Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Tuesday, January 26th, 2016.


Damn, How I Hate Democratic Presidential Primary Season

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Democratic Party

There was a time in 2004 that if one were not totally in the tank for Howard Dean, one was a Republican shill. I remember writing some complementary things about Wesley Clark on a liberal forum and was promptly screamed off of it for selling out.

And don’t get me started on 2008. Supporting Barack Obama cost me some friendships I never got back.

And now social media seems entirely taken up with Clinton and Sanders supporters hurling juvenile insults at each other. Just from a social-psychological standpoint, it fascinates me that Hillary supporters are utterly unconscious that they are just as bad as the so-called “Bernie bros.” They seem to feel entitled to stoop to whatever kindergarten-level insult they want about Sanders and his supporters while patting themselves on the back for being mature and un-divisive. The Sanders people also indulge in cheap insults, but most of them (that I’ve seen) seem a tad more self-aware about it. Both sides are equally bad at over-simplifying issues, mindlessly repeating second-hand talking points and painting everything in black-and-white terms. There’s lots of political naïveté out there.

One actual difference that is emerging is that Clintonistas see themselves as pragmatic incrementalists, while Sanders supporters are calling for revolution. As I wrote earlier this week, there is a strong argument to be made for the incremental approach — call it half a loaf is better than none. On the other hand, a Sanders supporter recently commented that HRC is promising half a loaf, which means maybe we’ll get a couple of slices.

Sanders is calling for two loaves, and Clinton people doubt he can deliver even the two slices. On the other hand, maybe the time has come to stop accommodating our expectations to the power of the Right. Maybe the time has come to demand two loaves, because the Right ain’t what it used to be. Maybe now is the time to think big, while the Right is in chaos.

Just analyzing myself, I realized eight years ago that one of the reasons I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, in spite of the fact that their stands on issues were nearly identical, is that I resented the hell out of being told, over and over, from 2004 on that Hillary Clinton would be the 2008 nominee. No one else need apply.

Dear DNC: Don’t tell me who I’m supposed to support. In a democracy, I’m supposed to be allowed to make up my own mind. Thanks much.

And then, of course, Obama ran a very smart campaign, while Clinton did not. This rather put the lie to the claim that she was the only one who was “electable.”

Per Charles Blow, Clinton is repeating many of the mistakes she made in 2008. Not being able to learn from mistakes is not a good sign. See also Corey Robin on the basic dishonesty of Clinton’s current campaign.

On the other hand, without some backup from Congress Sanders possibly couldn’t deliver the two slices. And he seems weak on policy details, while Clinton is a super-wonk.

So there really is a serious debate to be had here about which of these two should be the nominee. It’s a shame we can’t seem to have it.

My sense of things is that this election is going to break some old molds. Already Nate Silver has been found to be out of his element. This would argue that we’re about to see a major shake-up in the political system.  We’ll know more once we see some primary results, I think.

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