The Democratic presidential race hasn’t been getting as much attention as the Republican side. This is for the same reason that professional wrestling gets more viewers than “Book TV.” There’s something compelling about a lot of grunting and body slams.
Let’s get focused. Time to discuss how Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton differ on the issues.
– You forgot to mention Martin O'Malley.
No, I didn’t.
About Clinton and Sanders. Their positions on most things are similar. They both favor universal prekindergarten and support gay marriage, reproductive rights and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. They both want to raise the minimum wage, but Sanders is shooting for $15 while Clinton says $12. They both have ambitious plans to fight climate change. Clinton wants to see more than half a billion solar panels in operation by 2020; Sanders has called for 10 million.
– Ha! Who’s the transformational thinker there, Bernie?
Well, his campaign says it meant solar roofs. The more important point is that Sanders also wants a major tax on businesses that keep using fossil fuels.
As we go along here, you will note that his proposals are almost all much bolder and that practically everything on his shopping list includes new or higher taxes on somebody. Occasionally everybody, although Sanders would argue that the little people will get their money back through things like free health care and generous family leave policies.
– Clinton doesn’t want to raise taxes?
Some, but mainly on the super-rich. Nothing on couples making less than $250,000.
– I vote the person, not the platform. Whom would I like more?
You’d like them both. These are politicians. They spend their lives trying to please people. You don’t get to this level if nobody can stand being around you. Unless, of course, you’re Ted Cruz.
– Are you going to talk about Wall Street? Preferably briefly. Without mentioning the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
Very, very basically, Sanders has a dramatic plan to regulate the big banks, tax the speculators and punish Wall Street evildoers. Clinton would argue that the banks have been pretty well taken care of by the Dodd-Frank law and that what you really need to do is focus on the hedge funds. This is so oversimplified, I’m kind of ashamed. Maybe we should go back and …
– That’s plenty. Really! So Clinton isn’t in the pocket of big special interests who paid her millions of dollars to give speeches?
Many people think her Wall Street reform plan is OK. But on a personal level, it was inexcusable of her to give those $200,000 speeches for investment bankers and the like when she knew she was going to be running for president. Not good at all.
– You’d better say something positive about Clinton now or I’m going to call this quits.
She’s stupendously smart. She has a lifetime record of fighting for good causes, particularly children and women’s rights. She would almost certainly be a lot better at working with Congress than President Barack Obama has been.
– What about a President Sanders? Could he actually do any of the stuff he’s talking about?
It’s hard to imagine getting Congress to upgrade Obamacare to a single-payer system – what he describes as Medicare for all. You remember what an enormous lift it was to get any health care reform at all passed. But Sanders’ theory is that by electing him, the people will be sending a message so strong even Congress can’t ignore it.
– Wow, do you think that could happen?
That’s the bottom line of the whole contest. Vote for Bernie: Send a message. Vote for Hillary: She knows how to make things work.
– I would like to elect someone who can make things work while simultaneously sending a message.
Do you ever watch those house-hunting shows where people make the list of what they want in their next home, and it’s always a place in the heart of the city that’s quiet and has green space for the dog and four bedrooms so guests can come visit, for no more than $500 a month?
– You’re saying I can’t have everything.
Hey, wait until I ask you to choose between Trump and Cruz.
Gail Collins is a columnist for The New York Times.