Not feeling the Bern

I don’t think I’ve really talked about Bernie all that much since 2016, but, as you probably recall, I’m not the biggest fan.  That said, big props to Bernie for undoubtedly shifting the Democratic party to the left via his 2016 run.  Medicare-for-all is totally mainstream among 2020 Democratic contenders as is a $15 minimum wage.  Not so much “free college” but it’s certainly a more popular and mainstream idea than it was four years ago.

One might even say that 2016 Bernie lost the battle but won the war.  In one way, then, that actually makes 2020 Bernie largely superfluous.  Obviously, Bernie still represents the left-most point of Democratic contenders, but there is much less of a gap than there used to me.  And a small enough one, that ideology should not be determinative.

So, I’m going to be a bad political scientist, though, and put polling data, knowledge of the primary process, etc., aside, and make my Bernie prediction based on anecdote.  Short version… there is absolutely no feeling the Bern among my current students.  Four years ago, they were overwhelmingly passionately for him.  Maybe there’a a bunch of mid-twenties Democrats who are still feeling the Bern, but I doubt it.  Some of the older students said they did feel the Bern four years ago, but not so much this time around.  So, yeah, of course there are theoretical paths for Bernie to pull it off.  But going from amazing enthusiasm among college students to very little, says to me good things are not going to happen for Bernie.

Take that, Constitution

Once again, the Onion gets it as well as anybody:

Trump Base Celebrates President For Standing Up To Constitution

WASHINGTON—Enthusiastically praising the commander-in-chief for holding firm in the face of opposition, Donald Trump’s political base cheered on the president Friday for standing up to the U.S. Constitution. “He stayed strong and really showed the Constitution who’s boss,” said 48-year-old Trump supporter Ross Heddens, applauding the president’s bravery and determination in taking on the document that represents the social contract through which all authority vested in the U.S. government is ultimately derived. “No fundamental system of laws is going to get in his way. Trump has shown that he won’t allow mere constitutional articles—not even the ones that explicitly delineate which powers are granted to which branches of government—to stop him from doing what he has pledged to do. That’s how tough he is.” Members of Trump’s base went on to urge the president to continue standing his ground by ignoring any future rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court that may seek to prevent him from fulfilling his campaign promises.

In a similar vein, Catherine Rampell writes, “What America really needs to do is abolish Congress.’

The far right wants to eliminate what it considers the vestigial organs of government, including the Education, Commerce and Energy departments. The far left wants to Abolish ICE.

They’re both thinking too small. What America really needs to do — and what might actually receive strong bipartisan support — is to Abolish Congress.

Sure, you might argue that the legislative branch has critical responsibilities, endowed by our sacred Constitution. Congress is an equal branch of government that provides checks and balances on the other branches.

Without Congress, you might ask, wouldn’t the president have completely free rein to act on his worst authoritarian impulses? But then again you might also ask: How would that be different from the situation we have now?

Why, just a few days ago, the legislature proved how little interest it has in exercising one of its most fundamental constitutional powers, the power of the purse.

The Constitution gives Congress the authority to appropriate federal dollars. This is a constitutionally mandated check on the executive branch and at the crux of our founding document’s separation of powers. In practice, it means the president cannot decide unilaterally to spend money for a purpose that Congress has rejected.

And yet that is what happened last week.

Congress has — multiple times now — explicitly denied President Trump’s request for billions of dollars for a border wall that we don’t need and that most Americans don’t want. After months of debate and a pointless shutdown, lawmakers appropriated $1.375 billion for border barriers, and not a penny more. Then Trump announced that he was declaring a “national emergency” to commandeer $8 billion for his pet project anyway.

Federal lawmakers should have been livid at this power grab. Curiously, many were not. In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — one of the most powerful people in this supposedly powerful branch of government — declared this a splendid outcome.

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