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The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders


The Pragmatic Case for Bernie Sanders

Christopher D. Cook

As Bernie Sanders defies expectations with a resounding New Hampshire victory and a virtual tie in Iowa, Democratic Party leaders still insist Hillary Clinton is the pragmatic choice to beat Republicans and bring effective leadership and change—if incremental—to Washington. Clinton and her supporters frame the race, and her appeal, as a matter of “ready on day one” leadership and “get things done” practicality.


Many serious analysts speak of U.S. recent foreign wars as failures. But this view presumes that the illusion of winning is what matters. They discount (or give short shrift to) the fact that these wars indeed serve a purpose--making the war profiteers and MIC cadre of associates VERY rich.

In parallel, by accepting the new MSM frame of who's the pragmatist and who's the idealist, the analysis centers on which candidate is more capable of getting "the job done." What's not examined is what that job is, and who will it serve?

The reason why Hillary sets the bar low is that SHE has to answer to her corporate donors first and foremost just as hubby Bill did. Under the illusion that it was a high political art to work with their political opponents across the aisle, every Big Wish on the 1%'s list was granted from banking deregulation to media deregulation... they even got their favorite anti-New Deal "bone," in the "Cessation of Welfare as we know it."

Hillary's job is to sell the elite's agenda and if possible present that as something favorable to everyday citizens.

When Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist railed against taxes and expensive "wasteful" government programs (notice: both are mute on all the exorbitant sums "lost" by the military and disappeared without the slightest form of accountability or accounting!) they sought to conflate the interests of Everyman with the Koch Brothers, Pete Peterson, and ALEC'S roster of clientele.

The mass media is a billion dollar Influence Peddler. One can be sure that if major pundits traffic in a particular frame, it's been audience tested, PR-approved, and passed other mind control tests. In other words, it's as phony as a 3-dollar bill.

Stop helping the frauds traffic in counterfeits by using THEIR narratives!


It will not be possible to predict the degree of progressive change that will be possible after the election in November until we see the composition of Congress. There could be surprises as there have been in the past. But, most likely if Sanders or Clinton is elected the main battle for the Democratic president will be preventing Congress from rolling back progressive gains. The Republicans seem determined to repeal Obamacare. They want to strike down the ability of EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. They always want to privatize social security. They want to reduce taxes on the rich. And so forth. So the real question may be who can fight back against the Republican efforts to roll back what the progressives have accomplished. If elected, Bernie Sanders' main task may be preventing things from going backwards.


Passionately committed to the art of pandering to Low Expectations... your sideline.


In the past, this forum suffered its right wing Libertarian Ron Paul fans and now it would seem the Trump-ers have arrived.

So you feel comfortable with Trump's enthusiasm for torture? For building a wall against all those "Mexican rapists," and his version of Middle East Wars that leave out what drones do in order to promote the one-sided version of barbarism that's uniquely defined by beheadings done in the Arab world? Never mind the heads that roll from U.S. bombs and mortar.

Look, I know a lot of you white guys want to BE Trump with the gorgeous wife and the endless expense accounts... but get over your wounded egos and take a REAL look at this morally retarded soul and what his infantilized version of the world... and its regions inflamed by Western imperialism and invasion... would lead to.

He is a walking poster child for American Exceptionalism cast in a global version of a Cowboys and Indians movie.



Yes, Trump is no worse than other GOP candidates. He just vocalizes what the other GOP candidates think, but can't vocalize.

Clinton may be better on superficial racism and some social issues, but is no different than the GOP herd on economic issues.


I say give Bernie Sanders a chance, and all the support we can right now. I am for him. After reading the great Reverend Chris Hedges' column on Truthdig, I am more committed to supporting him than before. Hedges' righteous diatribe against Sanders, simply because the man is a man and can't walk on water, left me disgusted with that "the good is the enemy of the perfect" garbage. Hedges smug attitude of superiority in this particular article just rubbed me the wrong way. Why don;t YOU run,Chris, if you have so much to criticize about Bernie?? Either that, or conjure up a perfect candidate. Enough with this garbage. I think if enough people just get behind Sanders, and then make sure to push him if he does get in, and I mean push hard, then maybe there will be a realistic chance of getting things rolling on some truly progressive ideals and programs. But WE have to push HIM. He will still be against a formidable congress made up of mainstream Dem's and frothing-at-the-mouth Repub's, more angry than ever that one of their own didn't get in. So let's try and remember that no man can do anything alone, especially up in Washington. But I am ready to support Bernie and feel that his positions vastly outweigh any shortcomings I've read about his positions or his past voting record. Hillary is a sharp-fanged corporate shill and a Wall Street whore, for starters. She'd have us bombing Iran, Libya, and who-knows-who-else before her first week in office was up, in my opinion. She'd never rescind NAFTA, would try to reprise the KXL, and would allow fracking anywhere she could, just to please her Wall Street buddies.I will not support her if she does get the nod.


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Agree, but I think you give Hillary far to much credit when you imply that her "IF's" are only a matter of lack of awareness and poor judgment. They are great big gaping holes through which she is leaving herself room to do exactly what she wants to do, which is nothing about breaking up the banks and nothing about removing corporations' hold on the electoral process. They're nonsensical lawyerly loopholes and proof of her lack of honesty with the voters.


Let's be clear on this. The establishment Democrats do not want change. The incrementalism they now talk about is actually a rhetorical screen to deal with Sanders. They actually don't want progressive change at all.

It is a mistake to argue about whether Clinton's incremental pragmatism is or is not a good thing compared to Sander's political revolution, even if one is arguing it isn't. It yields the further argument to them, that Clinton and her colleagues actually do want incremental progressive change.

They don't.


I couldn't agree with your analysis more siouxrose. When you wrote that Hillary must serve "...her corporate donors first and foremost", this can be said of all of the candidates with the lone exception of Sanders. I feel this is why Sanders is the only "electable" Democrat out there. The 1% are keen on marginalizing Sanders at any cost, but as each day passes and more and more voters are introduced to Sanders for the first time, it is obvious that the MSM's low opinion of the electorate, coupled with their own over inflated egos at how they can easily manipulate the electorate, is sure to fail.
Most Americans still don't know who Bernie Sanders is much less understand what he stands for, but the longer that Bernie can hang in there, the more support he will garner. This is why the next few months are critical. It is the only chance we have to support an anti-corporate candidate that could possibly overcome incredible odds and get elected. The "20 seconds" of Bernie's media time compared to Trump's "84 minutes" was supposed to do the trick. It backfired. The MSM is scrambling to find a new tactic to undermine Sanders to please their corporate sugar Daddies, however the public is seeing through it. If Bernie's popularity is this high already, imagine the possibilities when he is introduced to the rest of the American electorate and the world!


I think Trump will be the nominee for the rep-and if they take it away I think he will run as an independent. And Trump deserves credit for calling out Bush on 9/11-something Kerry was afraid to do.

If Clinton is the dem. nominee I think Trump would demolish her in the fall. Trump is already positioning himself to take on Clinton. Being against the Iraq war,being strong on social security,against trade agreements.

The scary part is that Trump reflects the dominant culture,MSNBC and CNN were playing wall to wall Trump all summer long,then they question how he could be the front runner,and these commentators are clueless how they help create someone like Trump by not reporting on real issues impacting most Americans.

And as Sanders states, what he is offering to do is not radical. Most countries have healthcare for all. And many have a higher minimum wage. And many require employer's to have paid leave and vacation time. Paid vacation time how radical?---Of course Sanders hasn't gone that radical to offer a national requirement that employer's provide paid vacation.

But here is Clinton's chance to prove herself-she can explain to Obama how to get a Supreme Court Justice through the Senate. I am sure Hillary can just call up Mitch McConnell and get this done. Just like the way Hillary got healthcare through congress back in the 90's.


Clinton/Gore got "pragmatic," trying to appeal to (or appease?) middle classers, and we ended up with eight years of Bush. "Pragmatic" has become a code word for "move to the right."

Another way of looking at our situation: The Dem voting base consists of the "masses" -- poor and middle class, workers and the jobless. This voting base has only been more deeply divided over the past seven years. That's a problem. The middle class is less than half the population, and they are divided between Democrats and Republicans. Masses of the poor voted for Obama in hopes that he could launch a legitimate discussion about our poverty crisis. He raised the issue a few times, liberals and Democrats aren't interested. In the real world, not everyone can work (health, etc.) and there aren't jobs for all -- 7 jobs for every 10 people seeking one, the last I heard, and while that's certainly an improvement, what do you think happens to those who are left out? Voting choices almost always come down to economic issues. The poor know that no matter how the election turns out, things won't improve for them. You can't buy a loaf of bread with promises of eventual jobs, and the middle class demand, "Not a crumb for the poor!"


The Supreme Court has approved political corruption of our democratic system with their decision in Citizen's United that money is speech. I haven't yet heard Hillary Clinton say that the Citizen's decision has endemically corrupted our campaign financial system and should therefore be appropriately amended. Yet, that message has been Bernie's clear-eyed priority from the very beginning of his campaign. He's been quite honest that if the plutocracy we have is not reversed and our democracy strengthened, the people's wants are going to continue to be marginalized. Little wonder he is getting support from millions of 'idealistic and pragmatic' Democrats and Independents.

Propagandistic garbage is being spewed by Hillary, the media, - (e.g., US News, Washington Post, and NY Times brush-off Bernie's candidacy), and pundits (e.g., David Gergen, Paul Krugman have been politely slamming Bernie's program as unrealistic, too ambitious, too bold, thus casually dismissing his ability to set fundamental change in motion) - that Bernie is the dreamer and Hillary is the pragmatist who can get things done.

Sanders has always been abundantly clear that to deliver the policies most Americans want, many of which Hillary has appropriated in a much scaled down form - e.g., single-payer health care (Medicare for All), free public college tuition (financed, for example, by a financial transactions tax), a minimum wage of $15/hour, improved pre-college educational systems, and other economic reforms - the corporate and billionaire bought democracy must be reformed with the support of the people.

Rob Hager, a graduate of Harvard Law School, visualized Hillary's thoughts well: "Sanders is dreaming when he says he can overcome a plutocracy which he admits is necessary to deliver the policies the majority of Americans want. Not going to happen. So hire me to get the crumbs the plutocrats will let us collect if they don't get angry. This is a job I know better."

Hillary will do what Obama did - pursue a tactic of compromised compromising - token, piecemeal reforms that will only entrench the corrupt money in politics and politicians sucking on billionaire handouts in exchange for access and influence on policies. Thanks to Citizen's United, we have an out-of-control plutocratic political financing system from an elite One Percent of the One Percent wealthy individual supporters plus corporate and institutional donors (see: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2011/12/13/the-political-one-percent-of-the-one-percent/).

As Bernie has been consistently saying, systemic corruption requires systemic correction. This won't happen under Hillary. American-style governance and capitalism will die unless the political shakeup Bernie is promising happens.

In this regard, a recent report by the Guardian takes aim at the wisdom that Bernie Sanders is the "idealistic" Democratic candidate and Hillary Clinton is the "pragmatic" one. U.S. income inequality has never been so bad. The political revolution Bernie calls for is actually the pragmatic option that will protect America's interests. It is Bernie - not Hillary - who will build upon the things that already make America great.

As the Guardian noted regarding Hillary's not so subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism,

"The real choice isn't "pragmatism" or "idealism." It's either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the 'robber barons' in the 1980s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a "political revolution" that mobilizes millions of Americans."


Correction: ...."robber barons: in the 1890s ....