Sunday, December 04, 2016

4.5 - Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come

Excuses for failures of Democrats continue to come

All right, something I have to deal with at least one more time.

I said last time that there have been four major excuses offered as to why Hillary Clinton lost the battle for the presidency to an unarmed opponent. I also said that this week I would go into why those excuses were either bogus or deeply flawed. I am going to do that now, but I'm going to try to be as brief as I can because I want to get past the election itself to what the response means and what we need to do from now on.

The first was "Blame 3rd parties."

This was based on an - and I use the word very advisedly - "analysis" at CNN that listed four states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Florida - where they said that if Clinton got all of Jill Stein's votes and half of Gary Johnson's votes, she would have won the state. This argument was echoed by liberal darling Rachel Maddow, who said on election night that if you vote for someone who isn't going to win it means you don't care who is president.

Besides being an exercise in pure fantasy, this argument is undermined by fact.

The BBC reported that according to exit polls, only a quarter of Johnson and Stein voters would have backed Clinton if they had to pick between her and TheRump. About 15% would have backed him. And most - as much as 60% of the total - said they would have just stayed home if their only choices were those two.

The second argument was "Blame sexism."

There was a lot of that. For example, big time blogger and writer for Amanda Marcotte said the election proved that "America would self-destruct rather than elect a female president."

Which is a rather bizarre not to say untenable argument when you remember that Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of, by latest count, about 2.5 million votes. Clearly, American voters were ready to elect a female president and it was only the geographic distribution of those voters, not their numbers, that prevented that.

A third argument was "Blame Russia."

This was based on the claim that the leak of the DNC emails was supposedly done by a Russian agency. But it was an argument made, no surprise here, without reference to the fact that it was what was in the emails that was damaging, not the leak of them. There is also an ominous undertone to the argument, which refers to the emails coming out "in dribs and drabs." But it wasn't Russia that released them to the media, it was WikiLeaks, so the argument implicates Wikileaks as being part of a Russian plot to manipulate the US elections.

Some, in fact, made the argument explicit. An op-ed in the Washington Post described Wikileaks as having "benefited financially from a Russian state propaganda arm, used Russian operatives for security and made clear an intent to harm the candidacy of Hillary Clinton" and described the email releases as "not legitimate news" but "an intelligence operation by a hostile foreign power."

What makes all this bitterly amusing is that there is evidence that John Podesta was not hacked; rather, he fell for a phishing scheme and gave away his password. He wasn't hacked, he screwed up.

The fourth argument I cited was "Blame James Comey."

There is some truth to that one: There is no question but that re-opening the wound about Clinton's private email server hurt the Clinton campaign. But again, it's an argument made without reference to the fact that the original wound, the email server itself and the crappy way it and the issue surrounding it was dealt with, was self-inflicted.

All of those have one thing in common, as I noted last time: They don't require you to look at your own failures. They don't require you to change anything. They are all about the political establishment maintaining its power and control.

Bernie Sanders
Since the last show, another claim has emerged. You shouldn't be surprised to know that this one, too, shifts the blame off of the Democratic party machine and the Clinton campaign and onto someone else.

The claim is, and this one is a bit surprising, "Blame Bernie Sanders." Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Clinton, who campaigned for her even to the point of angering some of his own supporters, is now being blamed for her losing.

An article in Time magazine actually dubbed Sanders "the Ralph Nader of 2016, the leftist most responsible for helping the Republicans win." Leave aside the fact that Ralph Nader did not cost Al Gore the 2000 election and that the claim that he did was nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the kind of blame-shifting, responsibility-dodging we are seeing now. (If anyone wants to argue that with me, go right ahead. You will lose.) The author's argument here is that by running in the primaries, Sanders "pushed [Clinton] too far left to prevent an effective re-centering in the fall" and calls Sanders' criticism of her a "vampire effect" that "enfeebled" Clinton.

Two quick sidebars: One is that that author cites as a centrally-damaging feature of Sanders' campaign that it "treated Hillary Clinton as a compromised, Wall Street–worshipping, Establishment sellout." To which my response is "And...?"

The other sidebar, filed under the heading of "Sometimes ya gotta just laugh" is the fact that the piece is illustrated with an image of Clinton and Sanders campaigning for her side by side in North Carolina the week before the election. They must have airbrushed out the bite marks on her neck.

Sanders enfeebling Clinton in NC the week before 11/8
Getting back to the point, though, the argument being made, in short, is that it was inherently wrong, inherently invalid, inherently destructive, inherently inappropriate for anyone to challenge Hillary Clinton from the left. Not, I emphasize, simply to challenge her - the author mentions John Kerry and Joe Biden as "deferring" to Clinton but gives no hint that they would have "enfeebled" her like a vampire had they run - but that it is inherently unacceptable to challenge her from the left.

It's not just some aggrieved Clintonite going with this: During an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on November 14, Sanders was asked if he feels any responsibility for Clinton losing because after all, he did criticize her, you know. The implication, again, was dare you challenge the candidate of the establishment and it's your fault if anything goes wrong.

This is all about a political and social establishment maintaining and keeping power and being unwilling to brook any real challenge to that power, even if it comes from within that same establishment.

You want some evidence of that? Well, Bernie Sanders himself is of course one; as I pointed out all the way back in February,
[h]e is a sitting US Senator, a former member of the House, with something like a 33-year history in elective office, 25 of those at the federal level.
He is a member of the establishment.

You want another, more immediate, one? How about this:

The White House had indicated that it is opposed to Rep. Keith Ellison becoming chair of the DNC, saying he is "the wrong messenger." They suggested instead outgoing Labor Secretary Tom Perez and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Ellison endorsed Sanders in the primaries. The other two both acted as Clinton surrogates during the general election.

It is about maintaining power against a challenge.

By the way, I include mainstream media, comfortably and profitably settled in the twin roles of stenographers and gatekeepers to power, as part of that same establishment.

Rep. Keith Ellison
Look, in considering the outcome of the election and the question of what we - we of the left - are up against and should look to do, something we have to realize is that the sort of fears and frustrations that Sanders articulated and that TheRump fed on like a parasite are real, they are just as real as the bigotries that he also fed on, fears and frustrations based on a real sense of and a real fact of economic and social insecurity and underneath that of economic inequality.

I'm reminded of the furor in 2008 over Obama saying that voters in rural Pennsylvania "cling to guns or religion." He got a lot of heat for it but his point, not as well explained as it might have been, was valid: When people feel that the things they have relied on, have counted on, things like stable jobs and stable communities and the conviction that their children will have a better life than they have had, when they feel those things are dissolving before their eyes, turning into loose sand slipping through their fingers, they will hold more tightly - they will cling - to those things they feel they still have, can still control. And they will tend to become more fearful, more suspicious, of anyone or anything different, because "different" means "change" which has come to mean "threat." It is an entirely natural human reaction to stress.

But there's a kicker here, but to get to that I have to make a quick detour.

Another claim circulating recently, this one among the left, is that TheRump's election is to be blamed on white people. That is was white people who elected TheRump.

Well, yes, it is true that a majority of whites, including a majority of white women, voted for TheRump. But they were not the only ones. According to exit polls cited by the New York Times, 29% of Latinos, 29% of Asians, and 8% of blacks also voted for TheRump.

Yes, Clinton won all those constituencies handily - but here is the point: She did just about as well among whites as Obama did in 2012. But she did did seven percentage points worse with blacks - a deficit amplified by the fact that black turnout was down, so she got a smaller percentage of a smaller number. She also did 8 points worse with Latinos, 11 points worse with Asians, and five points worse among young voters.

A different comparison of exit polls had each of those deficits about two points smaller but just as real.

Those differences between 2012 and 2016 and the potential impact they had on the outcome cannot be ignored. The blunt fact is, Clinton failed to turn out and to hold the support of her own base.

So here's the kicker, the bottom line of what the Clinton campaign and the whole damn self-serving liberal political establishment got wrong: All that talk about the fears and frustrations, all that talk about economic stress, about the loss of things you had counted on, about the loss of hope that your children will have a better life, all that talk doesn't just apply to white people!

It wasn't that the Dummycrats ignored the economic concerns of white people, it's that they ignored the economic concerns of non-white people.

Yes, blacks are concerned about racism and police violence, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, Latinos are concerned about bigotry and immigration, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, women are concerned about sexism and sexual violence, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, LGBTQ folks are concerned about discrimination and the rate of suicide, but that's not all they are concerned about.

Yes, Muslims are concerned about xenophobia and Islamophobia, but that's not all they are concerned about.

People are also concerned about providing a life for themselves, a secure home for their families, a future for their children. And that is what the liberal political establishment did not address.

Which means, to put a perhaps finer point on it, it's not that they ignored the economic concerns of non-white people, it's that they ignored that non-white people have economic concerns.

Why? Because they thought they could take us - all of us, all of us on the left who know that the changes we need lie in more than half, hell, quarter, measures and all of us they thought they could buy off with pretty words and paltry promises about a justice that is coming in spite of them, not because of them - because they thought they could take us for granted. And because they would rather look to maintain their power and control through appeals to social justice - which would not affect them or their privileged position - rather than to economic justice - which would.

Let me be clear, at least as clear as I can be: I am not saying, as I would surely be accused, of dissing or sneering at what is called "identity politics" and urging it be dropped in favor of so-called "lunchpail politics." I'm not because I don't see the need to make the choice. In fact, I see the need not to make the choice. I have said I don't know how many times that if I could sum up my goal in a single word, that word would be "justice." But justice in it's truest sense, economic, social, and political, because without all three, it's not justice.

That's what we have to recognize; it's what the political establishment refuses to because it would affect their power and their position. These people are not on your side. They will support you - us - to the degree that does not affect their privileged positions - and no further. They are not on your side.

Alright, I'm begun to ramble here so I will cut myself off. I'm going to try to leave aside election analysis from now on - or until another election - but I do want to over time keep coming back to some of the for lack of a better term "big questions."

I also think I might pull out some old stuff: I ran for Congress a couple of times and I've been thinking about pulling out some of the proposals I made then to see how well they have held up. I'm sure you're looking forward to it.

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