Sanders’ Plan B

As Gaius Publius reports in summarizing a recent interview, Sanders has one:

If you read that list again, you’ll see how stunning it is. Three things to notice:

  1. He calls these “demands,” not requests.
  2. He wants Clinton the candidate to endorse them, presumably on the campaign trail, not just the Platform Committee in a document that can later be ignored.
  3. Clinton is on record as running against most of these policies.

Once more, the policies he wants Clinton to “come out for” are these:

  • a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system
  • $15 an hour as a minimum wage
  • rebuild our crumbling infrastructure
  • a vigorous effort to address climate change 
  • no “cuddling up to the fossil fuel industry”
  • making public colleges and universities tuition-free
  • Wall Street tax on speculation
  • ending all these corporate loopholes

In effect, he’s asking for her to be Bernie Sanders, at least in policy. Yet I think she would agree with only one of those policies (note that a “vigorous” effort is a part of his climate change demand). She would support infrastructure repair — though in her world that likely means creating an ACA-like profit opportunity via “public-private partnerships” and corporate friendly sweetheart deals. In Sanders’ world, infrastructure repair means doing the job without enriching corporate campaign donors in the process.

If he really “demands” that Clinton herself campaign in September and October on these policies as a condition for his continued support, he’s basically saying, “I want to handcuff you to my policies every time you speak.” Which makes it a whole lot harder for her to reverse herself in office and not be toxic in 2020.

That’s why this is his ace. Because if he really suggests he would withhold his support from her if she doesn’t meet these conditions, she’s helpless.

If he makes this demand in public, and she’s seen to reject him, she will lose a significant percentage of his supporters; this could easily cost her the election. Yet if she accepts and campaigns on Sanders’ platform, the leverage on her for the next four years will be much greater. The “liar” label is already an albatross, deserved or not. Betraying a set of explicit Sanders-forced campaign pledges could turn the albatross into a boat anchor.

Sanders won’t get everything on the list. But he needs to get something; moreover, part of the deal must involve an executive order (e.g., raising the minimum wage for federal employees and contractors to $15/hour). She can’t be allowed to weasel out of this. For the record, this isn’t particular to Clinton for me, I don’t trust any New Democrat to do the right thing on his or her own.

The last twenty years have not been conducive to left wing/progressive goals, especially if you’re a legislator. But Sanders has shown himself to be very capable within those constraints at getting things done, often through informal, non-legislative channels.

Hopefully, he’ll be successful again.

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1 Response to Sanders’ Plan B

  1. Chris says:

    Meh. I don’t see how Clinton has any incentive to comply with this list of demands. Bernie Sanders is going to lose this primary outright without any influence from the Superdelegates and the vast majority of Democratic voters will have chosen her plan over his. Why would she adopt his entire platform in place of hers? I don’t think Sanders can deliver his hardcore base to Clinton anymore, anyway – that well has been poisoned – a full-throated endorsement by Sanders will only be met by jeers.
    I think the most she’ll do is smile and nod at any attempted hostage negotiations.

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