Monday, August 08, 2016

Our Enemies Are The Elites, Not Each Other


Republican elites and Democratic elites have more in common with each other than they have with the kinds of people who support Trump (or, for that matter, who supported Bernie). Bernie has the non-racist, non-misogynistic, non-xenophobic version of the Trump supporters... and a lot smarter and considerably younger. But just as fed up and angry at a rigged system that works to keep the rich and powerful rich and powerful and keep thiose without agency or wealth without agency or wealth. So, while we have Hillary's highly professional campaign team cutting Señor Trumpanzee up into little bite sized cubes and feeding him to the sharks by the hour, Republicans, like 1987-89 Reagan White House Political Director Frank Lavin, are joining the long and growing list of conservatives endorsing the more conservative of the two presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton. "Trump," wrote Lavin in an OpEd, "falls short in terms of the character and behavior needed to perform as president. This defect is crippling and ensures he would fail in office. Trump is a bigot, a bully, and devoid of grace or magnanimity. His thin-skinned belligerence toward every challenge, rebuke, or criticism would promise the nation a series of a high-voltage quarrels. His casual dishonesty, his policy laziness, and his lack of self-awareness would mean four years of a careening pin-ball journey that would ricochet from missteps to crisis to misunderstandings to clarifications to retractions... There are many issues on which Hillary Clinton and I are not in agreement. However on the core foreign policy issues our country faces-- alliance relationships, security commitments, and international engagement-- she comes closer to Republican views than does Trump. And Donald Trump makes me cringe. I am voting for Hillary. And I vote in Ohio."

Team Trumpanzee sent Mike Pence to Arizona to talk to his old comrade in arms, Jeff Flake, hopeful that Pence could persuade him to support the ticket. Flake told a Face the Nation audience yesterday that Pence failed. Even the penultimate senatorial woos, Susan Collins (R-ME), is starting to prepare to abandon the SS Trumpanzee if it looks like it's going to go down in a big way. After Trumps' ugly, race-baiting foray into Portland Thursday-- designed solely to stir up paranoia and ethnic hatreds between Somalis and white Mainers-- Collins finally spoke up about the candidate she refuses to cut loose. "Mr Trump[anzee]’s statements disparaging immigrants who have come to this country legally are particularly unhelpful. Maine has benefited from people from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and, increasingly, Africa-- including our friends from Somalia."

Writing in yesterday's NY Times, Nick Confessore delved into how tough it is for Team Trumpanzee to persuade reliable Republican Party contributors and supporters to get behind Trump (and the rabble that backs him, a problem Confessore didn't address). "The goal," he wrote, "is to persuade thousands of the party’s most reliable patrons to overcome their lingering objections to the candidate most of them never wanted, and to help defeat a Democrat most of them want even less." Today Trumpy-the-Clown flew Trump Force One to Detroit "to unveil a set of detailed economic policy prescriptions... [to] remind wavering Republican donors of the stark contrast that he offers to Hillary Clinton on issues like taxes and regulation."
It is a dizzying turnaround for everyone involved, several donors said in interviews. Aides and fund-raisers for Mr. Trump, a self-described billionaire who has spent months proclaiming his independence from the party’s traditional financial interests, now concede that they need mainline Republican donors to swing behind Mr. Trump so that he will have enough financial firepower to compete with Mrs. Clinton in the air and on the ground.

...Some Trump backers argue that despite his criticisms of Washington, Mr. Trump is likely to lean heavily on conservative think tanks and Republican-leaning trade associations to stock his administration. Others are urging their fellow donors to face the hard truth that Mr. Trump thumped the donor class’s preferred candidates and earned the favor of Republican voters. Now, they say, it is time for the donors to respect the voters’ wishes.

...There are plenty of vocal and visible holdouts. Paul E. Singer, the prominent New York investor who raised more than $3 million for Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign, told Republican officials he would not donate a dollar more to the Republican National Committee as long as Mr. Trump was the party’s nominee.

Other prominent donors spoke out last week after Mr. Trump’s belittling of the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, who died in a car bombing in Iraq in 2004 while serving in the Army.

Seth Klarman, a Boston financier who has given more than $4 million to Republican candidates and groups over the years, has decided to back Mrs. Clinton. So has Meg Whitman, the Hewlett-Packard executive who was a leading fund-raiser for Mr. Romney’s campaign, and who said last week that Mr. Trump was a “dishonest demagogue.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr. Klarman said that Mr. Trump’s “words and actions over the last several days are so shockingly unacceptable in our diverse and democratic society that it is simply unthinkable that Donald Trump could become our president.”

Mr. Trump has also been abandoned by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who oversee a vast network of conservative political and philanthropic groups. Many of their allied donors traveled to a luxury lakeside resort in Colorado Springs last weekend for the summer edition of the network’s biannual “seminars.”
OK, so what about the Bernie supporters? Do they still have a beef. Yes, but the overwhelming majority are following the clothespin strategy and going along, however reluctantly, for Clinton. (Not me, though.) But just over a month ago Ben Spielberg warned that Bernie supporters had reason to loathe the way the Democratic establishment stole the primary process for Clinton and denied the nomination to Bernie. That's not supposed to be part of history.
Journalists have been cautioning Bernie Sanders against “suggesting the entire political process is unfair,” insisting that doing so could have “negative and destabilizing consequences.” They contend that he must “argue to his supporters that the outcome of the [Democratic primary] process was legitimate” so that he can convince them to vote for Hillary Clinton.  According to several recent articles, this argument should be easy to make because “The Democratic Primary Wasn’t Rigged” and “Bernie Sanders lost this thing fair and square.”

The problem, however, is that the Democratic primary was anything but “fair and square.”  It may not have been “rigged” in the narrow sense in which some of these writers have interpreted that word (to mean that there were illegal efforts to mess with vote counts), but it certainly wasn’t democratic. That’s why only 31 percent of Democrats express “a great deal of confidence” that the Democratic primary process is fair and is likely why the election conspiracy theories these journalists decry have gained traction.

Defenders of the Democratic primary results make several legitimate points. Clinton secured more votes and more pledged delegates than Sanders. When voting rules were less restrictive, she still won a greater number of open primaries than he did. Caucuses, which are very undemocratic, likely benefited Sanders. There isn’t evidence that the Clinton campaign coordinated efforts to purge voters from the rolls, inaccurately tabulate votes, or mislead Sanders’ California supporters into registering for the American Independent Party. While “the American election system is a disaster” and “should be reformed,” it’s not clear that the numerous and alarming voting rights issues that surfaced during the primary (from Arizona to New York to Puerto Rico) systematically disadvantaged Sanders. And discrepancies between exit polls and final voting results can happen for a number of reasons; they aren’t necessarily indicative of foul play.

Yet at the same time, these points skirt the very real ways in which the primary process was “rigged;” as Matt Yglesias and Jeff Stein have acknowledged, “the media, the party, and other elected officials [were] virtually uniformly… loaded against” Sanders from the get-go. The thumbs on the scale from these groups mattered a lot, more even than Yglesias and Stein surmise.

To quickly recap what those thumbs looked like, the Democratic party threw so much institutional support behind Clinton so long before she even declared her candidacy that political scientist David Karol asserted, in December of 2014, that “Hillary has basically almost been nominated.” The Democratic National Committee’s debate schedule was “obviously intended” to insulate Clinton from challengers and scrutiny. The DNC, in response to inappropriate behavior from a Sanders staffer who DNC staff had recommended and the campaign had already fired, suspended Sanders’ access to important voter data in violation of its contract with his campaign. While Clinton was dinging Sanders on his ostensible disregard for party fundraising, the “so-called joint fundraising committee comprised of Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and 32 state party committees” was exploiting loopholes in campaign finance laws to funnel the bulk of its resources to Clinton and Clinton alone. Even into late May, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was leaning heavily into biased, anti-Sanders messaging, and leaked emails confirm that she and other DNC leaders actively sought to undermine the Sanders campaign. In addition, leaders of numerous groups traditionally affiliated with the Democratic party-- unions and organizations generally more aligned with Sanders than Clinton on campaign issues-- endorsed Clinton without polling their members (the groups that did open the endorsement process up to members typically endorsed Sanders).

Mainstream pundits and analysts were hardly any better than the Democratic party. From the moment Sanders entered the race, the media insisted-- when they covered him at all, which was not very often-- that he had “no chance of winning.” They continued to write off the possibility of a Sanders victory even as his popularity skyrocketed and he took an early lead in the popular vote, inappropriately including superdelegates in their reporting to make it look like Clinton was winning big. They asserted that the hundreds of policy wonks in support of Sanders’ ideas didn’t exist, subjecting Sanders’ proposals to far more scrutiny than Clinton’s, getting their analysis of some of Sanders’ plans flat-out wrong, and attempting to “boot anyone not preaching from the incrementalist gospel out of the serious club.” They began to pressure Sanders to drop out well before even half of all primaries and caucuses had been completed. They helped advance the false narrative that angry, sexist, illiberal White men fueled Sanders’ rise when his supporters were typically more power-balancing than Clinton’s and he was actually most popular among young women, young people of color, and poor Americans. They also helped the Clinton campaign propagate numerous misleading and/or untrue attacks on Sanders.

In general, as often happens when political and media establishments are threatened, they progressed from “polite condescension” towards the Sanders campaign to “innuendos” to “right-wing attacks” to “grave and hysterical warnings” to something close to a “[f]ull-scale and unrestrained meltdown.” It’s not clear exactly how much of that progression was coordinated, but it takes minimal effort to dismantle the claim that the Democratic party and mainstream media outlets were mostly neutral. Whether Clinton surrogates were praising her on TV without disclosing their ties to her campaign or technically unaffiliated newspaper outlets were blasting Sanders in headlines and post-publication edits to their articles, media sources consistently parroted misleading Clinton campaign talking points. Evidence indicates that the DNC was along for the ride.
Democratic Party goats and sheep can bleat all they want about Naderism, but, truth be told, anyone who votes for Clinton is voting for an untenable and corrupt system that needs to be smashed to bits, not coddled or preserved. It's why, no matter how much I detest a dangerous clown like Señor Trumpanzee, I will never, under any circumstance, vote for Hillary. I may even buy a Ralph Nader tee-shirt, since I did cast a ballot-- albeit with a clothespin on my nose-- for Gore/Lieberman in 2000. Yes, I was bamboozled into voting for Joe Lieberman. That's never going to happen again.

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At 6:51 PM, Blogger Librarian Guy said...

Excellent commentary, & you are right about our Elites. During the dark years of Bush, I loved the "Net Roots", dailykos, digby hullaballoo, Crooks and Liars, etc. It's not just the MSM that's saying suck it up and vote for WarHawk, Wall St. Tool, "superpredator" hunter $Hillary, kos himself said of the Bernie-ites "rudely" holding up anti-TTP signs at the DemCon, "Fuck them." That goes beyond clothespin strategy. Your website is my new favorite-- real analysis and puerile, funny graphics. I never sucked it up and voted for Lieberman (but I do feel guilt over voting for both Bill, and O'Bomber, the first time they ran only), but at least you've learned your lesson.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Anon said...

Markos (kos) is still a republican at heart. Like many new "Democrats" of the last two decades he's good on most social / cultural issues but he's still a fucking Republican at heart. No, kos. Fuck you.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger All Knowing One said...

In the past, before Bizarro World turned everything upside down and bass-ackwards--the "elite" were the super-rich, who inherited their money, and had to do nothing, but enjoy life to the fullest, enjoy the fruits of others' labors (like Trump and Romney). WHEN, exactly, did it come to be used by THEM, and ALL RWers, as a negative euphemism for savvy, sane, well-spoken, well-educated people?


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