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.

12 thoughts on “The Sort of Endorsement

  1. I’m no great Hillary lover, but I”m going to STFU !

    She’s the Democratic candidate, and while she’s far from perfect, she’s infinitely better than the alternative!

    We never know…
    It took Nixon to open up China.
    And it took Reagan to try to slow down nuclear weapons, so, who knows what Hillary might try to do?

    An Ol’ Boy can dream can’t he!?!?

  2. She’s our Nixon, she’s our Brezhnev; she’s for controlled decline. Her best frenemy Trump is for uncontrolled fall.
    “Obstacle to be manipulated” sounds about right. For me, one of her endearing qualities is her incompetence at lying. Her insincerity is transparent. This is in marked contrast with many other Presidents. She will tell us much, without intending to.

  3. Not sure if anything liberal gets done so long as the Republicans control Congress (i.e. retain either a majority of the House or 41 seats in the Senate, or even if there are enough weak Democrats to make up the difference).

  4. The only thing Hillary Clinton has going for her in this election is Donald Trump.
    That seems to be my sentiment also. If Trump wasn’t such a horror I’d consider some form of protest vote against Hillary, but things being what they are, and the margin of a miscalculation in a voting strategy so unpredictable that I’m more than willing to lay down in support of Hillary Clinton.
    If people can’t see Trump for who he is than God help us. The fact that Trump even got as far as he has in the GOP primary just shows the moral decay that’s devouring our nation. What ever happened to the content of character? With the choice of candidates presented I’m starting to feel like Jesus. I find myself saying..If it be thy will take this cup from me!

  5. “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.”

    Well considering Ross Perot pretty much told him what was going to happen right to his face and in front of the whole country – I’d have to conclude Bill knew what he was doing.

  6. MahaBarbara–That last link in your piece–in the very last sentence–doesn’t really seem to be what your wording implies. The gist of it appeared to be that owing to the eruption of Clinton Derangement Syndrome coming from the right wing, rational discourse about Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings has become impossible. And rational discourse is sorely needed. I don’t find it on left blogs that I look at, where Hillary is denounced as practically a war criminal.

    • JDW — Stupidest post Scott Lemieux ever wrote. None of those positions is “neoliberal,” and I’m sure he knows that. Possibly he was just snarking at HA Goodman.

  7. I like to read economists, and Greider tends to make me uncomfortable when he goes off on the anti-globalization stuff. Same goes for some of Bernie’s rhetoric in this area.

    I just read what struck me as a pretty good, nuanced take on the topi.

    And I’m split on Hillary. I think she’s better than average – and better than Obama – on domestic stuff, but she seems horrible on foreign policy. And Bernie hasn’t pushed her much on the latter, not that I think it would make any difference. She seems very confident about her terrible views on war, and it’s the one area where all the checks and balances seem to vanish, so no “incremental” restraints. Oh, well.

  8. When I was a kid I used to play a game with my sisters. We called it: The what would you rather game. The point of the game was to pose two extremely distasteful choices to see what personal values,fears or other phobias held a higher precedence of distastefulness in our moral or emotional inventory.
    When I consider the choice between Hillary and Trump as a potential president I often think back to those delightful days of my youth. Both of my sisters with whom I used to play that game have since passed on, but the joy and laughter we experienced in playing that game still lingers.
    Now I find that the format of playing that game serves as a template in evaluating which candidate is the most offensive to my moral and emotional inventory. I think I’ve come to point, minus the laughter, where I can honestly say that given the choice between Trump and Hillary, that Trump is by far the most offensive and I’d rather see Hillary elected president.
    Life is such that sometimes you’ve got to eat a shit sandwich even when you’re not hungry. Trump’s demeanor and character offends me on every possible level and it’s of primary importance to counter that slob in any possible way to prevent him from exploiting the ignorance and hate that is consuming our nation.

  9. Some months ago, an old friend was lobbying me on behalf of HRC, on the all-too-familiar “electability” grounds (which, by the way, seem even more bogus than they did then – note today’s Quinnipiac swing-state polls). I answered by saying I was sticking with Sanders so long as he stayed in, but that if it came down to HRC v. Trump, for me it would be analogous to going back to November 1968 but with only two choices, Nixon or Wallace. I’d have voted for Nixon in that case, with a near-fatal degree of noseholding, and will vote for HRC this year with roughly the same degree of enthusiasm.

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