Where Is The Democratic Party Headed-- Will Party Elites Continue To Cling To Wall Street Or Re-Embrace Party Values?
In just a few days we'll be looking at the Democratic results from Arizona's primary and the caucuses in Idaho and Utah and at the GOP results in Arizona (winner-take-all), Utah (winner-take-almost-all) and their caucus in Samoa. The media will have something to obsess over that isn't the subject of the inconvenient video just above. Or with inconvenient facts like that damned Ipsos poll showing that Bernie, of all the remaining presidential candidates, is the person most Americans would trust be be commander-in-chief. That sure doesn't fit in with any establishment-approved narratives! Each participant was asked would you trust the candidates to be commander-in-chief
• Bernie- 38%The negative answers were also enlightening-- and strictly prohibited from being absorbed into the zeitgeist. So these are the percentages of people who answered that they would not trust the candidate to be commander-in-chief:
• Hillary- 31%
• Trump- 26%
• Cruz- 20%
• Kasich- 19%
• Rubio- 16%
• Bernie 62%Bernie beat Hillary out among Democrats asked if they would trust each candidate to be commander-in-chief, but it was pretty close. (61-57%). As usual, it's independent voters who do not trust Clinton. Only 17% of independents say they trust her, worse than anyone else other than Rubio (at 11%), even worse than Trump at 25%. Bernie is tops among Independents-- the group that will determine who wins in November-- with 34%. Bernie also does better than Clinton among people under 50. So I'm not just talking about teenagers and millennials here. Obviously, things are different in the still very backward Old Confederacy but look at these numbers:
• Hillary- 69%
• Trump- 74%
• Cruz- 80%
• Kasich- 81%
• Rubio- 84%
This week Ryan Lizza wrote about how he sees the future of the Democratic Party but starts with an assertion that warns you where he's coming from. "Lately," he wrote, "Hillary has sounded less like a Clinton Democrat and more like a Sanders Democrat." No she doesn't-- at least not to an actual Sanders Democrat (AKA-- someone from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party); she sounds like exactly what she is: a conservative-- in her case an actual Republican conservative-- pandering to a Democratic primary audience. Until she had to face Democratic voters, she was another wretched triangulator backing all the betrayals of the Clinton presidency: "the deregulation of Wall Street, an obsession with deficit reduction, the Defense of Marriage Act, his crime bill, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)."
Clinton’s 1992 campaign and his Administration reflected two political strains that still define the Party: one is populist, anti-Wall Street, and pro-regulation; the other is more austere, more oriented toward the New York financial world, and more laissez-faire. Clinton’s Labor Secretary, Robert B. Reich, pressed for more government spending, but the top economic adviser in the White House, Robert Rubin, a former Goldman Sachs executive and later the Treasury Secretary, ultimately persuaded Clinton to abandon many of the liberal spending priorities that he championed during his campaign and to focus instead on reducing the deficit. Later, Rubin also pushed to deregulate the financial industry. That polarity remains. Hillary Clinton is surrounded by Rubin’s acolytes; Reich, an old friend of Bill Clinton’s from their days together at Oxford as Rhodes Scholars, recently endorsed Sanders.
Lizza points to the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank as 2 great achievements for liberals and implies they caused the GOP takeover of Congress in the 2011 midterms. Both bills were severely weakened by the Clinton wing of the party to please their financiers that a more correct case can be made that the Democrats lost control of Congress for, among other reasons, selling out their constituents and their values when they were given the power to actually do some good. They proved themselves corrupt, next-to-worthless and unworthy of support. Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter were more palatable alternatives to what the Beltway Democrats of the Clinton ilk were peddling, which enriching themselves to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars-- not chump change.
Sanders “is tapping into something that is very deep and very profound inside the Democratic Party, which is this discontent with the system that is no longer producing for everyday people,” Simon Rosenberg, a Hillary supporter and the head of NDN (formerly the New Democrat Network), a liberal [no, not "liberal," conservative, protectors of the status quo... nothing to do with liberals except in the minds of Beltwayites like Lizza] think tank in Washington, told me. “He has characterized Hillary as a champion of that system and as somebody who is actually a leader of the system, while he is the one that wants to change it.” Rosenberg added, “He’s not being perceived as a leftist. He is being perceived as somebody who is deeply in touch with a sense that something has gone wrong and that the system isn’t working.”
In Manchester, Bill Clinton tried to make sense of the uprising. “I understand people who get madder every day when they keep reading we’re the best-performing economy in the world,” he said. “We’ve grown fourteen million jobs in five years and yet eighty-four per cent of the people haven’t had an increase in their income since the crash.” Wages have been stagnant for so long, he said, that it was a wonder that it had taken this many years for the electorate to erupt. In New Hampshire, Sanders received sixty per cent of the vote and Clinton thirty-eight per cent-- one of the worst electoral defeats that either Clinton had ever suffered.
Lately, Hillary has sounded less like a Clinton Democrat and more like a Sanders Democrat. Since the campaign began, she has modernized [no, she's changed completely what she says and not changed a thing... just pandered, engendering more district than ever] her positions on trade, the economy, and criminal-justice reform. (She came out in support of same-sex marriage only in 2013.) A few days before the primary in Michigan, where her husband’s free-trade agenda is highly unpopular, Clinton gave a major economic speech, in which she asked, “How do we raise incomes and create the good jobs of the future?” She then said, “I don’t think we can answer that question by refighting battles from twenty years ago.” She blamed some problems in the economy on “Wall Street and some of our corporations,” and noted that the purpose of banks “is not to create huge riches for a select few at the expense of everyone else.”
Sanders doesn’t buy the transformation. “It doesn’t matter what her policies are,” he told me last Tuesday, as he waited for the primary results from Michigan and Mississippi to come in. “What matters is whether or not, if she is elected President-- and we’re in this to win-- if she’s going to stand up and fight. And I think there are many people who will tell you, look, that will not be the case. Look, anybody can give any speech they want tomorrow-- somebody writes you a great speech-- but the day after you’re elected you say, ‘Well, you know, I talked to my Republican colleagues and they think this is not acceptable.’”
He added, “The question is not what she says. The question is what her record has been and what she will do if she is elected President.”
At best, she's utterly inauthentic; more realistically she's a smoother and non-grotesque version of her friend Donald Trump, a liar and a crook, looking for personal power and further enrichment.
Any populist Democrat who follows Sanders in a bid for President will have to win over nonwhite voters no matter their age. In 2008, African-Americans represented fifty-five per cent of South Carolina’s primary electorate; in 2016 that figure was sixty-one per cent. And the nonwhite percentage will only continue to grow. Sanders is running a left-wing campaign at a moment when the black activist left is experiencing a renaissance, and polls show that young blacks, like young whites, are more likely to support Sanders’s message of economic populism and political reform.
But that appeal has its limits. “The black left is mostly non-electoral and sometimes even anti-electoral,” Van Jones, a former adviser to President Obama and a longtime African-American organizer, told me. “It’s very strong on principles and very weak on precincts. So what you see is a lot of protests and a lot of critique, but they don’t know how to turn out voters. You can have two hundred Spike Lees versus one James Clyburn and still lose.” Render said of his friends, “Their mantra is ‘Don’t be a part of the political process at all. You’re leading our people into a burning house.’”
Activists tend to make their way into electoral politics over time. Opponents of the Vietnam War in the nineteen-sixties bolstered George McGovern’s Presidential campaign in 1972. McGovern lost in a landslide, but a number of his young campaign aides, including Gary Hart and Bill and Hillary Clinton, became the next generation of Democratic leaders. DeRay Mckesson, one of the most prominent activists from Black Lives Matter, is now running for mayor of Baltimore. In 2010 and 2014, the Democrats suffered major losses in Congress and at the state level, including many of the Party’s more moderate and centrist members. With Sanders winning young voters overwhelmingly, his campaign may eventually be seen as an incubator for the Party’s future politicians.
To prevail in the coming general election, the Democratic nominee will most likely need to meet or exceed the level of support that Obama had among nonwhites. When I asked Sanders about his lack of appeal to African-Americans, he pointed to his relative strength among younger nonwhite voters. “It’s not so much a racial divide but a generational divide,” he told me. He said that “we may have won” the Latino vote in Nevada and Colorado. (The data are unclear.) “I think we’re doing very well with younger people in the African-American community-- whether it’s fifty per cent or more, I don’t know.”
He asked, “Why are we doing so poorly with elderly people, whether they’re black, Latino, or white?” His explanation wasn’t complicated: “One of the theories is Hillary Clinton was First Lady of Arkansas for twelve years; her husband, Bill, is very, very popular in the African-American community; and there’s an identification of the black community with the Clintons.”
...If Sanders arrives at the Convention with a sufficient number of primary victories and between a third and half of the delegates, he will also be able to influence the Party’s platform. His advisers told me that Sanders will fight for more anti-free-trade measures, a commitment to campaign-finance reform, and breaking up big banks.