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“Without The Help Of Superdelegates”: Hillary Clinton Shatters America’s 240-Year-Old Glass Ceiling

History was a long time coming, but it arrived last night when the venerable Associated Press broke the news that Hillary Rodham Clinton had surpassed the needed number of delegates to secure the Democratic nomination.

For women born in the middle of the last century, this is the kind of unimagined achievement that makes you wonder if you stepped into the middle of a new Broadway play, perhaps “Hamilton” spun in another way to make the Founding Fathers turn over in their graves.

Like Clinton herself, these women, and I’m one of them, found their voices during the women’s movement of the 1970s, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and beyond, and the antiwar movement of the sixties and seventies. And while Clinton has her flaws, as we all do, she was on the front lines of all this social change, especially when it comes to women and girls.

“I got to tell you, according to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic unprecedented moment, but we still have work to do, don’t we?” Clinton said at a rally in California, one of six states holding elections today, and the one that could send her off with a big boost if she can edge out rival Bernie Sanders.

History made quietly with math is history all the same.

Yet its arrival in the midst of a still heated primary race makes it awkward for Clinton to fully embrace all that it means. The AP’s count includes the so-called superdelegates, party leaders and lawmakers who Sanders has vilified as unelected and unrepresentative of the voters.

The irony, of course, is that, Sanders—if he weren’t running for president—would be a superdelegate along with every Democratic member of Congress, and Democratic governor. Also, Clinton is expected to win enough pledged or earned delegates in the other contests, that by the time the polls close in New Jersey, she will reach the magic number and be the victor without the help of superdelegates.

It is another irony that Clinton while achieving what no other woman in America has done at the same time is so disliked. How can that be? It’s partly a function of the Clintons themselves, the dodging and weaving we’ve come to know so well, and partly the fault of our politics. Negative campaigning works, and we’re in for a sustained period of mudslinging as the two presumptive nominees work to define each other as the worst of the worst.

Clinton campaigned in 2008 as a fighter, and the Democrats chose Barack Obama, the healer. Obama leaves the presidency with extraordinary accomplishments, but bringing the country together is not one of them.

Clinton often says on the campaign trail that after everything the other side has thrown at her, “I’m still standing.”

The changing nature of the country is on full display. After a long line of white men, Obama shattered the tradition, and now Clinton is poised to continue the change that Obama’s presidency began.  It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an incumbent president enthusiastically out on the campaign trail working to elect his successor.

President George W. Bush was constrained by an unpopular war from helping his party, and in 2000 Al Gore kept his distance from President Clinton, believing that Clinton’s moral lapses would hurt him.

Obama has given every indication he will be an active campaigner for Clinton, rallying the coalition of young people, single women, and minorities that elected him twice with over 50 percent of the vote, a threshold that Bill Clinton did not quite reach in his two elections—and that Hillary Clinton surely has set as her goal.

Perhaps it’s fitting then that 2016 is shaping up as a referendum on diversity, with Donald Trump making statements that have alienated certain groups and ethnicities, while Obama and Clinton have embraced this new America.

There are plenty more tests ahead, but for now Clinton has gone where no other woman in American history has gone. Adapting what Neil Armstrong said when he set foot on the moon, “That’s one small step for woman, one giant leap for humankind.”

 

By: Eleanor Clift, The Daily Beast, June 7, 2016

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Democratic National Convention, Election 2016, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand)”: Why Would It Be Offensive For Hillary Clinton To Woo Republican Voters?

If it wasn’t considered offensive for Barack Obama to woo Republican voters in 2008, why would it be considered offensive for Hillary Clinton to do the same in 2016?

Clinton’s reported effort to attract support from Republicans terrified of Donald Trump is a logically sound decision: heck, it’s Political Strategy 101. It is rational for Clinton to try to reach Republicans when one takes into account the two main obstacles she faces in a general election:

1) The likely suppression of large numbers of Democratic votes, thanks to the Supreme Court’s atrocious 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling, which effectively struck down the 1965 Voting Rights Act. As a result of that ruling, numerous states instituted restrictive voter ID laws, with the obvious purpose of blocking access to the polls for those who might find the Democratic Party’s message more palatable. No matter what the polls currently say about Trump’s popularity, Shelby County v. Holder gives Trump an advantage heading into November 8.

2) The bombastic “Bernie or Bust” movement, comprised of self-righteous snobs and egomaniacal elitists who regard Clinton as corporate America’s official escort service, and who turn up their noses in disgust at the thought of supporting a member of the so-called “Democratic establishment.” Many of these folks were the same ones who thought Al Gore was morally inferior to Ralph Nader sixteen years ago; they hate the former Secretary of State just as much as they hated the former Vice President.

In light of these political realities, it’s hard to argue against the logic of Clinton attempting to secure Republican support in the general election. If Clinton can siphon away a significant number of Republican votes to offset the number of Democratic votes she will not receive due to voter suppression and the “Bernie or Bust” movement, wouldn’t it be politically irresponsible for her not to do so?

Of course, some of the Republicans Clinton will try to attract will have to set aside 25 years of anti-Clinton propaganda in order to consider her candidacy. Some will find themselves unable to do so, their minds permanently poisoned by the lies of Limbaugh, the falsehoods of Fox and the BS of Breitbart News. However, if significant numbers of Republicans can come to the realization that human-caused climate change is not a hoax, why can’t significant numbers of Republicans come to the realization that Clinton is not, and never has been, corrupt?

I recognize the main argument against Clinton’s reported strategy, i.e., that it’s ridiculous to ask Republicans to put “country first,” so to speak, when they largely failed to do so in every post-Southern Strategy presidential election prior to 2016. However, the counterargument is that Trump is so uniquely ugly–far more loathsome than Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr., McCain and Romney combined–that a potentially large percentage of Republicans are now, at long last, open to seeking alternate political routes.

Some of these Republicans willing to cross the aisle will do so gritting their teeth. Consider this snark-filled endorsement of Clinton by former Maryland GOP official Michael Esteve:

I disagree with Hillary on a whole host of issues. She, too, may likely continue to abuse executive authority to circumvent an uncooperative Congress. She may try to curb Second Amendment rights (not without opposition from the likes of me). She may have repulsive political and personal ties and a dubious relationship with the truth.

But, honest to goodness (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), she’s at least surpassed the emotionality of a child. She doesn’t launch into personal tirades over minor slights, or worse yet, press criticism. She doesn’t shift her foreign policy at the drop of a dime, and form policy based on whatever stream of consciousness she’s in at any given moment. She doesn’t share tabloid stories as fact. She doesn’t scapegoat religious minorities for the nation’s woes. She doesn’t praise foreign dictators for strong leadership. She isn’t, in short, emotionally and politically unbalanced.

It’s also worth pointing out that for a Democrat, Hillary isn’t all wrong on the issues. She believes in a balanced approach to disincentivizing short-term thinking on Wall Street. She’s proposing keeping taxes flat for middle income families. Her foreign policy is neither as cavalier as George Bush’s nor as passive as Barack Obama’s.

For all of his sarcasm, Esteve at least understands that Clinton vs. Trump is rationality vs. radicalism, sagacity vs. savagery, analysis vs. anarchy. He at least understands that America under a Trump presidency will quickly move from democracy to dystopia, a vast wasteland of rampant prejudice and economic decline.

If enough Republicans share Esteve’s views–if enough Republicans recognize that the choice between Clinton and Trump is, in essence, a choice between decency and devastation–then Trump’s concession speech on November 8 will be shorter than Romney’s speech was four years ago.

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 16, 2016

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Voters, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Rational Outcome Can’t Be Taken For Granted”: Democrats, Don’t Celebrate Trump’s Nomination. Fear it.

I know the polls say Donald Trump cannot win. But what if we are looking at the wrong poll question?

What if Trump’s overwhelming negatives don’t matter? Or, to put it another way, what if the country’s negatives matter more?

Right now, about 6 in 10 Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, and only 36 percent view him positively.

But the country is faring even worse. In the most recent average of polls calculated by RealClearPolitics, 26.9 percent of Americans think the nation is headed in the right direction and 64.9 percent think we are heading down the wrong track.

So what if even voters who respect Hillary Clinton’s competence reject her as the embodiment of business as usual? And what if even voters who do not like Trump’s bigotry or bluster care more that he will, in their view, shake things up?

Sure, these voters might tell themselves, he may be crude, or inconsistent, or ill-informed. He may insult women and Hispanics and other groups. But it’s part of a shtick. He probably doesn’t mean half of it. He’s just an entertainer. The desire to send a message of disgust or disapproval, in other words, could lead voters to overlook, discount, wish away or excuse many Trump sins.

Meanwhile, Clinton cannot shake free of the status quo. You may remember how this bedeviled Al Gore when he asked voters to give the Democratic Party a third straight presidential term in 2000. The vice president managed to achieve the worst of both worlds, alienating Bill Clinton and his most ardent supporters without establishing himself as an entirely new brand.

Unlike Gore, Hillary Clinton is not an incumbent. But she is no less associated with the establishment, having served as first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state over the past quarter-century. Even if she were inclined to do so, she could not afford to distance herself from President Obama, whose backers she will need to turn out in large numbers.

I know there is an element of irrationality in these fears. I understand that not every dissatisfied American will vote for Trump.

About two-thirds of the country may think we are on the wrong track, after all, but Obama’s approval rating is 51 percent and rising.

Meanwhile, only 4.7 percent of eligible voters have actually cast a ballot for Trump in the party nomination process so far, as an analysis by FairVote shows. Many of the remaining 95.3 percent, no matter how unhappy most are with the performance of their government, will take their responsibility seriously enough that they will not vote for someone who casually threatens the faith and credit of the United States, breezily posits the merits of nuclear proliferation and cheerfully espouses torture as an instrument of U.S. policy.

Republicans are divided, the economy is improving, the demographics are increasingly in Democrats’ favor. The likeliest result of a Trump nomination is a Republican washout up and down the ballot.

I do get all that.

Still, when I hear smart people explaining why Trump cannot win, all I can think is: Aren’t you the ones who told us that he couldn’t top 30 percent, and then 40 percent, and then 50 percent in the Republican primaries? Weren’t you confident that he was finished after he called Mexicans rapists, and insulted prisoners of war, and dished out a menstruation insult?

Did you predict his nomination? If not, we don’t want to hear your certainty about his November defeat.

Nor is it reassuring to read how happy the Clinton camp must be to be facing such a weak opponent. They need to be running scared — smart, but scared — now and for the next six months.

I do have faith in the American voter, I really do. But when two-thirds of the country is unhappy, a rational outcome can’t be taken for granted.

 

By: Fred Hiatt, Editorial Page Editor, The Washington Post, May 8, 2016

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Democrats, Donald Trump, General Election 2016 | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Ship Of Fools”: The Inconvenient Truth, The “Bernie Or Bust” Crowd Is Indistinguishable From Right-Wing Fundamentalists

If you’re like me, and you know a number of “Bernie or Bust”-ers on social media who still insist that under no circumstances will they vote for the “corporatist” Hillary Clinton if she defeats Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination, ask them to consider this scenario:

1) Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, and the overwhelming majority of Sanders supporters decide to abstain from voting on November 8 (presumably, there will be a not-insignificant number of Sanders supporters who will vote for presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein, but for purposes of this argument, let’s say almost all of the Bernie-backers back out of the general election). In an effort to pacify peeved progressives, Clinton selects as her running mate a Sanders-style star who happens to be an actual member of the Democratic Party—say, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

2) Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, and immediately announces that Ted Cruz is his running mate.

3) A significant number of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents find themselves unable to support a Trump-Cruz ticket, and decide to set their issues with Clinton aside and vote for the Clinton-Brown ticket on November 8. Their votes, combined with the votes of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, make the allegedly “corporatist” Clinton the 45th president of the United States.

Under this scenario, will the Bernie backers who sat out the election—the ones who think the Democratic Party has been contaminated by “corporatism,” the ones who believe Sanders is the only morally pure choice for President—have any clout whatsoever in American politics? Will they be able to have any real influence on the Clinton-Brown administration? Will they be able to encourage Vice President Brown to publicly break with President Clinton on policies progressives find fault with? Or will they just be dismissed as whiners who blew a chance to have a claim on the new President?

This is the problem with the “Bernie or Bust” movement. By declaring that they will refuse to vote for a non-Sanders Democratic presidential nominee, these folks are declaring, in essence, that they are not seriously interested in moving the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the “Bernie or Bust”-ers to accept a Sanders primary loss with grace, commit themselves to preventing a Republican reactionary from seizing the White House, and then declare that Clinton owes a part of her victory to those who had initially supported Sanders? Wouldn’t they be able to influence Clinton’s actions on education, energy and economics? Wouldn’t they be able to pressure Clinton to govern as an undisputed progressive?

Harsh as this might be to say, it’s clear that the “Bernie or Bust” movement has officially replaced the Tea Party movement as the most illogical and incoherent force in modern American politics. By proclaiming that Clinton is too dishonest and dirty to deserve support, these folks are saying that the right wing was right all along about Hillary (and Bill). That’s a sensible message?

It’s also clear that the “Bernie or Bust” crowd—which regards Bill Clinton as having sold out the Democratic Party to economic elites in the 1990s—must also loathe former Vice President Al Gore as much as the right wing does, but for different reasons. After all, Gore was at Clinton’s side when the 42nd President supposedly abandoned the middle class. Gore supported the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement. Gore was associated with that progressive bogeyman known as the Democratic Leadership Council. Presumably, the older members of the “Bernie or Bust” bunch were the same ones who regarded Gore as insufficiently progressive in 2000, and defected to Ralph Nader.

The inconvenient truth is that the “Bernie or Bust” crowd is indistinguishable from right-wing fundamentalists in their loathing of compromise and their refusal to recognize that sometimes people can make bad decisions in good faith. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore are neither evil nor corrupt. Neither is Bernie Sanders, for that matter…but what does it say about those who only recognize morality in the latter, and malevolence in the former?

 

By: D. R. Tucker, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 16, 2016

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Bernie or Bust, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Bad Luck Bears”: Bernie Sanders; From The Guys Who Brought You George W. Bush

The team that brought you the George W. Bush administration in 2000 has gathered behind a new candidate: Bernie Sanders.

A host of prominent Ralph Nader backers has joined team Sanders in 2016, excited by his message discipline and aggressive fight against the establishment powers that be.

In the Democratic socialist from Vermont, they see a flag-bearer for the same issues while the Democratic establishment views him as a persistent pest who is raking in money by the fistful without a clear and obvious path to the nomination.

And the same way that Nader’s staunchest supporters had no kind words for the eventual nominee then-Vice President Al Gore, some of Sanders’s surrogates are spending their time bashing Hillary Clinton, making it even more difficult for the party faithful to rally around him.

Throughout Nader’s consecutive failed presidential bids, he picked up a cadre of high-profile endorsers ranging from actress Susan Sarandon to academic Cornel West. The rest of the roster backing both men includes actor Danny Glover, former National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, musicians Ani DiFranco and Bonnie Raitt, country singer Willie Nelson, and Ben Cohen, one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s, just to name a few.

“There are some pretty obvious parallels,” Oliver Hall, Nader’s lawyer and long-time friend said in an interview with The Daily Beast.

While the players on the bench supporting these candidates are remarkably similar, so far Sanders hasn’t drawn the collective ire of the Democratic Party quite nearly as much as Nader did. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

After all, many personally blamed Nader for pulling Democratic votes away from Gore in 2000—ushering in Bush.

It’s tough to blame them for being angry. Bush edged out Gore by 537 votes, while Nader—the Green Party candidate—took over 97,000 votes in Florida, which Democrats thought could have tipped the scales in Gore’s favor.

The spoiler effect, a term ascribed to 1992 candidate Ross Perot, was redubbed as “The Nader Effect,” used as shorthand for a candidate that is going nowhere spoiling an election for a like-minded but more viable party nominee.

Nader has been adamant that he is not the one to blame, writing in 2004 on his presidential campaign site, that his voters wouldn’t have swung the election in Gore’s favor.

“In the year 2000, exit polls reported that 25% of my voters would have voted for Bush, 38% would have voted for Gore and the rest would not have voted at all,” he wrote.

The 2000 campaign efforts (some of which were led by his own supporters) to get Nader to drop out fell on deaf ears.

And 16 years later, a much more successful candidate has no interest in cutting his bid short either—despite almost daily urging from the Democratic establishment.

But still, the longer Sanders has stuck around the more he appears to get under Hillary Clinton’s skin.

Now the winner of 14 states, including a surprise victory in Michigan, Sanders is frequently painted as a message candidate spoiling the prospects of an establishment Democrat looking to finally secure the nomination after falling short eight years ago.

His staunch opposition to the Iraq War, something for which Clinton voted, and support for a single-payer healthcare program mirror some of the central tenets of Nader’s campaign.

Hall told The Daily Beast that the similarities between the candidates are apparent and even now he’s still tired of hearing that the latter is the reason Bush won in 2000.

“It’s ridiculous and pathetic,” he said in a phone interview. “If the Democratic Party is a serious organization, they need to tolerate free discussion of ideas.”

He contended that the same people who have accused Nader of indirectly leading the United States into its worst war since Vietnam are the ones imploring people to vote for Hillary Clinton this year.

“When Nader ran as a third party candidate, everybody attacked him,” Hall said. “Now they’re attacking Sanders for running as a Democrat.”

And as Sanders continues to exceed expectations in the primary, currently leading Clinton by a small margin in Wisconsin—the next contest—Hall questioned the former secretary of state’s strength as a candidate.

“How good of a candidate can Hillary Clinton be if she can’t handle debate in the primary election process? That’s the entire purpose of a primary election.”

And his endorsers have taken note.

West, a prominent academic and progressive Democratic stalwart, backed Ralph Nader in 2000 before giving Sanders his blessing in 2015. Once Gore was the nominee, he chastised him for picking Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running mate given his opposition to affirmative action. West referred to it as “an act of disrespect to the black community,” according to a 2000 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this year, West wrote an op-ed for Politico describing Sanders as being “better for black people” than Clinton.

West has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.

Sarandon, another Sanders backer who recently drew controversy for suggesting that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump might be ultimately better for the United States than Clinton, was also all in for Nader in the past. She served as the national co-chair for Nader’s steering committee in 2000 and was named as a plaintiff in a lawsuit he filed against the Federal Election Commission which alleged that corporations sponsoring debates could constitute as illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Documentarian Michael Moore also endorsed both candidates. In September 2000, he appeared at a fundraiser upon the Green Party candidate’s behalf, dispelling the idea that Nader was a spoiler in the race.

“A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush?” Moore said at the time. “No, a vote for Gore is a vote for Bush. A vote for Bush is a vote for Bush. A vote for Nader is a political Molotov.”

In 2000, Sanders publicly vouched for Nader himself, while the latter campaigned in Vermont.

“He’s an old-fashioned guy who believes that maybe the ordinary people should be running this country rather than the multinational corporations,” Sanders said introducing Nader at an event, according to an AP story at the time.

Sanders’s national spokesperson Symone Sanders also previously worked as a communications officer for the Ralph Nader-founded organization Public Citizen.

He changed his tune by 2004 though when Nader tried to run again, saying “virtually the entire progressive movement is not going to be supportive of Nader,” according to an AP story.

“We’ve got to come together to defeat George Bush, we have to develop a strong progressive movement to make sure we make the changes in this country that we need,” Sanders said in 2004. “But our main task right now is to defeat Bush and I think Nader’s effort could have some impact in dividing up that vote and that’s a negative thing.”

Nader himself did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Beast but he has expressed support for Sanders’s candidacy and his ideas.

The animosity between Nader and Gore supporters that bubbled up in the 2000 general election is already stewing in a similar capacity in the 2016 Democratic primary with surrogates like Sarandon and actress Rosario Dawson criticizing Clinton and the big-money interests they contend she stands for.

“Shame on you,” Dawson said referring to Clinton at a recent rally in New York. “I don’t have to vote against someone; I can vote for someone who’s on our side.”

She went on to criticize President Obama at a Harlem town hall days later, suggesting that he wasn’t able to keep up momentum to elicit big turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Another Sanders surrogate, rapper Killer Mike, got into similar hot water for quoting activist Jane Elliott’s line in February saying: “A uterus doesn’t qualify you to be president of the United States.” Implicit in the remark was not sexism, but rather that gender should not determine who one votes for.

The difference, of course, compared to the fervor around Nader is that these conflicts of opinion are not necessarily going to negatively impact the chances of a Democratic president being in the White House next year.

But from the start, Sanders’s campaign was concerned about appearing like just another Nader.

“The one thing he’s determined not to do is to be another Ralph Nader,” adviser Tad Devine said in April, 2015 as Sanders was preparing to announce his candidacy. “And the only way to avoid doing that is to avoid being a third-party candidate from the left in the general election.”

Time will tell if that promise holds up.

 

By: Gideon Resnick, The Daily Beast, April 5, 2016

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, George W Bush, Ralph Nader | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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