No, Voting for Trump Won’t Accelerate Progressive Change

Yves Smith (aka Susan Webber), a management consultant and principal at Aurora Advisors, writes at Politico that the “highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don’t just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say “Hell no!” to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.”

They (9 out of 10 Smith friends polled) developed their “conclusions” from “careful study of her record and her policy proposals,” and believe the Clintons represent a policy status quo of “crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate.” And they think “the most powerful move they can take to foster change is to withhold their support.” Continue reading

Social Media

Bernie Sanders and the Superdelegates

I don’t think Bernie has his best talking points with respect to the Democratic Party super delegates.  I would respond to questions with this:

It’s important to understand what a super delegate is.  Democratic Party activists who have put in the time and effort to elect Democrats, and the men and women who have won elective office as Democrats, should have plenary votes at their national convention along with delegates selected by voters in primaries and caucuses.  It makes all the sense in the world for party officials, whether selected at the county level or by winning elections, should have a voice in nominating the Party’s candidate for President.  But I see a disconnect when I win a primary in West Virginia by 60% but the Democratic Party officials who serve the state support my opponent, and I wonder why they don’t support the choice their own constituents prefer.  It seems to me that they open themselves to challenges from inside the Party.  I’m not threatening to support primary challengers, but challenges would not surprise me if voters want to move in a new direction.

I am active in the Democratic Party at the county level in Virginia, and I work to elect candidates from within my Party.  Bernie Sanders has caucused with Democrats but is not an activist Party member, and this makes me wonder why I should support nominating him for President on our ticket.  The answer of course has to do with policy.  I agree with his rejection of neoliberal economic policy – free trade, lower taxes on the wealthy, personhood for corporations, among other things.  I also agree with his rejection of foreign policy as usual, where many Democrats look all too much like GOP neocons.  This resolves  my concerns, and I would personally prefer to see Sanders win the Democratic Party nomination.  If he does not, I want to see his candidacy move my Party toward support for his policy proposals.

In the end, however, it’s no surprise that core legacy Democrats – long time activists and elected officials – want to stick with someone who has supported Democrats her entire life.  If Bernie wants to influence the Party he needs to join it officially, and direct his supporters to likewise join its activist ranks.  They can then compete in Party politics, including local level primaries and elections for grassroots Party positions like the one I hold: district chair.

I voted to send a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention last weekend.  I welcome his supporters to the Party and their efforts to remake it according to their policy preferences.  If they do well, the super delegates will follow.

Social Media

Trump, Sanders, Populism, and the 2016 Election

I’m glad I ran across this Salon article challenging the notion that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders appeal to similar populist constituencies.  Don’t both Trump and Sanders “confront ‘establishment’ hegemony and voice small-fry ‘populism,’ plus condemn bad trade agreements, job losses, and Washington insiders?”  No, Becker says:

Sanders is not like Trump or vice versa: despite surface parallels, they are at heart more like polar opposites. In the end this measure emerges: the unassuming Sanders presents people-oriented messages that widen debate and insight. Trump’s proto-fascist, wealth-driven demagoguery kills debate with deceptive, irresponsible war cries that deter thinking and enlightenment.

I guess I agree as far as it goes: the contrast between Sanders’ intellectual and Trump’s demagogic arguments are…wait for it…yuuuuge.  But I see a much more important difference: Donald Trump sells himself as the best player of the Capitalism game.  Bernie Sanders makes a case that the game itself is rigged, and the rules need to change. Continue reading

Social Media

Sunday Morning Coffee

A few things I read over coffee this morning…while watching the talking heads discuss Iowa:

Morton Guyton, writing at Patheos blog Mercy Not Sacrifice, discusses an ideological perspective he calls ” White Evangelical Nihilism:”

There’s a genuine ideological foundation for the ethos that makes Trump and Cruz so popular. I call it white evangelical nihilism.

When you’re told by your pastor that all the people outside of your ideological tribe are utterly wicked and deserving of eternal torture, that’s how it becomes a sin to compromise with your opponents politically and work together for the common good.

Everything about secular liberalism must be utterly antithetical to the Christian gospel and profoundly offensive to God. It has to be, or else secular liberals wouldn’t be worthy of damnation. So everything about liberalism is put into binary opposition with “God’s truth.” To believe in climate change is to believe that God is not in control of the environment. To believe that the government should provide for the poor is an emulation of atheist communism and a usurpation of God’s sovereignty. To promote “political correctness” is to silence the courageous proclamation of “Biblical truth.”

This tracks with a point I make when discussing today’s polarized American political climate.  Conservatives run on a set of existential issues on which there can be no compromise: abortion, homosexuality, taxes, and guns.  Two of these have their basis in religion and two in racism, but all four depend on the fundamental premise that only wicked, lazy or authoritarian people disagree with the right wing on these issues.  This is the fundamental American political problem we need to resolve.

Guyton goes on to reframe salvation.  Rather than a search for God’s help in saving individual sinners from themselves, he argues we should seek His help in saving other people from our sin:

Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.” Imagine if Christians, and especially Christian politicians, were known as the people who regard everyone else as “better than [them]selves.”

Read the whole thing.  Excellent essay. Continue reading

Social Media

Negative Political Ads

Chris Matthews hit Bernie Sanders pretty hard the other night on Hardball for his new Goldman Sachs ad, which points out that the firm recently paid fines for banking law violations that helped damage the economy in 2008.  The ad goes on to remind Americans that none of the people responsible faced criminal prosecution – though actual humans acted to break the law. These individual Wall Street bankers, the ad notes, get away with this because they contribute to political campaigns and pay huge speaking fees to politicians.  The ad does not mention Hillary Clinton at all – but because Clinton has a relationship with Goldman Sachs that includes both campaign contributions and speaking fees, Matthews characterized this as a slam on the Secretary.

Sanders has a reputation as a clean campaigner and has said several times that he won’t go negative in his race against Hillary Clinton.  After showing several clips of Sanders saying he’s never used a negative ad and won’t start now Mathews showed the spot and then spent several minutes making a claim that Sanders has changed strategy and “gone negative.”  Continue reading

Social Media

Sunday Morning Coffee, Snowed In Edition

National Review stood across Donald Trump’s path to the Republican nomination shouting stop! this week with a series of essays by a who’s-who of the right-wing movement. Their argument amounts to “Trump is no Conservative” and it’s pretty rich coming as it does from the folks who basically created this monster.  Do yourself a favor and click that second link – Jeb Lund has a funny take and writes well in the Matt Taibbi mold.

One way the conservative movement has paved the way for a demagogue like Trump: consolidation of power through ignorance.  People are more likely to believe we can actually build a wall along the Mexican border when they’ve been trained to reject critical thinking in favor of conspiracy theory while distrusting our most basic institutions.  You can find a lot of good writing at Hullaballoo these days, by the way.

Democrats apparently also go after each other with “bile and bullshit.”   Corey Robin documents much of the atrocity of Clinton attacks on Bernie Sanders at Crooked Timber.  Note number 10, where Robin points out that the term “Socialist” may not carry the negative weight some people think.  I highly recommend Robin’s book, The Reactionary Mind, by the way.

Speaking of books, a couple I’d like to read once I’ve finished Robert Reich’s book Saving Capitalism.  Kevin Kruse’s book connecting corporate attacks on the New Deal with the rise of religiosity in America, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, looks like an important read if this review accurately captures it.  And Jane Mayer writes to broaden our understanding of how the wealthy use their resources to influence public policy in her new book, Dark Money.  Alan Ehrenhalt reviews it for The New York Times here.

Finally this morning another armed moron has an accident with his firearm.  This one is especially rich – he felt like he needed a gun for self-protection in church.  Maybe God is trying to tell him something.  And maybe I need to start a new series: Moron Labe.

 

Social Media

Bernie Sanders and the Art of the Possible

Ta-Nehisi Coates hit Bernie Sanders pretty hard this week for rejecting the idea of paying “reparations for slavery.”  He didn’t like Sanders’ response – that Congress would never agree to such payments, the discussion would prove divisive, and we should instead invest in rebuilding cities and creating new jobs.  I’m sympathetic to the reparations argument – given that much American wealth and capitalism depends in no small measure on slavery it makes sense to compensate those who worked in slave labor camps to help build it.  But as a practical matter the chances of developing an effective reparations policy and getting it through Congress do in fact look pretty dim.

Sanders also took a hit from the Clintons, who sent daughter Chelsea out to make the somewhat misleading claim that he would “dismantle ObamaCare,” not to mention Medicare and private health insurance.  To be sure, Sanders’ idea for an American Health Security Trust Fund (AHSTF), or single-payer universal health care, would replace the Affordable Care Act eventually.  It would do so by expanding Medicare to every American, so I’m not sure how this “dismantles” that program.  And it’s also not clear that this would mean the end of private health insurance firms.  Even a universal health care system would have room for private sector supplements to whatever benefits the public sector provided.  But part of the critique is that AHSTF is a political pipe dream that could never pass in the existing political climate.  “I am not interested in ideas that sound good on paper but will never make it in real life,” Clinton said.

Finally, Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money fires a similar shot across Sanders’ bow.  Asking “So What Would Happen if Bernie Sanders Won,” Loomis expresses two concerns: that Sanders would not be prepared to quickly appoint judges and executive officers, and that his base would abandon him within a year, dooming his presidency. Continue reading

Social Media