What should progressives do to get a progressive government?

In other words, the candidates who are strongly progressive need to band together so they can win.


In 2016, I outlined the following strategy for Bernie Sanders:

“Before we get to the convention, Bernie should advance the idea of selecting a cabinet to campaign with the presidential and vice-presidential nominee. This is an original idea in the U.S., but it’s completely common in parliamentary systems to have a “shadow cabinet” that is ready to spring into action immediately following an election. In fact, the Green Party in the U.S. has a shadow cabinet.  Bernie should begin to assemble people who would be willing to be in the cabinet regardless of who is nominated as president. In other words, his campaign should begin to find people who would be willing to take cabinet positions whether the nominee is Hillary or Bernie.”  

I think this strategy will be even more important in 2020, given the number of candidates for the primary office.  The Democratic Party needs to be united – and it will be more united if both the cabinet and the candidates for the primary offices are known.   Moreover, the Trump cabinet has come under heavy fire. It is a revolving door, chock full of ethics scandals, criticized over travel expenses, overly opulent and corrupt.  Suppose Bernie proposed a cabinet with Robert Reich as Secretary of the Treasury? Talk about a wise and popular move.  Suppose that he proposed to appoint Barack Obama  as his Secretary of State? Or his next appointment to the Supreme Court?  (If you think this is silly, just remember that President Taft served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after serving as president).  

If Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard arrived at the Democratic convention, endorsed one another for President, and promised to have their delegates vote collectively for whichever of the three of them garnered the most votes, there is a strong chance that one of the three of them would win on the first ballot.  This may be a very important point, because the “super delegates” (who tend to be centrist) cannot vote until the second ballot. “[I]f voters don’t coalesce behind a single candidate by the time Democrats gather in Milwaukee for the convention next summer, requiring a second or third round of voting, they could see superdelegates reemerge as a deciding block.”

In other words, the candidates who are strongly progressive need to band together so they can win.  I’m for Bernie, but I’m far more in favor of getting a truly progressive government in power.  For instance, if Elizabeth Warren were to come out on top, I’d like to see a government with Tulsi Gabbard as Secretary of Defense.  And Bernie? In that case, I’d like to see him as Majority Leader in the Senate. We’d be rid of Mitch McConnell (at last!) and we’d have someone who could work closely with Liz to push through some of the ideas that she’s been espousing.

What about Pete Buttigieg?  To me, he should be a candidate for Veep, or in the shadow cabinet as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  Andrew Yang? “Yang’s view [is] that the American economy no longer works for the majority of people. He has proposed a universal basic income — $1,000 monthly checks for all adults — as well as more affordable college, a financial-transaction tax and rebuilding infrastructure. He has dozens of smaller ideas, too: free marriage counseling; more funding for autism; a ban on airlines removing passengers when they overbook flights; the return of congressional earmarks; and the extension of Daylight Saving Time to the entire year.”  Yang should be an advisor to the President, in charge of getting some of these ideas enacted into law.

The Democratic Party is full of centrist, neoliberals – but it is also full of people with ideas that will make America great again.  Not along the false trail where Donald Trump led us. But down the real road to a greater society, ready to combat climate change, to provide for real education for our children, to eliminate income inequality, and to give us Medicare for All.


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