Title: The Price of Purity? Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 30th December 2015 - 1:20pm1451434800 Article: 17739 Rights
Vermont Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders is Hillary Clinton's major rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. If he is unable to surmount Clinton's war chest, then will history repeat itself and will Sanders run as a leftist independent, splitting the leftist vote and letting an extremist Republican like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio into the White House?   I am not saying that Bernie Sanders isn't a nice guy, or that he doesn't support LGBT rights. He does. The problem is that the United States doesn't have a proportional representation electoral system and that in its historic election races, spoiler candidates end up conferring advantage on opposing candidates. In 1992, Bill Clinton derived electoral benefit from third-party Reform Party candidate Ross Perot, who ate into George H. Bush's voter share, already eroded by the lack of effective Republican solutions to the concurrent US recession. In 2000, Al Gore's voter share was eroded by misfit US Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, whose idiocy led to eight years of Republican anti-environmentalism, foreign policy incompetence, economic mismanagement and religious social conservative extremism under George W. Bush. Sanders may mean well, as may his supporters, but the cost of indulging ideological purity at the expense of political realism may be the destruction of abortion rights under a President Cruz or Rubio, the repeal of marriage equality legislation and further right-wing stacking of the US Supreme Court. Of course, Donald Trump might decide to run as an Independent himself if someone else secures the Republican presidential nomination, which would then mean a split right-wing vote. That warning aside, what does Sanders stand for? He opposed the Iraqi War from its beginning, which Hillary Clinton didn't. In 2010, he launched a determined filibuster against the extension of the George W. Bush era tax cuts, whose slashed taxation revenue damaged central government service delivery and provision. He opposes income inequality and his policies on issues like social welfare, progressive income taxation, healthcare access, climate change, campaign finance restrictions and LGBT concerns, criminal justice policy and institutional racism and opposition to expanded government surveillance are comparable to European and Australasian centre-left/social democratic parties. He wouldn't be out of place in the New Zealand Labour Party. At 74, Sanders has participated in most of the major US social justice and civil liberties causes since the sixties- US African-American civil rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, US Latin American solidarity politics during the eighties, and became a US Independent Congressperson for Vermont in 1990. Unusually, he voted against a George H. Bush era gun control bill. In 2005, he shifted to the US Senate, where he has been ever since. In the Senate, he serves on the Committees on the Environment, Public Works, Energy, Natural Resources, Health, Education, Labour, Pensions and Veterans Affairs. Opinion polls show him trailing Hillary Clinton, but he is popular amongst younger voters. Unfortunately for us, and ironically, akin to some libertarian Tea Party Republicans, he opposes the TransPacific Partnership Agreement. While Sanders is an intelligent, articulate and charismatic spokesperson for his social democratic views, Clinton is going to win the Democratic nomination. One hopes Sanders then decides that reticence is the better part of valour and withdraws from the presidential race. As I've said, nice guy, bad timing. Recommended: Bernie Sanders Campaign Website: Bernie Sanders: The Speech: An Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class: New York: Nation Books: 2011. Craig Young - 30th December 2015    
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