A new report by the Guardian questions the received wisdom that Bernie Sanders is the “idealistic” Democratic candidate and Hillary Clinton is the “pragmatic” one.
This distinction has been emphasized since the beginning of the Sanders campaign, and the idea that Bernie Sanders is too “idealistic” to be president has gained circulation in recent weeks as Sanders’ poll numbers improved and the Vermont senator’s support base swelled to unprecedented levels.
Sanders’ rivals have good reason to be upset. What began as a small grassroots campaign for Bernie Sanders has grown into a national juggernaut, and many including the Huffington Post believe that Sanders will win the presidency.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that the Clinton camp and mainstream media are now attempting to use Sanders’ anti-establishment spirit — the very quality that made him popular in the first place — as the tool that will undermine him. US News is arguing that “we need Hillary” because she is “more prepared.” Washington Post earned the ire of Bernie supporters and Sanders himself when they ran an editorial slamming Sanders and his “campaign full of fiction.”
Common Dreams has just run a report about the media assault on Bernie. What started as a “blackout,” where the press refused to report on Sanders at all, abruptly turned into a sustained attack the moment the Vermont senator became a serious presidential contender, according to Common Dreams.
A common thread in most of the critical pieces is a characterization of Hillary Clinton as the “pragmatic” candidate and Bernie Sanders as the “idealistic” one. The purpose of making this distinction is to promote Clinton as the smart option. Who wouldn’t go for realism and results over pie-in-the-sky visions?
However, the new Guardian report argues that this point of view misses something important:
The Democratic contest has repeatedly been characterized as a choice between Hillary Clinton’s “pragmatism” and Bernie Sanders’s “idealism” – with the not-so-subtle message that realists choose pragmatism over idealism. But this way of framing the choice ignores the biggest reality of all: the unprecedented, and increasing, concentration of income, wealth and power at the very top, combined with declining real incomes for most and persistent poverty for the bottom fifth.
The report goes on to point out that income inequality has not been this bad since the time of “the robber barons” in the 1890s, and asserts that the political revolution Bernie Sanders calls for is actually the “pragmatic” option that will protect America’s interests. It is Bernie — not Hillary — who will build upon the things that already make America great.
The real choice isn’t “pragmatism” or “idealism.” It’s either allowing these trends to worsen, or reversing them. Inequality has reached levels last seen in the era of the “robber barons” in the 1890s. The only truly pragmatic way of reversing this state of affairs is through a “political revolution” that mobilizes millions of Americans.
Here, the Guardian is in agreement with a previous Washington Post piece titled “Capitalists Should Listen To Bernie Sanders,” which argued that American-style democratic capitalism will not survive unless there is a political shake-up like the one Sanders is promising.
— John Goshorn (@jhgoshorn) January 28, 2016
Sanders and Clinton faced off over their differing approaches at a recent town hall event in Iowa, according to Alternet. Sanders declared that since beginning his campaign, and after having so many exchanges with ordinary Americans and seeing the response to him and his ideas, he has become even more convinced that America needs to confront the issues of income inequality, the rigged economy, and other injustices head on.
“[E]stablishment politics are just not good enough. We need bold changes. We need a political revolution.”
— The Progressive Mind (@Libertea2012) January 29, 2016
Some 170 key economists have even come forward in support of Bernie Sanders’ plan to reform Wall Street and “rein in greed,” according to Politics USA.
Sanders has just made a move to increase his lead, finally deviating from his early pledge that he will not “use negativity” when attacking his Democratic rival. Bernie Sanders’ new ad “The Problem” was released today, and it is his first direct attack on rival Hillary Clinton. It comes as the Democratic Socialist senator strives to increase his lead in Iowa.
Sanders’ ad criticizes Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs specifically, for its key part in causing the 2008 crash that put so many Americans out of work.
Hillary Clinton is known to have received considerable campaign funding from Goldman Sachs and accepted speaking fees from the financial giant.
— Michael Fleming (@BringMeCalliope) January 28, 2016
Will you vote for Bernie Sanders?
(Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images)