Monday, December 07, 2015


Salon is now making a regular habit of publishing long, self-righteous essays in which Bernie Sanders fanboys explaining why it would be an awesome idea not to vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election. Here's the latest one: Shane Ryan's "Just Let the Republicans Win: Maybe Things Need to Get Really Bad Before America Wakes Up." This has already been well rebutted by Scott Lemieux at Lawyers, Guns & Money and Allison Hantschel at First Draft, but I'll add to the pile-on.

Ryan writes:
If Hillary lost because progressives abstained from voting, it’s possible that Republican incompetence would be laid bare, and that they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years. If that’s what it takes to show the people that a leftist political revolution is the only viable way forward, it will have been worth watching Hillary bite the political dust. Come 2020, we could be looking at a landscape where progressive politics can finally gather enough momentum to sweep the country, and usher in a new era of FDR-esque reforms.
It isn't merely that a lot of irreversible bad stuff happened after 2000, when we also heard this (or 1980, when Your Aging Correspondent first heard that a bad right-winger's election might fan the flames of lefty revolution in Hearland America). It's that, when the disgust with the GOP finally reached critical mass six years after Bush won the presidency, the Democrats elected in response were, in many cases, from the centrist wing folks like Ryan abhor. The Democratic winners tin 2006 included Blue Dogs like Heath Shuler in the House and Claire McCaskill in the Senate, not to mention the rejected-but-reelected Joe Lieberman. The large Democratic majorities elected in 2006 and 2008 included the folks progressives (understandably) railed against when they watered down President Obama's stimulus plan and rejected a public option on healthcare. Sorry, years of GOP awfulness may eventually lead to the election of Democrats, but those Democrats aren't necessarily going to live up to the progressive ideal. And in the interim, Republicans can do a hell of a lot of damage.

Ryan thinks Republicans are showing Democrats the way:
There’s an analogy here to the far-right conservative movement, which has become so influential in the Republican party that establishment candidates are finding no traction in their own circus of a primary contest. Unlike progressives, the conservative far right has realized the extent of its power -- they had a certain psychological advantage in the early days, propelled as they were by religious fervor -- and for Sanders supporters to do the same, it’s imperative that we don’t capitulate to the Democratic party’s big money wing. If we do, we’ll never be taken seriously.
But the way "the conservative far right" has asserted its power in recent years is not by getting its candidate nominated for president -- it's by winning primaries in races for the House and Senate (and contests even further downballot). I don't see any evidence that the Hillary-haters are doing the hard work of insinuating themselves into state and local Democratic parties in order to wield influence in non-glamorous off-year races.

Ryan has contempt for Hillary Clinton's attempts to embrace progressivism in this campaign:
... she has tacked leftward merely to combat Sanders’ progressive momentum -- going against a lifetime of pro-Wall Street, pro-business action ... not because she actually espouses any of her shiny new positions....
But if Ryan envies the success of Republican ideologues, he should recognize that a great deal of that success has come precisely because GOP Establishment hacks -- most notably, Mitch McConnell and, until recently, John Boehner -- have saved their seats by imitating their party's zealots just the way Hillary is trying to imitate progressives. See also Lindsey Graham and John McCain. They've allied themselves with ideologues in order to save their own political necks -- and that's helped their party move rightward. Clinton's newfound progressivism, sincere or not, might be doing the same thing for her party, in the other direction.

However, zealots don't automatically start winning every battle when they decide to fight. Look at what's happened in the GOP in the Tea Party years: The zealots got a lot of their people into office in 2010 and 2012, and yes, they intimidated Establishment figures, who moved to the right -- but the Establishment fought back, suppressing Tea Party insurgencies in a lot of races in 2014. And now the zealots are striking back in this year's presidential primaries. To some extent, it's a conservative crackup. Zealots have had a lot of success, but they're still fighting with the Establishment, and the party, as a result, could be about to lose its third straight presidential election -- something that's happened only once to one of the major parties since Harry Truman left office. Ongoing intramural war is a potential consequence of a revolt of the zealots. How would that be good for progressivism? And who suffers in the interim? Wouldn't it better to do the best we can this coming November, and inject a little more progressivism into the party from the bottom up now and in the future?


Victor said...

President Cruz/Trump/Rubio, and the new and even more conservative SCOTUS justices, thank you, Shane Ryan.

Yes, this is a “Dunce-cap.”
How very observant of you.
Now, put it on, and go sit in a corner.

Philo Vaihinger said...

It's not just Salon that's indulging splitter nonsense. Check out the Bernie or die outlook of Ron Chusid and his fans at Liberal Values.

Professor Chaos said...

In 2000 the country got an incompetent rightwing president. He proved that rightwing policies would run the country into the ground. And 4 years later, he was re-elected. His party controls both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court.
Why would anyone want a repeat of that?

Victor said...

Professor Chaos,
Because they want a tough, strong daddy.
And if he's an incompetent boob, who cares? He's still their tough, strong daddy.

That's all Authoritarians want.
And hell, it's mostly "the others," who suffer from incompetence and 'boobery.'
And even if it's they themselves, well, they find comfort in believing that "the others" are probably suffering more.
So, it's all good!

Unknown said...

I don't disagree that Hillary, odious as she is, will be infinitely preferable to anyone the Republicans will put forward.

But the "Bernie fanboys" crack shows that you care about the fortunes of the Democratic Party more than you do about progressivism.

Nefer said...

"...they’d run the country into the ground over the next four years. If that’s what it takes to show the people that a leftist political revolution is the only viable way forward, it will have been worth watching Hillary bite the political dust."
Easy to say when you are not the person living a marginal existence who would be tipped into bankruptcy, chronic unemployment, homelessness, or other real and devastating consequences of letting the republicans win.

Easy to say when you are not facing the fact that the loss of health insurance through expanded Medicaid will result in your death.

" the people..." How adorable. Show those silly little people busy keeping a roof over their head and food on the table that we need a "leftist political revolution" and that their lives simply are not important in the grand scheme of things. Making you wonder just who this revolution is supposed to benefit? The people destroyed by it?

Luigi said...

I wonder how things would be right now had Hillary won in 2008 with Obama running right now. Would we be ready to really "tack hard left" after eight years of HRC? Would the "Hope" and "Change" totems be replaced with something more, as you say, Bernie-esk?

Anonymous said...

Eliot Cutler's purity-prog campaigns got the execrable Paul LePage elected twice. Knock it the fuck off already.

swkellogg said...

I'm sure in his own mind he is excluded from the consequences of his grand "vision".

It's unfortunate that we never seem to run out of people who understand the necessity of other people's suffering for the "greater good".

Sweet Sue said...

Shane Ryan can suggest we allow Republicans to win it all because he's a young, white male (his thinking and writing suggests he's still in college) whose life will not be affected by a GOP sweep.
Since his life is the only one that counts, let's all stay home on election day.
Exactly, what the hell is odious about Hillary Clinton? As for her "new found progressivism", she's been a liberal all of her public life.

Victor said...

What @Sweet Sue said!

Victor said...


Make that, after her "Goldwater Girl" days.

Greg said...

And in the interim, Republicans can do a hell of a lot of damage.

The problem is, many who politically advocate “a pox on both their houses” have consumed their own special kind of Kool Aid, where THEY supposedly can handle the projected damage, and others should model themselves on their (supposed) strength and commitment to principle.

It's a sheltered American ego thing, it's a media propaganda thing.

Feud Turgidson said...

Luigi, if HRC had won in 2008, she'd be out in 2012 for failing to do the STIM and Energy packages that at least righted the ship for a while, and we'd currently be listening to debates among Obama, Bidan, probably not Bernie, about who should be the Dem nominee to take on President Romney in his bid for re-election.

People actually make a lot of money on these 'counterfactual fictions', but other than that, and trying to learn to avoid the more recent pitfalls, I think there's next to no actual value in it. The false glow to the past that makes up reminiscence is part of a deluded family of misfits that includes Cousin Regret. Dwell too much on such things and no one ever goes forward.

Glennis said...

"Goldwater Girl"

Uh, she was 17. Do you really think this is relevant?

I sure as shit don't want anyone to hold me responsible today for what I believed at 17, and I imagine you don't, either.

Ten Bears said...

I often think that's what we should do about the christians: let 'em have their dog-damned little apocalypse, let 'em destroy the freaking world and when their bloodthirsty dog doesn't come floating down out of the heavens on a flying horse with thousands of sort-of dogs on flying horses to carry away the faithful to paradise maybe we can get on with cleaning up the mess that's been made (and woe unto the remaining "christians"). That I find it far the more likely thousands of spacecraft, vast slaughterhouses piloted by ravenous vaguely reptilian creatures - you know hungry lizards (we did invite them to " come eat") is moot in the generally accepted vernacular, and I do have issues with the whole destroying the world my grandchildren are growing up in agenda.

My issues with Hillary are quite possibly older than some of you reading this, and are not germaine to the topic at hand; Auntie, when I was seventeen, eighteen I didn't believe I would live to twenty, it was a given for guys like me. And while like others I'll not disagree she is infinitely preferable to the shit sandwiches the Retards have to offer, my world went to shit the last time the Retards took the White House and it hasn't gotten any better since. It can't get any worse, so, foke it, let 'em have their dog-damned little apocalypse. My family and I have made it this far, and we're getting pretty good at picking up pieces so yeah, bring it on, let 'em completely destroy the country. And when more "Americans" have paid the price I've paid, when their families have suffered as mine has suffered maybe, just maybe they'll pull their heads out of their asses and we can get on with cleaning up the mess that's been made.

I'm not holding my breath.

I paid for my vote with blood and bone, I refuse to "not turn out", just as I refuse to hold my nose and vote more of the same.

Sweet Sue said...

Victor, yes that's why I said her public life.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Yeah, let's show and not vote for HRC! I'm totally for this except for all the innocent people who will suffer because REpublicans will go full throated into every Muslim country to kill radical islam, deny millions of Americans healthcare coverage, shackle women, break up and deport muslims, encourage more shootings of unarmed black people by LEOs and self-appointed neighborhood watch captains.

So, yeah it'll be great to allow the Republicans to oppress, hurt, and kill millions of people cause that'll teach Americans to vote Progressive.

Stellours said...

My two cents is that on the one hand I think it's good for people to read these kinds of articles to give them a chance to imagine what would happen. Maybe it'll give enough people the oomph to go vote for the dem candidate after contemplating the alternative.

On the other hand, I don't think Bernie is [And if he's an incompetent boob, who cares? He's still their tough, strong daddy.] An incompetent boob. He's been in office an awfully long time and still has held his values. That's kinda what bothers people about Hillary - her seeming to shift and seeming to come out with what Bernie had just said.

Ten Bears said...

O'Fergoodnesssakes Grung, lighten up. Hillary is going to be the next president, Wall Street and the International Bankers and Insurers have made that decision and all of this is naught but kombutki theater to leave the rubes feeling as if they were participant. Nothing will change.