Every time Dennis Kucinich tossed his hat into the Democratic Party’s nominating ring for President, I supported him until he was forced to withdraw. I saw the action as largely Quixotic, but for me at the time, the party had clearly decided to shift strongly to the center-right of the American political spectrum, leaving Lefties like me out in the cold. I wasn’t interested in backing what I saw as an even more Quixotic third-party position, so I provided what evidence I could of my concern with this shameful party shift by backing the only real Progressive in the presidential field.
As you know if you read my blog regularly, this year I have overcome my doubts about the value of a third-party approach to the upcoming Presidential election and have become a Green. I fully intend to back whoever gets that Green Party nomination for President and fully expect it to be Jill Stein.
Now that Independent Bernie Sanders has entered the race for the Democratic nomination, I’m hitting the Pause button on the Greens for 2016, at least for a few moments.
Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, is perfectly aligned ideologically with me and with the Green Party. I’d like to see the Greens nominate him as their candidate as well, whether he receives the Democratic Party nod or not.
In many ways, Sanders is like a slightly upgraded Kucinich. He is a more savvy politician with a longer and more consistent track record than Dennis. And this year in particular, his candidacy is more than symbolic as he faces off against one of the most centrist of Corporatist Democrats, Hillary Clinton, who already has the nomination all but sewed up. (That “all but” is important.) MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, an unabashed fan of Sanders, pointed out on her show last night that the Independent who has always caucused with the Democrats without formally joining their ranks has raised $4 million in a relatively short time (full disclosure: I have contributed a small amount of that $4 million), which is more than several of the announced GOP candidates have so far.
He says he’s in it to win, not to influence Clinton or shift her or the party farther left as an acceptable outcome. I believe him.
Political satirist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker and the Borowitz Report yesterday gave Sanders a real boost in a piece entitled “Integrity Disqualifies Sanders for White House.” Tongue-in-cheek, Borowitz, who is easily the best political satirist writing in America today, makes a valid point. By staying out of and above the partisan fray, Sanders finds himself beholden to no political interests at all. But he’s a force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill because he knows his way around the room and he has respect from the sell-outs by whom he is surrounded, people who surely have consciences (at least in some cases) and recognize integrity when they see it, even if they disrespect it and distance themselves from it.
So I’m going to keep a close eye on how Sanders is received, how clean he can keep his message, and on the new policies he develops as he goes along (including one on the right to vacation time profiled in this HuffPo piece). Assuming the Greens go with Stein again, she won’t need primary help so maybe I’ll dive into the Sanders campaign until he wins or is forced out. Then I’ll reassess.
This may turn out to be a more interesting election than I thought after all!