Bernie rally in Wisconsin
Yesterday I received my Democratic primary election ballot in the mail for the Florida primary to be held on March 15 – yes I am a registered Democrat and I vote by mail. I have voted by mail for years. Why bother getting into the car and waiting inline?
I get to chose among three candidates – Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, the Governor of Maryland. O’Malley has already dropped out of the running so it’s a choice between the two.
Bernie essentially tied with Clinton in Iowa and beat her soundly in New Hampshire. Next week is the Nevada caucus and the South Carolina primary; Bernie is tied or has a slight lead in Nevada (the Clinton camp is worried about Nevada) but trails her among black voters in South Carolina. The black vote in S.C has been married to the Clinton’s for years and it’s hard to break old habits. Bernie is making inroads among younger black voters in the state – we will see.
The basic thrust of the Clinton campaign argument against Bernie is that Hillary is the “grown up” in the room. The Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party asserts the (1) bankers deserve respect and deference because they are smart and know what they are doing and (b) when those same bankers paid Hillary Clinton hundreds of thousands of dollars in “speaking fees” (plus the vast sums Wall Street donors have paid into the Clinton family’s campaigns and other projects over the decades), they didn’t expect anything special in return.
“Of course candidates have to deny that they listen to Wall Street, and flatter voters into thinking ordinary people’s opinions about high finance and economic fairness really matter. But of course most candidates also suppose that ordinary people don’t understand banking, that bankers do, and that part of their job as governing elites is to listen to the bankers. Which, of course, the bankers appreciate, appreciation that they express in the language of the super-rich gift economy: “We’re all responsible elites here; take some of my money.” Bernie Sanders’s bad manners and alleged demagoguery lie in his taking the part about flattering voters too seriously, and not recognizing the delicate hypocrisy of grown-up politics.”
Paul Krugman of the New York Times opined that governing is too hard for an idealistic democratic socialist. “Mrs. Clinton has done her homework on pretty much any issue you care to name.” Homework, you see. That’s the ticket; not working up the ruffians and messing with other people’s property. Grow up! is the bottom line here: as Krugman puts it in high adult tones, “politics, like life, involves trade-offs.”
A take on Sanders’s appeal to young voters (who are supporting him by margins of seventy points or more in early primaries and polling) – it must be his air of “purity,” and “nostalgia for an imaginary time of simpler, more straightforward politics.” Sanders’s enthusiasts need to find a “passage into political adulthood,” where we give up our idle childhood fantasies about candidates.
A good deal of this rhetoric is the result of the disappointment of progressives with Obama – he started listening to “the adults in the room” as soon as he took the oath of office – economists, bankers, and generals, as well as vicious political professionals like Rahm Emanuel (who was known for his contempt for the idealists who put Obama in office).
Associating himself with grown-up authority, he followed his party’s hawks into a disastrous intervention in Libya and dilatory engagement with the Syrian disaster.
It is a current illustration of how little can be accomplished in the face of a noxious opposition when you sacrifice your idealism.
So as the adults say – “Don’t get your hopes up with Sanders”. There will be no political “revolution”- only the hollow sound of campaign rhetoric. So go with Hillary.
Reminds me of Emma Goldman – “If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal!!.”
Hillary, on the other hand, is anathema to millions of voters – she is hated and deemed “untrustworthy.” Young people are not going to flock to the polls to vote for her. As one 18 year-old student told the New York Times recently about Clinton, “sometimes you get this feeling that all of her sentences are owned by someone.”
It is in the area of foreign and military affairs that “Hillary the hawk” is most vulnerable. As Secretary of State her aggressiveness and poor judgement led her to the White House where, sweeping aside the strong objections of Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, she persuaded President Obama to bomb Libya and topple its dictatorial regime.
Gates had warned about the aftermath. He was right. Libya has descended into a ghastly state of chaotic violence that has spilled into neighboring African nations, such as Mali, and that opened the way for ISIS to establish an expanding base in central Libya. Her fellow hawks in Washington are now calling for U.S. special forces to go to Libya.
Whether as Senator on the Armed Services Committee or as Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton has never met a war or raid she didn’t like, or a redundant, wasteful weapons system she was willing to aggressively challenge.
Don’t be surprised. Her advisor on foreign affairs is none other than Henry Kissinger, the butcher of Cambodia who brought us Pol Pot.
The Clinton argument for her candidacy is that we will outgrow the cranky old man from Vermont and while the kid undergrads study socialism the real realm of expertise goes on, keeping things going like the investors who maintain university endowments.
It has been argued by greater minds than I that there is no connection between campaigning, elections and governing. Bernie is trying to change that notion.
His campaign invites people to take politics very seriously indeed. It gives signs that it will not be domesticated as easily as Obama was. And it proposes to invade the realm of expertise with a new agenda: truly universal health care, truly affordable higher education, a serious assault on the political power of concentrated money.
“Above all, it proposes pressing this agenda forward because, if Sanders won, the people would have chosen it, breaching the line between majority will and real governance.
Indeed. Sanders has one vote in Florida – for, you see, this old man still believes.