Off the Lawn, Off the Boat, Out of the Party

Matt Taibbi gives me some assurance that I’m not crazy.

This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters.

Taibbi goes on to quote various pundits who are still reading from the standard post-nomination script.

The classic example was James Hohmann’s piece in the Washington Post, titled, “Primary wins show Hillary Clinton needs the left less than pro-Sanders liberals think.”

Hohmann’s thesis was that the “scope and scale” of Clinton’s wins Tuesday night meant mainstream Democrats could now safely return to their traditional We won, screw you posture of “minor concessions” toward the “liberal base.”

I wrote yesterday that Clinton supporters are angry and frustrated with Sanders for not following the proper script. He’s supposed to drop out now and endorse Clinton! She won!

In short, they’re like people enjoying a dinner party in a burning house, or maybe the Titanic.

If they had any brains, Beltway Dems and their clucky sycophants like Capeheart would not be celebrating this week. They ought to be horrified to their marrow that the all-powerful Democratic Party ended up having to dig in for a furious rally to stave off a quirky Vermont socialist almost completely lacking big-dollar donors or institutional support.

They should be freaked out, cowed and relieved, like the Golden State Warriors would be if they needed a big fourth quarter to pull out a win against Valdosta State.

But to read the papers in the last two days is to imagine that we didn’t just spend a year witnessing the growth of a massive grassroots movement fueled by loathing of the party establishment, with some correspondingly severe numerical contractions in the turnout department (though she won, for instance, Clinton received 30 percent fewer votes in California this year versus 2008, and 13 percent fewer in New Jersey).

I’ve said this before, too.

People are sick of being thought of as faraway annoyances who only get whatever policy scraps are left over after pols have finished servicing the donors they hang out with at Redskins games.

Democratic voters tried to express these frustrations through the Sanders campaign, but the party leaders have been and probably will continue to be too dense to listen. Instead, they’ll convince themselves that, as Hohmann’s Post article put it, Hillary’s latest victories mean any “pressure” they might have felt to change has now been “ameliorated.”

And this:

The maddening thing about the Democrats is that they refuse to see how easy they could have it. If the party threw its weight behind a truly populist platform, if it stood behind unions and prosecuted Wall Street criminals and stopped taking giant gobs of cash from every crooked transnational bank and job-exporting manufacturer in the world, they would win every election season in a landslide.

This is especially the case now that the Republican Party has collapsed under the weight of its own nativist lunacy. It’s exactly the moment when the Democrats should feel free to become a real party of ordinary working people.

But they won’t do that, because they don’t see what just happened this year as a message rising up from millions of voters.

I’ve been saying all along that the Dems need Sanders and his supporters more than Sanders and his supporters need the Democrats. I’m not talking about winning the November election here, although that might be part of it. I’m talking about the even more fundamental question of why a person should be loyal to a political party, support it, and vote for its candidates even when you’re not crazy about them.  As I also keep saying, the percentage of Americans who self-identify with one party or another is at an all-time low. Although I understand a lot of people have registered as Democrats this year, are those people who are going to stay Democrats? Or are they people who wanted to vote for Sanders in a primary, or who want to vote against Trump in November? Do they have any real interest in the Democratic Party, as a party?

See above about Clinton getting 30 percent fewer votes in California this year than in 2008.  See also Dear Democrats: Please Face Reality.

Instead of offering a competing vision for the future or debating policy ideas, Clinton ran against Sanders by dismissing him. But perhaps that’s the only way she could beat him, with “loyal Democrat” dog whistles and painting her opposition as racist and sexist white guys, which was never true.

One constant narrative throughout the primaries has been that Sanders just can’t gain the support of women or people of color, and that his supporters are overwhelmingly white males who back him for the simple reason that he is a man (e.g. Walsh’s “angry white male cult”). But again, this is complete hogwash. Sanders has actually done better with young women than young men — a USA Today poll taken in the midst of the primaries found that Millennial women backed “Sanders by a jaw-dropping 61%-30% while the divide among Millennial men is much closer, 48%-44%.” Similarly, while Clinton has dominated with African American voters overall, young black and Hispanic voters have a more favorable opinion of Sanders than Clinton, according to a Gallup survey from May. Indeed, Sanders is viewed even more favorably among black millennials than white millennials. The survey also found that Sanders is viewed more favorably among millennial women than millennial men, and that millennials were the most left-leaning generation.

It’s one thing to smear your opponent, but when you smear your opponent by smearing his supporters, don’t expect those supporters to not notice, or to forgive you. Still quoting Conor Lynch at Salon,

Roughly a year after launching her campaign, Hillary Clinton has now locked up the Democratic nomination. But her campaign and the DNC establishment have also done a great job at alienating young people and the left.

Partisans have been reluctant to acknowledge that a formidable progressive movement fueled by millennials could challenge the neoliberal status quo in the coming years, and have instead tried to tarnish the reputation of the entire Sanders movement. But Sanders isn’t going to fight until the convention because of “sexism,” as Clintonites have started postulating, but because of politics and ideas; his entire campaign has been about combating “establishment politics” and “establishment economics,” which, unfortunately, Clinton epitomizes. Of course, partisans don’t want to debate ideas or address inconvenient truths, like the party’s close ties to Wall Street and corporate America. It’s much easier to make generalizations and accuse everyone who disagrees with you of trolling or harassment.

Like the guy I quoted yesterday said, “Hillary people seem to have become (and maybe always were) more about keeping Bernie people off the boat than they are about rowing past Trump.” So, yeah, the Dems just shoved a whole generation of people off the boat. It remains to be seen how many of those young people will continue to try to reform the party, or how many just quit in disgust.

IMO the Dems will have a fight on their hands, but probably not so much from Donald Trump. Donald Trump is nothing but an ego with bad hair. His “business success” reminds me of an old saying — the easiest way to make a small fortune is to inherit a large fortune.  I keep reading articles about how shrewd he is and that he knows what he’s doing, but I don’t think so. I think he’s gotten into something that’s way over his bizarrely coifed head.  Especially once we get past the conventions I think his campaign will be a train wreck.  We’ll see. He’ll probably get more electoral college votes than he ought to based on his total unsuitability to be POTUS, but I still think she’s going to win.

I think the real fight will come later, and it will be a fight the Democrats, apparently, do not expect. It will be a fight to win back the generation of voters they just kicked off the boat.

Just as one more example of how oblivious they are, I was reading this morning that the Democrats want very much to get their hands on Sanders’s email list.

Bernie Sanders has built more than just a following. He’s amassed the mother of all email lists. Some estimate it contains more than 5 million contacts, which is big, even by presidential standards. That database has allowed Sanders to raise thousands of dollars at the click of a button. …

…The Sanders campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment about the future of the supporter list. Speculation abounds. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reidreportedly asked the campaign last month to deploy the list to assist Democrats in Senate races, but was rebuffed by Jeff Weaver, Sanders’s campaign manager. Liberal groups have said they’d love to take a peek at the Vermont senator’s data.

People affiliated with the campaign have pushed back. On Monday, a fundraiser manager for Revolution Messaging, the D.C.-based firm Sanders has employed to manage his campaign data, tweeted that the senator’s list was like King Arthur’s Excalibur: “Lots of people might think they can use it, but it takes someone special for it to work.”

I think all the Dem establishment could raise from that list are a bunch of FUs. If they don’t know that, they’re not smelling the smoke or seeing the iceberg or whatever metaphor works for you.

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