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“His Campaign Has Developed A Closed Feedback Loop”: Does Sanders Continue To Deserve The Benefit Of The Doubt?

From the beginning I questioned the seriousness of Bernie Sanders’ proposals. Long before the disastrous New York Daily News interview, it seemed obvious to me that he was better at pointing out problems than he was at crafting actual solutions.

Then came the debates. Sanders’ explanation for any barrier to progressive change was the corruption of big money – that was true for both Democrats and Republicans. Discussion became almost impossible. Anyone who didn’t agree with him was an establishment sell-out.

As it became increasingly clear that he was going to lose the nomination to Hillary Clinton – despite doing better than anyone thought he would – the excuses began. It was because Southern states with African American voters went early in the process. Then it was because of closed primaries. Initially the campaign railed against the superdelegates. All that was reversed in an attempt to justify Sanders staying in the race based on the idea that he could flip them to support him instead of Clinton. None of that made any sense and his message got lost in complaints about the process.

Through all of that I wanted to give Sanders the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe that he was in this race to promote the progressive ideas he has championed his entire career, and that when the results were all in, he would do what Clinton did in 2008…support the nominee and come out of the convention in Philadelphia as a unified party.

Believing that wasn’t a pipe dream. During his time in the House and Senate, Sanders has demonstrated the ability to work within the system to advocate for progressive change. For example, in 2009 he proposed single payer in the Senate, but pulled the bill when it was clear that it didn’t have the votes. He then went on to fight for positive changes to Obamacare (i.e., community health centers) and eventually voted for it.

But the time for giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt might have ended. Paul Waldman explains it well.

If he and his people want to actually exercise some influence, they’ll have to start thinking about mundane things like presidential appointments, executive branch regulations, and the details of complex legislation. Victories in those forums will be partial and sporadic. From our vantage point today, is there anything to suggest that’s an enterprise he and his people will be willing to devote their efforts to? What happens if Clinton offers Sanders something — changes to the party’s platform, or input on her nominees? Will his supporters say, “This may not have been all we wanted, but it’s still meaningful”? No, they won’t. They’ll see it as a compromise with the corrupt system they’ve been fighting, a sellout, thirty pieces of silver that Sanders ought to toss back in her face. That’s because Sanders has told them over and over that the system is irredeemable, and nothing short of its complete dismantling is worthwhile…

To be honest, at the moment it looks like there’s no going back. Sanders could come out tomorrow and tell his supporters that even if they don’t get their revolution, it’s still worth working for every bit of positive change they can achieve. But that would mean disavowing everything he’s told them up until now.

In other words, the Sanders campaign has developed a closed feedback loop. No matter the outcome, it reinforces the premise. It is hard to see how that changes.

My one remaining hope was that perhaps the candidate himself could break out and convince at least some of his supporters to take a more constructive path. Martin is right, they’re not all Bernie Bros. That hope was beginning to die when Josh Marshall pulled the final plug.

For months I’d thought and written that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the the Democratic primary race…

But now I realize I had that wrong.

Actually, I didn’t realize it. People who know told me.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it’s coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

We are reaching the end game here. The question for me isn’t so much about what Clinton will do – she is putting her energy into winning the remaining states and has already begun to pivot to the general election. What remains to be seen is what happens to the progressive movement in the Democratic Party. If Sanders insists on “burning things down,” will it survive?


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, May 19, 2016

May 20, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“True America And Those Alien Regions”: Republicans Sneer At ‘New York Values.’ That’s Their Problem

When we look back on the 2016 primary campaign, few images will be as bizarre and amusing as Ted Cruz visiting a matzo bakery in Brooklyn and singing a few rounds of “Dayenu” with a bunch of kids. But that’s hardly been the only bit of weirdness coming out of the campaign in the last couple of days. “This is like being so alive, being in New York,” said John Kasich after chowing down on some Italian food in the Bronx.

For a few days, Republicans will pretend to be smitten with the Big Apple; it’s like a foreign trip, where the candidates come to a strange and unfamiliar land to behold the natives and sample their exotic culture.

But as we watch, remember this: If someone other than Donald Trump wins the nomination, he will not be returning to New York after its primary a week from Tuesday, unless it’s to raise money. And that’s another indication of Republicans’ fundamental weakness when it comes time to try to assemble a national majority in order to win the White House.

You might object that this isn’t just a Republican problem; there are many places in this great and diverse country of ours where Democrats are not competitive. And that’s absolutely true. In a general election, the Democratic candidate isn’t going to be campaigning in Mississippi or Oklahoma.

But there’s a difference in the way politicians in the two parties approach those alien regions. Democrats always insist that they’d love to have the support of voters in the South or conservative parts of the Midwest and West. They don’t attack those places as fundamentally un-American. Theirs may be just as much a regional party as the GOP, but they won’t ever say so.

Republicans, on the other hand, regularly assert that the places where they’re strongest are the true America, where the most virtuous people live and the real heart of our country resides. When Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for having “New York values” back in January, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before. Indeed, Republicans everywhere (and a few Democrats, but this is mostly a Republican thing) will say they have “[insert our state] values,” as a way of charging that their opponents are strangers who see the world in fundamentally different ways than we do.

The truth, though, is that Cruz was absolutely right when he said that “New York values” are not what Republican voters are looking for, no matter how much support Trump has. When pressed on this point Cruz will say that he was talking about liberal ideology, but it’s much more than that. It’s the fact that New York is urban, young, constantly changing, and perhaps most of all, dominated by immigrants and minorities (more than a third of New York’s population was born outside the U.S. and two-thirds are non-white).

Like many other big cities, New York reflects the diverse coalition Democrats count on to push them over 50 percent, much more so than the nearly all-white GOP. That’s what makes it a threatening place to the typical Republican voter who wants America to go back to being the country it was when they were kids.

And interestingly enough, it’s the New Yorker Donald Trump who seems to have the strongest hold on the Republicans who feel that kind of threat most acutely. In a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 64 percent of Trump supporters agreed with the statement, “it bothers me when I come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English,” something that your average New Yorker experiences just about every day. A much smaller (though still substantial) 46 percent of Cruz supporters and 38 percent of John Kasich’s supporters agreed. Trump may hail from Queens and live in Manhattan, but it’s his ability to tap into the fears and resentments of people whom you couldn’t pay to come to New York that has put him in the lead.

One might argue that the long primary campaign discourages regionalism and divisiveness by forcing candidates to pander to all kinds of Americans from all over the country. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t actually work out that way in practice. Cruz is on the defensive a bit right now over the “New York values” comment (Kasich has a new ad  attacking him over it, featuring a vaguely New York-ish-sounding narrator talking about how Kasich is in touch with “our New York values”). But he knew exactly what he was doing when he said it.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New York Values, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“A Test Of Ideology”: How Far Will Republicans Go To Deny Healthcare

Texas has a higher proportion of its population living without health insurance than any other state. But like many other states with lots of poor people, it has the misfortune of being governed by Republicans. That explains why yesterday, Governor Rick Perry announced that the state will refuse to accept the federal money offered for expanding Medicaid eligibility to everyone who makes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Perry says that this expansion of Medicaid, which is almost entirely paid for by the federal government, will nevertheless bankrupt the state and put the oppressive boot on the necks of Texans. So he’s happy to keep 25 percent of his population uninsured.

In case you’re wondering, Texas currently sets eligibility for Medicaid at 26 percent of the federal poverty level, which means that if you earn more than $6,000 a year for a family of four, you’re not eligible. That’s not a typo. Six thousand dollars a year for a family of four is what the state of Texas considers too rich to get on Medicaid. Look down the list of eligibility levels, and you find that only Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and Louisiana set their eligibility lower. It is just so weird how those poor Southern states are the stingiest with health-care benefits, isn’t it?

It’s possible that eventually, Texas and the other states will come around to the expansion of Medicaid. Sarah Kliff explains how this happened with Medicaid’s enactment in the 1960s and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in the 1990s; conservatives initially resisted, but the money and the opportunity to insure their population eventually became irresistible. One of the key factors then and now is the presence of organized, influential interest groups—particularly the hospitals that have to deliver uncompensated care to the uninsured, costing them billions—that can exert their influence on the government’s decisions.

But the Republicans who resisted and then gave in were different from the Republicans of today, and this will be a test of just how far they’ll go to make a statement about their hatred of the federal government in general and their hatred of Barack Obama in particular. Today’s Republicans are the ones who would turn down a deal offering ten dollars of spending cuts for one dollar of tax increases. But that was a hypothetical question, and this question is very real. There are actual human beings whose lives are at stake. I’d love to hear someone ask Rick Perry this question: Which do you think is worse, someone living without health insurance, or someone getting health insurance through a government program? I’m not sure what he’d say, but his actions say quite clearly that he’d prefer that the person have no health insurance. Of course, we’re not talking about him personally, or his kids, or anybody he knows having to go without insurance. We’re talking about poor people. So screw them.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, July 10, 2012

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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