Thursday, November 05, 2015

Being A Political Opportunist Isn't The Same As Being An Actual Leader


Hillary Clinton's team looked high and low for a position or policy where she was more "progressive" than Bernie Sanders. There isn't one. She's a moderate, poll-driven corporate-oriented politician who very carefully and methodically gets a sense of what positions will benefit her politically and then follows the herd. She never actually leads, not on anything. I shouldn't be singling Hillary out because that's pretty standard operating procedure for every politician in the country. But I'm bringing her up in this context because she finally cobbled together some bullshit about Bernie not being as progressive on guns as she is. Yeah, sure. Her "F" from the NRA trumps his D-minus from the NRA. Meanwhile she's running around the country endorsing and being endorsed by politicians the NRA loves-- like Ted Strickland with his NRA A+ and Tim Ryan, who was her New Hampshire surrogate last weekend and who has until recently been graded A by the NRA. And what would Hillary have to say about progressive icon Russ Feingold's record on gun issues? It's not as progressive as hers (or Bernie's)

Russ Feingold On Gun Issues

Worse yet, her self-centered drive to find a wedge issue to use against Bernie has opened a can of worms for her fellow centrists running for Senate seats, especially in big battleground states like New Hampshire, Florida, Pennsylvania, where Democrats are trying to capture Republican seats and in Colorado and Nevada where Democrats are struggling to hold onto blue seats.

Nationally, it has become safer for a cautious, poll-tested politicians like Clinton advocate stricter laws covering gun sales. Nearly everyone backs background checks (especially Democrats, including, of course Bernie). The most recent years of CBS/NY Times polling shows that the 39% of voters who wanted stricter gun sales laws in 2012 has climbed to 58% (79% among Democrats), an all time high for this poll. When the same folks were asked about background checks, it's also an all-time high-- 92% (and 98% for Democrats). Here are the results in the three most recent polls:

Writing yesterday at The Hill, Alexander Bolton talked about a "division within the Democratic Party over how aggressively to push gun control, an issue that is growing more urgent among the liberal base but threatens to hurt centrists running in battleground states."
[I]t could be difficult for Democratic Senate candidates to keep the gun issue at bay, given the rising fervor in the liberal base for action.

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Martin O’Malley have tried to tap into the grassroots anger over gun violence, zeroing in on the issue during their first presidential debate.

“We have to look at the fact that we lose 90 people a day from gun violence,” Clinton said at the debate in Nevada, a battleground state that could decide the Senate majority next year. “This has gone on too long and it’s time the entire country stood up against the [National Rifle Association].”

...“I have a feeling that [Clinton] is wise enough from her Arkansas roots not to come to Denver, Colo., or Colorado Springs and decide what I’m going to do is a major speech on gun control,” said Rick Ridder, a Democratic consultant based in Denver. “She’s got enough political wisdom, and if not somebody will kick the tires off her campaign plane, make sure she doesn’t land here and give that speech.”

Another Colorado-based Democratic strategist said gun control is not a great issue for embattled Democratic candidates such as Bennet.

“I don’t feel like any Democrat needs to run on gun control as a primary concern. There are larger, more pressing issues at play. I don’t think it’s great ground for any Democratic candidate to be spending their time on,” said the strategist, who requested anonymity.

The gun debate will loom large in Nevada, another battleground state, where former state attorney general Catherine Cortez Masto is running to succeed Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who has touted his pro-gun credentials throughout his career.

“It’s going to be a big issue in Nevada no matter what because there’s going to be a background check ballot initiative next November,” said Jon Ralston, Nevada’s most prominent political commentator. “The NRA is already sending out alerts about [Michael] Bloomberg trying to take over Nevada.”

Cortez Masto has kept her head down on guns and other issues, focusing on raising money.

Democratic leadership strategists in Washington argue the politics of gun control have changed but concede that pro-gun voters historically have a greater impact on Election Day because they tend to be single-issue voters. People in favor of stricter gun control, on the other hand, are typically more motivated by other issues.

“How many single-issue voters are there on the pro-gun side versus the gun control side. There are many, many more on the former than the latter, which has always been the issue,” Ralston said.

...A national Democratic strategist said it would be up to the candidates to set themselves apart on the gun issue, depending on the political contours of his or her home state.

“Every individual state is a little different and every candidate is different. For the most part there’s pretty clear consensus behind common sense background checks,” the source said.
Even a right-wing Republican, Pat Toomey (R-PA) co-sponsored a reasonable background check bill in the Senate. And even after he was threatened by gun nuts from Pennsylvanians for Self Protection, his office said that he's still "100 percent committed to expanding background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He is open to supporting any legislative effort that accomplishes that goal, including the reintroduction of the Manchin-Toomey bill." Certainly background checks are a good issue for Democrats-- I mean with 92% public support even they can't screw it up, but beyond that, the anonymous Democratic consultant probably had it right, at least electorally: "It's up to the candidates to set themselves apart on the gun issue, depending on the political contours of his or her home state and every individual state is a little different and every candidate is different. Hillary needs to understand the difference between being a leader and being an opportunist. This is the new ad she just started running for the Iowa caucuses. Is there something in it with which Bernie disagrees?

If you'd like to help America pick a principled leader for president-- that would be a first for most of us-- you can do that here. Who knows the next time we'll even have that kind of chance? This is a fascinating David Axelrod podcast with Bernie Sanders... well worth listening to if you want to get a better idea of who Bernie is:

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At 9:37 AM, Blogger dopeydiddledocks said...

Please open the link and listen to the X file interview , David Axelrod with Bernie Sanders. It is much more directly informative than the subject title of the DWT post itself.


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