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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,218

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Bernie Has My Back

That pretty much says it for me. I sometimes use an online website to create designs because it has tools intuitive enough for even me to use. I just did this one:

I can't give away rights to this exact design since I used that website to make it but as far as I' concerned everyone should feel free to do something similar if you want.

Bernie really does have our back.

The key fallacy of sincere "Moderate" Democrats.

They confuse the status quo with the comfort zone of most Americans. They assume most Americans are more comfortable with tweaking business as usual than with attempting significant systematic changes. That may be more true some times than others, but in reality it has never been fundamentally true. It has been true only for those who come out way ahead under the existing status quo at any given time, and that has always only been true for a small minority of Americans.

Things were never better for most Americans than they were in the decades immediately after World War Two. The G.I. Bill of Rights opened up a middle class lifestyle to millions of Americans. We had the means to pay for it then without putting a squeeze on the elite because America's potential global economic rivals were still climbing out from the wreckage of a major war fought in their homelands. Good times as they say, pretty much as good as it gets without major societal changes, and still there was discomfort and unrest brewing in the so called silent majority. American minorities were severely repressed, rural poverty was rampant, seniors couldn't afford healthcare. There was a reason for massive non violent civil disobedience campaigns. There was a reason why LBJ's Great Society agenda was both badly needed and widely embraced. Mind numbing calls for conformity and obedience to authority and unrelenting sexual repression chafed at the American spirit. There was a reason for the the cultural revolution that swept America in the 60's. And that was in the so called best of times.

These are not the best of times. The status quo is not working for most Americans and moderation virtually by definition venerates the status quo and seeks to not unduly unsettle it. Americans only embrace, reluctantly, an unsatisfactory status quo if they fear the possible effects of change more than they fear the daily circumstances they now live under. Fear has propped up the American status quo ever since the late 70's, but the burden of fear is shifting now. Increasingly Americans fear the future that our current course is steering us toward more than they do potential changes that might avoid that fate.

The 2008 election was a vote for change. Rightly or wrongly in retrospect, Barack Obama represented hope and change as he seemingly ushered in a new day for our nation under new generational leadership that embraced the multi-cultural potential of modern America. The 2010 election was also a vote for change, albeit with a much lower voter turnout as many of those who (perhaps unrealistically) expected more from the change regime they ushered in than what they perceived getting from it. The Right in America positioned themselves to run against the status quo, it was not moderation they were preaching, it was regression to simpler seemingly idyllic time when big government didn't get in the way of the true aspirations of most Americans. That day never existed but it was the future they promised, coupled with constant fear mongering that the end days were near if America didn't radically change course - to the right.

Since 2010 hope for change from both ends of the political spectrum has not yet fully rebounded from the disillusionment both ends suffered over the last six years. But the pain and fear factors have continued to rise. Americans are not comfortable with the center of American politics, though many may still be resigned to it. But for how much longer?

There in NO Downside to Bernie running. NONE

Not unless you are a third way blue dog Democrat who doesn't want populist issues discussed. It doesn't matter if you support Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, or Elizabeth Warren as your first choice for the Democratic nomination. It doesn't matter if you believe Bernie Sanders has a realistic chance of winning the presidency or no chance in hell. It doesn't matter whether Sanders can raise moderate or large sums of campaign funds during the primaries. It is all good under any of those scenarios.

Bernie is fearless when it comes to talking about the issues that matter to ordinary Americans. The entire thrust of his campaign is to raise those issues. There is no upside or temptation for him to hedge his critique of the American economic and political system. He is not beholden to those with big money because they already know fully where he stands and Bernie stands with everyday voters, not fat cats. Bernie has nothing to lose by speaking truth to power. In fact it is the only thing that draws attention to him in the first place, so we can count on him doing it.

Does that make him nonviable as a candidate? That is subject to debate of course, but the truth is that it doesn't matter. Regardless of how viable or nonviable Bernie Sanders ultimately is, it is still extremely positive for him to enter the presidential race. Let's look at three possible rough scenarios. 1) Bernie enters the race but is unable to win any contests. 2) Bernie enters the race and makes it somewhat competitive but comes up short and doesn't win the Democratic nomination. 3) Bernie enters the race and actually wins the Democratic nomination. That kind of covers it.

The smart money, for whatever that is worth, for now all comes down for option one. Let's assume for a moment that's right. I would still be thrilled to have Bernie running because Bernie is about as good as anyone now on the national scene at framing issues in terms that clearly explain to 99% of Americans how 1% of Americans have the system totally rigged against them. That by itself is priceless to those of us who whose voices often are smothered out by big money and corporate control of the political system. Bernie will not only raise the issues that need to be raised, he will raise them in stark understandable terms that have the potential to re-frame the political debate along much more progressive fault lines. As a sitting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders will be included in any Democratic Party primary debates, and he will get equal time with Hillary Clinton and any other Democratic candidates to make his case to Democratic voters and, to some extent, to the larger public also. This is all good stuff regardless of the outcome.

Because Bernie Sanders is already so marginalized and discounted by the mainstream media it won't be considered a repudiation of his beliefs if he doesn't actually win, much like it didn't set back the beliefs of the American Socialist Party when Norman Thomas failed to become a "viable candidate" for president in an earlier era. Instead major planks of the Socialist platform were incorporated virtually intact into that of the Democratic Party in subsequent years. Even in so called "defeat" Bernie Sanders can be a game hanger for the future Democratic Party.

If conventional thinking holds true and Hillary Clinton is all but certain to end up as the Democratic nominee, a challenge by Sanders won't hurt her. That is true whether or not the Democratic race ever becomes legitimately competitive. Obama wasn't hurt by the long protracted contest to wrest the 2008 nomination away from Hillary then, and most observers believe that Hillary Clinton sharpened her own campaign skills from almost sleep walking through the early stages when the nomination appeared to be hers for the taking to becoming tough as nails to claw her way back into the race after coming in third in Iowa.

That speaks to option number two above, a scenario under which Sanders makes a competitive run for the nomination but falls short. A remarkable, honorable and unfortunately rather rare thing about Bernie Sanders is that he is a very clean campaigner. Bernie doesn't throw mud, he argues the merits of an issue instead. I feel solid in saying that Bernie Sanders has never attacked President Obama fro the left for example. What he has done on occasion is pointedly disagree with the President on certain aspects of certain issues, not the man himself or his integrity or the sincerity of his basic Democratic values. Sanders will not engage in avoidable character assassination of Hillary Clinton or any other Democrat he runs against. He will fight for what he believes in, which in very large part is what the Democratic base believes in. Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will need to mobilize the Democratic base in order to win the General Election. Sanders can help that person prepare her or him self for that task by illuminating what Democratic voters care about and respond too.

What about scenario number three, Sanders actually winning the Democratic nomination? While I personally think it is rather unlikely, that possibility does not seem quite as far fetched to me as it does to the usual suspect talking heads. Sanders may actually catch on fire. Because he is so very different from most other Democrats who have sought the nomination in recent years, and because the Democratic field is shaping up to be much less crowded in 2016 than it was in 2004 or 2008, the tried and true metrics by which his chances are now being appraised may end up seriously off base and lacking in accuracy. If Sanders significantly outperforms expectations early in the race that could lead to a snowball effect with him continuing to gain momentum. Again, I don't need to believe this scenario is likely in order to support Sanders running for President, but I don't completely discount it either.

What would that mean? Well for one thing it would expose Hillary Clinton as a weak candidate for the times that confront us now, and if Bernie beats her even her hard core supporters will have to admit that she had serious flaws that they didn't adequately appreciate. If Hillary can't beat Bernie, with her high stature and all that money behind her, we will be fortunate indeed that Sanders exposed her shortcomings before she became the Democratic standard bearer in 2016. And if Bernie wins the Democratic nomination it means all bets are off on the conventional wisdom of how much money a major party candidate will need to raise to win the general election in the political climate that will then prevail. If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination he will become iconic in the process. He would be riding a cultural political tsunami to have ever gotten that far to begin with.

I mentioned Martin O'Malley and Elizabeth Warren above also. Anyone hoping one of those Democrats will become our 2016 nominee have nothing to fear from a Bernie Sanders candidacy if they really believe their guy or gal has the right stuff to begin with. Let's start by stating the obvious. Warren has clearly said she has no intention or running for president in 2016. I don't see any way that can possibly change without Sanders in the race. Warren isn't going to wage an uphill fight against Hillary for the nomination, she's made that abundantly clear.For those old enough to remember it, once upon a time RFK made it pretty clear he wasn't going to run an uphill fight to depose LBJ either. Then Eugene McCarthy took on that long shot quest and exposed LBJ's weakness, and that changed all the standard calculations. If Clinton starts to sputter against Sanders possibly that could change for Warren, even if Hillary still is besting Bernie (Johnson did beat McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary - but McCarthy's strong showing ultimately convinced LBJ not to run for re-election). And as for O'Malley, for him to have any chance to defeat Clinton for the nomination he would probably need some help in taking her down, kind of like the Edwards candidacy helped Obama defeat Hillary in 2008. O'Malley himself is rather untested on the national stage, so if Sanders can overtake O'Malley's bid to be a viable alternative to Clinton, that would speak volumes about how strong a candidate he actually is, and it would be best to find that out sooner rather than later.

No matter how I look at it, I see no reason why any progressively minded Democrat shouldn't be delighted at the prospect of Bernie Sanders entering the race for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Count me firmly in the Sanders camp.
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