Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sanders' Missed Opportunity And Its Consequences

Bernie Sanders. That's a name that probably hasn't been on your mind in about a month, reflecting his growing irrelevancy. It recently occurred to me that by refusing to concede, Sanders and his supporters are accomplishing the opposite of their goal. Bernie has refused to drop out despite losing the popular vote by millions and the delegates by a healthy margin, ostensibly to push the Democratic party to the left.

That strategy, to put it bluntly, is failing. While Sanders supporters have been refusing to get behind Clinton, her lead in the polls has only grown stronger and stronger in the last month. Trump's manifest unfitness for the office of president is getting more and more apparent each day even with voters skeptical of Hillary. The Republican Party has failed to maintain unity. Because of this, Clinton has little incentive to bargain with Sanders and his hardcore supporters because she does not seem to need them.

That was not the case right after the primaries ended, when Trump got a polling surge typical for a new nominee. At that moment, if Sanders had pulled out of the race and endorsed Clinton, he might have actually had some real leverage. He could have easily said (candidly, of course) "Now that I've dropped my campaign and given you a big boost, here are some things that we need to do." Right now events have turned in a way that have closed that window.

While I eventually tired of Sanders, I think that his strategic failure is bad news generally for the Democratic party. With no leverage to her left, Hillary can easily go into the triangulation strategy that Bill used to effectively in the 1990s. Already she has been advocating 1990s-Clinton type proposals, like easing the student loan debt of entrepreneurs and small business owners. It's the type of 90s Clinton proposal that hits the right political targets but doesn't really do much of anything, and undercuts more egalitarian approaches. Feeling freed from the need to placate the left, expect a lot more of this from Clinton this election.

Of course, not all of this can be laid at the door of Bernie Sanders, but his missed opportunity is indicative of larger political problems that the left has. The left seems hell-bent on moral victories, and not so much on actual political victory. Sanders' talk of "revolution" has just been fuzzy-headed, well-meaning bullshit. Said "revolution," which would be necessary to accomplish his political agenda, just isn't possible in the current political landscape, meaning that if he were president he would have no way of getting anything accomplished. This is why I am much more hopeful about the Sanders supporters trying to get like minded candidates into Congress, rather than those aiming to pitch a fit at the Philly convention this summer. I have been distressed to see so many people put so much trust and faith in a man who appears to be completely incompetent when it comes to exercising political power. It's time that the left stopped letting their opponents have the monopoly on hard-headedness and pragmatism. If not, expect more "beautiful losers" who excite people and accomplish little in the years to come.

1 comment:

Clarissa said...

So true! Enough with moral victories, let's get something done already. All the beautiful speeches about revolutions and such are getting tiresome when they lead nowhere.