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Salon: My day with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton

My day with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton: Two Iowa rallies explain why Hillary may be about to blow a sure thing

On Sunday morning, I sat in a coffee shop in Cedar Rapids, eating one of Iowa’s famous boxing-glove-sized cinnamon rolls, and scanning the Des Moines Register, which was cover-to-cover rally reviews. (“Glenn Beck Comes to Iowa to Endorse Cruz”; “Trump: I Could ‘Shoot Somebody’ and Keep Voters.”) Hillary Clinton was in Marion at 12:30, Marco Rubio in Cedar Rapids at 2, Bernie Sanders in Independence at 5:30. I decided to hit all three events.

. . .

Yet the dour New England socialist is the sunny one in this race. Clinton looks back, and is frightened. Sanders looks ahead, and sees the America he’s been trying to build since he moved from Brooklyn to Vermont in the 1960s: an America in which new mothers and fathers will be guaranteed three months of parental leave, the minimum wage will pay $15 an hour, free college tuition will be funded by a tax on financial speculation, and every citizen will be insured by a single-payer health care system.

“What this campaign is about is transforming America,” Sanders said. “Nothing that I said to you today is utopian; nothing is radical. Nothing that I have said does not exist in other countries, and nothing I have said to you today is not wanted and supported by the American people. The American people want to raise the minimum wage, they want pay equity, they want to create jobs by building our infrastructure, they want to make colleges and universities tuition free, they want to expand Social Security, not cut Social Security. They want us to deal effectively with climate change. They want to end a corrupt campaign finance system. None of this is radical. None of it is pie in the sky, and I told you how we could pay for each of these programs. The issue is not whether the American people want it; the issue is whether or not we have the courage to take on the greed of the billionaire class, who want it all for themselves. That is what this campaign is about.”

. . .

The latest CNN Poll of Polls shows Sanders leading Clinton in Iowa, 46 percent to 44 percent. The caucuses favor true-believing ideologues with motivated followers. Advantage: Sanders. A win in Iowa, followed by a certain victory in New Hampshire, would give Sanders the credibility to pitch himself to Southern voters. Once again, Hillary Clinton may be on the verge of blowing a sure nomination. Even if she wins, her pessimistic message would not sound appealing against Marco Rubio, who gave his Cedar Rapids audience a sunny vision of capitalism as “the only system that can make poor people richer without making rich people poorer.”


Here's What's So Jarring About Hillary Clinton's Thoughts On Reconstruction

At the the Iowa Democratic forum on Monday night, Hillary Clinton took one of the easiest questions lobbed her way -- Who is your favorite president? -- and blasted it right into the back of her own goal.

She did fine with the first part, naming Abraham Lincoln, but then dipped into the history of Reconstruction, bemoaning the vengeful way in which the North targeted the South after Lincoln's assassination.

"You know, he was willing to reconcile and forgive. And I don't know what our country might have been like had he not been murdered, but I bet that it might have been a little less rancorous, a little more forgiving and tolerant, that might possibly have brought people back together more quickly. But instead, you know, we had Reconstruction, we had the re-instigation of segregation and Jim Crow. We had people in the South feeling totally discouraged and defiant. So, I really do believe he could have very well put us on a different path."

. . .

After the Civil War, freed slaves were given the right to vote, and people who participated in the rebellion were temporarily barred from the ballot. The Union army was used to assure that the elections would be honored. Imagine if a big chunk of today's Republican Party was blocked from voting, and you can get a sense of the political leaning of the Congress, legislatures and governors in power immediately after the war. Congress passed a Civil Rights Act and a series of sweeping and, for the time, radical Constitutional amendments. For the first time, legislatures in the South created public schools and put an effort into public health. The Democratic Party of the time settled on a path of obstruction, determined to undermine the Reconstruction legislatures. The white supremacists chose that path not because Reconstruction was failing, but because they were afraid it would work.

. . .

In real life, freed slaves were not passive victims of Klan violence, but fought back in ways both organized and spontaneous -- a resistance that never died, even in the darkest days of Jim Crow.
One of the historians we spoke to for the podcast, Douglas Egerton, put it this way: "Reconstruction didn't fail in the South. It was killed. It was murdered."

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