I’m an unaffiliated voter, but in full disclosure I can’t say I’ve ever voted for a Republican presidential candidate and would almost certainly caucus with the Democrats if I was an independent member of Congress.
Do I fall into the “never Trumper” camp? Yes. And, that is what brings me to my concern about Bernie Sanders and the apparent trajectory of the Democratic primary.
I believe wholeheartedly in many of the core principles underlying Sander’s campaign — compassion, equality, corporate accountability, protecting our environment, lifting people up, and my list could go on, but I can’t get enthusiastic about his campaign. I want to, but I just can’t seem to get there.
The closer Utah gets to Super Tuesday, the more hollow the distinguishing elements of his campaign, such as Medicare for All and College for All, sound. The stark reality is this: Bernie is not a magician. Medicare for All, College for All — it all has to run through Congress before it can become a reality, and I do not believe Congress, even a Congress controlled by the Democrats, would pass those policies or implement the tax increases necessary to do so. And therein lies the hollow cry I hear.
I recall when candidate Donald Trump rallied that he would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it. The crowds went wild. So, what happened? After Mexico declined to pay for the wall, Congress refused to appropriate the funds to build it.
Trump has tried feverishly to find a way to make his promise a reality, which has done virtually nothing but land him in court and further entrench the country into yelling, “Hooray for our side.”
Fast forward to today, and I again see the crowds going wild, but this time it is rallies for Medicare of All and promises that the rich will pay for it. I am concerned that what we are hearing now from Sanders is, at its core, no different than Trump’s promises about the border wall — just substitute “the wall” for “Medicare for All” and Mexico for “the rich.”
In both cases, the promise is something the candidate cannot deliver without the consensus of the House, Senate and, possibly, the judiciary if there is legal action. Both policies make for great sound bites and headlines in today’s era of two-minute news and social media posts. But the reality is that neither promise is in the realm of reality.
That is my biggest concern with Sanders; that he is selling the intellectual equivalent of Trump’s border wall and courting voters based on a policy that has no chance of becoming reality. I am concerned that failing to recognize Sanders’ policies for what they are will end up advancing another candidate on hollow grounds and we will see the same societal results we have seen as a result of Trump’s hollow promise — more divisive degradation of our democracy and social discourse.
I am not necessarily criticizing Medicare for All as a long-term policy goal. (That is an entirely different discussion.) All I am doing is asking for a candidate to speak honestly with the voting public about what they can and cannot achieve without the consent of Congress.
Dave Quealy, Murray, has worked as an attorney in the public sector for his entire career, but would much rather be spending his time outdoors with friends and family.