/

Why Bernie Sanders is America’s best choice

by

If New York’s primary were held today I’d vote for Bernie Sanders.

Why Bernie? Because he’s the best this system has to offer: a flawed candidate whose overall message is important enough, and his record free enough of corruption and evildoing, that I can overlook the things I don’t like about his record and fill in the bubble next to his name on the ballot without feeling like a terrible person.

Hillary Clinton is nowhere close to acceptable. She has no message, other than the dead end of liberal identity-politics tokenism: sure would be neat (for her) if there were a first woman president. Her corruption is spectacular: served on the board of Wal-Mart, where she signed off on union-busting, was paid by Goldman Sachs, ran a charitable foundation like a money laundry. Voted for both of Bush’s wars, which killed hundreds of thousands of people, then destroyed Libya and Syria.

A vote for Hillary is a vote against working people, for the plutocrats, and for genocide.

However, just because I plan to vote for Bernie doesn’t mean I can’t see ideological and tactical flaws in his campaign. With that in mind, here’s my report card on the insurgent from Vermont’s bid to date.

The Good

Paris and San Bernadino aside, any political scientist will tell you that pocketbook issues — voters’ feelings about the economy, whether or not they’re prosperous, and how they perceive their future career prospects — usually determine the outcome of American presidential elections. Assuming there isn’t another 9/11-scale national security threat, the 2016 race will be about Americans’ sense that they’re working harder while earning less, and their anger that they’re still digging out of the last financial crisis while the banks who created it are making bigger profits than ever.

No other candidate, left or right, can touch Bernie’s credibility on the economy. For decades, while no one paid attention, he shouted that the American economy was rigged in favor of the billionaire class at the expense of everyone else. Now most people agree.

Bernie owns the No. 1 issue in the campaign. That, as Donald Trump would say, is yuuuuge. Neither The Donald’s newfound openness to tax people like himself, nor Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s awkward attempt to co-opt Sandersism with words instead of policies, stands a chance at denting the Bern on the No. 1 issue.

The other major metric for voters is character. Love him or hate him, everyone knows Sanders has integrity, which is why the Clinton camp’s cut-and-paste attempts to portray him as an NRA shill are falling flat. “Sanders may be a dreamer, but he’s not dishonorable. Trying to sully him in this way only sullies her,” columnist Charles Blow of The New York Times observes.

For an American politician, being widely perceived as honorable is virtually unheard of. It’s worth a billion dollars in attack ads.

The Bad

The biggest danger to Sanders’ campaign is him being perceived as a Johnny One Note candidate obsessed with economic justice at the expense of everything else. I’ve read everything written about and by Sanders. But his foreign policy prescriptions are as thin on the ground as U.S. troops in Islamic State-controlled Iraq. Whether he’s disinterested in foreign affairs or simply cares more about all matters domestic, he doesn’t talk much about America’s role in the world. Big mistake. Voters expect a robust foreign policy agenda from their president.

As far as I can tell, a Sanders Doctrine is neither militaristic nor isolationist, deploying ground troops and aerial attacks more sparingly than either George W. Bush or Barack Obama. He told me he’d even continue Bush-Obama’s drone assassination program, which is illegal since it has never been authorized by Congress.

If I were running his campaign, I’d spin Sanders’ views as “real pragmatism” to take some air out of Hillary’s hawkish tough-broad sails. But I long for something more.

By 2016 measures Bernie’s foreign and domestic policy agendas are inconsistent. A self-described Scandinavian-style “democratic socialist” doesn’t usually favor wars of choice like Afghanistan (which Sanders supported) or drone killings. Voters assume he’s a pacifist or wish he were — why not become one? I wish he’d align his laudable desire for justice and equality at home for Americans with a push for freedom and self-determination abroad for citizens of other nations. Like: We don’t attack any other countries unless they go after us first.

Sanders is hobbled by some major communications problems. Hillary has exploited his failure to fully explain his health care plan by accusing him of wanting to increase taxes, outright lying. “If I save you $10,000 in private health insurance and you pay a little bit more in taxes in total, there are huge savings in what your family is spending,” Bernie tried to rebut at the fourth debate. Not clear enough.

Here, let me help: “Under my plan, your health insurance will be free. Free! The average American will save $10,000 a year. Your taxes will go up, but that tiny increase will be so much less than you’ll save. It’s the same deal almost every other country has, people all around the world love it, and you’ll love it too.”

The Ugly

Capitalism is less popular than most pundits know; socialism and communism are more popular too. In a general election campaign, however, it is true that Republican SuperPACs will air so many anti-Bernie attack ads featuring hammers and sickles you’ll think you’re at an old May Day parade in Moscow.

Bernie has to do more than explain his “democratic socialism.” Post-Hillary, he has to own it. And sell it to the American people. “(Democratic socialism) builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor,” Bernie said in November. Nice start, but can he erase a century of anti-communist propaganda in 10 months?

To me, the term is political self-mutilation. Sanders isn’t a socialist. He’s a old-school liberal Democrat, like George McGovern was in 1972. It’s ridiculous to have to defend something that you said about yourself when it isn’t true.

Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a newly released biography of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

  • zombietimeshare

    >Capitalism is less popular than most pundits know; socialism and communism are more popular too.

    “…the myth of socialism is far stronger than the reality of capitalism. That is because capitalism is not really an ism at all. It is what people do if you leave them alone.”
    ~~Arnold Beichmen

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

      • Regressive Goosesteppers

        UH, I’d say socialism killing over 100 million people and spreading poverty, genocide, imperialism, slavery and totalitarianism literally everywhere it was attempted qualifies.

      • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

        Scandinavia?

      • ToveriJuri

        Go away with your successful balance of socialism and capitalism somewhere where people want to hear about it.

      • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

        If you define success as a lack of “poverty, genocide, imperialism, slavery and totalitarianism”, then I guess it is success. Just replying to the previous comment.

    • ElRoberto

      Capitalism is about capital. And it is everywhere.
      Capital does not leave people alone. It employs them, uses them, pays them, even abuses them.
      It does not leave them alone. Nothing for good or ill has so touched people’s lives other than religion in centuries.

    • tisho

      If socialists understood economics, they wouldn’t be socialists.

      • shatonbytories

        Does anyone understand economics?

        The bailouts after the Lehman shock were socialist (capitalism would’ve let the market decide and a lot more banks would’ve gone to the wall.) So you are saying the bankers don’t understand economics?

      • tisho

        Probably most don’t, some do, but they all want to protect their own interests, it’s the politicians ignorance that is dangerous, not the bankers.

      • Mr.Lyrical

        Karl Marx had a pretty good understanding of capitalism, he even praised it as the Most effective way to create innovation , BUT he had problems with all its legitimate flaws and choose to radically undermine it, must of the people who critic also never studied communism or socialism at all…. I for myself studied economy in Germany at a university … nothing ….. had to selfeducate to get a grip of Marx and socialism a reasonable adult can read it (das kapital …the rests is not worth reading)without becoming a communist and see that the guy had understood the flaws of capitalism but his solution where over the top ludicrous …

      • tisho

        Every system have imperfections, but when you weight them in, it becomes clear that the free market capitalism is the most successful one, free market capitalism, unlike other ”isms” is not an ”ism”, but the absence of one, free market capitalism is what happens when you let people be free to live their lives the way they see fit.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

    • Brendan Slack

      If you leave people all alone, that’s when monopolies form. Unregulated capitalism is completely disastrous.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • jr_hkkdo

    This author speaks like a salesman who really wants to maximize his book sales…sounds like capitalism to me.

  • This guy wrote the book on Bernie, do you expect him to be objective? :-)

    Bernie will likely not get the nomination because he will not be able to accomplish much – that’s something his party is considering. True, he’s been a member of congress so he should have a better understanding of it than Hillary, but he’s so far to the left of the center of his own party he’s not going to be able to reach any more consensus with ‘the Hill” than President Obama.

    It is a shame that HC gave up on single payer.

  • skillet

    Hillary is running for prez to stay out of jail. Sanders is a communist. Who does that leave ??????

    GO TRUMP !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • shatonbytories

      “Sanders is a communist”
      “Go Trump”
      Not the sharpest knife in the draw now are we?

      • Regressive Goosesteppers

        Says the Useful Idiot who denies that Bernie Sanders, an abject totalitarian socialist who has built his entire campaign around Marxist platitudes and who is infamous for heaping praise on the Communist regimes ruling Cuba, Nicaragua, the USSR and elsewhere isn’t a communist.

      • skillet

        Sanders and Clinton both want to take our guns !! American suburbanites will be sitting ducks before the Mexican drug cartels.

        There is no crime in the suburbs becasue American middle class is armed to the teeth.

        hARDENED silo suburbia !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • shatonbytories

        Ok, bright eyes, what’s a “totalitarian socialist”? What’s a “communist”? Of these 3 words, I’d say only totalitarian applied to the USSR.
        Cuba too, but they do have one or two good aspects. Universal healthcare that for the average citizen is better than in the states for instance (unless you include those who have to bankrupt themselves in the process.) And, the dispatch of medical staff and doctors to crisis areas around the world on a scale far larger than any western country (not that we ever hear about that from our “lame stream librul media”.) Cuba is poor mostly because the US refused to trade with it, not because it was “communist”. Castro overthrew a corrupt regime of gangsters that the US controlled and funded that was in no way democratic. I wonder which side Trump would’ve been buttering if he’d been around at the time?

        Do you seriously think Sanders stands for undemocratic values but Trump does? Do you seriously think Sanders wants a dictatorship but Trump doesn’t? I will not insult your intelligence and just say you’ve been hoodwinked and deluded.

  • Psycho Jedi

    Unless the Democrats are able to win a super majority in both houses of Congress there is simply no way the Republicans will let him do any of the things he wants to do, for the love of God, be realistic people. The Republicans think that Donald Trump can do all the crazy crap he wants and the Democrats will just let him, if you think the same of Bernie Sanders in reverse, you’re almost but not quite as dumb as they are.

    • Regressive Goosesteppers

      Anybody who thinks Bernie has an ice cube’s chance of even making it to the primaries isn’t being realistic.

      • Psycho Jedi

        The Democratic base despises the corruption on Wallstreet, where as the Republican base sucks on the dongs of billionaires, lick their taints, and cradle their balls. In other words, what you want in a primary and what they want in a primary are somewhat different. Hopefully though they see the political reality of the country and vote for the most experienced candidate.

  • Regressive Goosesteppers

    Except Bernie Sanders is the absolute worst, most totalitarian choice available (saying a LOT in a race that includes Hullary and Trump), and your cartoon is a load of punk that tries shoveling platitudes held expressly by a small (and incidentally, massively wealthy) socialist contingent into the mouths of Americans who want nothing to do with them (see: Obamacare).

  • Regressive Goosesteppers

    Except Bernie Sanders is the absolute worst, most totalitarian choice available (saying a LOT in a race that includes Hullary and Trump), and your cartoon is a load of punk that tries shoveling platitudes held expressly by a small (and incidentally, massively wealthy) socialist contingent into the mouths of Americans who want nothing to do with them (see: Obamacare).

  • Toolonggone

    He’s not perfect, but he’s definitely the most decent candidate compared to his opponent in the same side. The other aisle? Beats me.