The No We Can’t Candidate

Tomorrow there will be caucuses in Iowa, and shit starts to get real. Nate Silver says Trump is substantially ahead of the competition. Clinton is slightly favored but not a sure thing.

I wrote a few days ago that Hillary Clinton has been selling herself as the pragmatic progressive, arguing that an incremental approach to change will get better results in the long run than Bernie Sanders’s Hail Mary promises. But this weekend she seems to have gone from being the “yes we can, eventually” candidate to the “no we can’t” candidate.

“I want you to understand why I am fighting so hard for the Affordable Care Act,” she said at Grand View University after hearing from a woman who spoke about her daughter receiving cancer treatment thanks to the health care law. “I don’t want it repealed, I don’t want us to be thrown back into a terrible, terrible national debate. I don’t want us to end up in gridlock. People can’t wait!”

She added, “People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.”

She didn’t specifically say that the U.S. will “never, ever” get single-payer health care, but that’s how she’s being quoted. David Atkins wrote,

Clinton is offering what seems to be a false choice: advocating for single-payer healthcare doesn’t mean that the Affordable Care Act isn’t protected. Presumably, a Sanders administration would fight to protect the Affordable Care Act just as stridently as a Clinton administration would until and unless a superior replacement were passed.

I could respect her if she said that a true national, taxpayer-funded health care system is not going to happen in the near future in our current political climate. I don’t think it will, either. But never, ever? That’s not incrementalism; that’s surrender.

Brian Beutler thoughtfully deconstructs what’s really going on in the Dem campaign. The real argument for HRC all along has been that she’s the one who is electable. Sanders is too big a gamble. But is this true? Beutler says the pragmatists “must demonstrate that he is likely to lose to a Republican nominee, where Clinton is likely to win.” As it is, everybody’s going by what’s in his (or her) gut. Nobody really knows. Certainly Hillary Clinton has some big vulnerabilities, even if her supporters refuse to acknowledge them.

Especially if it turns out that Donald Trump really will be the Republican nominee, I think it’s safe to say all bets are off.

And if we call the electability argument a wash, which candidate is the better champion for progressivism?

It’s true that single-payer health insurance and free public college aren’t likely to become federal law even if Sanders wins the presidency. But by the same token, neither are Clinton’s plans to improve Obamacare, and provide debt-free college and paid family leave.

Clinton’s agenda would become politically viable if Democrats were to somehow reclaim the House and Senate during her time in office–her proposals are designed to reflect party consensus, while Sanders’s platform reflects the consensus of just one of the party’s wings.

But if we’re imagining both of their agendas as opening bids in negotiations with Congress, why fault Sanders for not negotiating with himself? Ask a future Democratic Congress for single payer and a $15 minimum wage and you might get laughed at– but you also might get the public option and a bump to $12. Ask it for the public option and a $12 minimum wage, as Clinton might, and you’ll get a fair hearing from the outset, but you might end up with advancements barely worth fighting for. President Obama, as Sanders is fond of noting, negotiated with himself, and progressives paid an unknowable price as a result.

My concerns also.

Odds are still very high that Hillary Clinton will be the nominee. I wish I felt better about that than I do.


21 thoughts on “The No We Can’t Candidate

  1. My personal opinion is that single-payer would be better, and that the ACA is a bit of a kludge. But, given the reaction against the ACA by the right, I don’t think it is “surrender” to say that we can’t get single-payer here, it is reality; sad reality, but reality. To get to single-payer we are going to have to live under the ACA for long enough for people to see that the right did indeed lie about it, that it works, and does good things. Then we can talk about improving it, and one improvement would be to go to single-payer. But all the angry old men who form the current GOP base will have to die off, first, I fear.

  2. This is a sad situation. We have two good candidates with similar goals and different approaches and degrees of fire about them. We need to have unity in beating the ReTeaVangeliKKKlan.

  3. Obama promised little to the LGBT folks.
    Yet, DADT was eliminated, and gay marriage is now the law of the land, and is allowed all across America.

    Not bad, eh?

    I don’t like the surrender in her words and tone, either.

    She could do as you say, maha, and tell the folks that “single-payer is unlikely, but, maybe if you help me by electing me and a solidly Democratic House and Senate, we can, if not bring it about right away, at least take major steps towards it.”

    In other words, “inspire people.”
    Because if you don’t inspire tham, they won’t work hard enough to perspire, and help you get elected.

    Leave the “can’t do” shit to the party that, even if it could do it, wouldn’t even try to do it!

  4. And also too, last month’s Esquire has a long long article including an interview with Rubio. Read it if you want to see a relatively sane sounding candidate who still is saying what the wild and crazy guys are saying, just quietly.

  5. For me, it’s less about Hillary being the “no we can’t” and more about her being the “I don’t want to” candidate.

    I was reading something this morning about Sanders wanting to make America more like Denmark, and Hillary basically saying things are fine the way they are, she likes America just the way it is. Just a few tweaks around the edges is all she’s inclined to do. She really hasn’t changed from when she was a Republican way back in college.

    That’s why she’s always been Republican Lite, and doesn’t inspire anyone who isn’t inside her charmed circle. And is also why the Republican, whoever is their nominee, has a good shot at winning.

  6. “Anyone who shrugs and claims that change is just too hard has crawled into bed with the billionaires who want to run this country like some private club.” –Elizabeth Warren, 1/21/16

    It’s a choice: the status quo or a political revolution–specifically campaign finance. That is the key. Eliminate the flow of money and suddenly politicians become beholden to the people.

    Are more people willing to vote to keep the status quo or to invoke change? Ask yourself this same question of the general election. Which one guarantees higher turnout, thus impacting the down ticket?

  7. Maha has good taste in music also.
    I am not excited about any of the pres. candidates. However, I don’t know if I’m being pessimistic or optimistic but I think no matter who gets in the WH, things will not change until the people (me and you and all the rest) demand it. From what I have learned about history, it has always been so.

  8. Just saying…..If Hillary’s statement of…”People who have health emergencies can’t wait for us to have a theoretical debate about some better idea that will never, ever come to pass.” is viewed in relation to the paragraph that preceded it, where she says.. “I don’t want it repealed, I don’t want us to be thrown back into a terrible, terrible national debate. I don’t want us to end up in gridlock”,then what she is saying takes on an entirely different meaning. What she is actually saying is that if it does get repealed we’ll be going back to square one where chances of getting something meaningful accomplished with health care will in all probability never get done.
    I don’t think the Repugs will repeal Obamacare if they do manage to win the Presidency. Obamacare stands more as an object to attack in the abstract then it does as a practical matter in reality. Obamacare is fairly well anchored at this point and to upset the apple cart at this point would be too costly a political maneuver for the Repugs.. I think the Repugs will just change the topic to an issue that is more conducive to solidifying their hold on power.

  9. That song sure brings back memories. For me, it’s one of the standouts of the era.

    There are other very successful models for universal healthcare, such as the French system. Private insurance is available, but they have what is basically a non-profit insurance provider. Single payer has the virtue of being simpler and much closer to what we already have in Medicare and Medicaid. So, I am on board with that.

    There should be at least some political benefit to fighting for something that you can’t get. It gets the idea out there and it shows your colors and gives supporters something to rally around. It still seems odd to me that the Democrats weren’t able to make more of the anti-terrorism initiatives made by the Clinton Administration. The Repubs fought them as unduly burdensome to the industry, and the security personnel in charge of security were underpaid and undertrained as a matter of choice from the industry. After 9/11 the became convenient fall guys, when it was the airline industry that didn’t want to make the investment. That’s another great example of a “free market solution.”

    Prediction: If a Republican is elected to the presidency and they still hold the congress, an amendment to “Citizens United,” sponsored by the NRA, will declare bullets to be “free speech.”

  10. well….It seems that Colorado is trying to get Single Payer on the Ballot…but, BUT our Blue Dog Governor is trying to kill the bill in committee…He is a Big Oil and Gas Governor, who sided against democracy in the Fracking debate…and is now siding with the Big Money to kill a good plan…I must say…Governor Hickenlooper is a real asshole…

  11. Yes, it’s incrementalism without any increments. And as far as single payer healthcare, it’s unthinkable until enough people think it. We shouldn’t make concessions about what’s possible, at least not as long as we want to believe we live in some kind of democracy. The field of political possibility is simply people’s attitudes, after all, it’s not some fixed and immutable law of the universe.

    That’s one thing I wish more liberals would learn from our brethren on the right: Those fuckers never give up. They don’t care if ending abortion is politically or morally or humanly feasible, they just keep doing everything in their power to get what they want. If they can’t pass laws at the federal level they take over the states and localities, and it does have an effect. Liberal goals can and should be advanced in the same way.

  12. Leave the “can’t do” shit to the party that, even if it could do it, wouldn’t even try to do it!

    It’s impressive, really. As the current Congress has shown, the Republicans even suck at not doing things. They were supposed to be sending the President all these bills to veto, but it’s just been, what, two or three so far? What a disappointment. I was looking forward to all the vetoes.

  13. “….Governor Hickenlooper is a real asshole…”

    Any one of us suffering under GOP governors would gladly trade you. Shall I send you McCrory? Maybe Snyder or Walker would be interested. “Our” governor can’t even manage Medicare expansion and THAT’s the ultimate “no-brainier”– free billions from Washington AND the jobs that result.

  14. I don’t know if this is relevant…But, the scriptures say..You perish for a lack of vision. Sanders is articulating a vision..Hillary not so much.

    Another off the wall thought that might be relevant if you can twist it into a context of fitting the argument of pushing for a more perfect health care scheme is the idea that — If you are not growing, you’re dying. That’s a theme that is near bedrock in evangelical circles and that’s why the evangelicals are constantly having revivals. That logic also permeates big business where the constant need to grow and expand profits is an all consuming endeavor.
    It makes me think that maybe it’s not the wisest approach to the health care issue to just hunker down and hold your ground as opposed to pushing to expand an idea whose time has come. Nothing ventured nothing gained?
    I also think the Repugs are fragmented and if there is a time to be bold..that time is now.

  15. Ok, just thinking out loud here.. It’s strange how thing just pop into your mind and you wonder if there is some cosmic message that you’re supposed get from it. I’m sitting here twiddling my thumbs and all of a sudden a thought of Socks ( the Clinton’s cat) pops into my mind. I remember hearing that Socks was nothing more that a political prop and when the Clinton’s vacated White House, Socks got jettisoned because he or she no longer had political value in appealing to cat lovers and Liberals in general.. I say that because being a cat lover myself I understand that you have to learn you can’t always have your way.
    I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it did seem to fit my impression of Hillary at the time. Does anybody know what fate befell Socks?

  16. Swami, it’s common knowledge that Socks knew a little too much about the fate of Vincent Foster. So Hillary made him disappear and then replaced him with an animatronic double, who was eventually given as a house warming gift to a famous crime family. I think I can find the link if you want it.


    A couple of months back, I was talking to a friend of mine who is an immigrant from Eastern Europe. He is a very smart person and also very skilled. English is his third or fourth language. Despite this, he had bought into, and could reel off every absurd bit of mud ever hurled at the Clintons. He was was convinced that when they were vacating the White House, the Clinton’s had several moving vans filled with various antiques and treasures of the American people, which they appropriated as their personal property. I hadn’t heard that one in years.

    One thing for sure, if Hillary wins the primary, there will be a new flowering of the anti-Clinton industry, and Socks will probably have several distinctly disturbing and tragic histories, one for each of his nine lives.

  17. Swami,
    Well, they had to do something with the poor kitty.

    If they left it, and their were no young children to feed his hunger for blood, Cheney wold have sucked all of Socks blood as a snack, and then given the carcass to Barney as a chew-toy!

  18. Bailing on Socks was just a slight moral step up from granny dumping. I bet Socks was asking why have you forsaken me?

  19. Poor Socks! But if I know cats, he will find a way to get revenge. He’s probably passed on by this time but he could come back, perhaps as another kind of critter, one that could do damage. Hmmm, that could make a good book. Wish I was a fiction writer.

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