How Sanders Wins and Governs–Winning and Losing in 2020

24 Feb

How Sanders Wins and Governs–Winning and Losing in 2020


Anyone sensitive to the American political scene has become aware of an emerging collision between surging citizen support for Bernie Sanders and the lamentations of portfolio (stocks & bonds) driven Democrats who purport to question Sanders’ electability, and even if they now most reluctantly acknowledge the robustness of his electoral challenge to Trump, contend that he will be never be able to govern given his left agenda and considering the likely embitterment of the DNC establishment.


Admittedly, in my voting lifetime there has never been a credible candidate that is disliked by Wall Street, the Pentagon, and AIPAC. Yet, until now over many decades there has also never been a candidate that has been so ardently affirmed and trusted as Sanders by those who are tired of this regressive electoral hegemony achieved by these three pillars of the bipartisan American establishment. The person who came closest in the past to posing a similar challenge was, of course, Sanders in 2016, which had his challenge back then been allowed to happen, we might have been relieved of the present agonizing prospect of the renewal of Trump’s electoral mandate. The Sanders challenge is long overdue, and yet the Bloomberg millions and the wish for establishment continuity should not be underestimated. It is certainly not underfunded. These pale blue forces, although anti-Trump, are determined to spend and intensify their anti-Sanders campaign until they achieve their goals. They are down, but far from out, and seem in the end to care more about securing ‘a three pillars candidate’ (whoever it might be) than defeating Trump. For Trump, despite his explosive bombast and crazy tweets has pandered to Wall Street (tax breaks for the ultra-rich), Pentagon (highest budget ever in peacetime), and AIPAC (Israel gets green light for settlements, Jerusalem, Golan Heights that even prior pro-Israel partisan presidents held back on). In this sense, despite the ridicule of liberals, ‘Trump gets American politics.’


Against this background, principled pragmatism suggests a formula: Elizabeth Warren soon withdraws from the primary battle, despite her admirable campaign, throwing her support to Sanders. In turn Sanders pledges compatibility with her programs on health, education, and immigration, or proposes ways to blend her detailed proposals with his proclaimed objectives; he also promises her selection as his chief economic advisor throughout his presidency, while indicating an unconditional commitment to be at most a one-term president, coupled with some language suggesting that he will do all in his power to secure the 2024 Democratic Party nomination for Warren.


Such a formula is likely to be difficult to make operational, but if the alternative is a blue-tinged red billionaire becoming either candidate or kingmaker, we will be living under Trump in what amounts to a choiceless democracy for at least another four years. If portfolio Democrats win this battle, as they did in 2016, we might as well reconcile ourselves to an ‘always Trump’ future, dimming the lights of genuine democracy for a long, long time. They will express shock and regret as the Trump victory becomes apparent, but will unusually sleep well that night!

20 Responses to “How Sanders Wins and Governs–Winning and Losing in 2020”

  1. David Hillstrom February 24, 2020 at 6:57 am #


    This is excellent, clear and concise.




  2. Artie Alfreds February 24, 2020 at 7:09 am #

    His inability to govern goes way beyond his political stance, & Obama was disliked by AIPAC. Bernie is ranked 100th in the Senate on cooperation, he has done very little in his 30 years in Congress. He’s YouTube Bernie

  3. Artie Alfreds February 24, 2020 at 7:10 am #

    And, I don’t know what this being disliked by the Pentagon is about. Bernie is fairly mainstream on foreign policy, like Obama.

  4. Alfred Giannantonio February 24, 2020 at 9:25 am #

    A excellent piece, many thanks to Richard Falk for his wisdom, courage, and testimony

  5. Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka February 24, 2020 at 10:49 am #

    Dead right, Richard. I had entertained the hope that even if Trump wins, the ensuing socioeconomic and cultural polarization in the second term would open the real possibility of AOC doing an Obama in 2024, but I fear that a defeat for Bernie would swing the Democrats rightward, thereby foreclosing an AOC scenario for several, even many years more. So it is 2020 or bust. I think you should write more on “principled pragmatism”.

  6. Beau Oolayforos February 24, 2020 at 12:34 pm #

    Dear Professor Falk,

    How about Warren as VP, to balance the ticket and train for the presidency? And leave economic policy to an expert, like Krugman, if he’d take the job? Don’t the portfolio Democrats understand that with the economy in sure hands, they’re bound to make money?

    • Richard Falk February 24, 2020 at 2:49 pm #

      Sounds sensible, but it goes against all the conventional thinking–two ideologically
      anti-establishment Democrats from small New England states, and an implication that Sanders’
      health is so precarious that he needs an ideological backup to get program pushed forward.
      Warren would be more than an expert–she would be an informal co-president, economic policy
      beings so integral to what Sanders pledges and what his mobilized base wants.

      Thanks, as always, for thoughtful comment. Richard

  7. Yanique Joseph February 25, 2020 at 1:45 pm #

    I have advocated a Sanders-Warren alliance since last summer. By inviting Warren to serve as vice-president, she will train for the 2024 presidency. According to polls, the gender gap is widening as more women are becoming more liberal. Americans should not be afraid to contemplate a split within the Democratic Party if the DNC establishment becomes too hostile. Defectors from the Republican Party can join the conservative Democrats and Sanders and Warren can lead a new and robust third party – Sanders has enough funds to finance the consolidation of such a party during the coming 4 years. Sanders and Warren have won the support of large numbers of the young and rightly so – they are the only candidates to challenge the corrupt global reign of Wall Street enforced by the extreme violence of perpetual conflict and war. Only such a challenge will result in the enactment of a Green New Deal not only for the U.S. but also for the world.

    The stakes have never been so high for humanity. With another Trump presidency, the Amazon Rainforest Basin, threatened by illegal logging, clearing by fires and mining is likely to be destroyed suffering a calamity, the magnitude of the recent Australian fires. A second Trump presidency could also result in armed conflict between Colombia and Venezuela and guarantees continuing war against Iran and Russia, accelerating use of fossil-fuels and maintaining dangerous nuclear brinksmanship against those countries. The spread of the corona virus only reminds us that “Medicare for All” and global health for all has become essential as societies must be protected against emerging diseases with the potential of becoming pandemics.

    On the bright side, many of the political dinosaurs in both Democratic and Republic Parties will retire, be incapacitated or dead within the next ten years. Sanders and Warren, despite their advanced age, have the capacity and the funds to bring numerous young people and disaffected non-voters into a reinvigorated and progressive American politics. It’s the only political alternative that guarantees the future of the human species.

    Yanique Joseph, Haitian Renaissance Institute, New Haven

    • Richard Falk February 26, 2020 at 2:06 am #

      I am with you in spirit, Yanique, but it will not happen even if BS wins
      nomination. By defying conventional wisdom, selecting Warren to VP, another
      small state New Englander would be understood to give priority to destroying
      the Wall Street/Pentagon establishment consensus over defeating Trump. These
      portfolio will not vote, or might even cast their vote for the dreaded Alternative.

      Hope you flourish. Greetings from London,


  8. ray032 February 25, 2020 at 2:29 pm #

    I have been watching US Presidential Politics from CanaDa since Eisenhower. I subscribe to The Washington Post and over many years, have made some 8000 comments as an Amateur Expert Political Analyst, interpreting and explaining the major News events unfolding in this rapidly changing News Cycle as I see them.

    I have never seen anything like the growing number of Washington Post Opinion Writers working overtime, sowing doubt about Bernie in the Voter’s mind. Reading the Political Propaganda, I have to calculate if it has anything to do with the fact, the Owner of the Washington Post is the #1 or #2 richest individuals in this World, and naturally wouldn’t like Bernie’s Message gaining traction among the Masses. MSNBC and CNN Opinion personalities are joining the Chorus. It would appear the Deep State/Establishment is more afraid of Bernie than Trump.

    Saunders presses the need to change the Social-Economic Pyramid System over us, making the rich at the top richer, and the Masses at the bottom poorer.
    He was ahead of his Time, the Masses are only now beginning to recognize.
    He has remained True to his Beliefs, this 1981 TV interview of him shows.

    You would think the Christian Evangelists living the lifestyle of the rich and famous, supporting Trump, would be leading the charge for Economic restructuring as called for in the Gospel of Christ,
    Then Jesus said to his disciples, Truly I say to you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
    Matthew 19.

    James, the brother of Jesus, went even further, being more specific in his Bible writing,
    Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
    Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten.
    Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the LAST DAYS.

    Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by FRAUD, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord Almighty […] But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest you fall into condemnation.
    James 5

    The TV Evangelists are always warning we are in the LAST DAYS, but they never expound on the words and Vision in James vision of the LAST DAYS in their Bibles.
    They are blind to them, even though they say you have to go by the Bible, and send them money.

    Bernie is pointing it out, and the rich and powerful at the top of the Social-Economic Pyramid system want to silence him, and scare the People like the rich land and slave owners tried to stamp out the 1st Century Christians closest to Christ.

    • Richard Falk February 26, 2020 at 2:00 am #


      An important reading of the NT vision of Jesus that is conveniently
      ignored by selective Evangelical readings of the Book of Revelations
      as it there was no relevance to the life and teachings of Jesus.

      with greetings,


      • Kata Fisher February 28, 2020 at 1:30 am #

        Professor Falk,

        I most say something: Sean Patrick Hannity does not fit any of those description. As a person and a book reader – he is absolutely a darling. Conservative win will not be a like a Leviathan Monster – they just need to stay away from pastor-hood in *satanic seals. That’s all. Conservatives are awesome world leaders.

        I am currently researching Greek-orthodox theology – I just wanted to slap myself because for years … I totally missed out on some great preyes – and, yes, they have even some miracles.

        Aldough, traditions totally just turned off spirit of my mind. I WAS TOTALLY SHOCKED.

        O’ speaking on evangelical *witch – that can’t do a thing – to teach.

        Sean Patrick Hannity – is absolutely a miracle in US. I just can’t believe it.. he is a total representation of genuine democracy. I would be doomed for 100 years if I would be wrong. 🙂


  9. Gene Schulman February 29, 2020 at 12:56 am #

    Sorry to have to be the one to inform you, K.F., but you’re DOOMED!

    • Kata Fisher March 1, 2020 at 6:20 pm #

      Dear Gene,

      You are still alive!

      This give us a-what-a-nobel-opportunity

      to reconcile

      our 7-year-old feud of differences?

      There is a doom in the city. Cheers!

      About the city’s brawls:

      Look – this is a Contemporary abuse of the Church order:

  10. Kata Fisher February 29, 2020 at 3:39 am #

    Dear Professor Falk – I know what it is. It is this city. It is this city.

  11. Rabbi Ira Youdovin March 2, 2020 at 2:45 pm #

    Richard, It was a little amusing to read your observation that there has never been a “credible candidate” in your voting lifetime who is disliked by Wall Street, the Pentagon, and AIPAC. Fact is that AIPAC neither endorses nor funds candidates. As clearly stated on its website: “AIPAC encourages its members to participate in the political process and support the candidates of their choice.” And if the operative word is “dislikes” rather than the more specific “endorses”, I would point to Barack Obama, whose policies upset elements of the so-called Israel lobby but who won two elections with overwhelming Jewish support.

    Even more troubling than the factual error is that it echoes the anti-Semitic trope that Jews hatch illicit schemes to gain disproportionate and dangerous influence over national policy making. It may not be your intention to disseminate this evil canard drawn from the lexicography of historic anti-Semitism. But placing AIPAC in the same league as Wall Street and the Pentagon cannot be based on a reasonable assessment of reality uncolored by prejudicial myth-making. The American Jewish community is tiny, numbering no more than five million, approximately three percent of the country’s total population. AIPAC’s success comes not from devious plots, but from the commitment and effective work of its staff and supporters. And, as characterized by Aaron David Miller, formerly director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and currently a senior fellow at the Carnegie Institute, Israel resonates with the American psyche because of shared values and commitment to shared goals and ideals. To be sure, Israel is far from being a perfect democracy. But when you look at today’s election results, which make the party of Palestinian Israelis—which is how an increasing number describe themselves—the third largest in the Knesset (parliament), one wonders what marvels might occur should the Palestinian People abandon their consensus determination to drive out the Jews.

    As regards the remainder of your post, let’s apply Occam’s Razor to your attempted takedown of Democrats within the party who are working to deny Sen. Sanders the nomination. You draw an elaborate thesis alleging something akin to Trump’s portrayal of a Deep State. Certainly, some of your analysis has a factual basis. But your determination to decry the effort as evil turns a blind eye on folks whose attention is not focused on what might happen four, eight or twelve years down the road, but who believe that their singular objective for 2020 is to deny Trump a second term, and worry that a 78-year-old Brooklyn born Jewish socialist who represents one of the smallest states in the Union and has recently suffered a heart attack may not be the best candidate best for the job. And while Sanders’ boycott of the AIPAC convention (which he was invited to address) and his unfair badmouthing of the organization may have won favor among those who want a revolution more than winning the White House and Capitol Hill, but it does nothing to enhance his appeal to voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    Rabbi Ira Youdovin

    • Richard Falk March 2, 2020 at 11:12 pm #

      Ira: As usual, I appreciate your care in developing your contrary interpretation of
      public realities. I am reminded of the Chinese proverb: “Two men sleep in the same bed,
      but have different dreams.” And, I would add, different nightmares. To portray Obama through
      Likud eyes or AIPAC as you do, conceives of reality in such a different way that I am rendered
      almost speechless. When it comes to advising the Palestinians how to make their life better, I
      can only respond by saying that you make the prospect of political surrender after a decade of
      struggle into an occasion of celebration. I cannot follow where you would lead.

      • Rabbi Ira Youdovin March 3, 2020 at 12:28 pm #


        About us sleeping in the same bed: maybe we should wait until the Coronavirus has passed. After all, the proverb you quoted is Chinese. They know a thing or two about Coronavirus.

        Apparently, my reference to Obama was unclear. Or perhaps you misread it. It was a response to your saying that no-one AIPAC dislikes can be elected president. In fact, AIPAC had little affection for Obama. My own opinion is that Obama acted with wisdom in putting some distance between the American government and Israel, especially as it enabled Washington to exert a restraining influence on Israel’s annexationist impulses. We surely miss that kind of influence these days although, notably, when Netanyahu greeted the Trump plan by announcing that he would move immediately with its implementation, the Trump government ordered him to stop. Let’s see what happens now, although I’m not optimistic.

        Another matter. For the record, I’m not advising the Palestinians on how to make their lives better. My kids don’t listen to me so why should they? And I’m not making anything into an “occasion for celebration”. My point is that the conflict is not binary. There are currents and nuances on both sides that could open avenues for its resolution if influentials in both camps stopped equating compromise with surrender.


    • ray032 March 3, 2020 at 7:26 am #

      Rabbi, one wonders what marvels might occur should the Palestinian People abandon their consensus determination to drive out the Jews.

      On the flip side, one wonders what marvels might occur should the Jewish People abandon their consensus determination to drive out Palestinians from THEIR Land, destroying their homes so Jews can move in, maintaining a brutal Military Dictatorship with no Democracy or Civil rights for Palestinians in Israeli Military Courts, and Israeli soldiers standing idly by as the latest re-incarnation of Brown Shirts in the Jewish settlers destroying Palestinian Olive Trees on Palestinian Land.

      • Fred Skolnik March 4, 2020 at 1:07 am #

        The Brown Shirts did a little more destroy olive trees and I didn’t hear you open your filthy mouth when your Palestinian terrorists were blowing apart Israeli women and children in buses and restaurants.

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