Election 2020

Obama Says Bernie Sanders's Ideas Are 'Critical' to 'Rebuilding Our Economy'

Image source: @BarackObama Twitter feed

When former President Barack Obama endorsed his former Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday, he also endorsed the ideas of “democratic” socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Obama was trying to bring disenchanted Bernie Bros back into the Democratic fold in a reversal of the 2016 election when many of them appear to have voted for Donald Trump just to stick it to Hillary Clinton.

Obama praised Sanders as “an American original” who gives “voice to working people’s hopes, dreams, and frustrations.” He admitted that he and Bernie “haven’t always agreed on everything but we’ve always shared a conviction that we have to make America a fairer, more just, more equitable society.”

But the former president went further still. He called Sanders’ ideas “critical” to progress in America, especially in “rebuilding our economy.”

“The ideas he’s championed, the energy and enthusiasm he inspired, especially in young people, will be critical in moving America in a direction of progress and hope, because for the second time in twelve years, we’ll have the incredible task of rebuilding our economy. And to meet the moment, the Democratic Party will have to be bold,” Obama declared.

The former president insisted that “even before the pandemic turned everything upside down, it was already clear that we needed real structural change. The vast inequalities created by the new economy are easier to see now, but they existed before this pandemic hit.”

“For years, too many of the people who do the essential work of this country have been underpaid, financially stressed, and given too little support,” Obama lamented. So he argued that “we” — read “the federal government” — have to do more to make sure everyone succeeds.

“We need to do more than just tinker around the edges with tax credits or underfunded programs. We have to go further to give everybody a great education, a lasting career, and a stable requirement,” he said. Echoing Bernie Sanders’ claim that health care should be a “right,” Obama advocated for a “public option” in health care, “so that health care isn’t just a right but a reality for everybody.”

Then he blasted Republicans for being interested in “power” rather than “progress.” He faulted them for having “denied the science of climate change just as they denied the science of pandemics.” Trump’s response to the virus has proven contradictory because the experts have contradicted themselves, largely because China lied about the virus from the get-go. Furthermore, Obama is one to talk, considering his failures during the H1N1 pandemic.

Obama accused Republicans of having “disregarded American principles of rule of law and voting rights and transparency, basic norms that previous administrations observed regardless of party” — apparently forgetting his own horrific record of threatening journalists and the Democrats’ recent attempts to shove in systemic voting “reforms” in coronavirus relief legislation.

Yet these partisan attacks are par for the course. Obama’s full-throated praise of Bernie Sanders’s ideas, however, is interesting. Biden beat Sanders in the 2020 primary partially by moving in the direction of Bernie’s radical socialist proposals. In order to defeat Trump, Joe Biden will need to keep the Bernie Bros in the fold while appealing to independents and even some former Trump voters. Catering too much to one or the other may cost Biden voters in the other camp. Yet appealing to the Bernie Bros may be a losing battle — many have a “Bernie-or-Bust” mentality.

Obama’s decision to endorse Sanders’ ideas along with Biden may drive away many independents. Democrats rushed to endorse Biden because he was the alternative to the socialist Sanders, who doubled down on praising the Castro regime. Biden is not Bernie, but he just might end up with his socialist baggage in November, along with his radical ideas.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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