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Sanders Attacks Moderates

This week, Bernie Sanders finally learned the wrong lesson from Republicans with a tweet aimed at Clinton that said “You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive.” Doesn’t this sound suspiciously like GOP conservatives calling moderates RINOs (Republicans In Name Only)?

It is this kind of ideological purity that I was concerned about in a post 2 weeks ago. We need a president that can bring people together, not divide them. In order to win the presidency in the general election, the Democratic candidate will have to appeal to the moderates, the undecided voters, and yes, even to some Republicans.

Compromise is the essence of politics, but this modern notion that ideological purity is of utmost importance worries me tremendously. I’m old enough to remember when narrow-minded ideology cost both parties several presidential elections.



  1. il-08 wrote:

    Well said.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    amen brother.
    I heard a plausible explanation about this phenomenon within the last week or so. Gerrymandering by both parties has divided areas and even towns into mostly 1 party enclaves. The problem is that to win primary elections the candidates need to run to their extreme left or right before they can even run in the general election. If districts encompassed elements of all parties, come general election time they’d nedd to run back to the middle. But that doesn’t happen when districts have been drawn up (by elected officials)with opposition excluded from the mix.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink
  3. Michael wrote:

    And then there’s the effect a Sanders candidacy would have on other races. Even if he won the Presidency, political scientists are estimating the Democratic Party as a whole would lose several percentage points in other races. Democrats have to stop pretending the Presidential race exists in a vacuum.

    Patriotsgt, the problem with gerrymandering is counterintuitive. Gerrymandered districts are normally not created by the party that holds it, but by the other party. The goal isn’t to create a single absolutely safe district for one’s party. The goal is to siphon the opposition’s votes from other districts that are more competitive. E.g., instead of taking the chance that both parties win 5 districts, one party creates a gerrymandered district that the other one is guaranteed to win; however, in doing so, this party increases its chances of winning the other 9 out of the 10 districts. That’s how PA Democrats took close to 60% of the votes for Representatives statewide, but ended up with only 6 out of 15 House seats.

    I would actually take it a step farther and suggest that the problem isn’t just gerrymandering. The problem is the winner-take-all district structure itself. In theory, one party could win 49% of every district’s votes and end up without a single seat of representation. When it comes to elections, I’m much more in favor of a proportional representation system instead of districts.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  4. Chris wrote:

    I don’t really see the parallel. To me, this is like saying “you can be a neo-conservative, or you can be a moderate, but you cannot be a moderate and a neo-con,” which is a simple statement of fact.

    Now, I’ve heard Republicans say things along the lines of “you have to be a conservative to be a Republican,” which is something else entirely, but Sanders didn’t say that being a moderate and being a Democrat were incompatible, so I don’t see the problem. Frankly, I’m baffled how anyone can think that being a progressive and a moderate COULD be compatible, when one is defined as being at one end of the (modern American) political spectrum, and the other is defined specifically as avoiding the same.

    Is this a dog-whistle thing, where what Sanders is saying means something different to his supporters than what it means to everyone else? If not, I really don’t understand what about his statement isn’t self-evident and incontrovertible.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Chris, I am definitely both a moderate and a progressive.

    Michael, California got rid of both gerrymandering and one-party primaries (they now have a single primary, and the top two winners go on to the general election, even if they are in the same party), and it had a very positive effect.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  6. Ralph wrote:

    Yeah, I don’t see this on par with trying to label her as a DINO in that regard, or intended as a subliminal “dog whistle” to a cohort of his supporters. It seemed more an expression of his distinction of how he defines his passion for the very significant changes he believes the country needs and wants, ones that would require bona-fide progressive, and not merely moderate, measures to achieve. Despite these progressive passions, though, Sanders has expressed his willingness to be pragmatic and compromise if it serves to advance the ball incrementally towards these goals, to use a football analogy (SB50!). As a seasoned politician, he knows as much as any about the “half-loaf is better than no loaf” approach to the political process. He’s not naive to think single-payer health care is going to happen overnight, for example, just because he’s President and can appreciate what Obama achieved with the ACA, despite its shortcomings.

    BTW, there’s a good argument to be made that Sanders would attract significantly more conservative cross-over votes than Clinton, regardless of the Republican nominee. He has consistently won over large numbers of conservatives (and there are many) in his home state and is by far the most popular politician there from either party. In many respects, Sanders is actually more conservative in the traditional sense of the definition than most in the race from either party (reigning in Wall St. excesses, support for public education, a more restrained military and foreign policy). The “highlights” I heard from tonight’s Republican debate sounded more fascistic, theocratic and militaristic than conservative. Many on the far right, the Coulter/Ingram/Fox wing for example, would rather see Hillary as the nominee, who provides a much richer target of attack on any number of political and personal issues. Sanders actually scares them more as an opponent. For example,

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Confused as to what it means to be a progressive? You aren’t alone. Here’s how the BBC defines: “What does it mean to be a progressive in the US?” —

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink
  8. Chris wrote:

    Iron, I don’t see how you can claim to be a moderate and progressive while citing an article that makes the case that the two are antithetical; you’re link defines progressivism thus:

    “Within the realm of progressive, however, there are different, warring factions, explains David Greenberg, the author of a book called Republic of Spin: An Inside History of the American Presidency.

    One group is dominated by activists from social movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, he says, and the other is led by those who belong to the left wing of the Democratic Party (and aren’t part of a social movement or cause).”

    The only time it uses the word “moderate” at all is to reflect that some progressives are not as far left as others. Certainly, the article you used makes clear that a progressive can only be moderate relative to other left-leaning persons, not to the public as a whole.

    Sunday, February 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink
  9. redjon wrote:

    There’s a quote I like that has to do specifically with religion, but could be extended to include any kind of orthodoxy of thought (i.e. “dogma”) which is this:

    “Reason is indispensable to democratic self-government. This self-evident truth was a fundamental commitment of our Founding Fathers, who believed it was entirely compatible with every American’s First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion. When debating policy in the public square, our government should base its laws on grounds that can be accepted by people regardless of their religious (or political, my words) beliefs. Public commitment to reason and evidence is the bedrock of a pluralist democracy.”
    — Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin

    Monday, February 8, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Permalink