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Can Bernie find a clutch and change gear?

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, March 5th, 2020 - 33 comments
Categories: International, us politics - Tags: , ,

The basic problem with Bernie Sanders campaign is that his sole political role since the start of his career has been as the archetypal outsider. He injects ideas into the political debate that didn’t get play time, but he didn’t concentrate on making those things happen. Now it is costing him.

He has ran amazing campaigns in 2015/6 and 2019/20 raising interest amongst younger voters and even managing to encourage them to participate in the political processes that govern their lives. However I think that he is likely to not gain his parties nomination from primary voters because he has to convince existing democratic party voters to give him their primary votes.

Bernie is a one-trick pony in that he appears to only has one political gear. In my view, he just loves being in opposition, and shows no signs of ever being anything else.

It shows in that he is the independent senator for Vermont. This shows in the lack of legislation with his name on it. Sure the two things may be related. However it isn’t hard to find independent senators in US history who have managed to do that. The primary fundamental purpose of politicians is to pass legislation that provides our legal framework. Bernie appears to have limited experience with the concept. Instead he has ideas, and no apparent legislative pathway to achieve them.

His campaign, while less virulent about the Democratic party (which deserves most of the criticism it gets from the left) last time, doesn’t show any real signs of working towards that objective. It appears that winning the nomination and maybe an election is his sole purposes.  The result of that is that it nows shows again in long serving Democrats involved in the structure of the Democratic Party aren’t throwing their support behind his nomination as the Democratic candidate for President. 

It is a continual draining toil being involved in a political party, something that my last decade of slowly withdrawing from active involvement has made me realise. The people who do it for any length of time are there to get incremental changes passed. The way to get that happening is to build momentum with small implemented changes and ideas about how to achieve further change.

The revolutionaries who want fast widespread changes usually manage to talk a lot, but within a few years mostly wander away crying that no-one else shares their vision and that the structure is against them. They lack the dogged persistence and independence of a Bernie. But he really is a big ideas person….

If you look at the appalling American medical and employment systems for instance – his ideas are good if you were in any normal society. But I simply can’t see how he is going to achieve any of them from the position of President. It is going to require legislation from both houses of congress, require support from the legislature of the states that make up the ‘united states’ and be framed in  such a way that the federal court system can’t toss it on constitutional grounds.

This is the hard place that the gormless dickhead who is their current president rails against, and one that he keeps failing to conquer. While the founders of the USA merely replicated the monarchical that they revolted against (and one that much of the world has now largely discarded), they also provided some pretty severe limits on its abilities to rule by monarchical decree. It is a system that requires the kind of political consensus building that appears to be foreign to Bernie.

The recognition of this amongst older democratic primary voters appears to be why the primary vote is moving away from Bernie winning the 1901 delegates. Sure it is moving towards a flawed, establishment, marginally less antique,  and candidate. But that candidate has some proven ability to get legislation through and he may even get some progressive legislation through the logjam that is American politics. 

As it stands now, Democrat primary voters don’t have a range of candidates to look at. They just have Sanders, Biden and a trailing Warren. The vote splitting has all but vanished.

The only thing that the Bernie campaign can do is to try to pivot towards convincing the remaining democratic primary older voters that he can forge a visible consensus with the other Democratic politicians (think Nancy Pelosi for instance)  to work legislation through. But that balances his entire existing campaign on a knife point because too much concoiliation will probably piss off the rigidities of his existing younger support. He’ll start to look like a politician.

Personally, I wouldn’t have voted for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. My remote pick throughout has been Elizabeth Warren who has the advantages of intelligence, and ability to cooperate, and what looks like a viable progressive agenda…

33 comments on “Can Bernie find a clutch and change gear? ”

  1. lprent 1

    Drat. The hidden costs of writing posts.. While writing this, two hours miraculously passed.

    I missed an appointment at the doctor for the routine checkup and doling out of a prescription. I'm going to be a bit later than expected to work and rushed at the weekly conference call. Plus late again tomorrow after I don't write a post and go to the doctors.

    The daily cascade of being time-poor.

    Oh well – on my bike and off to work. But please stay on topic. I’m liable to be grumpy when I come back to moderate this post.

  2. Stunned Mullet 2

    Yep pretty much spot on.

    From what I've seen of Bernie's speeches and history I like him and many of his ideas just can't see they have any viable path to implementation within the current US setup.

    Regardless of the final Dem nomination I think the US will be stuck with Donald for some time yet – which'll be good for the media lots of easy/pointless stories to run.

    Looking past the next election it'll be interesting to see who the Democrats and Republicans put up to contest in 2024.

  3. Blazer 3

    who has the power for real change in western politics…the politicians…or!

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    Ms Warren shat the proverbial with her unnecessary jab, for whatever reason, at Bernie on the electability of women to US President. They could have been a good duo for some obvious reasons. Bernie apparently first stood in 2016 after Elizabeth would not.

    Sure, Bernie is on “last chance power drive” to run with lprent’s metaphor. But surely if the object is ‘Dump the Trump’ with even a non stellar allegedly electable, non scary placeholder, you choose someone that can get the bloody win. Mr Biden is obviously not that person.

    Bernie does not need to change gears. The Democratic Party needs remove the road spikes and razor wire so he can put his foot down.

    • Cinny 4.1

      Bernie does not need to change gears. The Democratic Party needs remove the road spikes and razor wire so he can put his foot down.

      Absolutely and Warren needs to learn a thing or two about team work.

      It's interesting that trump would rather run against Bernie than Joe because he thinks his chances are better, trump is attempting to use reverse psychology, he knows that's not true. Surely people won't be falling for it, or will they?

  5. Jimmy 5

    Patrick Gower embarrassed us all last night on TV3 news, camped outside Bernie Sanders house and then trying to interview him when he came back from his walk. Bernie gave him the brush off rightly so, even though Paddy tried name dropping Jacinda's name to him.

    • Incognito 5.1

      Patrick Gower embarrassed us all last night on TV3 news …

      The tribal cringe is strong with this one.

  6. Observer Tokoroa 6

    Yes Iprent – time is the biggest loss of all – of love even

    But I enjoyed your rush to the Doctor, the fierce pedalling. the presciption and the up coming Conference. No munchies at Lunch time. We got their too late.

    All of us have done the same trip good Man!

    Bernie did not bite the big Apple – I rather think. He'sToo unworldly. I would like to be wrong though.

    The truth is that Americans of any persuasian, bathe themselves in Bright Lights. Hanker for Girls with beach sweeping Breasts. Fantasise everything. Promise every bit of nothing as long as it is grand and specious and non deliverable

    Their Politics is as shallow as Alice in Wonderlands missing shoe. Finally it is all about :MONEY MONEY MONEY

    Nothing to do with Democracy… They have no Concept of Democracy. None

  7. bwaghorn 7

    Warren would be worth voting for just because she actually might live for two terms as us president.

  8. adam 8

    I think the debates between biden and Bernie will be the difference. This is all too soon.

    Add the fact is biden just won the south, which in reality is going to go republican – so not much of a win.

    • Adrian Thornton 8.1

      True that, unless they can somehow protect Biden from talking, he is going to get pretty quickly exposed as having that age related degenerative mental condition that no MSM will talk about…it's quite crazy, I feel like I am watching The Emperor's New Clothes in real time.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a1K0_rLq9Q

    • Phil 8.2

      As I've pointed out repeatedly, Obama won the nomination in 2008 by racking up overwhelming margins in southern states with large african american populations, and lost most of what we think of as the swing states to Clinton. Didn't hurt his prospects in the general

      States are not monoliths. Ignoring or discounting primary victories in some states because of how they fare in the general is just plain weak.

      • adam 8.2.1

        You know full well, that the southern states are not where trump will be beaten, so again with straw men.

        Getting tiresome phil.

        And if you look at the numbers, biden didn't get an overwhelming victory in the south – just look at texas.

        Any more straw men you wanna throw up?

        • joe90 8.2.1.1

          Good thing they were voting for their preferred nominee then, eh.

          /

        • Tiger Mountain 8.2.1.2

          Bernie plus Warren’s votes would have topped Biden. The conservatives won on tactics with their candidate withdrawals.

          • Phil 8.2.1.2.1

            Bernie plus Warren’s votes would have topped Biden.

            What makes you think Warren voters would automatically swing to Sanders?

            The conservatives won on tactics with their candidate withdrawals.

            The moderate wing of the party had a tonne of candidates tripping over themselves for months. The inevitable winnowing of the field is not "tactics" so much as "has been an obvious and inevitable fact from the very beginning".

        • Phil 8.2.1.3

          You keep saying southern states won't be won by democrat in november as if that's (a) interesting or (b) relevant, to the delegate math in front of us now for the Dem primary.

          Hint: it's neither.

          And: neither are you.

          • adam 8.2.1.3.1

            And as I said if the point is Bernie to gear up, then the south don't matter – because the democrat base is effectively in the north.

  9. Adrian Thornton 9

    If you haven't read this whole thing, don't bother, just jump to the last sentence..

    "Personally, I wouldn’t have voted for Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders. My remote pick throughout has been Elizabeth Warren who has the advantages of intelligence, and ability to cooperate, and what looks like a viable progressive agenda…"

    The writer obviously would have no problems voting for a politician who has become a known and frequent lair, and cynical political player of the worst sort…but then I guess that makes her a perfect fit inside the establishment DNC..or for that matter her former home in the RNC, both the just different sides of the same coin as it turns out.

    It is quite depressing to actually see how when a moderate leftie (because that is all Sanders really is) shows up and offers some hope to working and poor people and probably our only real hope of battling climate change..he gets ripped down from so many people who you would think had more of a staunch fighting spirit..except it turns out they have got none of that in them at all…nope just straight back to the default position of more and more compromise with the masters.

    • Incognito 9.1

      If you haven't read this whole thing, don't bother, just jump to the last sentence..

      Why on Earth would anybody skip the OP and read the comments first and then follow your cherry-picked suggestion, or recommendation rather, to not bother reading the OP?

      This site is about robust debate of ideas. Authors write posts on topical (or less topical) issues and usually offer some personal opinion (AKA as angle or perspective).

      Why should your opinion (comment) take precedence over the Author’s one (post)? Don’t you think people should read it for themselves and then make up their minds by themselves and then engage in debate with others (or not) – and possibly then change their minds although that never seems to happen here?

      I hope your comment was not meant to be taken literally because that would really get up my nose (and presumably not just my nose). Because if it were meant literally, it effectively aims to shut out the opinion of the Author. Now, that would be truly depressing here …

  10. Siobhan 10

    "Elizabeth Warren who has the advantages of intelligence, and ability to cooperate, and what looks like a viable progressive agenda"..and who is on, like, a downward spiral..even losing her home state for goodness sake..'despite' her heroic compromise in accepting (sorry..ability to co-operate with..) a super pac…and you seriously think Bernie should follow her example?

    https://www.newsweek.com/super-pacs-backing-elizabeth-warren-have-far-outspent-those-supporting-all-other-democratic-1490342

    Image result for kyle area 51 memes

  11. mikesh 11

    The presidency would constitute a better platform from which Bernie could sell his ideas; and perhaps promote a shift, in congressional elections, towards a more progressive house and senate.

  12. Jackel 12

    Biden is dodgy going by his record, a pushover and probably past it. Sanders moves the dial too far to the left to be electable. Warren is a charlatan.

    Trump is a big bag of wind who talks a big game on trade and immigration but is essentially a harmless radical as far as business as usual goes. So we better start getting used to the idea of four more years of the idiot in chief.

    • Muttonbird 12.1

      Amazing that in a nation of 320 million people Trump is the best they can come up with.

      The trash-talker in chief leads a trash-talking nation, a place where the slightest hint of social collectiveness is viewed as poison.

      Says a lot about America.

      • Incognito 12.1.1

        People can only order what’s on the Menu. Many people don’t even look at the Menu but just order the same they’re always having. Others never eat out or order anything off the Menu. If the Chef has a bad day in the kitchen, a nice pleasant waiting staff is not going to make the meal taste any better. Nor does a generous helping of garnish hide the fact that a meal is awful. At the end of the night, you still have to pay the full price. Next time, many do it all over again, without even blinking. Welcome to Groundhog Day.

      • KJT 12.1.2

        As one ex Russian leader said to his US, counterpart. "Your propaganda is as false as ours, but your people, believe it".

  13. weston 13

    What puzzles me is why such a significant proportion of the black vote goes to establishment candidates ??in the most racist country on the planet .I wish bernie would quit saying "joe biden is a good friend of mine "

    • millsy 13.1

      A lot of blacks tend to be relatively conserative in their outlook, rather similar to the Pacifikas in South Auckland.

      Black support for charter schools and vouchers is a manifestation of that, while a lot of leaders in the civil Rights era supported things like the war on drugs, tough on crime initiatives, etc.

      You cannot really just pigeonhole people that easily. Something that our side forgets a lot.

    • Phil 13.2

      James Clyburn (Democrat whip, elder-statesman of the congressional black caucus) talked about this in an interview with 538 ahead of his endorsement of Biden. Really interesting interview.

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-south-carolinas-james-clyburn-is-endorsing-biden/

      • Tiger Mountain 13.2.1

        Mr Clyburn appears to have been well captured by the DNC. Such states people quite often have a different outlook and way of doing things after so many years of oppression and underdevelopment.

        As in NZ–why would Northlanders apart from tory farmers and retirees vote National after years of woeful neglect? But they do.

        Many US voters are fearful and who can blame them. Let us know when the South goes Democrat!

        • joe90 13.2.1.1

          And this is where patronising claptrap gets you.

          • Tiger Mountain 13.2.1.1.1

            Whatev joe90. Politics is rarely a linear affair–to the contrary zigs and zags, advances and retreats, are the typical trajectory.

            Pundits, academics, and right opportunists are often the first whose innards turn to water and vacillate in a tight spot. The default setting is “we might lose”, well if you never fight you will definitely lose. And what is it you really want to win anyway–status quo?

            Bernie is one staunch battler, under the most severe attacks imaginable from all quarters–he makes so many online commenters look like the weaklings they are.

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