Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why Bernie Sanders' Campaign Must and Will Continue

Bernie Sanders is still attracting huge crowds to his rallies.

He still has the enthusiastic support of most young progressives.

In every one of the last three months, he has managed to raise more money than Hillary Clinton. Even though donations to his campaign average only $27, compared to the thousands Clinton gets from her wealthy supporters.

But after losing the big New York primary, the establishment voices calling on him to end his campaign, are getting louder and louder.

And more brutal. 

It’s time for Bernie Sanders to admit that Hillary Clinton is winning the primary fair and square, and if he can’t do that, it’s time for him to quit. 

Things have been getting sour for Team Sanders for weeks now, but, in the past week, the campaign took a decisive turn away from positive campaigning and actually trying to win towards focusing a baffling amount of energy on a futile narrative about how his losses don’t really count.

But while it's true that Sanders' chances of winning the nomination are slim, and his failure to win the support of African-Americans is hurting him badly. 

He also has reason to complain about the way millions of his potential supporters are being disenfranchised. Not allowed to vote, because the establishment closed down applications to join the Democrats more than six months ago.

And he does have at least four good reasons to continue his campaign all the way to the convention.

One, he is still the candidate polls suggest has the best chance of beating Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Two, as Matthew Yglesias points out, Sanders and his young supporters are the future of the Democrats.

Sanders is the overwhelming choice of young voters, scoring 67 percent of voters under 30 in New York even while losing overall amidst a set of election rules that were highly unfavorable to his cause. National Reuters polls now show him with a large 56-38 edge over Clinton with voters below the age of 40.

And they want to take that party to the left.

What's clear is that there's robust demand among Democrats — especially the next generation of Democrats — to remake the party along more ideological, more social democratic lines, and party leaders are going to have to answer that demand or get steamrolled.

Thirdly, Sanders is trying to build more than just a party. He's trying to build a movement.   

Despite the “Bernie” thing, Sanders presents his persona as no more than the sum of the ideas and principles he puts before the electorate in pursuit of a “political revolution” against a political system in thrall to corporate cash. It’s a project he hopes will outlive his candidacy, and even his person.

“A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected,” he told an interviewer soon after launching his run. “It has to be helping to educate people, organize people. If we can do that, we can change the dynamic of politics for years and years to come.”

For only a movement can power the kind of revolution we need if we are going to save the world.

And lastly but not leastly, only by staying in the race all the way to the convention can Sanders hope to force Clinton as far as possible to the left, and as he is already doing, have her incorporate his ideas into her platform.

So the despite the disappointment of New York, the struggle must continue.

The Bernie Revolution marches on.

And the dream still lives...

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  1. Sorry Simon, I think you are being overly generous to Sanders and his team. Take your point "He also has reason to complain about the way millions of his potential supporters are being disenfranchised. Not allowed to vote, because the establishment closed down applications to join the Democrats more than six months ago" The problem here is this is NOT voter disenfranchisement, this is simply the complex rules NY set up many years back, well before Sanders ever thought he'd ever run for President, or even Clinton herself for that matter.

    Do I agree with them myself, no, but they have been long established rules for that State, when you register as an independent voter you are explicitly told that the consequence of this is that you cannot vote in the primary of the Dems or GOP, and that you need to change your affiliation months prior to the start of primary season. I think it is cumbersome, and overly lengthy in terms of preventing ratfuckery (alas a very common practice in the US political realm) but calling it disenfranchisement it overstating it. I reserve that for removing people from voting rolls illegally, creating voter ID laws and then making it disproportionately harder for one part of the population to get the needed ID than others based on political/economic basis, that sort of thing.

    I also need to make a rather blunt point here. Sanders has been talking up his revolution for months now, he has been having big rallies for months now, he has been out raising team Clinton for months now, but when it comes to actual voters turning out for him he has been getting clobbered time and again, especially in the States that demographically most resemble the Democratic Party base and more broadly America itself despite majorly outspending Clinton in those States in terms of ads to boot. They turn out for rallies, not so much for voting, or else the rallies are misrepresenting his real strength because I believe in vote numbers as the real sign of support and enthusiasm for any candidate as being the best gauge.

    Not to mention he has been essentially the caucus king, and one can just as easily make the argument about how caucuses are as voter disenfranchising versus primaries as the NY eligibility rules because they require someone to devote multiple hours to the process instead of simply showing up to vote, making it much harder for the working poor, disabled, single parents, etc, etc, etc. I'm not actually making that argument mind you, simply pointing out that it cane be as reasonably made to show how it works for Sanders as the NY situation and the closed nature of the primary worked against him and for Clinton.

    It is also important to note that Sanders is building his "movement" on the destruction of the character/integrity of Clinton, and he spends far more time going after actions from the Obama and Clinton Presidencies in his speeches than he does Bush and GOPers more generally, which for someone wanting to represent the Dems is a bit atypical. Not to mention the fact he is still keeping his 2018 Senate PAC (not a SuperPAC, the original kind) going in Vermont with him listed as running as Independent. IOW, he only changed his party affiliation for the Presidential run, his commitment is not at all to the party he is using the resources of to gain this platform, and this too is not going to sit well with people who have spent literally decades of their lives working for that party.

    To be continued...

  2. Continuation:

    Indeed, Sanders made his campaign essentially all about Clinton’s character when he started banging on about those speaking transcripts while she was out of office. Let's stop and consider for a moment here Simon. She was a private citizen, a very famous one, able to do public speaking at high prices for anyone willing to meet them, and she sent the money not to her private bank accounts but the family charity. Out of all the money she EARNED doing this less than 10% came from Wall Street in any definition, not just the banks, but any Wall Street firms of any kind. Yet Sanders is making it out like some sort of quid pro quo must exist because of how much she was paid, what did she say/give them to earn that much? She gave them the same thing she gave every other group that paid her speaking fee throughout that period, her fame, presence, and inspirational pablum speaking that all public paid speakers get in such gigs.

    Trudeau did the same damned thing, was he being bought by those he was paid by to speak to? Sanders makes much of the fact he has no such speeches, well given that if he did he would have been criminally prosecuted for bribery for it hardly a shocker. This is a smear and misrepresentation by Sanders that is used to beat on the Clinton reputation and to undermine credibility and character, pure and simple, and honestly Simon, I'm surprised at you for not calling something like this out here. It really is that disgusting as well as obvious to any informed political observer, and I know you have the chops to get this without it needing to be spelled out.

    I'm also puzzled by the lack of disclosure on his tax returns, by this stage in primaries candidates know they have to release usually close to a decade's worth of prior returns, and are prepared to do so and have already done so, and what happened when Romney tried to avoid it in the 2012 is a recent reminder of this need, yet Sanders, who is running on transparency, economic messaging, and such didn't see this coming and wasn't already prepared for it? These tax disclosures actually have been a part of Presidential politics for decades now, unlike this dodge about her public speaking transcripts, and this should have been an easy gimme for Sanders, so why isn't it? At this point we have exactly one year disclosed in full, 2014. What is the problem here?

    This has only been getting more and more poisonous in the past several weeks from team Sanders from Bernie on down through Weaver and Devine and other official surrogates in the media. Yet team Sanders acts like they are the ones under false smear attack and they never do any such thing. Well, I've seen that playbook before, and so have you. I'll grant the basic core message of the Sanders campaign in the early period was a good one, but Sanders himself was always a flawed messenger for it, and as the pressures mounted his cracks revealed more and more.

    So at this point he doesn't need to get out of the race, he does, however, need to stop with the de facto scorched earth approach he and his campaign are now taking against Clinton and be extension the Dem party itself for the General Election. Not just with the rhetorical language, but also with openly stating they plan to win by trying to flip both super and pledged Clinton delegates at the convention even when they are well behind in both popular vote totals and pledged delegates, this from the campaign that several months ago denounced this very idea when they thought it might be used against them if they were either the pledged or popular vote leader by the end of the race, as opposed to being behind in both as they almost certainly will be now.

    To be continued...

  3. Continuation:

    BTW, every time Clinton tries to move to the left in hopes of having any ability to move Sanders people to her side once she wins this, which she clearly is on track to do, it is denounced by team Sanders as more of her deceitful nature in action, how the weather-vane is at it again going with where the wind blowing, etc. That kind of undercuts the ability of team Sanders to actually move her to the left and keep her there, because if in the end she sees little to no value in doing so why should she? This has become far too much a campaign of ego gratification and destruction from the message campaign it started out as. I'll give Sanders some benefit of the doubt, but I really believe he is being very poorly served by his senior people, namely Tad Devine, Jeff Weaver, and alas, even his wife Jane, much the same as Mulcair was in the last election cycle by his, and at this point it becomes difficult to not also place responsibility squarely on the man at the top, same as with Mulcair.

    I've been watching this primary closely now for several months Simon, and I've watched how team Sanders went from being about the message to believing they could and should win outright, and how willing they have been to play hardball, especially when they had to have recognized that team Clinton has been as restrained as I've ever seen a Clinton campaign operate against a political opponent since I first started watching them back in their last gubernatorial race in Arkansas onward. She and her campaign have been well aware they needed to walk much more carefully with Sanders because of that youth appeal you mention, compare this stage of the 2008 primary to now and the contrast is striking indeed in terms of tone and attack postures, and had been for several weeks to months by that point too. Sanders has not gotten anything like that from team Clinton yet to hear them talk you would believe they have been the victims of the harshest campaign EVAH. Sorry, yet more nonsense.

    At this point as well the Sanders campaign has received ZERO attack ads from the GOP in any form during these primaries, unlike Clinton who has been heavily attacked by GOP superPACs spending tens of millions not least of which Karl Rove's helping to support the Sanders campaign in those States as they were getting ready to vote. Not only does this show who the GOP believe they can more effectively destroy in the General Election it also shows that the head to head match-ups team Sanders cites all the time to support their case is not tested and rests on flawed assumptions, whereas with Clinton they are tested and credible because of the sheer three decades worth of heat and slime she has been subjected to and the fact that she still does as well as she does shows she has a solid floor, Sanders, not so much.

    Look I can continue to point out why Sanders is a bad candidate, why he needs to tone it down at this point, but there is one other reason, he is letting his ego take the place of his message, and the revolution he claimed he wanted to create and build will peter out were he to not be the nominee at the rate he is going. His own actions are making the likelihood of a GOP miracle win given their own internal issues a lot more likely at this point as it is, and if he continues on this path with the same harshness that he has been using, well, hope you like hearing President Trump, or even worse in my view, President Cruz. Yes, I said Cruz is worse, because he is a scary Dominionist with truly batcrap crazy beliefs that make Harper seem like a moderate, Trump at least has some signs of sanity on some things, Cruz, he's a hard core true believer type except of course when it gets in the way of his own rise to power, and that I find even worse than the pandering to racism Trumpism (not by a whole lot in some respects, but yes, a lot in others).

    To be concluded...

  4. Conclusion:

    Watching how Sanders chose to campaign I had respect last summer and fall but over the winter onward that was lost and has now become fairly strong contempt for the reasons I've noted already in this fairly lengthy comment to you. I appreciate the passion Sanders creates in many, and the hope that his success represents the pendulum moving back to the left from the right where it has been for some time in American politics. I also though know that no small part of his success is wrapped in an ABC movement that was looking for someone, anyone, to run against her because they dislike her so much, and that once he started to look like he could actually beat her his campaign took a much uglier approach to attacking her, ostensibly over policy but in truth her character and judgement, only coming fully out into the open in the last couple of weeks on that, but the underlying case has been there a lot longer, as I've stated.

    The Sanders campaign at this point has become a toxin more than not in my view, and one that not only could poison Clinton, but the Dems for the general and give the GOP all three branches of government, including the chance to lock up the Supreme Court for decades to come with multiple Scalia types. That frankly scares the crap out of me just for the potential spillover effect for us up here. So I have to disagree with you strongly, which is why I took the time to write this 4-part comment for you. At this point I am seeing in Sanders much more harm than good, for his message, for the movement he wants to create, and for America ad the world more broadly. If he doesn't start toning down the personal character attacks and continues acting like he can win this if only he tears her down enough the harm he does will potentially be catastrophic.

    It was one thing to try to do so when he had a reasonable viable path to the nomination, I personally wouldn't have chosen it but I would not have called it unreasonable either, politics is not beanbag as they like to say down there. However, there comes a time when you have to recognize reality and adjust accordingly, and especially if you want ot leave a healthy movement beyond your candidacy to shape the furture of the Dems and the nation as a whole. Team Sanders is verging on having too much of a Nader effect a la 2000 if in a different manner if they stay on the path they currently are walking, and this will be especially true if they lose again next Tuesday overall in delegates and voters, even if they win a State or two. At this point without constant landslides to blowouts Sanders cannot even catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates let alone raw votes, that simply is reality given how late into the primary season this is after all that has happened.


  5. hi nice to hear from you again. I had wondered where you had gone, and worried whether you had expired from celebrating the fall of the tyrant too heartily. But I'm glad to see you are in fine form. *gulp*
    And I understand you feel strongly about Hillary Clinton. And that's fine, she has some good qualities, and having a women president would be something to celebrate.
    The reason I support Sanders is because he does represent the new generation, which wants a more left-wing country. And both he and I want a revolution, albeit it made in America. And while Hillary has those qualities I mentioned, I think she would offer up more of the same, at a time when we need real change, everywhere. And at a time when the One Percent is under attack being a member of the One Percent is not helpful in my view. I also worry that some scandal could erupt during the general election campaign, sink her candidacy, and elect Trump or Cruz president. But as you know I'm am not a ferocious partisan, and all I ask is that the right-wing menace be shown no mercy and totally destroyed. It will be interesting to see what happens. It's great to see you in such fine form, and have a great summer....

  6. To be strictly fair Simon, it isn't that I feel strongly about Clinton, it is that I feel strongly about truth and factual accuracy in politics period. One of the cores of which is being honest on process aspects/issues. The biggest problem I first had with Sanders and his message was it was great for inspiration, not so much on explaining how any of it would be able to enable in the current reality of American political process reality, especially the heavily gerrymandered GOP dominated House of Representatives. He also would make promises that were literally beyond the power of any President, one in particular I remember sticking out was his promise to make America no longer 1st place globally for citizens in prison society (1.200,000ish), the problem with that is the President could maybe effect a few tens of thousands of cases which is the amount the federal system has direct authority over, the rest are from the State systems over which he has no authority, and China (1,000,000ish), the next nearest as I recall which is a difference of 200,000 less prisoners in its jails.

    You know me Simon, I'm a process person before all else. I happen to agree with the problem that Sanders is diagnosing, where he comes up very short for me and it appears for millions of Dem voters, is the lack of solutions with any meat on them. Simply calling for "revolution!" as the solution, that is simply not enough, you need to show the path of revolution, you need to flesh out how it would work and look, and there Sanders never really had any there there. On the core issues of too much money in politics for example, that Citizens United decision also mentioned, I've watched Sanders people go on and on about how Clinton isn't against it, thinks it is a good thing, despite the fact that the basis of that case was about an anti-Clinton ad produced by the Citizens United group with that money being argued as unfair use of money in politics. Yet she somehow likes it? Really?

    The reason you haven't seen so much of me is that I've been mainly focused on American primary politics since the Trudeau government was sworn in, in part because I needed the break from Canadian politics after the years of fighting Harper, the burnout was getting strong, so aside from some commenting at iPolitics I've mostly stayed off the Canadian side of things commentingwise, although I still read to keep up with basic issues.

    As to Clinton offering up more of the same, in some respects she has no choice, she does not operate in a vacuum, the way their powers are divided forces it, again, that pesky process stuff. I also think she will tend to be a bit more hawkish in foreign policy than I would prefer. However, I also believe that on a lot of domestic policy fronts she would be far more liberal than she is given credit for, I remember when the Clintons first came to Washington she was the one recognized as the wild eyed radical liberal, not Bill. I do not think at her core she really has changed all that much in this, just become a lot more cautious in how open she is, which give thee quarter century war by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, not surprising to me.

    As to she being a member of the 1%, I'm sorry, but I find that specious, because there are 1%ers throughout American society and politics and have been for generations that are the strongest allies of progressive movements, and to simply brand the entire demographic as "unhelpful" misses reality yet again. Most of them, I'd agree, but not all, and she and Bill did not come from money or the 1%, they worked for it and did so AFTER he left political office, and hers came mainly from the period she was a public speaker between Sec of State and primary contender. Let's not forget also how much they channeled into charity instead of their private pocketbooks.

    To be concluded...

  7. Conclusion:

    Bottom line, my problem with Sanders comes from the choices his campaign made once they first realized he could be more than a message/movement candidate, but a real contender. They then started playing some very ugly negative politics cloaked in a supposed idealistic argument and issues only race, and in the last couple of months it because really disturbing to me to watch. At this point I am genuinely concerned that his very good original message (which I too agree with) will be permanently poisoned by the connection to his campaign's negative approach while claiming to be the only one running the pure campaign. That kind of hypocrisy poisons everything it comes into contact with, and that is why I think he needs to make some serious changes to his approach for the rest of the primary season. Sure, stay in the race, sure, push the core message about the 1%ers control of the economy and the power of money in politics, I'm all for that, but do not destroy the best chance for if not getting rid of it all at least keeping it in check and therefore leaving the ability to reverse things down the road as still possible, which is how I would see the Dems and the Clinton Presidency. Not to mention the Supreme Court appointments alone.

    I grew up watching the pendulum in American politics shift from far left to far right and then freeze there for nearly a generation. I know the swing back is overdue and the longer it is delayed the more intense the final release will be. I think Sanders showed just how strong the desire is there, but ultimately he was a flawed messenger with too narrow a mindset and too inflexible a mind for a job that requires the level of adaptability the US Presidency requires. I really think though his campaign manager and key strategist both did a lot of harm to him in terms of messaging, and Jeff Weaver and Tad Devine have a lot to answer for in my view.

    One last point, I am old enough I've seen these revoltuions rise on the left as well as right before and the thing I find different from the ones the GOP gets is that they fail to stay in it for the long haul both nationally and at the local level, as the midterm elections and State elections have shown time and time and time again for decades now. If the Sanders movement finally changes that, this alone will be a major victory in my view for progressive/liberal values in America, but judging by past history I'm forced to the POV of only believing it once I see it, I'm sad to say.

    I do not plan on disappearing for a long time to come, I'm just rationing my reserves now that I no longer feel the need to have to fight as intensely as I did against Harper. That decade and a bit fight took a lot out of this disabled person, so I am relaxing a bit by shifting to American politics where there isn't the emotional impacts domestic politics has on me. Besides, I like using American political analysis as the whetstone to keeping my skills sharp, because if I can sort out their much more combative and uglier and messier political dynamics, I can do so with ours too. Of course, this also requires I come from both with a similar level of process understanding, but I do so that's also why I felt the need to comment earlier as I did. You take care Simon, look forward to future exchanges, and ain't the Duffy ruling GRAND!