First Draft | Bernie Sanders and Coolidge: A Vermont Tie But Not Much Else

30 Apr 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders Sets Sights on White House, and a Democratic Fight.

Hillary Clinton has her first official progressive challenger for US president, as Vermont senator Bernie Sanders confirmed on Thursday that he, too, is formally running for the White House – and pushing the frontrunner from her party’s left wing. Bernie Sanders, an independent US senator from Vermont, said Wednesday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, setting up a progressive challenge to frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “People should not underestimate me,” Sanders, who will make a formal announcement on Thursday, told the Associated Press. “I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.” Sanders, 73, becomes the most high-profile socialist candidate for president since Norman Thomas made six bids last century.

Welcome to Thursday, the 120th day of 2015 and the 40th year since Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam, fell to advancing North Vietnamese troops. In a February speech, Sanders said he would “run to win” if he entered the race, and he could force Clinton to reckon more seriously with the left wing of the party. The ignominious withdrawal of U.S. troops from what was then the nation’s longest conflict by far – and arguably its most divisive, this side of the Civil War – triggered decades of introspection and pledges from politicians, military commanders and the American public to avoid similar quagmires in the future. The other is a Brooklyn-born Jewish politician, a self-declared socialist who believes the “billionaire class” is at the heart of society’s ills. Bernie Sanders has decided to take the plunge into forbidding waters for the same reason earlier socialists campaigned for the office: to protest the current order and promote major reforms his rivals either oppose or support only when doing so juices their standings in the polls.

Until a few weeks ago, close aides predicted Sanders would decline to the enter the race at all, deterred by the mountain of money that increases national exposure. After making his formal announcement, Sanders will hold a rally in Burlington in May, a person familiar with his plans told Bloomberg on Tuesday after Vermont Public Radio first reported the news. Bush suggested it was “a strategic blunder” for President Barack Obama to remove combat forces from Iraq which, after Afghanistan and Vietnam, is the nation’s third-longest war. Sanders is going to compete in Democratic primaries so he can debate Hillary Clinton and attract media that would otherwise ignore a passionate, white-haired independent with an uncompromising left-wing agenda.

But growing interest among activists who may provide enough small donations for a credible campaign have encouraged a rethink, aides said, especially as fellow senator Elizabeth Warren has so far resisted pressure to run against Clinton. Coolidge, dubbed “silent Cal,” by the popular press, was known for his daily naps, and when his death was announced, Dorothy Parker reportedly said, “How could they tell?” He grew up in the unincorporated town of Plymouth Notch, and was a sickly child whose father was a farmer and part-time state lawmaker. Not that he has much choice: Since the 1950s, the United States hasn’t had a third party capable of disseminating its anti-capitalist politics to the public at large.

Sanders is likely to be joined on the left by former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, although his still nascent campaign has been tarnished by criticism during this week’s riots in Baltimore of his policing record while mayor of the city. Corporations and Wall Street will be his key targets. “I don’t want to be too dramatic here, but I happen to believe that the business model of Wall Street is fraud and deception,” Sanders said during the February speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington. During the first half of the 20th century, however, radicals like Sanders could join the Socialist Party of America, which boasted more than 100,000 members at its height. How does it happen that the top 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 99%.” “My conclusion is is that that type of economics is not only immoral is not only wrong it is unsustainable.

But the likelihood the frizzy-haired unknown who seems practically allergic to fundraising can defeat the well-oiled Clinton Death Star campaign is so low it’s understandable if, as the race goes on, casual observers think Sanders’ first name is Long Shot Candidate. It even managed to elect a couple of congressmen as well as dozens of mayors in locales as diverse as Milwaukee; Berkeley, California; and the little railroad town of Antlers, Oklahoma. Sanders’ team hopes to raise at least $50 million before primary voting begins early next year to establish that he is a serious candidate, Bloomberg reported in March. Young Bernie went to James Madison High School in south Brooklyn, where the enrollment of more than 3,000 students is six times the population of Coolidge’s hometown.

Playing up that tactical advantage, Sanders has made more trips to the Granite State than any other Democrat, including Clinton – even though that state’s primary gave her campaign a turbo boost in 2008. The charismatic former union leader crisscrossed the nation, stretching out his long arms as if to touch the admiring crowds whom he urged to destroy “the foul and decaying system” and erect a “cooperative commonwealth” in its place. In recent months, Sanders has traveled to early primary and caucus states to promote a 12-point economic agenda, a series of liberal policy goals such as eventually raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and investing in infrastructure, which he argues would create more jobs and bolster the middle class.

Oh, Baltimore: An uneasy calm has settled over Baltimore after a second night of curfews, but things are still tense – largely because, 11 days after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal neck injury while in police custody, authorities still haven’t said how or why he died, and authorities aren’t going to release official reports on it, or hold anyone responsible, any time soon. But Debs’ platform also included such “immediate” demands as women’s suffrage, a progressive income tax, an eight-hour day, a ban on child labor, and a vote for the residents of the District of Columbia that no longer seem radical at all.

Sanders, conversely, is convinced that the nation’s big banks and their highly-paid executives are a primary culprit of income inequality in the country, and he argues that they should be spurred to provide more affordable loans to small businesses to create jobs, “instead of parking money at the Fed and making risky bets on Wall Street.” Mr. Tommy Carcetti, Call Your Office: David Simon, former Baltimore Sun reporter and creator of the acclaimed TV series “The Wire,” says the roots of unrest in Charm City lead to Martin O’Malley, the former mayor (1999-2007), Maryland governor (‘07-’15) and perhaps future Democratic presidential candidate.

An opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership now under negotiation, Sanders said at an April 20 protest that Clinton should clarify whether she sided with “working people” or “corporate America.” Clinton, who took part in the Obama administration’s early efforts to negotiate the pact as secretary of state, has said as a 2016 candidate, “Any trade deal has to produce jobs and raise wages and increase prosperity and protect our security.” His ideology dates to the 1960s, when the Brooklyn, New York, native moved to Vermont after college (“I had always been captivated by rural life,” he told the New York Times in 2007). Sanders, of course settled in Vermont in his early 20s, working odd jobs in carpentry, film making and writing before embarking on a political career that was propelled by his election as mayor in the Democratic stronghold of Burlington, where perhaps the most famous merchants of the time were Ben and Jerry, founders of the namesake of ice cream company.

Simon tells The Marshall Project that O’Malley’s political ambitions, threatened by ugly crime stats, led Hizzoner to junk community-engaged policing for a stat-based, zero-tolerance “hook ‘em and book ‘em” law-enforcement strategy, planting the seeds for a roughhouse police culture that may have played a role in Gray’s death. A former Presbyterian minister, Thomas preached the same utopian gospel as Debs had. “I am not the champion of lost causes, but the champion of causes not yet won,” he liked to say. After four unsuccessful attempts at statewide office as a candidate of the Liberty Union Party, he became mayor of Burlington after beating an incumbent Democrat by 10 votes in 1981. Yikes: Baltimore residents apparently agree with Simon: O’Malley was heckled after he returned from a trip to London and headed to the riot zone of his former city Wednesday. That Was Then: But critics point out that Clinton was really close to the man whose policies helped those black men disappear: former President Bill Clinton, who in 1994 signed legislation that cracked down on crime, created tougher penalties on drug offenders and allocated $30 billion to build more prisons and put more cops on the streets.

Chris Christie, former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina doesn’t have much of a profile in the 2016 scrum and barely registers in national polls. But Sanders is perpetually on the attack, armed with an unvarnished class-conscious message that, until the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, had long been absent from the public square. “The true greatness of a country is not measured by the sum of its millionaires and billionaires,” his senatorial website announces. “Rather, a great nation is one in which justice, equality and dignity prevail for all.” Count on Sanders to fight for reforms that will discomfort the comfortable. But Bloomberg says you shouldn’t discount Fiorina; if she decides to run, she’s got the makings of a formidable candidate, including ambition and self-promotional skills – two assets on the stump that were liabilities for a woman in the HP boardroom.

He might even call for prosecuting and jailing the people whom he blasted in a marathon 2010 speech as “the crooks on Wall Street whose actions resulted in the severe recession … whose illegal, reckless actions have resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes, [and] their savings.” Sanders won’t spare the Democratic front-runner either. “On the same day that Hillary Clinton visited three homes of wealthy Manhattan benefactors to raise an estimated $1 million in campaign funds,” his website announced this week, “Sen. In a national poll of Democratic voters taken by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, from April 16-21, Sanders trailed Clinton 8 percent to 60 percent.

In 1900, engineer John Luther “Casey” Jones of the Illinois Central Railroad died in a train wreck near Vaughan, Mississippi, after staying at the controls in a successful effort to save the passengers. A century ago, Debs told Americans it was “better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.” The raspy-voiced Vermonter, who still speaks in a Brooklyn accent, will base his campaign on that same logic. Happy Birthday Taureans: Actress Cloris Leachman (89), legendary country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson (82), “Rocky” actor Burt Young (75), movie director Allan Arkush (67), singer Merrill Osmond (62), filmmaker Jane Campion (61), Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (56), NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas (54), actor Adrian Pasdar (50), rock singer J.R. Richards of Dishwalla (48), rapper Turbo B (Snap) (48), rock musician Clark Vogeler (46), R&B singer Chris “Choc” Dalyrimple of Soul For Real (44), rock musician Chris Henderson of 3 Doors Down (44), actress Lisa Dean Ryan (43), R&B singer Akon (42).

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