O Bernie, Bernie, wherefore art thou Bernie?

I was shopping at a local bookstore in downtown Santa Cruz over my lunch break the other day, looking for a California wall map. I didn’t find the wall map but there were a lot of other groovy things and on my way out I saw that there were Trump countdown clocks for sale at the register.

For many it might be too soon to think about 2020 Presidential politics, but I imagine there are more people taking an early interest in the Democratic candidates than is typical..especially for those of you with Trump countdown clocks.

Bernie is probably wise to wait. He already has the ground game, the troops in place, ready to rock and roll. He has the luxury of being able to take his time and let the field take shape.

I imagine that if he runs, he will come out with some big, new ideas — and a bold platform. He won’t run the same 2016 campaign. This seems like an obvious point but none of the analysis I hear or read ever seems to take this into account.

As an example, I was reading an article today in the Huffington Post, titled What the left gets wrong about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The main point was that there really isn’t much of a difference between Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and that leftists are splitting hairs. Like other commentators, he’s assuming that Bernie is going to stay put and stand still. But a lot has changed, in a short period of time. If he runs, the Bernie of 2020 will not be the Bernie of 2016, and this is perfectly consistent with what has always motivated Bernie.

Bernie’s objective has always been to advance good ideas and push progress forward. When he entered the 2016 race, as a quixotic candidate with no possible shot at beating a candidate as well-networked, well-funded and well-known as Clinton, he did it because he believed that people needed to hear new ideas and that there were important reforms and policies that needed to be in the table. Medicare-for-All was completely “unrealistic” back then. Now it’s the norm for Democrat presidential hopefuls. But if Bernie runs in 2020, it will be for more than Medicare-for-All.

Bernie is not a long-shot candidate in 2020. The tables have turned, but he’s still motivated by the same goal: to push forward a progressive agenda that will help real people in a real way. He’ll push the envelope, and his platform won’t look like anyone else in the field.

He may choose not to run, but if he does, it will be because there are policies that he believes need to be out there. If he were simply going to run on the same platform as Warren, then what’s the point?

Whether he runs or not, his impact on politics will far outlive opportunist politicians like Trump. Trump has no guiding beliefs and no center. Bernie, by contrast, has been a true populist who has energized a movement based on ideas, values and smart policy. I don’t think he will run again unless he believes he can lead the progressive movement forward and expand it’s horizons.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

Consider this post an invitation, an invitation to comment and collaborate ~ In Solidarity, JE

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