Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein: Two Hopes for 2016

As an unabashed democratic socialist / dyed-in-the-wool progressive, I’m delighted to have two good choices in the field for President of the United States in 2016.

Independent/Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has my primary attention despite the fact that he seeks the nomination of a party that is captive of Corporate America. He’s just independent enough in his thinking and in his long-held policy positions that he may well be able to overcome his party’s abysmal failure to draw important distinctions between it and the Republicans. Looked at outside the constraints of party, Sanders is easily my favorite candidate in many, many years.

Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein has essentially all the same policy positions as Sanders but without the baggage of a lost and meandering party. That strength is also her practical weakness. Combine her inexperience in both political office and executive management with the lack of a major party backing and she looks a bit more than a little Quixotic.

I can barely make out the outlines of a scenario in which Sanders gets his party’s nomination. If Hillary Clinton’s email problems — which surfaced again in a new coat that looks a lot like pants-on-fire today — combine with a smoldering major scandal lurking in her and her husband Bill’s family foundation, I could see her candidacy spectacularly implode. If Sanders stays the course long enough and that implosion is big enough, he could step in and pick up the pieces. She is a flawed — maybe even fatally flawed — candidate. Depending on how long it takes for her demise to come to fruition, she may be forced to withdraw from the race in disgrace.

Meanwhile, Sanders is keeping the Left agenda alive, moving her farther left in the process, and although he seems genuinely intending to win the nomination, he’s a pragmatic guy. Somewhere deep down inside he has to have a Plan B for what to do if and when HRC becomes unstoppable.

Enter the Greens. It would not be unprecedented for them to name Sanders as their nominee as well. Then if and when the Democratic Party completes its abandonment of its primary purpose and constituencies under Center-Left Hillary Clinton, Sanders picks up the mantle from the truly progressive Greens. Meanwhile, he runs on both tickets; it’s not like he’s a die-hard Democrat.

Stein, on the other hand, has served the Greens well, acting as their national standard-bearer in 2012. Her messaging is clear, she’s bright, articulate and energetic. She doesn’t have a real shot at the White House because of the way politics in this nation is rigged. But with matching funds, she can run a respectable campaign, further harass HRC from the left, and keep the Progressive agenda alive in the minds of voters like me who just don’t want more of the same.

I’m going to keep backing Sanders but providing some support for Stein as well until this sorts itself out. I’m no longer a party loyalist. I’m a democratic socialist. I’ll end up backing the candidate from whichever party comes closest to my ideals, electability be damned. This is the start of a long period of change. The battles are not the decisive points; the war is what matters.

 

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