Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Dogs Bark, But the Caravan Moves On

I really just felt like using this as a blog headline. I also considered

"There is a Tide..."  and "Bernie Or Bluster." I was really hoping to be able to use "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it..." but, alas, he won't go.

His dead enders are still squalling around in the dkos diaries explaining to everyone how Bernie's genius plan is receiving plaudits and accolades from President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer (they have put a ban on mentioning Raul Grijalva and Elizabeth Warren who have become unpersons. Much the same way Hillary Clinton's actual name and status were treated as if she were Voldemort by Bernie himself). The obvious fact that the Democratic Party is regarding Bernie like the crying tantruming toddler at someone else's birthday, who must be offered the first piece of cake and an extra present just for showing up, is apparently beyond them.  But the entire discussion of political strategy and tactics in this election, if Bernie comes up,  has devolved into the kind of analysis and fatuous teen snark that enables the same people to tell you Hillary Clinton is a corporate whore of a war monger and also that she is a skilled and gracious politician whose lead should be followed by her voters because she has recognized Bernie's superior power, worth, and historical importance.  Some poor, innocent, soul put up Hillary Clinton's 2008 concession speech to Obama, with a few words changed so it could have been Bernie speaking, and his fervent fans swarmed it attacking the guy for having the temerity to suggest that Bernie would ever have any need to be gracious, that no person would ever have given such a speech, that Bernie's world historic run means he is above and outside the normal rules of good sportsmanship or campaigning.  The teenage snark part comes in when several Bernie supporters swarm the comments to chant "if she's won why are you still talking about him???"

Really the best comment on what is going on was written by some Clinton supporter with a long history with environmental groups. Unfortunately I can't locate it but he or she pointed out that the politics of the environmental groups can be split into those who followed the philosophy of Rachel Carson (we all want basically the same good things for each other and the planet and we need to make coalitions to get what we want together) and the Edward Abbey-niks who organized around the principle that most people were lazy, apathetic, ill informed, or indifferent and that environmental protection would happen only when a committed, aggressive, revolutionary band made it happen.  I'm paraphrasing, of course.  I think its obvious that the Bernie people, at least the most noisy of them, fall into the Abbey style of politics.  People from these two wings of political thought just can't really do politics together. For the Carson-ites/Hillary people, politics is about creating coalitions, discovering people's needs, working short term and long term to satisfy those needs while the Abbey/Bernie people are about big visions, large society wide changes, little attention to detail, no coalition building and no deviation from the original vision.  Hillary people prize winning and governing, Bernie people prize being right and staying on message, whatever real world events interfere. What strikes me about the Bernie people and their attitude towards the electorate is that they are simultaneously elitist and pseudo populist--they represent themselves, to themselves as being by and for "the people" but when the people reject them as they have in this primary, the people are found wanting and need to be dissolved. **

In the short and long run I don't think Bernie matters very much.  Sad to say because I am extremely progressive, myself, and I love the idea of an out and proud progressive Democratic Party, pursuing dominance in all fifty states.  But Bernie didn't have a clue how to make that happen--he's a visionary curmudgeon not a hard worker, down in the weeds, paragon of organizing.  Even his latest attempt at revolutionary relevance is nothing more than a rehash of Dean's 50 state strategy with added griftiness.  Is he fundraising off this page and off this gesture?

Bernie is announcing that he managed the incredible feat of putting up a web page that enables his supporters to click "I will run for office" or "I will volunteer" and he got 6,700 people to click a button.  This is all of a piece with earlier revolutionary acts by his supporters like "liking" Bernie's facebook page and keeping tabs on how many more likes they had than Hillary's facebook page. So who are these 6,700 people and what did they really "sign up" to do? Because if its 100 people in 67 college towns, all proposing to run for the same offices, they rather cancel each other out.  Don't get me wrong--I think its critically important that progressives commit to running for office, support each other, and build a better Democratic Party from the inside out.  But I don't think Bernie's "new" Congressional initiative is going to be the way it happens because I just don't think Bernie or his team can herd their own cats.  (I give Bernie and his team props for running a very successful campaign, but history is littered with pretty good campaigners and their teams, just as the cemeteries are full of indispensable men).

Bernie doesn't matter--or won't by the time the convention rolls around, because he sold the most excitable and unreliable and least informed voters in the country--young people--a bill of goods. He taught them that passion mattered more than strategy, that long distance goals were more important than short term goals, that attacking your allies and co-workers was a viable way to build alliances, that intensity matters more than numbers, that people who don't agree with you on tactics are identical to enemies who don't agree with you at all, that everyone but Bernie is corrupt and deceitful, and that ideological rigidity and boorish behavior is the same as honorable authenticity.  Its being reported that as we head into the convention Democratic voters are "coming home" to Hillary and that Bernie's own delegates are no-showing at the meetings where they would be helped to get housing and information about the convention.  If the rest of Bernie's campaign is any indication Bernie himself probably doesn't have the slightest idea how many of his troops will follow him into battle at the convention.  I wouldn't be surprised if Bernie ends up not showing up, for one specious reason or another, and if he doesn't his delegates won't either.  The purity pouting will be epic, biblical, and if his online supporters are any indication of the generally spiteful attitude towards the Democratic Party if Bernie sulks at home so will his delegates.  Its all of a piece with the "you'll miss me when I'm gone!" arguments the Bernie/Jill Stein wing has been making.


**The strong conviction that the Bernie voters (at least on Kos) have that they are both identical with "the people" and embattled against the people who actually voted, in a landslide, for Hillary Clinton, is what makes them simultaneously mawkish and aggressive.  They are, as I've observed elsewhere, perfect examples of Fred Clark's "persecuted hegemon."  They see themselves as a majority, or at least a majority of righteousness, and simultaneously as persecuted, misunderstood, and vulnerable.  Once you recognize that this is how they understand their position in US society and the Democratic primary everything that they do and say as they follow Bernie down the garden path makes sense. Especially their viciousness against Hillary and her voters.

Cross Posted at I Spy With My Little Eye

37 comments:

Rick said...

I've been a reader of this blog for years on my rss feed. The crap spewed here recently has been eye-opening. This whole election has been eye-opening. The same ire that has been directed at conservatives for years has now been put in the service of tearing down Sanders and his supporters. For a movement they insist lost and is already history HRC supporters spend a huge amount of time trying to pile on and discredit it. All I can think is maybe it's to distract from the cognitive dissonance of supporting HRC policies. TPP, Syria, not-single payer, education as a neoliberal private good, etc.

aimai said...

Thus proving my point!

Look--I like politics and I'm interested in politics. The Sander's movement is a train wreck from the point of view of electoral politics. It had a lot of greatness in it--and I can see that people were very moved by it. I was very moved by it and, as I have said many times, almost voted for Sanders myself. If he had won the nomination I would have worked my heart out for him, and kept my snark to myself, because I don't really expect to get a perfect president. This is an imperfect world and it throws darts, bombs, and poisonous insects at us and our leaders every single day. Even the greatest person and president of my lifetime, Barack Obama, could make only so much headway within our particular governmental system and against the torrent of abuse heaved at him by the far right and the far (if irrelevant) left.

I'm just watching Sanders' death throes with a mixture of contempt and sadness. Because if Bernie were only worthy of the hopes and dreams his voters placed in him he could have gone out as more than a mere Jeremiah, he could have been a Moses. That's his tragedy, and ours. He simply wasn't up to the task of doing more than mouthing platitudes. Unlike Hillary Clinton he has no experience of making lemonade from lemons, so he is unable to figure out how to turn losing a (mere) campaign into success. But he so easily could have!

D. Hussein said...

Great post, Aimai. OK if I share it?

aimai said...

Sure--will you link to my own blog too? aimaiameye.blogspot.com

Erik C. said...

Y'know, Rick

Not only are you not actually addressing any of the points aimai is making, you're also helping to support them with your own words.

Sweet Sue said...

Some wag dubbed Bernie's "movement" the Herbal Tea Party.
I think that's about right.
Great post!

Improbable Joe said...

The first major issue I had with Sanders and his supporters came when they wrote off the South as "conservative" and "low information voters" and "the Confederacy" and flat-out dismissed millions of voters are irrelevant. It became very clear very quickly that Sanders has no interest in being a leader of the majority of Americans, but rather a messiah figure to the same sort of voters he appeals to in Vermont. His supporters are no better, having spent months on end harassing and insulting the Democratic base and now demanding that they be treated as if they won and were actually the victims of the crap they flung all year. No, Bernie supporters, progressive politics wasn't invented last year when you heard about the free college guy.


Between that and the slipshod work ethic, I'm afraid that Sanders has alienated an entire generation of voters against both politics as usual AND bold outsider campaigns. He's a real lose-lose kind of guy at this point.

Ms. L.B. said...

Aimai, your original post and follow-up comment are, bar none, the single best and most even-handed analysis of the 2016 Democratic primary I have read. Absolutely brilliant.

aimai said...

I'm afraid you must be a woman, so your vote is going to be discounted! But I appreciate it immensely.

Pete said...

But but but aimai Killary is a fascist! I know so because a self-described liberal accused me of opposing a fascist by supporting a fascist so how could I call myself a leftist? Huh, huh? Got me there, right?

But this too shall pass.

aimai said...

Yes, its like a fever that breaks, and then the patient gets out of bed and goes back to work. I feel very much for people who believed in Bernie, and who got their hearts broken by their candidate losing. Its something that has to happen a few times to you, like any time you tumble in and out of love, before you realize that there are plenty of fish in the sea. I dated dean and married kerry. I supported Edwards (dodged that bullet) and then went all in for Obama. Now I'm getting ready to buckle down for Hillary. I would happilly thank Bernie for his service and incorporate his few concrete proposals into my pitch for Hillary but its honestly not going to be necessary. I think she's a professional and will run a professional campaign and I look forward to helping her do it.

Victor said...

I'm !an older white male, and I agree with Mrs. L !

Hillary has been building her election campaign since about 2005.
She lost to Obama in a great battle in 2008, but she shook that loss off, and worked for him as SoS.
And this year, she won the nomination.
But she was working on getting that nomination for years.

Bernie entered too late. If he wanted to make a serious run, he should have started right after the 2012 election.
But he didn't.

Instead, like tRUMP, he worked on creating a "Cult of Personality." And I like Bernie, but when he couldn't explain - in multiple interviews in newspapers - how he was going to do what he wanted, I saw that he really hadn't thought things through.

Anyone can mouth platitudes. But don't confuse that with planning.
Planning takes work.
Hillary loves to do the work. Bernie? I'm not so sure...

Still, Bernie kept Hillary moving left, so, for that I thank him!
Now, it's time for him to acknowledge that he lost, and do whatever he can to stop tRUMP - or whoever the GOP decides run. But that's a tale for another time.

Great job, aimai!!!

Victor said...

OOOPS!
Ms. L B!
Sorry...

Bill Scofield said...

Disagree on one major point:

I would love to see the DNC do something similar - provide a link that asks if you, as a Democrat, are willing to run for office or volunteer. I think it is brilliant, if followed by a directed and earnest effort to vet those who answer that call and get them engaged.

Winning the White House is important - critically important in this cycle when the failure to elect Clinton means a true madman in charge. But two other important pieces of business are; 1) to win back the 30 or so statehouses and governorships now on the red side of the ledger, 2) to motivate Democrats to vote in the elections two years from this November.

Nothing is more important to both of those efforts than to enlist rank-and-file members who are activists - right now - who would be willing to knock on doors, make calls, use their spare time to make a difference, or in the best case become energetic standard bearers in future elections.

If the November elections go the best case scenario for Democrats, they'll win the WH, take back the Senate, and erode the Republican majority in the House. If elections follow recent form, the Democrats could give back that Senate majority in two years, lose House seats, and also lose more ground in statehouses from sea to shining sea.

Getting every Democrat - Clinton or Sanders supporter - whose political attention has been heightened by this historic election, signed up, engaged, activated, and keeping that attention at its boiling point is critical to avoid the one-step forward, two-steps back, vicious cyclical we've seen in elections for too long.

That means reaching out, that means inclusion, that means telling everyone your opinion matters. Just because there may be a vocal and vicious minority of Sanders' supporters that deserve criticism doesn't mean that the millions of other Sanders' voters shouldn't be embraced, encouraged, and brought into the fold. Not just put into the fold, but put to work in the party.

And the DNC should do the same thing. Instead receiving 15-20 emails a day begging for money to every Democrat, there should be 30-50 emails a day tapping into the human resources available. Ask if they'll run for office. Ask if they will volunteer, then follow up with financial and organizational support. Dedicate resources to outreach on the state level, connect those who can help with Democratic organizations, who want to help, on the state level. Begin now to help organize Democrats in all 50 states a get-out-the-vote effort for 2018. Make the off-year election important, and start that effort now.

Sanders' list of 6,700 may contain the names of 100 people on the same campus, but that is 6,700 more warm bodies willing to do more than just send in $100 or $200 bucks - willing to do more than just put their money out there, but to put themselves out there.

aimai said...

I think that people who are more familiar than I am with politics, and I have some familiarity, will tell you that people who respondto an online plea like this are really very unlikely to be serious about submitting to the rigors of a campaign. I think its very, very, unlikely that Sanders's list contains even 100 people who are actually willing and able to run for any kind of campaign--and of those 100 I'm pretty sure that you would find they were already on their way to reaching out and touching the Democrats, or the Greens, to run for office already.

This kind of faux online activism, and "click this box to have an organization that does not yet exist contact you to vet you for a run for office under our brand" has to be the fakest of fake forms of activism, is just not relevant. In the real world, the bricks and mortar world, HRC has been signing people up to phone bank, requesting people submit resumes for "fellowships" and "internships" around the country in this election. Those real jobs will probably translate into a certain number of younger people becoming both interested in,and skilled in, ground level campaigns. You meet ex Obama volunteers all the time in local politics around here--they are either running campaigns or gearing up to run for office.

I agree that the Democrats could use a lot more outreach. But the vast majority of people, and that includes progressives, ask not what they can do for their country but what their country can do for them. Its extremely costly to run for office, its difficult, its exhausting, and except for some small local jobs it takes a huge time commitment. I know that locally ward leaders and other people are always beating the bushes for people to come and work for the party, and run for office.

I see Bernie's thing as a stunt--just like his claim to support down ticket races was a stunt. He didn't have enough information, or interest, in races a ll around the country, he wasn't willing to support the most progressive person in a given race (they had to meet his extra purity standards) and he didn't actually raise much money for people or share the money he had raised for himself. I am pretty sure this "list" of people who want to run for office is going to be just more vaporware. ( I read, though I can't trace it to its source, that Bernie is asking that the people who volunteer through this form have never run for office before. I get why they think that is a good idea but people learn a lot from running for office and losing--look at Hillary Clinton. )

Yastreblyansky said...

It had a lot of greatness in it--and I can see that people were very moved by it. I was very moved by it and, as I have said many times, almost voted for Sanders myself. If he had won the nomination I would have worked my heart out for him, and kept my snark to myself, because I don't really expect to get a perfect president...

Almost wish you'd put that in the original post. The passion was real and for a while it was really thrilling, and I hope it doesn't just dissipate into crabbiness. It would be nice if the young ones especially could understand that they did achieve something big and could keep doing more. Even if they're wrong about a lot of stuff, because who isn't?

Tom Hilton said...

Excellent post, aimai.

Funny thing about Sanders urging people to run for office as (in many cases) their second act of political involvement (skipping steps like years of volunteer drudgery, mastering a set of issues, building a broad-based network of relationships): Sanders himself didn't vote until he himself was on the ballot.

aimai said...

If Sanders had graciously conceded to Clinton, suspended his campaign, and was revving up to go out on the road as her surrogate during the general election my thoughts on Sanders the man, his supporters,and the campaign he ran would have been entirely different. Like many women, and many Clinton supporters, I am still absolutely gobsmacked that Sanders was unable to manage conceding and complimenting Hillary on her historic run. The acrimony, ugliness, and sheer boorishness of his late campaign has really poisoned it for me, and I was disinclined to waste any time giving his supporters or Sanders any more sympathy than they gave Hillary's voters.

Ken_L said...

The latest argument I'm reading from Sanders supporters is that he should be the nominee because more independents favor him than either Trump or Hillary. Quite why a political party should pay more heed to the wishes of independents than to its own members is a mystery, but it's of a piece with the peculiar, self-righteous, "we're here to clean up your corrupt party for you and we expect your support in return" attitude of the Bernie fans. It's as if they believe no ethical person could ever bring themselves to join either political party, and independents are the only ones who can claim any moral authority.

Roshan said...

I do like Bernie, but to not even concede to Clinton after losing California by such a huge margin signals to me that he doesn't really like losing to a woman. Hillary might be corporate, might appear a bit impersonal, but for fucksakes she is the only thing between us and that fascist jackass from that other party getting into power and ruining everyone's life once and forever. Also, I don't really give two hoots about the young Bernie supporters. They don't know shit about life and or anything in general. They can make like a tree and get the fuck out of here.

Nick said...

"...eight-point win would put Republicans in the danger zone [for losing the House]."

Turn out, one and all!

http://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-06-17/republicans-should-worry-about-losing-the-house

aimai said...

I read that article,Nick. It is very exciting but an eight point win is, I think?, an enormous lift. Didn't Obama win by just a few points?

Yastreblyansky said...

When Johnson beat Goldwater by over 22 points, the spread in the House race was 57.1% to 42.4%, and Democrats picked up 37 seats. Of course they already had a majority anyway. Anyway the eight-point swing is not at all inconceivable. In the "shellacking" of 2010 the spread was 51.7% R to 44.9% D. That was an off-year, so turnout was just 40%.

Given the unique awfulness of Trump as a candidate, which will mean particularly low turnout on the discouraged GOP side, a 1964-style blowout is indeed possible.

Yes, turn out!

Aimai, I don't have any standing to lecture you on how to write about Sanders. I've been virtually pretending he doesn't exist for the last couple of weeks, which is certainly not the ideal approach. I just thought the bit you wrote about the movement was a nice and appropriate gesture.

Unsalted Sinner said...

I've always liked Bernie from afar, as it were, so I'm sorry to say that I've lost a lot of respect for him during this campaign.

Looking back, I think the actual turning point happened when he released his proposal for health reform - a document so riddled with handwaving, underpants gnome thinking and hugely embarrassing errors that it was impossible to take it seriously. That made me go: "Hang on! Bernie has been advocating for universal healthcare since the dawn of time - one of the things his followers praise him for is the way he never abandons his principles. In other words, he has had years, if not decades, to think about how this could be achieved. Yet when journalists ask him what his plan is, he stalls for weeks before producing something that was clearly slapped together in haste by people with dubious expertise. This is simply not how a serious politician works."

I'm afraid that impression has only been strengthened since then. And it doesn't help that he's now behaving like a petulant spoiler, refusing to even acknowledge his defeat.

Belvoir said...

Aimai, I've been reading your comments and thoughts on things for years now, with admiration. You really knocked it out of the park here. Well done.

JoyousMN said...

Great post, Aimai. As other's have said I too have been reading you for a while and really like what you write. Thanks for another great post.

Nick said...

Speaking with (R) colleagues lately, I'm increasingly convinced that the recent 49-37 Bloomberg poll is not only possible, but likely. Although my colleagues will show up and vote down-ticket, I do think that Republicans will have a turnout problem...

But who knows. I may underestimate party loyalties.

Thought experiment for the dead-enders out there: What do you think HRC would do with a full- or two-term Dem House and 60-vote majority in the Senate?

Davis X. Machina said...

Is the Democratic Party supposed to be a mass party? Or a vanguard party?

We go round and round on this... to our everlasting detriment.

Sweet Sue said...

God willing, the Democratic Party is a winning party.

Kathy said...

Thanks, Aimai. You give such eloquent voice to my own thoughts on Bernie and his campaign.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

TL;DR: four thousand more butthurt words on why the opinions of a majority of Democratic voters under age 45 "don't matter". Lolz. That's not gonna end well.

Jim Sweeney said...

"the people are found wanting and need to be dissolved"

Brecht, okay?

Thanks for mentioning Fred Clark, an essential resource for understanding our antagonists and ourselves, and contrasting Rachel Carson with Edward Abbey (whom however we must forgive, since he couldn't forgive himself).

Kathy said...
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Kathy said...
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petrilli said...

The caravan will move on faster if people stop beating the dead hoarse. Jeezus, let it go already.

Alato said...

So, in terms of the Democratic party and Bernie supporters: loyalty/exit/voice. Loyalty is low to non-existent- already independents or alienated during the campaign. Voice is low- the only concessions seem to be symbolic or designed to be easy to ignore in practice, like the party platform. So, exit becomes the way that bernie's people get any agency, constrained by Trump. I guess what i'm saying is that I don'the see much reason for bernie's people to work with or for the Democratic party, besides tactical voting. What am I missing?

Patrick said...

I can't bring myself to comment on the train wreck over at LGM, so I'll just leave a virtual salute and many thanks for this post and your comments. Seriously great stuff!

Also, how did I miss that you'd resumed blogging here (if you'd ever left)?