Friday, January 29, 2016

My Response to Bernie Skeptics

Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)
Robert Reich. (photo: Richard Morgenstein)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page
26 January 16
ix Responses to Bernie Skeptics:
  1. “He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.” Wrong. According to the latest polls, Bernie is the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in hypothetical matchups. (The latest Real Clear Politics averages of all polls shows Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary beats Trump, and Bernie beating Cruz while Hillary loses to Cruz.)
  2. “He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.” If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged.
  3. “America would never elect a socialist.”
    P-l-e-a-s-e. America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.
  4. “His single-payer healthcare proposal would cost so much it would require raising taxes on the middle class.”
    This is a duplicitous argument. Single-payer systems in other rich nations have proven cheaper than private for-profit health insurers because they don’t spend huge sums on advertising, marketing, executive pay, and billing. So even if the Sanders single-payer plan did require some higher taxes, Americans would come out way ahead because they’d save far more than that on health insurance.
  5. “His plan for paying for college with a tax on Wall Street trades would mean colleges would run by government rules.”
    Baloney. Three-quarters of college students today already attend public universities financed largely by state governments, and they’re not run by government rules. The real problem is too many young people still can’t afford a college education. The move toward free public higher education that began in the 1950s with the G.I. Bill and extended into the 1960s came to an abrupt stop in the 1980s. We must restart it.
  6. “He’s too old.”
    Untrue. He’s in great health. Have you seen how agile and forceful he is as he campaigns around the country? These days, 70s are the new 60s. (He’s younger than four of the nine Supreme Court justices.) In any event, the issue isn't age; it's having the right values. FDR was paralyzed and JFK had Crohn's disease, but they were great presidents because they stood forcefully for the right things.
What do you think?
+104 # tswhiskers 2016-01-16 16:07
Thanks so much, Dr. Reich for your supportive article. Thankfully the media have stopped talking of Clinton as she is if she is the shoo-in candidate. Finally he is getting the serious notice he deserves from media and politicians alike. I have been concerned about his health and stamina; no one enters the presidency anymore without aging noticeably. So thanks for no. 6. I've said in another blog that I think the Reps. will try to make serious hay of his socialist title. You say in no. 3 that the rich have excessive socialism, which is true. We'll see how the Reps. use this socialist moniker against him.
+25 # lorenbliss 2016-01-17 01:53
Hear, hear on every count, especially including the (well-deserved) compliment to Mr. Reich.
+109 # MarianP 2016-01-16 17:17
You might add, he is firm and tough but he has a sense of humor, is humane, and compassionate.

I think he would make a great President.
+79 # Moxa 2016-01-16 22:25
Thank you, Robert Reich, for calling out some of the most common erroneous beliefs about Bernie's electability and policy proposals. It is reassuring to realize there are sane voices in the media that are seeing things clearly and honestly. Bernie is likely the best national candidate I have known in my 68 years of life. I believe he is a test of the American people: will we realize the opportunity we have been offered, or will we--through force of habit and negativity--be dragged back into the mire of corruption that America has become?
+2 # DrD 2016-01-17 08:39
Yes- thank you Robert!! I am sure that as a former Clinton cabinet member, you are under considerable pressure to support Hillary. Thank you for bringing up relevant points in support of Bernie!

And about the age- issue - Trump is 69 and Hillary 68. Not a huge difference.
-55 # Shades of gray matter 2016-01-16 23:12
There is, like, absolutely no evidence whatsoever that, like, young Americans will, like, do anything but exchange narcissistic selfies while, like, driving, once the primary or general election is over. There is NOTHING out there like the Civil Rights Movement or the anti-war movement. People who can't be bothered to vote in midterm elections aren't going to, like, make a Revolution. I wish it were otherwise.
+54 # grandlakeguy 2016-01-16 23:30
Dear "Shades" you like are like clueless about what like is like going on here.
This is a political revolution since most Americans are sick and tired of the corrupt and rigged system that has taken over our government. Bernie gives us a real choice, not a pick between the lesser of two evils of two candidates one a Republican and the other a Republican pretending to be a Democrat but still beholden to Wall Street and the Military Industrial complex.
-13 # NRESQ 2016-01-17 01:52
Shades is "clueless"? Maybe if you took half a second you might realize that your condescension towards your fellow Democrats who have concerns about the realities of your so-called "revolution" is itself clueless.

If nothing else, do you folks think you can win either the nomination or the election without Democrats who don't exactly see things your way?

Be careful how you respond to those in your own party who disagree with you. You may find you can't win without us. Just as we can't win without you.

So stop sounding like intolerant conservatives when someone disagrees with you.
-13 # Farafalla 2016-01-16 23:38
Shades of grey: Some piss and vinegar there.
+18 # tm7devils 2016-01-16 23:50
Please...don't give piss and vinegar a bad name.
-22 # NRESQ 2016-01-17 01:29
There's an old political saying that goes something like, if your plan is "We'll win because we'll turn out all these people who don't usually vote", you'll lose.

Dr. Reich's responses are simplistic and ignore political reality. For example, where the polls are in January doesn't matter. Howard Dean was ahead at this point in the cycle in 2008.

Also, national polls don't matter. POTUS is elected state by state through the electoral college. How many of the Obama coalition states would Sen. Sanders hold, and could he carry Ohio and Florida?

Are we prepared to squander all of the gains we've made in the last 8 years if we lose the presidency in 2016? Are we prepared to lose the SCOTUS for a generation? To see a woman's right to choose taken away?

The stakes are the highest they've ever been. Do we want to risk everything on a senator from a tiny northeastern state who wasn't even a member of the Democratic Party until recently?

Two words: George McGovern.
+22 # lorenbliss 2016-01-17 02:11
"All of the gains we've made in the last 8 years"?

What planet are you from? More appropriately, in what gated compound do you live? Where on Wall Street do you work? In what country club do you celebrate these "gains"? And do you even care what your "gains" have stolen from the rest of us?
+2 # SusanT136 2016-01-17 08:26
NRESQ - I realize you are highly concerned about the SCOTUS nominations, and rightly so.

However -
1) There is no more "Obama coalition". Repub. swept Congress the last couple of elections
2) On what are you basing your assumption that HRC is definitely going to win in a general election? HRC has a quite high negative number nationally in terms of how people view her. I am extremely concerned about how this could effect a general election, with many independents simply voting against her rather than for someone.
3) Bernie is not Howard Dean. There will be no crazy scream like the one that undid Dean. Bernie knows how to carry himself with dignity.
4) Bernie is not George McGovern, and this is not 1972. McGovern was opposed by union leaders, who, at the time, opposed his anti-Vietnam war stance. Bernie is assembling a wide coalition of supporters and endorsements. McGovern also suffered from the "scandal" surrounding Eagleton, his VP choice, when it was revealed Eagleton had received electro-shock therapy for depression (which he had not told the campaign).
+3 # mebemo 2016-01-17 08:28
"Two words: George McGovern."

Predictions are pointless at this stage, no matter how much people get off on making them.

A more interesting thought is, do you want your thinking to be governed by fear instead of love? George McGovern (for whom I actively campaigned and voted) was ahead of his time. Since then the public has "evolved" enough to elect a black man President, twice. Who's to say how else we may have developed?
0 # SusanT136 2016-01-17 08:09
The Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movements had to start somewhere. This is a beginning, a stronger and better beginning than we have seen in decades. I agree that our complacent, materialistic culture has corrupted both young and old, but the issues of racial justice, student loans and jobs might just be gritty enough to radicalize some formerly self absorbed youth.
+2 # DrD 2016-01-17 08:47
Shades, I've read quite a few similar posts from you- I'm wondering about your motives. Are you a Hillary supporter? Then please share your thoughts as to why. Are you specifically antiBernie? Again, please say why. Are you against all young people for some reason? Your tone is so dismissive of them - yes they don't talk, interact or even participate in a revolution they way young people did in the 60's, but that doesn't mean we should discount them in my opinion. Scary as it may be, this election is riding on them so I'm doing my part to interact, register, and educate this age group to support Bernie. What are you doing?
+37 # vicnada 2016-01-16 23:29
I wish I had this list of articulate responses printed as handout for one retiree I met today on my sub-zero stump for Bernie in South Minneapolis. He was so disillusioned with the let-down of the past 8 years that he was considering not voting for the first time in his life.

I sympathized with him: I had hoped for more change, too, but because I have teenagers, I can't afford to give up or, worse, go cynical. Feeling challenged, he roused himself to run down some objections presented here.

His most strenuous objection was number two above: the established interests have taken such complete hold that it is futile to even hope. "Even if Bernie were to be elected, how would he get any of his good ideas implemented given such entrenched interests?"

"Revolution" got a tired laugh. The conversation ended. The door closed. Again, sub-zero at the bone.

Judging from my view from the stoop, things are worse now--lots worse--than I have ever seen. Yes, a five-year, recession-induc ed divorce has left me adrift in more ways than one. But the brief glimpse through doors into the struggles people are currently facing is a sure cure for self-pity. Many are losing heart, losing their courage for destiny.
+17 # lorenbliss 2016-01-17 01:50
The emotional state of the nation is the equivalent of the financial condition reported in another story on this edition of RSN: "...56 percent of Americans said they have less than $1,000...Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name."

In a year denied a Social Security COLA, and with the Washington state Democrats' abolition of the low-income telephone subsidy and their savage cuts in food stamps and Medicare subsidies, I have $155 less this year than last. Thus I am in the "less than $100" category -- where I will probably remain for the rest of my life.

And I expect no better. The decades since 22 November 1963, and most especially the last eight years, have shown me the true evil of capitalism, of capitalist governance and of those who rule this murderous nation whose constitution I once vowed to defend with my life but whose flag I will never again willingly salute.

So I understand and empathize with the despair and bitterness of which vicnada writes. It is the despair Mr. Reich described in point 2; it is my own despair; its is the despair of my elderly and disabled neighbors; it is the despair that will keep many of us -- hitherto the most likely voters -- from voting in November; and it is a despair for which there may be no antidote.

Why vote if -- no matter for whom you vote -- all you get is genocidal austerity?

Nevertheless I will vote for Sanders -- for sometimes even a merely symbolic victory will spark a revolution.

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