One Big Way Bernie Sanders Has Already Won
As secretary of state, Clinton promoted the deal on behalf of the Obama administration, famously calling it “the gold standard in trade agreements” in 2012. It wasn’t until after she became a candidate in May that she broke with the administration’s position and sounded her first note of caution, saying she had “some concerns” about the TPP. In October, after months of ceding the popular issue to Sanders on the campaign trail, she finally came out against it.
Clinton is hearing voters who are worried about Sanders’ position on guns, and she’s reminding them — over and over again — that he voted against the Brady Bill, and for a bill that would grant gunmakers immunity from lawsuits.
The position she’s taking on guns this election is significantly different than the one she took back in 2008, when she talked about her “respect” for the Second Amendment and spoke fondly of going shooting with her father when she was a little girl.
Even Clinton’s new posture on guns is a win for Sanders, though, because he’s changed his mind in a significant way, too. Consider this exchange from a debate in November:
Moderator: “You say that Sen. Sanders took a vote on immunity that you don’t like. Should he be tattooed by a single vote and that ruins all future opinions by him on this issue?”
Clinton: “I would love to see Sen. Sanders join with some of my Senate colleagues that I see in the audience: Let’s reverse the immunity.”
Sanders: “Let’s do more than reverse the immunity.”
Moderator: “Was that a mistake, senator?”
Sanders: “Let me hear if there’s any difference between the secretary and myself. I have voted time and again for background checks, and I want to see it improved and expanded. I want to see us do away with the gun-show loophole. In 1988, I lost an election because I said we should not have assault weapons on the streets of America. I don’t know that there’s any disagreement here.”
One of the most fascinating features of this race has been that at many key points — and on many key issues — instead of accentuating their differences, both Clinton and Sanders have appeared hell-bent on emphasizing how similar their views are.
This serves them both, of course: It helps Sanders battle the characterization that he’s too radical, and Clinton beat back accusations that she’s too conservative. But you could argue that Sanders benefits more from the deal: The more his ideas are accepted as mainstream — the more they’re validated by Clinton — the better he could look next to her to a general electorate.
Sanders doesn’t have a looming indictment (or malicious rumors of one). No one is demanding he turn over transcripts of his paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. And Tuesday’s record numbers prove he can turn out young voters in droves.
The political revolution is happening — maybe even in a way that will be palatable for the general public.