How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Here Comes Bernie

Like most pundits I have been behind the curve on seeing the possibility of Bernie Sanders repeating what Barrack Obama did to Hillary Clinton – coming out of nowhere to defeat her for the Democratic presidential nomination. While he is still a huge long-shot to win the Democratic nomination, it could happen if Bernie is able to come close in Iowa, win big in New Hampshire and begins to attract moderate Democratic voters.

I agree with Bernie's on almost every issue other than gun control, and I'm enough of realist to understand that someone from Vermont is not going to lead the fight against the NRA. Why then has it taken me so long to get on Bernie's bandwagon?

First and foremost, when it became clear to me fairly early on that the Republicans might select a candidate who is repulsive to me - Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, or Donald Trump – I wanted the Democrats to put up their strongest candidate.

Although I have never been enamored with Hillary brand of pragmatic progressivism, I bought into the notion that the combination of her deep support among woman and minorities would give her a best chance of defeating the bad guys.

Now I'm not hundred percent sure. There are signs that Bernie is connecting with young voters in a way that Hillary isn't. According to The New York Times, "Mrs. Clinton and the president are also unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time and liberal voters that will derail her in Iowa, not unlike Barrack Obama did in 2008." I'm also beginning to think that Bernie antipathy to big corporations might have more appeal than Hillary process progressivism among working-class voters who are flocking to Donald Trump out of fear and frustration.

The second reason I shied way from Bernie was I was concerned about his ability to raise the enormous amount of money needed to mount and effective campaign. Well he's raised almost as much money as Hillary and his sources are far purer than Hillary's (he has secured an astonishing 2.3 million campaign contributions).

The third reason, I gravitated towards Hillary was a feeling that her experience would make up for her inability to come across as trustworthy. In a year in which, forthrightness appear to have trumped even honest, as a candidate virtue, the widely held perception that Hillary is not trustworthy could be a tragic flaw. Likewise her inability to come across as likeable will make it difficult for her overcome the perception that she is just another politician who will tell you whatever they think you want to hear.

Fourth and most importantly, I wasn't sure whether Bernie would be able to make the case on gut emotional level that the American economic and political system is rigged for the wealthy and powerful and is destroying the very fabric of our nation. In the last debate with Hillary, I think Bernie made the case as for why "revolutionary" not "evolutionary" change is needed when it comes to regulation of the financial sector, reforming campaign finances, reducing college cost and expanding health care to those who remain uninsured.

Bernie's populist attack on Hillary as being financially beholden to Wall Street because of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions she has received from the employees of banks, hedge funds, and other financial services companies and the personal speaking she got from Goldman Sachs ($675,000 for three speeches in 2013) is resonating with voters who are angry about their declining economic status and anxious that their children could be worse off than them. There is, no doubt, that if she is Democratic candidate, Hillary will be assailed by Republican opponent for the speaking fees she received from Goldman Sachs.

All of this is not to say, that I'm convinced, that if Bernie is the Democratic candidate, he will be able to weather the virulent unrelenting attack he will face. In the coming months, Bernie will need to provide details on how different segments of the population and businesses will fare from a financial perspective in a Sanders administration. To avoid the appropriate and inevitable attack on his "pie-in-the-sky" Northern European social welfare approach to the provision of government services, he will need to spell out clearly where he will reduce costs to pay for his agenda – in this regard it is not enough to say the $650-billion budget is blotted – what will you cut?

If we have learned anything from the Trump candidacy, it is that politics nowadays is dirty brutal nasty business with literally nothing off-limits. Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, will be portrayed as someone who wants to stick-it-to the rich and destroy American underlying values -- rugged individualism, the free enterprise system and equal opportunity. I would expect to see Bernie labeled a Communist and the election made a referendum on socialism vs. capitalism. Given the unprecedented growth in income inequality in our nation over the past two decades -- it is debate worth having. It is time to have discussion as to whether unfettered capitalism can reduce growing economic disparity in our nation.