Some People Need a Serious Change of Attitude

Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times last March,

Hillary Clinton is by far the best qualified candidate for president. But at this point in the campaign, you can understand why some people feel that voting for her against Bernie Sanders is like rewarding Washington for its worst behavior.

This was after her loss to Sanders in Michigan, where her campaigning against Sanders had gotten so dishonest and dirty that even mainstream media pundits were chastising her for it (see also  James Hohmann at the Washington Post).

On the same day the New York Times editorial board wrote,

Mrs. Clinton may be annoyed at the continued challenge posed by the self-described democratic socialist from Vermont. “The sooner I could become your nominee, the more I could begin to turn our attention to the Republicans,” she told a crowd in Detroit. But Mr. Sanders is likely to remain in the contest to the end, and if she is the Democratic nominee, Mrs. Clinton must win over and energize his supporters. The results in Michigan suggest she has a ways to go.

If you read the editorial you see they aren’t just talking about her winning more primaries. They were telling her that her attacks on Sanders had gone over the line, and she needed to reel them back if she expected to unify the party in November. Nobody likes to see his candidate vilified and lied about.

I know the Clinton people complain perpetually that people are unfair to Hillary Clinton. Then in the same breath they turn around and smear Sanders, or his supporters. I’ve had to disengage with a lot of people I’ve been in touch with in social media for many years because I can’t stand their lies and insults. Never mind the paternalistic (yes, paternalistic) and dripping condescension that is the hallmark of the Clintonistas. They feel entitled to the innate superiority of their opinions. They were the same way in 2008, btw; I don’t know how many times I was dismissed as naive because I planned to vote for that Obama guy.

But this primary is turning into something worse, and it could get a lot uglier.

I’m hearing more about what happened in Nevada, and it appears the local dignitaries in charge took it upon themselves to railroad the Sanders contingent to keep them from adding delegates and possibly flipping the state to Sanders. Like that would actually matter now. Having looked at accounts of this from both sides, it  seems that part of the problem was that many Sanders delegates were new to state politics and weren’t familiar with the Nevada party’s arcane and convoluted process. But it’s also the case that the officials in charge were loyal Clinton supporters who treated the Sanders delegates as foreign hostiles. It appears to me that instead of helping them navigate the process to enable a fair convention, the officials took advantage of the confusion and railroaded the Sanders contingent to keep their participation at a minimum.

Here’s an interview (start at about 32 minutes in)  with a Sanders supporter — Dan Rolle — at the convention who really did understand the process and tells his version of what happened, followed by an interview (start at about 50 minutes) with Nina Turner, former Ohio state senator who has been campaigning for Sanders and was at the convention representing Sanders. Even Turner, who strikes me as a level-headed person, says the Dem officials flat-out cheated.

Here is Rolle’s video. Rolle is currently running as a Democrat for a U.S. House seat, so he’s not a political neophyte.

See also D.D. Guttenplan in The Nation.

It fascinates me that many people bright enough to know that emails from Nigeria are possibly selling a scam accept the official Dem Party version of what happened in Nevada without question, in spite of what can be seen and heard in the many videos that support the Sanders’s delegates’ version, and in spite of the testimony of many people in attendance.

Now I’m reading from “establishment” media that violence was breaking out at the convention. There are many claims of chair-tossing and other physical violence. The chair says she had to flee because she feared for her safety. I’ve read several different accounts of participants and seen their videos, and among other things the participants deny that any chairs were thrown or that there were threats of violence within the convention itself. And the many videos I’ve seen support that claim. There was a lot of shouting and booing, but to say that the chairperson had to flee because she feared for her safety isn’t supported by what evidence has been available so far. It seems to be a claim being made by the Nevada state Dems to cover up their own bad behavior.

And any of us who lived through the Vietnam War protest era ought to recognize this tactic as a ruse to de-legitimize the Sanders contingent. Nixon’s people pulled that often enough back then.

I say that if the Democrats want to “unify” in November, they need to look to their own conduct. They can’t treat people in this ham-handed way and then demand they just get over it.

The chair of the Nevada state convention has received a lot of ugly threats, and that’s wrong. The Democratic Party condemned the threats, and rightfully so. But they’ve said nothing about what happened at the convention. If they had their heads on straight they would ask the chair to resign and issue an apology to keep the hard feelings from getting harder. But they won’t.

Bernie Sanders issued a statement that complained about what happened in Nevada, and Dem officials were outraged. How dare he question the official story? He’s supposed to be ordering his followers to behave, like a good cog in the machine. But instead of complaining to Sanders that he should turn his back on his followers and demand unity, the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign need to adjust their own attitude, and fast, to avoid violence at the national convention.

I am utterly opposed to violence at demonstrations and remain so, but I’m seeing emotions get out of hand. And I think the only people who have the power to avoid it are the Dems and Clinton themselves, not Sanders. Right now if he were to order his supporters to stand down and pledge loyalty to Clinton, they would just turn on him. They are that fed up.

Let’s consider where Hillary Clinton is at the moment. She might have assumed all along that once she had the nomination people would just get over their hard feelings and vote blue no matter who. There were a lot of hard feelings in 2008 — mostly caused by her own bad behavior — and Barack Obama won, anyway.

But this is a different situation from 2008. Barack Obama wasn’t the one fomenting the bad feelings; she was. She attempted to use her followers’ passions to hold the Dem party hostage to get the veep position until she finally relented some time in June, and I suspect she only relented because she was offered a cabinet position if Obama won.

But you know she’s not going to offer Sanders anything, and if she did I doubt he’d accept it. He’s going to go back to the Senate to be a dedicated thorn in her side. And as soon as she has the Dem nomination clinched, she’s going to move right and campaign to the center, ignoring the progressive Left.

As I write this the Kentucky primary is till too close to call. Sanders and Clinton will split the delegates no matter who is declared the winner. But Clinton made a big show of claiming victory several hours ago. This tells me she’s an insensitive ass whose own ego takes precedence over common sense. She’s far enough ahead that a delegate here and there won’t matter. A little sensitivity and magnanimity on her part would go a long way right now to soothe the anger. But she doesn’t have it in her to do that, apparently.

I cannot emphasize enough that Sanders didn’t create this schism in the Democratic Party. It’s existed, and has been widening, for at least a few years. Sanders was simply the guy who stepped up and articulated what a lot of us already were thinking. The Dems seem to think that if they can squash Sanders everything will go back to normal. And they are wrong. They have to address this. They can’t just smack Sanders’s supporters around and order us to get into line. The establishment Democrats must adjust to a change in the political landscape, starting with their own attitudes.

Sean Illing wrote a couple of days ago,

It’s not at all surprising – or wrong, to be fair – that establishment Democrats would support Hillary Clinton. Clinton is a party veteran and a known commodity. She’s been at the center of Democratic politics for decades. … But the Democratic establishment can maintain neutrality in this process without compromising their preferred candidate. The fact is, Clinton has received at least 2.5 million more primary votes than Sanders. She was – and is – likely to win the nomination. There’s no need to rig the process or skew the rules in her favor – doing so only adds to the suspicion that the process itself is undemocratic, which is ruinous to the party’s long-term viability.

People shouldn’t have to feel compromised when they vote, that they are rewarding someone for bad behavior.  The establishment Democrats need to swallow their egos and develop some class, and fast. If Clinton loses to Trump in November she’s going to scapegoat Sanders, but it really will be on her and on the Democratic Party.

16 thoughts on “Some People Need a Serious Change of Attitude

  1. Oy…

    How ironic will it be if it’s the Dem’s who have riots at their convention this year, and not the GOP – as earlier predicted?

    Shades of Chicago, 1968?
    FSM, I hope not!

  2. People shouldn’t have to feel compromised when they vote

    I’ve felt that way nearly every time I vote. It sounds as if you have as well. It’s no fun to feel alienated from people around you, not to mention “the system”.

    I cannot emphasize enough that Sanders didn’t create this schism in the Democratic Party. It’s existed, and has been widening, for at least a few years. Sanders was simply the guy who stepped up and articulated what a lot of us already were thinking.

    I’m happy that Sanders has, as you put it, stepped up and articulated why a lot of people feel alienated from the system, but I am not at all happy that he is maintaining the fiction that he has a so-called path to the nomination. The 25 year old member of my household has swallowed that fiction, and he’s pretty clearly not alone.

    • JDW — I’m sorry that you feel compelled to project whatever you son is thinking on to all Sanders supporters, and I wish you would stop it. That said, it’s obvious to me his primary concern is shaping the platform and future Democratic party policies. For the sake of his supporters he’s hanging in until after California — IMO it would be a betrayal of their work to drop out beforehand — but after that (depending on the results of that race) he might well agree to step out in exchange for some assurances about the platform and some say in what goes on at the convention. That wouldn’t surprise me, anyway. But, again, it’s not Sanders who particularly needs “unity”; it’s Clinton. And she’s the one who needs to work for it.

  3. I agree, maha, Hillary and DWS need to calm the turbulent waters. If they continue to antagonize and alienate Bernie supporters, she, and we, all lose!

  4. Agree 100% as a 60s child myself. An oldie but relevant.
    A song that have never been more true.
    Come gather ’round people
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone
    If your time to you
    Is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    And don’t speak too soon
    For the wheel’s still in spin
    And there’s no tellin’ who
    That it’s namin’
    For the loser now
    Will be later to win
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come senators, congressmen
    Please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway
    Don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt
    Will be he who has stalled
    There’s a battle outside
    And it is ragin’
    It’ll soon shake your windows
    And rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don’t criticize
    What you can’t understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin’
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can’t lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin’.

    The line it is drawn
    The curse it is cast
    The slow one now
    Will later be fast
    As the present now
    Will later be past
    The order is
    Rapidly fadin’
    And the first one now
    Will later be last
    For the times they are a-changin’.

  5. It’s not Sanders who particularly needs “unity”; it’s Clinton. And she’s the one who needs to work for it.

    Locking DWS in a closet until Nov. 9th would be a start. The Big Dawg also maybe.

  6. Where in the hell is Hunter S. Thompson when you need him. What we need now is an author who is sent on assignment to the Kentucky Derby and turns in an article on a polo match. For the record this was his first partnership with Stedman I am told.

    “The kahn called it High-Stakes Polo; Winners went to the next round, losers were decapitated and their heads used as balls in the next round.” Hunter S.

    Thompson, Polo Is My Life De. 15,1994, Rolling Stone.

    Hillary just sent me an e-mail saying she needs money and is fighting on two fronts. That is no way to a Nobel peace prize.

  7. Indeed, it appears that the approved version of the Nevada events now goes beyond blaming Sanders’ supporters (and ONLY them) for the uproar; now, if Josh Marshall at TPM can be taken as typical, the approved version is that there is a “toxicity” (such original terminology!) in the Sanders campaign which comes from none other than the fiendish, mendacious Sanders himself. This conclusion we are to take as unassailable, since Marshall bases it on “a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgeable, highly placed people” (whose anonymity is, one supposes, necessary to protect these terribly important people from retaliation by BernieBro suicide squads).

    To hear talk of Sandersian “toxicity” from a supporter, overt or not, of a candidate who employs the ineffable David Brock, among other such odoriferous specimens, would be infuriating if it weren’t quite so pathetically laughable.

  8. I think the comparison to the Convention of ’68 may be appropriate. This is about the convention, at least to the degree that HRC & DWS want to write the script. Bernie is supposed to read his page of the script, pledge fealty and fall in line. Bernie wants to be a voice for the movement and they’re opposed to the progressive blasphemy spoken from the pulpit at the convention.

    This is taking on the shape of irreconcilable differences and the convention may be a very public divorce court. Bernie, if I recall, has said we will have to unify to defeat Trump. He knows that’s got to happen, but Sanders won’t sacrifice the progressive platform so HRC can be a low-calorie republican in the Oval office. Has HRC decided that Sanders must unconditionally surrender?

    I expected/hoped that things would come to a head in 2020 – it may not hold off that long. That’s not to say Clinton won’t win the nomination, but the price of ‘unity’ as the Clinton camp is defining it, could cost her the presidency.

  9. Clinton is acting as if she doesn’t need Sander’s supporters. Maybe her campaign will just write them off in a Sista Soulja 2 routine, then go after so-called GOP moderate Trump haters like Laura/Jeb. They’ve probably done polls to back up the idea that any Sanderistas she loses through heavy handed dismissiveness will be offset by a deft tack to the right to snag the moderate crumbs that fall off Trump’s table. Clintons always hated progressives anyway so it’s worth a shot I imagine..

  10. Why does none of this surprise me? It’s vintage Hillary. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.

    Gulag: “Hillary and DWS need to calm the turbulent waters.”

    Right — but don’t hold your breath.

  11. Clinton’s great weakness as a politician is that she plays hardball compulsively, when a sensible person would make a short-term compromise for the sake of a long-term gain. She doubles down on versions of her record and beliefs that simply do not stand up to analysis – and then gets outraged when the contradictions between her version and reality are made clear. Sure, the right-wing has gone after her – politics ain’t beanbag – but she’s done more to damage herself than they could ever have achieved. I also find it revealing that the Clinton faction are so persistently knuckle-headed in their dealings with the Democratic party as a whole, because it suggests a lack of anyone with a coherent strategic vision at the top. If anyone splits the party, it will be Clinton precisely because she still has not learned the basics of strategy, despite her many years in politics. I fear that my Democratic friends may regret their choice of her as their leader sooner than they think possible.

  12. FWIW, this primary looks more like 1980 than 1968 to me. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Sanders concede late and deliver a speech demanding a more progressive platform while essentially ignoring the Clintons. There will be howls of rage from the usual Cronycrats, but the Democrats desperately need to clean up their act and make their party fit for purpose again. Putting that accounting off so the Clintons can grub up some more names for the Rolex and some more bucks for speeches to fat-cats is going make the reckoning far worse when it ultimately comes.

  13. She riles up a bunch of people for 2 lousy delegates. Really – if the county convention change in count had been allowed to stand it wouldn’t materially effect the pledged delegate count at the Convention. It would have been an easy call for a sane campaign to make.

    Instead they have a vote – declare that it went the way the Hillary supporting chair wanted it to – then refuse to follow basic parliamentary procedure and count the votes. This is pouring gasoline on a fire.

    Or does Hillary really think that those 2 delegates are going to be needed for her to get the nomination?

  14. “Or does Hillary really think that those 2 delegates are going to be needed for her to get the nomination?”

    I imagine the whole exercise was intended as an object lesson in knowing one’s place — although my alternate theory is that they were trying to provoke a riot to justify police crackdowns in Philly.

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