There’s an excellent post by Beverly Mann at Angry Bear about how Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is probably farther to the right on policing issues than Hillary Clinton. The post is worth a read, but it also implies that O’Malley is the ‘serious’ opposition to Clinton, while Senator Bernie Sanders is not. Granted, I don’t think Sanders stands much of a chance against Clinton (even as I modestly supported his campaign), but let’s be honest O’Malley isn’t going to beat Clinton either.
Not only does O’Malley have a horrible record on an issue which is important to the Democratic rank-and-file, overpolicing, but he also has the personality of a turnip–and that’s an insult to turnips. Even if Sanders weren’t in the race, the only way O’Malley could possibly win would be if Clinton were to spectacularly implode, and, while I’m not a Clinton fan, at this point she has been so scrutinized in her life, I don’t think there’s anything that will tank her nomination.
Meanwhile, Sanders really is the only policy alternative to Clinton. Sure, what would be called a social democrat in Europe won’t win–probably not even the primary–but if you’re on the Democratic left, we need a Sanders run to get our ideas out there*. Reagan wasn’t taken seriously in 1976, but, by 1980, well, he won. Mind you, it’s not a ‘battle of ideas’; the U.S. won’t become a social democratic nation in four years. But it would make those ideas part of the mainstream. Those ideas would become an acceptable part of the political landscape, which is what Reagan did in 1976.
Democrats, let’s not do the punditocracy’s work for them and delegitimize left-wing policies. Sanders, not O’Malley, is the ‘anti-Clinton.’
*I also think Sanders needs to stop downplaying ‘social issues.’ Identity politics, on the left and the right, have always been part of our politics (even when some of those identities are class identities).