to help insulate Hillary from charges of "Wall Street stooge" by making her move more than she is perhaps comfortable.

Should Sanders cave now and give Clinton full-throated endorsement, it would (rightly) be seen as out of character and insincere. BY fighting for his ideals to the end (which will be in Philly) and then helping where he can (while leaving the best of it to the true Progressive leader, Elizabeth Warren, who happens to be much better at it anyway)

So, yes it's time to move on, to continue with this anti-Sanders whining is just you wasting your time and talents all the while making you seem to behave in the same fashion you are accusing Bernie of doing.

Steve M. said...

I write what I want, MD. Don't like it? Don't read it.

KenRight said...

Warren is not a progressive. Sanders has evidently not forced the Dem elite to confront its "failings on Israel" Much to Dershowitz' delight.

Go Trump or Stein.

pbriggsiam said...

Maxwell's Demon,

Thank you for sounding the reasonable tone in this thread. Much appreciated. This is kind of talk is how we unify.



pbriggsiam said...

Steve M,

You are just like that asshat over at Ballon Juice, John Cole. What a jerk you are!

Steve M. said...

I consider that a compliment.

Ten Bears said...

Though I do get tired of the Bernie-bashing, as tired as of the Hillary-bashing elsewhere, I have to agree that if you don't like it here the bottom-line nuts and bolts ones and zeros balls on a brass monkey solution is don't come here. Or don't comment.

Unk has it right, though, Bernie isn't a democrat and has no more "responsibility" to vote or tow the democrat party line than I.

Speaking of responsibility, this is your election to lose. I've been accused of some pretty horrible things these past few months, been told my not voting for not-trump leaves me responsible for everything from a return to back-alley coat-hanger abortions to a new (white) holocaust and world war three. I wonder if these folks, these Bernie-bashing Clinton Surrogates, those whom will be responsible if this election is lost, can accept responsibility for their actions, and the consequence thereof?

Or will they blame it on the not-democrats for not voting democrat.

Ten Bears said...

postscript: I don't like John Cole either, but I read him everyday, and that, Steve, is a compliment.

Maxwell's Demon said...


Thanks for your thoughtful and in depth response

Robert said...

You don't have to like Sanders to realize he's correct economically.
Just like you don't have to dislike HRC to realize she's right economically.