Bernie Sanders made Hillary Clinton a greener candidate

Hillary Clinton is her party’s presumptive nominee. Whether Sanders drops out tomorrow or the day he loses the roll-call vote at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, his campaign is over.

But if ever there were a losing campaign that achieved some major wins, it’s Sanders’. Not only did he force Clinton to talk more about economic inequality, he pushed her to promise stronger action to fight climate change and rein in fossil fuel companies. If Hillary Clinton becomes president and keeps some of her more recent promises to restrict oil drilling and fracking, Sanders will deserve a share of the credit.

When Sanders first got into the race, it didn’t look like he would adopt climate change as a major issue…Then, gradually, Sanders started to focus on the issue and develop a strong climate agenda….By January, the Sanders campaign was using the climate issue to attack Clinton, going after her for the vague and incomplete nature of her climate plan. The two campaigns battled on Twitter over whose climate and clean energy platform was stronger. Clinton clearly felt the need to start competing with Sanders for the votes of climate hawks.

The one-two punch of pressure from the green grassroots and pressure from Sanders pushed Clinton leftward on a number of energy issues.

First, last fall, Clinton finally came out against the Keystone XL pipeline, shortly before Obama rejected it. She also declared that she was opposed to offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. And she shifted her position on fossil fuel extraction on public land, from saying it was necessary to saying she wanted to move toward an eventual ban.

As Sanders picked up steam, she gave still more ground to climate activists. In February, she voiced her opposition to offshore drilling in the Atlantic. She also moved to assuage concerns that she is pro-fracking, saying in a March debate that she wants more regulation of fracking, and that she opposes the practice in instances when the local community is against it, it causes air or water contamination, or it involves the use of secret chemicals…

Last month, in recognition of Sanders’ strong showing in the primaries, the Democratic National Committee allowed him to appoint five members to the party’s Platform Drafting Committee, while Clinton got to appoint six. Among Sanders’ choices was Bill McKibben, the climate activist who founded 350.org, led the charge to block Keystone XL, and calls for dramatically reduced fossil fuel extraction…

As Sanders said at a Monday night rally in San Francisco, “When we began our campaign, our ideas were considered a fringe campaign and fringe ideas. That is not the case today.” Sanders lost the primary race, but he has changed the Democratic Party and the politics of climate change.

The next part is the hardest. The part ofter the election.

Yes, I’m worried about American voters and how gullible they may be. After all, our country elected and re-elected both Reagan and George W. Bush. Still, my cynicism is countered by a reasonable quantity of optimism. There really is enough of an army of both smart citizens and smartass politicos to hope that reason prevails.

The hard part is going to be resisting the impulse to press the Democrat Establishment into honoring progressive promises made before and during the campaign. Uh-uh. Their reaction will be immediate and regressive. The Left will be shut out like someone with OCCUPY WALL STREET tattooed on their forehead – at an ExxonMobil shareholders’ meeting.

Not that I’m confident about staying within the Democrat Party long-range, anyway. Just saying, give ’em that first hundred days that impresses the mainstream media before pressing the integrity button to see what happens. There are smart folks in Bernie’s campaign right now who are calculating the when and how to initiate a grassroots 3rd Party campaign. They have beaucoup programmatic tasks and they can be revised to include an independent party if needed. There are lots of variables in those calculations and no need to hurry the process.

4 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders made Hillary Clinton a greener candidate

  1. List of X says:

    I really hope that the smart people in the Bernie campaign are thinking how to keep Hillary greener through the general election and beyond, and not about launching a third party bid this year. Chances that an independent candidate would beat Clinton and Trump this year is zero, but an independent candidate from the left would increase the chances that Trump would win.

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