We want the world and we want it now!By
In effect, Bernie isn’t running for President of the United States of America. He’s running to be President of Progressive America. And when you are running to be an ideological standard-bearer, your ideological fellow travellers all demand you adhere to their own standard. That involves not just checking every box on the liberal to-do list, but giving maximum rhetorical emphasis to everyone’s top priority. Which is impossible. It’s a game that can’t be won.
Sanders has already proposed immigration reform more liberal than the 2013 bipartisan Senate bill in a speech to the National Council of La Raza and incorporated a searing critique of entrenched racism into his regular stump. His reward was a public scolding by Seattle activists who prevented him from speaking at a Social Security rally, one of whom demanded the crowd “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.”
Perhaps what they (and other activists) really want to hold Sanders accountable for is whatever hope and change Obama failed to deliver. This time, no prisoners.
Sanders adviser Lawrence Lessig does not believe Sanders is giving campaign finance reform high enough billing:
“Citizen equality can’t just be one issue on a list. It has to be the first issue — the one change that makes all other changes believable,” Lessig wrote in the memo, obtained by POLITICO. “For the first time in forever, the Wall Street Journal reports this issue is at the top of voters’ mind. You need to be the leader who makes it top of your platform as well.”
So Harvard professor Lessig, if you haven’t heard, is looking at running for president himself, just so he can pass a package of election reforms and then resign. Because Lessig’s “set of quibbles” with Sanders makes Bernie not liberal enough.
Some environmental activists probably worry Sanders is not putting climate change, their foremost issue, front and center. Sanders must feel like Peanuts‘ Linus: There’s no heavier burden than a great potential!
Scher continues at Politico:
Sanders defenders are apoplectic that the ultimate progressive is getting kicked in the teeth by fellow progressives. “Don’t Piss On Your Best Friend” upbraided Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan. But the critics don’t see Sanders’ as their best friend, because his strategic approach doesn’t line up with theirs.
Sanders is forced to grapple with the various strands of the progressive movement in ways he hadn’t before because he decided to enter the presidential arena. A senator can pick and choose his issues more easily than a presidential candidate. While a traditional candidate succeeds by knowing when to cater to a party’s political base and when to keep it at arm’s length, a movement candidate doesn’t have that luxury. All that complicates the progressive objective of influencing the party Establishment.
But with the “wave of deadly encounters” between unarmed black people and police, patience is running thin.
Van Jones writes, today’s activists will no longer wait for “trickle down justice.”
This may not be their Summer of Love, but you can hear the echoes.
Where have you gone, Jim Morrison?
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)