“Whatcha we gonna do? Gonna change the rules: fire these fools!’
Sorry State of the Union Blues, by Fraser McArter
How could this happen? We worked all during the 2016 campaign and then all during the 2020 campaign, and at the end Bernie Sanders has withdrawn, and we shall have Joe Biden running against Donald Trump. And we – the loyal, active followers of Bernie – whatcha we gonna do?
Thomas Friedman wrote a few days ago:
“Americans are not focused on this now — but they will be. And when they are, Biden needs to show that he isn’t running to be president of the 48 percent (or less), as Trump is; he’s not trying to suppress the vote, as Trump is; he’s not running to squeak by in the Electoral College, as Trump is. He needs to show he’s running to be a majority president, a unity president — but not just unity for unity’s sake, but unity of purpose based on a set of shared values for rebuilding America.
“Biden should enlist people ready to embrace these values:
“1) They have to believe in science — and not just around the coronavirus but around climate change, which is the next train coming at us.
“2) If they were in power during this crisis, they have to have led their city, state or business in a way that took the science of this epidemic seriously from the start and cared for those under them.
“3) They have to be open to taking extraordinary measures to help the poor, the unemployed and the bankrupted get back on their feet.
“4) They have to believe that America thrives when there is a healthy balance between the public and private sectors, so anyone subscribing to the old idiot mantra of the G.O.P. thought policeman Grover Norquist — “my goal is to cut government in half in 25 years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub” — is not welcome.
“5) They have to want to extend health care to every American, for starters by strengthening Obamacare and adding a public option.”
Friedman proposes that Biden name his vice-president and cabinet early in the game, so that Americans know he is serious in changing the rules. I proposed the same thing for Bernie in late March. I wanted a coalition between Bernie and Biden, and I still do. Elizabeth Warren would suit them both as vice-president. “As part of the agreement between Biden and Bernie, Biden should name his nominees for important cabinet posts. For instance, he should name Robert Reich as Secretary of the Treasury, Tulsi Gabbard as Secretary of Defense, Kamala Harris as Attorney-General, Tom Steyer as Secretary of Education, Andrew Yang as Secretary of Energy. Bernie should have a direct and important say in the choices, and Biden should not select someone that Bernie is against.” Biden should not name any corporate CEO as a cabinet member but rather individuals who have stated publicly that they want changes in the American system.
If Biden takes this road, he’ll get a strong backing from Bernie and from Bernie’s supporters. The DNC may not like it, but why should Biden care? He’ll be president, and he’ll have the support of the group that was against him.
If Biden distances himself from the Democratic elite that tried to get Hilary Clinton elected, he’ll get a strong and active backing from the real people. Bernie can help him raise donations in small amounts, just as he has done throughout the 2016 and 2020 elections. And combined with Bernie, he can make America great again.
I pointed out in my earlier article that Bernie and Biden (and Warren) seemed to be in general agreement on many (although not all) important issues. “Look at Joe’s positions and then at Bernie’s. For instance, on criminal law, both want to abolish private prisons and the death penalty. Both want cash bail reform and an end to mandatory minimum sentences. Hey, that’s a good beginning. Both want to study reparations for blacks and to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Both want citizenship for Dreamers (DACA). Both want universal background checks on guns and a voluntary buyback program for assault weapons. Both are against unlimited spending in political campaigns. Both want to pay farmers to use climate-friendly practices. In other words, nail down the positions where both agree. Modify positions (e.g., free college) where they disagree but where compromise is likely.
“On the other hand, Bernie wants Medicare for All, while Biden wants expanded coverage but a retention of private insurance. There’s a fairly easy compromise on this, which is to follow the Swiss system. There, everyone must join the private system after being three months as a resident, and the private insurance system is heavily regulated by the government. In the U.S., you could have a government system for whoever wants to join it, and require private insurers to provide the same coverage and costs as the public system. To save administrative costs for doctors and hospitals, have the government disburse all the money to the providers, leaving the private insurers to fight with the government over any issues. And cover all health issues with a payment from the government (and maybe a small monthly payment from the users; but no deductibles or side fees).”
“Speaking on NBC’s “Today,” Biden reiterated his commitment to picking a woman as his vice presidential running mate. But he said that he’s spoken to Sanders recently and that he wants him to be a part of his presidential “journey.”
“Bernie has an incredible following,” Biden said. “He’s maybe one of a half-dozen people in American history who may not be the nominee but has had an impact on American politics in a significant way, in a positive way.”
“If I’m the nominee I can tell you one thing — I would very much want Bernie Sanders to be part of the journey. Not as a vice presidential nominee, but just in engaging in all the things that he’s worked so hard to do, many of which I agree with.”
Unity between Biden and Sanders is possible. Unity is the way to defeat Trump and bring change to America.