Saturday, January 14, 2017

Democrats are more afraid of Bernie Sanders than they are of Donald Trump.

Over the past 20 years, the Democrats have routinely ignored local and state and other down-ballot elections to focus on the presidency as their party becomes the GOP only with better Hollywood celebs to back it.  This has resulted in Republican control of most state and local governments, which has made a Republican majority in the House of Representatives an easy thing to maintain through voter suppression laws and gerrymandering.

That alone does not explain why Democrats also lose in elections where the districts cannot be rigged, though, including gubernatorial, Senate, and presidential elections, where popular votes cannot be redistricted every ten years into 'safe seats.' Democrats do not understand that they lose these votes because they are leaving behind (or have left behind) their base voters, a fact that is happening because the Democrats are, economically speaking, identical to the Republicans in all the ways that hurt the lower classes the most.

THAT is why Hillary! lost the election: Hillary! gave her voters no real reason to go vote for her by abandoning the principles most Democrats (say they) believe in.  Trump's voters were told he would build a wall to keep out Muslim Illegal Immigrants who force factory workers in Indiana to have abortions, and so they got to the polls for him.  Hillary!'s voters were told she... wouldn't be Trump.

But despite those cold, hard, easy-to-understand, fairly obvious facts, Democrats persist in shouting as loudly as they can that someone else is responsible for their losing. Now, the reason is Bernie Sanders, or, rather, the reason is the the reasons that Bernie Sanders stood for.

Writing for "The Root" or possibly for his 5th grade essay on the presidential election, writer Michael Arceneaux posted "Shut Up, Bernie Sanders" yesterday afternoon.  According to this bio, Arceneaux is

 a Houston-bred, Howard University-educated writer currently living in Harlem. He often covers issues related to culture, sexuality, religion, race, and Beyoncé.

Covering politics might be slightly more difficult than covering Beyonce, as demonstrated by Arceneuax's keep grasp of nothing in his post.

Arceneaux's thesis is hard to understand, but it appears to be 90% defense of Democrats' intense focus on being Republicans while not appearing to be, and 9% claiming the election was stolen, and 1% race-baiting.  Let's take a look.

If hubris and the successful pursuit of headlines were genuine indicators of political aptitude, perhaps Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would actually be the Svengali he’s presently being sold as.
According to Wikipedia,

"Svengali" has come to refer to a person who, with evil intent, dominates, manipulates, and controls a creative person such as a singer or an actor.
So: Not a Sanders fan. Got it. Arceneaux says:

Of course, Sanders, like our president-elect, the Marigold Manchurian Candidate, can rightly lay claim to scoring huge, albeit majorly melanin-deficient, crowds that found kinship in campaigns rallying against a corrupt political system. 

"Guilt by Association" is one of the arguments listed in "An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments."  Note the race-baiting has begun in the second paragraph: "Sanders does not appeal to minorities."

In February 2016, Gallup noted that part of Sanders' image problem among black voters was that about 1/3 of them didn't know who he was. In a recent poll discussing who would win the 2020 nomination, 21% of minority respondents picked Sanders; 45% picked Joe Biden. Sanders was 15% ahead of the next closest among minorities (Elizabeth Warren, 6%).

Arceneaux again:

Unfortunately, only one of those men could seize a major political party’s nomination with a mostly white vote. So, while Sanders was successful in pushing political foe Hillary Rodham Clinton to more progressive stances, he was never a real threat to her campaign. Not only that, but he failed to make real inroads with the folks whose backs the Democratic Party stands on. This is the part where you conjure an image of a black auntie.

So much so wrong so quickly. While Hillary! won by a large margin the minority vote, she lost ground to Barack Obama in percentage of that vote. It would be asinine to assume that some minorities only voted for Obama because he was black, so one must assume that the minority voters who went to the polls for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but Stayed Home For Hillary! were doing so for some reason other than the color of her skin. Perhaps Hillary!'s inroads with "black auntie" were temporarily closed.

Did Hillary! take on more progressive stances? Does the Democratic Party stand on the shoulders of the black aunties of America?

Progressive stances really only matter if they are economic progressive stances or concern what is loosely referred to as "social justice."  Hillary! as Secretary of State pushed TPP, which may or may not be a good thing but it's not considered a progressive thing. In her presidential run, Hillary! wouldn't comment one way or the other on whether she'd support the deal. Trump opposed TPP, but so did Sanders.

2008 Hillary! didn't want to lift the current cap on income which is subject to the social security tax. In 2016, Hillary! said she would agree with raising the cap to just under $120,000, which would hurt middle-class voters a bit more, while not affecting the poor or rich at all. Progressive!

Clinton did get more progressive in terms of cops versus incarceration and student debt, but arguably those were responses to the mass shootings of black men by white cops, and the student debt crisis looming large over millenials, not a response to Sanders' campaign.

Arceneaux then starts blaming the system, more or less, for Hillary!'s loss, while faulting Sanders for continuing to believe that Democrats should stand for something more than Republicans With Better PR:

Sadly, Sanders can’t stop, won’t stop, doling out bad advice. 

The advice in question is what Sanders believes Democrats should do if they want to govern, and/or if they want to govern as liberals.  Arceneaux doesn't want Sanders to say this stuff, because he (presumably) doesn't want Democrats to do this stuff.  Arceneaux takes a few more false-equivalency potshots at Sanders:

Moreover, much like the Colby-Jack Führer-in-waiting at his first press conference as president-elect, Sanders can’t stop taking shots at Clinton. Perhaps losing the popular vote is that damaging to one’s ego.
Sanders! What a loser! He's just like Trump!

In any event, speaking to NPR’s Morning Edition, Sanders argued, “Look, you can’t simply go around to wealthy people’s homes raising money and expect to win elections.” The Vermont senator went on to declare, “I happen to believe that the Democratic Party has been not doing a good job in terms of communicating with people in cities, in towns and in rural America, all over this country.”
This is the same man who lamented that having so many Southern primaries in the early months of the Democratic primary “distorts reality.”
Arceneaux provides no argument or evidence for asserting that Sanders is wrong about how the Democrat's inability to communicate with Americans is hurting them. He simply lists it as a thing that Sanders said which Arceneaux thinks is wrong, and then brings up what seems to be a non sequitur: What, one wonders, does Sanders' disapproval of the timing of the primaries have to do with the Democrats' losing elections because they can't get their message ("I'm Not Trump" -- Hillary Clinton, 2016) to Americans?

Well, everything: By front-loading Southern primaries, Democrats make the nominee have to appeal to Southern voters early on, when fundraising is based primarily on name recognition and thus favors 'rock star' candidates like Hillary!.  This in turn helps those 'rock star' candidates seem very successful early on, which then pushes the idea that a Sanders-like candidate simply 'can't win' the nomination, because he's doing poorly in the early primaries.  Put more simply, the more a candidate wins early on, the more likely the public will see that candidate as the one that should be backed. And the more a candidate wins early on in primaries depends heavily on how well-known that candidate is before the primary.

The Democrats, then, ensure that their candidates must be well-known, heavily-backed candidates who have a strong appeal to Southern voters in order to have a shot at being nominated.  Then, when a candidate locks in the nomination (or appears certain to do so) the campaign in other states winds down, so later-primary states get less primary focus. When Wisconsin held its primary, I voted for Sanders, knowing it was all but certain he could not get the nomination by then. (Sanders won Wisconsin, but nearly every story about it noted that Sanders almost certainly could not win the nomination, based on how the Democrats' nomination system works.)


Hillary Clinton ran an unsuccessful campaign, but to say she ran a bad campaign is disingenuous. 

Why? "We didn't win the game, but to say we lost is disingenous." Hillary!'s campaign was hacked because her workers had bad cyber security. She didn't campaign nearly enough in many states. She picked as a VP nominee a near-unknown whose only appeal was that he was from the South, it seems. Grassroots supports expressed dismay with nearly everything Hillary! did. And you: name a Hillary! campaign position (other than one I told you about in this post.) You likely can't.

After saying Hillary! didn't run a bad campaign, Arceneaux goes full hypothetical question:

Should she have campaigned more in black neighborhoods? According to the results of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, sure. Could she have made greater attempts at reaching out to rural voters, even though they’re not exactly Democratic strongholds? It’s fair to say yes.
"Should Hillary! have campaigned hard in states that were battlegrounds and which could turn the election? Yes. Could she have tried to expand the Democrats' message to new constituencies? Yes."

Did she do those things? No. She ran a bad campaign.

That said, Clinton had nearly 3 million more votes than our president-elect
"That said, if the election had been run in some way other than the way we've run them for 238 years, Hillary! would have won." Was Hillary! unaware of how the electoral college would work in 2016, and therefore unable to try to win the election that would be held, rather than the election she wished we would hold?

and lost by about 80,000 votes in three states heavily affected by voter suppression, an issue that the likes of Sanders and others failed to truly speak on, at their own peril.

Republicans can pass voter-suppression laws because Democrats let Republicans win state elections and control state legislatures. The Republicans openly say they are doing this, and it helps them win elections. Democrats continue to ignore that. Many people disagree on the effects of voter suppression laws vis a vis the 2016 elections. But more to Arceneaux's point: Sanders did attack voter suppression laws. Sanders' attack on Wisconsin's law was called "relentless[]" by The Hill.

Referring to Clinton's loss in the election, Arceneaux says:

Clinton achieved this feat despite a media consumed by a nonissue about her email server as it gleefully reported on stolen material secured through hackers so ordered by the Russian government.

Arceneaux is a part of the media, as is Jezebel (the blog hosting his column, loosely speaking.) Jezebel frequently reported on the Clinton emails.

Political losses should yield a real examination of what went wrong, 

yes they should...

but Sanders is someone who, on par with a robot, just repeats what’s already been programmed. The man is not saying anything new or remotely insightful. Clinton performed far better than he arguably ever could have with a diverse coalition that he never enjoyed or made a real effort to build.

... but not by Arceneaux.  Is his argument really "It's better that Democrats narrowly lose with Clinton than lose by a lot with Sanders?" Seems like it. Arceneaux is the reason why the coach of your favorite NFL team, down 20-0 in the 4th quarter, kicks a field goal.

Sanders’ lil’ media tour, in which he sings another sad love song like he’s Toni Braxton, is good for Bernie Sanders, but what about the party, and what about the rest of us?

First off, Toni Braxton is a hateful person who views her son's autism as a punishment for Toni Braxton. She's said so.  Secondly,

To wit, during a recent town hall with CNN, Sanders was asked if the Democrats, like the Republicans immediately following the swearing-in of President Barack Obama, should obstruct the new commander in chief. “I don’t think that’s what we do,” Sanders answered. “I think where Trump has ideas that make sense that we can work with him on, I think we should.”
Where exactly is that? Trade policy, a grievance shared by both men, came up, and Sanders said that he would be “prepared to sit down and work on a new trade policy which is based on fairness, not just on corporate greed.” One of the great loves of the reality-TV version of Ebenezer Scrooge’s life is greed, so what is the point of saying this?

Secondly, both Trump and Sanders oppose TPP, as I noted. More importantly, Arceneaux's point here is literally this:  If Trump proposes something the Democrats like the Democrats should still oppose it because it comes from Trump. This is the politics of nihilism the Republicans excel at.  What if Trump proposed single-payer universal health care, because he personally would benefit from it? Should the Democrats say no way man? 

Republicans were wrong to obstruct Obama, 

You have just undermined your own last point.

especially when you consider how willing he was to compromise for the sake of the greater good. ...

The Democrats expressly did not compromise on Obamacare, forcing it through using the same Congressional procedure that they now fault the Republicans for using to try to repeal that law.

Now, as we look at a man building an administration very much in line with the demagoguery and exploitation his campaign was known for, Sanders is scolding Democrats based on mythology while pretending that he can get something down with the bigot ruler-in-waiting.

What is even  going on in that sentence? I don't understand this at all, but if you are following the box score, it is:

1. Sanders is wrong to say Dems can compromise with Trump.
2. Republicans were wrong not to compromise with Obama.
3. Sanders is wrong to say Dems can compromise with Trump.


Not surprisingly, when asked if he would run for president again in 2020, Sanders wouldn’t offer any definitive response. He likes the attention too much for that. 
Sanders will be 76 this year. So far, I don't know of any candidate that has definitely committed to running in 2020, so it's obvious that not just Sanders, but every single politician enjoys the attention of the media too much to say they will definitely run for the next presidency when the newest one hasn't even been sworn in.

Although Sanders may be sincere in his stances on the evils of classism, 
Yeah, just because he's publicly espoused these beliefs for 3/4 of a century is no reason to think the guy is sincere.  By the way, Bernie Sanders' net worth of $528,000 is roughly 1/100th of Hillary!'s $53,000,000 net worth. Those figures might seem important to you, if you were the type of person who thought possibly someone was not sincere in their public statements about the evils of classism.
for all the admonishment he’s offered Democrats, he’s shown no sign of learning about his own shortcomings. At this point, he very much just enjoys the sound of his own voice and the attention. 

I'm sure that is precisely why Sanders continues to doggedly insist that Democrats pay attention to the problem of income distribution, health care, and political voice. He likes the attention! I'm surprised he hasn't dated one of the Kardashians, the attention hog!

Arceneaux of course does not say what shortcomings Sanders should be aware of, or any support for the notion that Sanders is pushing back solely to get attention.

In recent days, Bernie Sanders has been speaking out about the repeal of Obamacare, helped work to get new blood into the Democratic party to push populist programs, given a town hall speech to promote his agenda, announced he was seeking areas to work with Trump on, and was lined up to speak at a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Many nascent political movements die at the first sign of a setback. In recent decades, "Perotistas" never made much of an impact, and the Tea Party's political influence has been pruned down considerably, with establishment Republicans again running the show, albeit from a spot a bit more to the right than they were 8 years ago.  It is heartening, then, to see Sanders continue his own drive, and to not just do so by attempting to seize the brass ring, as Hillary! does, but by actually energizing the grass roots and looking to foment change at all levels of the political hill.

There is reason to think Sanders could be successful in pushing back against 50 years of redistribution of wealth to a smaller and smaller group of people in society while children literally die in our streets for lack of a social safety net. The vast majority of Americans, when polled recently, back Sanders' stances on nearly every single issue. The article that sentence links to points out that the reason Americans don't have the programs they support is because the political elite have consistently diverted voters' attention from those issues that matter to so called 'culture war' issues.  In this, the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans: both desperately want to distract you from the fact that the 1% who make up the power structure in both parties benefit from economic policies that balance megawealth on the backs of the poor and middle class.  Michael Arceneaux is simply another tool in the hands of people like Hillary! and Trump, and it is Michael Arceneaux and the people like him who should shut up.


Andrew Leon said...

You know what I'm tired of?
I'm tired of the "whose fault is it?" paradigm we have in the US. Most of the time, it doesn't matter as it was no ONE person's fault. No ONE person is at fault that Hilary lost the election. Just like there was no one at fault for not anticipating 9/11.
We need to look at the actual problem and work on fixing the problem.
And what is the problem? The problem is that more than 25% of the US population (mostly white males) was willing to vote for Trump, whether reluctantly or eagerly. This is a PROBLEM and reveals a rather systemic issue across a number of -- I'll call them -- platforms, especially education. This is demonstrated now in the revelation that more than half of Americans don't actually know what Obamacare is and many (most?) have been against it for the sole reason that Republican politicians have told them to be against it. And that we (all of us) have allowed Republicans to have a sustained campaign promoting ignorance and superstition is horrendous and is on all (or, at least, most) of us.

Andrew Leon said...

Oh, and I'm not saying this to you, that you are doing this, but it is what the guy who wrote that article is doing, and it's been what's going on in the Democratic party since the election.
Stop talking about who to blame and get onto fixing things!

Briane Pagel said...

I agree with the general idea: pointing fingers without the idea of correcting the flaws you find is useless.

Obamacare, like trade issues, is actually a bit more complicated, and demonstrates a great number of the flaws. It's modeled after a program that was pushed by Republican think tanks and was promoted by insurance companies, but because it was favored by Democrats and Obama it became this target of hatred by Republicans, while at the same time it was staunchly defended by Democrats, even those who knew it wasn't much of a program to begin with -- a half-assed attempt to appease Republicans while not addressing many of the most basic problems in the health care system.

That said, Democrats did a lousy job of selling it. They didn't get even a single Republican, ever, to back it (and I thought when they passed it they were smart to do that, but I recognize now how dumb that was), and never managed to explain to people how helpful it actually was. Republicans controlled the narrative from the very start.

What's kind of amazing is that Arceneaux said Obama tried to compromise on so many things. Really, if you look at the past 8 years, it is the 2 parties simply refusing to deal with each other at all, making little to no effort to compromise except in the most dire of circumstances -- other than the many areas where they saw eye-to-eye, like foreign policy (Obama's foreign policy appears indistinguishable from W's, really). Obama made the decision to abandon any attempt to work with Congress. You can say that's smart, given that they never would work with him, but what it ended up being was a series of executive actions, each of which can now be undone -- but if the GOP undoes them, it'll undo them by LAW, so that the Democrats will have to take over the House, the Senate, and the Presidency to undo those. Basically, the Democrats are now in the position Republicans were in in 1976. But something tells me the Dems aren't about to go on a 50 year run of success.