Thursday, May 19, 2016

What does Bernie want?

The calls grow louder for Bernie to drop out of the race, especially since he has this nasty habit of winning primaries.  After Hillary's Nor'easter, where she took four out of five Northeast states, she hasn't fared too well.  She's now lost three out of the last four primaries, eking out a 0.3 per cent win in Kentucky, where she and Bernie split the delegates half and half.  She got pummeled in West Virginia, Indiana and Oregon, indicating that many Democrats still aren't satisfied with her as the presumptive nominee.

There is little mathematical chance that Bernie will edge out Hillary in pledged delegates, but he will make it close.  She has a big edge in superdelegates, who have already committed themselves to her often in defiance of their own states' primary and caucus results.  Take Al Franken, who defied the Minnesota electorate and pledged his support for Hillary.  Seems he was angling for being part of the November ticket, according to Politico, one of Hillary's more vocal supporters.  It seems Hillary has more to offer superdelegates than does Bernie, and so they gravitate toward her like moths to a flame.

I doubt Hillary will go with Franken on the ticket, or Bernie, as other news blogs are suggesting.  Most likely she will go with someone young and dynamic and Hispanic to offset the image she has cultivated as "Aunt Hillary," not to mention further lure the Hispanic vote in her favor.  She's actually seven years younger than Bernie and two years younger than Donald, but you would never know it the way she is portrayed in the media.

I also don't think Bernie is the least bit interested in being Veep.  What he wants is for the issues he has been pushing on the campaign trail to be heard all the way to the convention floor, so that they will be adopted in the Democratic platform.  He's already succeeded with the minimum wage.  He continues to push for free public university education and universal health care, which Hillarycrats have been slow to embrace.

At heart, Hillary is a neo-liberal, one who puts big business first, albeit with a kinder gentler face than neo-conservatives.  She's perfectly comfortable with Wall Street as long as it stays within a modest set of boundaries that doesn't encumber open trading too much.  Investment companies can also continue to take their tax write-offs as long as they show something on their federal returns.  Despite the high corporate tax rate of 35 per cent, Wall Street is constantly bemoaning, the average corporate tax paid is 12 per cent.  Imagine if we got those kinds of savings at Walmart?

This has been Bernie's message throughout his campaign -- Wall Street has to pay up!  It can no longer get this free lunch and insist on deflated wages as if their massive profits are in jeopardy.  Plenty of companies offer living wages and health insurance coverage, including Costco, and still manage to turn a profit at the end of the quarter.  To be fair, Hillary believes Wall Street should pay more, but judging from her cozy relationship with Goldman Sachs and others, how much more is a big question mark?

After all, her husband Bill promised us peace dividends and all sorts of perks back on the campaign trail in 1992.  He pledged to downsize the military and invest more in the public sector, but sadly that never happened.  What we got were massive cuts in domestic programs, which he labeled "welfare reform," and a crime bill that resulted in an astronomical rise in prisoners across the country, mostly for minor crimes that would have normally resulted in nothing more than parole.

Hillary has not been able to distance herself from this legacy, as she defended it not only as First Lady but as Senator from New York.  A big part of the disillusionment among the Democratic rank and file is that we are going to get Billary, Part II, as much as Hillary tells us Bill will not serve in her cabinet.  I suppose a UN appointment is not out of the question, stealing a page from House of Cards.

Many Democrats, like Republicans, want a fresh face, but having been a two-person race, we didn't have much of a choice.  Bernie came to represent the unrest in the Democratic Party and among left-leaning Independents, who want to see greater rejuvenation of social programs in the years ahead, not less.  It has been a nice start with Obama, but there is much more to do.

The health insurance exchanges and health care reforms that took place are kind of like a Prius hybrid.  It offers some new electric features to offset the standard combustion engine, but doesn't get much better gas mileage.  What many Democrats want is a Tesla, which offers an entirely new electric system that does away with the combustion engine all together.  Swap private health insurance companies for combustion engines and you get the picture.  Many Americans want universal health care because they are sick of worrying about medical costs and outsized premiums to cover gaps in their insurance.  Bernie offers the Telsa.  Hillary offers the Prius.

It's pretty much that way across the board.  Bernie sees the country moving in a more social-minded direction.  Hillary is relatively content with the status quo, seeing it as more "realistic."  You won't see a bold new energy bill coming out of the Clinton White House, or a plan to subsidize college tuition costs.  You will pretty much see same old, same old.  Of course, when the alternative is Donald Trump that doesn't seem so bad.

Fortunately for Hillary, Bernie is a team player and will do what he can to help her win in November.  That is the public-spirited thing to do.  He will continue to fight for his initiatives in the Senate even if it means going up against Hillary in the White House, as he has gone up against Obama. But, Hillary does have to show the Berniecrats that she is at least sympathetic to their concerns and will push for progressive bills, not abandon them the way her husband Bill did when he met the least opposition.

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