When Bernie Sanders announced he is running for President, I decided that, barring the unexpected, I will vote for him, not because I thought he could win, but to “send them a message.”
I don’t think Sanders himself expected to win. I think he ran in order to get his ideas before the public.
Now the relative weakness of Hillary Clinton and the leading Republican candidates in public opinion polls indicate that Vermont’s 73-year-old Senator has a real, though small, change of winning the Democratic primary and the general election.
What if he did win? Sanders himself has said many times that no President can bring about the changes that are needed in this country unless there is a political revolution.
What I take him to mean by political revolution is a mass movement among the public, as in the Populist and Progressive movements prior to World War One, the labor movement in the 1930s or the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Only with movements such as this at his back could any President force reforms through Congress and overcome the reluctance of the bureaucracy.
The changes Sanders advocates are not revolutionary in themselves. Although he calls himself a socialist, he is essentially a Roosevelt-Truman Democrat. But the financial establishment, and the military-intelligence deep state, are so dead set against even modest reforms, that to bring them about would require a shift in power than would be virtually revolutionary.
The financial establishment, and the military-intelligence establishment, both would have enormous power to undermine his administration. They would have the power to create financial and military crises for which the sitting President would get the blame.
His enemies in Washington would undermine his administration by means of leaks. His enemies on Wall Street would use the power of money to influence legislators and voters. I assume Sanders, like Ralph Nader, has led a life beyond reproach because if not, the dirt will be dug up. All these things have been done to past reformers, and I don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to assume these would be done to Sanders.
Sanders has said he would challenge the power of Wall Street and Fortune 500 CEOs by breaking up the “too big to fail” banks, prosecuting financial fraud and by supporting labor unions and co-operative enterprise.
His statements, including his 12-point platform, indicate that he would not attack the military-intelligence “deep state” in the same way, but merely rein it in and refrain from starting wars. Whether the war hawks and authoritarians in government would appreciate his restraint is another question.
Any successful President has to go into office with a team of supporters and advisers with administrative experience and Washington experience who can make sure that his orders are carried out and his intentions are not misrepresented.
I don’t think Sanders has such a team because I don’t think he expects to win. While his chance of winning is small, it is greater than zero.
Bernie Sanders and the 2015 Campaign for President by Molly Ball for The Atlantic.
Dem fears over Clinton’s strength grow after new poll by Niall Strange for The Hill.
Latest National Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Beating Scott Walker, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush by Zaid Jilani for AlterNet.
Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Bernie by Barney Frank for POLITICO. Criticism of Sanders from the right. Frank says Hillary Clinton is as good a candidate as we have a right to expect.
In the Age of Trump, Will Democrats Sell Out More, or Less? by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.
The Wheels Fell Off the Bernie Sanders Bandwagon by Joshua Frank for Counterpunch. Criticism of Sanders from the left.
Why Bernie Sanders Is a Dead End by Joshua Frank for Counterpunch.
The Holy Grail of Republican Primaries by Rick Perlstein for the Washington Spectator. Perlstein says the Republican candidates’ Grail is large donations from rich non-entities.