Monday, March 28, 2016

Unsolicited Democratic Unity Advice

One of the luxuries of amateur status is that I can block or unfriend or otherwise disengage with whoever I don't want to deal with. It seems I use this power most at primary time.

So if you're ranting about how you will NEVER EVER EVER vote for Hillary and that you're going to write Bernie in come November, buh bye, you're unfollowed.

If the Republican Party weren't collapsing very loudly and publicly, people would be more visibly worried about tension within the Democrats. I think about that, of course, so here's some unsolicited advice. Not universal principles, just applicable stuff for the current situation. There's something in here for everyone to both love and hate.

Be realistic and intellectually honest. This week's Bernie bump is less about "momentum" than it is about which contests came in which order. And while it may be THEORETICALLY possible for Sanders to win the nomination, if every remaining state votes like a downtown Iowa City precinct, it's extremely unlikely. The mathematical reality is, Hillary Clinton is very likely to be the nominee, and the rest of this rant works with that assumption.

Stop bashing states and processes. Bernie people, stop talking about how Hillary only wins in "red states" or "conservative Southern states." That's insulting to the largely African American electorates in those places, an electorate that's already disenfranchised by math and in some cases by vote-suppressing law in November. No, the Democratic nominee will not win Alabama (though North Carolina and even Georgia are in play). The presidential primary is the one place in the process where Alabama Democrats have a voice. Respect that.

On the other hand, Hillary people, stop talking about how Bernie only wins white voters and caucus states. That's ignoring a weakness that Team H needs to shore up with the activist base. People who'll sit at a convention all day also sit in a phone bank.

Do a couple more debates. Hillary, you're good at debates. This is an easy symbolic concession.

Rein in the crazies. There's a lot of ugly talk out there, and frankly more of it is coming from Sanders supporters. The campaign needs to do what it can to get a lid on it, and whatever they're doing so far isn't working. Tell them to loosen the tin foil hats - not every loss is a conspiracy.

Let everyone vote. Hillary, you of all people know how this feels. There's an old saying that people caucus with their hearts and vote in general elections with their heads. Let people have that spring fling.

But wrap it up soon after that. No matter how rosy the Bernie scenario,  Hillary is going to come out of the last state with a couple hundred delegate lead just on the pledged delegates, and with a multiple million vote lead in the body count. Yes, get your people to the convention, pack the hall for his Monday or Tuesday night speech, and do your thing. But you need to be on boad long before that. 

Give them something. I've always felt platforms are just symbolism without substance, But there are people who think they're important, so I see them as a no-cost way for Hillary to make some concessions.

In approximate decreasing order of likelihood, issues include:

1) Minimum wage. Just give this one up, Hillary. Say you're for $15. Won't matter. Even if we do flip Congress in an anti-Trump landslide, seats 200 through 218 are going to be Blue Dogs too scared of re-election to back anything much over $10 anyway, and the Republicans are ideologically opposed to HAVING a minimum.

2) Wall Street. Give your friends a heads up that you're going to have to talk tougher (you probably already have). Tweak the position paper in a way than makes Team Bernie a little happier. Even use the words "Glass-Steagall if you have to.

3) Health care. Sorry, Bernie, but Hillary is the last person who will open up a health care war again. You'll have to settle for, at best, peripheral improvements to Obamacare and, more likely, repeated vetoes of repeal.

4) TPP. Nothing can be done here. Bernie's an isolationist, Hillary's an internationalist.

The bird moment was great. But the moment after it was more revealing. Sanders was visibly struck speechless, then his first instinct was to call it a "dove of peace" and call for "no more war."

Which is why he's so visibly annoyed when debates turn to foreign policy: because in his heart, Sanders is a pacifist-isolationist, and he's smart enough to know that's not an electable stance so he immediately pivots back to macroeconomics.

Losers don't get to make demands. By this point the contest has played out everywhere and she got more votes. That's how this works.

She's not gonna dump the donors. Substantively, Clinton and Sanders are in the same place on campaign finance: overturning Citizens United via constitutional amendment. The biggest difference is: Clinton is not willing to unilaterally disarm against the Republicans with a no SuperPAC pledge or other such symbolism.

But someone needs to get thrown under the bus: Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  Removing DWS at DNC, and replacing her with someone who says and does 50 State Strategy, would go a LONG way toward easing tensions. Given her endorsement from Obama today, this seems unlikely, but that was just an endorsement for her seat in Congress. That even gives DWS an "I want to focus on my district" out.

The running mate. There are a lot of measures of "progressive," Tom Fiegen, other than how badly someone Feels The Bern or not (egad I hate that phrase). There are very, very few high level electeds who have endorsed Sanders. Don't start naming the counter-examples. The fact that you can list them all just proves how short the list is.

Sanders supporters will be lucky to get someone who, despite solid issue credentials, was with Hillary for the nomination. An interesting name surfacing over the weekend: Al Franken.

But it's not gonna be a two woman ticket so forget Elizabeth Warren.

The super delegate problem. I don't have the answer here but this is clearly a symbolic thorn in Sanders' side, and superdelegate process will at least need to be discussed between the two camps.

Wasserman Schultz very ineloquently said that one reason for superdelegates is so the party leaders don't have to run against the grass roots activists. I've heard that same argument for years, but from the other direction.

No one is more likely to win an election than someone who has already won an election. So if the congressman has to run for national delegate against the 18 year old volunteer, the congressman is extremely likely to win. By taking the congressman out of that mix, it gives that volunteer a better chance.

Fight The Real Enemy. Eyes on the prize, people. The alternative is not a "pure" conscience free vote. The alternative is Mein Trumpf and the end of Weimar Amerika. And Republicans, if you're serious about Never Trump, the one viable Stop Trump candidate is Hillary Clinton.

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