This is Anderson Cooper recently interviewing erstwhile presidential candidate Bernie Sanders:
The appearance has made waves for Sanders’ sharp-shooting contribution to the circular firing squad now occurring in large part due to the Democrats’ failure to win a special election in Alpharetta and Marietta, Georgia. Democrats are slapping their own heads over this like Crazy Eyes on OITNB due to the loss due in large part to the obscene amounts of money both sides poured into the contest.
Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan has taken to blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi and calling for her head. Also in a CNN interview, Ryan said: “The brand is just bad. I don’t think people in the beltway are realizing just how toxic the Democratic Party brand is in so many parts of the country.”
All this unhealthy self-loathing because, surprise, surprise, Democrats didn’t win in freaking Alpharetta, Georgia?
I first resent this term “brand” being brought into play in discussing the Democratic Party. We are not selling soap. There is no need to bend like thistles to this corporate language being used to blithely discuss one of the most vital policy-making organizations in the United States. It’s not a brand. I am surprised at Sanders for getting into the trenches and succumbing to this troublesome framing.
But let’s take a closer look at Sanders’ stabby stabby work on the Democratic Party. Here is the entire litany of issues Sanders vomited out during this brief interview, placed into proper context in regards to the “pretty bad brand” of the Democratic Party.
- Pay equity for women (the first law President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Candidate Hillary Clinton presented a thorough plan regarding the issue of pay equity for women.)
- Climate change (Few presidents have been as vocal regarding climate change as was President Obama; he once called its trends “terrifying” and extended every policy he could to combat it. Candidate Hillary Clinton also spoke out regarding the issue: “Climate change is real, and we must act,” said she.)
- Transform our energy system (Again, our last Democratic president was quite bullish on new energy resources. Candidate Clinton wanted these Untied States to become a “clean energy superpower” Clinton: “While protecting sensitive areas where development poses too great a risk, we can accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy by increasing renewable energy generation on public lands and offshore waters tenfold within a decade.”
- Democrats need a progressive agenda (This is a weird generalization that is difficult to rebut. However, a “progressive agenda’s” best bet in 2016 was for the Democratic candidate to have been elected. My point in all of this is that the Democratic Party is, was, and always will be progressives’ best bet.
- 50-state strategy (The Clinton campaign made noise about a “50-state strategy” in June 2016, largely due to pressure from the Sanders campaign at the time. My impression is that it was just noise. Which is also my impression about the “50-state strategy” itself. That’s not how it works.)
- My kid can’t afford to go to college (Candidate Clinton didn’t address this at all during her campagin in 2016. Oh, wait. Just kidding
- Minimum wage (Candidate Clinton supported a $12 minimum wage.)
- Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure (Is a $250 billion in investment an okay start?)
- Transfer our energy system away from fossil fuel (I think we’ve covered this)
- Making public colleges and universities tuition free (dude is a broken record)
- Billionaires have to start paying their fair share of taxes (compare and contrast)
I think this anguished self-flagelation on the part of Democrats is boring. But when it comes from the guy who ran behind the Democratic gonfalon as an “independent,” I think with the then-naiive blessing of the Democratic Party, it is downright troublesome. Bernie Sanders stayed in the 2016 race too long and became left channel to Trump’s right channel to create an assertion in stereo that the “system is rigged,” and this precisely at the most crucial moments in that crucial campaign when the best outcome for progressives would have been to have elected the Democratic nominee.
Tell me President Clinton would have emboldened Congress to drastically cut Medicaid and to gut the Affordable Care Act. Tell me President Clinton would have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement. Tell me President Clinton would have blurted out code-name intelligence to Russian spies in the Oval Office. Tell me President Clinton would have tried to ban an entire faith from entering the country and had that initiative struck down by judge after judge.
The Democratic “brand” is just fine, bro. Though I think it could use just a little less of you.