Sunday, February 16, 2020

Stuck In The Middle With Who? What The Support For Bernie And Michael Bloomberg Says About The Democratic Party Establishment


-by Bob Lynch

At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like the formerly Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, and the formerly Republican mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, share anything in common other than the fact that they are both currently running in the Democratic Primary to be the nominee for President of the United States of America.

The candidates come to the primary from complete opposite ends of the political spectrum. Bernie is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist and Bloomberg is a mega multi-billionaire who made his fortune selling his company’s data services to Wall Street.

One delegates much of his campaign’s heavy lifting to loyal staffers and uses a hands-off approach, the other offers large salaries, benefits, and catered meals for seemingly every single unemployed (and even some currently employed) Democratic Operative in the country to implement HIS plan, which he meticulously micro-manages.

However, the two share one very important trait:

They have the Democratic Establishment and Leadership very angry and afraid, and not just because a sizeable percentage of each of their supporters have pledged to never vote for the other should he become the nominee.

Their mutual success suggests that they have no use for either group. This has incensed and confounded every longstanding gatekeeper and kingmaker from Chuck Todd’s goatee barber to one-trick-pony-turned-guru James Carville and even supposed political savant, Steve Kornacki. And that’s just on MSNBC…

Taking into account the Iowa and New Hampshire results (largely not indicative of anything larger) and national polls (largely useless) we can surmise that two candidates who were not even registered Democrats at this time last year are currently garnering close to 1/3 of all Dem support in a field that includes a two term Vice President who has been a US Senator since the first Continental Congress.

How is this anything other than a severe condemnation of Nancy Pelosi, Tom Perez, and Chuck Schumer who is the only guy in the country, in a crucial leadership position, who is in more over his head than Tom Perez.

And what about the bloated galaxy of establishment Dem pundits, pollsters, strategists, and consultants who have found themselves without a seat on the two largest and heavily funded gravy trains?

I’m not here to make judgements on either candidate’s policies or platform. I just want to make it abundantly clear that both sides appeal to a large segment of the population that could not be considered “typical” Democrats. Whether that means people who identify as socialists or former GOP voters who hate Trump. What it doesn’t mean is that they want what the Democrats have been selling.

This has also manifested itself in the rise of South Bend, Indiana mayor and former McKinsey consultant, Pete Buttigieg, who has somehow bamboozled his supporters into thinking he’s anti-establishment despite looking exactly like what the establishment’s dream candidate would look like if he had been created in a lab.

Goal ThermometerBernie Sanders has built his support through a small donation largely grass roots approach. He has a social media army that can be deployed at a moment’s notice. His congressional surrogates, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib have the highest social media follower count in Democratic politics. Despite being a Freshman Congresswoman, AOC’s 6.3 million twitter followers dwarfs Nancy Pelosi’s 3.9 million. “The Squad has also mastered the “viral” moment and become the go-to GOP Foil. Bernie outperforms with the youth vote in large part because he allows them to have their own voice and feel like they matter.

Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, has chosen not to take any donations at all. He is entirely self-funded and thus has the ultimate trigger authority on all of his campaign’s decisions. Despite the rest of the world realizing we are living in the year 2020, the isolated political bubble woke up to the surprise that heavily funded(but more importantly precisely targeted) television and digital marketing efforts, that every other industry on the planet employs, are incredibly effective.

Many people will tell you that Bloomberg is simply trying to “buy” the election, but I am not one of them. Fellow billionaire, Tom Steyer, also used his enormous fortune to follow the old Dem consultant playbook, only to fail miserably. Despite the constant whining from Julián Castro about the Democratic Primary system being “broken,” nobody forced him, Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker to go all in on Iowa, a state that is virtually 100% white, voted for Trump in 2016, and currently boasts modern day Nazi and Klansman, Steve King.

Kamala could have “practically moved” to South Carolina, Julián could have setup shop in Nevada. They didn’t, their campaigns went broke, and Mike Bloomberg is currently polling double digits nationally despite not even being on the ballot in any of the first states.

This is a worse-case scenario for the self-contained establishment consultancy and pundit class who simply cannot fathom that things can be done a different way than they’ve always done it. I could almost pinpoint the moment on MSNBC the other day that I saw failed Hillary Clinton strategist, Jen Palmieri’s, brain short circuit at the fact that Bloomberg was polling so well despite not demonstrating he could do “retail politics” in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Hello! Who buys anything retail anymore? From Circuit City to Toys ‘R Us and everything in between, the economy has changed. For whatever reason, political consultants believe that attracting donation dollars is a process that somehow exists in a vacuum entirely outside of the rest of the modern economic marketplace.

In yet another chapter of the embarrassingly continuing political Twitter descent into idiocy, Michael Bloomberg was excoriated by a wide variety of legacy Dem political operatives for offering a 23 year old field operator a $6,500 a month salary to work for him.

The Democratic Party as a whole has largely identified youth voter turnout to be a priority but then takes issue with paying someone from that exact demographic to reach that exact demographic?? Out of touch sour grapes at its finest.

Do you seriously think that Lulu Lemon is looking to hire the same old white guy who worked on Eddie Bauer’s Spring 1993 ad campaign just because it worked back then?

The same idiots who advised Paul Tsongas, Dick Gephart, or John Edwards still haven’t figured out that the iPhone wasn’t even really a thing when Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, let alone minute by minute cable news fueled by instantaneous social media.

The fact that Trump’s 2016 digital media director, Brad Parscale, who couldn’t even get an interview to fill Grub Hub’s Mid-Atlantic Deputy Director of Digital Media role, ran circles around the entire Democratic consultancy establishment should have told everyone all they needed to know.

So should the fact that Donald J. Trump, who burnt every single page in the political playbook, is the President and Hillary is not. Leaving aside the fact that Russia clearly interfered in our election, and most likely changed vote tallies, in key swing states with purposely dubious election security,(a story for another time), Trump lost Iowa. He skipped two debates, one of which was even on Fox News!! He mastered earned and unearned media and flooded the digital media market with targeted ads in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The type of thing that could swing ~70k votes…

It didn’t take Russian oligarchs Dimitri Firtash and Oleg Deripaska to teach Brad that Dem’s Digital Media efforts were less sophisticated than your average local Dodge Dealership’s.

The real problem for Dems is that the GOP and Fox News know what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

This is not the case with the Democratic Party and MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. There all kinds of conflicting corporate interests involved and that entire onscreen ecosystem is predicated on a revolving door of advisors turned pundits and vice versa. They ensure that everyone is in on the game and secures “inside access” to drive the nightly narratives. Everyone involved has a vested interest in keeping the music playing for as long as possible because this is the only world in which they can actually call the shots.

These access points do not exist inside the Sanders and Bloomberg campaigns. This is bad business for all of the donation “bundlers” and strategists who are happy to provide donations as long as a campaign agrees to use their preferred legacy media consultants who feed the business downstream to their content providers and provide an “anonymous source inside the campaign familiar with the matter” to their pals in the Media. Money is power and in the Sanders and Bloomberg campaigns, the money is not coming from the traditional Democratic Party’s money centers.

This is an existential crisis for them has their allies in the Media covering both campaigns accordingly.

On a positive note. As Washington Monthly columnist and former DOJ official, Julie Zebrak, has pointed out, the fact that nobody is really mentioning the fact that two of the front runners for the nomination for the next President of the United States are Jewish yet nobody is really talking about them being Jewish is a win for all of us. Again, it is 2020. Maybe politics can catch up with the rest of us.

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At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting take on it.

while Bernie and Bloomberg both might be using 21st-century weapons, they're both still selling the same old snowcones to eskimos... who are still buying them.

The party might be kvetching at Bloomberg's refusal to enrich their own chosen corporate helpers (polling, software, whatever), their corporate donors will believe that they can "do bidness" with him. They are terrified that they cannot with Bernie.

And that is the real difference.

Voters remain dumber than shit, largely, as is proven every single time a poll comes out or a vote is taken. So as long as mike offers the red snow cone, he'll sell a lot of snow cones.

About the jewish thing, WAAAAY too early... just wait until one of them gets the nom. trump is as anti-Semitic as they come. he'll jew-bait his base like he muslim/meskin-baited them in '16. And they'll respond just like they did too.

At 12:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure there are plenty of elected officials who are uncomfortable with what Bloomberg is doing, but for a lot of consultants and operatives, it doesn't seem to be a real issue. What Bloomberg is doing is just a more lucrative version of the existing grift -- it seems like more of a negotiation over price, than a real hostile takeover. e.g. look at the composition of the DNC rules committee. How many of these people are actually hostile to a Bloomberg nomination? Bernie presents a more fundamental challenge to the entire business model. I agree with the idea that the party is likely to be taken over, one way or the other, but Bloomberg's moves represent a much greater degree of continuity, especially given his relationship with Clinton and people in Clinton world. Bloomberg's coalition does not represent a young, mass base. It's basically a lot of soft support from low info, older voters, wealthy people, and a layer of the party bureaucracy. Bernie's coalition represents an actual mass base of people and activists. If Sanders is going to beat Trump, he's still got to solidify support with older voters. But in Bloomberg's case, maybe there's a path through Florida and AZ, instead of the upper-midwest, but he's got all of Trump's baggage and none of Trump's showmanship or media saavy. Unless Trump and the GOP are grossly incompetent in running their 2020 campaign, they should have a great time contrasting with Bloomberg. Bernie is much more of a wildcard for them and a less favorable contrast -- especially for people who live paycheck to paycheck.


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