Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has already given much to the Democratic Party. But even though his chances of being nominated remain slim, he still has a bit more he could give to his adopted party.
Largely because of Clinton’s dominance when it comes to establishment-oriented super delegates, we’re being told by elite analysts like FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver that Hillary will likely be nominated, even after a likely Sanders win in Wisconsin today and a possible win in Clinton’s home state of New York. Sanders’ exit from the stage couldn’t come soon enough for frustrated supporters of Hillary Clinton, who see Sanders as an annoying speed bump on her trip down Inevitability Lane.
Bernie’s Gifts To Democrats
But the fact is, Sanders’ questioning of Clinton has helped her improve as a candidate. Though still too cautious and programmed, Clinton is a better candidate now than she was before Sanders joined her on stage.
Beyond changing candidate Clinton for the better, Sanders has also changed the Democratic party for the better. This longtime political independent has reminded Democratic partisans that it’s okay to dream of progressive policies that go beyond the cautious incrementalism ushered in during the 1990s by the Clintons and their center-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC).
With every major western nation operating universal health care systems that are more fair, effective and efficient than today’s complex Rube Goldberg-style Affordable Care Act (ACA) machinery, Sanders reminded Democrats that it’s reasonable to both appreciate the progress being made under the ACA, while continuing to fight for the superior single payer models.
Sanders also reminded Democrats that a college degree is as vital today as a high school degree was at the time the American public education system was created, so we need to keep fighting to update our public education system by offering tuition-free public higher education.
Sanders reminded Democrats that even Republican presidents such as Bush, Reagan, Nixon and Eisenhower all required wealthy Americans to pay more to support their country than we do today, so it’s reasonable to ask more of the wealthy again to help rebuild the American dream for the lower- and middle-class.
Sanders reminded Democrats that the party that created a wide array of popular socialist programs that built the great American middle class — New Deal job programs, Social Security, the GI Bill, the Rural Electric Administration, Medicare — doesn’t need to cower in fear every time conservatives label their proposals as “socialism.”
Finally, Sanders shined a light on the corrupting influence that big money has had on America’s corporatized Congress.
Democrats owe the Independent Senator a debt of gratitude. The fact that many to most of Sanders’ proposals could not have passed in the short-term with a Republican-controlled Congress does not mean that progressives shouldn’t advocate for those policies, to improve their viability over the long-term. It’s self-defeating to allow do-nothing congressional conservatives to limit how Democrats use the bullypulpit.
Bernie’s Parting Gift
But where does Sanders go from here? If delegate geeks like Nate Silver are correct that it’s impossible for Sanders to come from behind to win the nomination, should he just pull out of the race, as indignant Clinton supporters have been demanding?
Before Sanders leaves the stage, I’d ask one more favor of him: Expose Trumponomics for what it is. To limit the number of Sanders refugees who are tempted to support Trump over Clinton in November, Sanders should spend the next few weeks exposing the fraud Mr. Trump is attempting to perpetrate on Americans.
For instance, Sanders should explain that billionaire Trump may claim that his partial self-financing makes him independent from the uber-wealthy interests, but Trump’s tax plan exposes the truth. According to a Tax Policy Center (TPC) analysis, Trump’s tax plan would give an average tax cut of $1.3 million per year to the richest one-tenth of one percent. Sanders should make sure his audience understands that billionaire Trump plans to further enrich his fellow billionaires.
Sanders should also explain how the businessman’s proposals will destroy the American economy, rather than make America “win so much will be sick of winning.” For instance, look at what Mr. Trump’s plan to lavish the mega-rich with tax breaks would do to the national debt:
“The Tax Policy Center estimates the proposal would reduce federal revenue by $9.5 trillion over its first decade and an additional $15.0 trillion over the subsequent 10 years, before accounting for added interest costs or considering macroeconomic feedback effects.”
Some have suggested that Sanders and Trump compete for the same type of voters, those most frustrated with the status quo. Therefore, before Sanders leaves the stage, he should conduct a seminar for “open to Trump” voters about the fraud Mr. Trump is attempting to perpetrate on them. Doing so could constitute Bernie’s greatest gift of all to the Democratic Party.
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