GUEST OPINION: Bern Baby Bern

By on April 5, 2016

Why Democrats should support Bernie Sanders during Saturday’s caucus.

Teton County Democrats are expecting an unprecedented turnout for the Democratic caucus Saturday at the Senior Center. Some attribute this to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rising popularity throughout the valley. (Photo: cody downard)

Teton County Democrats are expecting an unprecedented turnout for the Democratic caucus Saturday at the Senior Center. Some attribute this to presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ rising popularity throughout the valley. (Photo: Cody Downard)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Teton County Democrats will hold their presidential preference caucus at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Senior Center, and the buzz on the street is that it will be a well-attended event.

The big question for Democrats, of course, is whether the party will nominate Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. Six months ago, this wasn’t a question at all. Clinton’s nomination was a foregone conclusion; the Democratic Party establishment was united behind her, and it was assumed that no challenger would be able to overcome the Clinton machine and the enormous amounts of money it had collected from the political donor class.

But these aren’t ordinary times. For those who have long wondered when Americans would finally rebel against rule by one party with two names, the answer is suddenly clear.

While the Right has responded by rejecting any remnants of conservative ideology in favor of a man who retweets Mussolini quotes, the Left has rallied around Bernie Sanders, a candidate who, while holding relatively mainstream policy positions still seems revolutionary if for no other reason than the fact that his campaign isn’t financed by corporate America.

This of course makes him a threat to the establishment in exactly the same way as Donald Trump. The wealthy elite of the United States is accustomed to getting its way. For decades, it’s been impossible to win the presidency without its financial support. They will often donate money to the nominees of both parties—preferring a Republican win, but knowing a Democrat like Clinton isn’t going to do much to change the status quo. And as the status quo is making the elite extremely wealthy at the expense of everyone else, this obviously works out fine for them.

If you get your news from cable TV, you might think that there are prodigious differences between the two major parties. But that’s only because no one is reporting on the areas where the parties agree, or rather, where the parties’ elites agree.

If you were told that a politician supported the Iraq War, the Wall Street bailout, the Patriot Act, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the death penalty, the Keystone Pipeline, a border fence, and offshore drilling—while opposing same sex marriage until 2013, and currently opposing expanding Social Security, single payer health care, closing Guantanamo, and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour—you might assume that politician is a Republican candidate. If you then discovered Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley were among that politician’s top career campaign contributors, in addition to learning that politician had served on the board of Wal-Mart, you’d probably be sure of it.

No, that is the resume of Hillary Clinton—the preferred candidate of virtually the entire Democratic establishment.

For years Democrats have been told that neoliberal, center-right status quo politicians are the only Democrats we can nominate for president because we can’t risk losing a presidential election to a Republican. So Dems nominated Walter Mondale, who lost, and Michael Dukakis, who lost, and Al Gore, who lost, and John Kerry, who lost. It’s hardly a foolproof plan.

But suddenly the electability issue isn’t really an issue anymore…if it ever was one. What polling exists shows Sanders as a stronger candidate against Trump than Clinton. Sanders has the highest favorability rating among all candidates, while Clinton’s favorability ratings are terrible.

In this election year, being the establishment candidate is an oppressive liability, and it’s going to hurt Clinton. She’s disliked by Independents and hated by Republicans who might otherwise recoil from Trump, or who will vote for any anti-establishment candidate who can form coherent sentences. Rightly or not, she’ll be dogged by rumors of imminent indictments over the email scandal, and Trump will have a field day with her over the $153 million dollars in speaking fees she and Bill Clinton raked in from clients like Goldman Sachs. She’s widely viewed as dishonest and corrupt, and this is the wrong election year to get slapped with that label.

But we have a better choice in Bernie Sanders. He’s the rarest of politicians; one who has consistently stuck to his principles throughout his career. Unlike Clinton, he’s viewed as honest. He’s a Democratic Socialist, and now Americans have finally discovered that isn’t a problem. No one thinks Bernie Sanders is corrupt.

And Sanders’ message clearly resonates. He rails against inequality, both social and economic. He has been a consistent advocate for social justice. And unlike any other candidate left in this election, he’s been consistently saying the same things for decades, even when they weren’t convenient. The appeal of this sort of candidate in this kind of political environment can’t be overestimated.

In an election year in which people are rebelling en masse against the establishment, corruption, money in politics and the status quo, you’d have a very difficult time constructing a better candidate than Bernie Sanders. Maybe you’d give him a little more name recognition, but that’s about it.

Bernie Sanders isn’t perfect. But he’s a decent, honest man who is more than qualified to be president. He’s a more electable candidate than Clinton. And he represents the interests of average Democratic voters far better than Clinton does. He deserves the support of Teton County Democrats. PJH


About Pete Muldoon

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