I’ve been told by told by quite a few folks that Bernie Sanders is “unelectable” and “too extreme” when they’ve asked me about who my presidential choice for 2016 is. While I am not a registered Democrat, I consider myself to be a center-left independent who tends to vote for Democrats, and I don’t see Bernie Sanders as unelectable or too extreme. To someone who regularly consumes mainstream media like Fox News, CNN or even MSNBC, Bernie Sanders might be seen as too extreme or even eccentric – or at least that’s what the pundits will tell you over and over again.
It’s a common talking point by third party activists, especially Libertarians, to call people “sheeple” and tell them to “wake up” while preaching about how “both parties are the same.” They’re usually wrong, but one thing that both Republicans (and their media outlets) as well as many Democrats have in common is their common interest in shutting down Bernie Sanders, as H.A. Goodman points out.
The phrase “too far left” is used not only by Fox News to frighten voters, but also by Democrats convinced that any candidate willing to break up the banks is doomed in a general election. Like Senator McCaskill warns, America just isn’t ready for a “Democratic-Socialist,” even if the six largest American banks have assets equaling 60 percent of U.S. GDP. We’ve been taught to fear the influence of large campaign donations, and while standing up to the “billionaire class” is nice, pragmatism is paramount since corporations now have the same freedom of speech in elections as the average American.
True, times have changed, and gay marriage is now protected under the Constitution (despite some candidates being against it when it wasn’t popular), the Confederate flag is coming down, we’ll have an embassy in Cuba soon, and America has an African-American president in his second term, but some things are too much of a pipe dream. Better to play it safe with “Wall Street Republicans’ dark secret” than a man who says, “This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires, their super PACs and their lobbyists.” (Source)
Bernie Sanders can win, and he has a plan to attract voters in all 50 states, not just the ones that Democrats feel comfortable in. Furthermore, it isn’t just the left and Bernie Sanders that have a serious problem with the big banks and Wall Street. Many working class people of all political persuasions lost their homes during the housing crisis when the pricing bubble burst in 2008, and there is still a strong resentment that the same banks that foreclosed on them also got bailed out by taxpayer dollars. Furthermore, at least one bank (Bank of America) rewarded employees for lying to homeowners and finding ways to foreclose on people, even though the bailout deal required them to assist homeowners who were underwater on their mortgages.
Proposing that we break up the biggest banks, fund free higher education or help Americans who live in poverty with their energy bills aren’t extreme ideas. If we want to see extreme, we can look at the Republican Party’s candidates and see what they’re proposing. Scott Walker (along with the other GOP candidates) opposes raising the minimum wage and calls it a “really lame idea.” He has also cut education funding, busted unions and even says his campaign is part of “God’s plan.” Donald Trump has insulted an entire nation which happens to share a border with us, Jeb Bush has said Americans don’t work hard enough, and where do we even start with the extreme positions Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee have taken?
If Bernie Sanders is “too extreme,” I wonder if Democrats who doubt his electability have actually looked at the ideas that he has been proposing? I can certainly see why the Republican establishment and their Wall Street backers would have a great reason to fear him, but Democrats shouldn’t see these ideas as extreme – that is, unless they’re ultimately in the same Wall Street pocket as the Republicans they’re warning us about.
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