The failure of George McGovern had a major impact on a generation of Democrats, who believed they'd faced a painful reality about the limits of idealism in American politics. Jann sums it up: "Those of us there learned a very clear lesson: America chooses its presidents from the middle, not from the ideological wings."I know, I know: This is the original sin of Clintonism. I heard that endlessly from Naderites a decade and a half ago and I'm hearing it now. I understand why it's dispiriting to a lot of voters, especially when Taibbi gets down to specifics (although I'm not sure I agree with this list -- racism? LGBT rights? climate change? immigration? voting rights?):
But it would be a shame if we disqualified every honest politician, or forever disavowed the judgment of young people, just because George McGovern lost an election four decades ago.
That '72 loss hovered like a raincloud over the Democrats until Bill Clinton came along. He took the White House using a formula engineered by a think tank, the Democratic Leadership Council, that was created in response to losses by McGovern and Walter Mondale....
In 1992 and in 1996, Clinton recaptured some of Nixon's territory through a mix of populist positions (like a middle-class tax cut) and the "triangulating" technique of pushing back against the Democrats' own liberal legacy on issues like welfare, crime and trade.
For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others.But that still doesn't lead me here:
And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues.
... the millions of young voters that are rejecting Hillary's campaign this year are making a carefully reasoned, even reluctant calculation about the limits of the insider politics both she and her husband have represented.This is where the Sanders pitch loses me. Everything is the result of "corruption" -- not just policies that favor big banks or multinational corporations but military adventurism, excessive imprisonment, and heavy-handed policing.
... Young people don't see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can't even see it anymore.
... they're voting for Sanders because his idea of an entirely voter-funded electoral "revolution" that bars corporate money is, no matter what its objective chances of success, the only practical road left to break what they perceive to be an inexorable pattern of corruption.
Completely absent from this picture is a populace, or at least a white majority of voters, that actually favors what cops do in urban neighborhoods, what judges do to indigent defendants, and what politicians do -- rattle sabers -- when terrorists attack or international bad guys take territory. The worldview of the Bernie-or-bust crowd presumes that if you overturned Citizens United and instituted public financing of campaigns, the public would never again respond favorably to war drums or to the phrase "Blue Lives Matter."
I will never stop reminding you that -- as Gallup demonstrates on a regular basis -- liberals are the smallest ideological group in America; they're greatly outnumbered by both conservatives and moderates:
The Clintons are far too eager to tack to the center (or right-center, or sometimes the right) on many issues. But there is a large slice of the non-conservative electorate that is primed to respond to conservative fist-shaking on a wealth of issues -- taxes, crime, terrorism. I don't blame the Clintons for acknowledging this reality. The Sandersites are naive for ignoring it. That doesn't mean they have to respond to it the way the Clintons do. But they shouldn't pretend it's all an artifact of "corruption."
Yes, the Clintons are too eager to embrace the suck. But hardcore Sandersites think there is no suck. Regrettably, the suck is very, very real.