Help Me Out Here

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liberalism and progressivism, self-destruction

Please read this and then talk me down from the fear that we’re about to replay the 1972 Democratic Convention. I’d appreciate it.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Ed  •  Jul 20, 2015 @7:12 pm

    1972 nominated the “leftist” George McGovern; 2016 will not nominate Sanders.

    But it might nominate Clinton against a storm of protest from Sanders and O’Malley supporters; this means that we need to worry about repeating Chicago 1968, which is worth fretting about.

  2. maha  •  Jul 20, 2015 @7:19 pm

    Ed — the nominee isn’t the problem. The convention itself set progressivism up for decades of wandering in the wilderness.

  3. Scott Bidstrup  •  Jul 20, 2015 @7:17 pm

    First, it’s not going to happen because the 1972 convention was a genuinely democratic (small D) event. Today’s Democratic Party is anything but democratic. Remember what happened to Howard Dean? Same thing is going to happen to anyone who threatens Auntie Hillary’s nomination. That includes Bernie et.al.

    Second, given the alternative, would that be such a bad thing? The rough and tumble of 1972 gave us a candidate we could believe in and feel good about voting for, even if he didn’t stand a prayer in the general election. Given that the likely candidate, considering the control exerted by the Democratic Leadership Committee (officially disbanded, but still very much in control), we’re going to end up with a candidate that none of us believe in anymore, particularly those who watched her closely as Secretary of State. A progressive in rhetoric, a neocon in governance. Been there, done that, got the hope-ium T-shirt and don’t want no betrayal no more, thank you very much.

    Third, no one ever said that democracy wasn’t a messy affair. It is. Always is, if it’s the real deal. But as Benjamin Franklin noted, those who would give up a little freedom to gain a little security will lose both – to which Thomas Jefferson added, with emphasis, “and deserve NEITHER.” Yes, we could be about to go through a messy process, but I am not sure that the outcome of the alternative would be anything we can be proud of or feel good about voting for.

    Lets buck up to it and understand that the two-party system is today just where it was in 1855, and that a sea-change is about to occur. Bidstrup’s First Law of Politics – all political parties and institutions move to the right over time – and that includes the Democratic Party. It occupies space that is now to the right of where the Republicans were just a generation ago. So it badly needs a good purge if it is to be saved at all. Otherwise, it will become the new Old Republican Party, as the GOP falls off the right hand end of the spectrum and ends up in a heap of neofascist wreckage at the bottom. Either fight to save the Democratic Party from Wall Street and the oligarchs, or lose it to the fate of the Whigs and No-Nothings. It’s really our choice.

  4. maha  •  Jul 20, 2015 @7:22 pm

    //Second, given the alternative, would that be such a bad thing? // Progressivism eating its own and setting itself up for at least 40 years of being outcast in the wilderness? Yeah, that would be a bad thing. There are many alternatives that would be less bad.

    //Either fight to save the Democratic Party from Wall Street and the oligarchs, or lose it to the fate of the Whigs and No-Nothings. It’s really our choice.//

    I agree, but that’s not going to happen if we tear each other apart over single-issue nitpicking.

    I don’t think you’re seeing what I’m seeing. Did you read the Shakesville post?

  5. moonbat  •  Jul 20, 2015 @7:43 pm

    I see a bunch of spoiled kids whining about their own particular pet cause. IMO, the Dems are more disciplined than that, this time around (the stakes are too high) and yet more corrupt, ever more beholden to big money, which could care less about these things.

  6. PDiddie  •  Jul 20, 2015 @8:39 pm

    I’m thinking more like 1968, hopefully without the assassinations and with the V-P winning this time.

  7. JDM  •  Jul 20, 2015 @9:26 pm

    1972 had a pretty united Republican Party with an incumbent who had, at least, a reputation for competence. That context was an important part of 1972, and it’s nowhere to be seen now.

  8. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 20, 2015 @9:59 pm

    Meh, to take McEwan’s items in turn:

    1. Why the hell would she?

    2. I haven’t seen the speech, so I don’t know how egregious the omission was, but this seems like a really petty complaint to me absent some other examples of Warren downplaying the importance of reproductive rights or women’s issues.

    3. Of course they did. O’Malley is a raging phony who is as responsible for the out of control Baltimore Police Department as anyone (had to goose those crime stats before he could run for governor), so of course he doesn’t have any off the cuff progressive instincts. As for Sanders well, he means well, but to rip off someone from the LGM comments, his campaign is basically the epitome of an “it’s about class, not race” attitude.

  9. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @7:05 am

    Brien — Yeah. Looking at the same items —

    1. HRC has attended conventions of progressive bloggers and online activists in the past, although whether Netroots Nation specifically I’m not sure. I think I remember her showing up at the 2006 or so Daily Kos convention, but I can’t swear to it. But she used to actually make herself available to bloggers, which is how I got to meet her a couple of times. If she is no longer doing that, she must have decided Netroots Nation and similar functions weren’t generating enough of a return for the effort. And after the most recent NN convention I wonder if any of the candidates will bother to show up again.

    2. This is the one that struck me like the whining of a petulant child. Are Democratic candidates going to have to read a numbered list of positions on every issue for every speech they give from now on, so as not to piss off some single-issue group? This is what made me think of the 1972 convention. The tendency to splinter into myopic single-issue advocacy groups is one reason lefties have failed to challenge the Right over the years. Sometimes people need to see bigger pictures and get over themselves.

    3. Here we’re looking at 1968 Democratic Convention territory. The antiwar movement went after Hubert Humphrey, who was a good guy and probably would have listened to them as President, and gave the Republicans a pass. Sanders, given his record on civil rights going back to MLK days, is certainly sympathetic to and educable on racial issues. People would do well to distinguish between candidates who are maybe not entirely in their camp but can be worked with and those who are antagonistic to their positions, because if you blow up the campaigns of the former you’re going to end up electing the latter.

  10. zoomar  •  Jul 21, 2015 @8:51 am

    I saw the NN video, read the Shakesville post. The problem I saw looks like a NN problem more than an overall movement problem. Hell even DKos wasn’t there. That aside, while it was irritating to watch Sanders and O’malley have their speeches highjacked, 2 thoughts did occur. Thought #1: Based on my admittedly superficial knowledge of history, the last major economically based leftward movements, Organized Labor and New Deal, were tremendously successful. For whites mostly. Blacks didn’t get a piece of that lefty action. By design. This generation, black perspectives and needs are going to be part of the deal or no one is going anywhere, butthurt bloggers or not. Thought 2: As a high school teacher, I learned early that sometimes a presentation just goes off the rails. To survive, you have to learn when to ride with it and adapt to the new reality of how the next 30 minutes are gonna go. Yes, recognize the overly-mentioned “learning moment.” It’s the only way to survive a day like Bernie had and maybe even come out ahead.

  11. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 21, 2015 @8:59 am

    We need a holistic approach, not an assholistic approach!

  12. zoomar  •  Jul 21, 2015 @9:29 am

    They went after Humphrey in ’68 because it was his administration that expanded the war and the draft and the death. Democratic solidarity be damned, disruption was necessary and LBJ, his bloodthirsty cabinet, and Humphrey needed to hear it. Through that lens I can understand why BLM feels the same way now.

  13. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @10:20 am

    zoomar — First, I’m not criticizing BLM as much as I’m criticizing Shakesville for dissing progressive politicians who don’t address their pet issues in every speech, regardless of that politician’s record or the point of the speech.

    Second, I understand that in 1968 Vietnam was LBJ’s war, and that Humphrey had acted as LBJ’s spokesman, as veeps will do. There’s no way to know what Humphrey’s Vietnam policies might have been. But now we know that Nixon was undermining peace talks to win the election, and now we know that Nixon’s secret plan was to escalate the war. We also know that Humphrey was a grand New Deal liberal who had led the way for the Democratic Party to support equal rights and desegregation. Understandable though they were, the Grant Park demonstrations were the beginning of the self-destruction of liberalism as a political force in America. And the 1972 Democratic Convention was as pure an example of political implosion as has ever existed.

    And I fully understand where BLM is coming from, but IMO it’s a huge mistake on their part to only attack Democratic candidates who have made themselves available to the people in an open forum. This gives anyone not there (HRC) a pass; this gives the Republican Party a pass. And it pretty much insures that Democratic candidates will maintain a careful distance from such gatherings in the future.

  14. Robert  •  Jul 21, 2015 @9:42 am

    zoomar, good call…thanks as I was feeling a lot like maha…My take is “not to panic” yet…plenty of time to sort thru and put together a platform along the lines BLM can live with…compromise is still a valid idea in the Democratic party, right?

  15. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @10:27 am

    Robert — Police reform, criminal justice reform, and prison reform all have to be part of the Democratic platform, no question, but I don’t see any *resistance* to those reforms in the Democratic Party. Do you? It’s good to keep reminding politicians that these things are vital and must be addressed, but it’s not a matter of compromising. I’d be very surprised if the Democratic convention doesn’t adopt a platform that is exactly what BLM wants. But that platform won’t mean squat if Democrats are not elected.

  16. zoomar  •  Jul 21, 2015 @10:11 am

    I think so, Robert. Hopefully within the Democratic party. Otherwise we’re looking at a much longer road. I didn’t see a lot of trust in that NN video between the actors, considering all they (we?) have in common. That said, our situation has nowhere near the gap that existed between the counterculture and hardhats like Dailey back in ’68.

  17. csm  •  Jul 21, 2015 @10:52 am

    I don’t expect a repeat of 1972, if only because the money-greased democratic party is too well oiled of a machine to let that happen. They want Hillary, and that’s likely who it will be. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, in the same vein as Sanders not being versed in the exact nomenclature of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, or Warren not paying homage to abortion rights in the same way that activists who live and breath that issue 24/7 would. I don’t think it’s realistic for any of these groups to be concerned that any of the NetRoots speakers wouldn’t support their issues as the nominee or party spokesperson in some way.

    I just hope they haven’t succeeded in alienating progressive champions to the extent they’ll be reluctant to appear again.

  18. Tom  •  Jul 21, 2015 @11:01 am

    If your mind is empty,it is always ready for anything. It is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the EXPERT’S mind there are few.

  19. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @11:13 am

    Tom — When you get a chance, let us know what’s in the jerk’s mind. Thanks much.

  20. JDM  •  Jul 21, 2015 @12:45 pm

    I think it was a big mistake not to group behind Humphrey in 1968. He was a basically good guy. And those who werent around then might not realize that Vice Presidents weren’t treated as an integral part of the team like Democratic VPs have been in recent decades.

  21. Stephen Stralka  •  Jul 21, 2015 @1:01 pm

    A lot will also depend on what happens at the Republican convention. If the Democrats are in danger of replaying 1972, what are the Republicans going to replay? That could certainly help unite the Democrats.

  22. LillithMc  •  Jul 21, 2015 @1:27 pm

    Foolish politics to jump two unaware speakers with “Black Lives Matter” that is unknown in general both on Daily Kos and at NN. They gave big headlines bashing Sanders and O’Malley with nothing good in return. Given the massive power of the right that supports the idiocy of Donald Trump plus the horrible Supreme Court decisions and Republican Congress, this is time to be very serious. Do we have a Democracy or do we have a capitalistic global reach under trade agreement like the TPP that effectively destroy America for U$INC? Perhaps we face another election of a fake two-party horse race financed by dark unregulated money, but as a people we have to organize ourselves if not to win the election than to survive because they have no good intentions for us. I think they pulled a cheap stunt on NN.

  23. zoomar  •  Jul 21, 2015 @2:23 pm

    Maha, thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful reply. I appreciate this blog and learn a lot from the community here. I didn’t mean to imply that you don’t know our shared history. The Shakesville post hit me as being more critical than disrespectful. I can agree, there wasn’t much to learn from it. It just didn’t move me to see it as any kind of crucial bellwether or tipping point indicator. I’m behind Sanders and will vote for him in the primary. As an aside, I also voted for Nader in 2000. I mention this because as long as I’ve been reading this blog, it’s been very fair and open minded WRT that controversy, with none of the “teabagger” and Emo-prog” nonsense I see in other forums (no “other hand,” just acknowledging the fact.) It wasn’t fair what happened to Sanders and O’Malley in AZ, but Bernie didn’t handle it well and I hope he learns from it. I think maybe the worst thing to come out of 1972 was the ultimate isolation of left wing thought from mainstream politics that came stripping blue collar New Deal voters from the Democratic party. Still, as far as I hope, a lot of those voters can stay gone. At the moment I wonder whether Reince Priebus wouldn’t like to give them back about now. I was appalled as many were at the clownish behavior in that NN video. At first. But to quote Jules Winfield, I’m trying real hard Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shephard.”

  24. Anniecat45  •  Jul 21, 2015 @2:49 pm

    Elections are not about gratifying my own emotions with ” a candidate we could believe in and feel good about voting for.” Elections are about winning. Want to feel rotten? I’m old enough to remember how I felt the day after the Election Days of 1968, 1972, 1980 and 1984. That felt rotten and a lot of our current problems arose out of those losses.

  25. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 21, 2015 @4:50 pm

    I think it’s obvious enough that Sanders is certainly supportive of civil rights issues as they’re presented, but I think African American have plenty of reasons to be concerned about whether he’s informed enough to be a strong leader on the matter. I mean:

    1. American populism has a long and distinguished history of actively excluding African Americans from its hard earned victories.

    2. Sanders seems to believe the “it’s about class, not race” trope, which is 100% wrong.

    3. Let’s be blunt: He’s clearly running a campaign that envisions adding a bunch of working class white voters to the traditional Democratic coalition. But these voters aren’t voting for Democrats now in very large part because of their own racism.

  26. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @6:06 pm

    Brien — Yeah, that’s a fair assessment. He’s been representing Vermont all these years, which is 95 percent white. I think the BLM movement was right to confront him, but I also think they need to make a point of confronting everybody running for office, or trying to.

  27. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 21, 2015 @8:34 pm

    I think Sanders has been getting the projection treatment of sorts, with everyone basically assuming that he’s a great progressive champion on all issues. But when you read profiles /interviews like this one a genuinely troubling picture emerges.

    1. Sanders, it must be said, seems to be genuinely ignorant of the ways that issues like race and gender disadvantage individuals in American society beyond simple class-based issues.

    2. He really does valorize the white working class specifically, and is at best ignorant of the fact that racial prejudice/anxiety plays a MASSIVE role in why these people don’t vote for the Democrats (he’s also clearly disinterested in actual research that disproves his theory regarding white voting patterns).

    3. His basic theory of “revolutionizing” the Democratic coalition would, in actuality, be a total disaster. In summation, he wants to marginalize the voices of non-whites, women, gays, etc in the Democratic Party so that we can, theoretically, better appeal to a bunch of racist cultural reactionaries. Putting aside the fact that this is morally repugnant, it’s electorally insane for a progressive party. Not only is the non-white share of the electorate *growing* going forward, but the white people Sanders wants to build the new Democratic Party around won’t vote for him anyway!

  28. maha  •  Jul 21, 2015 @9:29 pm

    Brien — you’re going to have to provide links to support what you say here, because I think you are grossly misstating the case. I think you’re projecting views onto Sanders that aren’t there. But if you can back it up, I’ll consider your evidence.

  29. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 21, 2015 @9:57 pm

    Well, the link in that post is an interview. Here’s his own words:

    “Well, here’s what you got. What you got is an African-American president, and the African-American community is very, very proud that this country has overcome racism and voted for him for president. And that’s kind of natural. You’ve got a situation where the Republican Party has been strongly anti-immigration, and you’ve got a Hispanic community which is looking to the Democrats for help.

    But that’s not important. You should not be basing your politics based on your color. What you should be basing your politics on is, how is your family doing?”

    I mean, there’s no way someone who recognizes the unique issues/struggles that come with being black in America says something like that. You could tell me that quote came from a Republican complaining about how much of the black vote goes to Democrats and it would be believable.

    And here’s a profile from last year that really gets at where Sanders sees his revolution taking the Democrats:

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/magazine/i-m-right-and-everybody-else-is-wrong-clear-about-that-20140618

    ” In recent months, Sanders has indicated he’s willing to use his fire-and-brimstone act not simply to influence a presidential election, but also to lay the groundwork for something of a “political revolution.” “Let me ask you,” he says, his gangly frame struggling to contain itself to our couch, “what is the largest voting bloc in America? Is it gay people? No. Is it African-Americans? No. Hispanics? No. What?” Answer: “White working-class people.” Bring them back into the liberal fold, he figures, and you’ve got your revolution.”

    […]

    Over the past two presidential-election cycles, Barack Obama has cobbled together a coalition of outsiders—women, minorities, yuppies, and young people. In 2012, he won the lowest percentage of white voters for a Democratic candidate in 20 years. Especially with the country’s Hispanic population increasing, many Democrats view the Obama coalition as one that will only grow stronger with time. But Sanders, and those around him, are not impressed. “The Obama way,” says the senator’s former chief of staff, Huck Gutman, now an English professor at the University of Vermont, “doesn’t build a lasting coalition. It wins you an election. Obama wins the election and then he runs into all this resistance. He does not have the country behind him.”

    […]

    “How do you have a party that created Social Security lose the senior vote?” Sanders asks me. The answer, he believes, is that seniors have been distracted from the pocketbook issues that should matter most in politics. The Left, in turn, can win them back, along with other white working-class voters, by downplaying the culture wars—what Ralph Nader once called “gonadal” issues—and instead focusing on economic populism.

    Of course, Sanders supports gay marriage and abortion rights; he just puts far less emphasis on those questions than he does on economics. “He has an overarching view that transcends our racial and gender differences,” says Tom Hayden, the Students for a Democratic Society hero and former California legislator. “It’s the older view of the socialists who thought class issues could unite all. To ask him to drop that is asking him to change his identity.”
    —-

    And also, frankly, he’s probably a fairly stereotypical old full of himself white dude in many ways:

    “I suggest to Sanders that his vision for a new progressive base of old white guys runs somewhat counter to the conventional wisdom, but he cuts me off. “Who told you that?” he scoffs. “I’m talking from a little bit of experience. I did get 71 percent of the vote in my state. And despite popular conception—with all due respect to my friends in California, Northern California, where you have wealthy liberals who support me and I appreciate that—Vermont is a working-class state. So I’m glad you raised that, because your analysis is incorrect. And I’m right and everybody else is wrong. Clear about that?””

  30. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 21, 2015 @9:59 pm

    Which, to be clear, is not to say that Sanders is substantively wrong on these issues as a matter of policy or votes. But he is wholly wrong about the nature of white voting patterns, and that informs a bunch of his apparently incontrovertible perceptions about the white American electorate and the non-class specific issues non-whites face in American society that would make him a horrible leader of the Democratic Party.

  31. maha  •  Jul 22, 2015 @9:41 am

    Brien — Having read what you provided, I still say you’re projecting, and I think there’s a bigger picture you’re not seeing.

    In the long run the Dems really do need to win back the white working-class voter, or at least some of them, in order to pass and implement progressive policies in this country. Sanders is saying that if it can be done in Vermont it can be done elsewhere. I think there are cultural issues he’s not addressing — Vermont is not Mississippi — but I’m old enough to remember when white working-class voters were still economic populists who voted for liberal politicians and their own economic interests. Even in Missouri, where I grew up. There used to be some good New Deal liberals who held office for years there. Now they’re all teabagger whackjobs.

    And what changed? Racism. The ultimate wedge. I did a whole series awhile back on this. White working-class voters were fine with New Deal “entitlement” programs until Lyndon Johnson essentially expanded the New Deal to provide for African Americans, and then the Republicans were able to exploit that to turn whites against the New Deal and, eventually, government itself. And until whites get over that, expanding opportunities and improving quality of life for African Americans will remain an uphill fight.

    At the same time, lower-income whites are becoming more economically marginalized, especially as Unions are busted and manufacturing jobs go overseas. Real wages *for everybody* reached a peak in 1972 and have been drifting downward since. And I can show you *white* communities in which multiple generations have depended on welfare and people are barely employable; the problem with white entrenched poverty is that it tends to be rural and out of sight. But these days, hardship and economic distress are growing faster among whites than other populations. That’s largely because whites had farther to fall, but they are falling. Race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s.

    So, while you disagree, I don’t think Sanders is wrong to emphasize class. I think it’s class *and* race, and yes, racial minorities have barriers whites don’t have, but you are wrong to say the problem is 100 percent race. That may have been mostly true 30 years ago; it isn’t any more.

    Further, unless we all figure out that *we’re all in this together,* it’s not going to get better. Making it all about race is not going to accomplish that. To say that is not to deny that African Americans are dealing with terrible injustices that are invisible to whites, but the only way that’s going to stop is to make it visible to whites. And, again, we need to thoroughly perceive *we’re all in this together* for that to happen.

  32. chris  •  Jul 22, 2015 @6:23 am

    Sheesh, a lot of people are blaming Humphrey and/or the party when everybody forgets that Nixon interfered in Johnson’s peace talks with Viet Nam, thus making sure the war continued through the elections and taking away the Democratic party’s edge.

    Stop being such a cassandra. Wasn’t it the Pumas (a bunch of Hillary supporters) who threatened to take down Obama because they felt slighted? Political immaturity will always be there, but it doesn’t always take us down the same road.

    Sanders voting record on civil rights issues is available to the public. He doesn’t create much, if any, legislation concerning this because his state is predominantly white. But at least he supports the ones brought forth by others. Doesn’t that count for anything?

  33. Lynne  •  Jul 22, 2015 @9:16 am

    I saw what you saw. Disturbing.

  34. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 22, 2015 @10:34 am

    Wait, just wait until our idiotic MSM grasp that’s Bernie’s a “Socialist!!!!!”
    And we all know how evil those MFer’s are!!!! *

    Oy……………*

  35. zoomar  •  Jul 22, 2015 @1:30 pm

    Brien, I think your Sanders case is heading into pretty nit-picky territory. His commitment to civil rights and equal justice is unassailable even if he doesn’t articulate it exactly according to the script you would write. So what if he’s the Judean People’s Front instead of the Peoples Front of Judea as some might prefer. Do I have to link the video? Because that’s the territory I think you’re argument is headed toward.

  36. Swami  •  Jul 22, 2015 @2:19 pm
  37. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 22, 2015 @7:17 pm

    @Maha

    “In the long run the Dems really do need to win back the white working-class voter, or at least some of them, in order to pass and implement progressive policies in this country. ”

    I’m sorry, but this is demonstratably wrong. Obama got the lowest share of the white vote of any Democrat in decades…and then passed the most impressive legislative agenda of anyone since Johnson (and maybe even more than that once you account for the different Congressional culture). Democrats can absolutely win elections without improving their share of white voters in the immediate future, and in the long run white voters are declining as a share of the electorate.

    “So, while you disagree, I don’t think Sanders is wrong to emphasize class. I think it’s class *and* race, and yes, racial minorities have barriers whites don’t have, but you are wrong to say the problem is 100 percent race. That may have been mostly true 30 years ago; it isn’t any more. ”

    I don’t think he’s “wrong” to emphasize class, but a) I think that it is absolutely not a satisfactory answer to dealing with the unique problems black people face beyond economics in Aermica. Healthcare won’t stop the police from shooting your kids. B) Downplaying their appeals to non-white voters and women in order to better to appeal to white dudes is self-evidently a disastrous electoral strategy for the Democratic Party to pursue now and in the long term C) You pretty much acknowledge as much yourself, I think, by essentially saying that it will take a major cultural shift with white voters attitudes towards race before Sanders’ strategy could work.

  38. maha  •  Jul 22, 2015 @8:22 pm

    //I’m sorry, but this is demonstratably wrong. Obama got the lowest share of the white vote of any Democrat in decades…and then passed the most impressive legislative agenda of anyone since Johnson //

    Obama accomplished a lot *considering the obstacles*, and *compared to the past several years*, yes, but what he did isn’t nearly good enough to save this country’s ass. If that’s what you’re willing to settle for, then you’re setting your sights a whole hell of a lot lower than I am. Even with what Obama accomplished, on our current trajectory in another generation America is going to be a third-world shithole, and there’s always a chance the Right will keep enough power to get us there faster. We have to do a lot better.

    //I don’t think he’s “wrong” to emphasize class, but a) I think that it is absolutely not a satisfactory answer to dealing with the unique problems black people face beyond economics in Aermica. //

    Yes you are right about that, but given his record on civil rights issues I think Sanders is educable. I don’t know enough about O’Malley to say that. And what goes on in HRC’s head is a mystery to me.

    //You pretty much acknowledge as much yourself, I think, by essentially saying that it will take a major cultural shift with white voters attitudes towards race before Sanders’ strategy could work.//

    Yes, it will, but without it we’re all doomed. There is no hope for any of us, black, white or plaid, without that cultural shift in white voters. And it won’t happen in the South. The question is, can it happen in enough of the rest of the country? Possibly. I don’t know.

  39. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 22, 2015 @7:27 pm

    “Brien, I think your Sanders case is heading into pretty nit-picky territory. His commitment to civil rights and equal justice is unassailable even if he doesn’t articulate it exactly according to the script you would write.”

    This is nonsense. Go back and reread his own words and tell me how someone who understands the role racial discrimination plays in disadvantaging African Americans in this country that their racial identity and experience shouldn’t be informing their voting choices*. Tell me that someone who understands that middle class black men get pulled over for no reason other than that their car looks “too nice for a n***** to be driving” to a white cop says that black people shouldn’t “vote their color.” Perhaps I am wrong, but those are his words, and if they were phrased inartfully its up to him to clarify them. And when he’s following that up months later by answering questions about how he would work to stop the police murder of black people and the systemic inequality of the criniminal justice system by bringing up the ACA, he certainly isn’t providing any evidence that I’m misinterpreting his statements. His voting record might be impeccale but being President is different than being a Senator, where ultimately only your votes matter. For Presidents, priorities matter too, and it simply does not appear that Sanders has any outsized concerns for the issues at the heart of #BlackLivesMatter. And if I was black and had to wake up every day in fear that this might be the day that I or someone in my family ran into the wrong cop, that would make him a non-starter in choosing who was going to get my vote.

    *And let’s be honest with each other here, if this quote was uttered by anyone other than a Great Progressive Champion, none of us would have any problem *at least* identifying the sheer arrogance of an influential white dude lecturing people who are not white dudes about how they should be choosing who to vote for.

  40. maha  •  Jul 22, 2015 @8:26 pm

    Brien — I still think you’re projecting. Sanders may be unaware of a lot of things, but he’s not the enemy. Don’t assume he can’t be educated.

  41. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 22, 2015 @8:51 pm

    “Obama accomplished a lot *considering the obstacles*, and *compared to the past several years*, yes, but what he did isn’t nearly good enough to save this country’s ass. If that’s what you’re willing to settle for, then you’re setting your sights a whole hell of a lot lower than I am. Even with what Obama accomplished, on our current trajectory in another generation America is going to be a third-world shithole, and there’s always a chance the Right will keep enough power to get us there faster. We have to do a lot better.”

    Well even ceding the point…this doesn’t fit with the historical narrative you were telling at all. Going back to those periods when Democrats still had a lot of Southerners in their Senate caucus, Clinton and Carter both had majorities in both houses of Congress (Carter substantial ones) and produced zero piecs of meaningful progressive legislation as a result. Truman failed to enact universal healthcare and white Southern Democrats were instrumental in passing Taft-Hartley. The Obama years were more productive for progressive politics than any period outside of FDR’s first term and 1964-66.

  42. maha  •  Jul 22, 2015 @9:24 pm

    “Obama was better than those guys” doesn’t erase the fact that what he did wasn’t good enough to save us from continuing to slide into the shithole as a nation. We’re still in grave danger; the middle class is still shrinking, wages are still flat, wealth inequality is still growing, and except for health care (in some states) working people are about as bad off as they were under Bush II. So see if you can come up with a better argument, or else drop it.

  43. Brien Jackson  •  Jul 22, 2015 @9:29 pm

    “Those guys” being both other Democratic Presidents who have been elected since 1968 (and going back further than that when examining the ways racist white Democrats fucked things up for progressives). The point being I don’t understand the scope of your premise. Working class white reactionaries have always been the enemies of progressive politics, and therefore a constituency to be overcome. Near as I can tell, the argument that Democrats need to win them over boils down to “this would be easy if everyone agreed.” Well yes, I concede the point, it just doesn’t appear feasible from here, and the vast majority of political science research suggests that white voters are only becoming more racist as the social hegemony of white Americans continues to decline.

  44. maha  •  Jul 23, 2015 @6:08 am

    //The point being I don’t understand the scope of your premise.// The point is that if we can’t turn this country into a genuinely progressive direction within the next few years, all of our children of all races — grandchildren in my case — might as well move to Bangladesh. They may have a better standard of living there, actually.

    //Working class white reactionaries have always been the enemies of progressive politics// The white working class hasn’t always been as reactionary as it is now. The Progressive movement in the early 20th century was very much fueled by white working class voters. Wisconsin and Kansas were progressive states once upon a time. White rubes in Tennessee were electing progressives like Estes Kefauver to the Senate. Even earlier, going back to the 19th century, the Grange movement was a progressive populist movement of white midwestern farmers. There has always been a contingent of right-wing whackjobs in America that from time to time gain political power — the KKK was a national force for a brief time in the mid-1920s — but for long stretches of time they were pushed to the fringes. It changed after World War II from a combination of red baiting/McCarthyism and the racist reaction to the civil rights movement.

    It’s not a matter of “this would be easy if everyone agreed.” It’s a matter of “if we can’t get at least a portion of white middle class voters behind progressivism, if we can’t genuinely marginalize the Right for a generation or so, then nothing else is going to matter, because the huge majority of Americans of all races will be living in Brazilian-style favelas with no hope of escape.” In other words, the house is burning down around all of us.

  45. c u n d gulag  •  Jul 23, 2015 @10:17 am

    “The Obama years were more productive for progressive politics than any period outside of FDR’s first term and 1964-66.”

    Brien,
    I know you well enough to know that it wasn’t FDR you meant, it was LBJ who got real progressive change after JFK was assassinated,

    I’m 57, and Barack Hussein Obama is the over all best POTUS in my lifetime.

    I was born under Ike, but I didn’t know him.
    I’ve read about him, and, though he was a Republican, he sure didn’t seem to come from the same brand as the new ones.

    All I remember about JFK’s assassination, was that – irony alert! – I was in Kindergarten and my toy gun had broken, and by Grandmother took me after school to the Alexander’s store on Queen’s Blvd to get a new one, and they made an announcement that the President had been killed. And people were so shocked, that they all congregated at the bottom of the escalator – and, as more people came down, they just stood there.
    And stood there.

    And I was annoyed that my weekend cartoon viewing was curtailed, as I watched a horse with backwards empty boots in the straps – or, whatever – and all of the adults around me were crying and depressed.

    I remember LBJ showing-off his scar after gall-bladder (?)) surgery.
    And then Malcolm X was killed.
    And then, I came home from school in April of ’68 to find that MLK Jr. had been assassinated.
    And then, sneaking around my Grandmother’s house when she was asleep, I was reveling in JFK’s California primary victory, only to watch him be shot!

    And in rode the hideous Richard M. Nixon…
    Oy!

    So, in the future, pardon me for my Obama nostalgia.

  46. zoomar  •  Jul 23, 2015 @9:29 pm

    “The point is that if we can’t turn this country into a genuinely progressive direction within the next few years, all of our children of all races — grandchildren in my case — might as well move to Bangladesh. They may have a better standard of living there, actually.”
    Great thread! From it, This scene from the old movie Matewan comes to mind. Great Haskell Wexler cinematography. Worth the six minutes to see.

  47. zoomar  •  Jul 23, 2015 @9:30 pm


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