Mr. Sanders Goes To Washington


By David Preston

The Dems are in a real bind with Bernie Sanders. He’s not a Democrat; he’s a socialist. (Forget that Democratic Socialist nonsense. That’s just marketing.)

So why are the Dems letting him run with their pack? –Because they’re afraid not to. If they’d turned him down flat, they knew they’d have to kiss off several million voters right there. Loath to chance a re-run of the 2000 election – where the independent candidacy of another socialist, Ralph Nader, cost Dems the White House – the DNC made a quick deal with Sanders: Promise to drop out if you lose the primary and we’ll let you play. Sanders, realizing that he’d never get a better deal than this, grabbed it. And indeed, it is a sweet deal for him in many ways. Being in the Democrats’ tent guarantees that he’ll be taken somewhat seriously as a candidate, at least through the primary process. He’ll have more time on the national soapbox than he could have had as an independent, and meanwhile, he’ll have direct access to the people who are his natural allies: disaffected left Democrats.

Sanders knows he won’t be on the 2016 ballot and he doesn’t care. What he’s shooting for at this point is simply to push Hillary to the left and keep her there. (If she doesn’t move left and support at least some of the Sanders agenda, she and the Party are still at risk for losing votes. Sanders may have promised to endorse Hillary personally, but he has no intention of telling his fans to vote for her if she doesn’t play ball.) When Hillary budges left, Sanders will then be able to claim credit for that and he’ll use it to continue building his base. Pretty clever, huh? Gee, who’d have thought a socialist kid from Vermont would ever make it this far?

The only problem is that Hillary and the Dems don’t WANT to move left. The Dems are, after all, a party that serves the interests of wealthy elites just like Bernie always said they did. And Hillary’s their gal. (You think she’s gonna come out in support of a 90% income tax rate on her biggest donors? Come on!) Beyond that, Dems fret that candidates who have even a whiff of socialism about them are doomed to lose any national election. Which they are.

In short, the Dems want Bernie’s voters without Bernie’s baggage. They know they won’t be able to make Sanders tone down his calls for “income equality” and “social justice” because he’s too principled for that. And they know they can’t just kick him out of the party. So what’s a corporate capitalist party to do? –The movers and shakers think they’ve got it figured out. They’re going to cripple Sanders within the party, turn their backs on him. He’s already catching flak at the state level as state party machines move to keep him off the ballot. Democratic operatives are circulating polls that say he’s way behind Hillary and he gets very little love from media out in the sticks, even when he turns out huge crowds. They’re not just trying to make him unelectable – that’s already been taken care of by Sanders himself – they’re trying to make him un-CONTEND-able.

Meanwhile Republicans, sensing there’s some fun to be had here, are coming to Sanders’ aid, “taking him seriously” and trying to help him push Hillary as far to the left as she can possibly go. They know that Sanders is up for that. They know the he doesn’t particularly care if the Dems win, as long as he gets HIS agenda out there.

Believe it or not, there’s a moral here. And the moral is this: A third-party candidate is a third-party candidate. Somebody’s gonna get screwed here, and it ain’t gonna be the Republicans.

(Fortunately for the Dems, Republicans are pretty good at screwing themselves.)

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