Fears of Democratic Disunity: talking myself down

What if the Nevada fracas is a preview of the national convention?

For months, I’ve been reassuring other Democrats that party unity wasn’t going to be a problem. Sure, the Bernie/Hillary rhetoric might sound bad sometimes, but that’s how these things go. When we got to the convention this summer and Hillary proved that she really did have the delegates, Bernie would do the right thing, just like Hillary did in 2008.

It’s easy: Hillary agrees to put some Bernie-like language in the platform (which won’t be that hard for her, since most of his proposals are just more ambitious and optimistic versions of something she’s proposing anyway), maybe some rule changes make things easier for the next insurgent candidate, the VP appeals to people in both camps (Elizabeth Warren would be ideal, but if she wants to stay in the Senate it shouldn’t be that hard to find somebody else), and everybody is happy. In a prime-time speech, Bernie gives his supporters a chance to congratulate themselves on a hard-fought campaign and yell really loud for him one last time, and then he lays out all the common values that make it essential that Clinton become president next January rather than Donald Trump. Everybody winds up on the podium waving their arms and smiling into the national-network cameras as the credits roll.

That could still happen. If I had to bet, I think I’d still say that most of it will happen. But this week for the first time I started to have some real doubts and some real fears. So I started looking into it.

Talking myself down. I’d don’t think she’s done it for years now, but Rachel Maddow’s show used to have a regular “Talk Me Down” feature. For one segment, Rachel would put aside her calm and collected persona and let her fears about something run wild. Then she’d bring on an expert guest to explain to her why that level of panic wasn’t warranted yet.

Sadly, I don’t have a rolodex full of experts I can call to talk me down. So (with some help from publicly available sources) I’m going to have to play both roles. But I think the basic format works for this topic. So I’ll start by letting my fears run.

The Sanders progression. For months now I’ve been watching the Sanders campaign shift its focus. In the beginning, it was a purely positive campaign about the kinds of goals Democrats ought never to lose sight of, whether they seem politically feasible right now or not: health care as a right, protecting democracy against the rule of big money, government infrastructure projects to create full employment, union rights, voting rights, a livable wage for all workers, and affordable education for everyone.

That was the message I was attracted to and ultimately voted for in the New Hampshire primary.

That positive message is still at the Sanders campaign’s core, but little by little it has been joined by an anti-Hillary-Clinton message: She is corrupt and untrustworthy. She is a Republican posing as a Democrat. She is a weak candidate who will lose to Donald Trump. She has taken money from the wrong people, so no matter what she is saying now, ultimately she will do their bidding.

Last summer I went on a Hillary research project, and I didn’t find much support for that vision of her. I came out liking Hillary. I think it’s important to keep pressuring her from the Left, but I expect to be mostly content with a Hillary presidency.

And more recently, a persecution narrative has become a third part of the Sanders campaign: The Democratic Establishment will stop at nothing to give the nomination to Clinton, no matter what the People want.

To a degree, that narrative was justified. For example, the original debate schedule — since adjusted to include more debates — seemed crafted to give unknown candidates as little room as possible to break out. But as the campaign has worn on, everything that didn’t benefit Sanders has become part of the persecution narrative. Sanders did better in open primaries where Independents could vote, so closed primaries — which have existed since the beginning of the primary process many decades ago — were part of the Establishment’s conspiracy. (Caucuses, which are even less democratic than closed primaries, benefited Sanders, so they were not a problem.) Any election-day glitch — even the ones caused by Republican officials, and even if the effect on the Clinton/Sanders race was unclear — was part of the Democratic Establishment’s plot to steal the election for Hillary.

Sometimes rationales flipped overnight, with no apparent soul-searching or justification. Initially, it was a horror that superdelegates might reverse the will of the People (as expressed in the primaries) and give the nomination to Clinton because they thought she was more electable. Then, as it because clear that the People were actually voting for Clinton in larger numbers than Sanders, the Sanders campaign embraced the opposite argument: Superdelegates should reverse the will of the People and give the nomination to Sanders because he is more electable.

Esquire‘s Charles Pierce expresses his opinion on the persecution narrative harshly, but he’s not wrong.

I voted for Bernie Sanders. I even wrote about why I did here at this very shebeen. But if anybody thinks that, somehow, he is having the nomination “stolen” from him, they are idiots.

Nevada. So now we come to Nevada. In the caucuses in February, the voters went for Clinton 53%-47%. But that wasn’t the end of the story, because in Nevada’s arcane process the statewide caucuses just lead to the county conventions, which then lead to the state convention where the delegates to national convention are supposed to be chosen.

The county conventions happened in April, and a combination of lackadaisical organizing by the Clinton campaign and Sanders backers finding an exploitable hole in the rules turned the tables: Now it looked like Sanders would have an advantage going into the May state convention. February’s apparent 20-15 national-convention delegate split for Clinton appeared likely to shrink to 18-17. (Imagine the outcry if everything had been reversed: if Sanders had won in February, but then Clinton supporters found a backdoor way to take some of those delegates away.)

But again, it’s an arcane process. Sanders supporters were entitled to more state-convention delegates than Clinton supporters, but there are rules about credentials. Those rules are available to both campaigns, and it’s a campaign-organizer’s job to make sure than your delegates jump through all the appropriate hoops. At this stage, the Clinton people did a better job than the Sanders people, so at the May 14 state convention, Clinton narrowly had more credentialed delegates than Sanders. The ultimate result was a return to Square One: Clinton will get the 20 national convention delegates it looked like she had won back in February.

There’s been a lot of charge and counter-charge about exactly what went down at the state convention, but the accounts that have the ring of truth to my ear are the ones from Politifact and TPM’s Tierney Sneed. (I also found this on-the-floor view from a Clinton delegate to be enlightening.)

Here’s how it looks to me: After the Sanders campaign leaders in Nevada realized they’d been out-organized by the Clinton people, they decided to bury that fact inside the persecution narrative: The Evil Democratic Establishment had stolen the convention for Clinton. The Sanders campaign had been seeding that ground for months, so their delegates accepted that explanation without question and reacted with an understandable amount of anger. (The insults and threats that expressed that anger were still over the top, though.)

Bernie’s reaction to Nevada didn’t increase my confidence in him. His condemnation of his supporters’ bad behavior seemed perfunctory. (“It goes without saying that I condemn any and all forms of violence, including the personal harassment of individuals.”) The stronger message was that the process is corrupt and his people’s reaction had been justified. Josh Marshall’s response was harsh, but not too different from what I was feeling:

This, as I said earlier, is the problem with lying to your supporters. Sanders is telling his supporters that he can still win, which he can’t. He’s suggesting that the win is being stolen by a corrupt establishment, an impression which will be validated when his phony prediction turns out not to be true. Lying like this sets you up for stuff like happened over the weekend in Nevada.

Or maybe it sets you up for an even bigger mess this summer in Philadelphia.

My fear. Most primary campaigns end the way the Republicans’ just did: As candidates get to a point where they have no credible winning scenario, they drop out. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz … they all got to a point where they couldn’t predict victory with a straight face, so they quit.

Not everybody does that. In 2008, Clinton herself hung on until the last primary before dropping out and endorsing Obama (though that race was considerably closer than this one). Sometimes losing candidates go all the way to the convention, like Ron Paul did in 2012 or Gene McCarthy did in 1968.

When you take a campaign to a convention that is not going to nominate you, you do it for some other reason. Maybe you want to register your protest over an important issue, like the Vietnam War in 1968. Or you might be looking ahead to future elections. (The 1968 Democratic Convention started a process to change the rules that had allowed Humphrey to win the nomination without competing in the primaries. McGovern’s 1972 nomination couldn’t have happened otherwise.) Or maybe you want to use the convention battle as part of your narrative for the next cycle. (Hillary in some sense did that in 2008; her motion to nominate Obama by acclamation, her prime-time speech, and the way she and Bill campaigned for Obama in the fall impressed some Obama supporters — me, for instance — and set her up well for this year’s campaign.)

What I want to believe — and do, most of the time — is that Bernie Sanders is going to the convention looking for the kinds of things Hillary can offer: platform concessions on progressive issues, rules changes that will make the next insurgent candidate more viable, a prime time speech to inspire his supporters to become a long-term movement, and so on.

But after Nevada, I started worrying about something else: What if the thing Bernie wants out of the convention isn’t a concession? What if it’s a fight? What if the culmination he sees for his “political revolution” rhetoric and his narrative of persecution by the Democratic establishment is to have his supporters dragged out of the convention hall by force? That would probably hand the White House to Trump, but it might also rupture the Democratic Party in some way that leads to an overall realignment of the two-party system.

What if that’s the goal?

It’s always like this. Naturally, I’m not the only person to have this worry, or at least this area of worry, so I went looking for how others were dealing with it, in hopes that they might talk me down. Appropriately, one of the people I found was Rachel Maddow, who discussed it on her show Wednesday.

At this point in the primary process, it’s always like this. There is always acrimony and upset between remaining candidates at this part of the race. Parties just do this. It is to be expected. It’s very, very, very rarely fatal.

Making a similar point, Matt Yglesias pulled up video of an extremely harsh exchange between candidates Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton in 1992.

[The Clinton/Sanders contest] feels unusually intense and vicious to many heavy consumers of internet news. Thanks to social media, lots of supporters of both candidates are now spending their free time acting as amateur advocates for their preferred campaign. This makes the race more intense and immediate than many past campaigns, and there has certainly been a lot of name-calling on Twitter.

But the actual campaign has been, by the standards of campaigns, remarkably issue-oriented and low-key compared to past races.

I sort of knew that, but it was helpful to be reminded of just how ugly things got in, say, 2008, before they got better. It turns out that parties don’t just forgive their internal spats, we very often literally forget. So the next time it happens, it’s always like “It’s never been this bad before.”

Once I started remembering, I remembered all the way back to the first year I watched conventions on TV: 1968, when I was 11. Even that year, after Mayor Daley’s “police riot” and the chaos on the streets in Chicago, nearly all of the McCarthy Democrats eventually came home. (The Wallace Southern conservative white Democrats had begun their trek to the Republican Party and weren’t ever coming back, but that was a whole different story, which I’ve told before.) After falling ridiculously far behind in September, Humphrey came back almost all the way, making 1968 one of the closest presidential elections ever.

Both sides have the same scenario in mind. Those recovered memories helped a little, but I didn’t really regain my optimism until I started chasing the links that my Sanders-supporting Facebook friends were posting.

Yes, of course there were some Bernie-or-bust type posts, and some that put the worst possible construction on anything having to do with Clinton or with anybody who isn’t 100% for Sanders. But a lot of the voices are simply asking for “respect”. Sanders’ only supporter in the Senate, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, says:

If you want to bring people together, they have to feel heard and they have to feel respected and well-treated.

And then he sounds remarkably conciliatory:

I believe that once a candidate has a majority of pledged delegates — so not superdelegates, but the pledged delegates — (and) has a majority of the votes cast, that the party will have made its decision and we need to do the hard work of coming together,” he said. “Should Secretary Clinton win these key categories, I think the conversation will begin about how to bring the sides together so we can go into the convention united, go out of the convention even more united, and make sure that this charlatan, this self-promoting charlatan, Donald Trump, does not become president.

A lot of the other Sanders-supporters are mainly just saying that it’s up to Clinton to make the first move. Jason Linkins, for example:

the responsibility of unifying the party falls to the winner of the primary, not the loser. To anyone who thinks otherwise: Come on, now. This is literally the job of the person who becomes the presidential candidate, not the person who is going to be pursuing politics in some other office. An election is not a contest between warring factions, where the winner gets to spend the next four years stunting on the losers. The electoral process will decide which candidate will serve all Americans. And all Americans are owed something, no matter how the votes were cast.

This is how magnanimity works.

The more I read, the more I came to the conclusion that the majority on both sides have the same ideal scenario, the one I talked about in the first section. That seems like a long time ago now, so let me repeat it:

Hillary agrees to put some Bernie-like language in the platform, maybe some rule changes make things easier for the next insurgent candidate, the VP appeals to people in both camps, and everybody is happy. In a prime-time speech, Bernie gives his supporters a chance to congratulate themselves on a hard-fought campaign and yell really loud for him one last time, and then he lays out all the common values that make it essential that Clinton become president next January rather than Donald Trump. Everybody winds up on the podium waving their arms and smiling into the national-network cameras as the credits roll.

But — and here’s the real sticking point right now — large numbers of people on both sides are worried that the other side won’t play its role. Bernie’s supporters are worried that Clinton won’t reach out to them and Clinton’s supporters are worried that Bernie will spurn all offers so that he can stomp away mad.

My reading of this is that we’re all victims of one side or the other of the polarizing propaganda. Hillary won’t reach out because she’s a bought-and-paid-for tool of Wall Street, and Bernie will spit on her attempts to reach out because he’s a neo-Leninist bomb-thrower. The media is fanning both of those flames, because conflict draws eyeballs. (In reading all these stories, it’s important not just to read the selected quotes from campaign spokespeople, but to consider what they were asked, and whether there was any way to answer that question differently.)

But when I forget all that nonsense and re-anchor myself in reality, I wind up where Matt Yglesias is:

The differences between Clinton and Sanders are real and important, but they amount to an argument about whether to try to shift the country a little bit to the left or a lot to the left. Under the circumstances, it would be very odd for it to produce a lasting, unbridgeable divide if earlier elections have not.

Let’s flesh out that analysis by using the minimum wage as a proxy for a long list of issues. Sanders wants a $15 federal minimum wage. Clinton wants a $12 federal minimum wage with higher minimums established by state or local laws in areas with high costs of living. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. Trump wants no federal minimum wage at all. (“Let the states decide,” he says.)

Is it really going to be that hard for Democrats to come together?

I have no way of knowing what’s going on in the minds of the two candidates right now. Maybe they really are mad at each other, or maybe not. But ultimately, I find it hard to believe that either is going to go against the general will of his or her supporters. And among Hillary supporters right now, I find very little desire to show Bernie who’s boss. Among Bernie supporters, the number who want to burn down the Democratic Party seems pretty small.

We’re due for another two weeks or so of ugliness. But after the last major primaries on June 7, the pressure on both candidates — pressure from their own supporters — to work something out is going to be enormous. So I still think we’re going to get that scene everybody wants: Clinton and Sanders standing together in Philadelphia as the credits roll.

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  • tri22ert  On May 23, 2016 at 9:31 am

    You quote Yglesias: “…The differences between Clinton and Sanders are real and important, but they amount to an argument about whether to try to shift the country a little bit to the left or a lot to the left.” It’s a curious statement. It suggests that the Obama presidency is less to the Left than Sanders (true) *and* HRC. But is that latter true? It’s a big judgment, regardless, swept under the rug in conciliatory rhetoric. Many view HRC as being to the right of Obama.

    • weeklysift  On May 23, 2016 at 9:56 am

      What Clinton proposes is to the left of what Obama has accomplished, given that almost everything Obama has proposed has been blocked by Congress. If Obama had gotten to do everything he wanted, the country would be considerably to the left of where it is, and possibly where Clinton wants to go could be somewhat to the right of that. But the Yglesias statement looks accurate to me.

      • tri22ert  On May 23, 2016 at 10:08 am

        Candidates often have to change their stance in transitioning from party nomination to general election.Further, there’s differences between social and economic leanings that are being collapsed here. (Finally, there’s the Congress, if she wins, that she will have to deal with; and she could have struggles there as Obama did.) Yglesias’ statement may well turn out to be accurate. But it could prove wrong just as easily. I’m wary of the overconfidence on display.

    • weeklysift  On May 23, 2016 at 10:02 am

      Putting the same point a different way: If Obama were running for a third term, he’d also be proposing to move the country to the left.

  • velvinette  On May 23, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I think John Oliver’s recent piece has the best take on this, and the best info. Also some people say Republicans are posing as democrats on social media and tearing Hilary down. That is a real possibility, considering the voting turnout in Tenessee. So I’m just going to wait for the convention. In fact, some of those “delegates” in Nevada could have been Republicans trying to get in to disrupt things. You can’t trust too many people in this election.

  • Dave P.  On May 23, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    The problem is, after the DNC Shenanigans, I no longer concider myself a democrat, so there is no party for me to ‘just submit’ to now. I will vote for Stein before Clinton at this point.

    • JELC  On May 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      Honest question: how are you going to feel about that choice if Trump wins by a narrow margin? What if he gets to lock down the Supreme Court for the next 10 years (which looks very likely — there is one empty slot and several very old justices). Do you think that is a worthwhile risk to take for a principled response to the DNC’s actions?

      If the answer is no, you need to vote for Hillary. If the answer is yes, go ahead and vote third party. It’s not a choice I would make, especially since I view that outcome as undermining everything that Bernie wants to work for, but a democratic system allows each person to draw that line for themselves.

  • cnminter  On May 23, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I am so tired of this campaigns Profiles in Sexism.

    In 2008 it was the “Bros before Hoes” and we got Obama. Don’t get me wrong I love Obama, and I’m proud of him and his presidency. But Hillary was right. He had no idea what he was going up against. He completely underestimated Republican obstruction & the RW smear machine. You can’t really blame him for not believing that the GOP would leave the American people swinging in the wind during the biggest economic downturn since 1929. He was young and he hadn’t even finished 1 term as senator. But Hillary knew, and when she pointed out there would be no kumbaya moments post-election, Obama supporters set their hair on fire.

    But what did she do when she lost? She (the loser) talked the PUMA’s (Party Unity My Ass) down off the ledge. She (the loser) made the nomination that put Barrack Obama over the top. She (the loser) and Bill worked tirelessly to ensure the election and supported the Obama Administration 100%.

    In 2016 she’s going to run again, granted the opposition was light. So we get this guy from VT who isn’t even a Democrat. Bernie has no party loyalty and surprise surprise, most party rank and file Dems support Hillary. Of course they do, they have known her and worked with her for years. Meanwhile BS doesn’t understand the party primary rules especially state to state variations, remember Bernie has never been a Democrat and never run a national campaign, also many of his supporters are new to politics. Party rules are dry and boring and they can be arbitrary, but they are not secrets.

    All this for what? To what, move Hillary to the left? Every time I hear that I want to scream. What does 30 years of consistent work chipping away at institutional sexism and racism mean to you. (Oh I know the “She’s a progressive Republican” nonsense) From where I stand what I see are a bunch of, mostly men, furiously supporting a not ready for prime time candidate, who is intellectually shallow and lacks self-discipline, because they don’t like Hillary Clinton. They don’t like a woman who doesn’t know her place and they are so angry the whole “insurgency” thing didn’t work they are prepared to let Trump win. (BTW how the F_ _ _ _ is a guy who has been in Congress 30 yrs an insurgent?) But they especially don’t like Hillary because she is intelligent, capable, has had more real world experience than any political figure we have ever had and they are creeped out that she never, never, never gives up. I’ll give you that, she is relentless. However so was Winston Churchill.

    I am a boomer, I will be 64 years old this fall. I have known a lot of men like Bernie Sanders. They talk a great game, but they never DO anything. What has he accomplished? Named 2 post offices? Why do so few of his colleagues support him? How could he possibly have gotten all the way to the NY Primary, and not be able to explain how he is going to break up the banks? Hillary has a policy for everything. She doesn’t make a statement w/o policy to back it up. You know why, cause if she were asked a question like, “How do you plan to break up the to big to fail banks?” and she didn’t have a list prepared. She would be crucified.

    I have watched the men, on the left in particular, go on and on about how Hillary is so unlikeable. Well guys you don’t like her cause women like her are scary. I want a woman president but not that woman. Many will say, it can’t be that I’m sexist, I’m voting for Stein. Well yes but you would all of a sudden find a whole lot wrong with Stein if she had a chance of winning. Tell yourselves the truth for once. Hillary scares the living daylights out of you because not only is she capable, but she may well be one the best presidents we have ever had. That on the heels of the Obama presidency (who BTW has been one of the best presidents ever) is the best thing for USA.

    • JELC  On May 23, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      There are places where Clinton could legitimately stand to be pushed left. I think that if Sanders ends this primary campaign the same what that Clinton ended hers with Obama, by joining himself to her at the hip and pulling his supporters into her camp, his campaign will have done something productive. Sanders proved that there is appetite for candidates that are more socialist and more willing to push the boundaries of US discourse than I think most Democrats previously believed.

      Admittedly, I think that some of Sanders plans were not well thought out — I was distressed at the lack of specifics he could muster in that Daily News interview, and I agree that calling Clinton a republican (even a progressive republican) is ridiculous. But, for example, my impression is that Hillary is genuinely more hawkish than I am comfortable with, and she tends to limit her consideration to things she regards as pragmatically achievable. That is not a failing, because you need people who will do that, but you do also need people who will ask for the moon before accepting what is practicable.

    • Berto  On May 23, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      More likely it’s because she’s tied to her husband, (a man) who has shown he’s not afraid to run from the Right for political expediency.

    • Uncle Gary  On May 24, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Hillary scares me because she will be one of the best presidents we’ve ever had?

      There! Wanted you to see how ridiculous your conclusion is. Unless you are a member of the congregation of The First Church of Hillary.

      • cnminter  On May 24, 2016 at 3:02 pm

        Perhaps I am a member of The First Church of Hillary? I admire tenacity and an indomitable spirit.

    • pocketnaomi  On May 24, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      The issue with Clinton is that she has a history of showing how “fair and balanced” (terminology choice intentional) she is by hurting the left to prove herself to the right. She was the chief organizer of that strategy in the Bill Clinton administration, and many people suffered needlessly because of it. Most of Bill Clinton’s “greatest accomplishments” were hailed by the right as a sign that he was really an okay guy because he was willing to hurt the left… and the innocent citizens the left was trying to protect. We’re still struggling to undo — or at least survive — many of those “accomplishments” to this day. And the person who decided they’d do that, for that reason, was Hillary Clinton.

      The gutting of the social welfare system. Workfare. The wholesale destruction of black youth that came from Bill Clinton’s criminal law policies. NAFTA (and its successor, the TPP, which she’s still pushing). The repeal of Glass-Steagal. The assault on the unions. A great deal of what Bill Clinton did to the poor of the United States was designed by Hillary, in order to buff up Bill’s image.

      That makes me very worried about what she will do in order to buff up her own. If she decides that, right now, her base is the group she has to appease, she will demonstrate her liberal credentials by attacking the right in similar fashion, and we’ll be fine. If she wants to show how well she can work with a Republican Congress by joining with them to attack the left, then we have a serious problem. In neither case do I expect her choices to be driven by her personal policy preferences, which I can’t begin to identify and am not sure she has. It’ll be driven by what she thinks will make her look the way she wants to look in the media, the history books, and the eyes of her colleagues.


  • Porlock Junior  On May 24, 2016 at 12:46 am

    “But — and here’s the real sticking point right now — large numbers of people on both sides are worried that the other side won’t play its role. Bernie’s supporters are worried that Clinton won’t reach out to them and Clinton’s supporters are worried that Bernie will spurn all offers so that he can stomp away mad.”

    Required reading for both sides:
    Duck Soup

    in which Groucho prepares to meet cordially with the Sylvanian ambassador and avoid an impending war.

  • Marick Payton  On May 24, 2016 at 9:20 am

    You say the Bernie campaign has charged that Hillary “is corrupt and untrustworthy. She is a Republican posing as a Democrat. She is a weak candidate who will lose to Donald Trump. She has taken money from the wrong people, so no matter what she is saying now, ultimately she will do their bidding.” Well, is there any of this that is untrue? It has been widely reported that as Secretary of State she approved arms sales to brutal dictators AFTER they made million-dollar contributions to the Clinton Foundation. She and Bill have become millionaires selling what? Influence, of course. She and Bill have “triangulated” every (former) principle of the Democratic Party, i.e., “health care as a right, protecting democracy against the rule of big money, government infrastructure projects to create full employment, union rights, voting rights, a livable wage for all workers, and affordable education for everyone.” She has made a career of ass-kissing Wall Street, big pharma, the military-industrial complex. Finally, she is as neo-conservative, i.e., militaristic and imperialistic, as any of the Republican brain-trust. I believe you missed the point of the Bernie boom: We do want a revolution, and end of the plutocracy that, as Jimmy Carter noted, now rules the U.S. Hillary will simply be more of the same old charade of government of the people.

    • JJ  On May 24, 2016 at 11:17 am

      I think the linchpin is getting big money out of financing elections. There are multiple organizations working on this problem. I personally favor MAYDAY (www.mayday.us) and Issue One (www.issueone.org).

      Or check the #moneyinpolitics hashtag on twitter

  • coastcontact  On May 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    At the end of the day Hillary will be the nominee. Some Bernie supporters will vote for her but are unlikely to become active campaigners. The enthusiasm gap is very wide. Hillary will have to resort to some really nasty campaigning to win in November. I will vote for her only because I want to ensure the Supreme Court has a progressive majority. Hillary stand for nothing but Hillary. I cannot identify a vision that she has proposed. Sad to have to hold your nose when you vote.

  • MarshallDog  On May 24, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Jason Linkins wrote, “the responsibility of unifying the party falls to the winner of the primary, not the loser.” That’s an interesting notion for a Bernie supporter, because one of the things that seems to annoy them most is when Hillary Clinton is referred to as the “presumed nominee.” So if Clinton were to make the first move it would just add more fuel to the “SHE HASN’T WON ANYTHING YET!!!” fire.

    • pocketnaomi  On May 24, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      I doubt it would, actually. It depends on the move she makes. If she continues insisting that she’s already the nominee and makes a move which treats that as a given — for example, discussing cabinet choices — it would be offensive, yes (it would also be illegal, since you’re not permitted to promise government positions in order to attempt to obtain people’s votes). If she starts talking cogently about what we actually want to have happen and why it’s a good thing, she’s not making it about herself OR about her presumed nomination. She’s making it about the issues. Which is what we’ve been trying to discuss all along, so I doubt that anyone would object.

      The problem, though, is that I’m not sure anyone would actually see it as relevant, either. Clinton has changed her positions too many times when it was politically convenient for her. We don’t object to people who change their positions because they genuinely realized that they were wrong (contrary to the stated opinions of many Clinton supporters)… we object to people who change their positions invariably in concordance with, and never against, what would be politically useful for their own personal aggrandizement. That’s not a pattern to trust, and we don’t.

      What that means in practice is that the ONLY thing she could realistically offer us is people… because people who do jobs she doesn’t, and can’t, oversee detail by detail are the only way we can get policies implemented whether or not she changes her political whim. And since she can’t offer us cabinet posts, she’s kind of stuck. There are two things she *could* do, and she’s already begun doing one of them.

      The first is to offer us people for roles involving the convention. She’s started that by agreeing to a semi-compromise about the membership of the platform committee, and then making it a real compromise by making some of her own choices for that committee progressives whom she knows will vote with the Sanders-chosen members. The platform isn’t binding, but it is a useful tool with which to embarrass Democrats who stray too far from it later, so it does help.

      The other position she can legally select with the goal of earning the Sanders contingent’s trust is the VP slot. There are noises about that already, but it needs to be done carefully.

      Offering to make Bernie himself her running mate would be utterly pointless, and in fact counterproductive. The VP has much less actual power than a current Senator, and Bernie would be a fool to take the job. It would mean shutting up and doing what the administration told him, and he can’t afford to do that. We need him as an advocate, and the Senate is the best place for that.

      The only real purpose the VP slot has, is to be the heir-presumptive; the expected next Democratic nominee in eight years. Bernie can’t be that — he’d be over eighty. There are people who already say he’s too old now. Nor, I think, would he want to run again in eight years even if he were alive and healthy enough to do so. He has shown incredible physical stamina during this race, but it has taken a toll on him; nobody should ask a man in his eighties to do that.

      So offering the VP slot to Bernie isn’t the answer. What about offering it to one of Bernie’s younger associates — the people who are part of his movement, and clearly expected to support the same causes and vision? Tulsi Gabbard would be my personal preference… a Hindu woman of Polynesian ancestry, representative from Hawai’i (which means the odds of her being replaced, should she move into the vice-presidency, with another Democrat, are very high), and her cred with the Berniecrats has been high since she walked out on the DNC in order to speak out against how they were treating him. And she’s young; she’ll be just about ready to try for the presidency in another eight years of a highly ranked position.

      With the DNC implicitly (and ideally, explicitly if Clinton can make them say it out loud) committed to backing Tulsi as the next presidential candidate, most of the Berniecrats I’ve heard muttering would be willing to take an eight-year hold even if they don’t like it much, and back Clinton. No idea if she’ll do it, but I’m pretty sure it would get the results she claims to want — repairing her relations with the Democrats’ progressive wing — if she did.

      Of course, I have no idea whether she *really* wants that, either. There have been enough signs that she’s courting the urban Republicans who don’t like Trump, especially the megadonors. Most of them are socially liberal and economically business-at-all-costs, which is identical to that of the Third Way Democrats, a group founded by the Clintons and which appears to represent whatever consistent beliefs Hillary Clinton actually has.

      So it’s possible she’s going to try to repair relations with the left. It’s also possible she’ll throw us under a bus in order to turn the Democrats into a center-right party made up of the plutocrats from both previous parties, with the intention of killing *both* populist remnants (the right which will inherit the Republican name, and the left which has no current party), and ushering in the first de facto one-party era since the aftermath of the Civil War.

      We’ll see which she thinks is more valuable to her.

      • JJ  On May 25, 2016 at 12:18 pm

        “(it would also be illegal, since you’re not permitted to promise government positions in order to attempt to obtain people’s votes)”

        Really? Didn’t Ben Carson say that he endorsed Trump because Trump promised him a spot in his administration?


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    […] “After the Sanders campaign leaders in Nevada realized they’d been out-organized by the Clinton peo….” Yes, absolutely. And the persecution narrative is nothing short of pathetic. But it’s not just about Nevada. It’s been there from the start. How often did we hear that the debates were scheduled in a way that would make them invisible because Hillary was afraid of Bernie in a debate format? Which is ridiculous because she slaughtered him every single time. Nothing helped her more than those debates. […]

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