How sweet can it be to have Trump on the border in Laredo, leading the polls among sixteen Republican candidates, ahead on the numbers in Iowa, and even the subject of a debate among journalists on whether or not to cover his race, as if they have a choice. Trump is like the Republican nightmare of the apocalypse. No matter how the semi-moderate candidates try to paint lipstick on this pig, the red-meat Republican base is loving his shtick. How can they convince anyone they can govern from this base?
And, look at Bernie Sanders go! Wow! What an elixir to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to see socialist-independent-democrat Senator Sanders pull in the crowds. Sure, there were wild numbers in the Peoples’ Republic of Madison, Wisconsin, but there were also huge crowds in the big cities of Texas. Sanders is everywhere. He’s even coming to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. He’s gone viral. He’s gone national. He’s on the tip of the tongue for progressive everywhere.
At the same time, everyone is clear that Trump is like the pop song of the summer, a tune in everyone’s head that will be gone by the time the temperature drops, a reality show transferred to primetime, more roar in the noise machine. His legacy will be what sticks on the shoes of the rest of the candidates through the primary, and if we’re lucky, still smells by the general election. I mean, Trump, really?
But, how about Sanders? Can he win the nomination? The standard line would be, “well, anything can happen in politics,” but the reality is that his chances of being on the ballot in November 2016 are right there on the margin between slim and none. He’s not a media-addict like Trump, he’s a professional politician. He knows how to read the numbers, what’s hype and what’s hard, and how to assess reality. Is this just a senior moment, a chance to tell truth to people and to power? Or, what?
His record in Vermont has shown a fearless commitment to independent politics and building alternative political formations. Running and winning as a socialist and an independent says something about frozen, rural white people in New England, but it also speaks of conviction and courage for Sanders. He can’t be doing this just to say he moved Hillary a little bit left for a minute or that he raised issues on a national stage, can he? Really?
Maybe I’ve been out in the sun too long this summer in our “Progressive Spring,” but is it impossible to dream that Sanders might be driving the pilings to build an alternative political formation nationally? And, if not, why not? There are efforts in numerous cities around the country, like Chicago (see Sadlowski article in Social Policy, Contra Costa, Hartford, and of course New York to build something new – and better. There’s of course the seasoned and sustaining contributions of the Working Families Party in New York and many other states.
How about a legacy that changes politics in the US for the future and makes the “Progressive Spring” permanent, rather than just seasonal and forgotten by fall?