Bernie Sanders is a powerhouse. Nothing like him has ever been experienced in American Democratic politics in the history of the party. He crushed Obama’s fundraising records long before the New York Primary. His rallies continue to draw record-breaking crowds. His message resonates with young people that used to believe politics wasn’t about them. He sticks to his message and that message resonates with millions of people that thought they had been forgotten. He has been true to his ideals for decades even when no one was listening. He is an icon for the ages.
Right now, in this brief moment of time, he is also the most powerful man in America.
Bernie is the most powerful man in America if he recognizes where his power truly lies.
Bernie’s power lies in his message not in the messenger. It lies with his influence on millions of voters. It lies in his ability to raise ridiculous amounts of money. It lies in his passion that engages people and gets them excited about the future. For a brief, shining moment Bernie can truly lead a revolution in America the likes of which we have never seen. Unfortunately, that revolution does not lead him to the White House. It leads him back where he started with his “50 state strategy.”
At the beginning of the primary race, Bernie was moved by the feeling of disenfranchisement and lack of commitment to southern candidates. The hopelessness of candidates running for office in states where common wisdom tells us they are solid red through and through. He vowed if he was chosen as the leader of the party, he would implement a 50 state strategy that helped Democrats be elected across the country. Now is the time to honor that vow. Not because he will be leader of the party but because he can lead the fight to win back the House and the Senate. He can lead the revolution that gets those people elected. He has the power to create a Senate that will confirm Supreme Court judges that protect voting rights, and civil rights, and women’s rights, and LGBT rights, and the separation of church and state. It will get us a Congress that can end Citizen’s United.
No President can make laws, even laws we asked him to make. No President can act alone to implement a vision. President Obama has faced that day in and day out for 2,658 days and counting. No President can close banks unless the law allows it. No President can force states to hand out free education at their public colleges and universities. Only the state legislature and Governor can do that. No President can end fracking, no matter how dire the danger to the environment. Only laws passed by the House, the Senate and signed by the President can do that. Even then, the Supreme Court can overturn those laws. No President can implement a carbon tax to force us to use clean energy. Only Congress can levy taxes. No President can raise taxes on the top 1% to make them pay their fair share. The Constitution says that power belongs to the Legislature. No President can overturn Citizen’s United. Only the Supreme Court or a Constitutional Amendment can do that.
As President, Bernie has no power to do all the marvelous things he wants to do. No problem. Bernie can do so much more than merely sit in the White House. Bernie can use his incredible fund raising power to help Democrats in House races in every state. Those Democrats, if elected can levy taxes on corporations and the wealthy. They can create laws to reign in the banks. They can close tax loopholes that give ridiculous tax breaks to corporations. Bernie can unleash his charisma and passion to draw huge crowds for Senate candidates across the country. If elected, those new Senators can confirm judges that no longer put politics before the law. Bernie can call for a Constitutional Amendment that will end Citizen’s United if both the House and Senate are controlled by Democrats. He can get millions of people involved in local politics to elect Democrats and finally put a stop to Republican Governors and legislators dedicated to slashing rights for women, people of color, immigrants, LGBT, voting, the poor, the working class, unions, the sick and the elderly.
Bernie has the power to achieve all he wants to accomplish by helping others build a revolutionary wave of Democrats, Progressives, Liberals and Independents in every state, and in every race across the country. Bernie has the power to make Mitch McConnell sit quietly in the back of the room. He has the power to make Paul Ryan “Feel the Bern.” Bernie has the power to stop the legacy of Scalia from spreading to more generations.
With great power comes great responsibility and humility. If Bernie continues to seek only the White House, he will lose traction on everything else. Every time some pundit runs the math, even if it is close, Bernie loses just a little power. Hope is replaced with frustration. Enthusiasm is replaced with disappointment. Passion is replaced with anger. For every report in the 24/7 news cycle, there is a greater fear that Bernie’s message will be lost. If that fear is allowed to grow, Bernie’s power will become smaller and smaller. Hillary can lead the party. Hillary can run the White House and she will do a good job. Bernie has told us that so many times. Bernie can lead the Democrats to victory if he uses his power wisely. Hillary and Bernie, working together as our Founding Fathers hoped will be a juggernaut for all the changes they both want to achieve.
The choice is his. Like any quest, the hero must choose his destiny. Will he be just another candidate for President, or will he lead Democrats to potential victories that were not even possible when he first entered the race? Republicans know just how dangerous Bernie is to their agenda if his true power is unleashed. They are praying he does not choose the nobler path. They are praying he fights all the way to the bitter end and loses all his power. They are hoping his followers will become discouraged and disappointed and fearful and jaded. They are hoping to split the party or splinter the message. They are doing their best to feed the fear that the hope in his message will be lost so they can stay in power to continue disenfranchising all of us. They are praying they will be the ones to choose the next 4 Justices on the Supreme Court to make Citizen’s United, corporations, and the wealthiest 1% unstoppable. The power of the dark side is strong but Bernie must be stronger.
Bernie does not have to quit. He only has to redirect his power and his focus. The worst thing he could do is go home because we need him. America needs a General in Bernie not a statesman. Please, Mr. Sanders, stay in the race but leave the White House to the suits. We need you in the trenches fighting for us in the states, in the House and in the Senate. Change your dialogue from “there is a path to the nomination” to “let’s forge a path to a Democratic landslide.”