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Isn't It Obvious Hillary and Bernie Should Be Campaigning Against the Republicans?

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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
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Dear Hillary and Bernie,

Is there any reason we voters should care which of you is better at lacerating the other when what we need to know is how well you will be able to fight our real opponents after the convention and after the election?

What sense does it make for you two to argue over your respective policy programs when, unless you can get the Republican obstructionists out of the way, all that's at stake in your arguments will prove to have been just which of your agendas the Republicans will block?

If you're serious about getting any of your proposals enacted, shouldn't you be looking down the road at the obvious roadblock that's in the way, and taking steps now to remove them?

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You've spoken, Hillary, about your being good at reaching across the aisle--as if that means you'll be able to move us forward. Do you really think that you can reach across that aisle with any more openness to finding common ground than President Obama displayed for years, hoping to work together with Republicans to get things done? That got him nowhere, because they were interested not in getting things done but in making him fail. Do you have any reason for thinking your "reaching across the aisle" would go any better?

And you, Bernie, have done a great service in calling attention to some important truths about the rigging of our economy and of our politics by the corrupting influence of Big Money. But why aren't you educating the American public about how it is the Republican Party that has been systematically blocking all efforts to level the playing field? (It's not the "billionaire class" you should be denouncing -- voters can't take power from them directly -- but their GOP political minions whose power the people can take away.)

And while you've made a big point of stressing that the overturning of Citizens United is your major litmus test for any Supreme Court appointee, why aren't you educating the American public about how that widely despised Supreme Court decision was the product of a five-justice majority, all of whom were appointed by the Republicans?

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Given that you've got every political incentive to wrest control of Congress away from the Republicans, why aren't you campaigning in a way that gives you the best chance of accomplishing that?

My fear is that the answer may be that you are both reflecting the weakness that has beset the leadership of the Democratic Party for the past generation, a weakness manifested in the continuing failure to adequately confront to the Republican Party as it has been breaking bad.

" Failure in the 90s to denounce and stand up against the right-wing attempt to destroy the Clinton presidency.

" Failure during the W presidency to fight even to censure, let alone impeach, a president who committed half the impeachable offenses (I would estimate) perpetrated by over two centuries of American presidents.

" Failure during the Obama presidency to return fire with an intensity and determination that even remotely matched that of the Republicans with their continuous assaults on this Democratic president.

It should not be difficult now -- after all the Republicans have done -- to go after them effectively.

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It should not be difficult to demonstrate to the American electorate that, if they want the nation to move forward, in a variety of ways the majority desires, they've got to take power away from this Republican Party, which has deliberately chosen to hobble the people's government rather than get anything accomplished.

It should not be difficult to demonstrate that this Republican Party continuously fails what might be called "the founders' test." That test would consist of asking: When our founders drew up the Constitution, would they have regarded the way the Republicans have been conducting themselves in our constitutional system as an acceptable example of what they had in mind?

This Republican Party would fail that founders' test again and again. In particular, there's no way that the founders would have regarded "If the president is for it, we had to be against it" as passing that test. A nation disabled and adrift in the face of serious challenges is hardly what they had in mind.

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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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