Can "Socialist" Sanders Deliver and Why He Has not Fully Explained His "No" Vote on the Immigration Bill in 2007?

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezDecember 22, 2019
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A vital maxim for those who make decisions for the rest of us in the public square, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.” Indeed, it is not about what you want. Of course, if Senator Sanders has a red army ready to go into Washington and ready to shoot against those who do not see for a need to recalibrate America’s society, then this vital maxim can be utterly ignored.

Bernie Sanders is a child of the 1960s, a decade of political turmoil and social change.  He has struggled all his life endeavoring to bring heaven to earth to working-class folks.  He would like to eradicate income inequality, to curb corporate power, and to provide access to healthcare to everyone.  If we could enact these proposals into laws, then we could have a perfect civil society, Sanders reasons.

Senator Sanders has been in government for the last forty years.  He has served in both houses of Congress, and significant legislative accomplishments have eluded him.  Bernie Sanders, in the 1970s, settled in Vermont. In 1981 he became mayor of the city of Burlington. In 1986, he ran for governor as an independent and lost to Peter Smith. In 1990, Sanders challenged Smith again, and with the NRA’s support, he finally defeated Smith for a House of Representatives seat.  He descended in Washington, and he had no allies. He was viewed as a gadfly who just likes to read anti-corporate pronouncements on the floor.  In 2006 he won a seat in the United States Senate and had won re-election twice.

Senator Sanders deserves credit for presenting progressive policy platforms, in the 2016’s presidential election. It would have been considered inconceivable back in 2016 that a self-described “democratic socialist (watch the video here)” be viewed in 2020 as a real contender for the Democratic nomination. Sanders ‘ vision sparked a national conversation, and four years later, we have seen how mainstream and moderate democratic candidates embraced Sanders’ proposals.

I am on board with some of Sanders’s policy proposals, and I would like them implemented.  However, the current political system requires a massive formation of coalitions.  Yes, Sanders will have to work with crazy Republicans, including “Moscow Mitch” in the Senate.  Based on Senator Sanders’ thin legislative record,  I do not see how Sanders could do this, “compromising” is a word that never made it to his lexicon.

In 2016, one of the editorial boards of a major newspaper asked him how he was going to persuade and to work with Republicans once elected president.  Some supporters were flabbergasted by his inadequate response.  Here it is what he said verbatim of what he would have said to Republicans, “Hey, Mitch, look out the window. There’s a million young people out there now. Moreover, they are following politics in a way they did not before. If you want to vote against this legislation, go for it. However, you and some of your friends will not have your seats next election.” What a silly and simplistic response! We do not have that type of robust democracy where people take it to the street. Mitch will probably laugh on his face.

The power to create public policy resides in Congress.  Any candidate running for the presidency knows that, and these individuals also understand that presidents do not have the ability to create policy.  They will have to work with the leadership of the two houses in  Congress.  If one of these two houses is controlled by the opposition, nothing will get done.  So when a candidate tells what you want to hear, “Free Tuition,” “Universal Childcare,” or $1000.00 a month-free cash,  they are playing you for a sucker.

Case in point, “Moscow Mitch,” and Barack Obama, Senator Mitch McConnell, did not even hold hearings for Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court to replace Justice Scalia.  He nominated Merrick Garland, who was the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Those President Medals of Freedom came handy for Obama, once Republicans took over the Senate, Obama started giving Medals out.  He spent his last two years of his presidency in these ceremonial events.

President Obama had both houses of Congress being controlled by Democrats during his first year in office. He could not even get Obamacare right. Let that sink in for a moment. Even his detractors agree that Obama was highly intellectual and violently charming and persuasive and yet he could not get much done. A basic concept of separation of power at play here.

In 2015, Sanders understood that running as a third-party candidate; he would have no chance, hence in 2016, he joined the democratic party.  Yes, the “neo-liberal democratic party” that sold out the poor and the corporate political party that his supporters grotesquely disdain. Bernie Sanders always ran as an independent until 2016 when he switched and became a democrat. Once his presidential campaign ended in 2016, he went back to being an independent.  And in 2018, he won re-election for his US Senate seat as an independent. This is the very reason why democratic leadership in the democratic party has no love for the man. They would do whatever they can to hinder him from winning the nomination.

Moreover, there is that immigration reform still needed. As one who would like to see immigration reform for the million undocumented people in this country, I found this very troubling.  In 2007 Sanders opposed the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill.   I have problems seeing Sanders very casually telling a xenophobic and racist Lou Dobbs on this video (watch the video here), how immigrants hurt Americans for depressing wages and taking opportunities away from Americans. This was what Sanders roughly told him, I do not” know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.”  His lame excuse that it was all about “corporate greed” and concerns for guest workers programs was a facade.  He did not even stop Dobbs from attacking immigrants.  For those of you who do not know who Lou Dobbs is, Google him.

Regarding a single-payer system or “Medicare for All” and that since other countries are doing it, we should do it as well.  No arguments there, yes, we should do it, but Sanders’ current simplistic plan of action will not pan out.  The challenge here is not how much it cost, but how do we persuade all power bases in Washington to do it differently.  If one wants to have some sense of this, carefully study the Obamacare. Insurance companies flexed their muscles and almost killed it.  Americans are way too busy to engage in this sort of civic engagement. Also, this vision of a single-payer system miserably failed in the Sanders’ state of Vermont. Yes, if you want to help Americans, one should start in his own state.

Senator Sanders has a long way to go, for starters, his crowds need more people of color.  In 2016, he displayed a lack of ability to bring people of color to his “movement.”  Bringing more Latinos under his tent doesn’t mean to hire Latinos or Blacks as staffers. He has done a terrible job doing that with these Latino consultants both in 2016 and 2019 in Vegas and L.A. These consultants have given many corporate politicians to LA.

Finally, I am not sure if revolutions start at presidential elections and being led by a man who has been in government for way too long. Nonetheless, the man has to be given credit for animating millions of young and progressive people, and that was good for whatever is left of this democracy.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. I am neither part of the “democratic establishment” nor I am part of the “corporate democratic conspiracy” that Sanders’ supporters accuse people of for disagreeing with the the Senator.  My piece about is analytical in nature and it is not intended to be anything more.


Photo Credit. Phote used in this piece came form photo stock.

Sources used.
“Becoming Bernie: The 6 Chapters Of Sanders’ Life.”NPR Politics, 3 Nov. 2015.
Cillizza, Chris. “5 reasons to be skeptical of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 bid.” CNN, 19 Feb. 2019.
“For all her faults, Hillary Clinton is vastly better prepared than Bernie Sanders for the presidency.” Editorial.  Los  Angeles. Los Angeles Times 13 May 2016.
Goldstein, Amy.  “Why Vermont’s single-payer effort failed and what Democrats can learn from it.” The Washington Post 29 April 20 19.
Krieg, Gregory and Ryan Nobles. “Bernie Sanders makes the case for democratic socialism as Trump attacks and moderate Democrats worry.” CNN Politics 12 June 2019.
Yglesias, Matthew.  “What Bernie Sanders told Lou Dobbs in 2007 about why he opposed the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill.”  Vox 12 Feb 2016.

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