So the democratic debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton took place last night in South Carolina. O’Malley showed up too, but let’s be honest, he stands no chance. My own opinion concerning O’Malley is that he should have bowed out. Considering the majority of his supporters favor Sanders over Hillary, he’s doing both himself, and Sanders a disservice by staying in for as long as he has.
All in all, I thought it was a good debate between the two top contenders, and I was none too shocked at the fact that Hillary was attacking Sanders as hard as she was. One of my critiques of Sanders is that he says the same economic points almost every time he speaks, which in my opinion is a pretty weak method of obtaining support. That being said, one of my favorite things about Sanders is the fact that he’s very consistent. He spends less time attempting to make Hillary look bad, and instead attempts to dismantle her ideas, and political approach to tackling issues like health care, and foreign policy.
One of my largest critiques of Clinton during the whole debate was a substantive disagreement concerning a point that she used to attack Sander’s with – that on his single vote on the deregulation of Wall Street. Clinton was effectively saying that Sanders isn’t as opposed to Wall Street as he says he is because he supported a bill that had a part to play in the 2008 Financial Crisis.
So, did Bernie Sanders vote to deregulate credit default swaps? Yes, but sort of.
Back in 2000, Commodity Futures Modernization Act was voted on, the same one that Sanders voted for. No surprise to anyone, the bill led to a contentious debate in Congress, and was amended several times that led to Enron Loopholes, and text that forbade oversight concerning credit default swaps. If you’ll remember, those swaps, and the lack of regulation concerning them, was a major factor leading to the 2008 financial crisis. But back in 2000, members of Congress weren’t quite willing to shutdown the entire government, and so a great way to get the legislation you want was to attach it to a government spending bill, which is exactly what happened in December of 2000. The bill that Bernie voted for was not the same version that was passed in the house by a 377 to 4 vote. The bill was incorporated into the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2001, which was then passed, and signed into law.
This was around the same time that Bernie Sanders was protesting on the floor of the house the danger of repealing Glass-Steagall, which as far as Bernie was presumably concerned, was the bigger issue – and indeed it was an issue. Since that vote, and to this day, Sanders has consistently argued against the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the fact that there was a substantial amount of deregulation. Deregulation, I might add, that was strongly supported by then president Bill Clinton.
My main point of all of this is that Bernie Sanders is a man who’s goal is to change the political dialogue that is present in and outside of Congress. By doing that, he’s tackling ideas, not votes. Clinton, who describes herself as a progressive pragmatist, is focused instead on working towards goals that can actually be accomplished. Both are needed approaches to the political landscape at this time. I just happen to be in favor of a shift in dialogue and philosophy as opposed to accomplishing tasks. One, sometimes, must preface the other.