Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Trump Broke The Chain Of Mediocre Presidents By Being The Worst Ever-- Now Is Not The Time To Go Back To Mediocrity, But To Elect The One Great One Of Our Lives


Ron DeSantis, Florida's Trumpist governor revealed yesterday that the FBI has discovered that Russian operative successfully hacked the vote counting machines in at least two Florida counties. It's likely that Hillary is the legitimate president of the United States, cheated out of her win by Putin's successful operation to put Trump in the White House. "I’m not allowed to name the counties. I signed a (non)disclosure agreement," DeSantis said, emphasizing that he "would be willing to name it" but "they asked me to sign it so I’m going to respect their wishes." He also claimed that the Russian hack was benign and that they were just hanging around, not changing any vote counts. Oh, thank God!

I wonder how many votes the Russians flipped-- not just in Florida, but in other states Obama won both times, like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. I think the FBI protocol is to sit on the information for 75 years. So we'll know then. I'll be 146 years old.

I'm more concerned that Putin and Trump are working on "reelecting" the worst person to have ever set foot in the Oval Office. And not just because Trump is the worst person to have ever set foot in the Oval Office, but also because there's a chance to elect someone who will, if elected, do the kind of truly great things no president has done since FDR. (And you know I'm not talking about Status Quo Joe.)

This week's Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone essay, On the Trail With Bernie Sanders 2.0, asks the question, "Can the Vermont senator win over Trump voters and harness his grassroots army to transform the Democratic Party?" Taibbi was with Bernie for some barnstorming in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. First night was in Madison.
Within just a few minutes, Sanders gets to his money line:

“Of all the lies that [Trump] told,” he says, “the biggest lie was when he said during the campaign he was going to defend the interests of the working class of our country.”

Sanders’ pitch to 60 million red-state voters is, Trump lied to you. He believes many of Trump’s supporters are denizens of a pissed-off working class who bought Trump’s promises of better jobs, benefits and security after decades of betrayal from both parties.

Sanders thinks the whole working class shares this anger, but this trip is overtly about the white portion of that demographic. That he’s even making a pitch to Trump voters is an act of defiance. Much of the commercial news media since 2016 has doubled down on Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” line, dismissing Trump voters as motivated entirely by racism. To court them at all, the thinking goes, is itself a form of white identity politics.

Sanders clearly disagrees. His speech is designed to remind everyone, Democrats as much as ostensible Trump voters, how explicit Trump’s promises on the “economic insecurity” front were and how miserably he’s failed at keeping them. Bernie has never said this out loud, but some of his frustration may come from the fact that candidate Trump in 2015-16 often borrowed from Sanders-esque critiques about corporate power; he even regularly made it a point to praise Sanders in speeches.

“Trump told the American people that he would provide health care to everybody, remember that?” Sanders says.

The crowd cheers a little. Perhaps not everyone remembers, but Trump did once promise “insurance for everybody,” adding a classic strongman’s pledge that “everybody is going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

Sanders lists other Trump pledges seemingly stolen directly from his own campaign. “I remember the ad that he ran, it was really a very good ad,” Sanders quips. “He said, ‘I, Donald Trump, [am] going to stand up to Wall Street.’ Remember that? Oh, yeah, and we’re going to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act.”

Sanders of course has long promised to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, a Roosevelt-era law separating insurance, commercial banking and investment banking. Sanders was mad in a copyright-infringement sort of way even then, and still seems it. (After Trump was elected, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Sanders that Trump’s promise of a “21st-century Glass-Steagall Act” did not actually mean breaking up banks, which would “ruin liquidity.”)

Sanders goes on to list other Trump whoppers: that “the rich will not be gaining” under his tax plan (in fact, 83 percent of the tax relief went to the top bracket), that he would bring manufacturing jobs back, and so on.

...[T]o win, he’d essentially have to overturn the whole political system-- two parties, big-dollar donors and the media. It’s his only realistic path to the presidency.

“It’s a different kind of campaign,” Sanders tells me in late April. “Look, we’re not just taking on Donald Trump. We’re also taking on the corporate establishment, the Democratic establishment, the drug companies, the health insurance companies, Wall Street...

“It’s not just rhetoric,” he says.

...The Macomb County event [the next day] was chosen to make this point. This Detroit suburb is where Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg coined the term “Reagan Democrats” four decades ago.

Greenberg was describing the predominantly white working-class voters who jumped to the Republican Party in droves in the Reagan years. Greenberg’s initial explanation, which became the traditional diagnosis among political scientists, was that these voters had been lured away mostly by racial appeals, over issues like busing and urban-renewal grants.

The Sanders campaign is betting on another take. They believe Democrats don’t have a problem with working-class white voters, but a problem with working-class voters of all races and backgrounds-- lost to the party over the years due to frustrations with free-trade policies, a 50-year decline in real wages, disillusionment with bipartisan-supported foreign wars and their costs for military families, failure to regulate an increasingly exploitative financial-services sector, exploding incarceration rates and so on.

...Sanders ascends to the lectern and delivers... what one might call his Trump-is-a-pathological-liar speech, the essence of it being that “whether you’re a progressive, a moderate or a conservative, you are not proud that today we have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar.”

When Sanders mentions that Trump promised to be a “different kind” of Republican, you can hear a trace of Gilbert Gottfried as he deadpans, “It will not shock you to learn that he lied.” Occasional bone-dry sarcasm represents more or less Sanders’ full humor arsenal.

It all sounds on the surface like the same all-Trump-all-the-time rhetorical strategy that failed Democrats in 2016. However, it’s a little more nuanced. The constant references to working-class voters and the choice of places like Warren are an implicit indictment of past Democratic losses.

Sanders’ “revolution” may not be a beret-and-bayonet insurrection, but it is about using the vote to forcibly detach the Democratic Party from corporate donors, to return it to its roots as a labor-dominated organization.

The Blue Wall tour is crammed full of union imagery, with Sanders introduced at stop after stop by union leaders and advocates, who tell tales of the Vermont senator intervening in labor disputes, supporting strikes, joining picket lines, even being the first presidential candidate to unionize his staff. His union bona fides will be recited to the point of redundancy.

“Bernie Sanders isa union organizer,” United Electric worker and activist Alan Hart will tell one crowd. Sanders backed 1,700 striking workers this year at Hart’s old locomotive plant in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Sanders’ union-centric stump presentation is a surprisingly tight message for a candidate often criticized for being strategy-averse and who has already dealt with dissension and loss among his brain trust-- three of his senior advisers have left the campaign since the launch. “Obviously the issues of social justice are critically important . . . and we need to end discrimination in all forms,” Sanders tells me. “But we need a trade union movement to rebuild the middle class in this country.”

A drop in union support for Democrats was a little-discussed factor in the 2016 race. Exit polls showed union votes for Hillary Clinton fell about seven percent versus the Obama years.

Trump’s failure to keep promises to union members and/or bring back manufacturing jobs (although the rate of decline has slowed) might be a factor in swing counties in 2020, but it won’t be easy. There’s some evidence Trump’s tariffs, along with things like his generally hostile/insulting posture to China, still somehow carry weight with union voters. Democrats may only regain union votes if someone like Sanders-- who probably went trick-or-treating as Samuel Gompers in his childhood-- ends up on the ballot.

It’s been a while since any viable presidential candidate has described his or her campaign as part of a “trade union movement.” It may not be enough for the World Socialist Web Site, but an all-labor, no-corporate-money run is the closest thing to guerrilla politics you’ll see on an American campaign trail. It couldn’t actually work, could it?

...All of the overt labor rhetoric at Sanders’ rallies makes it all the more frustrating that when Joe Biden, this election cycle’s version of the inevitable candidate, finally entered the race in late April, he did so with the backing of a firefighters’ union and United Steelworkers president Leo Gerard.

This is despite the fact that Biden is exactly the sort of Democrat that for decades has traded working-class votes for employer-class donations. Biden supported NAFTA, most-favored-nation trading status with China, and the Trans-Pacific Parnership-- all anathematic positions for unions.

Biden even did his union-photo-op launch after a fundraiser at the home of David Cohen, an executive with Comcast, a company with a long record of opposing union organization and hiring nonunion subcontractors.

Biden’s schizoid approach is a perfect expression of the counterintuitive electoral dynamic between unions and Democrats. Dennis Kucinich, Dick Gephardt and Sanders in 2016 are on the list of longtime labor activists who’ve been stood up in presidential primary seasons by major unions in favor of Biden types.

“We went through this the last time,” says Sanders, who was endorsed by what he calls “three wonderful unions” in 2016, including the National Nurses’ Union. “But we did not have the support of a lot of the major unions.”

Sanders said he believes that the 2016 race caused union leaders to take “a lot of heat” from the rank and file for declaring for Clinton early. “I don’t think they’ll be so quick to decide this time,” says Sanders. “I don’t think there’s anyone who has a better record on unions than me.”

...As recently as the mid-2000s, it was considered a virtue for a Democrat to demonstrate the ability to “cross the aisle.” John Kerry’s introduction video at the 2004 Democratic convention even showed him with his arm around Arizona Republican and turgid Iraq War supporter John McCain.

In the Trump era, “crossing the aisle” is about as popular among blue-state intelligentsia as scabies or snuff films. No effort to court the Fox audience is considered kosher. In a year when Democrats officially cut off Fox as a debate broadcaster, Sanders’ decision to do the town hall was a political act in itself. Did it accomplish anything?

“Fox was kind enough to let us write an editorial after that,” Sanders says. “I think there are a few people who watched who are working two to three jobs, who have nothing set aside for retirement, and they’re wondering: Who cares about us? Do Democrats care about us? Do Republicans care about us?”

He pauses. “I think there are some working-class people out there who will say, ‘I don’t agree with Sanders about everything, but he’s right.’”

Whether or not you believe his pitch will work depends a lot on whether you think Trump’s voters were misled, or whether they read him loud and clear and voted out of racial and cultural resentment rather than the economic issues Sanders holds dear.

The official entrance of Biden soon overwhelmed the novelty of Sanders’ Fox appearance. Early polls put him ahead of Sanders by as many as 20 points and the same pundits who called the 2016 race prematurely on both sides of the aisle were quick to pronounce the primary all but over. The 2020 race will be compared to 2016 in large part because the preposterous (at press time) 21-candidate Democratic field has such obvious parallels to the 17-person “Clown Car” GOP field last time.

This race has already seen headline blizzards for California Sen. Kamala Harris, Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and debates haven’t even started. A lot of these press freakouts appear as thinly disguised Beltway prayers for someone to knock Sanders out of the race. The Washington Post openly wrote that Buttigieg might “save the Democratic Party” from the Vermont senator. No other candidate inspires these takes: Pundits don’t gush when Harris drops in the polls, for instance.

Sanders seems to know it. Talking to Rolling Stone in the days after Biden’s much-ballyhooed jump into the race, he sighs. He’s clearly exhausted by it all, intellectually if not physically.

Still, anyone who’s followed this politician for any length of time knows that both the strength and weakness of Sanders is his relentless sameness. Over and over again, across more than 40 years in public life, he has been saying essentially the same thing-- staffers affectionately refer to his decades-long clarion call about siding with working people against corporate power the “Berniefesto.”

Sanders doesn’t have Ted Cruz episodes, where a thousand speeches into a campaign, he suddenly feels a need to burst into Princess Bride impersonations. Sanders has only one note, and deviating from it never occurs to him. What Turner says about Sanders never being bought off is true, if only because if the senator tried to sell out, he wouldn’t know where to start and would suck at it. He’s also never tried shutting up, and probably couldn’t do that, either.

So he’s in for the long haul. Acknowledging that campaigns have highs and lows, he shakes off the media furors and points to the volunteers counting on him. “We just had a weekend with 4,700 house parties, with over 70,000 people attending,” he says. “That’s an unprecedented level of involvement, and it’s in every state. We’re going to do our best.”

Some outside observers will say he’s already had his impact, by mainstreaming ideas like Medicare for All. Fifty-six percent of all Americans and as many as four out of five Democrats now support single-payer health care.

Even Max Baucus, the former Democratic Senate Finance Committee chairman who was essentially the public-option killer during the Affordable Health Care Act fight in the Obama years, said after the 2016 race “the time has come” to consider single-payer. Similarly, many of the 21 Democratic candidates are for some version of Medicare for All.

Goal ThermometerThe 30,000-foot pundit view on Sanders’ chances should be that he, of course, has a chance, one rooted in the same logic that saw Trump win. He is an unconventional candidate with an at least somewhat insoluble base of support, running in an overlarge field of mostly traditional politicians, many of whom will take votes from one another.

For Sanders to win, all his voters have to do is overthrow basically the entire political system, which would be ridiculous except that all the other options may be worse: Trump is no solution, and a seemingly mighty traditional Democrat fell short last time.

Moreover, if 2016 taught us anything, it’s that press pronouncements are often an anti-indicator on electability questions. Should any of the “inevitable” candidacies stumble, a plurality of votes might carry the day, as it did for Trump three years ago. Then and only then will we find out if Bernie’s pitch to the working class was really a revolution, or just another song written too late.

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At 6:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

trump didn't break any such chain. We've been on a string of really very horrible presidents ever since the election after LBJ's Voting and Civil Rights bills were passed. The lie about when and why white morons fled the democratic party failed to mention these. The white racist crackers fled the democrats and helped elect Nixon.

From then on, our best president was mediocre (Carter). The rest were objectively horrible. The election of Reagan started a plummet into stupidity and hate that may only have been approached during the fall of Rome and the thrall of Germans for hitler.

Through this lens, trump becomes the inevitability on our march to some form of Nazi reich.

These presidents were objectively horrible, but they were not alone. Their parties have also become twisted and horrible and corrupt and hateful. It's a chicken/egg conundrum.

But the horrors of their parties means that no "great" president can ever be elected therefrom BECAUSE their parties will never, indeed they CANNOT ever, allow one.

1) the DNC will do their all to prevent Bernie from winning. Bernie could conceivably make those fraud efforts moot, though polling among the moron voters shows that he probably cannot. It's looking like the DNC is going to make sure there must be a second ballot where those pre-paid superdelegates will polish up biden's crown.

2) even if Bernie can win, can you imagine Pelosi's donors allowing the house to pass MFA, GND and so on? Big oil alone can write Pelosi's PACs checks in the hundreds of billions. How much do you suppose the health insurance and phrma lobbies could drop? Can you imagine Pelosi and scummer turning that kind of money down?

3) If the money decides their best defense is increased support of Nazis, how long before THEY just start shooting people?

At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the question is: how does the FBI know that certain voting systems were hacked when anyone else who asked to review the results were harshly denied access to them? In some cases, the machine memories were wiped immediately upon the announcement of the winner so that there could NOT be a successful challenge.

Again, the real story isn't being covered.


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