Should the Democrats now adopt Bernie Sanders’ policies?

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21 November
16:32
November
2016

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both brought great things to this election, but neither of them represented the full body of what Democrats should do. Sanders articulated what Elizabeth Warren, and many other political leaders are talking about in different ways – a much more activist Democratic party that is trying to push more progressive politics.

These last eight years under President Obama, the Democratic Party has proposed strong, progressive policies that need to move to an even more aggressive stance on environmental issues, on social justice issues, on economic issues. The complicated part is not descending into an economic vision which is just protecting the past – which somehow figures out where our economy is going.

“Trump promised to keep all the goodies of Obamacare without addressing the challenges. And that is impossible. So Democrats can go for what we wanted before we tried to compromise.”

I love the clarity of Sanders’ message, but not the lack of specificity. Yes, we need to create dramatically better ways for young people to go to college without so much debt, but we need to put some meat on the bones of what is a good idea. I’d love to wave a wand and have every kid go to college for free, but I never saw how that could actually happen. I think Democrats now have a chance to dig into some of those broad things we believe in – like significantly more affordable college education – but we’ve got to do more than Sanders did in the campaign, which was a pretty surface-level articulation of deeper goals. It’s a good direction, but it needs more reality therapy.

On healthcare, short answer: yes. Strangely, healthcare may move to its next level better because of what just happened. If Clinton had got elected, we would have spent most of the time trying to play defence about what we accomplished under President Obama. Now, the Republican Party – which has done literally nothing on healthcare – suddenly has to deliver on Trump’s promise to keep all the goodies in Obamacare without addressing any of the challenges. And that is impossible.

So it allows Democrats to go to what we wanted before we tried to compromise, which is a single-payer system, which deals with cost containment, and allows us to take some of the profit out of the system to give people better healthcare. Oddly, I think we have a path to better healthcare, long-term, as long as in the short term we don’t wind up having the healthcare of 20 million people jeopardised.

As for a ban on assault weapons: for God’s sake, yes. The Democratic party is being more and more clear that we have to stop trying to be moderate on the slaughter of people in our communities. One of the factors for losing some of the rural white working class is the fact that the Democrats have been more clearly talking about unregulated weapons in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Again, it’s one of the strange side benefits of what could be a very disturbing Trump presidency – it allows Democrats to get clear about what we believe in.

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