Monday, April 4, 2016

Democrats could blow a good thing

In the early days of the 2016 presidential cycle, a time that seems so long ago, I  remember when Bernie Sanders tossed his hat in the ring, the   message put  forth by his supporters was that he only wanted  to force Hillary Clinton to embrace his more left leaning issues.  He proposed some pie in the sky remedies, free state university tuition, Medicare for All, and no more trade agreements that harm American jobs. 
 Few knew him then, but many do now and he had a message that spoke to so many, those who were burdened by tuition debt and those who felt left out of the recovery from the trickle down economics of the Bush years and the 2008 crash. He has avoided with skill appearing to criticize the policies of Pres. Obama while doing it anyway.
Many of Sanders’ proposals have not gotten much scrutiny. The cost to the American taxpayer of these proposals is an issue that has gotten lost in the wishful thinking of his ardent supporters.  All would have to see their taxes rise, though more so on the rich. The tax increases to the middle class would be offset by the savings of the government supported programs he claims, but that tradeoff’s economic soundness has never been fully vetted. Putting up trade barriers also begets retaliation by countries who would raise their tariffs on American imports.  Eleven million US workers have jobs dependent on exports. Trade wars could hurt workers more than raising trade barriers would help.
 Sanders now sees himself closer to winning the nomination and he points to polls showing he is electable. All of the delegate counters on mainstream media say the potential delegate tally needed to catch up with Hillary only adds up with great difficulty. Sanders is banking that  if he pulls even with Clinton in earned/pledged delegates, enough of the  super delegates who are still free to switch will automatically come to him. He will have to do better than just even: super delegates are political pros who are more establishment and are not prone to go back on promises unless they see Sanders as a clear winner.  
  Instead of a well-meaning uncle sticking to a comparison of issue positions, Sanders has switched strategy:   to attack Hillary Clinton personally, as a person who takes money from big oil and fossil fuel interests.  That is a direct charge that she is corrupt. Per a recent Washington Post fact checker, no fossil fuel PACs or corporations have contributed to her campaign and if the individuals who did were employees or lobbyists of the industry, those contributions did not exceed 2% of the total she has raised.    
 So heated have Sanders’ personal attacks of Clinton been, some of his supporters are pledging not to support Clinton if she gets the nomination. If they keep that up, Democrats are in danger of blowing a good thing.  There is a chance if the Democrats support one another in the general election regardless of who they supported in the primaries, given the dismal poll numbers of either Trump or Cruz, Congress could change hands, the Supreme Court would be more favorable,  and chances are better that some of the  agenda  outlined by Sanders in  some version could actually  be implemented.

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