There are thousands, perhaps millions, of voters who are still undecided in this Democratic Primary, voters who support the changes Bernie Sanders proposes to make for our country but have concerns about him as well.
Let’s look at the two biggest concerns that I hear about Bernie’s campaign:
- That he won’t work well with others in government.
- That he’ll hurt down-ballot races in the general election.
Does Bernie Collaborate?
How does Bernie Sanders work with others in government when he’s in power? One of the easiest and most obvious things to examine is the eight years he was Mayor of Burlington, when he was in fact head of a government. It was a while ago, but there are some real parallels with today. He narrowly defeated an entrenched establishment to become Mayor, and there were Republicans (and some Democrats) in the city council determined to stop him at every turn.
What transpired during his administration was in fact quite remarkable. He articulated grand plans for revitalizing areas of the waterfront, increasing participation in government, and improving the city— so that everyone knew what he wanted. The power of a repeatedly-articulated grand vision shouldn’t be underestimated when attempting to make structural change, but what was equally important was that he then compromised and collaborated with Republicans and developers repeatedly to get 75% or 85% or 90% of what he wanted accomplished. Vermont was largely a Republican state at the time, but he won over working class conservatives as well as liberals and progressives, and Sanders is a major reason the state has become reliably Democratic over the past two decades. In some instances, when he couldn’t change a city policy that he believed needed to change, he went directly to the people and through organizing and rallies, convinced lawmakers to do the right thing.