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Bernie Sanders on 2016: His Candidacy, Elizabeth Warren and the Clintons

Senator Bernie Sanders recently announced that he’s considering entering the 2016 presidential race if a strong progressive doesn’t. He also mentioned that he likes Elizabeth Warren.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I - VT). (Photo: Josh Lopez, / Flickr)

Senator Bernie Sanders recently announced that he’s considering entering the 2016 presidential race if a strong progressive doesn’t. He also mention (in passing) that he likes Elizabeth Warren.

He’s not alone. Seems like the rest of us Democratic voters like her a lot as well.

Josh Eidelson at Salon has a wide-ranging interview with Sen. Sanders about the state of the nation, the state of the issues he cares about, the peace initiative with Iran — and naturally, his candidacy and the potential candidacies of Sen. Warren and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I found the 2016 part of the conversation fascinating. Here are a few segments of it. Be sure to read it all, though, if you’re interested in this stuff. There’s a lot of there there.

On the 2016 Race

First, Sanders talks about why he might run:

The Burlington Free Press reported that you’re open to running for president if there isn’t a good enough alternative in the race. What do you think you could accomplish by running?

Well, let me just tell you, Josh, I don’t wake up every morning with a huge desire to be president of the United States. I gather there are people who do. I don’t.

But what I do wake up believing is that this country is facing more serious crises than we have faced since the Great Depression. And if you include the planetary crisis of global warming, the situation today may even be worse. And given that reality, what distresses me enormously is that there is very little discussion about these major crises, and even less discussion about ideas that can resolve these issues.

After detailing the issues that Sanders feels needs discussing — income inequality, global warming, unemployment, Citizens United, the danger to democracy from oligarchic rule, media silence on everything important to the country — he says this:

And if you ran for president, what do you think it would do for those issues?

The nature of media is that presidential campaigns and candidates are a means, to some degree at least, of getting these issues out there. And I think that you can give all the speeches you want on the floor of the Senate, that’s great, but I think being involved in debates and being out there around the country allows — gives you the opportunity to talk about these issues in a way that you otherwise could not.

Forcing the progressive discussion, in other words. And that discussion is being had (thank you, Noam Scheiber). Even by the right (thank you, Wall Street Journal).

On Elizabeth Warren in 2016

Elizabeth Warren’s name always comes up in these discussions, doesn’t it. Sanders:

The Free Press also reported that you’d be comfortable with an Elizabeth Warren presidential bid. What would make Elizabeth Warren a good president?

Oh, Elizabeth Warren is, you know, clearly one of the smartest people in the Senate. She is a true progressive. I’ve known Elizabeth for many, many years. She is doing a great job, and understands fully the issues facing the middle class and working class in this country. She is a very strong proponent in defending the working families in this country.

So should she be running for president?

Why don’t you give her a ring?

You could give her a ring too. Her number is 202-224-4543 (DC) or 617-565-3170 (Boston). Don’t ask her to run (she already knows you want her to), but you could thank her for her support for expanding Social Security and ask her what she thinks about Medicare for all.

On the Clintons

I use the phrase “the Clintons” because Eidelson does. Also because they really are a formidable team. Sanders again (my paragraphing):

You told Playboy that while you like the Clintons, they “live in a world surrounded by a lot of money,” and a Hillary Clinton candidacy would not offer an alternative for the country. Why not?

Well, actually that was a – a) You don’t know and I don’t know whether Hillary Clinton is running for president. And b) if she decides to run for president, we don’t know the issues that she will be focusing on.

I have known Hillary Clinton for a number of years, not terribly well, but I knew her when she was first lady and I knew her when she was in the Senate. I like her. She is extremely smart. But it’s — we will have to see what she has to say, so — but based on the kind of centrist positions that we have seen her take in the past, it remains to be seen — although I may be wrong — it remains to be seen whether she will be a forceful advocate for working families.

By the way, check here for an update on that Clinton money situation. And I see the going rate for speeches has not gotten worse since I stopped giving talks at the kitchen table. The going rate for the special few at Goldman Sachs, is mentioned here. It’s nice to see the economy recovering, at least in some sectors.

Other Issues

On Iran, Sanders likes the current initiative. So do I. So should you if you don’t want gas to go to $10 at the pump. I’m serious; think Straits of Hormuz. Yet not surprisingly, some Democrats are considering scuttling the deal by adding additional sanctions to the president’s deal. Watch for that, if you’re watching Iran.

My thought? What better way to serve the warmongering crazies than to stimulate the nation’s testosterone gene and claim the manly-man high ground while doing it. Any Democrat in Congress trying to sabotage the Iran deal, look carefully at their lobbying money. You’ll find the usual suspect, I’m almost certain.

On Walmart, he’s not a fan, and thinks no Democrat — no progressive Democrat at least — should be a fan either:

And when the president or members of his administration hold these public appearances with Wal-Mart, at things like a manufacturing summit, for example, does that give Wal-Mart more cover to keep its practices the same?

Well, I would hope that the president would be speaking out on the need to address a very serious crisis in this country, which is that most of the new jobs being created are low-wage, part-time, and that Wal-Mart is very much a part of that model. So I would hope that the president would join us in demanding that Wal-Mart start paying its workers a living wage.

This really is an interesting interview, and the 2016 discussion is interesting as well. We’re not talking about 2016, you know; we’re talking about whether the people who control the Democratic party will represent their voters or their … I have to say it, after a $2 billion dollar presidential campaign … their paymasters.

The nation waits. Thank you, Sen. Sanders, for beating the progressive bushes for a real progressive candidate.

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