I broadly — broadly — favor many of the things Sanders favors. I believe the US will eventually need to transition to some kind of single-payer health care model, for instance. But Sanders is running a pie in the sky campaign in which he is promising profound societal change with no concrete plan for getting from A to B. We’ve already seen how our obstructionist legislature will stonewall even a moderately liberal president’s ambitions. Sanders hand-waves that away, saying the people should/will just rise up and demand their representatives enact his policies. He bases his proposals on growth projections that most legitimate economists agree are absurd. If elected, I think he would bungle his agenda so badly it would tarnish the ideas he espouses for a generation or more.
As I’ve written in other threads, the kind of change he is advocating is possible — but it’s not brought about by quixotic bids for the presidency; it’s brought about by massive organizing, using and eventually taking over existing political infrastructures to build strongholds for your ideas at the local and state levels. The Reagan revolution began with a grassroots uniting of fiscal conservatives and evangelicals in the wake of Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, entailing years of anonymous activism with no concrete promise of a reward; Reagan didn’t just get elected and snap his fingers to make all that shit happen. What Sanders is trying to do is the equivalent to building a house from the attic downwards.
In our own day, the Tea Party demonstrated all too effectively how to make a more ideologically pure political movement: by either primarying or scaring the bejesus out of moderates so that they toe your line. Bernheads, frankly, don’t care as much, and the candidate himself offers no guidance or leadership in that sphere.
I think in a very real, important sense, Sanders doesn’t want to be president. He wants to implement his moonshot ideas for restructuring the US economy, but to actually steer the country on the global stage doesn’t seem to interest him. (He put his foreign policy team together, what, two weeks ago?) He was a protest candidate caught off-guard when masses of people actually took him seriously. He’s already done a service in forcing Clinton to tack to the left, and I am grateful he has. In an important way, even though he seems destined to lose the nomination, Sanders has achieved an important victory. Why not leave it at that?