On economic policy, contemporary establishment democrats have more in common with contemporary republicans than they do with the FDR/LBJ democrats. Carter and Clinton took the party away from economic progressives. The Democratic Party, which was once the party that saw economic inequality and poverty as the core causes of economic instability, now sees inequality and poverty as largely irrelevant. Instead of eliminating inequality and poverty to fuel the capitalist system and produce strong economic growth, establishment democrats now largely agree with establishment republicans that the problem is a lack of support for business investment.
So Bernie Sanders is not merely running to attempt to implement a set of idealistic policies that a republican-controlled congress is likely to block. He is running to take the Democratic Party back from an establishment that ignores the fundamental systemic economic problems that lead to wage stagnation and economic crisis. Those who say that the Democratic Party cannot be reclaimed by the FDR/LBJ types or that if it is reclaimed it will flounder in elections against the GOP are thinking too small.
This is not a contest to see who will lead the democrats, it’s a contest to see what kind of party the democrats are going to be in the coming decades, what ideology and what interests, causes, and issues the Democratic Party will prioritize. This makes it far more important than any other recent primary election. The last time a democratic primary was this important, it was 1976. Only this time, instead of Anybody But Carter or Anybody But Clinton, the left has Bernie Sanders–one representative candidate that it is really excited about. The chance may not come again for quite some time.
Hillary Clinton is a neoliberal building on the legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. She doesn’t understand the pivotal role inequality plays in creating economic crisis and reducing economic growth. She has been taken in by a fundamentally right wing paradigm, and if she is elected she will continue to lead the Democratic Party down that path.
Bernie Sanders is a democratic socialist building on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. He understands that inequality is the core structural factor in economic crisis and that growth in real wages and incomes is required for robust, sustainable economic growth.
It doesn’t matter which one is more experienced, or which one’s policies are more likely to pass congress, or which one is more likely to win a general election, or which one is a man and which one is a woman. This is not about just this election, or just the next four years. This is about whether the Democratic Party is going to care about inequality for the next decade. We are making a historical decision between two distinct ideological paradigms, not a choice between flavors of popcorn. This is important. Choose carefully.
This article is really quite good in outlining the differences between Clinton and Sanders....
In the very same way we must chose what type of Christian we wish to be --bible based fundamentalist or sacramentally based Traditionalist-- Democrats, too, have a very clear choice before them.
And I fear the nation is having to make a choice --fascism/ribald capitalism based in racism and economic oppression etc.... or the type of government which tempers blatant capitalism with social structures that strive to protect the least among us and our mother earth.
Great meditation material for Ash Wednesday, heh?
So... at prayer this morning, before I begin to run (from Amos 5)
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.
Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate....
Economic inequality and poverty.... Yes. They are biblical issues. Oh yes. And they are matters of faith. And prayer. And action.