Last night I had another encounter with Bernie supporters who are indignant with the idea of him raising money for democrats and even more at the idea of him using any of “their” dollars to help support down ticket democrats. Bernie is laser focused on his race and he doesn’t want to discuss and hasn’t done any fund-raising for the Democratic party. He wants a 50 state solution, he wants “big money” out of government but he doesn’t have that solution for other candidates – the ones he needs to achieve the big promises he is making.
Bernie is popular, he’s raising incredible amounts of money, he is really good at asking for more donations at every occasion but I’ve never heard him ask supporters to go donate to their local congress person or his fellow Senators. He uses the democrat’s reality “when turnout is big democrats win” and he’s tweaking it to be “when turnout is big I will win”. He is making the gamble that if he is the democratic candidate he will benefit magically from down ticket democrats riding his coattails to a win in November. It’s a big gamble to take and if he doesn’t win Bernie won’t be able to produce especially in those crucial first months and years of a Presidency.
Last night I was told that Bernie had “helped Obama while he was not even a Democrat” and “he will help but the money his supporters send for nomination he has no rights to” and “he was clear as President he would help them a lot by dumping DWS and fixing the DNC”. Those answers seem in line with Bernie’s position. He doesn’t seem to like the democrats and he definitely doesn’t like the Democratic National Committee. So if the country has to wait for Bernie to “fix the DNC” they aren’t getting solutions fast. If we have to wait on the Supreme Court to overturn Citizens United we aren’t getting solutions fast. There are three branches of government – that is a simple fact. Compromise as much as it might sting is a part of the system and the Republicans have already developed a rigid system of not compromising. The progress we have made over the course of President Obama’s brilliant terms has been built on painful compromise and careful maneuvering that needs the same to maintain and expand that progress.
Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and their abilities to marshal their party have been crucially important to the President and his policies even when it was not popular, even when they didn’t agree. They go hand in hand.
Hillary Clinton is widely criticized especially be Bernie Sanders for the people and groups who donate to her campaign. She is slammed for leaving the trail to fundraise. Bernie never mentions that she is fundraising not just for herself but also for the party that he is using in his run for President. We all want money out of politics and pulling out of the game sounds great but so far Bernie is showing that it only works person by person and even those “huge” donations wouldn’t get him anywhere without the party that he isn’t advocating for.
Even more disturbing is that the big turnout that Bernie banks on isn’t showing up. He’s raising a lot of money and he’s had some “huge” wins but they have been big wins mostly in small ways and so far primarily in caucuses which do not reflect how we will vote in November. If Bernie does pull this out, if he does win the nomination he will do it with the help of the democratic party and so far he is leaving them behind and that leaves a really big hole in the path to the solutions that he is promising.
Revolution and bulldozing the system may seem exciting , it may sound better, may seem like it is a faster way to solutions but without the coequal part of the equation it doesn’t work. Answers that are more pragmatic, that acknowledge that we need to work in the system, that offer solutions that may seem like a betrayal to the ideals that Bernie offers by not promising the world, ideas that include congress working hand in hand with the President are very simply more realistic. Working in our big D democracy means being inclusive, compromising, and accepting that we create a government together and we aren’t starting from ground zero on day one no matter who is President. That isn’t a betrayal it is a reality.