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Sunday, 03 April 2016 20:08

Serody: Difference between Bernie and Hillary

Written by  Bob Serody

Posted April 3, 2016
National Presidental Campaign / Hillary-Bernie
Member Opinion*                       


Commentary by Bob Serody

On The Great Divide by Ryan Lizza

Of all the articles written about the campaign between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination of 2016, Ryan Lizza’s The Great Divide in the New Yorker describes perfectly the differences between these two candidates and the future of the Democratic Party.

In describing Hillary, he begins by relating her political relationship with husband Bill and the ideology she came to embrace. Lizza relates why the center piece of Sander’s campaign is to convince the voters that that too many of the signature achievements of her husband’s Presidency were a series of betrayals—the deregulation of Wall Street, an obsession with deficit reduction, the Defense of Marriage Act, his crime bill, the North American Free Trade Agreement—and that she was an enthusiastic partner in passing that agenda.  Although he never mentions Bill Clinton by name, for he was a former president of the Democratic Party, instead, he focuses on Hillary Clinton by attempting to show that her ideology hasn’t changed since the 1990s.

Another point Sanders makes is that Hillary can’t be trusted because of her flip-flops on the issues. Sanders noted in the debate in Flint that Hillary as First Lady publicly supported NAFTA, while he “was on a picket line” protesting it. Today, both candidates oppose the agreement—and many other aspects of Bill Clinton’s record.

In addition, many influential associates from the financial world support Hillary Clinton. As Lizza says, “Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign and his Administration reflected two political strains that still define the Party: one is populist, anti-Wall Street, and pro-regulation; the other is more austere, more oriented toward the New York financial world, and more laissez-faire. Clinton’s Labor Secretary, Robert B. Reich, pressed for more government spending, but the top economic adviser in the White House, Robert Rubin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and later the Treasury Secretary, ultimately persuaded Clinton to abandon many of the liberal spending priorities that he championed during his campaign and to focus instead on reducing the deficit. Later, Rubin also pushed to deregulate the financial industry. That polarity remains. Hillary Clinton is surrounded by Rubin’s acolytes; Reich, an old friend of Bill Clinton’s from their days together at Oxford as Rhodes Scholars, recently endorsed Sanders.”

Regarding her involvement with Super PACs and her recent speeches for raising campaign money, how can she be trusted when she will not release the transcripts of her speeches to Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions?  The only logical conclusion is that since she doesn’t mean what she says, she is not a trust-worthy candidate.

Bernie Sanders has ignored her problem with the investigation by the FBI on the classified contents of her personal server when she served as Secretary of State. After all, he has enough to go on regarding their economic differences. Sanders “is tapping into something that is very deep and very profound inside the Democratic Party, which is this discontent with the system that is no longer producing for everyday people,” Simon Rosenberg, a Hillary supporter and the head of NDN (formerly the New Democrat Network), a liberal think tank in Washington, told Lizza.  In other words, Bernie’s supporters don’t regard him as a leftist, but as a person who perceives that something is definitely wrong with our two-party system, which now caters to the wealthy, and the middle class has not only been left behind but is disappearing. And he wants to change it, and do it now.

All one has to do is listen to Bill Clinton trying to make sense of the uprising in New Hampshire. “I understand people who get madder every day when they keep reading we’re the best-performing economy in the world,” he said. “We’ve grown fourteen million jobs in five years and yet eighty-four per cent of the people haven’t had an increase in their income since the crash.” Wages have been stagnant for so long, he said, that it was a wonder that it had taken this many years for the electorate to erupt.

In response to this rebellion, Hillary has sounded less like a Clinton Democrat and more like a Sanders Democrat. Since the campaign began, she has modernized her positions on trade, the economy, and criminal-justice reform. (She came out in support of same-sex marriage only in 2013.) Sanders doesn’t buy the transformation. “It doesn’t matter what her policies are,” he told me last Tuesday, as he waited for the primary results from Michigan and Mississippi to come in. “What matters is whether or not, if she is elected President—and we’re in this to win—if she’s going to stand up and fight. And I think there are many people who will tell you, look, that will not be the case. Look, anybody can give any speech they want tomorrow—somebody writes you a great speech—but the day after you’re elected you say, ‘Well, you know, I talked to my Republican colleagues and they think this is not acceptable.’ ”

Lizza reminds us that Sanders’s current slogan is “A Future to Believe In.” At seventy-four, with campaign ads featuring Simon and Garfunkel’s music, he seems an unlikely standard-bearer for the Democratic Party of tomorrow. But the next generation of voters clearly favors him, or at least what he stands for. Through March 8th, Sanders won voters between seventeen and twenty-nine years old in thirteen of the fifteen states for which there were entrance or exit polls. In that age range, he beat Clinton by an average of sixty-seven per cent to thirty-two per cent. His biggest victory among this group, in his home state of Vermont, was ninety-five per cent to five per cent. Millennials supported Sanders even in Arkansas, where Clinton was First Lady.

In one of the greatest primary upsets in modern history, Sanders defeated Clinton in Michigan. For the first time in his campaign, he also cracked Clinton’s support among nonwhites, winning twenty-eight per cent of the African-American vote. Sanders has a large campaign war chest—he raised more than a hundred and thirty-five million dollars from more than 1.5 million individuals—and he is likely to score more victories. By staying in the race to the end, he will continue to force Hillary to respond to the anger and the frustrations in the electorate. He will serve as a useful test if she runs against Trump, who might appeal to many white Democrats who are struggling economically. Sanders’s ongoing presence in the race will also give Clinton little time to relax. She likely won’t secure the required two thousand and twenty-six delegates until early June. Delegates are awarded proportionally in the Democratic primaries, so Sanders, who hits forty per cent in most national polls when pitted against Clinton, can win many delegates even while losing states. He lost Massachusetts by less than two points, and received forty-five delegates to Clinton’s forty-six. Clinton will be left in candidate purgatory: confident that she will be the nominee but still regularly losing to Sanders, who could arrive at the Convention, in late July, with a large bloc of the total delegates.

Lizza believes that there are two reasons for Sanders to soldier on. One is to exact concessions, as Warren was able to do on legislation restricting Wall Street employees. Sanders’s presence has required Clinton to adopt more populist economic policies, and the influence could go further. “She’s basically a conservative person, except on issues of gender and inclusiveness,” Gary Hart, who, with his insurgent primary campaign in 1984, almost beat former Vice-President Walter Mondale, told me. “Her natural instinct is not to play the economic-class card, and that is Sanders’s whole campaign. He has forced her to be tougher on big money than her natural inclination.”

“If Sanders arrives at the Convention with a sufficient number of primary victories and between a third and half of the delegates, he will also be able to influence the Party’s platform. His advisers told me that Sanders will fight for more anti-free-trade measures, a commitment to campaign-finance reform, and breaking up big banks.”

When Lizza spoke to Sanders last week, he refused to speculate about any Convention scenarios that didn’t include him as the nominee. “I look forward to her dropping out and giving me her strong support,” he said. He was adamant that Clinton could not deliver the kind of change that voters are demanding, no matter what policy positions she adopted. “The issue is creating an economy and a political system that works for all Americans and not the one per cent,” he said. “That does not happen through a speech. That happens by reaching out and mobilizing millions and millions of people. There is no indication that Hillary Clinton has ever done that, or ever wants to do that. You don’t go and give speeches behind closed doors to Wall Street (such as the speech to Goldman Sachs for $225,000) and be the same person that is going to rally the American people. That just does not exist.”

Sanders’s real legacy may be proving to the Democratic Party that the new generation of voters has no affinity for the old Clinton-era politics of moderation. “Sanders is speaking to a rising generation who want both a better and more responsible capitalism and a better and more ethical politics,” Simon Rosenberg said. “Unrigging the system will be a central focus of Democratic politics for years to come—as it should be.”

Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance



On the Great Divide by Ryan Lizza
The New Yorker, published March 21, 2016

Compiled by Team SCPA

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local,regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, contact SCPA, please click here.


Last modified on Sunday, 03 April 2016 20:22
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