Not to be a buzzkill…

Every so often a leader comes along who is brave enough to hunt down and punish those robbing the nation of its greatness. Millions elected Barack Obama in 2008 and in 2016 the money changers are terrified of a Jewish visionary. Yet the calculation, trade-offs, and concessions brutal reality inevitably foists on our dear leaders (especially an American president) too often turn that spring of passion into a stagnant pond. And if Bernie Sanders becomes president he’ll be no exception.

Now this has nothing to do with his honesty or even the feasibility of his policies compared to Hillary Clinton’s. It’s that his message focuses so much on the role (and the need to reign in) of bad actors — corporations, governments, “the establishment” — that it ends up oversimplifying the issues and neglecting factors that nobody, not even a president can control.

So let’s imagine that Shillary and #Drumpf flame out and any corporation or billionaire that hasn’t fled to Singapore or Switzerland gets their comeuppance. Will it change the fact that:

  • Automation has already limited job growth and could impact even service sector jobs in the future?
  • American companies employing American workers benefit from access to foreign markets enabled from trade regimes?
  • Reduced income inequality, a robust social safety net and the other hallmarks of European social democracy since WWII haven’t been sufficient in preventing racist far right movements, or create a cohesive multicultural society?
  • American policies toward China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and many others have been largely consistent for decades no matter what the candidate said before taking office?
  • Every policy ever enacted has trade offs and unintended consequences that sometimes take decades to fully appreciate (it sounded like a good idea at the time)?

The last question is a bit of stating the obvious I grant, but important to remember nonetheless. Whenever I hear someone offering such simple and elegant solutions to such complex problems my instinct is to be skeptical. And no matter if you #feelthebern or say #imwithher you should be too.