Some Disjointed Thoughts About The Clinton-Sanders Acrimony

1. That the Democratic Party is in such a crisis (not since ’68 have I seen anything like conflict so bitter) at the same time as the Republican Party is ripping itself apart, is not an accident. It is a product of wide-spread perception, and accurate perception in my opinion, that there are problems that the capitalist parties simply cannot solve.

2. There is no question that the Sanders campaign has pulled in large numbers of people who had not previously been involved in party politics. They perceive that the forces (ie, Wall Street) that have caused most of the problems in their lives are the same forces, personified by Clinton, that are preventing them from having a voice.

3. The “liberal elite” (the upper middle class and white collar urban liberal) that has been the foundation of the Democratic Party for the last two generations, with its focus on identity politics and its open disdain for the worker, is directly clashing with the those forces that are still trapped in the idea of party politics but are angry that the Democratic Party has nothing to say to the millions of poor and working class people whose lives have been shattered by capitalism.

4. I doubt there is a single billionaire, a single Wall Street banker, a single oil executive, a single Washington power broker or politician, a single media mogule, a single Halliburtan executive, a single general, who is pleased about how furious people are at the two parties.  None of them are happy about the general hatred of both Trump and Clinton, at seeing the Democrats squabbling like unruly fourth graders while the Republicans stare at Trump like a smallpox patient looks into a mirror trying to convince himself it doesn’t look so bad after all. And if they don’t like it, and they can’t fix it, that indicates the problem is the capitalist system itself, not who happens to be running it at any given moment.

5. The mutual frustration and hostility between Clinton and Sanders supporters can be reduced to one group that wants business as usual under conditions where business as usual is a dead-end, and another group that wants to change the Democratic Party into something that it is fundamentally incapable of being.

6. Bottom line: Both political parties are in crisis because the ruling elite are in crisis about what to do about the tremendous anger and resentment directed at the out-of-control juggernaut called American capitalism.

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70 thoughts on “Some Disjointed Thoughts About The Clinton-Sanders Acrimony”

  1. I am in almost perfect agreement on this. 9 words off.

    (I really wanted to be coy, but in the spirit of honest communication:)

    “identity politics and its” – I’d strike this, as I honestly don’t think the Democratic party has actually focused as much on identity politics as either its detractors or standard-bearers might sometimes suggest. I think if it had made a comprehensive, broad-spectrum sweep towards social justice, it wouldn’t be in its current state. (It would also be a damn sight *closer* to socialism, which I think could only be a good thing).

    “incapable of being” replaced with “unlike now.” But then, I think our most fundamental point of political disagreement has always been my optimism when it comes to the possibility of reform. I find the notion that it can successfully change highly implausible, but I don’t think we’re incapable.

    But, yeah. Nine words. Both a very tiny point of difference, and at the same time, a wide shift of outlook. I thought that was interesting.

  2. Interesting indeed. Did you follow the link? Not that I’m a political co-thinker of the author, but that just emphasizes the point: even sections of pro-capitalist liberalism are aware of the effects of the last two generations of Democratic party politics. See what you think of it.

  3. I totally missed the link on the first readthrough; I’ll bookmark it now to read when I read the Marxism as Science article (I’ve had a rewarding day that nonetheless makes me want to turn off my brain and pour another whiskey, so, tomorrow, hopefully).

  4. a shot of dark honey whiskey in a tall glass of homebrew cider. then, a shot of same in a short glass. then the bottle of cider is empty, so…

  5. Matt, “social justice” is a usefully evasive concept like “progressive”—it means what the hearer wishes to hear. As for whether the Democrats have been particularly identitarian, identitarianism launched the events that led to the firing of Matt Bruenig. If you don’t know the story, Gawker of all places seems to have the least-biased account, and the only account I’ve noticed that explains his use of “scumbag”:

    That entire affair began when Joan Walsh tweeted, “I reject the moral superiority of a coalition led by white men vs. the will of black, brown and female voters.” It’s really not possible to get more identitarian than that.

    Bruenig rightly noted that the more important division is between young and old; the millennial voters for Sanders are even more diverse than the Boomer voters for Clinton.

    But the real divide is income:

  6. I don’t know if it’s been as extreme in other periods, but this year is emphasizing how insular and stupid the “leaders” and “elites” and “thinkers” are.
    I took it for granted that the whole wingnut welfare community was a mix of psychos and liars, with some genuine intelligence sprinkled through. Now, though, they seem unanimously actually surprised that while they’ve been selling fascism with racist frosting, the marks have been buying racism with fascist frosting.
    I had no idea Hillary’s bubble was so deep either. She really can’t tell she needs Bernie’s demographics? really? Decades with Bill and she never learned how to campaign?

    Which brings up another thing. This has the makings of a generational shift election. There are as many “Millennials” as “Boomers”. People under 35 didn’t get the deep indoctrination to lose their shit at the words Socialist fnord and Commie fnord. And precious few can be convinced that the free market loves them.

  7. First, I think all six of the points in the original post follow each other in a logical progression. I didn’t think they were particularly disjointed. Second, I read the Huffpost piece (linked in point three) and I thought it raised some good points about domestic financial policies under Bill Clinton and Obama, although it left out their genocidal foreign policies.

    My take on “Identity Politics” is that the corporate Dems pay lip service to racial equality and take progressive positions on certain social issues like abortion, affirmitive action, gay marriage and who can use what bathroom, but on the big stuff they are .01%ers to the core. That’s on the important stuff (to capitalists) like tax and monetary policy that guarantees relatively high unemployment to depress wages, extremely low interests rates to slow inflation, for-profit health care that pumps billions into private insurers and big phama, farm and food policy written by Monsanto lobbyist, and, most importantly, endless war abroad and supression of genuine democracy anywhere that it threatens U.S. strategic or corporate interests.

    Every four years, the U.S. public is treated to a political spectacle; a contest between the two corporate parties of permanent war to see who can get their champion elected. On the big issues that the elites care about, the system tries very hard to guarantee either winner would be acceptable. The differences between the two, like their positions on abortion or transgender bathrooms or firearms, are the window dressing designed to bilk the public into thinking their vote REALLY MATTERS.

  8. Steve and Will, thank you both for the links as solid arguments about class and income as the true differentiators. As the article Will provided is from early February I’m very interested to see if the data continued to support the trend and may make time to do some digging to find out for myself.

  9. I think a solution that might address some of our problems without outright violent resolution is to switch the elections from voting for candidate to voting for party. I don’t know that much about politics in countries outside the US, but it’s my understanding that Germany, Poland, and some other countries work this way.

    The downside is that voters are voting for a party and not a specific individual that might stand out from the party. But the upside is that no vote is wasted. In the US, if you vote Green, Socialist, Communist, Libertarian, or any party but the Big Two you get nothing. And – no disrespect to anyone involved – it’s a herd problem. If enough of us to decided collectively on another option, we could overthrow either or both of the Big Two. But since each voter is uncertain what the other voters will do, we stick with them.

    But imagine if you went to the polling station with the knowledge that only 1/435 of voters across the country needed to vote for the same political party you do for that party to get one seat in Congress. And further, you know that there is a difference if the party gets 55% of the vote or 65% of the vote in your district, because that impacts the allocation of seats at the national level.

    Unfortunately, while that kind of election reform might oust the crooks without a civil war, I think getting it into place would still take one. No grassroots effort will get that amendment past the two parties that know it will kill them.

  10. It seems to me that the Sanders/Clinton frustrations are a tad overplayed by the media–the media rather likes overplaying things. We’ll see, post convention if the squabbles last. Baring a miracle (and those are in short supply), Clinton will be the nominee.
    The Huffington Post article link does enunciate a particular problem (skzb called it before them) with the whole looking down on workers. The stance of poverty shaming is clearly both wrong and odious. Clinton really needs to take that to heart.
    How do we move out of the trap Capitalism has got us into? Moving out is the hard and unknown problem. Where we should head seems pretty clear. Avoiding ending up in a worse place is the problem once things move.

  11. @Steve Halter,
    From my itty bitty corner of the internet, the flame wars on Facebook and Google Plus over Sanders vs. Clinton are constant and bitter. I know anecdotes are not statistics.

  12. More acrimonious than Obama v Clinton 8 years ago? The tone is different, but the content and timing of complaints seem similar. But yeah, my anecdata are highly subjective.

  13. Kragar: “On the big issues that the elites care about, the system tries very hard to guarantee either winner would be acceptable. The differences between the two, like their positions on abortion or transgender bathrooms or firearms, are the window dressing designed to bilk the public into thinking their vote REALLY MATTERS.”


    The voters are split, so they have two different stories — in one politician A is the face and politician B is the heel, in the other one it’s vice versa. Like professional wrestling but modified a little.

    2. If the presidential election were being held today and the candidates were (Hillary
    Clinton, the Democrat) and (Donald Trump, the Republican), for whom would you vote?
    Would you lean toward (Clinton) or toward (Trump)?


    Clinton Trump
    5/19/16 44 46

    3a. (ASK IF NAMED CLINTON) Do you mainly support Clinton, or mainly oppose Trump?
    Support Oppose No
    Clinton Trump opinion
    5/19/16 46 51 3
    5/19/16 RV 48 48 3

    b. (ASK IF NAMED TRUMP) Do you mainly support Trump, or mainly oppose Clinton?
    Support Oppose No
    Trump Clinton opinion
    5/19/16 46 50 5
    5/19/16 RV 44 53 4

    7. Would you be satisfied with the choice of Clinton or Trump, or would you want a
    third-party candidate to run?
    Want third No
    Satisfied party opinion
    5/19/16 51 44 4

    If we can believe this poll, Clinton basicly has 20% of the voters behind her.
    Trump has 21%. 44% want somebody else.

    So if the third party vote only gets split two ways, that looks kind of promising.

  14. What Steve said about what Mike said.

    Matt, yes, I would say they’re more acrimonious. In 2008, once it was down to Edwards, Clinton, and Obama, the differences in what the candidates wanted were small—while Edwards was a little more concerned with poor folks than the other two, they were all neoliberals. But now Sanders’ incrementalist approach to democratic socialism is an enormous threat to the neoliberals, so they’re accusing their opponents of not just being wrong, but of being racist and sexist—see Joan Walsh’s comment that I quoted above.

  15. I am waiting for more information before I decide on my vote. At this point, most likely to leave it blank or vote Green. I do like the fact that Trump has at least talked in a way that shows he is not enslaved to the Washington DC foreign policy elite consensus. We’ll see who he surrounds himself with for advisors. I have heard he brought in a neo-con for foreign policy and a former Holdman-Sachs partner for economics, so that’s not a good sign.

    As for Clinton, the line on her is that she’s experienced and tested and will caretake our current setup most competently, but I think that’s wrong. Everything she touched as Sec of State turned into a nightmare. I think she’s actually somewhat dense and extraordinarily gullible, especially if she’s listening to a rich person speak. If she gets the oval office and keeps on poking the Russian Bear like she did while in charge of the State Department, she could get us all killed. Trump said he would reach out to Russia and China to find common ground. That’s the right play imho, although I am revolted by some of Trump’s other views such as immigration.

  16. Mike, Steve & Will:Oh yeah, there’s lots of flame and smoke and thunder but it isn’t at all clear how much is flash vs real acrimony. The bickering is certainly real but the caveat is very important. I don’t claim to know which way those chips will fall–I tend towards the noisy but not as much real effect.

    That being said, I certainly think that Clinton should work to embrace the concerns of the working class rather than big business. Sanders does seem to have driven her left of where she would be otherwise (in an incremental fashion :-)). Most of us would prefer a rather further left movement, of course.

  17. If by ‘driven left’ you mean Sanders has forced Clinton to lie more about progressive policies she supports which she will then promptly abandon once in office, then I agree with you. But in no other sense.

  18. Axiom:All politicians lie …

    In many ways, a lottery system with people chosen at random to hold civil positions has a lot to say for it. The classic saying that if they want the job then they shouldn’t have seems to hold true.

  19. …and yet it’s a whole lot easier to makes lists of lies by some politicians than others.

    Just today saw something about Trump supporters not being bother by his lies, and I thought about how Clinton’s aren’t bothered by hers.

  20. This was an interesting article and graph:

    Trump seems to pretty much always lie. Hillary and Bernie to a much lesser extent than Trump.
    I would prefer my politicians to not lie at all. I clearly don’t get my wish. I’ve only spoken to a couple of Trump supporters and they seemed mostly unaware that he was lying (these weren’t in depth conversations).
    Conversations with Democrats seem to indicate that they are bothered by lying to a greater extent.

    Now, (as Steve would no doubt mention) none of these choices do much to really address the underlying problems of the system.

  21. #3: The ‘liberal elite’ (the upper middle class and white collar urban liberal) that has been the foundation of the Democratic Party for the last two generations, with its focus on identity politics and its open disdain for the worker…

    No comment, but I just read this quote and it’s such a sad, pathetic, amusing and grotesque thing to say, I thought I’d share it in relation to your third point:

    “I literally am so tired of learning about Marx, when he did not include race in his discussion of the market!”Source: The New Yorker

  22. Steve, the problem with Politifact is they have a bit of a neoliberal bias. For example, they rated this one mostly true, when I would rate it false or mostly false:

    My discussion is here:

    L. Raymond, great quote! How anyone can actually study Marx and say that, I don’t know, given one of Marx’s more famous quotes: “in the United States of North America, every independent movement of the workers was paralysed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the Republic. Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin when in the black it is branded.”

  23. Will:Yes, everything comes with biases attached and it is important to realize that and adjust. For some rousing debates, look up “Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.”

  24. I mostly agree with what Skzb said. The caveat I would add: if you were a women or a person of color, the possible consequences of a Republican victory would be more immediate and acute; so I cannot say that they are necessarily voting against their immediate interests by backing Hillary. In some ideal world, they would get the option to choose a candidate who represented their best long term interests, but if you were looking down the barrel of a gun today (almost literally in some cases), maybe you would not feel as comfortable saying there is no significant difference between the two parties.

    On the other hand, the crisis is fueling right wing populism and to a lesser extent, more openness to socialism. What is to be done to turn that around and more so? How many more election cycles can this system last? Not many. Maybe no more after this one. Either we revamp the left or we watch the right adjust faster to the crisis.

    When Communists and Fascists were at war in the streets of Weimar, what was the deciding factor: the judiciary favored the “conservative” fascists. What would a term of Trump leave us on that score?

  25. “I thought about how Clinton’s [supporters] aren’t bothered by hers [lies].”

    About a month ago I had a fervent Hillary fan tell me that she didn’t mind when politicians lied to her. I don’t know how she reconciles that — this person thinks she is politically savvy — but at that point I gave up the debate.

  26. ” I do like the fact that Trump has at least talked in a way that shows he is not enslaved to the Washington DC foreign policy elite consensus.”

    They are saying that he knows nothing about foreign policy, meaning he disagrees with them.

    Of course he will announce that he has appointed normal conservative foreign policy advisors, as cover. That doesn’t mean much.

    The big deal is that after a president is elected he get reports from a giant bureaucracy that has access to lots of secrets. It’s hard for one man to believe that he knows better, when he is surrounded by so much expertise. Trump might have the narcissism to keep thinking he knows better than all those fools, but it’s hard for most presidents. Once they are absorbed in the presidential bubble it’s hard to disagree.

    This is the same bureaucracy that couldn’t decide whether the USSR was falling apart until after it did. That found out about 9/11 after it happened. But they have a lot of confidence, and a lot of secret information.

  27. paintedjaguar- They’re not lying to YOU… they are telling the lies they need to tell to the gullible, the weak-minded and the deluded so that they can get elected, then they can pull out the real agenda, the one they talked about at your pancake breakfast, and after that, everything will be copacetic. No more needful lies!

    Of course, when her husband Bill signed off on Gingrich’s 1996 attempt to completely destroyed the social contract, you had to wonder if maybe you ate the wrong pancakes, but next time! Next time a Clinton will keep faith with the Right People.

  28. SKZB writes: “There is no question that the Sanders campaign has pulled in large numbers of people who had not previously been involved in party politics.”

    Clinton 12,989,134
    Sanders 9,957,889
    Total 22,947,023

    Clinton 14,086,385
    Obama 14,615,477
    Total 28,701,862

    Based on the results of 39 state primaries for which we have both 2008 and 2016 vote totals, the idea that Sanders is pulling in large numbers of people who had not previously been involved in party politics does not seem supported by actual numbers.

    Primary results taken from:
    2016 –

    2008 –

    The Michigan 2008 ‘No preference’ vote (238,168) was counted as an Obama vote since Obama’s name was not on the ballot.

  29. oneillsinwisconsin–

    Welcome back to our resident Democratic Party insider/hack/apologist. Let’s say the dreamcafe folks give you the benefit of the doubt and accept the numbers you just put up without taking the time to follow your links and evaluate them critically. Even so, showing that the raw numbers from 2008 are larger than the ones from 2016 in no way contradicts the idea that Sanders’ campaign has brought in large numbers of voters who did not previously participate. For one thing, the 18-year-olds of 2016 were in elementary school back in 2008.

    It could be that hundreds of thousands of folks who were fired up to participate in 2008 got sufficiently disillusioned by Obama’s Bushesque administration that they are now sitting this one out, and the 9,000,000 folks you cite to are largely first-timers or former dropouts. The raw numbers don’t tell the tale.

  30. Yes, comparing raw vote totals as a gauge of new people being brought in isn’t terribly useful. The numbers being lower in 2016 than 2008 seems to correspond with my (completely unsubstantiated anecdotal) chats with people that most of them didn’t see a big difference between H & B–either one was clearly better than any Republican candidate. Again, YMMV depending on who you chat with or watch the most.

    For me, Democrats are a lot like most of the mangoes we seem to get here in MN. Your first thought is something like, “OOOH a mango! That sounds tasty. ” Then, when you try to slice it you get a few bland pieces of flesh. They look good but don’t do much to actually fulfill your imaginings.
    Republicans look a lot like half rotted tomatoes hanging on a vine after a hard frost. I’ve never been tempted to eat one and those who do seem to end up with all the illnesses one would imagine. As near as I can tell.

  31. I would love to know if more people were kept from voting this year than in 2008. The same restrictive rules were in place, obviously, but the range of choice was smaller, so my guess is you didn’t have very many independents wanting to vote then.

    I also suspect the Clinton inevitability discourse lowered turnout for her and Sanders.

  32. Kragar:

    “Welcome back to our resident Democratic Party insider/hack/apologist. Let’s say the dreamcafe folks give you the benefit of the doubt…”

    It’s not really my place to write this, given that this is the private blog of a gentleman more than capable of speaking up for himself, but I have to say your description of Mr. O’Neill as “our” hack and your reference to us as a group of folk who distrust him is highly offensive to me as a long time reader/poster here. We are not a hive-mind, nor are you our queen bee, that you can speak in such an authoratative manner for all of us.

    skzb: I apologize if this I am out of line here, but I don’t care for his lumping technique.

  33. As the resident Democratic Party apologist, I’d like to point out that the GOP will see a greater than 33% *increase* in primary voters in 2016 compared to 2008, while the Democratic Party will likely see a decrease.

    What I draw from this is that Barack Obama drew a large number of new or irregular primary voters into the process back in 2008. It’s likely that Hillary also drew new or irregular voters out in 2008. It was to be expected when we were going to see either the first African-American major party Presidential candidate or the first female one.

    Hillary Clinton is likely to end up with roughly the same number of votes in 2016 that she received in 2008 (17+million). What often gets forgotten is that she essentially tied Obama in the overall primary vote back in 2008.

    Because of demographics (people die, new people become eligible) there are always new voters entering the system. But just based on the actual numbers and what Hillary drew in 2008 and what she’s drawing this year, it’s difficult to make a case that Sanders is bring many new voters to the polls. Or perhaps more accurately, if he is drawing new voters to the polls, it’s woefully short of the numbers Barack Obama brought in.

  34. L. Raymond–

    Fair enough. I should only speak for myself in this space.


    Sorry for disrespectfully labeling you. I actually started feeling bad about it almost right away. The larger turnout in 2008 than 2016 surprises me, and it is actually pretty interesting.

  35. Hey now. I thought *I* was the resident Democratic Party apologist here!

  36. L. Raymond: You know, I never set out for this blog to be a “community” (whatever that even means), but (whatever it even means) it seems to have somewhat become one, and I find I like that a great deal. Of course, there are downsides to community, such as tendencies to be unwelcoming, and sometimes even cliquish. But over-all, if regular contributors, such as you, and Kragar, and Matt, and others, feel a certain sense of belonging and even proprietorship, I’m okay with that. It’s kind of cool.

    None of which addresses your points, of course, but it’s what I thought of, and I found it interesting.

  37. There’s really no need to apologize for the Dems. They are a corrupt party of oligarchs who are in bed with Wall Street. Their leading candidate is an arrogant, cynical warhawk who is willing to cause widespread death and destruction for political gain. In short Clinton is repugnant. And her only competitor has apparently gone vote-simple and has seemingly lost whatever principles he might once have had, deafened by the fake cheers of his trolling supporters. Sanders has become the left-leaning mirror image of McCain, a former “maverick” turned shill.

    The only positive point you can make for the Democrats is that they are genuinely not as bad as the Republicans, due in large part to their lack of control of Congress and the consequent lack of extreme populism which a history of district control induces in a political party.

    I don’t intend to vote because my state is as blue as blue can be and my vote will be irrelevant; but of course if there was any question of Trump winning here I’d vote for Clinton or Sanders in a heartbeat. It’s not a question of the lesser of two evils. It’s a status quo which is at least somewhat livable (for now, anyway) vs. insanity and destruction. There’s no question which way to leap.

  38. Miramon, what’s Sanders changed his position on?

    Here are three things he supports that privileged people comfortably wave away:

    1. $15 minimum wage.

    2. Universal health care.

    3. Free higher education.

    Bonus for people who care about Muslims abroad: He’s supported by American Muslims because he’s the only candidate who is willing to criticize Israel and speak up for Palestinians.

    If he’s changed on any of those, or on any other issues, please let me know.

  39. Miramon: Yep. To quote the eminently quotable Will Shetterly, “It amazes me how far the Republicans have to go to stay to the right of the Democrats.”

    (If I have the phrasing on that right, I think it needs to go on my quotes page)

  40. Back in 1980 (my 1st general election) I thought Ronald Reagan was as about as low as we could go in nominating a major party Presidential candidate. As it became clear he could actually win I thought, “Fine, let him be President – he’ll do enough damage to the Republican Party that I’ll likely never see another conservative President in my lifetime.” No need to ask how that prediction turned out.

    Trump makes Reagan look like a sober, well-read, and thoughtful statesman.

    The average of the 3 most recent general election polls (ABC/Wash. Post, NBC/Wall Str. Journal, Rasmussen) pitting Clinton vs Trump has Clinton leading 43.3% to 42.7%.

    Dystopian novels were my original interest in SciFi – Ape and Essence, 1984, Brave New World, Mockingbird. I’d really rather not live in one.

  41. Will, Sanders hasn’t changed his positions substantially so far as I know. But he’s stopped talking about his positions. Some of this may be media spin, but more and more he seems like he’s talking about politics and not policy.

  42. Miramon, I wish I could disagree.
    Will, I’m in Madison at Wiscon. At the great farmers market around the capitol, I stopped at the Sanders table and asked the guy what Bernie was doing to build an organization that would continue past the election. I had to explain the question three times before he even got what I was talking about. No such thing had ever occurred to him.

  43. @Neil Rest,
    While I think your point is valid, I don’t think your example is fair. The fact that the individual campaign representatives aren’t planning long term says little good or bad about the campaign leaders.

  44. Miramon, are his positions unknown?

    Here’s a speech he gave a couple of days ago:

    His comments begin about 16 minutes in. He first talks about the Trump debate initially because that was the news of the moment. He segues to economic issues by 16:38.

    Neil, that’s the definition of anecdotal evidence. And the notion that Sanders should do 18 things at once is just silly: first he has to try to win this election. While he’s been doing that, he’s been endorsing other candidates. Right now, they’re the heart of the movement. Planning Step 2 doesn’t make sense until we know the result of the Democratic Convention.

  45. I have to agree on Neil with this one. If he is planning to build a movement, then keeping it secret from his supporters is an odd way to go about it. If he (as I am convinced is the case) has no intention of building a movement, then we are, as before, left with Democratic Party business-as-usual.

  46. What suggests he’s keeping anything secret? He’s endorsing and sharing donations with other candidates. What more should he do now?

    I’m a little reminded of the Democrats who’ve been complaining that he hasn’t been supporting down-ticket candidates, even though Clinton in 2008 didn’t support them at this point in her race, and the DNC has a bit of scandal going on now with how state funds are being channeled back to Clinton.

    ETA: To make this simpler: The point now is to keep the neoliberal from winning the nomination, and to elect as many people as possible who will oppose the Democrat’s neoliberal wing. Anything else now is just a distraction, imho.

  47. Without having given it a lot of thought, there’s no easy-to-follow plan for Sanders to execute. For his many followers there will likely be the same vacuum after the campaign as there was before he entered it.

    We can read lots of articles like this one: THE POLITICAL REVOLUTION WILL CONTINUE LONG AFTER BERNIE SANDERS’ CAMPAIGN. HERE’S HOW., but I’ve read many similar ‘we’ve lost the battle, but we’ll win the war’ exhortations over the past 50 years.

    Because we lack proportional representation it’s very difficult for a 3rd party to survive infancy. At many local levels even the major party organizations are little more than Potemkin villages. It’s just really hard.

    If I were to devise a plan it would be an insurgent one. I’d probably take over the Green Party. They have underachieved for decades and are further to the left than the average Democrat. Combining the ecological and economic issues is a large enough platform to win offices.

  48. The Greens underperform for two reasons:

    1. The two-party system has been carefully developed for over two centuries to make sure third-parties underperform.

    2. The Greens do not have a uniting ideology. They’re a confederation of leftish idealists united by a desire not to be called socialists—though maybe with Sanders’ success, that’s changing. If the Dems suceed in pushing the leftish elements out of their party, I’d be happy if Sanders ran as a Green and helped turn them into a democratic socialist party.

    If you wonder why I call them a confederation, here’s their official list of values:

  49. Will, a uniting ideology? It’s far shorter and simpler than either the Dems or Repugs. And most of these go hand-in-hand with each other. I.e., it’s hard to have social justice with centralized wealth and power.

    1. Grassroots Democracy
    2. Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
    3. Ecological Wisdom
    4. Non-Violence
    5. Decentralization
    6. Community Based Economics
    7. Feminism and Gender Equity
    8. Respect for Diversity
    9. Personal and Global Responsibility
    10. Future Focus And Sustainability

    Neither Dems or Repubs are monolithic. While it is typically the Dems that are considered a loose coalition, we’;re seeing that the GOP has serious internal divisions. I doubt the Green Party US has anywhere near the internal divide over ideology that either major party has. What they lack is numbers.

    The Democratic Party is not going to kick leftists out – leftists have to choose to leave. And they can either leave and become independents or they can leave and join an existing party or start one of their own.

    I suspect that nearly everyone in the Sanders’ movement already agrees with 90% of the Green Party platform. #6 is probably the one that would cause the most divisiveness. I do not believe that we will ever intentionally turn the clock back to another era economically.

    We are poised on the edge of an ecological catastrophe. I suspect it is already too late for many species — far more than you’ll find on any endangered species list. As this becomes evident to the general public over the next 25 years there will be plenty of recriminations, but even a sudden reversal of course won’t help. The damage is already in the pipeline and there’s little we can do to avoid it.

    The Green Party was the political party that should have been out in front of the issue, but either through tactical or strategic mistakes they simply have not been heard above the noise to any serious extent. But since they are identified with ecological concerns, when the shit hits the fan they need to be positioned to take over and transform. This is the major reason I’d work to take over the Green Party US.

  50. Oh, sure, “pushing them out” was overstatement: what the neoliberals really want is for the Democratic left to submit.

    The problem in the US for 3rd parties is they need an enormous single issue like abolition to replace one of the big two. Otherwise, the smarter move is what Sanders is doing: try to take over one of the big two. Maybe democratic socialism can tip things in the Greens’ favor. Ecology can’t because it’s a problem, not a solution. I agree that the Greens’ issues could be united under a banner like democratic socialism, but I don’t know that they attract enough people who’re willing to unite them. Maybe we’ll find out this year.

  51. The Tea Party and the Occupy movements are both pretty good examples of how these splinter groups become quickly assimilated or simply evaporate.

    If I were Sanders I’d be spending whatever millions I can raise on polling to see if a 3rd party candidacy is a viable winning option. Then I’d ask the Green Party to allow him to run as a Green, assimilate whatever remains of the Occupy movement, and do whatever it takes to bring Elizabeth Warren onboard as VP. I wouldn’t do it unless there was a decent chance of winning. Electing Trump is akin to cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  52. There is zero chance of a third party winning the general election. I don’t think the Greens will even appear on the ballot in many states. And of course since the Greens will only take Democrat votes, if they are at all successful that would mean handing the election to Trump.

    I wouldn’t mind so much if the other side was represented by some Republican from a past generation who wasn’t totally malicious running in a party that cared for the status quo like the Democrats. That was the case when there was one ruling class with two party masks. In that situation a third party would have merit just as a symbolic stand against the establishment.

    But in their greed to dominate the perquisites of power, the current Republicans have spun themselves into a nightmare vortex of tribal rage, xenophobia, retrogression, and aggressively imbecilic domestic and foreign policy from which they can’t escape even if they wanted to. Trump’s mere existence is proof of the domination of this perverse inward spiral. So anything less than good-natured submission from the losing Democrat candidate is so strongly against the common weal that to my mind it amounts to an alignment with chaos.

  53. Electing Trump seems more like cutting off your face to spite your nose.
    Hey, but at least its not Cruz and the Dominionists. Trump seems more likely to randomly spew carnage and disaster rather than trying to actively bring about the Apocalypse. The Republicans have run a long way to the right.

  54. Miramon: “There is zero chance of a third party winning the general election.”

    That could be right. And yet, if a third party came in second this time, it would make a big difference.

    It might help dispel the myth that third parties can’t win. It would be the first big step toward crushing the Democrats and Republicans.

    That’s worth a whole lot.

    It’s too soon to tell how likely the turnout will be low enough for Clinton and Trump for one of them to come in third. It helps that more than half the voters absolutely refuse to vote for each of them. (Not the same half, unfortunately.)

    At this point it seems absurd that we could get any useful change by voting for either Clinton
    or Trump. So what’s left, short of preparing for non-political revolution?

  55. I’m not sure what the effect of a Sanders 3rd party run would be – that’s why I said I’d be spending money on polling to gauge the results.

    One can easily devise scenarios where Sanders could win. There’s a large, mostly Republican, Anyone But Hillary contingent. Trump is not Cruz and could alienate religious voters. Many right-libertarians could choose Sanders over Hillary or Trump. Any Trump meltdown would benefit Sanders — there’s a surprising number of voters during the GOP primaries that voted Trump and listed Sanders as their 2nd choice.

    Clinton surrogates swift-boated Sanders on the civil rights issue. This fed her large lead among African-American voters. In the general election his actual political activism in the civil rights movement will be highlighted with more voters hearing his story.

    Of course ‘possible’ is not ‘probable’ or ‘realistic.’

  56. I think what needs to be remembered is that both Trump and Sanders (like the Tea Party and Occupy movements before them) represent what economist Dan Rodrik has called The Politics of Anger As Howard Beale urged viewers to shout in Network, ” I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! ”

    Growing inequality, globalization, a sense that the whole system is rigged, mass movements of people fleeing one political or natural disaster after another, and a host of other concerns has pushed many people of all political stripes to the edge of reason. These are the precursors from which fascism has historically risen.

  57. Besides the problems that capitalism can’t solve – there are the problems that Cronyism (and Crony Capitalism in specific) create.

    One problem is that the voters feel helpless – whether or not the politicians Bosses are doing bad, that feeling of helplessness is its own problem. We’ve always had cronyism – but the population isn’t always aware of it. (Cronyism isn’t limited to capitalism, but boy is it obvious here!)

  58. howard – I think Dan Rodrik has a better explanation; globalization requires more redistribution of income. I.e., countries ‘win’ from globalization through increased trade, but the winnings are not evenly distributed. While markets may be efficient, efficiency alone does not produce equality. As inequality grows the feelings of helplessness and unrest among the general populace grows.

    This isn’t a problem with the economic system. It’s a problem with the political system.

  59. Maybe this is off topic, but thanks for linking to that Huffington Post article. I had seen a news blurb about Thomas Frank’s “Listen, Liberal : Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?” before, but that initial summary was all fluff and no evidence. This editorial had concrete points, and it was enough for me to order a copy of the book.

  60. (My previous comment was swallowed by an error. So if this turns out to be a double-post, please feel free to delete the duplicate.)

    Thanks for linking to that Huffington Post article. I had seen a previous reference to Thomas Frank’s book “Listen, Liberal : Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?”, but that original reference had anger but not evidence. This article presented enough interesting points for me to order a copy of the book.

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