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First Colleague!

Bernie Sanders was just endorsed by Jeff Merkley, the junior senator from Oregon. Why is this newsworthy? Because for Sanders, this is the first endorsement from one of his colleagues in the Senate. I think this is great.

No, I haven’t become a Bernie Bro. I still feel exactly the way I have from the beginning. I like Bernie Sanders, I agree with much of what he says, and I think him being in the primary mostly helps Democrats. On the other hand, I still think Hillary Clinton will make a better president (because she is more pragmatic, and Sanders is too ideological). Although that doesn’t really matter, because barring some huge unforeseen event, she will be our next president (whether I like it or not).

No, I like Merkley’s endorsement because it lends legitimacy to the Sanders campaign and promotes progressive policies, while at the same time eliminating some of the more annoying aspects of Sanders being an “insurgent candidate”. It doesn’t matter that Merkley is, as the Washington Post puts it, the senator most likely to endorse Sanders. Or that his endorsement could be viewed as a political expediency for a very liberal senator in a state that will almost certainly vote for Sanders in the primary. The fact that until now, no senator had endorsed Sanders fed the myth that Sanders is an outsider who is fighting a corrupt Democratic establishment that is “in the bag” for Clinton. This demonstrates that Democratic politicians are free to endorse anyone they please.

Merkley gave the best endorsement possible. He explicitly acknowledged that Sanders’s chances are small (because math), but that Sanders represents a re-imaging of the Democratic party that reaffirms its progressive ideals. And that is something that all progressives can get behind. This allows Merkley to act as a uniting force. Despite our differences, Democrats are largely fighting for the same thing. Our tactics may differ but our goals are virtually identical, especially compared to the goals of the Republican candidates.

In order to win – not just at the ballot box but in changing America for the better – we must be strong, and we must be united.



  1. Josef wrote:

    I love the website, but disagree strongly with some of the implied and expressed opinions stated above due to the overwhelming facts which indicate otherwise.

    I am an independent libertarian. I have voted for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in various elections based solely on their track records and platforms.

    Unfortunately, I do not have a horse in the race, but until we have multiple parties that are nationally recognized and well funded in America, then I’m committed to supporting the best candidate available in our two-party system.

    In a two-party system, we are essentially endorsing bipolar political dialogue whereas two opposing parties representing polar opposites of the political spectrum engage in negotiation and public outreach to establish a policy and ideological roadmap for America.

    During Bill Clinton’s political era, the American public believed that Bill Clinton and the Democrats were in fact winning the war against unreasonable and potentially destructive conservatism.

    What we now know is that while Clinton won battles, Democrats essentially lost the war. In order to beat the Republicans and Newt Gingrich, Clinton pushed the Democratic platform to the right using triangulation to bond with Newt, moderate Republicans, and Reagan Democrats while delegitimizing Democratic party liberals and progressives. In so doing Clinton endorsed crime, trade, and deregulation legislation that has decimated the lives of many rank and file Democrats.

    In order to have an open and transparent political dialogue and negotiation in a two-party system you need a Democrat party that does not use pragmatism as an excuse to unnecessarily become overly centrist to such a degree that threatens party principles and bretrays the trust of rank and file party members.

    We know Republicans are way beyond conservative in crazyville and we, as Americans including libertarians like me, need to broaden the dialogue by injecting new ideas via electing Bernie to lead the Democrats back to a role approximating a brand of progressive liberalism that agressively questions and strongly regulates the role private and public institutions play in our lives, i.e., Wall Street, Multinational Corporations, Superpacs, Lobbyists, etc.

    1. You stated “Clinton will be a better President because she is more pragmatic and Sanders is too ideological.” – Sanders legislative record has been impressive due to his outstanding ability to use moral authority and ideological consistency to get Republicans to include support for liberal causes in passing legislation.

    2. You stated “Democratic politicians are free to endorse anyone they please.” – the nature of political action and organization is building coalitions and consensus. Once the majority platform has been declared, minority dissidents are rarely spared embarrassment or humiliation. I am sure you are familiar with President Truman’s background as a hyperaggressive stick and carrot, but mostly stick vote herder when he was in the Senate and both Newt Gingrich and Tip O’Neil proved merciless in their overt and covert attacks on Democrats who fell out of favor due to their inability or refusal to support the party’s majority endorsed policies.

    3. You said “Democrats are largely fighting for the same thing. Our tactics differ, but our goals are nearly identical.” – If you are pro-Wall Street, pro-Super Pac, pro-unlimited campaign financing, pro-trade, pro-war, pro-centrist poltiics, pro-crime bills that disproportionately affect urban communities, and pro-Clintonian politics then you are Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s track record does not mirror in any way any of Bernie Sanders’ current platform policy positions or past legislative accomplishments.

    Leave tradition in the past. And Vote for a Socialist who will advocate for the best interests of America’s most frail and vulnerables populations, while also courageously calling out many of my Republican and Conservative friends when they are unreasonable.

    Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  2. Carter Shmeckle wrote:


    On the one hand, you say you are a libertarian. OTOH, you support a candidate who by your own admission supports policy that “strongly regulates the role private and public institutions play in our lives, i.e., Wall Street, Multinational Corporations, Superpacs, Lobbyists, etc.”

    Not to mention all the new taxes and socialized medicine that Bernie is proposing.

    WTF? Sounds to me like you are libertarian on social issues, but socialist on everything else. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    A true, 360 degree libertarian would have to admit that all of the major candidates stink. It’s just that some stink more than others.

    Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink
  3. ebdoug wrote:

    Josef: I always wish there was a “like” button on this site. Thank you.

    Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  4. Josef wrote:

    Hey Ebdoug thanks for the “like”.

    Carter Shmeckle, libertarian doesn’t mean conservative or Republican despite the misconception. I understand that in all actuality even Richard Nixon, who would be one of the greatest Presidents in modern history, if we could erase Watergate from history, would be considered socialist by many today when we consider the lunacy of the conservative agenda. It was Nixon who first advocated for environmentalism, universal healthcare, open relations with Communist nations, global trade, and federal funding for terminal disease research/funding/treatment.

    However, most of all, I understand that it takes two to tango…I am uncomfortable with Republicans playing the role of stubborn, implacable obstructionist, while the other party constantly changes its message and betrays its traditions for sake of pragmatism.

    We need two strong parties committed to progressive ideals – one conservative, yet constructive and the other progressively populist and leftist – working towards negotiating on equal ground to implement the best policies for America.

    For better or for worst we are stuck with these two parties and I need to vote for one of them…i have to work in this system until we reform the government and move towards a multi-party electoral process.

    Friday, April 15, 2016 at 1:02 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Josef, thanks for starting a discussion. You make some good points, but (probably needless to say) I completely disagree with your main conclusion, which is the need for “moral authority and ideological consistency” in order for a party to succeed. History is full of counter-examples (on both sides). Howard Dean, George McGovern, Barry Goldwater and many others.

    The Republicans did not succeed in delegitimizing liberals because of their moral authority and ideological consistency (what a joke). They succeeded because they waged a well funded propaganda (FUD) war against liberalism, which included AM radio, Fox News, and the willingness to lie about just about anything (“death panels” anyone?) in order to fight progressive ideas. The propaganda war included propaganda claiming that the Republicans had moral authority and ideological consistency, but that was a lie. Dubya claimed to be against abortion, but did nothing about it. They claimed to be for fiscal responsibility, but spent billions of dollars on war and subsidies for their funders (oil, weapons, destruction of the environment).

    Obama did not win the fight for health care with moral authority or ideological purity. In fact, it is obvious that the Clintons lost that fight because they were too ideologically pure (pushing for single-payer against a well funded opposition). If your argument was true, Obama would have no chance as a president, but given the overwhelming propaganda war against Obama and the incredible obstructionism, he has still accomplished much more than most presidents to advance progressive ideas. To deny that by saying that only ideological purity will bring about progressive success is to buy into the propaganda against him.

    I could say much more, but I have a terrible connection.

    Friday, April 15, 2016 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  6. Josef wrote:

    I don’t agree Iron Knee, but I respect your thoughts and viewpoints. I, personally, never thought that the Republicans “beat” the Democrats…the Dems beat themselves by refusing to stick to their progressive liberalism and trying to be far too centrist…Remember, it was Bill Clinton who ruined your party by pushing the Dems ideologically to the right and forcing the far-left progressives to view the Democratic PArty Establishment as their enemy. Your party makes no accommodation for populist progressives and socialist leaning reformist.

    Republicans never delegitimized liberals NEVER, I never said that, Bill Clinton delegitmized liberals by using a triangulation strategy to neutralize Dems in the Senate and push a centrist, right leaning agenda.

    The party fighting for the underdog always has the moral authority. Dems dropped the ball. Now, Donald Trump is stumping for working class whites and believe or not (unfortunately) he’s admired by many as a hero for doing so. It is ludicrous for a billionaire with a silver spoon in his mouth to have the moral authority in the argument for advocacy for working class whites, but that is our bizarro reality in 2016.

    There are far more Democreats leaning towards Trump then most people would like to admit. These are working class whites in rust belt states and formerly heavy unionized urban cities, who have lost their standard of living due to Free Trade and outsourcing. I don’t like it, but this is the way it is.

    The Republicans have never ideologically backed off of their unreasonable stances thus becoming centrist to appease the left.

    The left are the ones alwasy running to the right betraying their values to make a deal.

    Two points I leave with that are true and verifiable via research:

    1. Befoore I criticize healthcare, let me say I am happy many uninsured persons are now insured. However, the health care legislation is flawed in too many ways to mention here in a website comment sention.

    Universal Healthcare is not a liberal, Democratic achievement. Nixon and Republicans in his administration pushed for Universal Healthcare in order to give their corporate friends an opportunity to save money by avoiding offering health care as a fringe benefit to their employees. The main focus in healthcare reform was providing cost-savings to corporations and shifting those costs from corporate entities to the public sector. The Democrats picked up this concept from Republicans. The goal is to reduce the costs of doing business for corporations in America so that they can compete with many EU, Asian, and International companies that do not offer their employees healthcare because their respective home nations have Universal Healthcare.

    I have always believed that corporations should be forced to offer all employees healthcare and pension benefits…matching 401ks and pensions should be mandatory.

    And, if we are going to have universal healthcare, a corporate tax should be in place to ensure corporations are paying a portion of their employees’ health care costs.

    Healthcare quality has not increased and costs are rising nationally and are astronomical in many rural and low-income communities. (the cost basis for Obamacare is not fixed nationally, costs vary greatly from state to state, from county to county due to varying levels of Medicaid funding and Medicaid expansion.)

    2. Do you want to know who is one of Speaker Paul Ryan’s biggest allies in cutting Social Security and Medicaid? Well. he’s your candidate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton… This is what I mean by ideological inconsistency.

    Why would any Democrat advocate for defunding any programs that affect a frail, at-risk population? If we need to start means testing so that rich people don’t get Social Security or Medicaid if they do not need it due to income and net worth of assets then I am open for that debate.

    But, cutting those programs acrosss the board is unacceptable. yet, many Democratic politicians are willing to use such cherished programs as a chess piece in broader poltitical negotiations and that is being too pragmatic for me. (Although, it is possible that Dems could trade S.S. and Medcicaid cuts for an infrastructure bill, expanded deficit speanding to fund other social initiatives, but the tradeoff seems too great for my taste.)

    Anyway, great discussion…you should consider doing a podcast, so you can spare yourself the typing and just talk – we are not going to agree on everything but I respect your stance and intentions. As long as we’re all respectful and truly patriotic looking out for the best interest of this nation then we’re on the right track.

    Friday, April 15, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink