Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


The butthurt is strong in Sandersland this morning.  My Facebook feed the morning was notable for Robert Reich saying, "Hey, calm down, Hillary is a pretty good candidate in November," and immediately being attacked by the raging Left for whom Hillary is really just Nixon in a pantsuit.

Matthew Yglesias makes the case that Sanders represents the future of the Democratic Party.  His argument is demographic, in that Sanders is killing it with young voters.  In fact, that's the only demographic that he leads in regardless of race or gender.  It was either Aristotle or Whitney Houston who said, "I believe the children are our future."  However, I was a Marxist in 7th grade.  I grew up.

So will Sanders voters.

The aggravating thing about Sanders was his maddening tendency to talk in terms of moral purity when it came to issues of practical politics.  As Barney Frank so venomously put it 25 years ago:
"Bernie alienates his natural allies. His holier-than-thou attitude — saying in a very loud voice he is smarter than everyone else and purer than everyone else — really undercuts his effectiveness."

And more recently:

"I think Bernie Sanders tends to have the approach, 'Don't be pragmatic, state your ideals, state what you think is the right policy and be very wary of compromise and of accepting less than you want.' My view has been to fight hard for the leftward, most achievable results."

Sanders has run a campaign based around the theme that politics as we know it is - by its very definition - immoral and corrupt.  As Clinton has said in her defense - accurately, I think - that by Sanders definition Obama is corrupt, Biden is corrupt, Elizabeth Warren is corrupt.

This argument makes sense if politics is new to you.  If you're young and idealistic, then Sanders represents the cutting edge against forces that you feel are overwhelming you.

It's worth noting, however, that Hillary Clinton worked on George McGovern's campaign.  She was once a part of the idealistic Left.  She then grew up politically in Arkansas and matured in the maw of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.  She has reached the pinnacle of her career in the dawn of the Obama Coalition.

Her career represents the fall and rise of modern Democratic Party politics.

For young people, they simply don't grasp that historical arc.  Not because they're lazy or entitled or "Millenial."  They simply haven't lived it.  When my kid was two, he'd freak out over getting his hair and nails cut, because he wasn't sure they'd grow back.  That makes sense, when you're experiencing things for the first time.  The 20-something Sandernistas are going through this process for the first time.

Are New York primary laws absurd?  Yeah.  But they aren't arbitrary and they aren't fraudulent.  Is Sanders more uncompromising in his beliefs?  Yeah.  But believing something is hardly the same as achieving something tangible.

Pragmatism is a weak contrast to idealism, especially when you are young.  I made my piece with it years ago.  Hopefully, the vast portion of the Bernie Or Bust movement will realize that losing the primary isn't the same thing as losing your soul.

But, if Yglesias is correct that these young voters are the future, then they will need to show commitment to more than rallies and bumperstickers and online flame wars.  They will need to show up at midterm elections and build a left-wing political apparatus that can win state assembly seats.

The 2016 election is a holding action.  It's 2020 when Democrats need to grab control of state governments for reapportionment.

You want a revolution? Sorry.  It's going to require hard, mundane work.  Day to day building of a movement to win elections that advance your agenda.  Working within local, state and national structures to build an agenda from the ground up.

It's going to require doing the work that Hillary Clinton has been doing for 40 years.

No comments: