Bernie for VP
by Deacon Blues
As commenter Ten Bears noted in the most recent post, this blog has been supportive of Hillary Clinton for years, but it's true that a large part of the Democratic electorate prefers alternatives to Hillary. It is also true that despite Donald Trump's impersonation of Benito Mussolini and the large nativist/white supremacist element of his base, he is tapping into a large dissatisfaction amongst the electorate with the Beltway political class, especially over economic issues. Just because Trump and Ted Cruz come across as dangerous actors for the role of Commander in Chief doesn't mean the populist energy behind their candidacies can be ignored.
Because of the legitimacy of these economic concerns, and the dangers for Democrats of not adequately (and finally) addressing them next fall, I am now suggesting that the party run a unity ticket next fall with Bernie Sanders as Clinton's running mate.
Hillary is supposedly looking at HUD Secretary Julian Castro as a possible running mate, and while Secretary Castro may be a capable cabinet member, he could also be a "let's check the 'Hispanic' box choice for Team Clinton, at a time when the party needs to be unified next fall and well-positioned to address concerns with credible advocates, and expose the opposition's lack of credibility. Secretary Castro does not fit that bill.
Simply put, Bernie makes the economic argument better than Hillary. In an election where economic populism has great appeal on both the left and the right, it's critical for the left to blunt and take away any advantage the right is seeking in portraying Democrats as The Establishment, unconcerned about working people, and instead allow Bernie to wage that campaign against a Trump or Cruz candidacy. It undermines that part of the GOP message, leaving the remaining GOP electorate as either angry white people or intolerant evangelicals, which dooms the GOP to failure in a general election. For example, it is far easier for Bernie to undermine Trump, Rubio, or Cruz on economic issues by simply hammering them for their debt-exploding, more-of-the-same tax proposals than Hillary.
As this blog has argued all the way back to the 2004 election, Democrats need to learn from the GOP and run "Tier One/Tier Two" campaigns, where the candidate at the top of the ticket runs above the fray with a positive, forward-looking message while surrogates and the running mate run an "offense-first" campaign. To that end, let Bernie be the attack dog during the general election campaign, where he would focus on humor, mockery, the GOP's rank hypocrisy, economic issues, and keeping his energetic followers in the fall campaign. For example, his response to Trump's vulgarity this week was mocking and effective, and his economic messaging connects with million of Americans on both sides of the aisle. Such an approach allows Hillary to stay above the daily scrum, and lets her portray herself as the steady adult at home and abroad, giving general election voters a clear choice between her acknowledged edge in experience over the inexperience and rank amateurism of Trump, Cruz, or Rubio.
Having Bernie inside the White House, perhaps coupled with a stated role for Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz in the administration and Elizabeth Warren in a Democratic leadership role in the Senate would undercut any concerns about Hillary going easy on Wall Street once in office.
The arguments against having Bernie on the ticket, namely having two older white people on the ticket are undercut by the evidence of Bernie's appeal and followers, and Hillary's ability to draw all parts of the party's base. Having a Castro on the ticket instead doesn't translate to more votes that won't already be voting for the Democrats in a Trump-charred GOP wasteland.
For the reasons of Democratic unity, economic populism, and to have the right messengers carrying the most effective messages, Hillary needs to put Bernie on the ticket.
Merry Christmas to all of you.