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Saturday, February 20, 2016

I Want To Vote For A Democrat

There is a connection between the fact that Bernie Sanders is running for the Senate as an Independent and not as a Democrat RIGHT NOW -- even as he is also running to be head of the Party he has not been a member of -- and the fact that he is running for the Party's nomination using a strategy that eschews the Democratic Party's actually-existing actually-winning diverse Obama coalition.


Lorraine said...

I'm disappointed that Bernie hasn't decided to run for re-election as a Democrat, but it's not a deal breaker for me. I was more disappointed with Barack when he decided early in the general election phase to work with rather than against the status quo campaign finance system. I guess it's a game of chicken. Is taking the high road important enough to risk going into the big arena at a disadvantage (to John*)? I can't answer that. It's the road not taken.

As for Hillary, #IllBeWithHer after she gets the nomination, which I hope she has to fight for. I call that the "shuffleboard strategy." I think, even without my primary vote, probability of Hillary winning the nomination is 100%. I don't see much risk there, as shuffleboard strategy goes.

I still wonder, though, which is the bigger nightmare scenario? A Republican president in 2017, or *still* having an only-centrists-need-apply Democratic Party in, say, 2036? If Bernie wins the nomination and goes the way of McGovern, of course, that gives the centrist scum powerful bragging rights, and I would hate that. But Hillary winning also gives them bragging rights over us. That is probably the main reason going with your program leaves a highly unpleasant aftertaste.

* I assume the new normal is that we're on a first name basis with all presidential candidates?

Dale Carrico said...

The Democratic Party has moved left over the course of the Obama administration, and the Obama coalition is a progressive one. Hillary's earliest ads and published policies were already very much to the left of her positions in '07. The PCCC is the voice of the DNC now as the DLC was its voice in the dreary days of my early political engagement. Occupy and BlackLivesMatter are real forces. Climate activism and queer feminism will continue to be as well. I think this very encouraging reality has been somewhat obscured by the narrative theatrics of the primary campaign so far. The general should clarify that. The GOP plutocratic(Est)/bigot(Base) coalition is cracking up before our eyes. A Trump run will leave smoking ruins. The GOP will have to re-invent itself in the face of a diversifying secularizing planetizing New America. I do hear and respect your fears and frustrations. Things can go wrong. I expect to spend a lot of time protesting the Clinton administration to come. But after a long slog through 80s and 90s and Bush-era politics I feel a righteous wind at our backs and think progressive protest and organizing can proceed with some well-earned joy in times to come.

Esebian said...

Hillary has been pro-Iraq, pro-any conflict since then, pro-Big Bank for the entirety of this young century, and in '08 used "hard-working Americans" racist dogwhistle rhetoric in her fight against Obama.

And she's supposed to be the One True heir to his winning diversity coalition?

Dale Carrico said...

If by "One True Heir" you mean to insinuate that I am supporting a Clinton cartoon with a divine "Chosen One" aura, then obviously I no more think that is true than you do. If you look at Clinton's published positions and explicit campaign rhetoric, then, yes, her policy priorities and embrace of the Obama legacy quite straightforwardly indicate that she is appealing explicitly to the Obama coalition as a matter of fact, and that she is celebrating the Obama legacy and Obama also recognizes that is what she is doing and prefers her on that basis.

Tad Devine has said on more than one occasion that Sanders is quite explicitly NOT trying to replicate the Obama coalition, even if he hopes to produce an analogously populist one. Sanders is trying to mobilize disaffected working class white voters, among them independents. Sanders has made a class-based pitch to Trump voters on more than one occasion, arguing that his critique is more relevant to their distress than Trump's. As a socialist myself, of course I see where he is coming from, but the plain fact is that Trump is more appealing than Sanders to those voters (and the election results, both turnout and votes bear this out) because white racist resentment not class solidarity is the sweet spot for that demographic. Like most recent intellectuals I would argue that class politics are stratified by race-sex-gender-age-ability and that even class critique needs to be intersectional, and in the American case in particular should foreground white supremacy, given the historical foundation of American Capitalism in slavery/genocide and subsequent segregationist terrorism (which lives into the present in our racist justice/policing/incarceration complex). I am far from thinking Sanders has a racist/sexist bone in his body -- but we are all long past the belief that structural racism/patriarchy are matters of animus. Sanders critique takes up intersectionality only superficially and his rhetoric is often clumsier than Clinton's as a result and his appeal less of a fit with the Obama coalition than hers.

None of this has anything to do with my assessment of her or his heart, or whether I want to have a beer or be the friend of either of them. None of these facile considerations go into my assessments of which candidate actually on offer would make the better President. I think you pretty much have to some kind of sociopath to want to be or think you can manage being a president in the first place. I'm a democratic eco-socialist feminist queer and I have never voted for a President in the expectation that they would be a match for me politically. Sanders' deployment of the socialist label is appealing, obviously, but I don't judge him any differently than I have judged other candidates. I happen to believe that he is temperamentally unsuited to the Presidency, that he doesn't think quickly on his feet, that he doesn't seem to command the full range of topic relevant to the Executive, that he does not seem particularly congenial to facilitating alliances. I don't think Bernie could bring us an inch closer to the socialism we both aspire to, while Hillary -- who does not share that aspiration -- might very well get us closer by expanding healthcare access, social security, paid family leave, free community college, and a more progressive tax structure.

Dale Carrico said...

I don't think Hillary is a pure or ideal figure in the way that some (not all, and I don't know about you so you shouldn't assume I am making an accusation you should take personally) Sanders supporters seem to think he is, I don't think Clinton's campaign is Revolutionary. I don't think partisan politics is about Revolutions, I think at best parties are sustainable organizing coalition vehicles for reforms articulated and pressured by radical (and even some Revolutionary) movements on the ground. I actually think it denigrates and undermine radical politics to peddle campaign fandom as a kind of radicalism. That actually offends me as a person of radical conviction. Those (and again I do not mean you, I do not know your feelings on this subject, but I am sure you know what I mean since this sort of thing is rampant right about now whether you sympathize with it or not) who accept the idiotic premise that voting for celebritized candidate constitutes a Revolutionary activity or that a struggle to become head of a party Establishment is some anti-establishmentarian gesture and then go on to act as though I must be some kind of sell-out or stealth plutocrat in consequence don't offend me so much as make me laugh.

I lived through the Clinton years. I thought Bill Clinton just a bit better that George Bush Pater. I always preferred Hillary's politics, her more forthright progressivism. I marched in Washington to protest Clinton's awful gay policies, even as I recognized the organized homophobic environment he was trying to navigate and knew he was no homophobe. I was revolted by his Sista Souljah moment, and more disgusted than I can say by his execution of Ricky Ray Rector. Clinton's address of systemic racial violence and poverty and his cultural anti-racism politics played out at one and the same time in his White House. It was much more complicated and frustrating to live through than the retrospective narratives make it now. The Gingrich Revolution and Contract (On) America were a horrifying time, and the politics of triangulation in that epoch were also more complex than they seem in retrospect. I actually think many of Clinton's judgments were dead wrong, but they remain intelligible to me having lived and obsessed through them day to day. I was an undergraduate and queer activist through most of those years, doing sit-ins and marches and clinic defense and needle exchange.

In the '08 race I supported Obama and was highly displeased with the racism that circulated through that primary contest. You will possibly be incensed to hear that the ugliness of that campaign reminds me a lot of the undercurrent of racist and sexist upwellings that accompany Bernie's campaign now. Then as now I think there is no animus in the candidate, but that the nature of the coalition being mobilized (in both instances working class whites) activates historically-embedded constituency symptoms of white supremacy and patriarchy (though the latter operate/d differently in the PUMAs vs the mansplaining berniebros, to use the media friendly figuration of actually complex realities).

Dale Carrico said...

I refuse to indulge the caricatural cartoons of the symbolic politics of celebrity fandom presidential politics. I think Hillary Clinton's regulatory proposals are better than Bernie's, I think her embrace and desire to build on Dodd-Frank is politically astute -- I think this is exactly analogous to her embrace and desire to build on the ACA to get to universal healthcare. When Bernie says too big to fail is to big to exist and that single-payer is better than for profit healthcare of course I agree with him. You know how you know? Because I have been saying those exact things as an activist and then as a teacher for over a quarter of a century. Understanding those optimal outcomes is different from trying to build working stakeholder coalitions to reform, expand, and adapt existing institutions and legislation to get from where we are to where we are going.

It isn't hypocrisy or cynicism or deception that makes me share Bernie's goals but approve Hillary's plans but a recognition that the role of radical education, agitation, organization is to mobilize masses and pressure institutions to change policies and legislation in the direction of progress in the ongoing reconciliation of stakeholder difference and problem-solving of partisan reform. Of course, one can get lost in radicalism so that the perfect becomes the enemy of the good compromise, of course, one can get lost in reformism so that what seems possible becomes a monologic celebration of an unacceptable status quo that can and must change. Of course these dangers are real, but escapes into spontaneisms, and perfectionisms, and cults of personality, and paranoid identity, and all the rest of those dumb scardy cat tricks are unworthy of intelligent people of good will. Walk and chew gum at the same time. Hillary isn't a monster. Bernie isn't a saint. They are both politicians. Bernie can seem comparatively more pure because he retreated to a small white homogeneous more liberal than average New England state while Hillary entered into politics on a national and international stage and then stayed there as New York Senator and Secretary of State where the scrum is uglier, the accomplishments harder fought, and the compromises leave scars. The very thing that makes so many dismiss her is the thing that leaves me to embrace her. Most of the rest is silly kid's stuff.

The Republicans are putting forth near-textbook fascist exemplars up for the Presidency. A strong Democratic Party with a brilliant pragmatist at the helm, a woman presiding over a rainbow coalition that reflects the reality of America, needs to be there to put up the pieces and move the Obama legacy and coalition forward. People who know better need to stop fooling around.