Remember what happened to the “public option” in Obama(Romney)care? Ultimately killed by Max Baucus and cohorts from the D side of the aisle who took millions in donations from medical and insurance industries. And then those industries funneled money into the Tea Party movement as backlash against what little did ultimately pass in the ACA. Do you see any reason to believe Bernie’s more ambitious universal public health care would not have run into an even larger firestorm of opposition? Do you think they would be more willing to vote on his appointments than Obama’s, less inclined to blockade and shut down the government? The Congress we have now has been bought and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the moneyed elite. If you think they would have sided with Bernie against the orders of their money-masters, you and I have arrived at very different assessments of their priorities.
“Come on, what about the bully pulpit, the enormous influence on public opinion”
What about it? I’ve seen every president in my lifetime try to wield that power, and very rarely with any notable success. Even if Bernie could swing public opinion around to his side (and on most issues, it already is) do you think Congress is more interested in public opinion, or their owners’ opinions?
That would have been Bernie’s best shot. And how long would those have lasted as soon as he was out? We’re about to see how long Obama’s executive order legacy is going to last.
“The crowning “ephemeral” achievement of Bush, Jr.–the Iraq invasion and destruction”
Public opinion ran heavily against that, and in the end it made no difference. Because in the rarified atmosphere of DC, Bush was not fighting against serious opposition, he was going with the flow of what the oligarchs wanted. And it’s always easier to break things than to build them, and destruction tends to be longer lasting. Bush’s success at serving his destructive masters doesn’t mean that Bernie would have had any success trying to be constructive while running against the priorities of the oligarchs, or that anything he did manage to accomplish would not have been promptly swept away as soon as he was out.
“With people’s movements backing–or opposing and pressuring and leading, as need be–a Bernie presidency, the possibilities could be much more than “ephemeral.””
I think he would have done much good, and I think he would have avoided much harm. But people’s movements have been trying and failing to get meaningful traction and representation since the duopoly was set up. I don’t know that Bernie will succeed in remaking the Dem party, but I think he has a better shot at that than he would have had butting heads against Congress, and if he can break one wing of the duopoly and reshape it into a party that actually represents voters instead of paymasters, that could be a generational accomplishment. And looking at the confluence of factors coming together at this time, I don’t think I’ve ever seen more favorable circumstances, and no telling how long it will be before another opportunity like this comes along.