Bernie Sanders and the Sheepdog Approach
July 16, 2015 5 Comments
INTRODUCTION: The term “sheepdogging” comes up in my mind whenever people talk about the 2016 presidential election. Here are excerpts and links to two articles by Bruce A. Dixon to explain both the “sheepdog” approach, and the alternative. I hope you find this memorable and engaging too.
Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders: Sheepdogging for Hillary and the Democrats in 2016
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 05/06/2015 – 16:09
Bernie Sanders is this election’s Democratic sheepdog. The sheepdog is a card the Democratic party plays every presidential primary season when there’s no White House Democrat running for re-election. The sheepdog is a presidential candidate running ostensibly to the left of the establishment Democrat to whom the billionaires will award the nomination. Sheepdogs are herders, and the sheepdog candidate is charged with herding activists and voters back into the Democratic fold who might otherwise drift leftward and outside of the Democratic party, either staying home or trying to build something outside the two party box.
1984 and 88 the sheepdog candidate was Jesse Jackson. In 92 it was California governor Jerry Brown. In 2000 and 2004 the designated sheepdog was Al Sharpton [NOTE from Laura: For 2000, the designated sheepdog may have been Bill Bradley. Ralph Nader declined that role.], and in 2008 it was Dennis Kucinich. This year it’s Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. The function of the sheepdog candidate is to give left activists and voters a reason, however illusory, to believe there’s a place of influence for them inside the Democratic party, if and only if the eventual Democratic nominee can win in November.
This is What Happens When We Follow the Democrat Sheepdog. And What Can Happen If We Don’t
Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon on Wed, 06/03/2015 – 01:51
The hopeful word is always that the defeated sheepdog remains firmly committed to pushing the Democratic nominee leftward, both on the campaign trail and even more hopefully in the White House. But this never happens either. Losing Democratic nominees Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry adopted none of the positions of their sheepdog primary opponents on peace or climate change or mass transit or housing or racial and economic justice, and Democratic winners Clinton and Obama ignored them in the White House as well.
[The entire article is well worth reading. Bruce Dixon talks about a viable alternative to replaying the “sheepdog” scenario.]