For a description of the position please see Job Opening
Management’s preliminary review of the application of Bernie Sanders.
Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator, was born on 8 September 1941. That makes him about 77 years old and a Virgo. He ran in 2016 and surprised the pundits with his success, but Hillary was the eventual candidate and lost to Trump.
Consistent and Sincere. For more than 50 years, Sanders has supported progressive causes, from civil rights in the 1960s to Medicare for All in the present. His votes in the Senate reflect this and he has often been on the right (that is, left) side of history. He voted against the war in Iraq, the Defense of Marriage Act, and NAFTA.
(Do any of my fictional readers know whether NAFTA was good or bad? I don’t know anything about global economics.)
Consistency, continued. Sanders votes his conscience without regard to political fallout. His positions have always been in favor of helping the poor, fighting for racial justice, taxing the rich, avoiding war, and generally leveling the playing field.
Democratic Socialist. Sanders is to the left of the Democratic Party establishment and is a Democratic Socialist. Despite the scary (to some) Socialist label, this primarily means that he wants higher taxes (especially on the very rich) to pay for things that people currently struggle with, notably college tuition and medical expenses.
Colin Woodard’s book, American Character frames the fundamental divide in the USA as the tension between the common good and the rights of the “individual” (actually the individual exploiter, be it a nobleman, plantation owner, or corporation), to do whatever they want. Bernie has always been on the side of the good of society, rather than the Overlords.
Unafraid to Challenge Root Causes. As a Democratic Socialist, Sanders is not afraid to identify and challenge the fundamental causes of our current banana-republic-esque income inequality, or to propose Big Ideas that leap over the incremental changes supported by more moderate Democrats. Not sure how else to say this, but he cuts through the bullshit, tells it like it is, gets mad, and argues for global change to government’s allocation of resources.
Demographics. Sanders is a white male running in a year when there is a hunger for a President of a different demographic category. His idealism and proposals have proven very appealing to younger white voters, in addition to traditional white progressives. To date, Sanders has not achieved a similarly high level of support from African Americans or other racial minorities, despite his history of fighting for civil rights and the fact that his policy proposals would benefit the disadvantaged.
Foreign Policy. Most of Sanders most publicized proposals are focused on domestic issues. He has a history of being willing to challenge military intervention; for example, he voted against the invasion of Iraq. The Atlantic has an interesting article about Sanders foreign policy positions.
Oppositional? In Sanders long history (of good ideas), he has always positioned himself as misunderstood, too pure for the rest of us, fighting The Man, ahead of his time, taking the purer less traveled road, etc. Management agrees with most of Sanders positions. However, even if he is right about It All, there is something adolescent about all this. For example, he is too righteous to be a Democrat.
The President will govern a country of more than 328,000,000 people, whose backgrounds, ideologies, and viewpoints often vary wildly. To be successful, the President must be able to identify common ground with others, negotiate compromises, and accept the good instead of the perfect. Too much compromise results in the ultimately harmful triangulation that characterized Clinton’s presidency. But, a rigid refusal to sully one’s principals is also counter productive.
This is a matter of temperament rather than one’s position on a scale of left to right. Management is concerned that even if every member of Congress were a Democratic Socialist with a philosophy similar to Sanders, his posture would still be that of The Proud Righteous Loner who won’t demean himself with the horse trading and bargaining of politics. In short, the ability to govern effectively is quite different from the ability to rally supporters at a protest rally.
Age. As noted in the job description, the position of President is uniquely demanding, intellectually, emotionally, and physically. For this reason, management has a concern about the effect of these demands on any candidate over 65 years old. On the other hand, Sanders appears to be vigorous and his young supporters do not seem to be worried that he is too old.
Preliminary Conclusion. Sanders has several positive qualities, including a long history of voting his conscience, and his consistent support for improving the lives of the poor, the sick, racial minorities, and others whose fortunes are neglected by other applicants. Management has concerns about his appetite for the nitty gritty of governing and about his relatively advanced age.
On balance, management would like to invite Sanders back for a second interview.
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