Senator Bernie Sanders (
by Steve Timmer
Feb 14, 2016, 5:00 PM

LeftMN endorses Bernie Sanders for President

LeftMN is mostly devoted to state-level politics in Minnesota, and we ordinarily aren’t concerned with nomination contests for the office of President of the United States. However, with the Minnesota precinct caucuses coming up on March 1st, and because the LeftMN editorial board does have an opinion in the matter, we’re going to express it.

[This endorsement is based on discussions among some of the persons who were instrumental in founding LeftMN. The words and choice of the points, though, are mine. If there is anything in this endorsement you disagree with, blame me, not the editorial board. Steve]

Senator Bernie Sanders would make the better President of the United States.*

There are several reasons supporting the endorsement. Here are some of them.

The first — and undoubtedly most important — reason is the accelerating income and wealth inequality in the country. It is not an exaggeration to say that the US is slipping into oligarchy. Maybe has slipped.

Distribution of income growth

Distribution of income growth

The rapacity of Capital is accelerating; a rising tide does not lift all boats. It is pretty easy to see who Capital is relying on to lift its boats in this election. Here is the top portion of a chart from Open Secrets of major campaign contributors to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders during their careers.

Data from Open Secrets

Data from Open Secrets

[You can increase the zoom level on your browser to make the chart bigger.]

Hillary has a Super PAC; Bernie does not. It’s apparent that the DNC is putting its thumb on the scale, too, by reversing Obama campaign rules on contributions from federal lobbyists and political action committees. For shame.

Secretary Clinton’s alliance with Wall Street is looming as a much larger problem for her than her campaign anticipated. But specific policy position contrasts are telling, too.

Bernie Sanders favors the reauthorization of Glass-Steagall, which required the division of commercial and investment banking activities. It was adopted as a Depression-era reform and amendment to the US Bank Act; it was eliminated during the Bill Clinton administration. Glass-Steagall helps to insulate bank deposits from Wall Street gambling.

Hillary Clinton opposes Glass-Steagall.

Bernie Sanders opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty. Hillary Clinton has waffled on it, but a lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce has said that Clinton will support the TPP after the election. Update 2/18: And see this about the TPP:

Hillary Clinton issued a challenge for anyone to identify a policy position influenced by Wall Street contributions. The Sanders campaign and Elizabeth Warren obliged in an instant, identifying Clinton’s opposition to an onerous bankruptcy “reform” bill when she was First Lady, but she supported it after she became a senator from New York, and after receiving $140,000 in campaign contributions from banking industry executives.

The bill was opposed by, inter alia, the late Paul Wellstone, may he rest in peace.

Update (2/16): Bernie Sanders is in favor of breaking up the big banks. So is the President of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve District. Neel Kashkari said in a recent speech:

“But given the enormous costs that would be associated with another financial crisis and the lack of certainty about whether these new tools would be effective in dealing with one, I believe we must seriously consider bolder, transformational options. Some other Federal Reserve policymakers have noted the potential benefits to considering more transformational measures. I believe we must begin this work now and give serious consideration to a range of options, including the following:

  • Breaking up large banks into smaller, less connected, less important entities.
  • Turning large banks into public utilities by forcing them to hold so much capital that they virtually can’t fail (with regulation akin to that of a nuclear power plant).
  • Taxing leverage throughout the financial system to reduce systemic risks wherever they lie.”

Update – to the update above (2/17): You can read this article in the Strib about the remarks of Neel Kashkari in the speech to the Brookings Institution.

Bernie Sanders favors free public college tuition. I am personally a product of land grant universities, two of them, and when I attended them, tuition was nearly free. Other countries do it, but Hillary Clinton says that Bernie Sanders is a dreamer. I submit that Bernie is a thinker, one who understands that selling young adults into debt peonage is harmful, not only to them, but to the nation as a whole; they can’t afford homes; they can’t afford kids, and they can’t even afford health care.

Update (2/16): American students are flocking to Germany for an affordable college education.

There are many other matters on which Sen. Sanders’ positions are superior to those of Secretary Clinton.

Clinton’s foreign policy experience is touted as a great advantage. The thing is, most of that experience was obtained trying to unscramble the egg that she voted to scramble in the first place: Iraq and the Levant. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq; Bernie Sanders – along with Paul Wellstone, again, in his last vote — voted against it. Votes against war bookended Paul Wellstone’s Senate career.

It was easy for many of us to see that we were being manipulated into one of the biggest foreign policy disasters in our history — and honestly, that’s a high bar.

As First Lady, Hillary Clinton touted welfare “reform” that doubled the poverty rate almost overnight. She also stumped for a crime bill that helped the United States become the world leader in incarceration rates. I think she has quit taking their donations recently, but private prison operators are big fans of Hillary Clinton.

For among these reasons, The New Jim Crow author, law professor Michelle Alexander, says that Hillary is really no friend of African Americans.

She is probably no friend of women who need an abortion, either. In an interview on MSNBC, Clinton stated she could “compromise” on abortion if it had protections for the health of the mother. If she was the president, do you think that would affect how she vetted candidates for the courts, including the Supreme Court? I do.

Hillary Clinton says that Bernie Sanders is unelectable. Remember, though, that Hillary Clinton has had a campaign apparatus at some level in Iowa for 12 years, a caucus state, yet she managed only a tie with Bernie Sanders.

There may be an electability problem, but I don’t think it’s Bernie’s.

Update (2/17): Bernie Sanders polls stronger than Hillary Clinton against Republican rivals in a recent USA Today/Suffolk University poll.

The Clinton campaign has suffered some serious self-inflicted wounds of late. The hectoring remarks of Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem clearly backfired. As did the comments of John Lewis, who endeavored to diminish Senator Sanders’ efforts during the civil rights movement, and elevate those of Hillary Clinton, even though the latter campaigned as a teenager for Barry Goldwater — no friend of civil rights — during this period of time.

(John Lewis is a lion of civil rights, one of the most courageous people extant, who walked calmly into beatings wearing a coat and tie. His comments grieved me, and I was glad to see that he has recently walked them back.)

I will close by saying that the Clinton campaign seems infected with entitlement and “my turn-ism.” (And a little panic, too: see Albright, Steinem, and Lewis, infra.) But the voters seem, increasingly, to have other ideas.

Update (2/15): A point I should have made but did not is that Hillary Clinton would deport unaccompanied minors:

Hillary Clinton this week defended her call to deport children from the U.S. who are fleeing violence in Central America.

Seems a little heartless to me.

Most of these children would qualify for asylum.

Bernie Sanders would not deport these children.


* It ought to go without saying, but may not in the current environment of internecine squabbling, that Hillary Clinton would make a better president than any of the Republican candidates.

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