Of the things that are actually achievable, what would Sanders do differently than Clinton?

As an undecided voter (well, undecided on which Democrat I’m supporting), it kind of bothers me that so much of the back and forth between the two Democratic candidates is either (A) spent on discussing their past votes in Congress, or (B) spent on policy differences in areas the President doesn’t actually control. I don’t really care that Clinton wants to raise the minimum wage by X and Sanders by Y, because in practice the amount Congress will be willing to raise the minimum raise will probably be less than either. I don’t really care that Sanders supports single-payer healthcare and Clinton supports Obamacare, because in practice they’ll just be trying to keep Congress from neutering the healthcare we’ve already got. And I don’t really care that Sanders has a more ambitious plan when it comes to taxing Wall Street, because good luck getting that through Congress.

Obviously I’m assuming the Republicans retain control of Congress, but I think that’s likely.

So my question is, in terms of the policies they could actually implement (either through executive power or because they’re the sort of thing that they’re actually likely to get through Congress), what are the substantive differences? Has either one expressed a serious plan to rein in government surveillance, for instance? Do they have meaningful differences in the level of intervention they want to pursue in Syria? Do they have different views when it comes to enforcing immigration law?

So firstly while Republicans are almost certain to retain the House, the Democrats may win back the Senate in 2016.

The answer to your question is fairly simple–we don’t know what Sanders will do because he essentially refuses to talk about the other important issues of the Presidency. In fact, most of his proposals are legislative, and 100% of the proposals he is willing to talk about at length are legislative. He answers foreign policy questions with vague statements and then switches back to his single issue. He answers racial justice questions with vague statements then segues into his single issue. Sanders is a progressive political movement masquerading as a Presidential candidate.

So getting that out of the way–despite his not talking about it much, we can infer Sanders will probably favor a fairly isolationist foreign policy. I cannot imagine he would commit to any sort of fight against ISIS or NATO build up in the east to try and face down Russian ambitions. He will likely ignore North Korea’s bellicose actions and is likely to essentially abandon our Pacific allies. I can only assume that a man who has voted against any fairly broad-based (both at home and in the international community) use of force (like Gulf War I, which had overwhelming support and was backed by an actual UN Resolution) he will be the most non-involved President in history in terms of military foreign policy.

Hillary will likely continue Obama’s approach but maybe a little “sterner.” I don’t believe Hillary is going to get us involved in an Iraq/Afghan war sized conflict again, but she’ll use special forces and aerial attacks as she deems necessary against entities like ISIS. HRC is likely to extend the current 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan who are suspected to be kept there into the next Presidency into an indefinite presence. While it’s technically scheduled they be gone by the end of Obama’s Presidency top brass are saying it’s not a good idea, and even Obama has been mum on it lately, and a lot of “Pentagon” watches think it may not happen.

If you’re more isolationist, then Bernie’s foreign policy will probably suit you just fine. Both HRC and Bernie are likely to preserve Obamacare (due to inability to pass anything to replace or improve it), and both will get decently liberal SCOTUS justices on the court, particularly if the Democrats do in fact win back the Senate.

Bernie is anti-trade, and it’s possible he can do things unilaterally to torpedo trade agreements–but trade agreements already in force he has little real ability to alter. Once a treaty has been ratified by the Senate it’s binding and the President won’t be able to unilaterally back out of it.

There’s a possibility that Sanders will attempt to use executive orders and other ‘creative potentially extra-legal’ actions to break up big banks. This will result in the majority of his Presidency being consumed by long, expensive, and potentially unwinnable lawsuits against the big banks (who aren’t going to go gentle into that good night.)

If the population is liberal enough to vote for Sanders I just don’t see them voting to keep the current radical right Republican Congress.

It don’t quite work that way. The Pubs have safe seats based on systematic gerrymanding in the red states.

Elections don’t work that way because of the concept of House Districts vs Electoral College. Aside from Maine and Nebraska most States you just 50%+1 to win all of the State’s electoral college votes. Many candidates who have pulled say, 51% of the national popular vote easily win in the electoral college. But for one, not everyone who votes for Sanders is going to vote for a Democrat for House, independents are ones who often vote “contrary” to your expectations on things like that. Plus the structure of house districts is such that you can have 55% of a state vote Democrat but a majority of its house members end up Republican, because of how Democrats tend to aggregate in urban areas which lead to 90% Dem districts, Republicans live more in rural and suburban districts where they have smaller margins. Deliberate gerrymandering is also real (albeit vastly exaggerated in impact by the left.)

I mean Romney got his ass kicked by Obama and the GOP House majority only shrank by 8 in 2012, it wasn’t nearly enough to take the House back, and in 2014 they gained 13.

Hopefully he won’t waste political capital on unconstitutional “gun control” that don’t save lives anyway.

what Martin Hyde said, but also, Sanders’ general election support wouldn’t just come from ideological liberals, but from voters from the right and center who want something truly different. Sanders has enough pure populism in his message to appeal to voters beyond the liberal base.

That is so not even a top 50 priority for him. One thing about Sanders is that he’ll keep us out of war. Clinton’s record on that is very poor if your top priority is no more wars.

Emphasis added-- you hit the nail on the head. While presidents are largely encumbered by Congress on domestic issues, they have wide latitude to operate independently on foreign affairs. Hillary is likely to escalate wars in the Middle East, while Bernie is like to de-escalate. Bernie can talk all he wants about free college tuition and taxing the hell out of rich people, but ain’t gonna happen.

Which is why I’m liking the idea of a Sanders presidency. I disagree with much of his domestic policy, but virtually none of it will get implemented. However, he is much more likely to get us the hell out of these goddam wars that never seem to end than anyone else.

Well, much as Congress can stymie Bernie, ISIS gets a vote on whether those wars end, and Putin gets a vote on whether there will be a war in Europe that we are treaty bound to get involved in.

Well, I was talking about ending the wars, just getting us out of them. And I wasn’t talking about Europe.

Sanders ain’t big on gun control, that’s actually been a problem for his libcred.

wasn’t. WASN’T!

The only thing I take issue with is the “unconstitutional” part. Gun control would be perfectly constitutional, however I would not make it a priority except for sensible things like not allowing people on the no-fly list to buy a gun, mandatory registration for all weapons, things like that.

Emphasis added. Almost certainly unconstitutional. You think it’s hard to get a voter ID, try getting off a no-fly list.

I have a friend who is on the no fly list, he’s never been able to definitively figure out why. He thinks it’s possibly because a person with the exact same name is “legitimately” on the list. He’s white of English ancestry, so he has a real normal, white American name. Anyway, TSA somehow knows he is good, but can’t get him off the list. So anytime he flies he can’t go through the regular process, when he checks in he tells the agent he needs to speak with TSA. If he doesn’t do that, then TSA gets alerted and they actually come and escort him to a private interview room–this happened a few times before he learned how to handle it. Anyway, once he speaks with TSA and they run some stuff through their system, he always gets cleared. But flying is a huge hassle for him now, and despite trying for years he’s never been able to even get an explanation as to why this has happened, let alone been able to get his name off.

Liberals spent years criticizing the no-fly list and now want to use it as a gun control device? Does that mean they support keeping people on the no-fly list off planes too now?

Since we can take people’s rights away for being on the no-fly list, why not the right to vote as well?

Liberals are not nearly as monolithic as you make us out to be.

Could you comment more on this? I think you’re right that he’d likely be the most resistant to military interventions, but I think your framing of the issue is interesting. Gulf War I had overwhelming support but, in retrospect, was it a net positive? Can we look back and say it’s a good thing we had that overwhelming support and went to war? Have any of our military interventions in the middle east since then resulted in positive outcomes?

It pisses me the hell off too, and I wish people would think about it more critically. We absolutely should not prevent people from flying or owning a gun or anything else that we decide that most people can do without going through a legal process and allowing them to defend themselves against accusations.

Yes, even if more individuals vote for Democratic candidates, the Republicans will still likely retain a majority of seats.