Monday, June 29, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton's ideal opponent

By Richard Barry

Yesterday I wrote about some reasons it was good Bernie Sanders was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. One of them was that it would push Hillary Clinton to talk about  issues important to the left that might not otherwise get a full hearing.

A somewhat more nuanced way of saying the same thing, which S.V. Date at the National Journal suggests, is that Sanders candidacy will "allow Clinton to focus on issues most primary voters in the party can agree upon, while in no way challenging her character or competence for office."

Bernie Sanders, as Date writes, can criticize big banks, Republicans who deny climate change, and the billionaire Koch brothers and Clinton can agree. Certainly she will talk about those things on her own, but Sanders' campaign allows her to amplify her stance, especially if she positions herself as having evolved to some extent because of Sanders' candidacy and the enthusiasm of his followers.

Of significance too is Sanders' statement that "I have never run a negative political ad in my life, and I don't intend to."
"If I'm a Hillary Clinton person, this is what I want. I want someone like Bernie Sanders in the race," says Mo Elleithee, a former top staffer at the Democratic National Committee who now runs Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service. "It gives her the opportunity to address the issues that he and his supporters want to hear about."

There may be a few topics where they genuinely disagree like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that could work in her favour as she can present herself as hard-headed on the economy while making it clear she is, after all, no socialist. Similarly on security issues and foreign policy, in a country revved up to expect there to be a terrorists around every corner, she can argue, with all due respect to Sen. Sanders, that she can be tough on the world stage. 

There is little reason for Mrs. Clinton to be off-side with Sen. Sanders' domestic agenda and much to recommend a friendly conversation amongst a few candidates who mostly agree on the general themes.

As someone who is very pleased with Sanders' candidacy but who will also be quite happy with a Clinton presidency, it's a cozy set up. Let's have a good chat about some of the things that really matter without doing any real damage to the eventual nominee. 

Too be clear, this means I'm with Sanders until Clinton is the nominee. On the other hand, if some world-gone-crazy scenario overtakes events making Sanders the nominee, we can take comfort in the fact that Hillary Clinton would not have been able to defeat the Republican nominee anyway. I love Bernie Sanders, but if Hillary Clinton can't dispatch a socialist from Vermont, what does that say?

But that's not going to happen. What is going to happen is an important and interesting discussion amongst Democratic hopefuls featuring elements important to the left. Hillary Clinton should be happy about that as should the Democratic Party.

Bookmark and Share


  • I agree. Although I'm not sure that Sanders is as liberal on foreign policy as most people think. Of course, to Americans, being "strong" on foreign policy isn't actually about being strong but about being bellicose. Clinton is better at that.

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 3:33 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home