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A Much Better Way for Hillary and Bernie to Compete

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Schmookler       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   44 comments

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton - Caricatures
Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton - Caricatures
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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have a great opportunity to advance the Democratic cause, but to seize it they'll have to think differently about their contest.

A SHADOW OVER THE DEMOCRATIC RACE

This opportunity grows out of a shadow that hangs over the campaign for the Democratic nomination. It is widely recognized that any Democrat who is elected president will be unable to accomplish much of what he or she is calling for.

On the big issues -- whether it's climate change, or guns, or immigration reform, or campaign finance, or widening inequality -- legislation is required. But as things now stand, any Democratic president will almost certainly be blocked by the Republicans in Congress. Although we hear talk about the ability "to reach across the aisle," after the last seven years -- with a Democrat downright eager to reach across the aisle -- we should know better.

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During these years, we've seen the Republicans obstruct President Obama wherever they could, on virtually every front -- blocking even Republican ideas and stonewalling the president's nominations-- in order to make him fail. There's no reason to believe they'd stop their wall-to-wall obstructionism with a President Hillary Clinton or a President Bernie Sanders.

Why would they stop? Their strategy has worked well for them over the past seven years. In 2010, their lies and obstructionism on health care reform were rewarded with a big electoral victory. And they swept to still more power in Congress again in 2014, after their obstructionism gave America the least productive Congress in history.

It's hard to imagine these Republicans working constructively with President Hillary Clinton-- not after they've been demonizing her since the 1990s. (Remember the charge that she'd murdered her friend Vince Foster?) The Republican base is so convinced that she's really evil that they'll support combat, not cooperation.

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Nor will Republicans be interested in working with the "socialist" Bernie Sanders. That word is enough of a cover for them to adopt a policy of total non-cooperation with President Sanders, just as they've done with President Obama.

So, for any of the ideas these two strong candidates are proposing to actually move forward, one of two things must happen. Either the Republican Party has to change, or the power of the GOP to obstruct progress has to be taken away.

The Republican Party shows absolutely no sign of changing into one interested in bi-partisan cooperation for the betterment of America. If anything, the current presidential race indicates that the GOP is going still further off the deep end.

So, for the foreseeable future, all the progress Sanders or Clinton seek requires taking power away from this Republican Party. That means defeating them in elections. And winning those elections requires changing public opinion.

The job for any would-be Democratic president, therefore, is to persuade enough of those who have supported Republicans to withdraw that support, and to inspire the liberal base to act with determination to bring their leaders to power.

The good news is that this campaign gives Hillary and Bernie the opportunity to get to work together to achieve that goal--starting now!

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WE NEED A DIIFERENT KIND OF DEBATE

Does anyone really think that the best criterion for choosing the Democrats nominee is who's best at fighting the other?

Yes, we need a fighter, but the fight the Democratic standard bearer needs to fight is not against a rival Democrat but against the force that stands in the way of accomplishing everything he or she is calling for.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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