A Little Cold Water on Bernie and His Ideas

The year was 1992. I was 9. The youngest eligible 2020 voters were not born for another decade. The Mayor of Burlington, Vermont was elected to be the lone Congressman from his state. A full 27 years will have passed by since that night by the time the Iowa Caucus is contested in February of 2020. That former Burlington Mayor will be nearly 80 years old.

2020 is not 2016, and Bernie Sanders is not what he’s claimed to be. He’s certainly not the outsider he claimed to be in 2016- He’s been in Washington over a quarter-century. His achievements there are not numerous, and probably don’t even outshine his disastrous tenure overseeing the Veteran Affairs Department as a chairman in the U.S. Senate. His 26 years (to date) Congressional career lacks accomplishments, and would not inspire one to think he’s the change agent he claims. In fact many of his “bold” ideas- “free” college, Medicare for All, massive action on climate change, $15 minimum wage- were things he wasn’t really championing before he launched his 2016 campaign. Bernie probably wasn’t fighting for them much because he actually does understand legislating- they weren’t going to pass Congress, maybe in his lifetime, let alone career.

But let’s talk about his actual record, shall we? While his supporters beat the crap out of Hillary Clinton for saying “super predators,” Bernie actually voted for the crime bill in Congress. He voted against immigration reform in 2007. He voted to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits connected to shooting deaths. If you google each of these votes, you’ll find Vox, or some other generally liberal news source tell you why “it’s complicated,” and you know what? It is. But we lived through 2016, where Bernie and his online bros told us why Hillary Clinton was a “neoliberal” or “corporate whore,” and why all of us were too for supporting him. Bernie’s “purity” argument against Hillary for taking campaign contributions was supposed to suggest she was corrupt by the system, that she could be bought, which is why she wanted to improve the ACA instead of push Medicare for All, or why she supported strengthening Dodd-Frank over re-passing the antiquated Glass-Steagall Act. Bernie knew his argument wasn’t grounded in reality- that’s why he took complicated votes on the 1994 Crime Bill, on protecting gun manufacturers in a pro-gun state, in immigration reform, and yes, even in support of the ACA. I can accept that legislating isn’t pure, and would give him a pass, but he and his supporters didn’t afford that same reality to Hillary Clinton.

I understand why some Democrats like Bernie’s ideas- there’s power in aspiration. It gives you something to aim at. Let me be clear though- Bernie will never, ever get you there. Is that clear enough? He has not shown a record of being able to pass difficult bills, like say a Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, or even (sometimes controversially) a Joe Biden. It’s not clear Democrats could get 218 votes entirely in their own 235 member House caucus without any Republican help for his health care, taxes, or energy plans. Democrats barely were able to push the ACA, “Cap and Trade,” or Dodd-Frank through the House in Obama’s first two years, with similar majorities. There’s literally zero chance of the Democrats getting 60 votes for his plans to pass the Senate in their current forms. He doesn’t have the skill and tact to do what President Obama could not, which is get Republicans to the table.

Reality isn’t something that curtails Bernie’s ambitions though. He lost the primaries in 2016 by hundreds of delegates, or by any other measure or system you want. She beat him by well north of 10% in the popular vote. She won a majority of pledged delegates. She crushed him with super delegates. He was basically done after South Carolina, and had no mathematical shot at all after New York, but kept her running all the way to California in a hopeless slog, and then all the way to the convention. Never mind that he had no plan to achieve his policy goals, he had no plan to win the nomination either. He just kept running. His wife, who bankrupt a college, had the audacity to ask the FBI to “hurry up” with their Clinton e-mail server investigation. His supporters came to the convention in Philadelphia and made it a shit show. They played right along with Trump’s “crooked Hillary” messaging. It certainly didn’t help. Bernie just kept trudging along.

Bernie Sanders is not an outsider. He’s not a revolutionary. He’s not even a Democrat. He’s an angry man that is doing this for self benefit, to the point of paying his wife, step-daughter, and son to be advisors. He knows he can’t deliver his promises, but he’ll puff you up on them anyway, to collect those $27 donations and pay his family. Fortunately, I don’t think he’ll win, or even do as well this time. For all the talk of him being “the most popular politician in the country,” it’s worth noting that Hillary was that too, before she wasn’t. This time Bernie won’t benefit from being the recipient of the “anti-Hillary” vote in what was basically a one-on-one race, and will face a large field of newer, shinier objects. Already his 40% from 2016 is down below 20% in polls, because voters are not that into him. If you were betting Bernie against the field, you’d be smart to take the field.

I hated basically everything about the 2016 election, even down to a lot of things Hillary’s campaign did, but I liked her. Bernie and his supporters made the whole experience rotten. Their online attacks didn’t stop though in 2016, and continued into the Trump era. I’m proud to say I voted against him then, and will again. I’ll wear the crazies’ attacks as a badge of honor going into 2020, right down to the enemies list I made:

I’m going to have to go with “Thank you, next,” on Bernie 2020.

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