By STEPHEN GALLOWAY (@sgalloway17)
Photo credit goes to motherjones.com.
Bernie Sanders’ candidacy was beneficial for the Democratic Party.
He brought needed attention to many important issues our country struggles with, including income inequality, campaign finance and universal healthcare.
He incited a tremendous amount of enthusiasm within young and passionate voters, and he forced Hillary Clinton to be a better nominee to face the unpredictable Donald Trump.
But there is a part of his candidacy I find quite concerning.
Bernie Sanders attempted to turn the Democratic Party into a left-wing party, which is not the best path forward for Democrats of this country. The proposals Sanders has advocated for sound incredible on the surface, but when taking a closer look at the current political culture, they are simply not feasible.
Almost every Democrat in America will admit we have an income inequality problem in this country, and a good way to address the problem would be to hike the minimum wage. The majority of sitting Democrats in office understand that on the other side of aisle there are many legislators who do not believe that a minimum wage should exist; these legislators control the U.S. House, Senate, the majority of governorships and state legislators.
The majority of elected Democrats see this predicament and understand that a $15 minimum wage is not remotely viable at this time, and the goal should be to raise the minimum wage in reasonable and attainable increments.
To put it simply, a nationwide $15 minimum wage is not going to happen. The irrationality of Sanders’ proposals does not end with minimum wage. It also includes universal healthcare and free college tuition.
One of President Obama’s former chief economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, has described Sanders’ proposals as “magic flying puppies with winning lotto tickets tied to their collars." Goolsbee is not alone in criticizing Sanders’ proposals.
Revered liberal economist Paul Krugman, who supports single-payer healthcare in theory, has described Sanders’ healthcare plan as a “fool’s errand” and that time and political resources could be used for pressing issues like infrastructure, climate change and expanding Obamacare.
Overall, elected Democrats do not view Sanders’ proposals as bad; they just consider it unattainable, and I happen to agree with this line of thinking.
To put it simply, a nationwide $15 minimum wage is not going to happen.
Democrats should also stay a left-center party because of the increasing hyper-partisanship in Washington. Much of the hyper-partisanship that exists currently has nothing to do with the current Democratic platform but mostly has to do with Republicans’ response to the election of President Obama in 2008.
After that election, the Republican Party decided to go far right with its rhetoric that attempted to delegitimize the Obama presidency in order to claim its country back. Though Republicans lost the general election in 2012, they were able to regain control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.
What has resulted because of this shift in the Republican Party has been political stagnation. Washington will wage a massive political fight for the simplest of policy measure. This was shown recently when House Democrats had to break House rules to stage a Civil Rights Era sit-in to attempt to get a vote on a bill that would increase sensible gun control legislation.
This stagnation can also be seen in the Senate, where many Senate Republicans have declined to meet with Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland simply because he was nominated by President Obama.
It is important not to forget these Republicans would rather want a candidate who claims a judge cannot make just rulings because of his heritage rather than voting on Garland, who has support from both liberals and conservatives.
No one can be sure if hyper-partisanship will end in Washington any time soon or if it will get better in the foreseeable future, but I am certain that it will not get better if the Democratic Party becomes a left-wing party.