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Where Was Bernie?

By Mario Solis Marich

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The first battle in the much publicized war for the 34th Congressional seat has ended. The electoral race that was gleefully welcomed by insurgent Berniecrats frustrated with Washington politics moves on without them. The victors of the first squirmish in the 34th are a left of center establishment Democrat and a newly minted center right Democrat, neither of which share the Bernie Sanders credentials that three of the other candidates in the race legitimately touted.

The vacant congressional was seen as a key pick up for the Bernie crowd because Sanders had beat Clinton in the 2016 primary in the district. The problem was that while Bernie's key supporters saw the opportunity for a beachhead within the Democratic congressional caucus Sanders himself did not.

Sanders refused to endorse in the race despite that fact that key staff that had delivered the district to his column in the primary were engaged in what we were told was a “battle for the soul of the Democratic party”. Bernie's money machine was never triggered and his affiliated-non-affiliated political arm was never given orders to engage. The results were that not only was a potential seat of power in the heart of Southern California's most influential political district lost to “the revolution” but in addition the belief about Sanders effectiveness as a movement wide leader has taken a hit.

Speculation is that Sanders would not endorse because he did not want to jump into the middle of a family fight. If this is true it shows that far from being a political maverick that the truth is that Bernie is as calculating as the rest of his political colleagues. Other speculation is that Sanders saw the race as unwinnable by his surrogates even though they had carried him to one of his few California victories. A third Sanders no show scenario is that he somehow knew that his prefered candidate was set to be attacked with allegations of sexism and that the once Presidential candidate prefered to stay out of the fight rather than revive the “Berinie Bro” attacks that hung over his national campaign. If this last speculation is true it does not excuse Sanders for not choosing one of the remaining two candidates that could have engaged voters more readily with an influx of cash.

Regardless of Sander’s reason for cautiousness his lack of leadership in the race will certainly haunt any other choices that he makes in the future.

The 34th district is a largely Latino district and the birthplace of Latino electoral power in California. The area holds State Assembly and State Senate leadership seats, powerful Los Angeles City Council seats, and is the heart of southern California’s progressive activism on issues ranging from immigration to the environment. In fact during most of the last two decades a critical mass of California's Latino elected political elite lived within 4 miles of each other within the 34th Congressional district’s boundaries. Sanders’ lack of engagement in the race shows his lack of understanding of Latino political history and it’s vital importance in any revolution.

Perhaps the headlines about the nature of this race were not overblown but just misdirected. The race that was to be an insight into the future of the Democratic Party may have really been an insight into the strategic thinking of it’s leading insurgent.

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