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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 05:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,218

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Why is the left so focused on Warren when Bernie Sanders is actively considering running?

OK, granted, I love both of them, and IMO of the two Warren does have a better overall chance of winning in a general election over a Republican candidate. But Warren is extremely reluctant (at best) to run. That translates into she almost certainly will not oppose Hillary for the nomination, as long as Hillary wants it and continues to be viewed as a highly viable candidate.

What would make Hillary no longer seem so viable? Well something out of her control like a serous illness could stop her, just like it could stop any potential candidate, Aside from that the only thing I can think of remotely capable of derailing the self fulfilling prophecy of her as the inevitable Democratic nominee would require her getting very seriously dinged up by a challenger from the left. But there always is a risk in seriously dinging a leading presidential candidate; they may well win the nomination anyway and then go on to run as damaged goods in the general election. That's a potential conundrum for those of us who want a more progressive candidate because Hillary is so far ahead of the Democratic "pack" (or whatever one calls her possible Democratic opponents) that the pull to unify around her is being strongly felt by many, including Elizabeth Warren.

A very good thing about both Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders is that both of them are classy, neither of them is the type to initiate a mud bath campaign. I would not be overly concerned about either one of them trying to personally tear down Hillary Clinton rather than engaging in a principled debate on the issues. I think it would be great for the Democratic Party and the Nation if at least one of them challenged Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But as it stands now it's not likely to be Warren who will do so. Yet while Elizabeth Warren keeps repeating that she is not running for President, Bernie Sanders openly states that he is seriously considering running in the Democratic primaries.

Bernie Sanders is superb at progressively framing the issues is blunt no nonsense terms that most Americans can easily understand and relate to. If you ask most Americans if they want a socialist for President they will predictably say no, but if you ask them if they agree with statements Bernie Sanders actually makes the results can be radically different. The problem is very few voters outside of Vermont actually get to hear Bernie Sanders speak (unless they regularly watch MSNBC). Running in the Democratic presidential primaries would significantly address that deficit in exposure that Bernie Sanders now suffers from. As a sitting U.S. Senator with a national following on the left, he could not be omitted from upcoming presidential debates any more so than Dennis Kucinich could be in 2004. And unlike 2004, the Democratic debate stage in 2016 is unlikely to be cluttered up with 8 candidates vying for precious few TV minutes to make their key points in.

But Bernie Sanders, despite his very real interest in doing so, has not yet decided to enter the race. He is weighing such a run right now, in real time. It reminds me a little of 2008 when Wes Clark had a sincere and genuine interest in running again, but only if support for him doing so reached a certain minimum threshold which ultimately he decided it hadn't. During that period when Clark was weighing his options many of those who were dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton (and some who admittedly underestimated Barack Obama's chances) kept holding out hope that Al Gore would enter the race instead. Al Gore always said he wasn't going to run in 2004, and as it turns out he didn't. I am also reminded of 1968, when Bobby Kennedy seemed disinclined to run for President against LBJ, but Gene McCarthy decided to take on the prohibitive favorite for the 1968 Democratic nomination in New Hampshire. Lyndon Johnson found himself heavily dinged by a challenger from the Left in that primary and ultimately pulled out of running for the Presidency. With LBJ sidelined, RFK entered the field an was poised to win the nomination, and ultimately the presidency, before he got assassinated.

Can anyone deny Clinton the nomination if she wants it this time? Uncertain, most likely not, but yes still possible. But only if someone steps forward soon with a strong leftist populist message to challenge her. Bernie Sanders can be that someone, and he actually seems interested in being that someone. But the national progressive media, such as it is, and organizations like Move On, still remain fixated on coaxing Elizabeth Warren into the race rather than encouraging Bernie Sanders to indeed step forward. Tactically, I fear we are making a big mistake not rallying more to Sanders now, when it really matters.

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