By Doug Porter
The primary elections wrapped up a month ago. The Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia is a couple of weeks in the future. But for all practical purposes, today is the day when the contest for the party’s nomination will draw to a close.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ joint rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire marks the start of the next phase of the political process for Democrats.
After campaigning with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and President Obama in recent days, this unity rally with Bernie Sanders completes Clinton’s version of the political holy trinity of the left.
This unity hasn’t come easily. Representatives of the Sanders and Clinton campaigns have been communicating daily. Above all, nobody supporting the insurgent democratic socialist wanted there to be any appearance of surrender.
As is true with all contentious campaigns, there will be adherents left behind by this merger of efforts. When it’s all said and done, however, the minority of a minority will be left out of this particular contest.
The lazy way of reporting on the end of contention between the campaigns is to say the Sanders revolution pushed the Democratic Party to the ‘left’ on its ‘platform,’ a document historically deep-sixed the day after the election.
It is true that the Democratic party of 2016 as a whole is moving in a generally progressive direction. Even the most pragmatic triangulator of a decade ago, however, would have to acknowledge that it is the expectations of people (voters) that have changed.
From John Cassidy at The New Yorker:
It bears repeating that Sanders didn’t win all of the platform battles. Indeed, a cynical way to interpret the Clinton campaign’s stance is that it has given Sanders the language he demanded on some issues while maintaining the flexibility that it wants, and that its big donors want, in other key areas, such as trade and energy. Over the weekend, the platform committee rejected languagethat would have condemned the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and opposed its being put to a vote in Congress. The committee approved milder language that doesn’t single out the T.P.P. but, rather, simply says that all free-trade deals should include standards that protect U.S. workers.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, this maneuver prompted the Princeton professor Cornel West, one of the representatives Sanders named to the committee, to complain, “It’s clear the corporate wing of the Democratic Party wants the window dressing of populist language—Bernie Sanders language—but are not serious about it.” On this point, it will also be interesting to see the finished platform’s position on Wall Street. Echoing Sanders’s demands, an early draft of the platform called for an “updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall,” the Depression-era legislation that separated commercial banks from investment banks.
But, despite these qualifications, it’s clear that something has changed. Especially in the past couple of months, Clinton has shifted ground in a number of areas. Her policy evolution can’t be attributed to Sanders alone: ultimately, it reflects a change in sentiment in the Democratic Party, and American society as a whole, in response to rising inequality, disappointed expectations, and the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Where Sanders does deserve credit is for recognizing this historic shift, seizing on it, and pointing it in directions that couldn’t have been predicted even a year ago. He may have lost the Democratic nomination, but only in the narrowest of senses can his campaign be considered a failure.
Still, there are those in the Sanders camp that continue to rebel against the Democratic establishment.
From the Associated Press, via the Union-Tribune:
Heading into this month’s national convention, the Sanders campaign will try to promote unity. The campaign is considering a rally in Philadelphia on the Sunday night before the convention, and Sanders is expected to campaign for Clinton post-convention.
Whatever his message, Sanders supporters plan to take to the streets in Philadelphia. As of Monday, 10 permits have been issued by the city for rallies and marches during the convention, and six of those are for Sanders supporters. More applications are pending.
Laurie Cestnick is part of a group called Occupy DNC Convention and is organizing a march and rally on the first day in support of Sanders. She said members of her group will likely leave the Democratic Party if Sanders is not the nominee.
The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
Central to the Democratic campaign this year will be the recrafting of Hillary Clinton’s image. Look at any polling and it becomes obvious there are issues of trust.
The short version of any defense of Hillary Clinton is that issues of trust with the public are the direct result of 25+ years of unproven allegations, unresolved investigations, and a mother lode of trash talking.
Does anybody remember the tabloid cover proclaiming that Clinton had adopted a space alien? I’m sure we’ll see that one revived on Facebook as the fall progresses.
How about the Breitbart News story run in May of this year announcing Hillary Clinton’s plan to dissolve the borders between the US and Mexico in her first 100 days?
So when Hillary Clinton talks about the ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’, she has a point. Republican supporter and billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife did finance ‘research’ and ‘journalism’ aimed at discrediting the Clintons.
The Wikipedia entry ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ sums it up rather nicely:
Two other figures who have used the phrase are Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman and Journalist Joe Conason. Conason, in an article called “The vast right-wing conspiracy is back,” refers the National Republican Trust PAC and Newsmax Media, which are run by former foes of Bill Clinton who are now making attacks on President Barack Obama. The National Republican Trust PAC sponsored a campaign commercials against Obama in 2008 which FactCheck.org described as “one of the sleaziest false TV ads of the campaign.” One of Newsmax Media owners “was among the most insistent endorsers of the Obama birth certificate myth” and a popularizer of the canard that Bill Clinton‘s White House counsel Vince Foster did not commit suicide—as determined by five official investigations—but was murdered.
In some of his books, Krugman has used the phrase (“Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy”) to refer not to a conservative Republican-leaning campaign against Clinton (or Obama), but more generally to “an interlocking set of institutions ultimately answering to a small group of people that collectively reward loyalists and punish dissenters” in the service of “movement conservatism.” The network of institutions provide.
“obedient politicians with the resources to win elections, safe havens in the event of defeat, and lucrative career opportunities after they leave office. They guarantee favorable news coverage to politicians who follow the party line, while harassing and undermining opponents. And they support a large standing army of party intellectuals and activists.”
In Krugman’s view, the network of foundations that fund conservative scholarship, the national and regional think tanks and advocacy groups, talk radio media outlets, and conservative law firms through which they pushed their agenda to move the Republican Party to the right, far surpass in funding, size, inter-connectedness or influence anything the Democratic Party or the American liberal movement have at their disposal.
Although Clinton has been the primary focus of these conservative warriors/trolls/pseudo-intellectuals lately, it’s important to remember that any Democratic candidate would be on the receiving end of their vitriol. And it is really pathetic that some many Bernie Sanders ‘supporters’ did the GOP’s dirty work for them on social media in the past year.
The Vast Center Right Conspiracy
I’m not trying to sell Hillary Clinton as a great candidate. There are large gaps between what she has this far enunciated as her visions for the United States and what progressives advocate.
She presided over the Department of State during an era where egregious violations of human and political rights were abetted by US foreign policy.
Her relationships with the scoundrels of Wall Street tells me that they’ll always have a seat at her policy-making table.
The ‘mic drop’ line of the #BernieOrBust movement has been the challenge to advocate for Hillary Clinton without referencing Donald Trump.
…And that’s no brainer… Even though I like Bernie better…
No President makes policy or runs the government on their own. They appoint officials, nominate judges, form commissions, and negotiate with the Congress.
I can (and have) made many arguments expressing dismay over what I believe are the failures of the Obama administration during the last eight years. Yet there can be no doubt that the country is in a better place than it would be now had either of his Republican opponents won.
The appointees, policies, and influences of any administration shape the country for decades beyond the terms of any presidency.
So what we’re talking about with Hillary/Sanders is really better or best. I know of 11 million people who’d settle for better or even the status quo in the next four years.
And the presidential election is just one part of our political landscape. Anybody who’s read historian Howard Zinn knows that real lasting change comes from the bottom up. Don’t like Hillary? Fine. Go work for another cause.
The Genderizing of US Politics
Ezra Klein’s interview with and story about Hillary Clinton at Vox.com is, I think, a must-read for people looking for insight into the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party.
His main takeaway on the candidate, based on dozens of interviews, was one he initially found tough to believe: “She listens”
And then there’s this:
One way of reading the Democratic primary is that it pitted an unusually pure male leadership style against an unusually pure female leadership style. Sanders is a great talker and a poor relationship builder. Clinton is a great relationship builder and a poor talker. In this case — the first time at the presidential level — the female leadership style won.
But that wasn’t how the primary was understood. Clinton’s endorsements left her excoriated as a tool of the establishment while Sanders’s speeches left people marveling at his political skills. Thus was her core political strength reframed as a weakness.
I want to be very clear here. I’m not saying that anyone who opposed Clinton was sexist. Nor am I saying Clinton should have won. What I’m saying is that presidential campaigns are built to showcase the stereotypically male trait of standing in front of a room speaking confidently — and in ways that are pretty deep, that’s what we expect out of our presidential candidates. Campaigns built on charismatic oration feel legitimate in a way that campaigns built on deep relationships do not.
But here’s the thing about the particular skills Clinton used to capture the Democratic nomination: They are very, very relevant to the work of governing. And they are particularly relevant to the way Clinton governs.
dear nintendo, please put super rare pokemon at polling places this november
— PokemonGo™ (@CatchEmAlI) July 11, 2016
On This Day: 1917 – Bisbee, Ariz., deports Wobblies; 1,186 miners sent into the desert in manure-laden boxcars. They had been fighting for improved safety and working conditions. 1954 – Elvis Presley signed his first recording contract and quit his job as a truck driver. The contract was with Sun Records. 1974 – John Ehrlichman, a former aide to U.S. President Nixon, and three others were convicted of conspiring to violate the civil rights of Daniel Ellsberg’s former psychiatrist.
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