Whom to select: Sanders or Clinton? A legion of liberal commentators, Paul Krugman being the most famous, argue for Clinton on largely pragmatic grounds. She, of long resumé and battle-tested, would fare better against the reactionaries that now dominate Congress. Besides, she offers incremental improvement on existing laws, including Obamacare, whereas Sanders speaks of “revolution,” essentially a do-over. Why? Because the current systems, both political and economic, are corrupt. No amount of tweaks will deliver the outcome the Rest of Us deserve.
But Clinton and her message have failed to galvanize primary voters so far. It’s Sanders’s zeal, passion, and, yes, ideas that have captured the hearts and minds of Democratic voters. While Clinton would have us believe that she would deliver on Obama’s policies, it is Sanders who has channeled Obama’s idealism, so evident during Obama’s two presidential campaigns.
Ironically, for Sanders, “the revolution” he says we need will not happen without a revolution. He must somehow persuade legions of would-be revolutionaries to select him, then parlay that victory into a radical transformation of Congress and, while the streets are full, state houses and governors’ mansions as well.
Incredulous? There are good reasons to feel so. First of all, America has never been fertile soil for radicalism. It is, rather, a deeply conservative nation, where even mildly liberal notions are viewed with skepticism, if not revulsion. Moreover, all the money is on conservatism of an increasingly extreme variety. While there are rich Democratic donors, nothing compares with the dirty dollars fueling “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” as chronicled in Jane Mayers’s Dark Money.
I, for one, believe that Sanders’s candidacy has helped Clinton by forcing her to hone her message and polish her delivery, as evidenced in the last debate. She is a better candidate, because one to her political left will not let her ignore the gross and pervasive inequities of wealth and justice. Of course, words alone will not suffice.
In the end, though, a Republican cannot reclaim the White House. That would be the ultimate disaster for us and the world. Imagine, if you dare, Republican control of every federal branch. If conservatives make good on just a few of their drastic promises, America will be comfortable only for the few who are rich and white and male. And you can kiss the environment goodbye.