Sanders Is Right: Clinton Not Qualified to Be a Progressive President
On 'quality control' and the Democratic Party
Sanders Is Right: Clinton Not Qualified to Be a Progressive President
By Peter Bloom / commondreams.org
Apr 8, 2016

The Democratic primary has dramatically intensified in the wake of Bernie Sanders resounding double digit victory in Wisconsin earlier this week. With the delegate rich battleground of New York nearing, the rhetoric between the candidates has taken on an increasingly combative “tone”.

The most recent example of the heated nature of this once almost friendly contest is the rising battle over who is qualified to be President. Clinton, perhaps feeling “nervous” in the face of Sanders’ growing momentum, has adopted a new strategy meant to “disqualify him, defeat him and then…unify the party later.” In response Sanders has fired back that it is Clinton who is “not qualified”.

Easily missed in this electoral sparring is an important debate about what in fact does qualify someone to be a political leader. Traditionally, such qualifications are linked to a mix of experience and knowledge. Yet as the Sanders surge has revealed, voters are increasingly rejecting these establishment credentials for something more progressive.

Who is (Dis)Qualified for Leadership?

The crisis of quality arguably started with a widely perceived to be embarrassing interview Bernie Sanders gave to the New York Daily News. In it he appeared not to know how he would break up the “big Banks” as he has been promising throughout his campaign. This apparent confusion seemingly also extended to issues of foreign policy such as Drones and the legality of Israeli settlements.

The mainstream media was quick to pounce on Sanders’ supposed ignorance. Taking advantage of this emerging narrative, Clinton and her allies used this incident to portray Sanders as potentially unfit for office. She declared “He’d been talking for more than a year about doing things that he hadn’t really studied or understood.”

These charges soon threatened to backfire as numerous experts and even some reliably pro-Clinton publications such as the New York Times came to Sanders’ defense. In point of fact, it was the New York Daily News editors, not Sanders, who were misinformed. Sanders replies of “I don’t know” on financial regulation were due, for instance, to their own confusion regarding the authority of the Treasury Department and the Fed.

In the wake of these revelations, Sanders has forcefully challenged Clinton’s own qualifications. He challenged her credentials on both domestic and foreign policy issues. Referring to the recent release of the “Panama Papers” he proclaimed “I don't think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free-trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has made it easier for wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avoid paying taxes owed to their countries.”

Status Quo Experience Vs. Progressive Wisdom

This latest flare up may soon be lost to the newest cycle of fresh outrage so characteristic of close elections. However, it is an opportunity to popularly reconsider what makes an individual suitable to lead and govern. In electing a leader, citizens should expect more than establishment friendly experience and knowledge.

Clinton has been trumpeted repeatedly for her undeniable political experience. Yet as Sanders has taken great pains to point out – it is easy but dangerous to confuse being experienced for being qualified. Also required is wisdom, judgment and strong ethical principles.

"It is easy but dangerous to confuse being experienced for being qualified."

It is not clear by any stretch of the imagination that Clinton is more experienced than Sanders. His success as a mayor, congressman and Senator holds up well with her resume as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State. However, it is hard to argue that she matches up to him in terms of wisdom and principles.

Time and again – from the Iraqi invasion to LGTB rights, from the free trade to the environment – Sanders’s judgment has revealed itself far superior to Clinton’s. The leak of the “Panama Papers” further highlighted this qualified difference between the two candidates. While Clinton as Secretary of State was negotiating a free trade agreement with Panama that would easier for the wealthy to move their money offshore, Sanders was giving a speech on the Senate floor railing against this deal as a giveaway to the rich at the expense of the majority of Americans.

The contest between Clinton and Sanders represents something far bigger than the election of the candidates themselves. It is the choice between status quo experience and progressive wisdom. To quote Robert Reich, Hillary Clinton is "the most qualified candidate for president of the political system we now have. But Bernie Sanders is the most qualified candidate to create the political system we should have, because he’s leading a political movement for change."

Progressive Quality Control

A crucial question for voters this primary is whether they will continue to be seduced by the false lure of establishment resumes. While knowledge and experience should not be discounted, they should also be weighed against foresight and consistency of principle. An insider’s pedigree may represent a narrow elite worldview unsuitable for a time when it is “too late for establishment politics and establishment economics.”

Progressive voters should demand from their candidates a higher degree of quality control. They must expand their electoral expectations beyond a persona’s ability to personally advance their political career. They must consider whether someone truly is a “progressive who gets things done” or merely a politician who “gets things done” based on whatever is popular at the time and what their corporate allies support.

Hillary Clinton is undeniably an extremely experienced and informed candidate. She is also a clear lesser evil than any Republican she will face. However, Sanders is right, she is not qualified to be a progressive President.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Peter Bloom is a lecturer in the Department of People and Organisations at the Open University. He has published widely on issues of 21st century democracy, politics and economics in both scholarly journals and in publications including the Washington Post, The New Statesman, Roar, Open Democracy, The Conversation and Common Dreams. His book, Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization, will be released next year.

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 8,389 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 4,796 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 4,666 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,104 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 3,052 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 1,307 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
What Is My Activism Really About? to Love, Serve and Remember
Tim Hjersted · 983 views today · I have made a promise to this world that I will carry with me to my last days. It is my vow to lessen the suffering of the world while I am here - it is to ensure that every...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 891 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 671 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 656 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 598 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 567 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 547 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 406 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 370 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 335 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 326 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 284 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 265 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 254 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Sanders Is Right: Clinton Not Qualified to Be a Progressive President