The lefty aggregator Reader Supported News put up a video Tuesday of Sen. Bernie Sanders taking a few press questions while campaigning in Iowa. I’ll link to it below. If you have five minutes, take a look. It’s sort of a glimpse into the whole other way of doing politics that Sanders represents.
He’s campaigning in Dubuque, Iowa. He’s just given a speech in which he said he’s not interested in attacking Hillary Clinton, although he is happy to talk about issues, on many of which he disagrees with her. The first question he gets, from a Wall Street Journal reporter, strikes Sanders as an invitation to go after Clinton, perhaps a little more personally, perhaps a little more harshly. I’m not sure the reporter really does anything that bad but Sanders interrupts the reporter thus:
“Time after time, I’m being asked to criticize Hillary Clinton. That’s the sport that you guys like. The campaign is doing well because we’re talking about the issues that impact the American people. I’ve known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I like her. I respect her. I disagree with her on a number of issues. No great secret. I oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I am opposed to the Keystone Pipeline. I voted against the war in Iraq. I voted against the USA Patriot Act. These are issues we will discuss. But the issue I want to be talking about is the collapse of the American middle class. The need for millions of decent-paying jobs. The obscenity of the kind of wealth and income inequality that we have today. The reason our campaign is doing well is that people are responding to those issues. So I am not gonna get into the game of attacking Hillary Clinton. We disagree. If I have anything to say about it, we are going to have a respectful and intelligent debate…”
The conventional wisdom is that Sanders has little chance to be nominated and even less to become president. He’s too radical, not too mention old, Jewish, irascible and speaking with a New York accent and having essentially no chance of raising the kind of money it takes to be a serious candidate. I don’t particularly doubt this conventional wisdom (CW), although I do note that the CW has been wrong about pretty much everything so far this year.
Sanders holds positions that, according to the CW, are left of where a presidential candidate can go and still succeed. Maybe the CW is right about this, too. According to the CW, Sanders mostly represents an awkward problem for Clinton. She’s going to need the party’s activist left to support her in November, so she can’t be too dismissive of the left-left positions Sanders represents. But she can’t adopt those positions either. If she did that, the eventual Republican nominee would use them against her in October when both parties are fishing for swing voters in the middle.
But if Sanders has anything to say about that, the party of the left in this country might have to have a respectful and intelligent debate about the issues that divide the left-left from the center-left. What are the odds of that happening?
Oh, yeah. The video of Sanders’ “media availability” is here: