Let’s Not Follow Sanders Off the Cliff

Remember last week when some folks were reassuring us that criticism of “identity politics” in the wake of the Democrats’ loss wasn’t code for throwing marginalized people under the bus? Here’s TPM’s report on a speech Bernie Sanders delivered in Boston yesterday:

In a speech Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged attendees to move away from “identity politics” and towards policies aimed at helping the working class.

Sanders spoke to a crowd of more than 1,000 mostly young people at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston, according to a report from WBUR.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said, according to the same report. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

Sanders also urged the crowd to move the party away from what he called “identity politics.”

“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me.’ That is not good enough,” he said, according to the same report. “What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industries.”

Let’s unpack some of the insulting, revisionist implications that follow from this speech. My first “Go Fuck Yourself, Sanders” goes to the implication that Clinton ever asked anyone to vote for her just because she’s a woman. She didn’t, so fuck that bullshit, and fuck Sanders for implying that she did.

The second goes to the wholesale purchase of the cherished and increasingly accepted in some circles wingnut-fomented meme that the Democrats don’t represent “real America” and got what was coming to them for turning their back on the working class in favor of embracing the elites. That’s a lie we believe at our peril.

The DLC is dead, and good riddance. I agree there has been too little attention paid to those hurt by globalization, too much happy talk about the jobs that would flow in from that process, too much eagerness on the part of some Democrats to curry favor with big donors. We’ve debated that endlessly here throughout PBO’s two terms; it was debated endlessly in the primaries, and that message was incorporated into the Democratic Party platform. Sanders didn’t invent it, and he doesn’t own it now.

But since we’re the reality-based party, supposedly capable of handling nuance and complexity, we can — in theory — simultaneously acknowledge the accomplishments of a highly successful two-term Democratic president who pulled us from the brink of a second Great Depression, got an additional 20 million people access to health care coverage, helped make sure marriage equality became the law of the land, turned a catastrophically high flood of job losses into a stable, less than 5% unemployment economy, etc.

During the primary, Sanders shit all over that, as did Trump in the general. But it doesn’t follow that a Sanders-like message — from anyone, including Sanders — would have been a winner. For every one WWC vote an “everything sucks after eight years of Obama” platform might have pulled in, how many votes would be lost from Democrats who believe in this president and have supported his agenda? Greater than Trump’s margins in the Rust Belt, is my guess.

And finally, what I find most infuriating about Sanders’ take is that he’s ignoring the people who actually DID embrace identity politics in this election cycle: That would be Donald J. Trump and the millions of voters who embraced WHITE identity politics. The Democrats ran on an inclusive message. Trump did the opposite. Again, for every WWC vote we’d gain by embracing a very specific kind of identity politics to chase Trump voters, how many would Democrats lose? Well, mine, for one.

Two final thoughts: the first is that politicians are running around trying to pound the round peg of this election loss into the square hole of their own agenda. Yes, we need to examine the causes and learn the appropriate lessons, but they are myriad. Any simple solution, such as turning the party’s soul over to a man who couldn’t win the Democratic primary, would be compounding the problem rather than solving it, IMO. Yes to sharpening the economic message to more loudly broadcast an appeal to ALL voters. Yes to making sure future candidates’ messages — and arguably the candidates themselves — excite people since we seem to be in the reality TV era of politics. But not just “no” but “FUCK NO” to the idea that the Democrats lost because of “identity politics.”

Second, so much of this intramural squabbling is crab bucket politics. We’ve got an unhinged, pathological liar, authoritarian conman poised to take office, and he is shaking out the KKK bedsheets and emptying the armoires where the brown shirts are stored to fill his administration with the very worst pricks imaginable. A man who is openly setting up a kleptocracy to funnel loot to the pack of parasites who are accompanying him to DC. A man who will rage-tweet all night about perceived disrespect shown at a Broadway show to his beady-eyed, bible-humping VP and remain utterly silent about the hundreds of hate crimes psychos nationwide are perpetrating in his name.

Perhaps we have more important things to focus on, is what I’m saying. And it’s flat-out unseemly for a politician with standing in the Democratic Party to focus elsewhere, even if he does have a book to flog.

Late Night Open Thread: White Male “Ally” Dives for the Spotlight

Sure, Hillary was a Wall-Street-Whore-Corporatist-Shill when she suggested haggling for a mere $12.50 hourly wage in those areas where the cost of living didn’t meet NY/San Francisco/Seattle standards as a bargaining tactic… but if it’s a (fellow) man, even a Republican, well, whole diffrunt kettle!… as ever with the More-Leftist-Than-Thou boys. CNN reports:

President-elect Donald Trump will find himself with an unlikely ally if he makes good on his promise to be an economic populist challenging corporate America, Bernie Sanders said Thursday.

“If Mr. Trump has the guts to stand up to those corporations,” said the former Democratic presidential candidate, “he will have an ally with me.”

The willingness on the part of Sanders, a longtime democratic socialist, to work with Trump on a series of economic issues underscores the unorthodox and strikingly populist message that Trump used during his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton.

Sanders, speaking with reporters at a Christian Science Monitor sponsored breakfast, said he is ready to embrace Trump on a handful of campaign promises. Those include protecting Social Security and Medicare, negotiating for lower drug prices, raising the minimum wage to $10, imposing tariffs on companies that ship jobs overseas, and re-regulating Wall Street by re-establishing Glass-Steagall…

Because if you can’t trust a notorious liar and deal-breaker like Donald Trump, who can you work with?

… By embracing Trump’s left-leaning stands, Sanders is hoping to make progress on issues of long-standing concern to the Vermont senator…

Foremost among those issues: What’s in it for Bernie?

… Sanders, who is promoting his new book, “Our Revolution: A Future To Believe In,” during a series of appearances across Washington, is stepping into the leadership vacuum of the Democratic Party.

He said it was not productive to look backward, waving off a question about whether he could have defeated Trump if he had won the Democratic nomination with a “who knows?” response…

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Late Night Open Thread: Trump Campaign Still Courting Sanders Voters

… Or so I assume, since the Observer is owned by Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

A percentage of every advertisement purchased was paid to Old Towne Media and Devine Mulvey Longabough for brokering the media contracts. The latter was run by Sanders’ senior strategist, Tad Devine, who also received a cut for deals brokered through Old Towne. Devine’s cut totaled at least $10 million by the end of May 2016, according to an investigative report by Slate—in addition to over $5 million paid to his firm. (This would be over half a million average donations to the Sanders campaign.)…

Each dollar that went to Devine and the other political insiders reaping millions off of the Sanders campaign meant less money for progressive grassroots organizers and activists on the ground. One of the greatest strategizing errors of the Sanders campaign was not focusing more money and efforts on creating a new grassroots method of campaigning. Instead, Sanders relied on traditional methods that made a few elite political consultants millions off the generosity of everyday Americans who supported him. Structures within presidential campaigning are designed to preserve the status quo, benefiting those who charge exorbitant fees for their services in the political world. Sanders’ political revolution failed to change how presidential campaigns are run.

While Sanders’ chief of staff, Jeff Weaver, embodied the revolutionary spirit of the campaign, Devine represented the establishment voice of the Democratic Party…

Nice job of finger-pointing away from Jeff ‘Comic Book Guy’ Weaver, but maybe not the best publicity for Bernie Sanders, now that questions are being raised about the formerly little-noticed entity Old Towne Media LLC and its ties to someone rather closer to Senator Sanders than even his old buddy Jeff.

Now that the Senator is no longer useful as a weight around Hillary Clinton’s ankle, the media seems to have decided he’s more fun as a target…

Open Thread: Dodged A Bullet

NBC sourced their story from the Center for Public Integrity’s “How Bernie Sanders beat the clock — and avoided disclosure”:

… [W]hen federal law required Sanders to reveal, by mid-May, current details of his personal finances, his campaign lawyer asked the Federal Election Commission for a 45-day extension.

Request granted.

On June 30, Sanders’ campaign requested a second 45-day extension, saying the senator had “good cause” to delay because of his “current campaign schedule and officeholder duties.”…

Now that Sanders’ second extension has expired, spokesman Michael Briggs confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that the senator won’t file a presidential campaign personal financial disclosure after all.

“We were told that since the senator no longer is a candidate there was no requirement to file,” Briggs said.

FEC spokesman Christian Hilland verified that Sanders has not filed a personal financial disclosure. He likewise confirmed that Sanders, who technically ceased to be a presidential candidate when Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination on July 26, is no longer required to file one…

Me, I’ve been saying all along that I seriously doubt there’s anything revelatory in the Sanders campaign finances beyond their embarrassing amateurism.” And now that he’s returned to his Green Mountain home(s), the only people with a real stake in the issue of Sanders’ finances are the voters of Vermont and the media in that unwealthy underpopulated state…

VTDigger, “Special report: Sanders campaign millions go to mystery firm“:
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Late Night Open Thread: #NotAllBernistas

From the Yahoo article:

Even in this sea of sadness, Sean Kehren, a 22-year-old Sanders delegate from Minnesota, stood out. For one, he was wearing a Peter Pan-style hat (which represents a “Robin Hood tax” on Wall Street). His expression of pure anguish as Sanders spoke earned him the title of “breakout star” among all the crying Sanders delegates…

Kehren, however, told Yahoo News that he is not a Bernie-or-buster. He said he was crying in part because he found it very noble that Sanders was encouraging his fans to back Clinton for the good of the nation after such a hard-fought and idealistic campaign. (Kehren also wept earlier Monday when Sanders was loudly booed by his delegates for telling them to get behind Clinton.)

“I was getting emotional over the fact that he was doing his best to unify the party and I think that’s such a noble cause,” Kehren said. “Bernie has led a revolution, he’s led a movement, and now that movement has to get behind the party.”…

Kehren said he’s not a privileged “Bernie Bro” who hates Clinton, as some on social media have branded him. He said he was raised by a struggling single mom and will vote for Clinton in the election. “She’s done her best to make deals with Bernie and to embrace his side, and I have to giver her credit for that,” he said of Clinton…

Good for Mr. Kehren. As others have pointed out, a big part of the problem with Sanders delegates is that the experienced political people overwhelmingly chose to work for Clinton’s campaign. By default — as much as inclination — the Sandernistas knew less about what acting as a delegate would mean, from paying their own expenses to accepting that the convention rules, however labyrinthine or ‘illogical’, would have to be followed even if one’s candidate didn’t win the ballots.