Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Dreadful primary season

This is really shaping up to be the worst election year in memory.  The Republicans are falling apart as a political organization.  They've been cultivating anti-government sentiment for so long they now are controlled by a majority that both thinks that they have some divine right to rule the country and that they should try to do their best to keep the government from doing anything.  Well, that's a bit oversimplistic, but the point remains that they've adopted a scorched Earth attitude towards the debt ceiling, towards foreign relations, towards keeping the government open, and, most recently, towards the process of keeping SCOTUS nominations going forward.

The policies pursued by the Republicans have been so anti-social they have been unable to put forward one of their own to take over the nomination process.  Instead, it's been hijacked by reality TV star Donald Trump.  (Yes, he also has some real estate interests, but it's not like he's done terribly well in that field.  He're more of a celebrity rich guy than a seriously successful man.)  And the only opposition left to Trump is Ted Cruz, a man hated by party insiders who seems to have built up a power base among the extreme right wing.

Meanwhile on the Democratic side, the presumptive nominee is doing her best to sabotage her own support.  As the primary season has progressed, her support has been dropping, but the math suggests that her commanding lead built in early primaries will stand.  At this point Bernie Sanders would need to win New York, California, and Pennsylvania.  This doesn't seem terribly likely.

Meanwhile, in the background, Hillary Clinton's email practices while Secretary of State is under close scrutiny.   Every once in a while we hear whispers that the FBI  is going to recommend some kind of indictment, but there doesn't really appear to be cause.  Of course, as a veteran of the DeflateGate nonsense,  I have no faith that the system could not be manipulated to go after her.  She will not be indicted because, ultimately, Obama is running the DoJ and his woman is the Attorney General.  But there are plenty of Republicans working both at DoJ and for the FBI, so the constant stream of rumors is not going to stop.

To me, the solution seems obvious: vote for Sanders!  He's populist, which is apparently a dirty word inside the Beltway, but when the Congress is running with an approval rating below 20%, some kind of major change is inevitable.  The longer the oligarchy use their power to delay it, the messier it will become when it arrives.  Anyway, Sanders and Trump have captured so many votes by attacking the system itself.  Cruz is doing so, too, in his own way.  And Clinton represents the system.  And her campaign these days seems to be based on the premise that we shouldn't vote for Sanders because he's "not a real Democrat" - how is that going to translate into a viable general election campaign?  Yes, we just spent six months villifying a man for not being a Loyal Party Member, but we really want to have a Big Tent!

If the Clinton camp were really convinced her nomination were inevitable, they wouldn't be spending so much time trashing Sanders himself and also his supporters!  This is something else I don't fathom.  I've seen no shortage of Clinton supporters just going off in the most negative way about Sanders supporters.  Do they think they can beat any Republican this way?  I don't remember any primary season being plagued by such internecine hostile - and it seems that Sanders's status as an outsider is the problem.

Usually various candidates are competing for a place in the beauty pageant with the understanding that whoever wins will ultimately be representing the same agenda.  The differences between Dukakis and Clinton, Gore, Kerry and Obama have been relatively minor (from a policy standpoint - certainly Bill Clinton is 10 times the political master that Dukakis the Tank gunner ever was).

Sanders is rejecting the monetary base of the Democratic Party and That Will Not Be Tolerated.
My favorite stat from over the past year is that, over the 15 years, Bill and Hillary Clinton have earned more than $150 million in various "speaking fees" from our leading financial institutions.  Sanders wants nothing to do with these people.

Over the past few months, I've really started to notice just how openly hostile many left-wing bloggers are to Sanders.  It's disappointing.  I've been cutting people out of my Twitter feed: Joe Conason, Greg Sargent, and now Josh Marshall.  Josh put forth the argument today that the superdelegate system actually favors Sanders, even though 88% of the currently committed superdels are in Clinton's camp.  How does this argument work?  Get this: first, one has to agree that Sanders cannot possibly catch Clinton in the pledged delegate count.  (I would concede that this is mathematically unlikely, but then again, Sanders was down by 30 points in Michigan and won the state anyway.)  Therefore, argue the loyalists, Sanders' only hope is to somehow turn superdelegates.  How this is supposed to be a coherent strategy is beyond me.  But apparently  the possibility of turning superdelegates is an unacceptable, undemocratic feature of the race.  The actuality that all of these superdelegates are already on Clinton's side?  Meh, who cares?

I've challenged him twice today with how ridiculous this argument is, and his response has been dismissive and belittling.  Oh well!

The current model of how the Democratic party should function is not working.  For three decades they've tried to blend a mix of being "business-friendly" with "incremental social change".  This has excited exactly zero people about the future of the party.  People vote for the Democrats solely because the Republican party is so heinous.  But that's not a way to grow a party, and while the party has been trying to pander to conservatives to hold onto footholds in the South, the opposite has been happening.  The entire former Confederacy is controlled by  Republicans now, with the exception of one chamber in Kentucky where Democrats are holding on by a thread.

Democrats won't even listen to arguments based on the proposition that the party needs to stand up for liberal ideas and principles.  Probably the people in positions of power know that an ideological change would only be possible with massive personnel changes.  So they cling to power, adhering to a failing ideology.

Mind you, while I'm critical of the Democrats, I don't even know where to start with the Republicans.  It's a party run by people who have never graduated beyond the College Republican stage, who think Nixon-era ratf*cking is the way government should be run, and who have spent so long pandering to the idiotic that they've become taken over by the idiots.

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