Bernie Sanders' assessment of Obama's ultimate mistake is important for current Democratic hopefuls
What has Obama’s biggest mistake been since taking office? Bernie Sanders has pin pointed what he perceived to be Obama’s most costly mistake. In an interview on David Axelrod’s The Axe Files, Sanders said he should not have trusted Republicans to govern.
The argument put forward is that Obama made a bad political calculation by hoping Republicans in Congress were willing to work with him. All evidence indicates this to be true. Obama believed that he could work with Republicans when the Republican Party was unwilling to work with him.
In fact, the Party did every thing possible to derail the slightly progressive aspects of Obama’s agenda. Obama’s mistake came out of his rational centralist ideals, yet he did not account for the radical turn the Republicans were taking.
Bernie’s assessment is incredibly accurate. The fact is, Obama did expect Republicans to drop partisan divides and rally around his electoral mandate in order to accomplish something meaningful for the country. Bernie is right in pointing out that Obama is a reasonable guy, and he expected Republicans to behave just as reasonably. Obama was wrong.
Obama ran a great campaign and won, but disengaged his voters and relied on rationalism to govern in Washington. This indeed is where Obama failed at politics. Bernie, rather than looking only for votes, wants to start a grassroots campaign to fight against the Republican machine. No more Mr. Nice Guy, time for the gloves to come off.
Sanders is right in pointing out that, while Obama is reasonable, his opponents are not and had no intention of working with him to pass his agenda. Sanders is also right that Obama took too long to realize he was not going to get Republicans to work with him, and perhaps sacrificed parts of his agenda in order to achieve the un-achievable.
Bernie Sanders understands how important this assessment really is. The next Democratic nominee for president has to go into the game understanding that it will be near impossible to get Republicans in Congress to vote with him/her. Mr. Sanders is not naive to the fact that Republicans would not work with him to pass the sweeping changes he wants to see. Republicans are not going to work with Bernie to raise the minimum wage, end corporate welfare, end college debt, or revamp our social-safety net.
Bernie would be (perhaps) a very different president, because he knows Republicans will not work with him. His strategy to succeed would be drastically different, not afraid to bloody the noses of Republicans in Congress.
Bernie would be more willing to fight against Republicans, rather than try and make deals with them. He could accomplish this by playing to his strengths of organizing and rallying the people to his cause. Bernie would also be going into an election looking to elect progressives in Congress who share his agenda, rather than relying on Republican-lite Blue Dog Democrats for support. Bernie, unlike Obama, would mobilize his voters to his support, rather than hoping Republicans would cut a deal.
This is the mindset needed in the coming election. The Republican horde has done nothing but mock our electoral system and use their positions to block any progressive changes that could benefit the American people. By now (whether you support Bernie or not) progressives must realize that there is no deal to be made with the devil here. The devil wants no deal, only chaos and ripe opportunism.
Bernie doesn’t want to negotiate with Republicans, like FDR before him, he wants to fight them. It is this fight that gives progress a chance for victory. False hopes about “grand bargains” are dead, now is the time for a grand fight the likes of which have not been seen since the nineteen-thirties. We have learned by now that if you want to shake up the system, you have to get up and fight. No more patty-cakes, no more deals. Now is the time to fight.