You Won’t Get It If You Don’t Ask for It

Hubert Humphrey at the 1948 Democratic National Convention

Hubert Humphrey’s Civil Rights speech at the 1948 Democratic National Convention was one of the great moments in the party’s history.

“Friends, delegates, I do not believe that there can be any compromise on the guarantees of the civil rights which we have mentioned in the minority report,” he said. “In spite of my desire for unanimous agreement on the entire platform, in spite of my desire to see everybody here in honest and unanimous agreement, there are some matters which I think must be stated clearly and without qualification. There can be no hedging — the newspaper headlines are wrong. There will be no hedging, and there will be no watering down — if you please — of the instruments and the principles of the civil-rights program.”

Humphrey was speaking in support of the civil rights plank of the 1948 Democratic Party platform, which said this:

The Democratic Party is responsible for the great civil rights gains made in recent years in eliminating unfair and illegal discrimination based on race, creed or color,

The Democratic Party commits itself to continuing its efforts to eradicate all racial, religious and economic discrimination.

We again state our belief that racial and religious minorities must have the right to live, the right to work, the right to vote, the full and equal protection of the laws, on a basis of equality with all citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.

We highly commend President Harry S. Truman for his courageous stand on the issue of civil rights.

We call upon the Congress to support our President in guaranteeing these basic and fundamental American Principles: (1) the right of full and equal political participation; (2) the right to equal opportunity of employment; (3) the right of security of person; (4) and the right of equal treatment in the service and defense of our nation.

This platform also said “We favor legislation assuring that the workers of our nation receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex,” and called for some kind of national health care. Seriously, this is a very progressive platform, the domestic policy section especially. The Dems would have to update the foreign policy section, but the domestic policy section could be adopted in 2020 with just a little tweaking.

Did I mention this was said in 1948?

Of course, there were many years of struggle ahead before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination illegal. Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement forced the Democratic Party to introduce that law,  and we’re still struggling to fully implement that law.  My point is that before change could happen, somebody had to stand up and say this. Somebody had to commit to this. Somebody had to say, this is the right thing to do.

I’m sure Hubert Humphrey didn’t expect racial discrimination to disappear after the election. As it was, the entire Mississippi delegation and half of the Alabama delegation stomped out of the convention in protest of the civil rights plank. Two weeks after the convention, President Truman issued executive orders mandating equal opportunity in the armed forces and in the federal civil service. Southern segregationists  organized to form a “states’ rights” party and nominated Strom Thurmond as its presidential candidate. Civil rights was a divisive issue for Dems in 1948. But they adopted that platform because it was the right thing to do.

Today, we’re squabbling over an issue that shouldn’t be that divisive — universal health coverage. Whether you call it “single payer” or “Medicare for All” or just “universal coverage,” by now it should be obvious to anyone with a functional brain that achieving this is going to require some sort of national, taxpayer-supported system that sidelines for-profit insurance companies and includes controls to prevent price gouging. It’s almost certainly going to mean phasing out job-based group insurance. Beyond that, the hundreds of other nations that provide universal coverage for its citizens have gone about this in various ways, not all of them “single payer,” strictly speaking. We should be studying them.

The hysterical reaction against the Affordable Care Act never made sense, if you realize that just about all the ACA did was regulate health insurance to force insurance companies to cover more people and provide some subsidies so that poor people could pay the private insurance company premiums. That the premiums were still not affordable for a lot of folks is largely the fault of the insurance companies, and indeed it’s the fault of the whole idea that private-for profit insurance can pay for most medical care with affordable premiums and without bankrupting people. It can’t. All the other nations of the world figured that out a long time ago.

But in the U.S., the insurance companies, the medical-industrial complex and the conservative media-think tank network that largely controls public opinion have made universal coverage a taboo subject. Until now.

There are 16 Democratic senators supporting the bill, a remarkable number considering where the healthcare debate was two years ago, when Sanders first campaigned for president as a democratic socialist long shot. At the time, pundits, political operatives and countless elected officials dismissed the single-payer Sanders dream as a disingenuous moonshot.

Now, the man who told Obama to lay off Bain Capital (Cory Booker) and the woman who once voted in favor of withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities (Kirsten Gillibrand) are co-sponsors of Sanders’ bill. Times, indeed, have changed.

Some are not persuaded.

In an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, Clinton repeated attacks on single-payer she made during her primary campaign against Sanders, arguing that more modest measures like a public insurance option or a Medicare buy-in for people 55 and older are more realistic and achievable.

“I don’t know what the particulars are” on Sanders’s latest plan, Clinton said, but added, “He introduced a single-payer bill every year he was in Congress — and when somebody finally read it, he couldn’t explain it and couldn’t really tell people how much it was gonna cost.”

She clarified that she’d support a bill opening up Medicare or Medicaid and cutting prescription drug costs, but cautioned, “I think it’s going to be challenging if within that bill, there are tax increases equivalent to what it would take to pay for single-payer, and if you’re really telling people — about half of the country — that they can no longer have the policies they have through their employer.”

She noted that this issue arose in 1993-94, when she was crafting a health reform plan in the Bill Clinton administration, and she concluded then that the forces arrayed against single-payer, not least of which were the public’s fears about such a program, were insurmountable.

Those forces may have been insurmountable in 1993-1994; there are people who argue that the Clintons themselves blew the opportunity then, but let’s set that aside. I personally think it was insurmountable in 2008; just getting the ACA passed was a massive achievement at the time.

But it’s not 1994 any more. It’s not even 2008 any more.

I’ve long believed that universal health care would become politically viable in the U.S. as soon as a big enough part of the working and middle class in the U.S. realized that they are being screwed by the medical-industrial complex, and I think we’re about there.

When Mike Dukakis talked about health care reform in his presidential bid in 1988, all the Republicans had to do was trot out some hard hat guys with union benefits to talk about the great health coverage they had for a few dollars a month, and why mess with that? But those hard hat guys are harder to find these days.

In 1999, 67 percent of nonelderly Americans were covered by employee insurance. In 2014, that had fallen to 56 percent, as the old-fashioned full-time job with benefits became more and more  elusive in the U.S.  If we include all Americans, less than half are covered by employee benefit insurance now. See also “Let Them See How We Live. Let Them Come.”

People in the U.S. don’t know what solutions are possible because nobody tells them. Sanders’s cardinal sin, according to some, is that he stood up and told people what is possible. Apparently, according to some Democrats, this is not allowed. We are not allowed to speak the name of a thing until we have a fully formed program with all the details ironed out, and even then we must limit ourselves to those programs that are achievable in the near term, under current political conditions. This means Democrats negotiate with themselves until they come up with something that they think Republicans might accept, so that it can be watered down some more before passing.

Under those rules, Hubert Humphrey wouldn’t have been allowed to speak at the 1948 Democratic Convention, and the civil rights plank would have been axed from the platform. Yes, the 2016 Democratic platform has a section about “securing universal health care,” but the verbiage that follows is about protecting the status quo —

Democrats will keep costs down by making premiums more affordable, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, and capping prescription drug costs. And we will fight against insurers trying to impose excessive premium increases.

— and maybe throwing in a few tweaks to existing programs, but it offers nothing that looks anything like genuine universal coverage.

Paul Waldman wrote last week,

Support for some kind of universal coverage is now the consensus position among Democrats. And Sanders’ single payer plan is the one that has gotten the most attention, so it’s going to be the one against which other plans are measured.

But we have to understand this plan for what it really is: an opening bid. While he won’t say so himself, I doubt even Sanders believes that something in this form could pass through Congress. Even so, it represents an important strategic shift for the Democratic Party.

Waldman goes on to say that both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton tended to negotiate with themselves, giving away too much too quickly before negotiations with Republicans even started. On the other hand, Sanders’s Medicare for All asks for everything. It covers everything, without co-pays or deductibles. It even covers abortions. And, as a lot of people have pointed out, such a bill has no chance of passage in Washington now. But a watered-down bill has no chance, either.

Waldman continues,

This bill is being offered in 2017, when there’s a Republican president, a Republican House, and a Republican Senate. It doesn’t have to be realistic. It can be a way of saying, “This is what as Democrats we think a perfect health insurance system would look like.” In that sense, this bill could be extremely useful, since it will communicate the Democratic vision to voters in a way that isn’t too hard to understand. …

… Once the Sanders plan is in wide circulation, if I said, “How about an expansion of Medicaid to become a basic plan for all adults, while private insurance would still exist to offer supplemental coverage?”, you might now say that sounds pretty reasonable. If you did, it would mean that Sanders had effectively widened the debate and made what not long ago would have seemed like radical ideas look like moderate compromises.

Exactly. It tells people what is possible. It’s saying, we can have this, or something like this, if we demand it. We don’t have to put up with the status quo.

To me, one of the biggest mistakes Hillary Clinton made last year was not just to dismiss Sanders’s health care plan as politically untenable, but to compare even asking for universal coverage — which is what most people mean by “single payer” — to believing in unicorns. The widely circulated video of her proclaiming that single payer will “never ever come to pass” damaged her more than she seems willing to admit.

Josh Marshall wrote last week,

Medicare for All is a horizonal demand. It satisfies a basic need and does so by looking beyond the corrupt, meretricious system we now have. The activity of private insurance companies symbolize much that is wrong with contemporary capitalism. You don’t have to be a leftwinger from Park Slope to hate these companies. Believe me: a lot of those people who voted for Trump (whom the liberal elite dismisses as racists and misogynists) hate insurance companies.

While Medicare for All would cause an upheaval in the health insurance markets, it is actually based on expanding a system that works and that has remained intact for over fifty years. It’s incremental in its own way. It is also very easy to understand, while most of the incremental reforms I’ve seen require a degree in healthcare economics to comprehend and rarely seem to apply to “you.”

Unfortunately, a lot of Democrats are still too mired in learned helplessness to stand up for what’s right; see Democrats Against Single Payer by Branko Marcetic at Jacobin. So it’s going to be up to voters to continue to apply pressure on the Democrats to grow a spine. Watch them fold up like cheap lawn chairs as soon as Republicans begin their pushback. Socialized medicine! Higher taxes! Booga booga booga booga!

I say, let the Republicans go to their constituents and tell them no, you can’t have this. We must support the medical-industrial complex. We must support the rights of insurance companies to make lots of money, even if you or your loved ones are cut off from life-saving medical care for the sake of profit. Let the Republicans defend that position. Stop being afraid to stand up for the right thing.

21 thoughts on “You Won’t Get It If You Don’t Ask for It

  1. Barbara, brilliant as always. What has bothered me about the Democrats since this past election (though it has always been a problem) is how Hillary ran her campaign by trying to navigate her way forward by looking in the rear view mirror. Despite the increasing support Sanders is getting for his proposal (the logic behind which you explain excellently) there are still key Democrats, including too many Party leaders, who simply can’t gauge the current political winds.

    I’ve said for a long time that the tone deafness of the Clinton campaign in 2016 was perfectly encapsulated in her lame slogan “I’m With Her” (which I notice is still getting traction among hard core supporters), while trump was clearly stating “I’m with you”. He understood the voters were the important element in that year’s election and not the candidates. This jibes with Ta Nehisi-Coates excellent analysis in his recent Atlantic article which, while being about trump’s “whiteness” campaign also illustrated clearly why his voters were energized.

    Clinton did none of this, instead making it about her and her past as much as her ideas. Democrats can learn this much from trump, put themselves on the side of the voters, speak from the voters’ perspective not the candidates’. Medicare for all or any single payer system can be sold effectively if it is spoken of in real terms as to what it means for you, the voter. “This is why I’m fighting for you!”

    Also, articulating the other side of Medicare for all, i.e. the reality that now you dear citizen don’t have to pay outrageous premiums to get minimal health insurance when you can get actual care at reasonable cost with a combination of modest increases in payroll taxes combined with the monthly premiums Medicare already charges. Plus existing supplemental insurance programs attached to Medicare will still give private insurers a seat at the table, just not all the seats.

    Having just experience a major open heart surgery procedure (4 bypasses and a valve replacement) paid for by Medicare I can speak personally to how Medicare not only saves lives as it saved mine but that is also saved my future. Our retirement would have been gutted had we paid for it ourselves.

    As how to present this I’ve become aware of something that trump does that I’ve not seen anyone mention in analyses of how he speaks. He doesn’t just speak in vague terms that his supporters understand implicitly, he actually speaks in “clickbait”. Clickbait works because it draws attention and holds it. It doesn’t matter that what is actually at the link referenced by the clickbait is either lame or less dramatic, people believe it because they’ve been energized by the grandiose claims already. It’s the grandiosity they remember, not the substance.

    Democrats ought surely be able to harness the effectiveness of that approach by also making sure there is real substance available at the source once the voters are drawn in. This isn’t, after all, rocket science.

    (on a completely unrelated note I saw a quick hit of a guy at the press podium in the WH talking about the response to hurricane Irma and what he said about the victims of the hurricane absolutely floored me. He said something to the effect of “we need to support our customers and consumers” – yes he actually called citizens “customers and consumers”. It went completely unnoticed but was quite revealing as to the extent of the corporate mindset at work in politics these days, and sadly in the Executive Branch)

  2. This is all great. What a terrific platform for 1948! Is “pre-existing conditions” included in medicare for all? Not sure. However, the most egregious piece of health care legislation is in Congress now and needs to be stopped. It is the Cassidy-Graham plan; and, is supposed to be voted on before September 30. Call your Congress critters now.

  3. Well said. I remain hopeful that young people are not frightened by the word, “socialism” and want justice – economic and legal. They will eventually prevail, but how long and at what cost.

  4. As I pointed out on my own blog, the Clintonistas have no business lecturing liberals. They *lost*. They had an almost slam dunk path to the Presidency, and screwed it up with their incrementalist position-papering campaign that had nothing to appeal to anybody who was looking for red meat rather than thousand-page position papers that basically fiddled the edges of the current system.

    Have Democrats learned something? Yeah, they’ve learned that embracing mediocre incrementalist “third way” proposals like Hillary Clinton did is how you lose elections. This is an era where you have to either go big, or go home. Sure, this bill will never make it out of committee. But then, neither did bills allowing gay marriage, the first dozen times they were proposed. Yet today gay marriage is the law of the land, even though everybody was telling gays, “settle for civil unions! Don’t propose something so controversial!”

    Well, it’s not controversial anymore, other than amongst a certain set of inbred white trash cretins who have no power and no ability to do anything about it. As you say, if we never go big, if we never push for our ultimate goal, there’s no way to inspire people to advance even the smaller goals. Go big, or go home, in the end. And I, for one, am glad that one of my Senators, Kamala Harris, is right there in the middle of the fray, proudly going big.

  5. Badtux, “they lost” with 3 million more votes than the president and 4 million more votes than Sanders in the primary. I support Sanders pushing leftward on healthcare, but I think we are all high here if we think Medicare for All would’ve won the election for Clinton. Would it have mitigated the damage of the Comey letter? Would it have stopped the Russian bot campaign against her? Would it have prevented 80,000 white people in three states from voting for an anti-immigrant racist, a message whites found appealing if polls are to be believed? Would the press have been any less viscious on her? Would Bernie have gone out a little less sore when he lost?

    I don’t know. Eother way, I agree that it’s time set the terms of the debate a bit broader than they’ve been set since 1984.

    • Badtux, “they lost” with 3 million more votes than the president and 4 million more votes than Sanders in the primary.

      Clinton won the popular vote in part because, in the closing weeks of the general election campaign, she was blowing campaign resources in uncontested states to do exactly that — run up the popular vote. She was certain she had the Electoral College in the bag and was trying to make Trump look bad. Her winning the popular vote is hardly something to brag about. It’s more an indication of her own bad judgment. See also, How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election. It will save you from having to read her book.

      I support Sanders pushing leftward on healthcare, but I think we are all high here if we think Medicare for All would’ve won the election for Clinton.

      It might have won her the election is she had run on something other than not being Donald Trump. Most voters get most of their information about candidates from television, and if that’s all you went by you would have had no idea what clinton was proposing to do for anybody. Trump is a cheap con man, but at least he made promises. He was going to get factories open and grow jobs; he was going to make sure everybody got health insurance with lower deductibles. Clinton waved her resume around and uttered vague slogans about fighting for children and investing in the middle class. And most of her television adds were negative ads about Trump. I realize she did have concrete proposals, buried on her web site, but most voters had no idea what they were. Thus it was that a lot of voters chose the candidate who promised them something over the one who promised them nothing.

      Would it have mitigated the damage of the Comey letter? Would it have stopped the Russian bot campaign against her?

      No, but against a complete waste of space against Donald Trump, the election shouldn’t have been so close that those things mattered. Really, Clinton’s loss comes down to her being a weak, out-of-touch candidate who made too many campaign mistakes.

      Would it have prevented 80,000 white people in three states from voting for an anti-immigrant racist, a message whites found appealing if polls are to be believed?

      Again, read this. And weep.

      Would the press have been any less viscious on her?

      Television news did a terrible job covering that campaign, as I have complained in the past. Still, a smarter campaign could have overcome that. Clinton left herself open on the email issue by offering shifting excuses over a period of months instead of just coming out with a mea culpa and putting it to rest right off the bat. If she’d gotten some kind of clearance for the private server before she set it up it wouldn’t have been an issue.

      Would Bernie have gone out a little less sore when he lost?

      You mean the guy who endorsed her at the Convention and then went out and campaigned for her? He was a lot more gracious to Clinton than Clinton was to Obama eight years ago. She should have thanked Sanders. It would have helped bring people together. Instead, she bitches about him in a book and now has everyone at each other’s throats on social media again. I have absolutely no use for Hillary Clinton.

  6. Maha, thanks for the response. I disagree with you on Sanders. I appreciate that he campaigned with her after the primary, but he went out pretty damn sore May to July. I mean, Jeff Weaver let everyone know they didn’t care if they hurt her, but I guess Hillary was so bad that I should overlook his disheartening post-California antics. But he was just doing good work influencing the platform, right? I saw a close-to repeat of Kennedy-Carter in real time, but we can disagree.

    And I’m going to go with Nate Silver on the Comey letter and Trump’s ability to get white people to vote as a block (big assist from voter suppression too). In that, I agree he had a broader and larger message that resonated to some extent, but like Silver, am not going to read into it as some members of the Left want to. The idea that the election should have never been close is a conceit I’ve seen little evidence for, especially given modern American history.

    • he went out pretty damn sore May to July.

      Translation: He refused to concede until the Convention so that he could have a say in the platform. I don’t remember any “antics.” If you want “antics,” perhaps review the crap Clinton pulled on Obama in 2008, like attempting to use a technicality to steal the Michigan and Florida delegates from Obama, and attempting to withhold her endorsement in exchange for the vice presidency. I suspect she was promised the Secretary of State job and told she could keep her supporters at the DNC before she endorsed him.

      I saw a close-to repeat of Kennedy-Carter in real time, but we can disagree.

      Carter was a sitting president, and primary challenges of a sitting president are considered damaging. But Clinton was not a sitting president. Why would she presume that status? The POTUS was retiring; the Oval Office chair was wide open. Instead of crabbing that someone had the nerve to primary Her Majesty, you might want to ask why MORE establishment Dems didn’t make a move for the nomination? What happened to make Clinton entitled to the nomination even before primaries began? I have my own answer to that question, but it’s one that isn’t asked nearly enough, and it speaks to what’s wrong with the Democratic Party generally.

      I respect Nate Silver’s analysis that the Comey letter probably pealed enough votes away from Clinton to cost her the election. But you haven’t responded to the ham-handed way Clinton herself handled the email controversy, and you dismiss my comment that the race shouldn’t have been that close as a “conceit.” Against Donald Trump? Please. Just about any other establishment Democrat who ran a reasonable campaign should have slaughtered Trump. It took a spectacularly flawed nominee to lose to him.

  7. “Believe me: a lot of those people who voted for Trump (whom the liberal elite dismisses as racists and misogynists) hate insurance companies.”

    The argument on the left regarding the reasons voters supported Trump is between two camps, one that says they are all bigots who voted for Trump as a fellow bigot, and the other that argues they did so out of economic frustration alone, with no daylight between them. And both are blind to the obvious overlap. The reality is, even the bigoted have bills to pay; they get gouged by the health care industrial complex; they get jacked in various ways as we all do by the 1% and they, just like those on the left, owe it all to the establishments of both parties being ultimately beholden to those moneyed elite that foot the bills to keep them in power, and provide them cushy existences when they aren’t.

    The BIG DIFFERENCE in 2016 was voters on both sides, for various reasons, had reached a point where they were fed up and the status quo wasn’t going to do. The things Trump said early on (which, based on his performance thus far can be deemed lies) that scared the GOP into thinking he wasn’t a “conservative” and couldn’t be trusted — bringing jobs back, better, cheaper more accessible health care, not just protecting but expanding social security, though likely all BS, did align with what Sanders was saying as a democratic socialist no less. Which is why the calculation for some of those ultimately Trump voters was that if Sanders wasn’t in the race, they’d pull the lever for Trump.

    This explains what seemed to be the incredible, that voters who went for Obama twice, could go the other way and pull the lever for a clearly bigoted Trump. Granted, Clinton did “win” the election on sheer numbers of votes, but given what she was starting with — a popular two term president who saved the economy and put it on sound footing, the ACA which turned out to be more popular than ever in the wake of the GOP’s repeal/replace debacle which garnered support in the low twenties, if that, and a majority coalition cobbled together under these policies, Clinton should have won going away. And she would have had she been able to understand the different perspective of the voters and spoke to that. Being the most unpopular presidential candidate in dem history didn’t help, but this also played a role. Running on “I’m not Trump” was not only a loser but emphasized to some voters why they shouldn’t care about that (sadly) in light of what mattered across the spectrum of both left and right.

  8. In September before the election I was in a halfway house in Tampa. I watched what news came up on TV and didn’t have much Internet, same as most low-information voters. Clinton had two or three ads on for every one Trump ran, but Trump was in the news doing rallies. Clinton was doing almost entirely closed fund-raising events out of the public view. Clinton counted the election by counting campaign dollars raised rather than the popular vote in swing states. The key to the popular vote in the swing states was convincing voters you were in the campaign for them. Trump convinced voters he was in it for them because he was already rich. Clinton did everything to show she’s always chasing dollars from big donors.

  9. Maha, I really don’t know what to say about the “ham-handed” way she handled the email controversy. Personally, I think she couldn’t believe it was a controversy and was stupefied by it, especially since her predecessor advised her how to keep email records from disclosure and bore no penalty (advice she didn’t follow). Frankly, I’m not convinced there’s anything she could have done other than deliver that speech she was going to give on it. Do I wish she had? Sure. But it was going to chase her no matter what.

    And I do think it is a conceit to think the Dems were shoo-ins. Americans have a well known historical penchant for flip-flopping parties in the White House. In this hyper-partisan era, I was never confident Republicans wouldn’t come home, especially as someone who has spent their life in red territory. On a another level, outside any analysis, I always feared white backlash to having a black president.

    All that aside, I am happy that Sanders is resetting the terms of the healthcare debate. At some point, we do have to leave the shadow of the 1984 election behind.

  10. Maha, I’ve had the opportunity to do research at numerous facilities, including the Reagan library. It is not uncommon for papers to be a mixture of personal and business. To look at Edwin Meese’s holdings, I had to go through a representative of his first, then the material was culled prior to my going there by archivists. And of course, sometimes public papers can end up at places like the Hoover Institution.

    My point is that Clinton was held to a standard that a great many people aren’t, including her predecessor in office, who advised her on how he avoided disclosure while using a private account for work. Just think about Congressional records, which are just as important as the records of agency officers, but Congress people regularly donate them to non-public institutions or not at all.

    I am not trying to defend Clinton, ideally she would have separated public business from private as you say, but the media did a horrible job putting records retention issues in context. If that was done, I suspect the story would have been a lot more boring.

    • KC — and Clinton herself kept changing her own story about the emails, which didn’t help her any. She handled it badly. Yes, television news in particular did a terrible job covering the email issue, just as they did a terrible job covering the campaigns, period. But that’s been the case for the past several elections.

  11. You and Prof. Navarro have just given me a glimpse of what I vaguely remember as the country I grew up in, and a breath of genuine fresh air, as opposed to the neoliberal garbage we’ve been subjected to 24/7 ever since … well, ever since the Clintons.

    And it does put Obamacare into perspective as the huge achievement it was, despite all its faults.

  12. “What happened to make Clinton entitled to the nomination even before primaries began? I have my own answer to that question, but it’s one that isn’t asked nearly enough, and it speaks to what’s wrong with the Democratic Party generally.”

    Penny for your thoughts. And BTW, I totally agree with what you say in this (4:39) reply.

    • Penny for your thoughts.

      I laid out my grand theory of what happened in this post. What I left out of the earlier post was that since Big Bill left office, seems to me the DNC and the upper echelons of the party seemed to do little else but promote Clinton as the next president, and that didn’t change after Obama took office. I remember a particular event I attended in 2004, during the Kerry-Bush campaigns, and people were lecturing me about how Clinton would be the nominee in 2008, and I was told I had nothing to say about it. Really? Of course, she wasn’t the nominee in 2008, but this whole Ms. Inevitable thing Clinton dragged around since 2000 just got to me. It seems to me the DNC and the leadership of the Democratic Party have been thoroughly co-opted by Clinton sycophants all these years, to the point that they sucked all the air out of the room, so to speak, and she didn’t let any other Democrat have any. Obama left the DNC alone and let the Clinton contingent stay in charge, and I suspect that was a condition of her endorsement in 2008.

      There should have been at least a dozen establishment Democrats putting out feelers for the Democratic nomination in 2015, and at least six to eight show up for the Iowa caucuses. That’s what normally happens when there isn’t an incumbent Democratic president or vice president running for POTUS; see 1992, 2004, 2008. Somehow, Clinton assumed incumbent status in 2016 even though she wasn’t even in office last year. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people bring up how poor Jimmy Carter lost because Kennedy challenged him for the nomination, and that’s why Bernie shouldn’t have challenged Clinton. Whether that’s true about 1980 or not is a debatable point, but Jimmy Carter was an incumbent president; Clinton wasn’t. She was just another politician running for the nomination. She wasn’t entitled to it.

  13. Maha, just reread your grand theory of what happened in 2016, and it made me think of Pelosi recently hedging on supporting single payer. It made me think of Schumer crowing on an open mic like a puppy dog with his master, about how much Trump likes him. And that “victory” he and Pelosi claimed only to have McConnell break the news that its not the victory think it is. It made me think of the dems still leading with a maybe if we be quiet and don’t say anything no one will notice us and some how vote for us. And it made me think of Clinton’s grand pity party tour of selfish irresponsibility, blaming everyone and trashing Sanders, recently polled as the most popular politician on either side of the aisle. All this instead of acknowledging their failure and apologizing to the disaster they played a big part in visiting upon us all.

    And I thought of all that because the one thing that needed to happen, a wiping of the slate of Clintonism and the current class of DNC leadership hasn’t happened. And they seem as entrenched as ever.

    If we don’t get these people out of there Trump will be a two term president.

  14. Maha,

    Thanks, and once again I am in complete agreement. The “inevitability” about Hillary plays in an interesting way against what you say in this piece too: “It tells people what is possible. It’s saying, we can have this, or something like this, if we demand it. We don’t have to put up with the status quo.” According to Hillary, that’s believing in unicorns. In other words, we must accept the inevitable.

    What is all this but an iteration of Maggie Thatcher’s infamous TINA — “There Is No Alternative” ?

  15. Having been born in 1948, I can tell you I read this with a sense of perspective over my entire lifetime. I felt pretty damn good about it, too, because I could see positives coming all along the way. It lifted me up above the daily denigrations of the Donald and let me see that we can improve and that we are coming along. This moment/year is not so hot, but the overall trend looks more hopeful. Thank you.

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