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Wed Feb 20, 2019, 10:19 AM

NYT Opinion: Bernie 2020, Pro and Con

By David Leonhardt
Opinion Today

Feb. 20, 2019


The case for Sanders

Hes consistently underrated for a reason: His agenda is more popular than many American elites understand. Most Americans favor a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich and corporations and expanded versions of Medicare and Social Security. The Sanders approach progressive on economic issues, without much focus on social and cultural issues is in many ways the sweet spot of American politics.

Sanders is a natural politician. Too many Democrats campaign on a laundry list of smart, technocratic proposals that, in the minds of voters, add up to less than the sum of their parts. Sanders understands the importance of clear, bold messages: greedy billionaires, $15 minimum wage, free college, Medicare for all, Green New Deal. If he were elected president along with Democratic majorities in Congress, he would have a mandate for Reagan-like change in the opposite direction.

Sanders has prepared for this moment. He has stayed in the public eye, built a political organization and, as Voxs Matthew Yglesias has noted, toned down some of his fights with the Democratic establishment. Plus, the establishment is closer to him now on economic issues than it was a few years ago.

Sanders is ahead of every other declared candidate in the polls. He trails only Joe Biden, who, even if he does run, has a weaker history as a presidential candidate than Sanders does. Yes, early primary polls can be misleading. But they can also matter, as Donald Trump showed.


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