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

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today In Counterfactuals

Scott Lemieux examines the argument of whether Sanders could have won.  Since the "Hamilton Electors" gambit went down, pretty much all Democrats have left is to refight the 2016 primary I guess.

I don't think Sanders would have won.  Clinton ran well with POC, but she didn't run well enough.  Sanders would have done worse, I think.  I also think the opposition research on Sanders was full to overflowing.

The argument for Sanders is that Trump won on "economic anxiety" and therefore a social democrat could have neutralized that argument.  I find that very unpersuasive.  Trump won because of status anxiety, not economic anxiety.  Economics is part of it, but the entirety of status anxiety has to do with race and geography as much as it has to do with economics.  Economics aren't unimportant, but given the number of Trump voters who are surprised that Trump and the GOP are about to take away their health insurance, I don't think speaking to the Trumpenproletariat's sense of economic unease would have solved anything.

Lemieux brings in Biden, and that's an interesting case.  Biden has a couple of things going for him that Clinton and Sanders didn't.  Over Clinton, he wouldn't have the "unlikable" label hung on him, he's a fine speaker, he's tied very closely to Obama, which would help with POC.  Over Sanders, he's not quite as wild eyed, he's built bridges to communities across the US and he projects as a fighter and not just an angry old crank.

Given how close it was, I think Biden would have won.  He's appealingly authentic enough to the WWC voters to blunt just enough of Trump's appeal.

Clinton...Sanders...Biden...whoever you feel would have been the best candidate, that's kind of irrelevant, since you can never prove a counterfactual.  The one thing that seems painfully clear from the Democrat's history with the White House is this: Do NOT nominate a technocrat.  Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, Hillary...that won't do it.

Nominate someone who can bring the heat as well as the light.

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