Sunday, January 15, 2017

9.6 - Outrage of the Year 2016: Democratic Party presidential race

Outrage of the Year 2016: Democratic Party presidential race

Since I did just did the Outrage of the Week, I suppose now is a good time to finish up what we started last week and announce our choice for Outrage of the Year for 2016.

Again this is a bit different from other awards because it looks to an issue that we covered several times over the course of the year rather than something that was the Outrage of the Week once only to be replaced by some other outrage a week or two later.

So even though this was not something that was the Outrage of the Week once, I think a lot of folks might agree that it was an on-going outrage.

So our pick for Outrage of the Year, 2016, was the 2016 presidential race, particularly as it involved the Democrats.

I don't cover political races much at all on the show, leaving that to the multitude of others who revel in the horserace aspects and the personalities.

In fact, my first mention of the primaries was in February and while making clear my preference for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, I also said that this it might be my only comment on the race.
Okay, that didn't work out. In April, when it had become clear that as a practical matter, Sanders had fallen short of the nomination, even if he had not yet been eliminated mathematically, I was asking "What now for progressives?" because "The political revolution is not about Bernie Sanders."

But by then I had become so disgusted with the Clinton campaign that even though I had earlier said that if I lived in a toss-up state (which I don't) I would "have to choke back my bile and vote for her," I was, I said, on the verge of becoming a Bernie-or-Buster. "The utter ruthlessness" of the Clinton campaign, I said, "has been astounding." Accusations against Sanders of racism, of sexism, of not caring about the victims of gun violence, and more, were becoming daily fare.

In the wake of the New York primary, there was a cacophony of demands that Sanders, as I put it, "quit the race, kiss the ring, and pledge fealty to all things Clinton" and that he was "helping the Republicans" by continuing to campaign; in fact, there were a few voices darkly intoning that helping the GOPpers was his actual intent.

Meanwhile, the so-called "Hillary Victory Fund" acted essentially as a money-laundering scheme to get around limits on campaign contributions and the campaign openly coordinated with the so-called Correct the Record Super-PAC, coordination which is illegal but was justified by a flat-out bogus interpretation of the law but more importantly enabled by the fact that a paralyzing partisan divide at the Federal Election Commission rendered it incapable of enforcing the law, so they knew they could just get away with it.

Then there was the active coordination between the self-professedly neutral Democratic National Committee - the DNC - and the Clinton campaign, including limiting the number of debates and scheduling them at times of low viewership, figuring Clinton's much greater name recognition compared to Sanders' would carry her through to the nomination, and even passing on a prospective debate question to the campaign.

By the end of the primaries, it was obvious what it had all been about: Not about winning a nomination, or rather not just about that, but about defending the political establishment against a challenge by an outsider, by something they couldn't control, by someone, more, by a movement, that was not beholden to them.

The plan was, in just these words regarding Bernie Sanders, "Disqualify him, defeat him, and unify the party later." Note well: They didn't want to just beat him, they wanted to disqualify him. It was not enough to win, they wanted to destroy his candidacy. They wanted to turn him into an irrelevancy, as someone not only shouldn't be taken seriously as a presidential candidate, but who didn't deserve to be taken seriously as one.

Bernie Sanders
That they failed at that, failed rather spectacularly, as it turned out, doesn't change the fact that that was the intent. It wasn't about winning the White House. It was about protecting the status quo. About preventing change. About protecting their privileges and privileged positions.

As evidence, once it was down to Clinton versus TheRump, I listed nine issues I predicted would not be discussed in the fall campaign even though Sanders had made them into issues in the primaries: single-payer health care, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, income inequality, a $15/hour minimum wage, poverty and homelessness, student debt, tuition-free college, "too big to fail," and campaign finance reform. I'd say with the possible exception of the TPP, I was spot on.

Because those are issues the political establishment does not want to discuss and we had just seen a primary campaign geared to "disqualifying" the person who was raising them.

That determination to further solidify the status quo, to continue that refusal to change at all, continued even in the wake of the election, even in the stark evidence of the Democrats' failure, a failure that leaves actual progressives fighting a sort of two-front war: one against the reactionary policies and convictions of the Great Orange One and his administration, an administration the political establishment is doing its best to normalize, and the other against the liberal political establishment represented by the Dummycrats, a party that refused and to this day still refuses to take any responsibility for its own failures.

Democrats have blamed third parties for the loss. They have blamed sexism. They have blamed James Comey.

They blamed WikiLeaks over the leaks of the Podesta emails, refusing to admit that it wasn't the leak, it was what was in those emails, the corruption and bias they showed, that was damaging.

They blamed Bernie Sanders.

They blamed Jill Stein. They blamed millennials. They blamed, that is, pretty much everyone - except themselves.

Because even now it is about avoiding change. It is about protecting the status quo. It is about protecting themselves and their positions.

Which makes the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential race more than deserving of being declared the Outrage of the Year for 2016.

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