Bernie Is More Credible and Electable Than Hillary

Now that the media is finally saying it’s time to start taking Bernie Sanders seriously, we’ve seen a flurry of hit pieces from Paul Krugman, Ezra Klein, Paul Starr, and other supposed liberal/progressive champions arguing, ironically, that we still shouldn’t take Bernie seriously.

They say: “Americans will never elect a socialist” — “Bernie won’t get anything done” — “Bernie’s plans are all puppies and rainbows.”

Allow me to debunk this American mythology that liberal and progressive ideas aren’t viable in the U.S.: Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt.

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 Creative commons courtesy of Gage Skidmore

First, let’s be clear, campaign finance reform, tuition free higher education, universal health care, reforming the financial industry, raising the minimum wage, legalizing marijuana, and much, much more are great policies that successfully exist today, in various combinations, in several dozen different countries. Those countries generally have cheaper healthcare, better education, happier citizens, less inequality, less poverty, less crime, and less corruption.

That’s not “puppies and rainbows;” that’s facts and logic. Bernie’s platform isn’t just good policy, it is hands down superior to every other presidential candidate’s platform. This “liberals are naïve dreamers” narrative is part of the age-old Reagan-conservative BS, and its adoption by Democrats is the reason why the corrupt, Democrat establishment still exists today.

Bernie supporters are not naïve. The point of electing Bernie is not to get anything done. It is to stop all the corrupt, corporate, political forces from getting anything more done.

What’s the point of having Hillary “get stuff done” if all she will do is stuff that Republicans and the rich and powerful like?

Anything we want Hillary to do, Bernie can do, too. He has a solid history of working with Republicans to pass legislation.

That aside, with a Republican Congress, the way Bernie or Hillary will get anything done is through executive actions, picking heads of government agencies, and nominating Supreme Court justices. Bernie’s long history of being on the right side many issues, not just social issues, especially compared to Hillary, is proof alone that he will make way better decisions on this front.

And no, Bernie is not out of his league on foreign policy. Have you forgotten what happened in 2002? Bernie didn’t just vote against the war. He understood that the Iraq invasion would strengthen anti-Americanism, de-stabilize the region, find no WMDs, indebt America, and be tragedy for Iraqi civilians and American soldiers. Either Hillary was too clueless to understand any of this, or she was too politically opportunistic to care. Either way, she is a liability as president.

Not to mention, while Obama is viewed as a major improvement around the world, he’s also seen as a major disappointment. Hillary will be more of the same. Bernie represents what the world wanted to see in Obama, and that will translate to improved relations with numerous countries in Europe, Latin America, and the Islamic world.

Bernie Sanders will definitely be a better president than Hillary Clinton.

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 Creative commons courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Now for the electability argument.

You’ve seen the head to head polls: Bernie does better than Hillary against Trump and Cruz by a ~+5 percent margin. Just in case you don’t remember 2008, Obama’s 7 percent margin of victory is what it took for Democrats to win supermajorities in Congress. If we want a credible shot at passing legislation, we need supermajorities.

Stop saying a movement is naïve and impossible. It just happened 8 years ago. If a black guy can lead a movement, so can a democratic socialist. Bernie has already broken Obama’s fundraising records. It’s totally possible.

Movements drive turnout. Voter turnout is just as important, if not more important, than appealing to independents and Republicans.

That being said, Bernie does WAY better with independents. Sure, Americans fear socialism, but socialism is a vague bogeyman of the past that hasn’t had a concrete face in decades. Millennials don’t even remember a Cold War. Clinton is a real face that conservatives have been hating for decades.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Hillary is HATED by Republicans and independents. While Hillary’s Benghazi, e-mail server, and Bill Clinton baggage is largely overblown, sexist, or fiction — she can’t get past it. My problem is Hillary’s Wall Street and Iraq war baggage. Either way, there are more people excited to vote against Hillary than are excited to vote for Hillary. (That being said, if Hillary does win the nomination, I urge all Bernie fans to vote for her.)

You might say Bernie will sink in the polls once Republicans throw the kitchen sink at him, and there’s some truth to this. The thinking goes that Americans aren’t sophisticated voters but instead emotional voters, and that by Republicans pandering to fears of socialism, Bernie will be destroyed.

However, emotional thinking is exactly why Bernie will perform better than Hillary.

The American emotional sentiment right now is anger at establishment politics and economics. Bernie, Trump and Cruz are all riding this wave, and collectively they have more support than all establishment candidates combined. No matter what Nate Silver and all the establishment-wins pundits keep saying, this is anti-establishment season.

Americans want blunt honesty and change. There’s a reason for the crossover between Trump and Bernie supporters. Bernie is respected for having integrity, even by Republicans who think his politics are crazy.

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 Creative commons courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Think about the long-term brand of the Democratic Party. Nominating the quintessential establishment candidate at a time of peak anti-establishment sentiment would be a disaster for the Democratic brand.

Bernie can reasonably say he’s a man of the people: Clinton, Cruz and Trump cannot. With Bernie, Democrats have an opportunity to lock down millennials as a passionate voter base for decades to come. In spite of Pelosi’s conservative rhetoric, do you really think Democrats will be so foolish as to not rally around Bernie once he’s the nominee and riding an even bigger movement than today?

Besides, the demographic calculus, the general American leftward shift, and the Republican radicalization means Democrats will probably win the presidency. So rather than splitting hairs about who is more electable, pick the person who will be the better president. #feelthebern

How Trump Just Might Make America Great Again

With Donald Trump, we finally have a Republican politician tells it like it is, say what he thinks, and mean what he says. He is the perfect representative for the Republican Party. He fits all the target demographics (rich, white, straight, male and Christian), falls right in the middle of the Republican spectrum, and doesn’t shy away from expressing the bigotry that underpins his political beliefs.

I know it is too much to hope for, but if Trump wins the nomination, I think history will end up remembering him as having been pivotal in making America great again… by making crystal clear just how bigoted the Republican Party is.

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Feature Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License

Republicans have been getting away with murder pretending they aren’t bigots for 50 years now, when in truth they’ve been THE political force fighting against civil rights and propagating racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.

In case we’re unclear, the default Republican platform on these issues is:

Bigotry is baked into the Republican platform. If you vote Republican, you are supporting this bigotry. There is no such thing as just voting for an individual; you are always also voting for a party. Yes, this is a partisan way to frame American politics, but blame the founding fathers for picking a winner-takes-all election system and guaranteeing we’d always exist in a two-party political system.

Even those that identify as ‘moderate, socially liberal, Republicans’ are perpetuating racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia by allying themselves with right-wing bigots. Even if Republican policies were better for job growth (which is debatable, if not outright false), there is no world in which more jobs will make up for the harm done by denying people basic civil rights.

While Democrats have their problems with social justice (and this extends even to the left-most liberal Bernie fans), the parties are on two different logarithmic planes when it comes to social issues. Given that most Americans, even smart ones, still haven’t figured this out about American politics, it seems we need Trump to make it painfully obvious to everyone what the Republican Party truly stands for: classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.

Trump really is just saying out loud what most Republicans are thinking and saying in private; they just know better than to say it in public. And before we start leaping to the defense of Republicans, let’s consider that Republicans have yet to truly denounce Trump as a bigot, even though he’s been their presidential frontrunner for over five months now.

It’s time for “moderate” Republicans to pick a side: are you with the right-wing bigots or are you going to denounce them and join the rest of us in the 21st Century?

Trump, especially in an election against conservative Hilary Clinton, should manage to make the presidential election a referendum on bigotry. If succeeds in making the bigotry of the Republican Party undeniable for moderates, he could well end up being remembered as a pivotal figure that helped make America great again.

Why Our Democracy is Broken and How to Fix it

With the gun debate making its routine rounds, it’s time to ask how it is possible for 70 percent and 85 percent of Americans respectively to be in favor of having a gun database and doing background checks, and yet, no laws get passed.

Most blame American culture, the NRA, the military-industrial complex, Citizen’s United, gerrymandering, or the media, and though these are related, the real fundamental reason no legislation is getting passed is because we have a winner takes all election system. It is our election system that enables minority groups to overpower the majority. In fact, most of our problems (or our inability to solve them) can be traced back to our winner takes all election system.

As any game theorist will tell you, a winner takes all election system will always produce a two-party political system. The reason is that it takes 50 percent to win an election, so two coalitions of interest groups will form and jockey over that last 1 percent. If you look at U.S. history, we’ve really only had two relevant parties at any one time for nearly 250 years. Only in periods where the two major coalitions are unstable does a third party even enter the picture. Two-party systems tend towards partisanship as the constituent coalitions stabilize, and partisanship is nothing new in the U.S. Partisanship is a big reason why no Republicans will work with Democrats to pass basic gun legislation.

But our election system is doing much more to distort our democracy than just pushing us towards partisanship. Winner takes all election systems actually disenfranchise minority voters and inefficiently represent the voters in the winning coalition. This is because the losing coalition gets no representative. And while the winning coalition gets a representative, that representative focuses on the majority coalition within their party that elected them in the primary. The primaries are just a second round of winner takes all elections that further amplifying these anti-democratic distortions. This is how half of the Republican Party (25 percent of the population) can control the entire party’s activities on gun control, and thus manage to overpower 75 percent of the population.

Now imagine that our election system has been similarly distorting all other political issues on a state and federal level for nearly 250 years. No wonder we have so many unsolved problems.

So before we can talk about fixing any other issues, we need to move to a proportional party representation election system. There are many different kinds of proportional party representation (PPR) systems, but the basic principle is that voters vote for parties, and that parties win seats proportional to the number of votes they get. This means that if a party gets 10 percent of the vote, rather than getting 0 percent of the seats in Congress, it gets 10 percent. Imagine that! Revolutionary!

Imagine what Congress would look like if voters could realistically vote for not just Republicans and Democrats, but also the Tea Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, or the Socialist Party. They would have no choice but to work together to pass legislation, and different combinations of parties would work together to pass legislation on different issues. In the case of basic gun control, Republicans, freed from the Tea Party, could work with Democrats to pass minor reforms.

This isn’t just the stuff of dreams. This is reality in most democracies around the world. Proportional party representation can be a reality in the U.S. too. We just need to convince 2/3rd of the country to change the constitution.