Monday, March 2, 2020

Progressive? Yes. Bernie? No.

I've worked on campaigns or in public policy for...egad...over two decades.

I'm a progressive, not a moderate. I want everyone to have health care and I want rapid action on climate change and a better tax base.

But I don't want Senator Bernie Sanders.

Why, some will ask.

Well, briefly, here is why.

1) Sanders doesn't own progressive plans. His plans are simple; easy; no nice person will have to sacrifice anything, ever. Only a couple dozen billionaires will need to pay more taxes, don't worry about it...

Well, that's not how the real m****r f*****g world works. This is worth repeating. This is NOT how the real m****r f*****g world works.

Change is complicated and there is no plan, ever, without unintended consequences or some degree of sacrifice. And if we want European style programs (I do) I must expect European levels of taxation. ON ME, TOO. Yes, my taxes will need to rise. There is no free lunch.

2) Sanders' health care plan is massively underestimating the real costs. He isn't even considering how to deal with some of the difficulties in quickly trashing all private insurance, including what to do with the 2 MILLION job losses, turning some small cities into Flint Michigan overnight, the damage to rural hospitals or how we'll tell doctors and nurses they'll be taking BIG pay cuts. We can get to universal coverage but it will, in the real world, be hard as hell.

Better idea: Get uninsured folks covered with Medicare now and transition away from all private health insurance. that would be more popular and would allow us to gradually shift costs and build consensus for the plan. And that would give us time to actually study how to do this.

Remember, the ACA was much easier to pull off and we TOTALLY screwed up the implementation. TOTALLY. We couldn't even get the website to work. And it cost more than we thought it would. A LOT MORE. In particular, Sanders vastly overestimates the admin savings. Generally, the government has a hard time doing admin cheaply. I don't like that but that doesn't make it less true. So let's not lie about it.

3) Sanders' staff, his Senate staff, from my personal experience, were awful. I don't mean a bit young or naive. Not to put too fine a gloss on it, they sucked. They didn't know the issues and were not especially interested in learning about them in any serious way. For a guy who has been on the Hill in Congress, for 37 years, that's just not OK. You MUST have good staff.

4) Sanders has neither a clue nor the  inclination to build coalitions or to talk to people who DISagree with him. The President in the US is a PROFOUNDLY WEAK EXECUTIVE. You need coalitions to pass laws through Congress and you have to compromise and work a lot of angles. Sanders never once  did this as a Senator or House member. He passed no major laws and all this "amendment bernie" stuff is mostly smoke and mirrors. Most of his amendments were at best very minor and often came with a lot of consensus. You don't find things in which he had to work HARD to pass on the floor.

5) Sanders cares about the adulation of his supporters, not the issues. Remember the mess the Veteran's Admin was in, where lots of Veterans were not getting the care they needed? Who was the chair of the Veteran's committee in the Senate? Sanders. Was he warned about the issues? Yes. Did he bother to hold hearings? No. He isn't interested in the hard work of being a Senator, and was certainly not interested in admitting to the public he screwed the pooch on HIS responsibility to be a good committee chair.

6) Sander's ideas for combating climate change are naive. I worked on renewable energy policy for years; Sanders doesn't really understand how the lights stay on, and he has clue zero about what the federal government can legally demand.  Fact: TEXAS has 28 time the wind power on the grid that New England has and we didn't get that by calling West Texans anti progressive thugs. We didnt even mention climate change, we focused on the jobs.

 In New England, Sanders can't even convince a farmer he doesn't need an AR-15 to shoot a possum eating the tomato plants. Sanders REFUSES to ever disagree with a supporter or his base, but sometimes we gotta tell hikers "sorry, trees are coming down for a transmission line" or "this wind farm will obstruct your view of that mountain" or "yes, in the short to mid term, your electric bill WILL go up." Clinton got windmills in upstate New York by talking to GOP voting farmers who didn't want them. Sanders doesn't do that.

7) Sanders encourages the belief in conspiracy theories. The DNC didn't "steal" the 2016 election. Love her or hate her, Clinton won 58% of the primary vote, and nearly 80% of the votes of blacks and hispanics.

Encouraging the belief in conspiracy theories, allowing sexist "bros" to dominate social media, and refusing to admit any of your colleagues might disagree with you and still be progressive don't make better politics, they add to the general disillusionment of things. That's not leadership, it's populist crap. On this point, Sanders is Trump in liberal clothing.

8) Promising the moon, and then not delivering, adds to the progressive problem of low voter turnout. And no, don't buy the myth that young voters turn out in droves for Sanders. They never have, and  they haven't in the first 4 contests we've seen so far.

I'm no mother f******g moderate, but I know change takes hard work and big coalitions Sanders is zero for two. He doesn't own progressive values, he screws those of us working for them by lying about how hard they are to implement in the real world and by defecating on the heads of those willing to admit to, and deal with, the complex real world.