Why the Democratic Party Must Rally Around Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders Should Run Again
The Establishment Still Refuses to Start its Best Player
By now, the shock and horror of Hillary Clinton's upset loss on November 8 has faded a bit. Many of us have gone back to our normal lives, although cringing every few days when we see which unqualified profiteer/buffoon/reactionary/all that president-elect Donald Trump has named as the next Secretary of _____________. With names like Sarah Palin, Betsy DeVos, "Mad Dog" Mattis, and Ben Carson being bandied about, Trump's proposed cabinet seems like a sitcom.
And, even worse, Politico fears that the Democrats will be able to offer little resistance to this band of rogues. With Barack Obama departing the White House and Team Clinton crumbled in defeat, who can lead the battered Democratic Party against the GOP and its total control of the federal government? In a slap in the face to all supporters of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who came from total obscurity to almost clinching the Democratic nomination, pundits are refusing to brand the vaunted progressive as a true Party leader.
Why, oh why? Why does the Democratic establishment refuse to start its best player? Despite Sanders remaining the most popular U.S. Senator in the country, the punditry continues to circle its wagons around pro-establishment figures who readily endorsed Hillary Clinton during the primaries. When a "true progressive" is mentioned as Clinton's successor, it is always U.S Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who finally endorsed Clinton rather than Sanders in the final days of the Democratic primaries.
The mainstream media and Democratic Party establishment, wounded and hurt, appear to be spurning Sanders for Warren out of spite. This is a bad tactic, and could lead to a repeat of 2016's unprecedented failure. Warren, though as outspoken as Sanders, lacks his authenticity or his campaign experience. Though many pundits will make a lot of mileage from Sanders' advanced age, it is undeniable that the septuagenarian never faltered on the campaign trail. Did we ever see Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump shooting hoops?
No, Sanders is not too old. The man is active and in good health. Remember how the Democrats fretted that U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was too old for the presidency? Well, the former POW is still kicking, and in office, at the same time he would be leaving the White House after two full terms. Our president-elect, setting a new record for entering the Oval Office at age 70, is known for being seriously overweight. By contrast, Sanders is fit and trim.
The establishment likes Elizabeth Warren for two reasons: Identity politics and her endorsement, albeit belated, of Hillary Clinton. As we saw in November, identity politics is not enough to overcome voters' economic fears. Warren focuses more on economics than Clinton did, but not nearly to the same extent as Bernie Sanders. Warren wants to bird-dog Wall Street, but Bernie Sanders proposed single-payer health care and tuition-free public higher education for qualified students. Sanders, and Sanders alone, was proposing economic reforms that directly assisted Main Street. Unless Warren is willing to take up Sanders' bold proposals and loudly champion them, she will always be seen as a weak substitute.
And now for Warren's biggest weakness: Her 2016 endorsement. Now, Warren's endorsement of Hillary Clinton has not won her any fans among die-hard Berners, but that's okay. By the autumn of 2019, most Berners will have cooled off. But Warren's hesitancy to endorse, especially in the drama of a historic primary, seals her reputation as a weak leader. Not only does she rankle progressives for refusing to support Bernie Sanders (especially ahead of the Massachusetts primary, which he narrowly lost), but she dragged everything out for far too long. She didn't endorse Sanders, but she didn't endorse Clinton...until after California.
By waiting until the Democratic nomination was sealed before she would endorse, Warren revealed that she was weak. Then, for weeks, she shamelessly hammed it up with Clinton in what appeared to be an awkward attempt to get herself named as running mate. When Clinton named Tim Kaine of Virginia instead, Warren virtually fell off the radar. All in all, Warren's performance was that of a rank amateur.
No, the Democratic Party needs someone who's got game, and that's Bernie Sanders.