I like what Senator Sanders, Bernie, has to say in his campaign for President of the United States. I agree with everything, and a lot of what he says matches things I say all the time.
I am confused about something that happens often when I talk about the 2016 election. A lot of people I know like Bernie, but say that there is no way he can win the presidential election. When I ask why they think that, most people can't really articulate the reason. The reason I hear most often is that Hillary Clinton is the candidate who can win the election.
I need to take this apart and examine it. I really don't understand why Hillary is electable and Bernie is not. To frame this discussion, I think we need to look at recent histories of Bernie and Hillary, and throw in Barak Obama for context. I'll try to organize this by topic.
1. Bernie is too radical, and a socialist; Americans will never vote for a radical/socialist. It is true that Bernie is more "radical" when compared to Hillary Clinton or Barak Obama, and certainly to any Republican candidate. But how do we define the term "radical?" Is he a type of radical who is promoting armed revolution against the government? No. Is he the kind of radical who is promoting turning the US into a communist country? No. The reality is that Bernie is what in Europe is known as a Social Democrat. He promotes social and economic equality. Probably what makes him more "radical" to many people is that he says things other politicians won't say.
2. Bernie doesn't have as much experience as Hillary Clinton. Let's compare the two, and President Obama, side-by-side:
Bernie Sanders (34 years, including 24 in federal government))
1981-1989: Mayor, Burlington, VT
1991-2007: US House of Representatives, (VT)
2007-present: US Senate (VT)
Hillary Clinton (8 years elected positions (federal government); 4 years appointed position (USA cabinet) 16 years as First Lady (AR and USA)
[non-elected: 1983-1991: First Lady, AR]
[non-elected: 1993-2001: First Lady, USA]
2001-2009: US Senate (NY)
2009-2013: Secretary of State of the USA
Barak Obama (18 years, including 10 in federal government))
1997-2004: Illinois Senate
2005-2008: US Senate (IL)
2009-present: President, USA
Based on length of time in service, Bernie Sanders has, by for, the most experience in an elected government position, and the most experience in the federal government. Barak Obama has slightly more than half the elected experience as Bernie Sanders, and a bit less than half as Bernie in the federal government. Hillary Clinton has less than one-fourth the elected experience as Bernie Sanders, and a bit less than a third as Bernie in the federal government. (Note: Hillary was First Lady of the USA for eight years, and certainly gained political experience in that role.)
So it is clear that Bernie Sanders has much more experience as an elected official than Barak Obama did before he was elected President (34 years to 18 years), and even more than Hillary Clinton's elected and appointed experience combined (34 years to 8 years). The argument that Hilary has more government experience than Bernie does not hold up. A case could be made that, as a member of the Obama cabinet, Hilary had 4 years of experience unlike that of Bernie or, for that matter, Barak before he was elected to the presidency. And her experience as Secretary of State gives Hilary higher-level foreign policy experience than Bernie or pre-president Barak.
When Barak and Hillary competed for the nomination in the 2008 election, Hilary had a a bit more than twice as much experience as a US senator than Barak (7 years to 3 years). It could have been said, and was, that Obama did not have the same level of experience in government as Clinton at the time. This does not seem to have mattered, as the Obama presidency has had a good record overall, in spite of the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress.
3. Many Democrats, independents, and main-line Republicans will not vote for Bernie. I hear this one a lot. The argument goes that Bernie is too radical for some Democrats and independents, and also for those Republicans who are sickened by the line-up of candidates for their own party. If this is correct, it means that these same voters would vote for one of the Republicans presently vieing for the nomination if Bernie was the Democratic nominee. I think this is not a valid assumption. It also means that these voters would vote for Hillary, even if they would not vote for Bernie. Keep in mind that many voters, including some Democrats, independents. and especially Republicans, have a very hard time with Hillary Clinton based on history. If we think the R's gave Barak Obama a hard time, wait until we see what they do if Hillary Clinton is the nominee!
4. Bernie Sanders would not be a good President. Why not? He is an intelligent person. He has a lot of experience in government. He has many good ideas about how to fix the things that are broken in our country and political system. Does a President Sanders have any less a chance to succeed than a President Obama did?
5. It's time we elected a woman as President of the United States. I agree, but is this a good enough reason to vote for a candidate? By that logic, we could just as correctly say that it's time we elected a Jewish person (Bernie Sanders) to be President of the united States.
There is a very major difference between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at this moment in time. Bernie Sanders speaks truth to power; Hillary Clinton is a shrewd politician. This is not a criticism of Hillary, it is merely a truthful comparison. Bernie has always waged battle against corporate greed, corporate welfare, the destruction of jobs through outsourcing, attacks against women, minorities, seniors and the poor. He is not afraid to take on the big money interests in this country, and does not seem to owe anything to big campaign donors. Hillary also has good credentials on these same issues; however, she has more financial backing from big money interests, and there are nagging questions about ties between her and big money and foreign interests related to the Clinton Foundation.
As Senator, Bernie has never been afraid to take on the big corporations, and to name names in the process. Here is a great piece he published in 2012 about corporations and their CEO's and their impact on the recent recession. I don't think Hilary would ever dare say these kinds of things. Does this mean that Hillary would be a better president than Bernie because she plays nice with the CEO's of big corporations?
This is not an anti-Hillary post. Hillary Clinton is a viable candidate for POTUS, and would hopefully be a good president. I will vote for Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee from the Democratic Party. I would also vote for Bernie Sanders if he is the nominee. If I have the choice, I will likely vote for Bernie in the primaries.
My position is very simply this: in the United States we have the opportunity, even the responsibility to vote for the candidate who best represents our political positions and opinions, even if we think that candidate might not win. Too often I believe we compromise our positions for the sake of expediency, telling ourselves "I want to vote for candidate X, but I should vote for candidate Y because everyone says that one can win."
I think that in 2016, faced with the kinds of issues and problems we have that are truly unique, we need to make a political revolution Let's not vote based on who the pundits say can win; let's vote for the candidate who truly represents each of our positions and opinions. In my opinion, that candidate, at this time in the election process, seems to be Bernie Sanders. Hillary and Bernie have many things in common, but for me, the major difference is that we need to have a president who goes toe-to-toe with corporate big money interests for the good of all Americans, not just the good of the wealthy few. I think that person is Senator Bernie Sanders.
In June, 2015, I wrote a post titled: "Now is it Time for Revolution?" Seems worth reading, again.