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article imageOp-Ed: Bernie Sanders 2020? Opinions vary, but he pulls a crowd

By Paul Wallis     Dec 3, 2018 in Politics
Burlington - Senator Bernie Sanders cuts an odd figure in American politics. He’s a progressive in a museum. He’s an independent Democrat. The big deal is the degree of support he gets, and where he gets it from.
That could be a major deal in 2020, whether he runs or not. At a gathering in Vermont organized by the Sanders Institute, Sen. Sanders was, well, Bernie Sanders. Sanders’ appeal to a broad base is unusual, to say the least. The guy doesn’t seem to have any of the “pomp and circumstance” of his various political peers, and that’s a major seller in its own right with irritated Americans of all demographics.
Sanders is a progressive. That means a tough audience. There’s no “Insert slogan here” in progressive politics, or progressive movements in general. This isn’t the “left”, despite FOX/Breitbart/Chicken Little propaganda, which also thinks rocks and trees are communists.
This progressive is the educated, better informed, part of society, and it wants positive action, all the time. You don’t get ideological time outs in this environment. There’s also no margin for “us or them” when you’re trying to sell a pitch to this group. Try that on this market, and they’ll say, “OK, how about you or someone else? Don’t give us that “us or them” GOP BS, prove you have something to say that’s worth hearing.” See the video for a look at the Progressive International meeting in Dublin, at which Sanders spoke for a look at actual progressive politics.
Some people are (rightly) scared to death by the intensity of the progressives in various incarnations. Sanders sails through these audiences, with considerable, and conspicuously non-staged, support.
Progressive angst, or tantrums?
The question is what happens in 2020, and that’s not yet 100% clear. The 2016 experience was a true pitfall for the Democrats, in which Hillary Clinton’s arguably too-slick campaign crashed against Sanders’ rather homespun, but deep minded, candidacy. For no good reason, the clash created quite unnecessary turmoil in the Democrats.
That ultimately pointless turmoil also arguably lost them what might have been a decisive victory in the 2016 Presidential election. The Democrats, for god alone knows what reason, polarized at exactly the wrong time. Every vote counted, and they didn’t get all the votes they might have. That result was thanks to a futile (not to say idiotic, particularly under the circumstances) anti-Clinton push blamed largely on Sanders.
Sanders, of course, didn’t actually make that push himself, and hasn’t changed his position on anything from day one. Sanders is consistent in his views and aspirations. He was also obviously not stupid enough to intrude on the Clinton campaign, either. The Democrats shot themselves in the foot, despite him, not because of him.
(Seriously, Democrats; you knew about the gerrymanders, you knew about the voting scams. You knew the election was going to be tough and dirty. Despite all of which, you took the time to have a tantrum about who on your side would be doing the heavy lifting, not the actual campaign? How smart was that?)
The Sanders Effect
As a foreigner, to say that watching Sanders tirelessly campaigning for things the rest of the Western world has had for decades for America is pretty interesting, if worrying. The worry is the sheer amount of ground the United States has to make up, and it’s huge. It’s like watching someone advocating the first invention of the wheel, when it comes to health. Fire, too, might be invented on the subject of social justice and basic equity in America, if Sanders has his way.
The low key Sanders Institute meeting in Burlington seems to have been a meeting of a friendly group of people, as much as anything else. That’s a rarity in American politics, too. The strong good vibes are actually part of the Sanders Effect, and seem to be natural by-products of his style and personality. The story is that Sanders might be running, and that a lot of people want him to run.
Will he run?
Nobody’s too clear about whether Sanders will run in 2020. Sanders’ usually self-effacing low profile puts him behind against front runners like Senator Warren, among others, but that’s no indicator, at least, not yet. His popularity, however, and despite that low profile, is undimmed. His message hasn’t changed. It’s become more resonant with voters, too, thanks to Trump and the GOP.
Whether the Democrats will take the medicine, and work together as an organized group, however, is open to debate. The sheer ineptitude of the 2016 tantrums wasn’t impressive. Sanders would have made a good President, a good VP, or whatever other role he was given. He wasn’t given any role, and that was a serious mistake.
If he runs, he’ll raise the stakes. He’ll represent the large progressive elements in the Democrat diaspora, and represent them well. Time will tell whether everyone’s grown up enough since 2016 to recognize and acknowledge that fact.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Senator bernie sanders, Progressive politics, Sanders 2020, bernie sanders 2016, Democratic party
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