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“Bernie Sanders’s New Plans To Win The Nomination”: Convince The Corrupt Establishment That He’s Their Man

After a less-than-super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders’s campaign faces a virtually insurmountable deficit in pledged delegates. With her blowout wins in Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio — and narrow victories in Illinois and Missouri — Clinton could lose the vast majority of remaining states and still earn the nomination. But to keep his political revolution churning as the primary shifts to friendlier pastures, Sanders needs to offer his supporters and donors some vision for how a come-from-behind win could come about.

The best one his campaign has come up with is … not great. According to Politico, Sanders’s plan is to get as close in the race for pledged delegates as possible, and then convince the very Establishment that he’s been disparaging for months to override the consensus of voters and throw the primary to a socialist insurgent.

“The arguments that we’re going to muster are going to be based on a series of facts,” Sanders campaign manager Tad Devine told Politico (emphasis ours). “People will look at different measures: How many votes did you get? How many delegates did you win? How many states did you win? But it’s really about momentum.”

The Sanders campaign is not explicitly calling for superdelegates to negate the democratic will — a notion that it recently condemned. But Devine’s emphasis on momentum implies as much. Sanders has little chance of overcoming the delegate advantage that Clinton wracked up in her southern landslides, but he has a decent shot of winning more states than the front-runner between now and the nomination. Which is why, in Devine’s view, “it’s really about momentum.”

It seems doubtful that Sanders has genuine faith in this cockamamie scheme. The superdelegate system pretty much exists to prevent the nomination of someone like Sanders, a socialist insurgent looking to chase the money lenders from the Democratic temple.

Most likely, his campaign is merely looking for any narrative that can keep its supporters mobilized from here to the convention. Even if Sanders isn’t going to be the Democratic nominee, his political revolution has plenty to gain in collecting as many delegates as it possibly can. Sanders’s surprising strength in the race thus far — and, in particular, his dominance among millennial voters — has led many pundits to predict that his social-democratic vision represents the future of the Democratic Party. The next month of primary contests looks like the most Sanders-friendly stretch of the race thus far. According to FiveThirtyEight’s demographic projections, Sanders is favored to win seven of the next eight primaries or caucuses. If Sanders wishes to demonstrate the broad appeal of his ideology, there’s little sense in dropping out with those potential victories still on the table. Thanks to his campaign’s incredible fund-raising apparatus, the democratic socialist should have plenty of cash to keep fighting, even if donations slow down in the wake of last night’s losses.

Sanders is not going to convince the Democratic Party’s elders to back the candidate with fewer pledged delegates and Establishment connections. But suggesting that such a thing might be possible will allow him to send a louder message to the party’s younger politicians and operatives: Economic populism works. Clinton, for one, seems to have heard that message quite clearly.

 

By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 16, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic Establishment, Democratic Presidential Primaries, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Walking In David Duke’s Shadow”: Trump Treads A Well-Worn Path Of Bigotry

It’s happened before. The Republican establishment, recognizing the danger that the bigoted, demagogic candidate posed to the party, roundly opposed his election. On Election Day, however, the candidate captured a majority of the white vote. It was no fluke, as his odious views were well known. He had even once held elected office. A column I wrote almost 25 years ago refreshed my memory.

The candidate was David Duke, an ex-Klansman, neo-Nazi and former member of the Louisiana House of Representatives who ran for governor of Louisiana in 1991 and lost by a landslide to Democrat Edwin Edwards, thanks to a phenomenal black turnout.

Then, as now with Donald Trump’s campaign, Duke wooed economically discontented and politically alienated white voters by playing to their fears and resentments. Duke’s supporters believed back then that the quality of their lives — financial situation, job security, personal safety — was no better than when President George H.W. Bush took office in 1989, maybe even worse. As a result, they were frustrated, insecure, angry and ready to blame someone. So they gravitated to Duke, a man they believed would vanquish their foes.

The remarkable thing about the “Dukies,” as some of his supporters described themselves, is that they hardly resembled the caricature that might have been drawn of people who openly sympathized with a racist and anti-Semite.

I was in the midst of a large gathering of Dukies on election eve 1991 in a packed, smoke-filled American Legion Hall in the nearly all-white Metairie, La., House district that Duke had represented. I was also among Duke’s crowd the next day at his election night rally in Baton Rouge.

They resembled the enthusiastic white women and men who attend Trump’s rallies. Duke’s supporters were in their 20s, 30s and 40s, along with many senior citizens, more of them wearing jackets and ties and dresses than cowboy boots and jeans.

As with those in today’s Trump crowds, Dukies’ attention and emotions were riveted on their candidate and against the devils he excoriated: criminals who rape, rob and steal; politicians who only want more government and taxes; the liberal news media that try to tell them what to think.

A few of Duke’s 1991 themes echo today.

Said Duke, “Our environment is being threatened by massive immigration.” Sound familiar?

Duke on his trade policy and what he would say to the Japanese: “If you no buy our rice, we no buy your cars.” Is this where Trump gets it?

Duke on values and religious freedom: “I believe that Christianity is the underpinning of this country. . . . And if we lose its underpinning, I think we’re going to lose the foundations of America.”

A similar message is being delivered by at least one top Trump supporter.

Warming up the crowd this week before Trump’s appearance in Hickory, N.C., Pastor Mark Burns said: “Bernie Sanders . . . doesn’t believe in God. How in the world are we going to let Bernie — I mean, really? Listen, Bernie gotta get saved. He gotta meet Jesus. He gotta have a coming-to-Jesus meeting.”

Donald Trump, the outrageous, is no original. David Duke first trod this path.

But Trump is taking his campaign to places Duke never dreamed of.

Duke thought he knew what was bugging white America. White nationalism was his answer.

Trump knows what the United States needs. His answer: Donald Trump.

Trump’s aim seems not to be just the Republican presidential nomination. He clearly wants to be an American ruler, above political party, Washington politics and the demands of democratic compromise. Popularity and admiration will bind him to his followers. He’s so sure of his followers — “many, many millions of people,” as he puts it — that he predicts riots if his path to capturing the nomination is blocked by the GOP establishment.

Trump feeds off a zealotry born out of his promise to reawaken America and restore the country’s greatness. He promises to make his followers strong, instill them with pride, give them hope and make American power dominant in the world.

That kind of thing, too, we have seen before.

From der Spiegel: “There was the impact of the expanded Führer cult on Hitler himself. . . . He became, so it was said, more dismissive than earlier of the slightest criticism, more convinced of his own infallibility. His speeches started to develop a more pronounced messianic tone. He saw himself . . . as chosen by Providence. When, following the successful Rhineland coup, he remarked, in one of his ‘election’ speeches: ‘I follow the path assigned to me by Providence with the instinctive sureness of a sleepwalker,’ it was more than a piece of campaign rhetoric. Hitler truly believed it. He increasingly felt infallible.”

It has happened before.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, March 18, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | David Duke, Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, White Nationalists | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Party May Have No Power At All”: The Republican Convention Is Looking More And More Predictable By The Day

When we first heard talk of a “brokered” or “contested” convention during the 2016 invisible primary, it was just a quadrennial amusement, mostly associated with the sheer size of the early GOP presidential field. Wouldn’t it be cool, pundits thought, if none of these jokers can get a majority and we get to see a real convention instead of an infomercial?  

As the GOP field was quickly winnowed, a whole new and more serious rationale for a contested convention came into view: a convention with no “putative nominee” running the show, and moreover, with an opposition still fighting to stop the front-runner. Suddenly, a knowledge of the usually boring and not terribly significant convention rules and procedures became a very valuable commodity in Beltway chatter, and all sorts of lurid scenarios blossomed in the fevered imaginations of would-be “brokers” and their journalistic fans.

Initially, the vision was of a convention with big, brawling, unlimited deliberative powers that could do any damn thing it wanted, particularly after the legal obligation to follow primary and caucus results was impatiently sloughed off at the end of a pro forma first ballot. So party elites didn’t want Donald Trump as the nominee? No problem, so long as he didn’t come to Cleveland with a majority of delegates bound to him. And even then, maybe the elites could manipulate the rules and disappear that majority! Anything seemed possible: A Romney nomination! A Paul Ryan nomination! A heroic effort by the party’s wise leaders to turn a general-election disaster into one long snake dance to the White House!

But as the reality of a contested convention has drawn nearer, in a context where it would likely involve Donald Trump as the favorite of a plurality but not a majority of delegates, the willingness of party elites to pull off some backstage coup in Cleveland has notably abated. Earlier this week, House Speaker Paul Ryan, who would under normal procedures chair the convention, came very close to a Sherman statement (named after William Tecumseh Sherman’s 1884 disclaimer that “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected”), ruling out not only himself but any other “dark horse” nominee who did not compete in the primaries:

“I’ve been really clear about this,” he said. “If you want to be president, you should run for president. We should select our nominee from among the people who are running for president. Clear and simple. So no, I am not going to be the president. I am not going to be the nominee.” He added, “I am not going to become the president through Cleveland.”

Now today a new report from NBC based on interviews with members of the RNC Rules Committee showed horror at the idea of a “dark horse” spreading rapidly among these ultra-insiders:

“Ridiculous — not happening,” said one Rules Committee member, asked about the prospect of candidates getting on the ballot who did not run this year.

“There’s no way in hell that any of these candidates — who have worked this hard and spent this much money — are going to say, ‘OK, now, for the good of the party, I’ll sit down and let’s bring back Mitt Romney,'” said the insider. “That’s a fantasy world — there’s zero chance of that happening.”

Another committee member said creating a path for a new candidate would lead to a party meltdown …

Indeed, most of the 19 Rules Committee members reached by MSNBC opposed any rule enabling new candidates to run at the convention. Only three backed a rule allowing new candidates to run.

So if it’s considered an outrageous offense to primary voters to bypass all of the candidates they’ve voted for, you have to figure at some point it could prove toxic to elevate a candidate who has been regularly defeated as well. And that could become a fatal problem for John Kasich, who is extremely likely to arrive in Cleveland in third place in pledged delegates. Is the convention really going to nominate the left-most (as perceived, anyway) candidate in the whole field after he’s lost 35 or 40 or so primaries and caucuses? It’s hard to imagine any degree of late-primary momentum that’s going to make that look any more acceptable than a Ryan or Romney nomination on a second or third ballot.

So the GOP lurches toward a convention where the only feasible outcomes are probably going to be a Donald Trump or (if he can finish a close second while denying Trump a majority) a Ted Cruz nomination. This will make some Republican Establishment types crazy. But even party elites now seem to understand that this is the wrong year to assert their power to overrule the GOP rank and file. And so, to take in vain the name of the political-science tome that is going to need a revised edition after this cycle ends, “the party” may “decide” it has no power to decide at all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 18, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, GOP | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Republican Elite’s Reign Of Disdain”: The White Working Class Failed Itself

“Sire, the peasants are revolting!”

“Yes, they are, aren’t they?”

It’s an old joke, but it seems highly relevant to the current situation within the Republican Party. As an angry base rejects establishment candidates in favor of you-know-who, a significant part of the party’s elite blames not itself, but the moral and character failings of the voters.

There has been a lot of buzz over the past few days about an article by Kevin Williamson in National Review, vigorously defended by other members of the magazine’s staff, denying that the white working class — “the heart of Trump’s support” — is in any sense a victim of external forces. A lot has gone wrong in these Americans’ lives — “the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy” — but “nobody did this to them. They failed themselves.”

O.K., we’re just talking about a couple of writers at a conservative magazine. But it’s obvious, if you look around, that this attitude is widely shared on the right. When Mitt Romney spoke about the 47 percent of voters who would never support him because they “believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of them,” he was channeling an influential strain of conservative thought. So was Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, when he warned of a social safety net that becomes “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency.”

Or consider the attitude toward American workers inadvertently displayed by Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader, when he chose to mark Labor Day with a Twitter post celebrating … business owners.

So what’s going on here?

To be sure, social collapse in the white working class is a deadly serious issue. Literally. Last fall, the economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton attracted widespread attention with a paper showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans, which had been declining for generations, started rising again circa 2000. This rising death rate mainly reflected suicide, alcohol and overdoses of drugs, notably prescription opioids. (Marx declared that religion was the opium of the people. But in 21st-century America, it appears that opioids are the opium of the people.)

And other signs of social unraveling, from deteriorating health to growing isolation, are also on the rise among American whites. Something is going seriously wrong in the heartland.

Furthermore, the writers at National Review are right to link these social ills to the Trump phenomenon. Call it death and The Donald: Analysis of primary election results so far shows that counties with high white mortality rates are also likely to vote Trump.

The question, however, is why this is happening. And the diagnosis preferred by the Republican elite is just wrong — wrong in a way that helps us understand how that elite lost control of the nominating process.

Stripped down to its essence, the G.O.P. elite view is that working-class America faces a crisis, not of opportunity, but of values. That is, for some mysterious reason many of our citizens have, as Mr. Ryan puts it, lost “their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.” And this crisis of values, they suggest, has been aided and abetted by social programs that make life too easy on slackers.

The problems with this diagnosis should be obvious. Tens of millions of people don’t suffer a collapse in values for no reason. Remember, several decades ago the sociologist William Julius Wilson argued that the social ills of America’s black community didn’t come out of thin air, but were the result of disappearing economic opportunity. If he was right, you would have expected declining opportunity to have the same effect on whites, and sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

Meanwhile, the argument that the social safety net causes social decay by coddling slackers runs up against the hard truth that every other advanced country has a more generous social safety net than we do, yet the rise in mortality among middle-aged whites in America is unique: Everywhere else, it is continuing its historic decline.

But the Republican elite can’t handle the truth. It’s too committed to an Ayn Rand story line about heroic job creators versus moochers to admit either that trickle-down economics can fail to deliver good jobs, or that sometimes government aid is a crucial lifeline. So it ends up lashing out at its own voters when they refuse to buy into that story line.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that Donald Trump has any better idea about what the country needs; he’s just peddling another fantasy, this one involving the supposed power of belligerence. But at least he’s acknowledging the real problems ordinary Americans face, not lecturing them on their moral failings. And that’s an important reason he’s winning.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The Opinion Pages, The New York Times, March 18, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Establishment Republicans, White Working Class | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Best Of Their Options”: Why Republicans Might Actually Put Merrick Garland On The Supreme Court

Today President Obama announced that Merrick Garland is his nominee to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. This pick is something of a surprise, given Garland’s reputation as a moderate, and most importantly, his age — Garland is 63, meaning he would likely spend only 10 or 15 years on the Court if he is confirmed.

Of course, he may not be confirmed, since Republicans have made clear that they will refuse to hold hearings or votes on any nominee Obama offers, and have said they’ll even refuse to meet the the nominee. Mitch McConnell reiterated that again today. So there’s a clear political strategy behind this nomination on the White House’s part.

But there’s also a way in which Garland could end up actually making it to the Court — not because the White House managed to outmaneuver Republicans, but because they decided that confirming him was the best of their options.

First, let’s look at the White House’s thinking. Of course they’re going to say that this decision was made purely on Garland’s merits, and politics never entered in to it, that Garland was picked because he’s eminently qualified, and he’s well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans. Garland may have all the admirable qualities Obama spoke of today, but it’s also true that he is the hardest pick for Republicans to oppose. He’s probably the most moderate of the names that were mentioned, and when you combine that with his age (and the fact that he’s a white man), Republicans won’t be able to say that Obama is trying to appoint some radical leftist who will pull the Court far to the left for the next 30 or 40 years.

That means that Garland is the one whose appointment most clearly portrays Republicans as obstructionists when they refuse to consider him. That will not only help Hillary Clinton when she argues that Republicans are unreasonable and irresponsible, but it will also put some vulnerable Senate Republicans in uncomfortable positions, particularly Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, all of whom face tough challenges in the fall. So while it may not have a transformative effect on the election, Garland’s nomination could, at least by a bit, increase the chances both that Clinton is elected president and that Democrats will be able to take back the Senate.

The White House is also probably assuming that Republicans will oppose Garland, as they’ve promised. Garland has already had a full career and this is doubtless his last opportunity to ascend to the Supreme Court, so he may have been more willing than other potential nominees to go through this process, with the small chance that he will actually be confirmed.

But might he actually be confirmed? The answer is yes. Here’s how it might happen:

1. Hillary Clinton wins in November. Given that Donald Trump looks like he will be the nominee of the Republican Party, this looks like a strong possibility.

2. Democrats take back the Senate. Democrats need a net gain of four seats in order to get to 50, which was about an even bet before; with Trump leading the Republicans, that looks even more likely.

 3. Democratic Senate leaders consider eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. If Clinton were to win, Republicans could decide that they can live with an eight-member Supreme Court for four years, and simply refuse to confirm any Clinton nominee. If they do that, and if Democrats gain a majority, the Democrats would almost certainly get fed up enough to just take the final step and eliminate the filibuster for those nominations (they already eliminated filibusters for lower-court nominations in 2013). Indeed, they’re already considering it.

4. Republicans return after the election and confirm Garland. If Clinton wins and Democrats take the Senate, Republicans will face a choice between Garland and whoever Clinton would nominate — and that person would probably be more liberal, and far younger. So Garland, a moderate who might only spend 10 or 15 years on the Court, would suddenly look like easily the best option. So before the next Senate takes office in January, Republicans would quickly confirm Garland and cut their losses.

Liberals are reacting with a decided lack of enthusiasm over Garland’s nomination, both because of his moderation and his age. For them, the best of all scenarios is that Garland’s nomination flounders, Hillary Clinton gets elected, and appoints a younger and more liberal justice. They might get their wish — if Republicans don’t figure out what’s most in their interests first.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 16, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Merrick Garland, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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