On the California stump Hillary Clinton is spinning that pragmatic politicians don’t “dash hopes” or “frustrate” voters, avoiding bold policies that supposedly won’t pass. She touts deal making over end-zone plays against the Party of No; grinding it out with short pass plays and runs up the gut to move the chains, one first down at a time.
The problem with this tactic is that Obama tried it and largely failed. Yes he signed the Affordable Care Act, but he let Congress write it with virtually no guidance, so we got an overly complex, expensive law with a giant donut hole for top-end low-wage earners (among many, many other problems). Obama didn’t introduce a bold initiative like a public-option or single payer system and force Congress to say no. Instead, he started in the middle and we ended up with the GOP’s 1993 “exchange”. Lesson learned: When Democratic presidents start by giving Republicans what we think they want, we end up way right of center. In football parlance, that means giving up a safety instead of scoring a touchdown.
But Bernie Sanders realizes that strong presidents stand up for what they believe in. They lay out bold visions and back ‘em up with bold proposals. They introduce transformative programs like TR’s Square Deal, FDR’s New Deal, or LBJ’s War on Poverty. They win hearts and minds. They use the Bully Pulpit to sell the message and merits of their policies directly to the American People, above the heads of Congress and their lobbyists. Most important, strong presidents either get the people’s agenda passed or force Congress to vote it DOWN, exposing lawmakers’ real allegiances. Strong leaders send ’em home to explain their no vote to angry constituents during Congressional “recess”.
So there it is. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have Bernie Sanders push real change and see it fail than watch Hillary Kabuki dance around the edges of big problems. Of course, her “successes” will include ample give-aways to big business; bones thrown in to sweeten the pot, rendering her victories neutral at best, but at least we’d make a few baby steps along the way right? Maybe not . . .
Obama’s been trying to pass moderate legislation for eight years and what did we get? The Trans-Pacific trade deal (TPP), which, like Obama-Care, is a GOP bill. Everything else was blocked, and it’s ironic that Dr. No (Mitch McConnell) is currently plugging a memoir about all the bi-partisan “legislation” he pushed through the Senate during Obama’s tenure. His favorite accomplishments are two budget bills that halted government shutdowns. McConnell’s really proud of this. Thanks Mitch. Are these the kind of “deals” Hillary’s talking about?