Misreading Data and the Damage Done

Now they tell  us

After Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia primary last week, the national media was ready with an explanation: the white working class.

The New York Times and The Atlantic, for instance, both attributed Sanders’s win to his strength among low-income white workers. “White Working-Class Voters in West Virginia Pick Sanders Over Clinton,” read NPR’s headline.

This trope has become the conventional wisdom in the media, with the Wall Street Journal, the Nation, The Huffington Post, and a host of other outlets (including me at Vox) stating as fact that downscale whites have formed a crucial piece of Sanders’s base.

This interpretation makes for an interesting narrative, but it’s missing the real story. Sanders’s victories aren’t being powered by a groundswell of white working-class support, but instead stem from his most reliable base since the start of the primary: young voters.

This is what  you get when data are broken out in isolation of other data. If you look at income, it looks as if Sanders gets the working class vote. But this is skewed because young people make a lot less money than older people. Older lower-income people prefer Clinton.

If you look at race it seems Clinton owns the “black vote.” But Jeff Stein writes, “several polls have put Sanders ahead of Clinton among young African-Americans; in the Reuters polling data, for instance, Sanders beats Clinton by 25 points among black voters aged 18 to 29.

I bolded that last line because I’m very tired of being told that Sanders is the candidate of privileged white people.

Polls suggests that Clinton does better among women, but all the data I’ve seen says that young women prefer Sanders in even larger percentages than young men prefer Sanders.

The framing of Sanders as the white guys’ candidate has hurt his candidacy, I think, and now it turns out not to be true. It was just everybody not looking carefully enough at the numbers.

I swear, news media these days couldn’t report on making toast.

Dear Democrats: Please Face Reality

Martin Longman writes,

So, what the Sanders campaign really is when you get past the idiosyncrasies of Bernie Sanders, is an expression of dissatisfaction with the status quo and a desire to change the party to meet the needs of the country on a more urgent basis. And the practical way that can be done is by having their voices heard at the convention. To the degree that this ambition is shunted, the progressive conscience of the party is marginalized and frustrated.

The focus shouldn’t be so much on personalities or the worst behavior of the loudest and most annoying people. It should be on the big picture. Young people, in particular, are vastly more attracted to the Sanders message than what is being offered by Clinton. These are potentially Democratic Party members for life, but that isn’t going to happen automatically, and especially not if they feel that their beliefs are unacceptable and have been defeated.

The youth, the committed organizers, the fighters who stood up when no one else would, these are not simple Bernie Bros. or chair-throwers or disloyal Johnny-Come-Latelys. If they are lumped all together, insulted, and told that they are not welcome, that’s going to come with a cost for the Democratic Party that the party won’t want to pay.

Clinton will be the nominee of the Democratic Party, and she wants to win. That means that dealing with this division in the party is her problem. She’s got to figure out the best way to bring the party together. If that means being a bigger person, or if that means making an uncomfortable concession, or if that means adopting or even co-opting some of the Sanders agenda, then those are things she’ll have to consider.

What won’t work is pretending that progressives are all primarily concerned with one individual named Bernie Sanders and that this is all about him.

“The youth, the committed organizers, the fighters who stood up when no one else would, these are not simple Bernie Bros. or chair-throwers or disloyal Johnny-Come-Latelys. If they are lumped all together, insulted, and told that they are not welcome, that’s going to come with a cost for the Democratic Party that the party won’t want to pay.”  This is something I’ve been saying all along.  For the past several years the Democrats have been assuring us that, some day, all the stupid old conservative, bigoted white people will die off and be replaced by younger, more liberal, voters. And then the Dems will be winners!

But now I’m watching the establishment Democrats kiss off a whole generation of voters, telling them to go home and play with their toys and leave politics to the grown ups. Good luck turning those people into Democratic voters in the future, geniuses.

Let’s review:

(Source: “Bernie Sanders Is (Still) the Future of the Democratic Party” by Matt Yglesias.)

I told someone this morning that it’s starting to feel like 1971 again; Sanders supporters are the antiwar movement, and the Democratic Party and its loyalists are the Nixon Administration. What should have been a temporary disagreement is turning into a generation-changing moment that will hurt the Democratic Party for years to come.

Martin Longman suggested also that Clinton herself step up and show some leadership to bring the situation under control:

What I think people should be focused on, and by “people” I mean the folks at the top of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns, is how to mend some fences and get this craziness under control. Precisely because Clinton has this thing wrapped up, she doesn’t need to resort to procedural hardball to squeeze every last delegate out of the process. She needs the votes of Sanders voters in the fall more than she needs a couple more delegates out of Nevada or a disproportionate number of seats on the power committees at the convention.

He had advice for Sanders also; he’s not saying Clinton alone should take action. He wants Sanders to be more forthright in telling his followers to cool it. But then Nancy LeTourneau — and I really like Nancy LeTourneau — argued that it wasn’t fair to expect Hillary Clinton to be magnanimous, because she’s a woman.

So…there is nothing wrong with expecting the winner to be magnanimous. But the truth is, women have been doing that for centuries. We’ve been smiling and taking it because to do otherwise diminishes our ability to reach our goals. When we ask this of Hillary, women all over the country know exactly what that feels like and we risk triggering their ire in response. In this case, what we have is a white male candidate whose supporters claim grievances that are expressed via tantrums and threats. But we place the burden on the woman to reach out and make nice.

Excuse me while I pound my head against a wall for awhile. In the meantime, read Shaun King at the NY Daily News.

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.

What Went Down in Nevada

I’ve had a busy day while trying to grasp what happened yesterday at the Nevada state Democratic convention. Every source I consult is telling a different story. All I know for certain is that the Sanders contingent believe they were steamrollered, and the Clinton people think Sanders supporters are barbarians with bad table manners.

A little background — the state convention is where the Nevada the delegation to the DNC convention is finalized. You might remember that Clinton won the Nevada caucuses back in February, giving her 20 delegates and Sanders 15 delegates. Then in April, Sanders’s supporters took advantage of Clinton delegate no shows at the Clark County convention to increase the number of Sanders supporters Clark County (home of Las Vegas) sent to the state convention, where 12 more delegates would be chosen. This potentially made it possible to flip the state from Clinton to Sanders.

Well, that didn’t happen. Somehow, 56 Sanders delegates (enough to have changed the final vote) to the state convention were stripped of their delegate status. Various reasons were given, the most common being that they couldn’t prove they had registered as Democrats or that they even lived in Nevada. But it’s not clear how those determinations were made. I believe (again, news stories are not consistent on this) that Clinton got seven more delegates and Sanders five.

What went wrong?

Convention Credential Committee Co-Chair Leslie Sexton said 64 Sanders delegates – almost double Sanders’ eventual 33 delegate shortfall – were disqualified for various reasons and not given the opportunity to appeal, The Hill reported.

Sexton initially said she was not allowed to give a report about Sanders’ delegates – for an unspecified reason – but she eventually presented her findings once chants of “recount” and “let her speak” broke out, The Hill reported.

“Contrary to procedures and precedents set by the committee, nearly none of the 64 people were presented with the opportunity to be heard by the committee or to demonstrate that they are registered Democrats,” Sexton said.

“Sanders supporters have accused state party leaders of rigging the process against them, and they objected to procedural votes to approve the rules of the event,” it says here. Sanders people booed Sen. Barbara Boxer when she called for “unity,” and the senator didn’t take it well. Eventually the chair, Roberta Lange, called for an adjournment; according to several accounts she then seconded herself and banged the event to a close. State troopers immediately took over to clear people out of the hall.

This account of events at Real Clear Politics, with lots of videos, is especially damning.

Since I wasn’t there, and there are so many conflicting accounts,  I can’t say who responsible for things getting out of control, but the end result is a lot of anger. Sanders supporters are increasingly certain the entire nominating process has been rigged for Clinton (possibly because it has) and they are increasingly hostile to the Democratic Party.

Way to go, folks.

Is the Democratic Party Sustainable?

Last week I wrote about the way Democratic Party power brokers and insiders decided that Hillary Clinton would be the Dem nominee several months before the primaries began. No “establishment” Democrats challenged her in the primaries for that reason.

A few days later I got into an online conversation with a Dem apologist, who insisted this was not un-democratic because Clinton was the first choice of “the base.” And how do we know what “the base” wanted months before any votes were cast? Polls, he said. Polls of likely Democratic voters taken early in 2015 made her the heavy favorite for the nomination.

Just as polls taken in 2007 before the primaries started also made Clinton the heavy favorite for the nomination in 2008. Oh, wait …

I believe it has been long established that voter polls taken a great many months before serious campaigning even begins are fairly worthless as predictors of the eventual winner, because people are mostly just reacting to name recognition. Once they actually get a good look at all the candidates they often change their minds.

That’s why I’m not too concerned that polls are showing a tight race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in November. Opinion is going to shift around once we move into general election campaign mode. Clinton has huge advantages in the electoral college map, and most news media will want her to win and will give her sympathetic treatment.

However, it does amuse me that now there is reason to be worried about Clinton’s electability against Trump. Last week David Catanese wrote in U.S. News

Then came Tuesday, when a trio of battleground state general election polls dropped into the inboxes of the political intelligentsia with a disorienting thud. Surprise (!) –the numbers showed that despite all the disunity, resistance and hand-wringing, The Donald was competitive with Clinton. The tales of a great blowout were, in fact, blown out of proportion: Quinnipiac University polling placed Trump essentially tied with Clinton in Florida and Pennsylvania and ahead of her in Ohio. Even critics who quibbled the survey’s sampling could not deny these were single-digit, margin-of-error contests.

The icing on top: Trump begins in a marginally better place than Romney did in 2012. At this same point in the race, the former Massachusetts governor was behind President Barack Obama by 8 points in Pennsylvania; Trump is down just 1 point to Clinton. In Ohio, Obama was ahead of Romney by 1 point; Trump leads Clinton by 4. In Florida, Romney led Obama by 1 point; Trump is down by 1 point.

On Tuesday night, as Trump rolled to easy victories as nominee-to-be in the West Virginia and Nebraska primaries, there was Bernie Sanders, the 74-year-old steadfast socialist, scoring another victory against Clinton. The Vermont senator not only won West Virginia — he trampled her in a 15-point rout that marked her biggest drop in support in any state from her 2008 White House bid.

Propelled by rolling cable television coverage — which repeatedly flashed the Quinnipiac numbers on full-screen graphics — and the dizzying Twittersphere — which now had more reason to buzz about Bernie’s staying power — Trump looked like the winner and Clinton, a limp loser.

In the 2008 primaries, when she was running against that black guy, Clinton did very well among white blue-collar men. Now all of a sudden the old Democratic “rust belt” states look vulnerable for Dems, mostly because those white blue-collar men prefer Trump or Sanders. Like this should surprise anybody. But apparently, it did. Abby Phillip writes for the Washington Post that Clinton may have a fight on her hands in what should be reliably “blue” states.

Clinton performed poorly against Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in Democratic primaries in this part of the country — partly because of her past support for free-trade agreements and partly because Sanders’s promises to focus on economic issues and income inequality resonated with voters. Those factors could work against her with Trump, who has criticized her positions on trade and has also found deep appeal among the working class.


Do you remember all the times we were told that not voting for Clinton was a vote for President Trump? A big part of Clinton’s marketing strategy has been that she was the only Democrat running who could beat Trump. The only Clinton television ads I saw here in New York were basically trying to frighten voters with the Trump boogeyman, so you’d better vote for for Hillary. There’s no way to know, but I strongly suspect that Clinton’s margin of victory in many states (like New York) was made up of people who bought that argument.

I should say, who bought that argument that was unfounded on anything like a factual basis. It’s probably the case that among all the Democrats who might have run had the power brokers told them not to, just about any of them would have been a stronger general election candidate against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton will be. It’s also possible that Bernie Sanders would be a stronger general election candidate against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton will be. Poll data certainly says so, although that’s not necessarily proof of anything this far in advance of the general election.

The moral of this story, seems to me, is that rather than allowing a cadre of elites to decide ahead of time who The People want, maybe it’s better to encourage competition and let The People decide for themselves who they want. You end up with a more marketable product in the end. However, the reaction of the DNC seems to be in the opposite direction — let’s eliminate open primaries! We need to be even more isolated and ideologically inbred than we already are! That’s the ticket!

This is so obviously a “change” election. To run a candidate who represents the past, who promises to be pragmatic and not attempt anything radical, is an obvious misstep. Loyal Democrats will vote for her, but independents have already shown they’d prefer somebody else. And while Clinton currently looks weak against Trump, if the GOP had gotten its act together and nominated a more “establishment” Republican, I doubt she’d have any chance at all. Given a contest of two candidates both promising to not do anything, it would come down to a likeability contest. Cough.

A few days ago David Atkins wrote at Washington Monthly that the Democratic Party elites (including news media elites) have now decided voters aren’t really angry about economic unfairness after all.

There is a growing amount of contrarian analysis these days suggesting that Americans really aren’t so angry about the economy after all, that what appears to be economic populism is really just a cover for racism, sexism or other cultural issues, and that ultimately the only thing the majority of voters really want is a stable technocrat who will keep the good times rolling while fixing some social issues….

…In most cases, these writers are trying to use broad quantitative data about economic satisfaction to explain away what seems to be obvious on its face, which is that Sanders and Trump are both running economic populist campaigns that have resonated deeply with large and different sections of the electorate. The corollary to this argument is that it’s not economics but raw racism that is driving Trump’s success, and that Sanders’ success is a factor less of economic anger than some combination of sexism and cult of personality.

I think that most Clinton supporters sincerely believe this. They believe they can ignore Sanders’s popularity because it’s just sexism, or a fad. They don’t have to listen to what his supporters actually are saying (although, to be honest, a lot of them aren’t saying it very well) because they’ll get over it once Hillary Clinton is president and they see how awesome she is.

To believe these things, of course, you would have to assume that voters aren’t actually being inspired by the rhetoric and policy positions of Sanders and Trump but by other factors they’re subtly tapping into. You would have to ignore most of the actual reasons given in interviews and focus groups by Sanders and Trump voters for why they support their candidates. You would have to ignore what they actually say in media comments sections and at various political forums.

You would, in essence, have to ignore all the qualitative data in front of you showing what people say in their own words, in favor of polling data about their generic feelings about the economy or their own current personal economic situation.

So, basically, opposition to Clinton / support for Trump is being attributed to bigotry, and all the other reasons are being swept under a big, expensive rug, as far as the elites are concerned.

I still (although sadly) expect Clinton to be the nominee, and I still expect her to win. As I said, her advantages will be that (a) Trump is an odious oaf, and (b) most news media will prefer her to him and will treat her sympathetically. Women and minorities will turn out to vote down Trump in epic numbers.

But the question I initially asked is, is the Democratic Party sustainable? How long can it continue to be this oblivious to reality and still function?

I have more to say on this, but will continue later …

Update: See also This is one weak nominee: Hillary Clinton’s problem isn’t Bernie Sanders. It’s Hillary Clinton

The Democratic Nomination: What’s Likely to Happen Next

We’re entering the final weeks of the primary season. Let’s review how we got to where we are now on the Democratic side, and then project from that what’s likely to happen next.

As I wrote in this post, we know that Hillary Clinton had won the “invisible primary” by about March of 2015, if not sooner. Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg News on March 12, 2015, said,

Clinton has (apparently) won the nomination fair and square, through hard work and political talent. That is why she has earned the support of the bulk of Democratic party actors, and gained the acquiescence of other Democrats who aren’t as enthusiastic about her.

So all those perfectly viable other candidates either dropped out or never seriously considered the race. Had Clinton chosen not to run, plenty of the others would have jumped in, and the field would have been comparable to what the Republicans have put together.

If you are sputtering but that was over a year ago, well, yes. As far as the power brokers on the Democratic side were concerned, Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, and they had decided this by March 2015. This is why her only challengers were party outsiders, in one way or another. The other insiders were discouraged from even trying. See also Ezra Klein at Vox.  For more details on how she managed to win the nomination before the primaries even started, see “Hillary Clinton Is the George W. Bush of 2016” (published February 2015).

The next thing that happened was the Hillary Victory Fund.  This joint fundraising instrument essentially makes the DNC and 33 state Democratic parties extensions of the Clinton campaign, which is why such funds usually aren’t set up until the nominee is determined. It says something about the mindset of DNC insiders that it didn’t occur to them to wait.  Clinton already was the nominee, as far as they were concerned; it had been arranged that there would be no serious competition. The HVF was receiving donations by September 2015.

Note that so far the bulk of the money collected has been spent on Clinton’s campaign, and not on down-ticket candidates as promised. The latest excuse I heard is that this was the plan all along, and the money will start flowing to the states for the general elections.

IMO the significance of the HVF cannot be overstated. Alex Seitz-Wald wrote a couple of days ago,

Clinton will have extraordinary leverage to remake the party as she fits, thanks to the $46 million her joint Victory Fund has raised for the DNC and state Democratic parties.

That money, which makes up a significant portion of the DNC’s incoming cash flow each month, has helped keep the cash-strapped party solvent.

If Clinton’s campaign ends, so does the money supply. She has bought the DNC, in other words.

Seitz-Wald writes that Bernie Sanders’s refusal to withdraw from the primary competition is causing major headaches for Clinton and the DNC. The procedure is for the nominee to assume control of the DNC before the convention begins. Sanders says he will not concede before the convention, however. Seitz-Wald continues,

The delay is a nuisance for now, Democrats say. But it would be a catastrophe if they waited until after after the Democratic National Convention, which is the earliest Sanders says he’ll withdraw.

So the DNC and the Clinton campaign will have to execute the merger earlier, with one candidate still in the race and potentially over his fierce objections. But the clock is ticking on the general election, and Democrats are eyeing the day after the California primary as a likely time to end this.

Clinton is not projected to have enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination by the day after the California primary — which would be June 8 — but by then she’s almost certain to have the necessary 2,383 delegates if the superdelegates are counted also. They aren’t supposed to count until the convention, but that’s going to be declared a mere technicality. The DNC will want to make Clinton the official  nominee, somehow, on June 8. News media will go along.

What happens next? If Clinton and her powerbroker supporters are smart, they’ll offer Sanders input into the platform, a prime-time speaking slot, choice Senate committee positions, etc.  Depending on how far he trails behind Clinton at that point, I wouldn’t blame him if he took those offers. I don’t know that he would, of course.

The other possibility is that Clinton, the DNC and her powerbrokers might just steamroller Sanders and proceed to the convention as if he didn’t exist. Considering that Clinton owns the DNC you can be certain she’s going to get the nomination on the first ballot, no matter what.

I see Sanders supporters on social media who hope the convention will work in Sanders’s favor, somehow, and that Clinton delegates will see reason and switch to Sanders. Barring some really incredible event that I can’t even imagine, this is not going to happen.

During a radio interview with John Catsimatidis, Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, laid out his vision for how the convention would play out.

“I think it’s gonna be a great convention, but of course the key to it is the Sanders people. Bernie’s gonna have his name placed in nomination; we’re gonna have a roll call; there’s gonna be a demonstration in support of Bernie; he’s gonna lose the roll call,” he said. “His supporters have to behave and not cause trouble. And I think they will, and I think Sen. Sanders will send them a strong message.”

At this point Sanders may not be in it to win it; he’s hanging in as long as he can to demonstrate the nomination was rigged all along. Last week he publicly complained that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is stacking the rules committees with Clinton operatives.

Under party rules, Wasserman Schultz recommends 25 at-large appointments to the party’s executive committee for each of the three standing committees; rules, platform and credentials. Wasserman Schultz has forwarded only three of 40 names the Sanders campaign recommended for the key committees while installing Clinton loyalists in leading roles. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was put in charge of the Platform Committee, for example, and former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts was tapped to head the Rules Committee.

Sanders called Malloy and Frank “aggressive attack surrogates” for Clinton. He doubted that either would “conduct committee proceeding in an even-handed manner” and said the appointments of the two Clinton loyalists “suggests the standing committees are being established in an overtly partisan way meant to exclude the input of the voters who have supported my candidacy.”

The truth is that the Sanders phenomenon was not something Clinton and the DNC had planned for. The primaries were supposed to be just for show; the conclusion had already been determined. Sanders literally crashed the party. And now the bouncers are about to toss him out.

And as much as everybody is going to pretend everything is fine, it’s going to get very messy.

The Question Nobody Asks

John Kasich is supposed to be dropping out of the race any minute, which means Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. There is no reasonable way for the Republican establishment to choose someone else now, however much they may want to.

(Just to show how screwed the Republicans are, see John French argue in National Review that Trump really isn’t a better choice for President than Clinton. Or, at least, one is as bad as the other. In National Review, mind you.)

The irony is that people had been predicting a contested convention for the GOP, but it looks as if it’s the Dems who will not have an official nominee when the gavel opens their convention. However, I have no doubt Clinton will have the nomination in the first round of voting, barring some unforeseen catastrophe that causes a massive shift in public opinion between now and then. Possibly even that wouldn’t change much.

But I want to get to the question nobody asks. Here it is not being asked by Josh Marshall — someone wrote to him, saying,

I’m a little late to the party on the Sanders comments, but I think one additional perspective on the current state of affairs is missing: Sanders’ entire campaign was made possible by the fact that Hillary essentially cleared the playing field for him prior to the primary season getting started. O’Malley was never a serious contender, which left the entire “not-Hillary” space to Sanders. Given all of the Democrats out there that have misgivings about her (you included), the default vehicle for channeling their disenchantment was to feel the Bern.

To which Josh replied,

As TPM Reader JR noted in his last email, a big part of Sanders success was based on the face that Clinton so effectively cleared the field of other candidates. Once it was just the two of them, he was going to do pretty well. But that doesn’t explain the scope of his victories. Some of this is just the left-wing of the Democratic party which is always there. But the heavy weight of young voters supporting Sanders is a genuinely new thing under the sun. Sanders has managed to garner a huge amount of support for a range of policies and basic perspectives about market economies that would have seemed anathema to most Democrats or at least politically fatal only a few years ago.

I agree with this, yet the question was not asked — how did Hillary clear the field prior to the primary season getting started?

We know some of it was Debbie Wasserman-Schultz denying exposure to the challengers by scheduling few pre-primary debates and putting those on at weird times no one would be watching. The Hillary Victory Fund scam also has the effect of corrupting the primary process by making 33 state Democratic parties (even though they are being screwed now) and the DNC financially dependent on a successful Clinton campaign. But the bigger question nobody asks is how did Hillary become the only establishment candidate?

Think about it. It’s been obvious for four years — eight, really — that there would be an open seat in the White House in 2016. And it’s been obvious for about that long that the Republicans were not going to have a reasonably challenging candidate. Given that every politician in Washington must at least occasionally fantasize about being POTUS, how come the only candidates to step up and challenge Hillary Clinton were outsiders?

Doesn’t that strike you as odd?

The only time a non-incumbent Democrat has had so little presidential primary competition in my memory was 2000, when the only serious challenger to Al Gore was Bill Bradley. I don’t remember asking the question then, either, but the Dems seemed at tad demoralized at the time. I could understand not wanting to run against an aggressive and organized Right. But there’s no reason for them to be demoralized now.

There’s a big sentiment out there that this year was Hillary Clinton’s turn. But how did that happen? In 2000 Al Gore was the sitting vice president, and sitting vice presidents are often assumed to be POTUS candidates unless the POTUS really screws up.

It might have been argued that it is now Joe Biden’s turn, which he chose not to take. But I don’t see a logical argument that a former Secretary of State gets a turn.

I looked it up. The last former Secretary of State who was elected president was James Buchanan. That was 160 years ago. Buchanan was a really awful President, but perhaps that had nothing to do with his being a former Secretary of State.

So, how did it get to be Hillary Clinton’s turn?

There’s been kind of a whispering campaign that’s been going on since 2000 that someday Hillary Clinton would be POTUS, and that the only reason she ran for Senator was to make it a springboard for running to the White House. And the whisperers — in politics and in media –  have been saying she’s the inevitable candidate ever since. And I guess a lot of people just bought into that; you hear something often enough, it gets to be Revealed Truth.  I don’t see any other earthly reason for such widespread public acceptance of her almighty inevitability.

And here we are. I agree with Josh Marshall’s letter that a lot of the support that coalesced around Sanders initially was anti-Clinton sentiment — he seemed to be the strongest candidate who was Not Hillary. I also agree with Josh that Sanders turned out to be a lot more than the not-Clinton candidate; people really warmed to his positions. He has been calling out loud for things that Democrats dared not hope for just a short time ago.

More conservative and pro-establishment Democrats have frantically been waving the visage of Trump at us to get us into line. And I think a lot of people bought that, too. Hillary seems to be the safer candidate against a slate of right-wing crazies, so we’d better vote for her in the primaries or we’ll get Donald Trump. This writer says she knows people who voted for Clinton only for that reason, even though they sorta kinda preferred Bernie. If Trump had not been the nominee, Clinton and the Dems would have been in trouble. But now that he is they may be secretly relieved.

But had Clinton not been the only establishment Democrat in the race, I don’t think she would have had a chance to sell herself as the Trump-slayer. Any establishment Dem would have done as well. Certainly Joe Biden also would have been a credible threat to Trump. John Kerry is the current Secretary of State and would have been a respectable, if not terribly interesting, candidate.

One of the jobs of a party is to identify and promote good candidates for office so that they are well known, and well thought of, before the elections begin.  But this is something the current Democratic Party does not do well at all, and not just at the presidential level. They suck at identifying and supporting congressional and state-level candidates also. It’s why the Republicans run things.

Reason magazine was asking a year ago where are all the Democratic presidential candidates?  “Vox.com claims Clinton remains the only serious potential candidate on the Democrat side because she’s ‘crushing the opposition.’ Or she could be sucking all the air out of the room, preventing anyone else from lighting a match,” this article says.

What opposition? Ezra Klein wrote in March 2015:

Jonathan Bernstein and Reihan Salam have written two smart articles on the Democratic presidential primary — or lack thereof — that are best read in tandem. Bernstein’s article is meant to explain why it looks like Democrats don’t have a bench even though they do, and Salam’s article is meant to show who’s sitting on it.

Bernstein’s argument is related to the “invisible primary” theory of presidential elections. Hillary Clinton, he says, “has earned the support of the bulk of Democratic party actors, and gained the acquiescence of other Democrats who aren’t as enthusiastic about her.” The result is that the Democratic Party’s “perfectly viable other candidates either dropped out or never seriously considered the race.”

Perhaps a slightly clearer way to put it is this: in the invisible primary, when the contest is as much a draft as it is a campaign, Clinton is “opposed” by essentially every Democrat fit for the presidency. If the party’s powerbrokers didn’t want to support Clinton and instead really wanted Sen. Michael Bennet to run, or Gov. Andrew Cuomo to lead the field, they would be working toward that outcome. Instead, they’re lining up behind Clinton. In this telling, Clinton isn’t winning by default. She’s winning by winning. The absence of competition is the product of Clinton’s strong, successful campaign to win over Democratic Party elites.

Ezra also had polls saying that people viewed her favorably, but polls that far ahead of an actual election make very bad predictors of anything, I understand. The fact that so many people seized upon the only remotely viable not-Hillary candidate tells us something that those polls missed.

Jonathan Bernstein actually wrote in March 2015,

Clinton has (apparently) won the nomination fair and square, through hard work and political talent.

Get that — she won the nomination fair and square months before the primaries began.

That is why she has earned the support of the bulk of Democratic party actors, and gained the acquiescence of other Democrats who aren’t as enthusiastic about her.

So all those perfectly viable other candidates either dropped out or never seriously considered the race. Had Clinton chosen not to run, plenty of the others would have jumped in, and the field would have been comparable to what the Republicans have put together.

When Clinton has a bad week — and during a multiyear campaign, everyone has bad weeks — pundits will look around for something or someone to blame. But there are going to be many weeks in the next year when Republicans are squabbling, and commentators are going to talk about how lucky the Democrats are for avoiding a contested primary.

Ha. Shows what you know, Jonathan Bernstein.

The problem is, of course. that Democratic Party elites have their heads up their ass and are largely insulated from the issues a lot of us are facing. Thomas Frank — and I don’t always agree with Thomas Frank, but I do here — writes of the Democratic Party establishment,

Cool contentment is the governing emotion in these circles. What they have in mind for 2016 is what we might call a campaign of militant complacency. They are dissociated from the mood of the nation, and they do not care.

I mean this in ways both great and small. The party’s leadership is largely drawn from a satisfied cohort that has done quite well in the aftermath of the Great Recession. They’ve got a good thing going. Convinced that the country’s ongoing demographic shifts will bring Democratic victory for years to come, they seem to believe the party’s candidates need do nothing differently to harvest future electoral bumper crops. The seeds are already planted. All that is required is patience.

Hillary Clinton is more or less openly offering herself as the complacency candidate. The least inspiring frontrunner in many years, she is a dynastic heir who stands to receive the Democratic nomination largely because it’s her turn – the logic that made Bob Dole the GOP leader in 1996. …  Clinton’s unofficial slogan, “America never stopped being great” — supposedly a searing riposte to Trump’s “make America great again” – sounds like the kind of thing you’d see inscribed in a country club logo. In her words, we can hear the call of contentment, a would-be catchphrase for a generation of satisfied people.

Andrew O’Hehir has been arguing for months that both parties are splitting apart; it’s just happening more slowly on the Democratic side. The Democratic elite thought they were being smart by putting all their eggs in one basket, so to speak. Instead of giving a platform to a slate of candidates, the party tried to give us a single prepackaged candidate. This would have been a bigger marketing fiasco than New Coke were it not for the fact that the Republicans were imploding.

If Hillary Clinton becomes the next POTUS, she’ll have Donald Trump to thank.

Meanwhile, the young progressive folks who are the Dem Party’s hope are convinced that the Dems are hopelessly corrupt, that they rigged the primaries in favor of Clinton, and that neither party has anything to offer them.  Way to go, DNC.

Politico Does the Reporting Job on the Hillary Victory Fund That Rachel Maddow Wouldn’t Do

Politico, of all creatures, actually did an analysis of the Hillary Victory Fund and reached the same conclusion I did.

In the days before Hillary Clinton launched an unprecedented big-money fundraising vehicle with state parties last summer, she vowed “to rebuild our party from the ground up,” proclaiming “when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

I believe this is based on the end-of-March filing and not the one due recently. At the end of March, the HVF had taken in $60,568,530 , according to Open Secrets. I hope they follow up when they can analyze the April data.

I’ve been flogging this story for awhile, even though it barely qualifies as a “story” since it’s gotten no traction in news media. It has been obvious that something really underhanded has been going on with the Hillary Victory Fund, but nobody wants to notice.

I haven’t watched Maddow’s show for awhile, in large part since I haven’t had regular access to a television for awhile. But I was never so disappointed with her as when she brushed allegations about the Hillary Victory Fund aside without even looking at what was going on. I wrote about this here.

Here’s something I did not know. Politico reports,

The victory fund has transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, but almost all of that cash ($3.3 million, or 88 percent) was quickly transferred to the DNC, usually within a day or two, by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee, POLITICO’s analysis of the FEC records found.

Maddow was too complacent to even just look at public reports. This was not exactly like meeting Deep Throat in the parking garage. Just look at the public record.

By contrast, the victory fund has transferred $15.4 million to Clinton’s campaign and $5.7 million to the DNC, which will work closely with Clinton’s campaign if and when she becomes the party’s nominee. And most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone towards expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for “salary and overhead” and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion.

The Sanders campaign complained about the latter, and news media told him to shut up.

But it is perhaps more notable that the arrangement has prompted concerns among some participating state party officials and their allies. They grumble privately that Clinton is merely using them to subsidize her own operation, while her allies overstate her support for their parties and knock Sanders for not doing enough to help the party.

“It’s a one-sided benefit,” said an official with one participating state party. The official, like those with several other state parties, declined to talk about the arrangement on the record for fear of drawing the ire of the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Hillary and Debbie must be keeping everybody’s grandmothers hostage in their basements. Everyone on the Democratic side is terrified of them.

Some fundraisers who work for state parties predict that the arrangement could actually hurt participating state parties. They worry that participating states that aren’t presidential battlegrounds and lack competitive Senate races could see very little return investment from the DNC or Clinton’s campaign, and are essentially acting as money laundering conduits for them. And for party committees in contested states, there’s another risk: they might find themselves unable to accept cash from rich donors whose checks to the victory fund counted towards their $10,000 donation limit to the state party in question — even if that party never got to spend the cash because it was transferred to the DNC.

Money laundering. Thank you.

Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for Clinton’s campaign, suggested that a handful of key state parties last month received another $700,000 in transfers from the victory fund, and enjoyed other benefits from it that will be detailed in subsequent FEC reports. (The latest reports only cover through the end of March.)…

… But Schwerin did not respond to follow-up questions about how much of the $700,000 in victory fund transfers to the state parties was subsequently transferred to the DNC.

It’s also a shell game. They keep moving money around and everybody gets dizzy and loses track of where it is.

Sanders’ campaign late last year signed a joint fundraising agreement with the DNC, but the committee has been largely inactive. Instead, after Sanders was chided by Clinton allies for not helping down-ballot Democrats, he sent out appeals to his vaunted email list that helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a trio of progressive House candidates, who got to keep all the cash.

The Hillary Victory Fund, by contrast, allows the Clinton campaign to maintain tight control over the cash it raises and spends.

The article goes on to describe how the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon vs. FEC (2014) made this operation possible. It goes way beyond the fundraising apparatus of any previous presidential campaign. But I’ll skip over that part for now.

According to the agreements signed by the participating committees, which were obtained by POLITICO, the money is required to be distributed, at least initially, based on a formula set forth in joint fundraising agreements signed by the participants. The first $2,700 goes to Clinton campaign, the next $33,400 goes to the DNC, and any remaining funds are to be distributed among the state parties.

But what happens to the cash after that initial distribution is left almost entirely to the discretion of the Clinton campaign. Its chief operating officer Beth Jones is the treasurer of the victory fund. And FEC filings show that within a day of most transfers from the victory fund to the state parties, identical sums were transferred from the state party accounts to the DNC, which Sanders’ supporters have accused of functioning as an adjunct of the Clinton campaign.

This scheme was in the works for a long time before the primaries started. Isn’t it odd that, in a year in which the Oval Office contained an open seat and the Republicans were expected to be in disarray, no “insider” Democrats stepped up to challenge Hillary Clinton? What are the odds, given that probably every politician in Washington has at least entertained fantasies of being POTUS? It’s as if they all got threats, in plain envelopes slipped under the office door — Nice grandma you have there …

For example, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party received $43,500 from the victory fund on Nov. 2, only to transfer the same amount to the DNC that same day. The pattern repeated itself after the Minnesota party received transfers from the victory fund of $20,600 on Dec. 1 (the party sent the same amount to the DNC the next day) and $150,000 on Jan. 4 (it transferred the same amount to the DNC that day).

That means that Minnesota’s net gain from its participation in the victory fund was precisely $0 through the end of March. Meanwhile, the DNC pocketed an extra $214,100 in cash routed through Minnesota — much of which the DNC wouldn’t have been able to accept directly, since it came from donors who had mostly had already maxed out to the national party committee.

A similar pattern transpired with most of the participating state parties. As of March 31, only eight state parties (most of which were in battleground states such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia) had received more from the victory fund than was transferred from their accounts to the DNC.

This is the kind of analysis I couldn’t do myself, and it tells us that the Hillary Victory Fund is an even bigger scam than I thought it was.

Another area in which critics contend the Hillary Victory Fund appears to be pushing the bounds of joint fundraising is in its online advertising campaign, which has included many ads urging readers to “Stop Trump” or to support Clinton.

While joint fundraising committees are allowed to pay for ads as part of their fundraising efforts, they are forbidden from funding campaign advertising urging voters to vote for or against specific candidates. Those types of ads qualify as electioneering expenses that are supposed to be paid for directly by the campaign or by party committees.

Nice bit of line-blurring, there. The Clinton people say these ads are for fundraising purposes, not Clinton campaign purposes. Here’s a page full of those online ads. You be the judge.

Those victory fund ads, as well as a direct mail campaign funded by the same committee, “appear to benefit only [the Clinton campaign] by generating low-dollar contributions that flow only to HFA, rather than to the DNC or any of the participating state party committees,” charged Sanders’ campaign lawyer in an open letter sent to the DNC in April. It alleged that the victory fund was essentially a pass-through to allow Clinton to benefit from contributions that far exceed the amount that her campaign could legally accept.

In a news release accompanying the letter, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver argued “it is unprecedented for the DNC to allow a joint committee to be exploited to the benefit of one candidate in the midst of a contested nominating contest.”

Typically, the Clinton campaign responded by calling any criticism of The Empress Hillary out of bounds.

Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook called the letter a “shameful” and “irresponsible” fundraising ploy, and urged Sanders to “think about what he can do to help the party he is seeking to lead.”

Nice bit of misdirection there, and every bobblehead on television fell for it.

The Great Democratic Party Schism

In all my years of being a voter I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alienated from the Democratic Party as I do now. In some ways, this year has been worse than 2008.

It has struck me for some time that the Clinton and Sanders supporters are not only disagreeing; we’re speaking different languages. We’re approaching the campaign with entirely different sets of assumptions and values. For this reason, it has been impossible to communicate with each other.

And, frankly, I don’t think this is some temporary blow-up that will be soothed over by Fall, for next year, or ever.

I already tried to explain some of this rift through Moral Foundation Theory (“The Clinton-Sanders Divide and Moral Foundation Theory“) without realizing that real social science types had done a more researched analysis already. See “The Moral Foundations of the Presidential Primaries.” There’s also a somewhat dumbed-down version of this with less detail at Vox.

If you don’t remember Moral Foundation Theory, it basically is an analysis of the moral values and assumptions we carry around in our subconscious that causes us to make the political and moral judgments that we make. If you want to understand how Sanders and Clinton supporters differ, see this chart:

The colored bars that show positive or negative values represent six moral foundations, and you can see a stark difference between the two groups. An explanation of the colored bars, left to right:

  • Blue: Care/Harm — Being kind, nurturing and protective of other people.
  • Green: Fairness/Cheating, or Proportionality/”just deserts” — Treating people in proportion to their actions. The authors of the study say that in this case, “Sanders supporters also stands apart from Clinton’s supporters (and libertarians), in rating proportionality much less relevant to their moral judgments. This aligns with Sanders’ proposing greater expansions of government social welfare programs and higher taxes on the wealthy in comparison to Clinton.”
  • Orange: Liberty/Oppression — Individual liberty and protection from tyranny.
  • Red: Loyalty/Betrayal — Being patriotic and loyal to one’s group, family and nation.
  • Purple: Authority/Subversion — Respecting leadership, tradition and authority.
  • Gray: Sanctity/Degradation — Living in an elevated way and avoiding disgusting things, foods and actions; placing a high value on “traditional” sexual mores, for example.

In most Moral Foundations texts I’ve read, these six values also measure liberalism/conservatism, as shown on this graph:

The graph leaves out the “liberty” value for some reason, but you get the picture — liberals and conservatives value different things. And Clinton supporters appear to be more conservative, as a group, than Sanders supporters.

In particular the difference shown in the red, purple and gray bars has been really evident. Clinton supporters place much higher value on loyalty to the Democratic Party and to their candidate than Sanders supporters. I keep hearing Clinton supporters say of Sanders  “He’s not a real Democrat,” as if this was a trump card; but to Sanders supporters this is meaningless. Recently Clinton supporters have been shocked because Sanders has not been immediately forthcoming with an endorsement of Clinton, never mind that the primaries aren’t over. Clinton supporters also score much higher in authoritarianism and “sanctity” than Sanders supporters (although not nearly as high as most Republicans).

Reaction to this video reveals a lot. It’s like a Rorschach test. Sanders supporters (like me) basically heard Clinton brush us off as inconsequential maggots unworthy of her consideration. Clinton supporters were furious that Sanders is not jumping through the usual party loyalty hoops. But, as I’ve explained elsewhere, even if he did endorse Clinton that’s no guarantee his supporters would transfer their support to her. See above about authoritarianism; Sanders supporters aren’t wired that way.

And somewhere in here we might find the answer to the mystery of why African American voters so heavily favored Hillary Clinton, which makes absolutely no sense to me given her record. I’ve yet to hear an explanation that made sense, other than that black voters don’t think Sanders is electable. My hypothesis is that African Americans on the whole score more conservatively on the Moral Foundations scale, which would make them predisposed to favor Clinton, but I don’t know that for a fact.

But here is another chart to consider:

I picked this up from “Bernie Sanders Is (Still) the Future of the Democratic Party” by Matt Yglesias. The Clinton campaign has been trying — fairly successfully — to frame the Democratic contest as between white men and everybody else. But that’s a plain lie. It’s between younger voters and older voters. This data is from February; I understand that in the more recent primaries Sanders’s numbers have improved among young nonwhite voters to be at about the 50 percent mark.

And I say Democrats ignore this at their peril.

Much of Sanders’s support grew out of a long-simmering frustration with the Democratic Party itself. But a lot of us old folks stuck with it, because we remember what it used to be. (See “Why the Democratic Party Is in Bigger Trouble Than It Realizes.”) But the young folks don’t remember JFK or even Jimmy Carter. They are frustrated that neither party represents their point of view.

Quoting Matt Yglesias,

Hillary Clinton’s campaign — and, frankly, many DC journalists — has been repeatedly taken by surprise by the potency of some of Sanders’s attacks, because they apply to such a broad swath of the party. But this is precisely the point. Sanders and his youthful supporters want the Democrats to be a different kind of party: a more ideological, more left-wing one.

As Clinton put it in the most recent debate, “Under [Sanders’s] definition, President Obama is not progressive because he took donations from Wall Street; Vice President Biden is not progressive because he supported Keystone [the pipeline]; Sen. Shaheen is not progressive because she supports the trade pact. Even the late, great Sen. Paul Wellstone would not fit this definition because he voted for DOMA.”

To Clinton, Democrats are the party of progressives, and so stuff that Democrats routinely do is, by definition, compatible with being progressive.

But though Democrats are certainly the more left-wing of the two parties — the party of labor unions and environment groups and feminist organizations and the civil rights movement — they’re not an ideologically left-wing party in the same way that Republicans are an ideological conservative one. Instead, they behave more like a centrist, interest group brokerage party that seeks to mediate between the claims and concerns of left-wing activists groups and those of important members of the business community — especially industries like finance, Hollywood, and tech that are based in liberal coastal states and whose executives generally espouse a progressive outlook on cultural change.

Sanders’s core proposition, separate from the details of the political revolution, is that for progressives to win they need to first organize and dominate an ideologically left-wing political party that is counterpoised to the ideological right-wing Republican Party.

It’s gotten so that when we use the words liberal and progressive we don’t mean the same things by them.  As Yglesias says, the more conservative Clinton supporters consider themselves to be “liberal” because they are Democrats, as if “Democrat” and “liberal” were synonyms, even though they might score as centrist or conservative on the Moral Foundation measure. In their minds, electing Hillary Clinton would be “revolutionary” and “progressive” because she’s a woman, never mind that she’s the insider’s insider and the Queen of the establishment.  To them, because they are liberal on social issues they are completely progressive, even if they are utterly unconcerned about income and wealth inequality and wouldn’t know Thomas Piketty from Tyler Perry.

Jeffrey Feldman thinks that the biggest cause of the Great Schism is class consciousness. I’m not sure it was really the healthcare debate that created this shift, but here is what he says:

some version of economic class consciousness began sweeping through the Democratic Party in that debate on healthcare. That debate from 2009 focused people on the idea that policy was controlled by an elite class that has emerged in the neoliberal global economy. In prior class consciousness debates, this elite class might just have been called “capitalists,” but in the post-2009 version, it has become associated with something called the “Davos crowd” or just “Davos,” meaning: the group of powerful, wealthy, jet-setters who attend the Swiss economic summit and others like it, who believe in the free market ideology of globalized neoliberalism, and who are able to command virtually unlimited resources.

These figures exist in both parties. The healthcare debate, however, led many in the Democratic Party to rethink the basic dualism of the American political landscape. It was in that 2009 healthcare debate that many Democrats began to see themselves as engaged in a battle more urgent than the thousand year struggle against Republicans: a battle against the Davos crowd for control of “our” party.

What happened in this Presidential primary between Sanders and Clinton is that the dynamic of the single issue debate–which led to new awareness of intra-party struggle in 2009–was elevated to a much broader debate by refocusing on the financial sector as a whole.
Now, more and more people underwent the same transformation because the arguments about the control of big finance over politics and government seemed clearer or more convincing. This was coupled with the clearest contrast to date of this kind of problem being described since 2009: a top tier candidate who went from having Middle Class wealth to having money on part with the Davis crowd almost entirely by accumulating honoraria from the Davos crowd. And this clear example gave Sanders a unique power in the Democratic Party: his explaining the problem in the Party–which journalists had been pointing out–suddenly had the power to reach a vast audience via an ongoing national campaign–and to turn him into a transformative figure.

In my experience, this issue with global corporatism or predatory capitalism or the “Davos crowd” or whatever you want to call it is not on the radar of most Clinton supporters at all. I never see them address it. They’re stuck in thinking about technocratic answers to particular problems, not about any sort of sweeping change to the status quo.  They’re in love with the word “pragmatism,” which in effect means ignoring the big problems while focusing on tweaking the little ones. And, unfortunately, a lot of the Sanders supporters on social media do not articulate this well beyond calling Clinton names like “corporate whore,” which really isn’t that accurate. So there’s no real exchange of concerns, just name-calling.

A lot of what’s happening in this primary season is the result of the abandonment by both parties of working-class Americans. Even more than that, it’s the abandonment by both parties of youth. All the meanness and greed and tight-fistedness and corporate-centric values are hitting them hardest of all. In today’s America, young people are a resource to be exploited, not invested in. And among the student loans, unpaid internships, disappearance of blue-collar jobs, on-demand and other insecure and exploitative employment, they are feeling the effects of global corporatism/predatory capitalism more intensely than us old folks.

And, rightly, they’re getting pissed. Sanders gets them. Clinton doesn’t. They know that all they’re going to get from her is tweaks and platitudes, and it terrifies them.

And they are pissed.

Unfortunately, you can get cats to march in formation before you can get young liberals focused on any kind of directed, disciplined long game.  Right now they’re all over social media planning a third-party run for Sanders (often with the People’s Front of Judea Green Party), which would be stupid on several levels, and which I am confident he will not do. The way forward is in taking over the Dem party at all levels, replacing the neoliberals and centrists with actual progressives. It will take a few election cycles (I keep making this speech every few years), but it’s do-able if people can work together to do it.

Otherwise, we may be looking at the Democratic Party’s last hoorah. I hate to think what rough beast might take its place.

The Clinton Excuse-Making Begins

I’m already seeing columns and editorials declaring that if Clinton loses to Trump in November it’s Sanders’s fault because he won’t drop out and give her an unequivocal endorsement.

My Facebook buddy Bob Brigham wrote,

“A lot of otherwise smart people have a major blind spot on this. Bernie Sanders isn’t a fad, there is no cult of personality. Bernie is simply a vessel for pent up rage against our corrupt oligarchy. Pissed off progressives won’t vote for Hillary in November because Bernie says so. The only way is for Hillary to earn it.”

I also wrote earlier today, on Facebook,

Because I’m not actually psychotic I believe that Clinton will be the Dem nominee, and if Trump is the GOP nominee she will beat him. Frankly, the Dems could nominate a can of soup and beat him. He’s horrible enough that (I suspect) even the die-hard “Bernie or Bust” people probably will change their minds by November.

However, if the GOP manages to substitute another Republican (other than Ted Cruz) — growing more unlikely but still possible — all bets are off. Clinton would be about the worst nominee imaginable against a more establishment Republican, and in that event she’s going to need every Sanders supporter’s vote she can pick up.

Clinton supporters and media people have a weird idea that if Sanders would just say the word, his supporters would all fall into line and support Clinton. I don’t think so. The Sanders campaign has been less about him than about what he represents. The frustration and antipathy toward the establishment — including, possibly especially, the Democratic Party establishment — was long brewing before Sanders stepped up and declared his candidacy. To simply transfer support to establishment darling Hillary Clinton would be a betrayal of everything Sanders’s supporters had hoped to accomplish.

That said, I think Sanders will help Clinton if he can. He’s said more than once that she’d make a better President than any of the Republicans. He is absolutely not going to attempt a third-party run in November. But she’s got to dial down the arrogance and be willing to give him something, policy-wise, before he can do that. If he simply throws his support to her without her making that effort, it won’t mean anything to the Sanders voters. This campaign was never about his personal ambitions but about what he represents that Clinton doesn’t.

As I said, especially if Trump is the nominee a lot of people who are yelling “Bernie or Bust” now probably will change their minds by November. But Clinton and the Dems can help themselves a lot by how they handle Sanders from now on and at the convention. They’re going to have to be very careful. They’re going to have to treat him respectfully and give him a seat at the table, so to speak, and not shove him away like some fringe candidate weirdo. I hope Clinton realizes that.

I personally think Clinton would be a pathetic excuse for a candidate to not beat Trump. But if she doesn’t, that’s on her. Well, her and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

After New York, and yesterday, I think it’s going to be close to impossible for the GOP to deny Trump the nomination, however much the establishment may want to do that. The vote gap is too big. So it probably is going to be Clinton-Trump. Which is good for Clinton, because her whole campaign has been based on “vote for me, or you’ll get President Trump.” If someone else gets the nomination it’s going to throw her off.