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« The Day the Bern Blew Out | Main | The Sanders camp's utter lack of perspective »

February 21, 2016

Comments

Charon

Bernie is not a Democrat, and has never displayed any party loyalty. So, as advancing the interests of Democrats is not an incentive to drop out, what would be?

My recollection is Bernie has already sworn to stay in until the end.

AnneJ

The more Bernie Sanders boasts about how much of his funding comes from small donors. He's starting to sound like a televangelist taking money from the unsuspecting faithful in exchange for something he can't possibly deliver. It's unseemly. Hillary Clinton is by far the most qualified of the entire field and she doesn't need my money.

Bob

This is a year in which standard political calculations are unhelpful. There are contradictory stories about how Jeb should have handled his campaign money. In version one he spends early to flatten Trump. In version two he's penurious and stays in until Republican primary meat puppets have come to their senses. Neither would have made a difference.

Trump has a top-level message that's irresistible to Republican primary voters: Washington politicians have screwed you over. Bush I raised taxes and didn't go for the kill in Iraq. Bush II lost in Iraq, spent money on a new Medicare program and wrecked the economy. He screwed up so bad he let a secret Muslim Kenyan sneak into the White House. Row v. Wade hasn't gone away. There's no cabinet position for Jesus. Your job is being sent to Mexico, which is expanding into the US, or China. China is stealing from us by flooding markets and using book keeping tricks. The Bush New World Order is stupid and the Bushes made the country ungreat. Only the guy who wrote 'The Art of the Deal', which is slightly less exalted but equally as true as the Bible, can shape up the board room. How do the other candidates beat that?

In the opposing race Bernie has a message that's superficially similar but has the virtue of being true: Big money interests have taken over politics, the economy and the legal system. Bernie's loss by five points in Nevada, a state that typifies the demographic makeup of the country, was not a blow-out and no amount of wishful thinking will make it one. The moral is that a vision for fixing the country, and more importantly citizens' lives, beats technocratic fiddling. Bernie should stay in and keep pushing Hillary to acknowledge his message. The sooner he drops out the sooner she goes back to being the soul of uninspiration and the closer we get to swearing in President Trump or Rubio.

Peter G

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. I doubt Bernie will relent until it becomes mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination. Because this will almost certainly happen before sufficient eleceted delagates are chosen, due to the existence of superdelegates, I can see no way that this ends pleasantly. The fix is in. The fact that the fix is in for very sound reasons will make no difference. The damage will be done. I doubt the damage will be fatal but it sure won't help.

There is an intersting contrast in how the Republicans apportion and seat delegates. They give more to states that actually deliver the goods in terms of electing Republicans. This ensures that delagates from blue states, who might be expected to try to sneak in an electable moderate do not dilute the ideological purity of red state Republicans.

Peter G

Which message, that you have been betrayed by your politicians, is exactly the same message as Sanders. He is merely the left wing version of what both Trump and Cruz base their camapigns on. It's a real hot seller this year. Number two with a bullet. ( Pardon the scatological pun)

Bob

The messages are not the same. Bernie names plutocrats, with an assist by Republicans, as manipulating the system to their advantage. That is true. His hints at including Hillary are unfair but something she'll have to deal with in the general. Trump blames Obama, the Bush family, Washington insiders, and foreigners; arguments all convenient to himself.

Charon

Sanders is able to damage Clinton by attacking her in ways the Republicans can not or will not. For example, over the vote for the 1994 crime bill.

The main impact of Sanders continued campaign is furthur damage to Dem prospects in November - even if HRC wins anyway, he still will hurt the coattails and downballot races. But, as I said, he is not a Democrat anyway, why should he care?

Charon

The GOP practice of extra delegates to Red states is a factor that helps drive the GOP ideologically to the right. I like the Democrat way better, as I dislike ideological purity testing.

lawrence

Patience PM. It will be done with by Easter.

Tom Benjamin

In a lot of ways, the message is the same. Trump is self funding his campaign and bragging that he doesn't owe anyone. He would agree with Bernie that the system is rigged because he was one of the riggers. He gave money to everybody, he says. It didn't mean he supported Hillary. He was buying her. That part of Bernie's campaign fits Trump like as glove.

When Bernie does drop out many of his fans will go to Trump. He's going to fix everything by waving his hands. His promises are all fantasy island too. But his fantasy island makes things great for everybody.

There is a big difference though. Trump is doing it because he likes to be the biggest star on television. Bernie is doing it because he believes in his laudable goals. Trump can't tell the difference between the truth and a lie. Bernie mostly tells the truth. He is not telling the truth when he says a political revolution will change the way the political system works.

Peter G

I do not believe this is true. Sure Bernie names plutocrats as the dark lords of evil who were in charge of globalization. And then he names all the other politicians in the parties he declined to join as the paid agents of the plutocrats. That includes the Democrats and it is nonsense. All you would have to do is name one thing Bernie, given a magic wand, could change that would make gigantic worldwide economic trends vanish and I will join his tribe. Glass-Steagal? Nope. Big Banks? Nope, the biggest were the healthiest. Caving to corporate interests? Well it must be nice to come from a state that doesn't really have much but a totally unregulated insurance industry. But you can't get elected without supporting the major employers in whatever district or state you reside. This is something Bernie is happy to do himself whenever required. It is just other people politicians who cave for money. Bernie is noble because he does it for free. Now how many progressives insisted that Romney was right and both GM anbd Chrysler should have bewen allowed to fail? What? They supported corporations.! Well no, they supported the jobs that wouldn't exist without those corporations. Which is exactly what every single politician everywhere does for whatever the major employers are in their area.

And it is exactly what Bernie does too.

Peter G

Me too. But the Democratic party superdelegate system does more than just fend off outside insurgents like Bernie. It also prevents, by factional distribution of superdelegates, attempts by any one faction from trying to hijack the primary process to their own exclusive advantage. It isn't there just to repel borders.

Charon

Superdelegates could also help fend off attempts by GOP to ratfvkk the Dem process.

Peter G

Btw I'd be quite cool with it if Bernie were to argue that he could do a better job than Hillary of dealing with Republican obstructionism. But that would be a nearly impossible sell. No one would believe it. But selling the idea to a relatively small faction of the Democratic party that with the assistance of some new young prospective voters they could drive the demons from the Democratic party turns out to be not a bad strategy for promoting Bernie. But that's all it does.

Tom Benjamin

I think I agree. Bernie looks tired and I don't care how healthy he is, a Presidential campaign is incredibly grueling. I'm sure he feels every year of his 74 years about now, and it only gets worse.

He may even pack it in after Super Tuesday if he doesn't put up a good show. Hillary has the organization. Bernie really needs momentum.

Plus, in about a month the battle over the Supreme Court nomination will start and I don't think there will be room for Bernie's revolution when that fight sucks all the oxygen out of the room.

Tom Benjamin

I think it is more than that. I think it is essential that the nominee and the rest of the ticket are on the same page. Many of the super delegates are going to be fellow candidates on the ticket in November.

The big problem with McGovern was not that he was as far left as the party could go. The problem was that he was not enthusiastically supported by Democrats running for Congress. Lots did not support his position on the war. It was awful.

The super delegate system is there to make sure the party and the candidate go into the election on the same page. The fact that Bernie has virtually no super delegates and Clinton has hundreds is a powerful signal who other Democrats want to run with. They don't want to campaign on the issues Bernie wants to campaign on. That matters. It should matter. The campaign is for more than the Presidency.

Bob

For the most part I agree with your analysis. Can you cite any evidence Trump will pick up significant numbers of Bernie supporters? That possibility is what makes it important for Hillary's campaign and supporters to minimize alienating them.

We could also quibble over what Bernie means by "revolution". One fact that's undeniable is his message is playing well with a lot of Democrats but even better with independents.

Bob

Is your argument that we should just give up and let plutocrats destroy our republic or just that you don't like Bernie pointing out it's happening?

One of the most unfair charges made by the center right (Democrats) is that young people only like Bernie because they want "free" tuition and other goodies. They deserve some credit for concern about democracy, the economy and the health of the planet.

Bob

Do you imagine that minus Bernie Hillary would just waltz into office unmolested by Republicans? What she's getting from Bernie is nothing compared to what will get thrown at her in the general.

Mentioning the '94 crime bill apparently hasn't hurt her with blacks but does highlight how badly it's damaged society. In case you weren't around, many black leaders supported the Omnibus Crime Bill because it included draconian measures against drug kingpins they felt were decimating the people they represented.

Peter G

It is not so Manichaean as that. Is it Plutocrats driving millions of cars? Or demanding manufacturing jobs making things? Or investing in carbon intensive infrastructure? You very clearly understand how the mlitary industrial complex is supposewd to work. Why is that everyone seems to think that is the only one complex? There is a manfacturing industrial complex and an educational industrial complex and an agricultural industrial complex and an entertainment industrial complex. and they all employ millions of people in their various sectors. They all compete for their piece of the pie. Even within their sectors the competition is fiercest. The army and the navy and the air force compete like hell for ever bigger pieces of the pie that is available. So does the educational and medical industrial complexes. In both of the latter you will find nothing but people who believe that massive government injections of funding are necessary. But the way they want it spent is going to do nothing but make education and medical care more expensive for everyone else. This is noble? I don't think so. But, on the other hand, I don't think they are evil for acting in their own interests. Isn't that what everybody is supposed to do? And don't these people deserve some credit too? I don't think they are out to destroy the planet.

Max

P.M., thanks for what is one of the absolute best essays out there at this time. I love your depth of knowledge of history and how you adroitly use it.

Confront any Bernie supporter with, "Do you really see him taking, oh, Virginia or Illinois in the general election?" and you get a silence. You also get a silence when you point out who the Repubs want in a Democratic nominee. Odd how so many who feel the Bern can't seem to do the basic math. And in truth even that little d*ck Rubio would probably crush Bernie.

At least, unlike Ralph Nader (and how many Bernie supporters were once Nader supporters?), Bernie will support the nominee of his new-found party.

Any speculation on when Obama will time his endorsement of Hillary?

Bob

It is not true that America has changed because various interest groups of roughly equal status are looking out for their own interests, selfish or otherwise. This is the third similar article I've linked in the past few days. Please read this one:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html

Tom Benjamin

I don't have any evidence, but it is the similarity of the message. The outsider candidate. The charisma. The excitement. The grandiose promise that the impossible is possible. I don't know what Trump has promised for students and student debt but I'm sure he will promise to fix it for them. Easy peasy.

Trump is doing great with independents too. That's who the Democrats will lose.

My guess is that most (60-70%) of Bernie's supporters will switch to Hillary. The rest will stay home or switch to Trump.

Peter G

So I like to think about stuff for a while before I venture to disagree with our host for that requires you not to bring a knife to a gunfight. In the past I have speculated that the window of opportunity where Bush could have put down Trump was a very narrow thing if it existed at all. But I would absolutely agree that if it could have been done it should have. I also agree that it would be better to shut down Bernie sooner rather than later. i just don't see how. It won't be easy. Campaign surrogates have not been helpful and the last thing I would do is get a Superpac club to smack the baby seal on the noggin. Social media campaign? Probably not either for either plays into Bernie's mythos and strengths. I'm afraid a natural death is required.

Peter G

I did not suggest for one second that these interest groups are of roughly equal status. Some are much more powerful than others. Some are waxing and some are waning. Unions for example are fading as a Democratic party faction as union membership falls. Still powerful but fading. The two biggest nominal factions of the Democratic party are the middle class and the poor. Does anybody think their opinons carry equal weight in the Democratic party? That is the first division. And it is one that is easily expoitable too. I read what you post btw. And after I read this one you will have my opinion.

Peter G

Okay. That was certainly interesting. My opinion is thank god. For you will note that nothing in this study appraises the quality of the desired popular policies or their economic effects. They merely assert that other interests are more persuasive to government than popular opinion. There is quite the block of popular opinion that says the debt ceiling should not be raised. Or that deficit spending should never be done. Or that Chritianity should be the sole legal religion in the US. Or that protectionist trade wars that will cost millions of jobs are a good idea. Or that public unions should be abolished. If I am grateful for anything it is that government is there to frustrate popular idiocy. Yea it would nice if popular opinion could carry through on something like sensible gun controls. But obviously Bernie isn't your man there either is he. He already caved on that to stay employed. He didn't do it out of malice. He did it because the people to whom it is toxic could easily tip an election against him.

Bob

I'm an independent but don't know of any Republican I'd vote for. I also doubt I'm the only example of the type. Your guess about how many Bernie supporters will switch to Hillary seems reasonable, but could turn out to be higher. Once more leftists understand what's at stake in appointing the next Supreme Court Justice and allowing the nexus of rightist power even more access to government could start a fire.

Bob

You have an admirable talent for turning lemons into lemonade. I must point out that oligarchy is at odds with everything this country is supposed to represent, though.

Then there's this: http://www.alternet.org/guess-what-pot-government-spending-americans-are-far-more-liberal-politicians-assume

Bob

Btw, I am not a Bernie supporter in any way other than thinking he's raising important issues that would have been ignored without him and that Hillary sorely needs a sparring partner. As a liberal (I don't agree with PM's definition of a liberal as an incrementalist) I'm not exactly on fire about either Democratic candidate, but think Hillary probably *could* get more accomplished. I just don't get the Bernie Derangement Syndrome and feel compelled to defend him when he's bashed. I'm starting to worry leftists are disappearing down the same kind of media story line rabbit hole rightists have.

Peter G

In this context waht does Oligarchy even mean? Who are the members of this Oligarchy? Your government was designed by elitists as a Republic to remove the power of government from direct populism. And to prevent a tyranny of the majority. The current difficulties with your primary system and the radicalization of the process is something of a modern invention that was achieved by democritization of the process. If there is a reason this is an improvement it has escaped me. It has almost destroyed the Republicans. And there is every chance it can do the same to the Democrats. The Telegraph piece you cited implicitly assumed that wise and prudent polices were being frustrated by something called Oligarchies. Most of it is daylight madness being frustrated by knowledge of what many of these policies actually mean. Perhaps these people should be allowed to have Democracy good and hard as the Sage of Baltimore suggested.

I can't help but notice however that the Republicans, despite the earnest desires of their most active base, raised the debt ceiling. What would happen if they gave them what they wanted? Their mistake was ever telling them it was a good idea not to raise it in the first place. There is a big important lesson in that about telling lies to your own people.

Peter G

You're doing a fine job by the way. I wouldn't relish the task myself considering the venue. As I said before, this is what a real debate looks like when opinions collide. I don't even dislike Bernie much less disdain him. But I have made it clear I think that his qualifications as a political messiah are questionable. I wish I didn't have to but the political strategy he has selected is a dangerous path. If he doesn't win, and I don't think he can, then he will do a lot of damage for nothing.

Peter G

Yep. There's something to be said for this latest generation. Just as there was something to be said for baby boomers and the acceptance of civil rights for racial minorities and the rise of feminism. And the generation that accepted universal suffrage. But you'll have to forgive me if I observe that none of these things come with a tax price tag. And paying more of those is where most people balk. People don't mind more taxes to get more government services. As long as it isn' t them paying the taxes. Which is why I think the natural point is to start at the high end and work your way down. When was the last time a politician was elected to office in the US on the solemn promise to raise taxes on the middle class?

Bob

An oligarchy is a form of government almost completely controlled by a small number of people. Our government was designed to be a democratic republic. The constitution provides legal tools to expand democracy as is practical. The results have been obvious in slavery abolishment, womens' suffrage, civil rights, etc. during nearly the entire history of the country.

What we're seeing under oligarchy is the curtailment of rights concerning privacy, voting, organizing, equality and personal freedoms. There are a few exceptions like gay rights and ending the war on pot in a small number of states.

I don't know who all the oligarchs are. They obviously include the Kochs, Bushes, and other famous old money families. Their most obvious aim is to get all the money, and they've been fairly successful. This has been written about extensively, but here's an example: http://www.voxeu.org/article/exploding-wealth-inequality-united-states

Bob

Thanks, but I actually believe the stuff I'm writing. Help me understand. What damage is Bernie going to do whether he wins or doesn't?

Bob

Civil rights enforced by a government supported by taxes included the right to organize for collective bargaining which led to the 8 hour work day, etc. No one loves taxes, but the story line that everyone hates them is nonsense. This is anecdotal, but before Reagan it was common to hear that paying taxes was cheap rent to live in America. After all the inculcation that taxes are government theft that changed, and our society is the worse for it.

Tom Benjamin

I don't think it is that simple. The data shows income and wealth equality has exploded. It does not necessarily follow that this has happened because oligarchs have manipulated the system and ripped us off. It wasn't just wildly inflated CEO salaries at the top of megacorporations.

It has happened for many reasons. For one thing it seems to happen every time there is a period of significant technological change and vast new fortunes are made. The old money didn't disappear. Start with Gates and Jobs and march through to Zuckerberg and there are countless new fortunes in the top 1%.

At about the same time, previously undeveloped countries - particularly China - industrialized. The blue collar middle class in North America was crushed if not by overseas competition, by robotics. The town I live in was built on a pulp and paper mill. In 1980, it employed over 2,000 people mostly making newsprint. Today it employs 250 people making mostly specialty paper. Even if the market for newsprint had not gone south, automation would have eliminated most of the jobs.

How could income inequality not increase dramatically given the circumstances? There are many other factors at work but this alone would significantly move the needle.

Peter G

If it is anecdotal and suspect then surely someone on the Democratic side should be willing to test the hypothesis and come out for raising taxes on the middle class and the rich of course, without which their vision of a social democracy is impossible. That time is not yet.

Peter G

i am familiar with the attempts by both parties to shape the battlefield of politics and economics through legislation. Gerrymandering for example is universally thought to be evil. Except both parties do it to generate as many safe seats as possible. Without it a good chunk of the black caucus would not exist. For myself I do not know who any of these oligarchs are. The Kochs seem to be particularly incompetent oligarchs if such they are. The candidates they support don't seem to be especially good at getting elected. Tom has dealt with some aspects of wealth inequality but I will add that this is wealth inequality and not income inequality. They are not the same thing. There is no wealth tax though there probably should be. And the wealth that is disproportionately distributed takes the form of capital appreciation, increases in share value and such. If you think there is a uniform consencus that ways and means should be found to increase taxation of these capital gains then you should, as I have mentioned, ask union pension funds if they agree. The short answer is that they don't.

Peter G

It is really quite simple. Bernie is selling myths. Very bad myths. The same essential myth that the Republicans are selling. The myth is that the current state of socio-economic affairs is the result of betrayal. And not just by the other side. Betrayal by their own party. Other politicians sold out the people and he knows how to reverse these trends. But he doesn't have a clue how to do these things.

He doesn't know how to make CNC machines go away. He doesn't know how to make ATMs disappear. He doesn't know how to make other countries stop making things cheaper than the US. He doesn't know how to make Amazon and other online retailers stop killing local retail outlets. He doesn't know how to stop the internal migration of jobs to states with lower taxes and less regulations including labor laws. I could go on but the list of things he does not know how to do is impressively long. The fact that no one else knew or knows how to do those things either is irrelevant. The idea the things Bernie can't do either is nevertheless due to the betrayal of other Democratic politicians is toxic as hell. It is Ted Cruz grade poison. Every politician since time immemorial has offered bread and circuses to win support. No one in their right mind tries to blame their own party for the failure to deliver. The truth is quite simple. Bernie isn't a Democrat and doesn't see himself as a Democrat. And most of the real Democrats know it.

Tunadaddy

You may think that union pension funds might care about capital gains tax rates (or tax rates in general,) but they don't. Qualified pension funds are tax exempt.

As for pension recipients, pension distributions are almost always taxed as ordinary income and not capital gains, even if the bulk of their value lies in capital appreciation. So with respect to pensions they don't care about capital gains rates.

That leaves only those with significant appreciated assets qualifying for capital gains treatment who have a reason to care.

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