America is like the latest episodes of Game Of Thrones in that nerds who read all the books have no idea what the fuck is going on anymore
— Erin Gloria Ryan (@morninggloria) March 2, 2016
As a sidebar to Cole’s excellent post last night, here’s Jamelle Bouie, at Slate, on “The Real Difference Between Hillary and Bernie”:
… Primaries obscure this, but parties are far more than their voters. They are the volunteers that give time, the donors that give money, the local and state officials that build organizations, the recruiters that find candidates, etc. They are also loose coalitions of groups and interests that work in tandem for common goals and, equally, work against each other for particular gains. Some are more powerful than others, and that influences the broad direction and shape of the parties.
In addition to chief executive and commander in chief, the president of the United States is also the leader of his or her party. And as much as anything else, the president has to navigate these groups and interests, as well as communicate with other party members, from congressional leaders to local and state party officials…
Hillary Clinton, a prominent leader from the ideological center of the Democratic Party, is running to lead the Democratic coalition as it exists. She wants to lead the party as much as she wants to be president. Which makes her more attentive to traditional party building—she’s pledged to devote resources to boosting state parties and candidates—and more cautious with her rhetoric. Liberals in the Democratic coalition are opposed to fracking, but many rural and purple state Democrats aren’t. Clinton doesn’t want to alienate either, so she tries to satisfy both.
Bernie Sanders, by contrast, comes from the left wing of American politics with a nominal attachment to the Democratic Party—until his run for the presidency, he didn’t identify as a Democrat. He’s not as concerned with the usual party building and coalition maintenance. He wants to change the terms of the institution that is the Democratic Party and put ideological liberals at the fulcrum of Democratic politics, in the same way that ideological conservatives sit at the center of Republican politics. And so, his appeals are broad and expansive. He doesn’t worry about details as much as he focuses on energizing like-minded voters. Rather than trying to satisfy Democrats in conservative places, Sanders is trying to reduce their influence by attracting sympathetic voters (his “political revolution”).
The problem for Sanders is that ideological liberals are one faction among many, and they compete for influence with party stalwarts like union members and black Americans, who offer support based on transaction—what can you do for the interests of our specific group—as much as belief. To win on his terms, Sanders has to grow the space for ideological politics in those groups and satisfy its more moderate and conservative members. This is hard (I call them “stalwarts” for a reason), and it’s why Sanders has had a hard time in states where they play an important part…
Apart from political self-examination, what’s on the agenda for the day?