The Sort of Endorsement

So today was the big endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Bernie Sanders. Philip Bump points out that his endorsement speech today was very similar to a non-endorsement speech of a month ago. The difference is that he  has been able to push Hillary Clinton to the left on some issues, at least as far as the platform is concerned. Bump concludes,

Sanders’s speech in June bit harder, using words such as “disgrace,” “combat,” “pain” and “starvation.” His comments endorsing Clinton were softer: “transforming,” “fix” and “struggling.”

You can also see where the Democratic platform ended up, based on what Sanders left out. The tuition relief was for public colleges, not all college students. The call for fixing the environment dropped a mention of a tax on carbon (and a ban on fracking, which Sanders also mentioned in June).

This was entirely the point, of course. The goal was for Sanders to make the case to his supporters that Clinton would be a champion for their issues, too — if not all of the issues and if not in the same way. He mirrored what he said a month ago because he was asked to send a message to his team that the revolution would go on, albeit with a new leader.

Except she’ll never be the “leader” to most Sanders supporters. Maybe they’ll vote for her, but they see her more as an obstacle to be manipulated than as a “leader.” I doubt very much she’s going to accomplish anything that the progressive Left wants, even if she tries. Which is another “if.”

William Greider writes,

In this season of political chaos, the party led by Hillary Clinton is holding on to the familiar past it knows—the glory days when New Democrats were the brilliant winners.

Confused and alarmed by the current Republican breakup, the Clinton machine has responded with crab-like caution, maybe hoping to have it both ways. Clinton-Obama veterans agreed early on that 2016 would be Hillary’s turn. She would bring her own assets and could run on her husband’s reputation as the popular, pragmatic centrist. Events did not cooperate. In this season of change, HRC’s new agenda sounds a lot like the same old, same old.

After a review of Bill Clinton’s record as POTUS, which could be seen as a betrayal of blue collar workers and unions, Greider continues,

In political terms, organized labor lost big. It was permanently displaced by Wall Street finance as the most influential constituency of the Clinton-Obama presidencies. The working class has not forgotten this brutal betrayal (pundits scold the losers, urging them to get over it). In fact, desperate working familes are still getting hammered by the ugly consequences.

Millions of high-wage manufacturing jobs were destroyed by cheap labor competition, just as the major corporations had intended. Did Bill Clinton know what he was doing? He’s a shrewd guy, and it’s impossible to believe he was unaware of the domestic destruction he was authorizing. Did Hillary Clinton know? Her silence on the subject is not reassuring.

Political reporters and op-ed economists in the prestigious newspapers continue to dismiss angry workers as deluded or just plain stupid. The tortured denials of what ordinary people know to be true in their own lives drip with class condescension, talking down to people with economic abstractions when their human losses are about real pain. These establishment commentaries typically have two omissions: The reporters seldom talk with the people actually victimized, and the opinion pieces almost never mention what happened to wages.

I still say that the only people who are genuinely enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton are upper-income white people over 50. Others may vote for her, but all the rah-rah is coming from people privileged enough not to notice.

After detailing a lot of ways the Democratic Party continues to sell out working people and blue collar jobs, Greider writes,

I recite these facts to demonstrate how distant the Democratic Party establishment has drifted from the everyday realities of working stiffs. Dem strategists and Clinton advisers, who were cheering progress, didn’t see jobs as an explosive issue for Election 2016. The official unemployment rate was grossly misleading, but it was good fodder or the campaign. The Clinton betrayal was forgotten long ago. Wrong again.

The events of 2016 derailed such optimistic expectations. HRC’s advantage succeeded in scaring off potential competitors for the nomination—all but Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders. Not to worry; the Clinton machine would brush him aside. But Bernie’s eye was on something much bigger than winning the White House (always unlikely for him). Senator Sanders aspired to encourage a “political revolution” that would restore democracy for the people and, not coincidentally, liberate the money-bound Democratic Party from its patrons. Clintonistas never seemed to understand that Bernie meant it. He still does. His clarity and conviction stole the show from HRC.

They still don’t think he means it, btw.

HRC’s dilemma looks like this: To vigorously confront the angry zeitgeist of 2016, the new party of Hillary Clinton would have to turn on the old party of Bill Clinton. To seek ownership of this year’s fed-up rebellion, HRC would have to speak for the anger instead of smothering it with platitudes. She would also need to acknowledge (gently) that vast destruction flowed from her husband’s presidency, but that things are different now.

I don’t think she’s got it in her to do that.

Don’t hold your breath. To execute such a hard-nosed leap, the Clinton machine would have to do a back flip that abandons not just Mr. Bill but also the Wall Street power brokers whom she trusts. Given HRC’s natural caution, it doesn’t seem likely she could ever make that break, especially since she’s still surrounded by Clinton veterans who are dreaming of a blowout election victory in November.

What was going to be Hillary’s best asset has turned into an awkward millstone. People will still ask what she really thinks about the family legacy. The GOP will demand an answer. Hillary’s avoidance doesn’t cut it. If Americans wind up choosing Donald Trump as their president, the faint-hearted Democratic Party will have to share the blame.

Back to the enthusiasm thing. Danielle Kurtzleben at NPR reports that Clinton has a huge enthusiasm gap among young people.

There’s a little good news for Clinton in the poll of 18- to 30-year-olds — in a matchup against Donald Trump, she clearly bests the New York businessman, 38 to 17 percent. But that leaves 45 percent of those young adults who said they were either undecided, wouldn’t vote or would vote for someone else (22 percent).

Another stat that bodes poorly for Clinton: Those who chose her aren’t exactly crazy about her — many instead simply dislike Trump. Those who chose Clinton are about evenly split: 47 percent said they “mainly support” her, while 53 percent said they “mainly oppose” Trump.

Young people may not be much of a factor in November, if large numbers of them remain ambivalent enough to stay home. But that doesn’t speak well for the future of the Democratic Party, either. And I don’t think the “endorsement” from Sanders is going to change that.  The only thing Hillary Clinton has going for her in this election is Donald Trump.

Judging by social media, the Dem party base has its share of older, complacent voters who assume that as long as Hillary Clinton wins in November, everything will be just fine. I don’t know what it would take for them to haul their heads out of their asses. But the true-blue Clintonista lives in a state of denial.