"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“The Larger Democratic Fight”: Bernie Sanders Finds ‘The Right Candidates’

It’s no secret that Bernie Sanders’ fundraising juggernaut has amazed much of the political world, exceeding Hillary Clinton’s financial support over each of the last few months. The Clinton campaign has been quick to note, however, that the Democratic frontrunner has spent the year raising millions of dollars, not just for her candidacy, but also for the Democratic Party and more than 30 state Democratic parties, in the hopes of building a broader foundation for the 2016 elections.

The Vermont independent, meanwhile, has collected stunning sums for his own campaign operation, but so far in 2016, Sanders hasn’t raised any money for the Democratic Party, any of the state Democratic parties, or even any specific Democratic candidates. When Rachel asked in a recent interview whether that might eventually change, the senator replied, “We’ll see.”

But Jane Sanders said something interesting on the show last week. Asked whether her husband might be willing to help other campaigns financially, she said Sanders would definitely lend a hand – for “the right candidates.”

Yesterday, we got a better sense of what that means. Politico reported:

Bernie Sanders is raising money for a trio of progressive House candidates who have endorsed him, a move that comes just weeks after he faced friendly fire for not committing to fundraise for down-ballot Democrats. […]

The trio of candidates – New York’s Zephyr Teachout, Nevada’s Lucy Flores, and Washington state’s Pramila Jayapal – is running in primaries that pit them against more establishment-aligned foes.

In a fundraising solicitation that went to donors yesterday, Sanders wrote, “I’ve told you throughout this campaign that no candidate for president, not Bernie Sanders, not the greatest president you could possibly imagine, can take on the billionaire class alone.  When I am elected president, I am going to need progressives in Congress who are willing to continue the fight we started in this campaign.”

The pitch makes the case for Teachout, Jayapal, and Flores, and the letter included a link to a fundraising page in which donors were offered a choice: make a contribution that would be divided evenly four ways (the three congressional candidates and Sanders), or specify a personalized allocation for the contribution.

And in some ways, this new endeavor is itself emblematic of the larger Democratic fight.

Zephyr Teachout is running in New York’s 19th congressional district, which is currently held by a retiring Republican. Democratic officials are generally optimistic about Will Yandik, a local city councilman, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

Lucy Flores is running in Nevada’s 4th congressional district, which is also currently held by a Republican. Many Democratic officials have rallied behind state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

Pramila Jayapal is running in Washington’s 7th congressional district, where a Democratic incumbent in retiring. Many local Democratic leaders are backing Joe McDermott, a King County council member, but Sanders is now raising money for his more liberal primary rival.

It’s as if there’s a pattern emerging.

The big news here, of course, is the shift itself: Sanders was raising money exclusively for himself, and now he’s not. This, to a degree, brings him more in line with Clinton’s approach of supporting other Democrats seeking other offices.

But even here, there’s a stark difference between the two. Team Clinton is supporting the national and state parties generally, while Team Sanders is supporting more specific allies. It’s a matter of perspective which approach is more compelling.

That said, I’d be interested in hearing more from Sanders about his long-term intentions in this area. After all, the president – any president – is practically by definition also the head of his or her party. What kind of role would Sanders envision for himself with regard to the DNC and related campaign committees? Would Democratic candidates who only agreed with parts of Sanders’ agenda still be able to count on support from a Sanders White House? As the convention draws closer, they’re the kind of questions superdelegates seem likely to ask.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 14, 2016

April 15, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Down Ballot Candidates, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Michigan, A Right-to-Work State?”: Purely Political, Motivated By A Desire To Punish Supporters Of The Democratic Party

Labor never ruled Michigan as such. It may have been home to the best and biggest American union, the United Auto Workers, but even at the height of their power, the UAW could seldom elect its candidates to Detroit city government. Still, the UAW dominated the state’s Democratic Party and much of state politics for decades—at least, until the auto industry radically downsized.

Just how downsized union power has become is apparent from the decision of the state’s Republican governor, Rick Snyder, to support a right-to-work bill that began speeding its way through the state’s lame-duck GOP-controlled legislature on Thursday. Should the bill become law—and given Republican control of state government, it’s hard to envision how it won’t—Michigan would join historically more conservative Indiana as the second state from the industrial Midwest to move to right-to-work status. Until last year, when Indiana enacted its statute, right-to-work states were confined to the South, the Plains states and the Mountain West—states devoid of a major union presence. That such laws are now coming to the industrial Midwest is just more evidence of the continual weakening of industrial unions—the unions that have taken the most direct hit from offshoring and mechanization.

But why enact such laws when most unions are no longer big enough to take any bite out of company profits? In fact, the pressure for such laws isn’t coming from companies like Ford or GM, which can how hire new union workers for half of what they pay their more veteran workers. It’s purely political. Weakened though they be in the economic arena, unions still punch well above their weight at election time. That’s one reason why President Obama carried every state in the industrial Midwest save (almost) perpetually Republican Indiana.

And if anyone doubts that politics lies behind the Michigan Republicans’ decision to enact a right-to-work bill, consider one of the bill’s particulars: the only unions it exempts from the bill’s coverage, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, are police and firefighter unions. Snyder said that the GOP had carved out that exception because their jobs needed protection from labor strife.

Think about that for a moment. The effect of the Republicans’ exemption would be to ensure police and firefighters have the strongest unions in the state, the ones most capable of taking job actions when they sought to better their pay and working conditions. Elsewhere across the U.S. today, states and cities are trying to scale back pensions and other benefits of their employees, and police and firefighters are often targeted because their pay and benefits exceed those of other public workers. Moreover, historically, governors and mayors have been wary of the power of such unions—Republican governors and mayors in particular. Massachusetts Gov. Calvin Coolidge first came to the nation’s attention by breaking a Boston police strike in 1919—“There is no right to strike against the public safety,” he proclaimed. It was his strikebreaking that won him a place on the 1920 Republican ticket.

Now, however, Snyder, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, has created a police-and-firefighter carve out. The reason is purely political—in Michigan, as in Wisconsin, the police and firefighter unions often support Republicans for state and local office, and Republicans want to make sure that they’ll continue to do so with undiminished clout. The carve-out, said Michigan House Democratic leader Tim Greimel, “makes it very clear that this is not about sound economic policy. It’s motivated by a desire to punish supporters of the Democratic Party.”


By: Harold Meyerson, Editor-at-Large, The American Prospect, December 7, 2012

December 8, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Failure Wasn’t His, It Was Ours”: George McGovern Will Die Vindicated On War And Peace

Speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 1972, George McGovern kicked off his ill-fated presidential bid by focusing on his opposition to the ruinous war in Vietnam. “I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan. And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day,” he said. “There will be no more Asian children running ablaze from bombed-out schools. There will be no more talk of bombing the dikes or the cities of the North. And within 90 days of my inauguration, every American soldier and every American prisoner will be out of the jungle and out of their cells and then home in America where they belong. And then let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad. This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves.”

Over the course of his career, McGovern made a lot of arguments that I personally find unpersuasive. But he sure did get the most important issue of his time right. Think of all the Americans who’d be alive today if the country had listened to McGovern rather than his opponents about the Vietnam War. Think of all the veterans who’d have been better off. Think of how many Vietnamese civilians would’ve been spared death by napalm. But America didn’t listen.

The country would eventually come to see Vietnam as a mistake.

But ours is a people who are dismissive of men who lose presidential elections. We behave as though the electoral outcome discredited their ideas, even on matters where they’re ultimately proved right.

Of course, it was about more than one war for McGovern. A World War II veteran, he liked to say that he’d been persuaded by Dwight Eisenhower, under whom he served, about the dangers of the military industrial complex. The Democratic Party grew comfortable with it over time.

But McGovern never did.

When America launched its war in Iraq, a lot of Democrats signed on. McGovern opposed it. “I oppose the Iraq war, just as I opposed the Vietnam War, because these two conflicts have weakened the U.S. and diminished our standing in the world and our national security,” he wrote.

He was right again.

After Obama took office, McGovern wrote him an open letter, published in Harper’s magazine, that said, “When I entered the U.S. Senate in 1963, the defense budget was $51 billion. This was at a time when our military experts felt it necessary to have the means to win a war against the combined powers of Russia and China. Today we have a military budget of over $700 billion, and yet neither Russia nor China threatens us, if indeed they ever did. Nor does any other nation.”

Once again, few Americans are listening.

It’s strangely common to think of men defeated in presidential elections as losers, though they are invariably men who’d be regarded as especially accomplished if they’d never run for the office. McGovern was a decorated combat veteran, a college professor, a three term senator, and a humanitarian who worked for years to alleviate global hunger, among other things. As he lays dying in hospice, his country remains as beholden to the military industrial complex as ever, years after the decisive defeat of its only credible geopolitical foe. When the obituaries are published, they’ll note McGovern’s electoral loss. It’s far less likely that they’ll note the two ruinous wars America would’ve been spared had its leaders and voters taken McGovern’s advice.

The failure wasn’t his, it was ours.


By: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Senate | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Wonder Years” Of George W. Bush: Barack Obama’s Best Friend In The 2012 Election

So George W. Bush, reports Politico, is laying low these days, avoiding the spotlight that shone briefly on his father and his brother Jeb recently as they endorsed Mitt Romney’s candidacy. This whole subject of the post-Bush GOP and its relationship to No. 43 is pretty fascinating. Like a crazy, drunk uncle shooting an epileptic dog because he has fleas, the current GOP shuns him for all the wrong reasons. Since the GOP will presumably spend the next few months trying to pretend the man never existed, Democrats ought to remind people that he did. In fact, the Democratic Party should spend the next 20 years talking about Bush, turning him into the new Jimmy Carter and making the memory of those eight squalid years quadrennially fresh to everyone with living memory of them for as long as is humanly possible.

Bush, Politico notes, “is in a self-imposed political exile.” Perhaps predictably, Ari Fleischer pops up to note that that’s a lowdown dirty shame because Bush “kept us safe” through a perilous time and oversaw a booming economy in between two recessions.

These claims aren’t even worth spitting out one’s cornflakes over, let alone rebutting. But merely as a point of information, people should know that the economy didn’t exactly boom from 2002 to 2008, except of course for the 1 percent of the population the policies were designed to aid. Bush’s job-growth record was the worst of any president going back to the Depression. The table you can see here goes back to Truman. Obviously, Roosevelt grew jobs at a fairly significant rate, since unemployment under him went from 24 percent to essentially zero during the height of the war. So you have to go back, I’d suppose, to Herbert Hoover to find someone who did worse than Bush’s .01 percent growth in jobs per.

Yes, Obama’s jobs record is worse—for now. But at least in Obama’s case you have a guy who really did come into office at the start of a major recession, the worst in 80 years. Since the recession eased and ended, nearly 3.3 million jobs have been added—meaning that if he has a second term, he will in all likelihood leave Dubya eating some of that famous Texas dust. In any case, Americans still pin the shattered economy on Bush. A poll released only last week from CNN showed 56 percent blame Bush, while just 29 percent finger Obama.

The fact that we’re still clawing our way out of the darkness that Bush set upon us is the reason he is still relevant. Recently, Romney made him even more so, by insisting to an audience that it was Bush and Hank Paulson who actually saved the country from a depression. Beyond that, Romney’s campaign staff and advisers are so full of Bush people—on political strategy, the economy, foreign policy, and other areas—that one former Bush speechwriter (who is not on the Romney bus) has called it “a restoration of the Bush establishment.”

And yet, even as Romney makes those moves, which only about 2 percent of the population will know about, the party will obviously try to distance itself from Bush publicly. What in the world are they going to do with him at the convention? Ex-presidents are supposed to get nice speaking gigs. Will Bush? To say what? That we must let the free market work, the way it worked on his watch in September 2008? That we must be vigilant against the terrorists, the way he was while Osama bin Laden was living a few heaves of a baseball away from a Pakistani officer-training facility? That we must protect the homeland, as he did in New Orleans? It’s hard to imagine what kind of speech he could deliver. It wouldn’t be shocking if Bush is reduced (if he would accept) to some ceremonial function, some transparent and treacly soft-focus attempt to fool Latinos, since Bush was among that small handful of Republicans known not to actively hate brown people.

Democrats really need to keep Bush in the frame here. And Dick Cheney. I know everyone says “but elections are about the future.” Well, maybe. But the Bush years were so uniquely bad, so plainly and emphatically horrible on so many fronts for such a vast majority of citizens, that to fail to mention the era would just be missing a free whack. It would be the equivalent of someone trying to slag Halle Berry without mentioning Catwoman. Very often, people—especially Democratic people—overthink politics and worry too much about how people are going to react. But this one is simple. Bush really just stank up the joint for eight years. Mention him, and the pundit class might bray about it, but most people will react by thinking: Yeah, that guy really just stank up the joint for eight years.

I often wonder about what Bush himself thinks. Does he know, deep down, what a failure he was? He must. We all tell ourselves stories that try to put a good face on things. And any president or governor can come up with a list of good deeds accomplished, so maybe he leans on those, waiting patiently for the day when, because people’s memories are short and because some rich Texas buddies undoubtedly stand ready to pour millions into a PR-rehabilitation campaign when they sense the time is right, he can reemerge in the public eye, smirk intact, smiting Democrats like in the good old days of 2002. Democrats must make sure that that rehabilitation never, ever happens.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 3, 2012

April 3, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: