Hillary Clinton ran the table on Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday. She took Florida, then North Carolina, then Ohio, then she surprised everyone with wins in Illinois and the squeaker in Missouri. Can it get any more decisive? Right about now, Bernie Sanders’ supporters are weighing how to make Bernie’s phenomenal run not be in vain.
Bernie’s run has been successful in many ways, yet, no one really remembers the guy that ran against the president in the inter-party primaries. In this case however, Bernie has a very specific and very unique niche to fill in the 2016 election cycle.
It is clear now, Bernie won’t be the nominee. The numbers, as they stand now make it a done deal, Hillary will be the democratic nominee. But was that ever in question? Ok, perhaps a little after Sanders’ Michigan victory. But now that the door on has closed, reality must sink in. When Bernie entered this race he all but understood he would not be the nominee, but insisted he had ideas and issues that he wanted to have heard in the crowd of public discourse.
His role forward will be to continue to do just that. But rather than campaign as the adversary to Hillary, Bernie should take up the unique role of elevating senate and congressional candidates. Ofcourse, he should continue to push Clinton on ideas and debate his issues. The difference now, however, would be that the understanding inside the Democratic Party would become a public mantra.
These candidates should run a unified campaign that energizes the Democratic base. This unified campaign should stress the importance of voter registration and the need for everyone to vote. But, voting for the presidential candidate in Clinton is not enough. The unified campaign should educate the masses on the need to elect a friendly congress for President Clinton.
One of the many disappointments in the Obama administration is that many of his ideas and issues were never even considered by the Republican congress. This must change in the next Clinton administration.
Republicans in the Senate are at a most vulnerable juncture. There are twenty-four Republican senate seats open this year. There’s Patrick Toomey and Rob Portman, as well as three Republicans not running for their seats (Dan Coats, Marco Rubio, and David Vitter). All five of these are seats would be excellent pick-ups. A unified campaign should target those seats that may not be expected, seats such as in Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It can happen. The Republican incumbents in these states are unpopular and a concentrated campaign would bear fruit.
As well, every House seat is in play. A unified campaign centered, not around, tearing each other down, but on building a complete party coalition, would produce greater dividends. There should be no greater objective this year than to elect a Democratic majority in Congress.
As for Bernie Sanders, we should remember that Harry Reid is retiring this year. Bernie’s strength was never as president. But his campaign has solidified his position as a great man of ideas. For me, Robert Reich, a long time friend of the Clinton’s, said it best in his endorsement of Bernie Sanders. He said, during the Primary, a vote can be ‘aspirational’. And that has been the attraction to Sanders this year. Wouldn’t it be cool to have to have single payer health care? Yes! Wouldn’t it be cool to have free public college for all? Yes! Wouldn’t it be nice to have the income tax rates be more fair and equitable? Yes!
The next president won’t get these things done, especially without a filibuster proof democratic majority. Bernie should help push for a congress that would do these things. The Sanders Effect, is a long term program, that begins and ends in the U.S. Congress. This is Sanders’ place.
The unified campaign should take our aspirations into account and unify the Democratic Party, coalescing around the party’s candidate, Hillary Clinton. Clinton, for her part must speak to these aspirations, while continuing to broach her view of the future. She is a great candidate and will be a great president. A Democratic Congress would insure that Democratic issues and goals can be implemented. We need Bernie Sanders.
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