Off the Lawn, Off the Boat, Out of the Party

Matt Taibbi gives me some assurance that I’m not crazy.

This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters.

Taibbi goes on to quote various pundits who are still reading from the standard post-nomination script.

The classic example was James Hohmann’s piece in the Washington Post, titled, “Primary wins show Hillary Clinton needs the left less than pro-Sanders liberals think.”

Hohmann’s thesis was that the “scope and scale” of Clinton’s wins Tuesday night meant mainstream Democrats could now safely return to their traditional We won, screw you posture of “minor concessions” toward the “liberal base.”

I wrote yesterday that Clinton supporters are angry and frustrated with Sanders for not following the proper script. He’s supposed to drop out now and endorse Clinton! She won!

In short, they’re like people enjoying a dinner party in a burning house, or maybe the Titanic.

If they had any brains, Beltway Dems and their clucky sycophants like Capeheart would not be celebrating this week. They ought to be horrified to their marrow that the all-powerful Democratic Party ended up having to dig in for a furious rally to stave off a quirky Vermont socialist almost completely lacking big-dollar donors or institutional support.

They should be freaked out, cowed and relieved, like the Golden State Warriors would be if they needed a big fourth quarter to pull out a win against Valdosta State.

But to read the papers in the last two days is to imagine that we didn’t just spend a year witnessing the growth of a massive grassroots movement fueled by loathing of the party establishment, with some correspondingly severe numerical contractions in the turnout department (though she won, for instance, Clinton received 30 percent fewer votes in California this year versus 2008, and 13 percent fewer in New Jersey).

I’ve said this before, too.

People are sick of being thought of as faraway annoyances who only get whatever policy scraps are left over after pols have finished servicing the donors they hang out with at Redskins games.

Democratic voters tried to express these frustrations through the Sanders campaign, but the party leaders have been and probably will continue to be too dense to listen. Instead, they’ll convince themselves that, as Hohmann’s Post article put it, Hillary’s latest victories mean any “pressure” they might have felt to change has now been “ameliorated.”

And this:

The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.

This is especially the case now that the Republican Party has collapsed under the weight of its own nativist lunacy. It’s exactly the moment when the Democrats should feel free to become a real party of ordinary working people.

But they won’t do that, because they don’t see what just happened this year as a message rising up from millions of voters.

I’ve been saying all along that the Dems need Sanders and his supporters more than Sanders and his supporters need the Democrats. I’m not talking about winning the November election here, although that might be part of it. I’m talking about the even more fundamental question of why a person should be loyal to a political party, support it, and vote for its candidates even when you’re not crazy about them.  As I also keep saying, the percentage of Americans who self-identify with one party or another is at an all-time low. Although I understand a lot of people have registered as Democrats this year, are those people who are going to stay Democrats? Or are they people who wanted to vote for Sanders in a primary, or who want to vote against Trump in November? Do they have any real interest in the Democratic Party, as a party?

See above about Clinton getting 30 percent fewer votes in California this year than in 2008.  See also Dear Democrats: Please Face Reality.

Instead of offering a competing vision for the future or debating policy ideas, Clinton ran against Sanders by dismissing him. But perhaps that’s the only way she could beat him, with “loyal Democrat” dog whistles and painting her opposition as racist and sexist white guys, which was never true.

One constant narrative throughout the primaries has been that Sanders just can’t gain the support of women or people of color, and that his supporters are overwhelmingly white males who back him for the simple reason that he is a man (e.g. Walsh’s “angry white male cult”). But again, this is complete hogwash. Sanders has actually done better with young women than young men — a USA Today poll taken in the midst of the primaries found that Millennial women backed “Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.” Similarly, while Clinton has dominated with African American voters overall, young black and Hispanic voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Clinton, according to a Gallup survey from May. Indeed, Sanders is viewed even more favorably among black millennials than white millennials. The survey also found that Sanders is viewed more favorably among millennial women than millennial men, and that millennials were the most left-leaning generation.

It’s one thing to smear your opponent, but when you smear your opponent by smearing his supporters, don’t expect those supporters to not notice, or to forgive you. Still quoting Conor Lynch at Salon,

Roughly a year after launching her campaign, Hillary Clinton has now locked up the Democratic nomination. But her campaign and the DNC establishment have also done a great job at alienating young people and the left.

Partisans have been reluctant to acknowledge that a formidable progressive movement fueled by millennials could challenge the neoliberal status quo in the coming years, and have instead tried to tarnish the reputation of the entire Sanders movement. But Sanders isn’t going to fight until the convention because of “sexism,” as Clintonites have started postulating, but because of politics and ideas; his entire campaign has been about combating “establishment politics” and “establishment economics,” which, unfortunately, Clinton epitomizes. Of course, partisans don’t want to debate ideas or address inconvenient truths, like the party’s close ties to Wall Street and corporate America. It’s much easier to make generalizations and accuse everyone who disagrees with you of trolling or harassment.

Like the guy I quoted yesterday said, “Hillary people seem to have become (and maybe always were) more about keeping Bernie people off the boat than they are about rowing past Trump.” So, yeah, the Dems just shoved a whole generation of people off the boat. It remains to be seen how many of those young people will continue to try to reform the party, or how many just quit in disgust.

IMO the Dems will have a fight on their hands, but probably not so much from Donald Trump. Donald Trump is nothing but an ego with bad hair. His “business success” reminds me of an old saying — the easiest way to make a small fortune is to inherit a large fortune.  I keep reading articles about how shrewd he is and that he knows what he’s doing, but I don’t think so. I think he’s gotten into something that’s way over his bizarrely coifed head.  Especially once we get past the conventions I think his campaign will be a train wreck.  We’ll see. He’ll probably get more electoral college votes than he ought to based on his total unsuitability to be POTUS, but I still think she’s going to win.

I think the real fight will come later, and it will be a fight the Democrats, apparently, do not expect. It will be a fight to win back the generation of voters they just kicked off the boat.

Just as one more example of how oblivious they are, I was reading this morning that the Democrats want very much to get their hands on Sanders’s email list.

Bernie Sanders has built more than just a following. He’s amassed the mother of all email lists. Some estimate it contains more than 5 million contacts, which is big, even by presidential standards. That database has allowed Sanders to raise thousands of dollars at the click of a button. …

…The Sanders campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment about the future of the supporter list. Speculation abounds. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reidreportedly asked the campaign last month to deploy the list to assist Democrats in Senate races, but was rebuffed by Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s campaign manager. Liberal groups have said they’d love to take a peek at the Vermont senator’s data.

People affiliated with the campaign have pushed back. On Monday, a fundraiser manager for Revolution Messaging, the D.C.-based firm Sanders has employed to manage his campaign data, tweeted that the senator’s list was like King Arthur’s Excalibur: “Lots of people might think they can use it, but it takes someone special for it to work.”

I think all the Dem establishment could raise from that list are a bunch of FUs. If they don’t know that, they’re not smelling the smoke or seeing the iceberg or whatever metaphor works for you.

41 thoughts on “Off the Lawn, Off the Boat, Out of the Party

  1. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if JUST ONCE the Democratic Party even paid lip service to supporting us out here in the liberal base.
    The Republicans consistently go overboard in courting the ignorant-as-dirt right-wing-nut fringe (who are everything but “conservative”), while we get barely a crumb, and then only if the Party is desperate for votes…


  2. This primary season more than anything has provided evidence to support the old adage, “republicans fear their base; democrats hate theirs.”

  3. The degree of vitriol (not universal but higher than I’d have expected) towards Sanders and his supporters which seems to persist post-victory among HRC supporters has surprised me somewhat, although perhaps it shouldn’t have. My puzzlement led me to indulge in some amateur psychologizing: perhaps more than a few HRC supporters are, deep down, well aware of what a compromised candidate they’ve felt compelled (or chose) to back, and their continuing bitterness results from having been reminded – by the very existence of the Sanders campaign and critique – of what they’ve tried, and would still prefer, to ignore.

    • CH — there are definitely a lot of old tapes being played and replayed in this election that don’t necessarily have anything to do with this election.

  4. Sorry I haven’t commented lately. I’ve been busy doing some intensive research and introspection trying to understand why I have a moral obligation to support Israel. I’m strange like that. Whenever someone points out a moral deficiency that I have, I always devote the time to understand and correct my moral failing. So far my moral obligation, as pointed out by Hillary Clinton, has eluded me.

    Blanking out or writing in is always an option. It’s called conscience. It’s the only way I can see to get my message across that I’m not happy with Hillary Clinton. My fear of Trump being elected isn’t great enough to move me to act against what I believe is in the best interests for my country.

  5. Barbara, I’m curious as to you thoughts on the idea that the worst thing the Democrats can do is run against Trump. I think it a far smarter move to make the election about running against the Republican Party. They created Trump, they support him albeit unenthusiastically and running against them while Trump self-destructs would provide more support for down ticket races by tying the entire Party firmly to Trump. But running against Trump, being presented to us by the media as an outsider, just highlights the appearance that he is an aberration when he is anything but.

    Plus, I’m beginning to believe more and more that there is a good chance the Republicans will find a way to dump him at the convention, especially if he continues to campaign as stupidly as he has been. That opens the door to a candidate Ryan, who will automatically be portrayed as he always has been by the media as the “sensible” candidate. If that happens all the energy spent running against Trump will have been wasted as Republicans can say, “that’s not us, we took care of that problem, now we have a real candidate”. Hillary will be in serious jeopardy if that happens and the potential to win back at least one House of Congress will likely be lost.

    • Tom Elliot — running against the Republican Party instead of Trump sounds smart to me, but then nobody’s calling me up and asking me to do campaign strategy (I’m available!). Running against Trump would be a lot easier, though, and I suspect that’s what Clinton will do.

      Regarding replacing Trump on the ticket — We’ve got, what, about five weeks until the RNC convention? A lot can happen in five weeks. I agree the RNC establishment wants him to disappear. I don’t know if they can make that happen without facing a revolt of the base. The Donald would have to do something unprecedentedly outrageous between now and then to make that happen, and given what he’s gotten away with already … the RNC will probably want to pair him up on the ticket with a “normal” Republican who is a really good speaker and campaigner and who gets along well with media. And then they’ll want the veep guy to do most of the campaigning. But who that might be I do not know. Otherwise they could try to blackmail the Donald into dropping out, but again, what could they have on him that people don’t already know? And why do I keep replaying scenes from The Godfather in the back of my head?

  6. Yeah, sorry to be argumentative, but there is no way I am going to vote in a manner that would help Trump win the White House. I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton in November because, to borrow Patton Oswalt’s point, I am not an effing child who thinks a tantrum will work, and because in any universe Hillary Clinton is an infinitely better choice than vile Donald Trump.

  7. To paraphrase the great Will Rogers:
    I’m not a member of a smart political party. I’m a Democrat!

    And yeah, Tom Elliot is right!
    Run against the Republican Party!

    When Marco Rubio, among many others, basically says, ‘Well, no, I don’t trust tRUMP with the nuclear codes, but I’m going to vote for him (anyway!).’
    It’s like a woman saying, “Yeah, I know he rapes every woman he ever dates, but I’m going to go out with him tomorrow!”

    Party over people !
    PARTY over country!!

  8. @joanr16
    If you want a pioneering female pol to admire, go look up Shirley Chisholm (sadly no longer with us). Many find Hillary just as vile as Trump. I won’t get into the practical reasons that a Clinton win might be as or more damaging than a Trump win.

    Can I buy a T-shirt with “We don’t roll over for insults”? Maybe with a bulldog?

  9. I’m jet lagged and the reverse culture shock has begun. But, Swami, I wholly agree with Maha, I wish I were half the gentleman and philosopher that you are. At the least, you give me something to strive for, and I appreciate that. I think that if we can summon the patience, we have to listen to those who criticize and oppose us with an ear to how they might be right and some serious thought as to why they hold their opinion, we are far better off than if we dismiss them without consideration. It seems that you do that far better than most of us. This is not to say that we shouldn’t formulate an argument against their position, just that if we fail to consider their opinion seriously, our argument will be rubbish.

    I freely admit that I am mostly rubbish at argument. But, that’s my lot in life.

    Now, I think I seriously need some sleep.

  10. We’ve now reached the reality-free moment when those who had been shrieking out bigoted, dishonest and despicable denunciations of Sanders and his supporters (hello, John Cole, hello Balloon-juice!) suddenly start pleading with them to be “reasonable” and protect the sacred cows of those who vilified them “for the common good” because it’s the “adult” way to behave. Shame you didn’t take your own advice and behave like responsible adults over the last three months, isn’t it?

    I am voting for Jill Stein who is honest, doesn’t insult my intelligence and actually has something like a set of principles and a constructive plan for the future.

    Here’s a hint, Democrats: next time around, try not insulting the people whose votes you will need and, for heaven’s sake, nominate a candidate who can impersonate an honest human being rather more convincingly than your latest version of Romney in a pantsuit.

  11. Tabbi did say well what I’ve been trying to say (though badly) in my previous posts on Bernie v Hillary. Look at the GOP candidates for president who Trump dispatched. They fall in two groups – there are the cum-slurpers like Christie and Carson without any self-respect. Then there are defeated, defiant opponents, like Bush and Graham who refuse to endorse.

    Bernie isn’t in either of those groups, even if he’s not going to get the nomination. He has a huge following who believe in a growing political philosophy endorsed by the next generation. Though he can’t win personally, Sanders hasn’t lost because he can force the nominee to recognize, if not adopt, the concepts which WILL NOT GO AWAY!

    Everything that I hear from Sanders recently says he ‘gets it’ – he knows the revolution has not failed. I do not think the democratic party will be fractured by the Sanders faction – I think Clinton will be forced to accept leaders (maybe Warren as VP) into her circle thinking she can contain them, and like warriors from a Trojan Horse, they will eventually overrun the party from the inside.

  12. I am voting for Jill Stein. We need to teach the party a lesson. They are not going to scare me with Trump or losing the Supreme Court. I am willing to sacrifice a generation’s worth of progressive legislation so that they know, in forthcoming primaries, my candidate and his/her ideas must be victorious, particularly if he/she holds stadium rallies filled with young people. Plus, if Reblicans control the government and get a six-three majority on the Supreme Court, Americans will finally awake to the progressive vision that I hold dear. In fact, a conservative revolution is likely the only way to get a progressive revolution, right?

  13. Pingback: Puzzlers | Technology as Nature

  14. “I am voting for Jill Stein. We need to teach the party a lesson. They are not going to scare me with Trump or losing the Supreme Court.”

    Please DON’T. Punishing another generation of Americans– of INDIVIDUAL people– to prove a point? You just play into the hands of the KKK, the NRA, Focus on the Family, and other domestic terrorist groups. Clinton is not my favorite, but she’s also not insane.

  15. I love Matt Taibbi’s piece, although he simplifies the Democratic establishment by presenting the worst of the worst (Hohmann’s piece is foolish, to say the least) and by cherry-picking (Capehart’s piece is partially myopic, but it isn’t wrong). Still, Taibbi articulates an opportunity that we are unlikely to have again ever. The fifth passage that Maha quotes, the “maddening thing” passage, is a route to a better U.S. for us all. Dems, take it! HRC, take it!

    I believe that HRC will win, but then I was certain that Gore would win. If the Dems lose this election, we are all eff-ed. The somewhat sane Republicans have shown that they cannot govern, and there are fewer and fewer somewhat sane Republicans. The demented Republicans will ruin this country for generations. Imagine the gerrymandering that will solidify their minority rule for elections to come.

    I hope the Dems will be smart (finally).

  16. KC,
    Are you included in any way in that generation’s worth of progressive legislation that you’re willing to sacrifice?

    Or, can you ride any storm out while it affects/destroys the lives of others?

    I’m on SS Disability, and I’m not particularly crazy about being sacrificed, but then, I’m not as noble a person as others.

    But, go ahead, teach the party a lesson.
    I’m sure they’ll listen to you!

  17. re the Democrats, the phrase “Potemkin Party” comes to mind. Or they should simply rebrand themselves with a new name, “the New Republican Party”, because that’s what they’ve become. As revolting as it sounds to you and me, it would be a huge hit among those rational people who used to be Republicans. And to those centrist, pro-business Dems that are okay with Hillary Clinton.

    running against the Republican Party instead of Trump sounds smart to me

    Not to me. Trump isn’t the Republican party – he crosses both parties in terms of things he’s said and will do – and so it’s pointless to run against the other crazy stuff that’s been somewhat pushed to the margins. Running against the Republican party is to some extent running against the past, which is fading away.

  18. KC – Somebody must have a list of the cases that are scheduled or certain to make their way up to the US Supreme Court over the next few years. I know the Texas law(s) which effectively prohibit abortion will be tested. I know the constitutionality of various voter suppression laws will be tested. The authority of the EPA and the authority of the president to set and enforce laws which will have a profound effect on global warming will be tested.

    The stand of the two real candidates on these issues is clear. Trump said (and reversed himself) that women who get an abortion should go to jail. On the environment, he thinks global warming is a hoax. He will protect his bigoted views and try to dilute the power of ‘identity politics’. There will be several openings on the high court SOON – the next president will set the tone for decades after she/he leaves office.

    The magnitude of the stupidity of throwing away your real vote in order to sent a ‘message’ is overwhelming. Demonstrating & activism is about sending a message – voting is the process of exerting power – real power to exert real change. I lost my right to vote because I wanted to make a statement on a critical issue and I don’t regret my decision because the benefit of influencing millions (in a small way) was worth the cost, which includes 4 months in federal jail.

    If critical thinking is not your strong suit, follow the lead of your leader. Sanders is going to support Clinton over Trump. I would guess that Bernie is aware that with the backing of a majority in the US Supreme Court, there is no check on the mischief in swing states that the GOP could inflict on voting rights. Your ‘plan’ (and I am being generous) is to galvanize progressives by giving power to conservatives, and you ignore that they have, can and currently ARE suppressing the vote. So you would give them unlimited power to deny the right to vote, and expect democracy will prevail. Heck of a plan.

  19. I’m not talking about winning the November election here, although that might be part of it. I’m talking about the even more fundamental question of why a person should be loyal to a political party, support it, and vote for its candidates even when you’re not crazy about them.

    Not really a tough question.

    My wife and I are white collar working class retirees.

    Cuts to Social Security or Medicare might force us out of our home and would literally endanger our lives.

    Democrats pose far less a threat than Republicans.

    Clear now?

  20. @Doug

    “The magnitude of the stupidity of throwing away your real vote in order to sent a ‘message’ is overwhelming.”

    I happen to think that voting for the candidate whose policies and character match my expectations isn’t “wasting” a vote. If the Democrats can’t provide that candidate, they have no right to point fingers.

  21. oy………………………………
    I grow weary…………………………………….

    • I’d like to call a truce on discussions of how people should vote in November. I don’t mind people explaining their own decisions, but let’s leave it to everyone’s individual conscience after that.

  22. Off-Topic: Three gray horses placed first, second, and third in the Belmont Stakes today. That is something I have never seen before. Creator won.

  23. Maha – are you telling me I have to be good? I’m not good at being good, but I’ve signed up for an intensive 4-month federally-sponsored training program where I will be majoring in being good. Trust me. 🙂

    Douglas Hughes 62746-007
    P.O. BOX 019120
    MIAMI, FL 33101

    From 6/14 to 10/14 – No regrets

  24. What, Doug, no internet connection in prison for you!?!?

    Why, that’s like putting a Bundy in prison without his shootin’ arns!!!

    I laugh, but I cry.
    When do you report there?

  25. Would someone please provide a succinct description of what would have to happen for the people whom MahaBarbara says have been kicked off the boat to not feel that way?

  26. Doug,
    I love you!

    In a totally manly-man sort of way!!!

    You’ve got cojones, brother.
    Not tiny Tic-tacs in a wrinkled ol’ leather nickel-bag, like tRUMP.
    REAL ones!!!
    Tell us what we can send you, and I will!

  27. @Doug, thanks for the facebook link, nice photo of you and I guess your congress critter. It would be great / asking a lot if you could blog from prison – kind of a modern day Letter from Birmingham Jail. BTW, there’s a great biography of ML King I’d like to read (don’t remember the title), fitting prison literature. You’re an inspiration, let us know how we can help.

  28. “Tiny tic-tacs in a wrinkled ol’ leather nickel bag”—- Gulag, where in the world do you get your very colorful descriptions? I have had my laugh for the day.

  29. grannyeagle
    I have a dirty mind that makes pretty random dirty associations!

  30. Packages are hard to send. I can receive books shipped from Amazon or other sellers but i have to fill out a form in advance. I think. Will know later. I can get mail and will be anxious to get it in September when I feel forgotten. 😞 Post a ‘mail a note to doug’ reminder for me then, GULAG.

  31. Doug is the gyro guy? Being late to this party I didn’t know that. A pretty cool stunt to get the message out. Makes me laugh.

    When I spent a few minutes looking this up poking around the web I was reminded how bad lobbying is getting. I didn’t know that congress people transitioning to K Street is at around 50% or so. That percentage from when I was a kid was something like 3%. I have senators from my own state who got rich adding a little corporate to their ‘governing’. I’m finding out long after the fact that those two weren’t nice people (both were D). Personally, I’d stay well away from any reputed senatorial/congressional conscienceless assholes who’ll just trip you up. To keep momentum best to start with true representatives like Bernie and his associations.

  32. I expect to vote for the Green Party candidate (presumably Jill Stein), but that’s because I live is a safely Blue state.

    But if I still lived PA (or some other purple state), I’d be watching the STATE-level polling, and I’d hold my nose & vote for Hillary if it was close.

    I’ve been involved with the US Greens for a loooong time; ran for office twice. My position is NOT at all popular in the Green Party. I voted for Nader in 2000, then worked to make sure he did NOT get our nomination in 2004. I strongly reject his argument – restated by a previous commenter above – that it’s OK to risk years (decades?) of right-wing government in the USA (and therefore the whole world) as necessary step toward Mobilization of the Workers or some such Marxian dream.

    The Cheney Regime killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, etc; that blood is on ALL of our hands, because we did not prevent it. Hillary Clinton was complicit in that atrocity, which is one reason I REALLY don’t want to vote for her.

    But there are also (many?) thousands of species which are now – or will soon become – extinct because of the Carbon policy of the Cheney Regime. And they were careful to install relatively young Supreme Court justices who will resist/prevent progressive change in this country for decades.

    And that was before the Republican Party went totally batsheisse Krazy. I’m not willing to risk that again.

  33. elkern,
    You sound like a rational person.
    Thankn ou for that, while so many feel snubbed, and their emotions are raw.

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