By Doug Porter
I guess I have to start out by saying Senator Bernie Sanders is the democratic candidate whose positions align most closely with my own. I will, given the opportunity, cast my vote for him in the California primary.
Having put that disclaimer up first, I’ll go on to say that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won (by not losing) in Saturday’s Democratic Debate. Yes, I know that Sanders won every straw poll out there. I also know that Ron Paul won a lot of straw polls in 2012.
Straw polls don’t replace actual canvassing, social media interest is an unreliable predictor for election results, and the photos of overwhelmingly white male attendees at Sanders watch parties are a big warning flag about vital segments of the electorate that are not engaged with the campaign.
I watched the Saturday night debate on CBS. All three candidates had their moments; Sanders mentioning he wasn’t as much of socialist as President Eisenhower, O’Malley seizing the opportunity to whip out an insulting Trump reference (immigrant-bashing carnival barker), and Clinton’s willingness to stand with President Obama’s record in the face of GOP obstructionism are three that stood out for me.
O’Malley’s generic statements on foreign policy were weak sauce. I love that Sanders beats the drum loud and hard on the economic root of what ails us, but at times he sounded like a broken record. And I am still slack-jawed about Hillary’s invoking 9/11 in defense of her relationship with Wall Street monies.
Hillary Clinton’s strategy for the debate was (mostly) hewing to pollster-approved Democratic talking points. When she defied progressive orthodoxy (minimum wage, single-payer), she did so with an eye towards the general election.
Yes, it’s all an act. But it was a well-thought out act, played with a kind of confidence that wins votes based on intangibles. Even though women’s issues were left on the cutting board when it came to questions from the moderators, she seamlessly slipped the topic into the narrative. When her early statements favoring single payer health care were brought up, she deftly reminded the audience that she still has the “scars to show for it.”
Hillary’s SuperPac funded a post-debate poll by Public Policy Polling, a firm with a decent record of both accuracy and good methodology. (Complete results here.)
From the release on the poll results:
PPP interviewed 510 Democratic primary voters nationally by telephone after the debate who had been pre-screened on Thursday and Friday as planning to watch the debate and willing to give their opinions about it afterward. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.3%. This research was conducted on behalf of Correct The Record.
86% of blacks, 73% of women, 70% of moderates, 69% of seniors, 67% of Hispanics, 65% of liberals think Clinton won: https://t.co/msIsQCoCv5
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) November 15, 2015
Two things struck me as the debate unfolded.
First, the three Democrats on the stage in Iowa acted like rational adults. Having watched a couple of the GOP debates (I missed MSNBC’s first Dem forum last month), the contrast was striking.
Secondly, Bernie Saunders strength (calling out the rigged economy) is his greatest weakness.
Having read about the Princeton study on the increasing mortality rate among whites 45 to 54 years old with no more than a high school education, it occurred to me that none of his (and the other Dems, for that matter) economic solutions (min. wage, aid for college, single payer) would do much in that area.
(See Jim Miller’s thoughts on that Princeton study for more on this. I wrote the above before seeing the copy for his column, honest.)
These folks–eventually to be joined by other demographics–are killing themselves with pills, booze and self-inflicted gunshots to the head because there is no meaning beyond daily existence for them. And daily existence is getting more difficult all the time.
Republicans offer to fill that void with animosity towards the “other.” The promise that everything will be better if [fill-in-the-blank] are dis-empowered holds strong appeal for those whose dreams have come to naught. If the traditional targets of gender, race, and ethnicity aren’t working, the Washington Insiders will do.
The opportunity for an outsider like Sen. Barry Sanders in all this despair is obvious. His campaign already gives meaning and hope to the millennials attending his rallies. They belong.
Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, people of color, and many advocates for human rights have been there, done that, with political campaigns and been disappointed with the results. Something greater than a willingness to put on a button or bumper sticker is required.
An outreach program from the Sanders campaign offering more than preaching and voter identification as part of its tool kit could speak towards filling the void felt by so many people. What that something more is, I don’t know. But if we ask the question often enough I’m confident an answer would come forward.
I do remember from reading thousands of pages of FBI files on the Black Panther Party that the establishment feared their free breakfast for kids programs more than the armament amassed.
I do remember that an important part of early union solidarity was their willingness to feed strikers and their families.
It doesn’t have to be food. Parents need childcare. Kids need tutoring. Breadwinners need a break. People of color need to feel included.
And just about everybody needs a hug.
I want Sanders to win. And I really want to see the hole in so many hearts at the root of addiction and despair filled with a sense of purpose. Maybe the two things can work together.
Police Behaving Badly
Protesters in Minneapolis are demanding a federal investigation into a police shooting on Sunday as well as the release of surveillance video from a building near where the shooting took place.
Jamar Clark, 24, is reportedly on life support. His family has been telling the media he’s brain dead.
From the Associated Press:
Accounts from some witnesses that the man was handcuffed when he was shot early on Sunday morning led to outrage. Police said their preliminary investigation shows the man was not handcuffed, but the investigation is ongoing.
Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP’s criminal justice committee, said many black residents of north Minneapolis are upset.
“We have been saying for a significant amount of time that Minneapolis is one bullet away from Ferguson,” he said, referring to the police shooting of Michael Brown last year in the St Louis suburb that prompted nationwide protests. “That bullet was fired last night. We want justice immediately,” Sole told Minnesota Public Radio News.
In San Francisco, two Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid administrative leave following the release of a video showing the officers beating a suspect with batons following a 38-minute car chase from the East Bay to San Francisco.
Police say the man was seen with a gun, had outstanding warrants for his arrest and reportedly rammed the deputies’ cars, knocking one of the officers down before fleeing the scene of the original contact. And police said they thought he might be on drugs.
Stanislav Petrov was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he remained through Sunday.
Realtors Behaving Badly
The National Association of Realtors decision to throw a party in Barrio Logan on Friday had all kinds of unexpected consequences.
The mayor and other local politicos bailed on the event, which offended small businesses in the area put off by the condescension inherent in the idea that a bunch of outsiders would ‘save’ the neighborhood.
From Voice of San Diego:
The San Diego Association of Realtors decided months ago to hold a “better block” event this week in Barrio Logan, timed to coincide with a national gathering of real estate agents. Volunteers would build benches and planter boxes on Logan Avenue, then close the area to traffic for an evening to celebrate the upgrades.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same kind of “better block” effort a community group in Encanto tried to pull off last month. That group has been ordered by the city to remove everything it built after being threatened with fines for an unpermitted project.
But there were some big differences between the Encanto project and the Realtors’ Barrio Logan affair.
The one in Encanto was organized by a group from the neighborhood. The one in Barrio Logan was concocted and executed mostly by outsiders.
The Realtors’ improvements, some of which have been up for weeks, hadn’t drawn notice from the city. Now that this thing has gone bust, I’m sure somebody will getting around to sending them a letter telling them to pull everything out, or begin receiving hefty fines.
I guess some improvements are just more equal than others.
This is one of two editions of The Starting Line column, published on Monday, November 16th.
On This Day: 1952 – In the Peanuts comic strip, Lucy first held a football for Charlie Brown. 1982 – The National Football League Players Association ended a 57-day strike that shortened the season to nine games. The players wanted, but failed to win until many years later, a higher share of gross team revenues. 1998 – The Supreme Court said that union members could file discrimination lawsuits against employers even when labor contracts require arbitration.
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