Bernie Sanders : Less than a Candidate
Let me say this: I do not support Senator Bernie Sanders in this primary cycle. My fear about a Sanders presidency transcends my concerns about a possible Clinton presidency. Most notably, Bernie’s ambivalence on foreign policy matters. Look at his (lack of) response in regards to the terrorist attacks in Brussels or his declination to speak at AIPAC. But, nevertheless his decision to stay out of foreign affairs leaves me with another inclination: that Bernie Sanders is running to shift the Democratic Party to the left and solidify his role as an influential senator in Congress.
Before Elizabeth Warren there was Bernie Sanders, however he lacked relevance as a independent Senator from the state of Vermont. Don’t get me wrong, he was always there and a part of several big initiatives in the party such as supporting Hillary Clinton’s attempt at a single-payer healthcare system when she was the FLOTUS and was the former chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. But even through it all, Sanders was not awarded the media attention he now receives for preaching the same ideology as he did back then.
At the beginning of this primary season I was ridiculed by my peers when I strongly supported the idea that Bernie was not actually running for president. However, the once strong foundation I had for the idea that Sanders was simply advancing a separate agenda fell apart as Hillary began to engage him more and more. “Why engage someone who isn’t running?” was the beginning of the end for my hypothesis; or at least I thought it was. As the primary season continued, my Waterloo appeared to happen as Bernie tied Hillary in Iowa and crushed her in New Hampshire. What I didn’t see is that Bernie recognizes how the political system in American advances, but how does the American system progress?
The United States, from the very beginning, has advanced on the idea of incremental steps (aside the wartime presidency of FDR). Let’s stick with Healthcare for example. It all started with the President Kennedy who laid the foundation for modern healthcare initiatives of Medicare and Medicaid; which were initiatives in purgatory from his New Frontier domestic agenda. Kennedy’s agenda came to fruition with President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society. President Johnson’s administration built upon and solidified the foundation for Medicare and Medicaid. Fast forward to the 1990's with Bill Clinton’s presidency when Hillary Clinton shepherded the futile single-payer healthcare system. However we see that a lesser but groundbreaking program was passed with President Obama: the Affordable Care Act. Time and time again big sweeping policies had their foundations from former administrations.
Bernie realizes this and, I think, ultimately knows single-payer healthcare won’t succeed in the United States at this point in. Yet, I believe he has done what so many before him have: laid the foundation for future generations. The same goes for his talk on campaign-finance reform and Wall Street reform. He has laid the foundations for my generation of millennials to take on those reforms he so passionately endorses.
So, my perceived Waterloo wasn’t really a defeat. It was actually a reaffirmation of what I had previously stated in the beginning. Hillary’s engagement of Bernie was to stall her involvement in the GOP primary. She’ll emerge as a battered, but battle ready candidate ready to take on Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. And with Bernie, he will have garnered the national spotlight that has eluded him and stay with him when he returns to the Senate. In addition, when Bernie returns to the Senate experienced from his time on the national stage, he’ll not only be a socialist, but a democratic socialist who has solidified his presence in the Democratic Party.