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AOC Joins Biden Policy Panel In Bid For Party Unity

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Now that former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the progressive and centrist wings of his party are coalescing around him, including President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the center — and Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the left. And Biden, in an obvious effort to reach out to the progressive wing of his party, has asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City to co-chair a Biden campaign task force on climate change.

According to CNN, the task force's other co-chair will be former U.S. senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry — who took over as secretary of state in Obama's administration in 2013 after Clinton left that position. The task force will also include Varshini Prakash, who serves as executive director of the Sunrise Movement and has championed Ocasio-Cortez' Green New Deal.

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Ending Campaign, Sanders Pledges To ‘Stand United’ With Biden

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) announced on Wednesday he was suspending his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

From an April 8 campaign video:

BERNIE SANDERS: Today, I congratulate Joe Biden, a very decent man, who I will work with to move our progressive ideas forward.
On a practical note, let me also say this: I will stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates. While Vice President Biden will be the nominee, we must continue working to assemble as many delegates as possible at the Democratic Convention, where we will be able to exert significant influence over the party platform and other functions.
Then together, standing united, we will go forward to defeat Donald Trump, the most dangerous president in modern American history. And we will fight to elect strong progressives at every level of government, from Congress, to the school board.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Sanders Barks At CNN Reporter Who Asked About Primary

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont had an angry outburst on Wednesday at a reporter inquiring about his bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

Sanders was discussing the coronavirus outbreak, which he called an “unprecedented crisis of our lifetime,” with a group of reporters.

CNN’s Manu Raju, one of the most dogged reporters on Capitol Hill, asked Sanders about his plans for the campaign. On Tuesday, Sanders suffered a bruising defeat as former Vice President Joe Biden swept big wins in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona and increased his delegate lead. Analysts believe there’s little likelihood that Sanders could catch up to Biden at this point and still win the nomination. The senator said earlier in the day that he is “assessing” the state of his campaign.

“The next primary contest is at least three weeks away. Sen. Sanders is going to be having conversations with supporters to assess his campaign,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders campaign manager said in a statement. “In the immediate term, however, he is focused on the government response to the coronavirus outbreak and ensuring that we take care of working people and the most vulnerable.”

But when Raju asked about a timeline for this reassessment Wednesday afternoon, Sanders wasn’t happy.

“I’m dealing with a fucking global crisis,” Sanders said. “You know, we’re dealing with.”

Raju noted that he’s running for president.

“Well. right now, right now I’m trying to do my best to make sure that we don’t have an economic meltdown and that people don’t die,” Sander shot back. “Is that enough for you to keep me busy for today?”

Sanders “was furious,” Raju said of the exchange in a series of tweets. “Afterwards, he mellowed out and answered questions about the crisis for about two more minutes.”

PBS’s Lisa Desjardins noted that she had asked Sanders about his campaign before Raju’s question, and he had said “no comment.”

Sanders is clearly under pressure from both the pandemic and his flagging campaign. Given the outbreak, and given his dwindling chances of making a comeback, it may be his best move to withdraw from the race to ensure that no one goes unnecessarily to a crowded polling location.

Votes Do Matter, Bernie

If Bernie Sanders were amassing a nearly insurmountable lead in the delegate counts, I have little doubt that he would be saying to Joe Biden: “Democrats have spoken. Time to drop out and help the team.”

But doing what he expects of others is not Bernie’s way. As in the past, he can stay in, waving the implied threat that not adopting his program might cause his base to stay home in November. The impolite word is “extortion,” which Sanders launders with baloney claims that he is, somehow, actually winning.

My favorite is “We are winning the generational debate.” Sanders said this right after Joe Biden crushed him in Super Tuesday II. Sanders had just lost his working-class firewall of Michigan, plus Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and even Sanders-friendly Washington. (He won only North Dakota.)

By “generational debate,” Sanders meant he was prevailing among younger voters, which is true. But he is apparently not doing well among young nonvoters, who, contrary to the campaign’s claims, are not showing up in vast numbers to support him.

Camp Bernie fantasizes that young people’s votes count more than old people’s votes. For demographic reasons, Sanders was expected to lose Florida and Arizona. But Biden bested him by nearly 40(!) percentage points in Florida — and at a time when the coronavirus is scaring a lot of elderly voters away from the polls.

The Sanders campaign continually boasts that it is winning the small-donations race. “We’re especially proud that of the more than 2 million donations we received this month, over 1.4 million were from voters in states that vote on Super Tuesday,” Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, said at the start of March.

Sanders’ ability to raise large sums in small quantities is genuinely impressive. And it follows that the Vermonter would not be beholden to big-money interests. But dollars are not votes. Votes are something Americans cast free of charge — and not by writing checks, whatever the size. Votes determine the winner.

Two days later, Super Tuesday happened. After greatly outspending Biden, Sanders lost 10 of the 14 states including Texas and Virginia. He did grab the biggest prize, California, though by fewer than 7 percentage points. Vermont’s neighbors, Massachusetts and Maine, went for Biden.

After losing badly on Super Tuesday II, Sanders vowed not to end his campaign. He explained, “Poll after poll, including exit polls, show that a strong majority of the American people support our progressive agenda.”

It’s a cliche but true that the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day. But it’s not hard to “win” a poll if you word it in your favor. Sanders often cites the polls finding that most Americans like the idea of his “Medicare for All.” Other polls, however, show that even more Americans object to losing their private coverage, which his proposal would ban. How do you explain that discrepancy? Marketing.

What Sanders calls Medicare for All is not Medicare. It’s a Canadian-style single-payer system. However one feels about the Canadian system, the fact remains that Canada forbids people from buying private coverage for services included in the government plan. Medicare is a mixed-payer program combining government insurance with a good deal of regulated private coverage.

To we who have followed the health care battles over the years, Biden’s proposals to expand government’s role is plenty progressive. But if you buy into Sanders’ contention that the coronavirus pandemic will drive people toward his more radical ideas, you have to ask yourself: Why does Sanders lose by progressively bigger margins as this virus rampages?

It’s those darn voters. They get in the way every time.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.