How The Democrats Can Give Us A Republican President

trump

We hear a lot of nonsense spin about not voting for Bernie Sanders because he’s “not electable.”

When you point out that in pretty much all the polls, for months, Sanders has outperformed Clinton (often by a large margin) when matched up against any specific GOP candidate, the data is handwavingly dismissed because “Hillary has low numbers because she’s been under attack for decades, but Sanders is untested.”

Other than the fact that the entire corporate power structure of the Democratic party is trying to squash him, of course.

And never mind the fact that in the past year, as both candidates have shown the people who they are and what they stand for, Sanders’s favorability numbers have soared from the low 30s to nearly 90% while Clinton’s have plummeted from the mid-70s to 39%. It can literally be said that most voters, whether they support him or not, genuinely like Bernie Sanders. The same is not true of Hillary Clinton.

All the same, while the polls consistently show Sanders beating GOP candidates by a larger margin than her, they do (usually) also show Clinton beating them. So if things continue along this track, it appears that either of them is actually electable, though Bernie would be the more certain bet.

Part of Bernie’s strength is that he has enormous blocs of voters who are incredibly passionate about his candidacy. Within the Democratic party, he has a two-to-one edge over Hillary among all voters under 45. Let me say that again: ALL DEMOCRATS UNDER 45 prefer Bernie by a two-to-one margin. And anyone who tells you that young people won’t turn out to vote hasn’t been paying attention to the tens of thousands of people who show up to see Bernie speak, or who spontaneously marched in support of him in cities coast to coast recently. The young people will be there for Bernie. He doesn’t do as well among older, longtime Democrats, though he still has a lot of support; even a third of Baby Boomer women, Hillary’s core demographic, support Bernie.

And many polls don’t even count independent voters, most of whom support Bernie, or the surprising number of crossover Republican voters who can’t stand their own candidates but see in Bernie a man of integrity they can get behind.

So much for the “electability” nonsense.

We also often see folks saying “whoever you support in the primaries, just be sure to support the winner in the general election.” And that’s a reasonable and rational request. There’s not a man or woman who has stood on a Republican debate stage who is qualified for the presidency, and some of them (the frontrunners, naturally) are simply monstrous and would be total disasters for our country and the world. Most sapient people would prefer either Clinton or Sanders to any of the snarling buffoons of the GOP, so the principle of supporting whoever ultimately winds up opposing them is obvious. And most people will do exactly that.

Except…

Except, young voters are pretty notorious for their lack of participation, and while many of those now fired up about Bernie Sanders will remain engaged even if he loses the nomination, the unfortunate likelihood is that many of them won’t. There will be anger, yes, but I don’t think that’s what will lead them to stay away on election day. I think it will be the nihilistic feeling that their vote doesn’t count after all. Bernie will have given them hope that an establishment they see as hidebound and corrupt could be successfully challenged and changed, and that hope will have been crushed. To a demographic that is already tragically, even stupidly, disengaged, that loss of hope will prove enough to keep many from bothering to cast a vote for anybody.

I’m not supporting that attitude even a little bit. But I do recognize it as a political reality. Many more people will turn out to vote if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, and they will support the Democratic candidates in other races when they do. If Hillary Clinton is the nominee, she, and all the other Dems on the ballots, will lose those disillusioned young voters.

That, in itself, may not be enough to tilt the election to Trump or whichever other malignant pustule the Republicans nominate. Hopefully not. But let me tell you what almost certainly will:

If Bernie Sanders wins the nomination by popular vote but Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment steal it from him, and buck the will of the majority of voters, through process maneuvers.

As someone commented today on Facebook, “If there’s a cabal of Democratic Party insiders who will choose the candidate no matter who the Democratic voters want, then I am not a Democrat. If the majority of voters go with Clinton, then I’ll vote Clinton. If more of them want Sanders and the party chooses Clinton anyway then I will do everything I can to turn the Democratic Party into an irrelevant third party.”

Today’s the day of the Iowa caucus, and it’s being reported that the Clinton camp has been training their supporters to game the caucus results wherever possible to keep Martin O’Malley’s delegates from going to Bernie Sanders. The fact that this is possible is one of many terrible things about the caucusing system (and the primary system in general, and our electoral system at large), and the fact that Clinton is falling back on it shows just how desperate, and ruthless, she is. Though she can game the caucuses, the fact that she will is troubling, especially after months of obvious unethical favoritism shown her by the Democratic National Committee and its unfortunate head, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

At the same time, while Bernie endures an avalanche of attacks from the establishment media and pundits and Democratic party insiders, much of it disingenuous and a lot of it verging on character assassination (compare Chris Cuomo’s loaded questions to Sanders to the fanboy bootlicking he gave Clinton) Nancy Pelosi herself is making a point of saying that many of the great things Bernie Sanders wants to do for the American people will not happen, not because of Republican intransigence but because her Democrats won’t work with him to make needed change. That’s right: Nancy Fucking Pelosi, the absolute mascot of the Democratic corporate establishment, basically just threatened to stamp her feet and pull a Mitch McConnell if Democratic voters don’t choose the candidate that she wants them to.

How dare the voters think they have the right to decide who wins an election?

And then, ahead, we have the existential threat to democracy that is the superdelegates. Another of the bugs in our electoral system, the superdelegates are the very essence of the establishment looking out for the establishment:

A “superdelegate” or an “unpledged delegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention or Republican National Convention that is seated automatically, based on their status as current (Republican and Democratic) or former (Democratic only) party leader or elected official. (From Wikipedia)

Superdelegates are unelected, they have significant power (especially in a close election like this one), and they are the political party’s way of saying “No, no, never mind, we’ve got this” to the voters.

For months, hundreds of superdelegates have been already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why wait to see what the people want? The establishment has chosen, after all.

So, what happens if Bernie Sanders wins the primaries according to the will of the Democratic voters, but then the party sics the superdelegates on him and manages to give the nomination to Hillary Clinton? I’ll tell you:

All those Bernie Sanders voters get really, really fucking pissed.

Then, you know, voters are human, and voters are emotional, and voters don’t always do the “reasonable” thing. I think, combined with the lower turnout among younger voters, the backlash among angry voters who actually won the vote for the nomination only to have it stolen from them could well sink what is otherwise a very good chance for the next president to be a Democrat.

Bernie’s supporters will almost all vote for Hillary if she wins the nomination fair and square. But if she, and her longtime cronies and pals, insist on stealing it?

Get ready for President The Donald, or something just as bad.

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Courage Is Fire, And Bullying Is Smoke: Thoughts On Political Venom

Abuse
I support Bernie Sanders. In practical terms, for the moment, that means that I do not support Hillary Clinton. It means I’m going to tend to share information about Bernie as a way of helping get the word out about what he stands for. It also means I’m going to be vocal about the differences between him and Hillary, and I’m going to be critical of her in a way that I probably won’t be if she ultimately wins the nomination. The differences between Bernie and Hillary are important, especially when it comes to the choice of either coddling or challenging the corporatists and banksters who are ruining our country, but they are nothing compared to the vast schism between both of them and the parade of idiots campaigning for the GOP.
 
So, yes, I’m critical of Clinton, and I can be a tough critic of her policies and political behavior. But I never lower myself to insult, either of her or her supporters. You won’t find me calling her a bitch or impugning her because of choices in her personal life or mocking her appearance or dress. Nor will you find me making derogatory comments about those who want her as president. I respect Hillary Clinton and I respect her followers; though we disagree, we are ultimately on the same side. And eventually, however the primaries shake out, they and I will be voting for the same person in the general election.
 
So when I visit a friend’s Facebook page and see all sorts of derogatory comments about “Bernie-bots” and how stupid they are and how vile (and even misogynistic) their candidate is, all it does is make me not want to even bother talking to that friend. I already kicked one jackass off my friends list for getting riled up in a calm discussion about the candidates and accusing me of sexism (solely based on my choice of Sanders over Clinton), and after a couple of visits to his wall to check up on him, I’m glad he’s gone because his wall is full of venom and he’s an abusive prick who’s all too willing to resort to personal attacks to try to get a rhetorical advantage. Or perhaps just to be a bully.
 
On another friend’s wall, I see a shared post from yet another Hillary supporter, a long diatribe about Bernie Sanders’s history and positions that’s as nasty a piece of work as I’ve seen this election season. This is typical of the venomous spin in the post:
 
“[At university, Sanders] joined socialist organizations and dabbled in far-left communist politics, gaining national notoriety by petitioning the school to let students have sex in the dormitories. This was before birth control and abortion were legal, when there were still very serious repercussions for women if the condom broke, but that didn’t stop him from crusading against those silly rules that were an obstacle to his own satisfaction.”
 

So here we have a liberal harshly criticizing Bernie Sanders for fighting for people’s sexual freedom. Does the writer really think that legal adults at the time should have had their sexual activities interdicted by university administrators because condoms might break? Or is authoritarianism fine and dandy when it’s being fought against by the candidate you don’t like?

I’m sure there are Sanders supporters out there who are just as bad as these people. My point isn’t that Clinton supporters are abusive assholes, it’s that none of us should be. Not only does it lead to bad blood between individuals, I’m sure it turns at least some possible voters against your candidate enough that they won’t vote for that candidate no matter what happens.

Talk to me with respect and I’ll do the same to you.

(Of course, comport yourself like a bunch of racist, sexist, theocratic, clown car fascists and all bets are off. Just sayin’.)

The Desire to Kill: Blood Fantasy, Guns, & the Song of the Week (4/20/2015)

monkey-with-a-gun

A while back, I was watching a discussion about gun control on Facebook. One commenter identified himself as a gun owner and said, “If anyone comes into my home without invitation they aren’t coming out alive.”

It was, of course, the typical overweening and simplistic power-fantasy posturing we see from so many gun owners. I was curious about the guy, so I glanced at his wall, where I saw him complain that both pro-gun and anti-gun folks couldn’t argue reasonably on the issue. And yet, all he brought to the discussion where I encountered him was his “I have a gun, I am powerful, I will kill the wabbit” comment.

I started to ask him if shooting a prowler non-fatally would be enough, doing just enough to stop them from their dread and fearful action but not actually taking their life. But I’ve been in such discussions, and the answer is always that if they’re on the gun guy’s turf, they’re dead. It’s not just a matter of using the gun as a practical tool in order to do what is necessary to protect yourself. It’s a matter of violent punishment: you’re on my turf, so you die.

And, you know, that’s a different sort of mindset than we want with gun owners, really. We allow police to carry guns, and we train them how to use them properly and responsibly (whether they actually do is, alas, another matter). Do we tell them, “If someone is involved in a crime, use your mighty boomstick and slay them?” No. We teach them to (hopefully) do the minimum violence necessary to solve the problem.

You don’t see that mindset in gun owners, or not very often. They harbor this violent power fantasy in which their gun is their talisman against evil and they are victorious (and unerringly accurate and effective) heroes in the dark and bloody moment. It’s not just that they might have to kill in certain circumstances, it’s that they want to. And that very critical difference ought to be enough to make us wonder if they, as a group, really have the maturity to wield these powerful weapons, or if their very stated desire to wield death is reason enough to question allowing them to have them.

Here’s a look at what letting them costs us.

And here’s the Song of the Week…

“Whenever Kindness Fails” (live) – Robert Earl Keen

Tim Fixes America: GUNS

Minute Man

I believe in the Second Amendment, and it is long past time we set up that “well-regulated militia.” Here is  my proposal:

If you want a gun, you become a citizen soldier. You undergo a full background check to enlist and a gun training course before getting your weapon. You are required to report on one day every three months for target practice and gun safety refreshers. Your weapon is kept, by law, under lock and key in a proper container, and all ammo is allotted and accounted for. Any misuse of your weapon, or lack of care in securing it, will be grounds for suspension from duty and confiscation of all weapons.

Possession of an unlicensed firearm is a crime with a mandatory one year sentence in prison, with escalating higher sentences for military grade weaponry. Convicted criminals in general receive an additional ten years in prison, on top of their sentence,  if firearms are involved in their crimes.

For your service, you are authorized one sidearm and/or one single action rifle, which you will buy with your own funds. Further weapon authorizations may be allowed for sporting or collecting purposes, though responsibility for gun and ammo security and accountability will be the same as for your primary weapons, and further training may be required. You are required to keep an established minimum amount of ammunition in your possession for preparedness purposes, with a maximum amount of ammunition allowed. You are responsible for providing your own ammunition, both for training and purposes of readiness.

In the event your service is needed for public safety, law enforcement backup, or domestic military purposes, you can be called up at any time by your militia superiors. Employers are required to honor your militia commitment just as they would were you serving in the National Guard. During training, and when called up, you will be paid a stipend based on the current minimum wage, with additional bonuses for hazardous duty.

The militia, being constitutionally mandated, will be a federal organization.

Long Distance Dedication

Dear Casey,

A couple of days ago, Barack Obama won his second term as President of the United States, bringing a welcome end to an interminable campaign season, allowing those of us who supported him to relax and breathe easy for a while.

I’m happy things turned out as they did, because overall Obama has been a good president. He might already be a great one had he not been constantly, stupidly obstructed by the most disloyal opposition in American history, had he aimed higher on the things he did manage like healthcare reform, and had he the spine and integrity to actually disavow the more fascistic tendencies of the Bush administration rather than embracing and exceeding them.

I hope now, with the need to worry about the next election out of the way, President Obama will step us his game and act boldly and decisively to make the changes we need as a country. I don’t doubt his ability to do so, only his resolve. He has greatness in him, now he must cultivate it.

After winning like this, it’s easy to gloat. Schadenfreude is a wickedly tasty treat, especially when the other side has relentlessly attacked your freedoms, your patriotism, even your value as a human being. I have literally seen some folks turn on a dime, going from “You are a stupid, ungodly, un-American, traitorous abomination” to “It’s not classy to gloat like that.” So if my relief at winning over people like that is a bit high-handed at times, I can forgive myself.

But my thoughts turn to my many friends, and even my enemies, on the right. I’m glad they lost, certainly, but it’s not entirely for my own benefit. I’m glad they lost for their benefit as well, though they won’t agree, and many of them won’t even be able to see through their grotty filters well enough to understand that I wish them well and hope for the best for all of us. I care about them. I respect them, or at least those who haven’t thrown away any right to respect (like any of them who calls Barack Obama a nigger, for example). And I, and most of us progressives, actually want to work with them towards the common good. Obama wants to, and last time they turned his sincere desire to reach across the aisle into a tactical failing. I hope, after the message they were  just sent by the American people, the conservatives in congress accept a working relationship with the president this time instead of holding their breath until, as it turns out, the country turns blue.

So, Casey, could you please play “Land of Hope and Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for my friends on the right? I hope they’ll leave behind their sorrows, let this day be the last, tomorrow there’ll be sunshine, and all this darkness past…big wheels roll through fields, where sunlight streams, and we can all meet in a land of hope and dreams…

Sincerely,

Tim in Decatur

Tim, here’s your song. I hope your friends take this opportunity to reevaluate things, and that for the next four years and beyond, all of us can start actually working together toward solutions that help us all. And remember, we all need to keep our feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars…

Crazy Harpy Tells It Like It Is [UPDATED]

Don’t you wish you knew this woman personally?

She’s upset that people don’t share her videos, so here you go. Depending on how you voted, you may enjoy this as schadenfreude (I certainly do) or you may find it cathartic. Or appalling.

UPDATE: Apparently, the crazy harpy is Shelly Dankert of Nebraska. Read more here, I highly recommend it.  She spends a great deal of time on the internet railing against socialist Obama, but also has financial problems and begs for donations “to buy food” on her blog. As commenter “pdxwhy” on Gawker put it:

What really gets me is that she says she got a computer only 4 years ago, and it took her a while to use it. So she put all her considerable energy into developing blog sites and videos…against President Obama. Not starting her business, not making money (like many of bootstrapping conservatives that I happen to know) not doing anything particularly constructive for the conservative movement, like networking with other conservative women and helping her community. How sad is she. Sad.

The embedding is disabled, so to watch it you’ll need to click through and watch it on YouTube.