Will democrats rally for unity?
Sanders losing control over his own revolution
Bernie Sanders is urging his insurgents to unite behind Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency of the United States. Will they comply?
The Vermont senator and self-styled socialist made the pitch Monday night to delegates at the Democratic national convention in Philadelphia. “Our revolution continues,” he insisted. He said he was sorely disappointed to find out from leaked emails that Democratic Party officials, some with close links to Clinton, had conspired to hobble his campaign to become the party’s presidential nominee.
But he told his supporters to vote for her anyway — largely on the grounds that Republican nominee Donald Trump would be worse.
He argued that his insurgency has already made great gains by persuading the Democratic establishment to agree to what he called the most progressive platform in the party’s history.
Indeed, much of that platform does reflect Sanders’ themes.
It says trade deals, including the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, must include “strong and enforceable labour and environmental standards.”
It says existing deals, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, should be reviewed.
It says Americans should have the option of joining a public, Canadian-style health care insurance scheme.
It calls for a modernized version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which, by separating commercial from investment banking and until its repeal in 1999, helped to prevent financial crises.
Yet it is not clear this will be enough for all of the 30 million people who voted in the primaries for Sanders. Even the roughly 1,800 Sanders delegates attending the convention are split.
He was jeered Monday when he urged his supporters to vote for Clinton in order to forestall Trump. On Tuesday, he was jeered again.
“It’s easy to boo,” he told them in exasperation. “But it is harder to look your kids in the face who would be living under a Donald Trump presidency.”
Much of the reason for the Sanderistas’ animosity to Clinton is that she is exactly the kind of politician Sanders warned against during the primaries.
She is intimately connected to Wall Street and corporate America. She is a member of the political establishment. She is the ultimate insider.
As well, her party’s platform — no matter how progressive — is far from binding on her.
In Canada, party platforms are taken relatively seriously because of the electoral system. If a governing party has a majority of Commons seats, it is expected to keep its campaign promises.
In the U.S., by contrast, party platforms are largely aspirational. A president may push for, say, better environmental laws. But unless he wins support in both houses of Congress, he will fail.
In 2008 and 2012, the Democratic Party platform called for gun control. But President Barack Obama was unable to deliver on that promise because he could never win Congressional support.
Will the Sanders revolutionaries embrace her anyway? Many, particularly those determined to stop Trump, will do so. Others may throw their support to the Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein. Some may not vote at all.
And some, particularly those angered by free trade deals, may vote for Trump. Like Sanders but unlike Clinton, he has made opposition to such pacts a centrepoint of his campaign.
While Clinton may not like the idea of reinstituting the Glass-Steagall Act to regulate financial institutions (her husband, Bill, signed the bill that repealed it), Trump does. At his insistence, Glass-Steagall is part of the Republican platform.
Bernie Sanders started a revolution. He’s right about that. But revolutions are hard to control.
He may not be able to stop this one.