bernie sanders

The Dark Night of the Liberal Soul

My reflections about the identity crisis inside the Democratic Party is the topic of my The American Conservative piece.

The fact that a socialist in his 70s was able to be a real challenger to the Clinton establishment shows that third-way liberalism doesn’t sell like in the old days. While some describe Sanders as an unreconstructed New Deal Democrat, for a lot of his life he was an independent and third-party guy. His ideals were closer to the romantic vision of the socialist revolution than to the incremental reforms that liberals always promise.

Read the whole thing to know why this division could affect the of American liberalism.

The socialist foreign policy tradition

The discussion about foreign policy of Bernie Sanders and the more broad socialist vision of international relations is the topic of my The National Interest piece today. An excerpt:

With the Democratic primaries coming to an end, the fate of Bernie Sanders is sealed. His insurgent campaign surprised everybody in advancing so far, and gave a good fight to a powerful establishment figure like Hillary Clinton. The question of whether he could have done better if he had focused on foreign policy is one that, while vital, hasn’t really been asked. The usual assumption is that Hillary is a hawk and that Bernie is to her left on foreign policy. That is a fairly honest answer, given their voting records; however, the fact that the first man to call himself a socialist in a Democratic primary has a foreign policy with not much difference from a mainstream liberal raises the question of whether there exists a socialist foreign policy in the U.S. context.

Read the whole thing here to know about the conflict between Bernie Sanders and historic socialist foreign policy tradition.

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Why Bernie Sanders wants same day registration

The revolution is flaming out.

With Hillary Clinton’s decisive primary win the District of Criminals, the longshot bid of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is coming to a close. In a video chat to supporters, the irascible socialist all but declared his candidacy over and announced he’s teaming up with Wall Street courtesan Clinton to defeat populist champion Donald Trump – just as I predicted.

Sanders isn’t walking away completely empty-handed, however. He’s demanding fundamental changes to the Democrat Party platform to make it “the most progressive platform in history.”

For a socialist, Sanders sure drives a hard bargain.

His list of demands include enacting same-day voter registration, more assistance at polling locations, a timely process for counting votes, and allowing registered independents to cast ballots in the Democrat primary. Increased measures to prevent voter fraud is not mentioned, because that obviously never, ever happens.

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bernie

Dear Sanderistas: Your candidate is a pushover

Burn it down, Bernie!

Liberal allies turning on Bernie Sanders after Nevada donnybrook,” ran a Washington Post headline. After a public snubbing of Bernie supporters during the Nevada State Democratic Convention, the senator’s groupies are learning a hard lesson: The Democratic leadership hates their guts.

The animus was on full display last week when, according to NPR, “Sanders supporters allege they were denied being seated at the convention and that the state party chairwoman, Roberta Lange, was slanting the rules in favor of Clinton.” This led to a violent uprising, as Hillary was awarded five more delegates than the Vermont socialist, even though she narrowly won the state.

The Bernie Bros. weren’t having it and reportedly created a ruckus after being slighted by party leadership. When Hillary proxy Senator Barbara Boxer got on stage to woo the crowd, the Bernie Brigade let loose a torrent of boos and jeers.

A few thrown chairs and death threats later, the Nevada Democratic Party filed a formal complaint, accusing Sanders of initiating violence. DNC Chairbitch Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the senator’s response to the mayhem “anything but acceptable.”

To his credit, Sanders didn’t take the charges lying down. “At that convention, the Democratic leadership used its power to prevent a fair and transparent process from taking place,” he shot back. Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver accused Wasserman Schultz of “throwing shade on the Sanders campaign since the very beginning.” Bernie even endorsed Wasserman Schultz’s primary challenger – sparking headlines about the senator going rogue and threatening the ability of the Democrats to unify behind Queen Hillary.

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The Bernie Congress

There is group of progressives inspired by Bernie Sanders that had decided to run for Congress – that’s the topic of my CounterPunch piece today. An excerpt:

For readers of CounterPunch the candidature of Bernie Sanders has generated mixed feelings. On the one hand he has pushed for progressive policies in economic issues, on the other hand he hasn’t been as antiwar as much of the progressive community wish he had been. But he has inspired young people tired of neoliberalism and imperialism of Hillary Clinton. And not necessarily only young people, there is a list of what has been called the Bernie Congress including progressive challengers inspired by Sanders to run Democratic primaries for Congress. Some would face a relatively easy election in heavily Democratic districts while others would try to compete swing districts and others try to win even in Republican districts with a populist message.

Read the whole thing here to know the complete list of Sanderistas that hope to represent the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in Congress.

Time of coalitions

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These are strange times in American politics with outsiders like Trump and Sanders gaining momentum. Jeb Bush is out and Super Tuesday could complicate Hillary Clinton. How does it happen? Lefties try to blame everything on neoliberalism but the editorial of The American Conservative says that these ideology is dying. Sanders is un-reconstructed New Deal liberal who calls himself a socialist while Trump is more heterodox probably could be defined as an anti-immigrant moderate. Despite ideology, coalitions would be build thinking in November. Let’s have fun and try to guess.

The Trump Coalition. Last week big news was the endorsement of moderate governor like Chris Christie, but more recently his refusal to disavow white nationalist David Duke has been making reactions both on liberals and conservatives that think is naïve to believe that Trump doesn’t know who is David Duke and what is the Ku Klux Klan. Trump has an appeal on the former supporters of Pat Buchanan, white working class rural Americans but also on certain moderates attracted to a “Dealmaker”, he is even doing well by some polls among Hispanic Republicans. The endorsement of Jane Brewer is very significant, she was a hardliner on immigration and a supporter of Obamacare. In the general election some predict he could gain some independents and if Hillary wins maybe even some Bernie supporters. But if Sanders wins, The Donald would had a hard time, is difficult to be more anti-establishment than an old Jewish socialist.

The racist supporters of Trump coalition add to the rhetoric of its leader could alienate minority voters. The big government plans could scare libertarians. His distrust in foreign interventionism is making neocons panicking. Certainly a candidate with loyal followers and hateful enemies.

The Clinton Coalition. The victory in South Carolina shows that Hillary is strong among African-American community, but Latinos are divided and white progressives are feeling the Bern. Ideologically she is pushing her feminism in search woman voters but may not work after Steinem embracement. She was trying to focus in domestic issues rather than in foreign policy where her hawkishness is out of touch with the mostly dovish Democratic base but Bernie made some punches with her on the matter of having a War Criminal like Henry Kissinger as adviser. Neocons like her and in the case of a Trump victory in the Republican primaries they would support her.

A lot of progressives see her ties to Wall Street as distrustful. A Jewish progressive feminist like Jill Stein running as Green Party candidate could made the things difficult for Hillary and some Sanders supporters had even pledge to not support Hillary in November.

The Anti-Trump Coalition. Donors and party insiders would like us to believe that these is really strong coalition, capable of defeat the populist Trump. But I think that is too late for that, Trump is going to be the nominee. Some are trying to go third party, more explicitly a neocon third party. I wonder how much support it could get. The neocon candidate of the primary was Lindsay Graham who’s polling was an embarrassment, it’s true that candidates like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio were also neocons but their appeal was not necessarily their foreign policy. The position of Trump about Israel is quite interesting, he says he would be neutral on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Probably some might try to portray him as an anti-Semite but that due to his close ties with Israel that would be hard. The question of a VP could be crucial if neocons are able put one of their own in that position, however Trump has shown he is independent minded and don’t want to be push by anyone.

Some Republican congressman and maybe even some former Presidential candidates could refuse to endorse Trump. Probably even the Bush family would reject The Donald. There had been talks about the future of George P. Bush who currently holds office in Texas but if he decides to endorse Trump, he might have problems in a future, living in a state were Latinos are becoming the majority. Texas is a state where the GOP had been able to gain an important share of the Latino vote but some may find Trump too divisive to support him and emigrate to the Democratic Party. Is very difficult that George W. Bush difficult would support Trump after he accuse him of being responsible of 9/11. That a former GOP president would refuse to endorse a nominee of his own party could be signal of the end of an era.

The Sanders Coalition. While initially he was accused of attracting only male white progressives. He now is leading with young woman and making waves among the Latino community. The endorsements of current congressman are quite diverse ethnically and religiously with Keith Ellison, Raúl Grijalva, Tulsi Gabbard and Peter Welch. The endorsement of Gabbard is particularly interesting because she is of Samoan descent and of Hindu faith. She is not a progressive even by the heterodox American standards having express doubts of the Iran deal and being in the past praised by neocons, however she is the face of shifting demographic.

Some say a Sanders versus Trump race would be socialism versus fascism. America probably will choose socialism, a fascist like FDR had already been elected and even praised by Bernie. If the neocons fail go get a third party a choice between Sanders and The Donald would be tough. On the one hand, Bernie had embrace Military-Industrial Complex, especially wasteful F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin which are assembled in Vermont and Trump is unpredictable, could the neocons join hands with their comrades of the Fourth International, that would been fun to watch. The same reason that maybe even some neocons feel the Bern is the one who scare progressives, Bernie says he is socialist but on foreign policy he has embraced military Keynesianism, that’s why some progressives still if he is Democratic nominee would back Jill Stein in November.