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The Burlington Strategery

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This thread is…something. A Bernie-connected public intellectual is arguing in re: Sanders and the filibuster that Bernie doesn’t have an unrealistic plan to get anything out of the Senate he would actually have in 2021, he has…a totally realistic plan to just quickly replace the senators who won’t vote for his agenda with a majority that will:

Since I can see no relevant differences between getting a more liberal city council in Burlington, VT and getting a social democratic median vote in the U.S. Senate, I see no flaws in this plan!

Seriously, it’s just amazing anyone could say this with a straight face. I mean, look at the 2022 Senate map. Sanders is going to use some unspecified powers to get 20 or 25 of those senators replaced with social democrats? I’d sure like to see your list of states. And of course, once Bernie has somehow done that he would also have to hold the House, as the in party that we’ve pretty much stipulated will have failed to pass most or all of the ambitious agenda the president promised to enact, which almost certainly wouldn’t happen either.

And it’s not even as if it hasn’t been tried! FDR valiantly tried to primary recalcitrant Dixiecrats in 1938 immediately after winning a historic landslide two years before…and failed miserably. Because to state the very obvious presidents can’t just “replace” members of Congress they don’t like by fiat. They might be able to lend some weight against a primary campaign against a particular weak incumbent or two, but that’s it. And in the modern partisan era the idea that Bernie (or any other Democratic president) could turn Republican states off Republican incumbents is laughable.

Obviously, terrible arguments about presidential power are endemic to the internets, but what concerns me is the terrible arguments coming from people well within the Sanders orbit. They suggest that he may really believe that he can simply “consolidate power” in the Senate the way he did in Burlington, and therefore doesn’t even need a serious plan to get much of anything out of Congress in the first two years that represents the best window to accomplish anything. If that’s true, the possibility that he would be the Carter of the left is unacceptably high.

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