Erik Loomis Is Wrong About Sanders and Politics

Erik LoomisI really like Erik Loomis. He’s a brilliant academic and I’ve learned a whole lot about the labor movement from him. But he really annoyed me yesterday with this article, So What Would Happen if Bernie Sanders Won? For one thing, it is part of the genre that I’ve come to despise: “I love Bernie Sanders but…” Give it a rest. If you want to support Clinton or Martin O’Malley, support them! They are both fine candidates. The Democratic Party is truly blessed to have such fine candidates. And out of a dozen and a half Republicans, they can barely find someone who isn’t a bigot.

Erik Loomis begins by noting that the most important thing the president does is make appointments. And Sanders’ grand rhetoric has made Loomis believe that this means that Sanders is as clueless about this as Barack Obama was. Well, maybe. What I think is what I’ve been saying for months: from a practical standpoint, there wouldn’t be much difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. But Sanders has been in Congress for 25 years! He does know the system a lot better than Obama did when he came into office. It is presumptuous of Erik Loomis to simply assume (and that’s all he’s doing) that Sanders is going to be lackadaisical about this like Obama was.

Now if Loomis wants to say that the whole Democratic base will be disappointed with Sanders, fine. That’s kind of like saying that after a storm, the sun will come out.

But this isn’t Erik Loomis’ big complaint about Sanders. No, the big problem will be that “his base would almost certainly abandon him within a year.” You see, “The left has learned nothing since 2008.” Really?! Was the left all excited about Obama? I don’t remember that. I remember the left thinking that he was a standard variety centrist Democrat — just like Clinton, although mildly more liberal. Actual leftists thought his “hope and change” rhetoric was a joke. They didn’t think or expect much of him and they were fully satisfied.

Now if Loomis wants to say that the whole Democratic base will be disappointed with Sanders, fine. That’s kind of like saying that after a storm, the sun will come out. Everyone is always disappointed with their politicians, because that’s what politics is like. But you will notice that even all those Obama true believers from 2008 still showed up to vote for him in 2012. So liberals will be disappointed with Sanders within a year? And that matters why? Liberals will be disappointed in Clinton on the same time scale. Who cares? This is not an argument for Sanders or Clinton or Donald Trump for that matter.

The truth is that by election day, the Democratic base will be very happy about their candidate — whomever it happens to be. So it is going to take a little time for the base to become discourage. Is it supposed to go something like this? Clinton steps into office, and makes a middle of the road budget deal with the Republics. The entire Democratic base, having such low expectations of her (but still managing to drag themselves out to have elected her) will rise up and cheer, “She’s living up to our low expectations! Hooray!”

As for the almost daily articles that liberals write complaining about Democratic politicians? Well, this is called content creation. It’s an industry. Things that people would have just groused about in private now show up on Huffington Post because God knows nothing more 12 hours old is ever worth reading.

I’m a Sanders supporter. But I have real concerns about him. His association with socialism scares me a bit. His age scares me even more. Yet I will almost certainly vote for him because I think he is the best candidate for the things that I care about. I have no problem with people disagreeing. But the fact that if elected, Sanders will disappoint the Democratic base — just like every other president ever — is stupid.

Do you know what Erik Loomis’ article reminds me of? Something he would just grouse about in private if he didn’t feel that he has to keep the content flowing at Lawyers, Guns, & Money.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

68 thoughts on “Erik Loomis Is Wrong About Sanders and Politics

  1. Clinton probably has a mile long list of potential appointees since after forty years in Democratic circles she knows everyone. I don’t know if Sanders does since being in Congress doesn’t necessarily lend itself to such list making.

    Back to class.

    • Yeah — he would probably have a much less firm grasp on how to govern than Hillary.

      That said, FDR had a pretty lousy grasp on how to govern. He appointed idiot after idiot. Through trial-and-error, he finally ended up with New Dealers who knew what the hell they were talking about.

      Not to knock a more established pro like Hillary. Just that it’s by no means impossible to be more radical. It’s been done before.

      • My problem with that is that is a bad idea to start with someone who has no idea what they are doing because we don’t have 13 years to play with like FDR did. Obama was very inexperienced (the main reason I preferred Clinton over him in the first go around) and it showed in his early battles. Truman may have been right when he says only being President prepares you for being President but Clinton has the best advantage on how to start from day one.

    • This is a rather typical argument, however; and a big part of the problem. I’ve been a big critic of Obama on this issue. Yet it is people who are in general Obama supporters making this argument against Sanders that was far more damning against Obama. I think there are real arguments to make against Sanders. This is just apologetics: it is just an excuse, not an argument.

      • It is a real reason to me though-I really do think it is a knock against him since being able to govern effectively quickly is important. As I pointed out in my response to James-it matters because Obama had even less experience than the two of them and it hurt a great deal. Of course since I was never much of an Obama fan to begin with, maybe I am not viewing it the same way.

        I can, however, certainly see why it may not be something that is as high on your list of priorities for a presidential candidate as it is for me.

            • Don’t make me angry now, Elizabeth. “But this isn’t Erik Loomis’ big complaint about Sanders…”

              I don’t want to have to start giving tests before commenting is allowed! :-)

              • I swear, I am not trying to make you angry-my understanding of Loomis’s dual argument was that 1. Clinton would make better appointments from the start and 2. Sanders will lose an immense amount of support because of the nature of democracy like Obama did right before the 2010 elections.

                If I am not understanding either of you two, that is on me and I am sorry.

                • You’re not making me angry. That was a rhetorical flourish.

                  You are right: those are his arguments, although the first one is not his main point. I think a fine argument can be made for Clinton. I just think that was a pretty pathetic attempt! Especially coming from a guy who I believe is seriously brilliant.

                  • It is probably because the readers already know all of the other arguments and they have been dispensed with. This is literally a choice coming down to who you think will do slightly better than the others since they both will do fairly well if not very well.

                    It is we are spoiled for choice or something.

                    • Yeah, I’m at base practical. At first, though, it seemed like Bernie was pushing Clinton to the left. Now he seems to be pushing her to the right. That ain’t good. That is a very good way for her to lose the nomination.

                    • You mean the two criticisms that she has leveled against Sanders recently? One I agreed with (the single payer criticism) but I can see why it would be considered a strike against her to argue against it. Same for the Iran thing.

                      Of course the reason why it is a lot more pointed is because he released a plan for people to actually look at and comment on so recently. If this was say, August, then the arguments over it would have been settled.

                    • I think you are reaching. In August no one was freaking out about Sanders. I also don’t think it is two things. I think she’s been a whole lot more hawkish. That’s probably a good thing for the general election. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ll still vote for her.

                    • I was referring to the plan for a single payer. Right now it looks like it is half considered and has a lot of holes in it.

                    • I know. I chose to ignore that. But you know what it reminds me of? Obama’s statement that he would never be for an individual mandate. Yet for the last two years, when I do my taxes, they ask me about the individual mandate. We aren’t getting single payer under Bernie. Do you actually think we are going to get improved Obamacare under Clinton? If the Democrats do amazingly well in in the Congressional elections, Sanders or Clinton will get to make Obamacare better. More likely: nothing will happen.

                      So why don’t I just vote for Clinton. Because I’m a sexist! Wait, no, that’s not it. Well, to start with: I won’t necessary. Let’s look at what the news brings before I have to vote. I’ve always maintained that I’m willing to risk a little for Sanders but not a lot. As for why I now support Sanders and sent him money? I am on the far left of the Democratic Party. I am a socialist in the sense that Sanders means it. He is my man. What is the point of my voting for the candidate who doesn’t best represent my views? Also: remember that many Democrats were thrilled when the Republicans nominated Reagan. Also also: I think the election comes down to the economy. So I’d rather have the guy I really like rather than the gal who I respect and is just fine.

                      I understand your position and I’m fine with it. But in the general election, we are exactly the same, right: we vote for whomever the Democrats nominate. Unless it’s Andrew Cuomo.

                    • You don’t have the same view that a lot of very good friends of mine do: how dare you not support the Chosen One?! If you have a problem with the criticism it is because it is poorly done, not because it is against the second coming of FDR (who I am not much of a fan of.)

                      I can’t talk to them about it because they want to preach to me about how awesome Sanders is and ignore his very real flaws as a candidate. You never do that. Add in the fact that if you do complain about Clinton, you don’t bring up the stuff the Republicans accuse her of which isn’t true.

                      Oh and you are not sexist-while you do exuded quite a lot of masculinity (or at least seem much more comfortable around the men on this site), it is pretty obvious you don’t despise women much less powerful women.

                    • It’s probably pragmatism. I supported Obama in 2008, but I had no illusions about him. The truth is, I don’t want a revolution. I just want steady progress. I’m afraid the Republicans may force revolution on us. But Clinton could lead that as much as Sanders. I’ve always thought she was very liberal, and just has the tired pragmatism of decades in the trenches. What I don’t want to hear from any liberal (and I do — from both sides, although clearly more from Sanders) is that they won’t vote for the other candidate in the general. Of course, I know they are all lying anyway.

                    • You have an annoying habit of putting in link tags but not inserting the href. Hedge fund manager?

                    • No, Lyndon LaRouche did not die. And I wouldn’t say he was a vanity candidate. He’s a vile man, but I still appreciate him as a crank. And we in America have a great tradition of that. What I wonder about Mr Steinberg is where the statement from his mother is, because his handwriting looks like he is 6 years old.

                      It’s nice when you put in the anchor tags, but you clearly do it while writing meaning to go back and fill it in. It must be that you write so fast. :-)

                  • Oddly enough I don’t write that fast, tests show that I write about 58 wpm. However when I am typing stuff that wanders into my head like right now it maybe slightly higher at 65 wpm.

                    • That’s like a lot of my friends saying things like, “I don’t have that high an IQ; it’s only in the high 130s.” Most actual people in the world type about 15 words per minute. I type about as fast as you do. But that’s about all that I do. I suspect the same is true of you too. It seems that no one ever gets much past 60 wpm unless they transcribe. We just don’t think much faster than 60 words per minute.

                    • Our first verbal conversation is going to be more amusing then I thought.

                    • I test well so my results were much higher even though I think the results were too high. But I was referring to the speed I think and talk at.

                    • Wow. You can talk and type? I’ve come to the conclusion that I really can’t multitask.

                    • It slows me down but yes, I can talk and type at the same time on two different subjects. I can also, if I am very familiar with the stuff I am either saying or writing, hand write something completely different then whatever I am saying.

                      So when I am typing, I am really not typing at the speed I think because I make a lot of mistakes and have to frequently repeat the thought in my head while I try to catch up with my typing.

                    • Wow. I’m not a fast thinker and never have been. I fancy I think fairly well, but I need time. I can, however, write pretty fast based upon the writers I have to edit. But that’s just a learned skill. There’s nothing natural about that.

                    • Yep, I am pretty weird.

                      How nice are you feeling? I could use a second pair of eyes on an essay for a class.

                    • Depends upon the turnaround time. If it is in my email box by morning, I might be able to look at it then.

                    • As I said in my email-I don’t need an edit, I need to know if it has plenty of things to tear apart. And yes, it is supposed to be funny even though I was too limited to three pages on just how very many things went wrong on that trip.

                    • Yes, it might make a good novel. It could be chick-lit that a lot of guys would like.

                    • I’m not joking! I’m not saying you would be the one to write the novel. But I have a couple of friends who could probably hit it out of the park. I know I could write it, but I would have to make the main character a man. It seems that all my female characters turn out to be very mysterious — probably because I find females mysterious. But stories about wonderful vacations where everything goes wrong are actually a thing. Have you ever seen The Out-of-Towners with Jack Lemmon? But as any serious writer will tell you, there is never a lack of ideas for stories…

                    • Oh I know it is a thing about right vacations gone wrong in lit and movies. It is the chick lit I was side eyeing.

                    • Oh, well, I recently read my friend Kristen McHenry’s first novel twice and she calls it chick-lit. I think it is like the word “queer”: it was first meant as an insult, but now it’s embraced. I think. When I was young, I loved that kind of stuff. I was a big fan of Ann Beattie. Or I was until she wrote Picturing Will which made me cry so much there were flash flood warnings in Portland.

                    • Ah, to me chick lit is things like Bridget Jones’ Diary. A series of books on people who live fabulous lives very far removed from my experience as a serious minded woman who just had a slew of funny in retrospect misadventures.

                    • In a general sense, it is anything that is written to appeal mostly to women. Although I don’t know if Fifty Shades of Grey would count. My friend’s book is about a woman about 40 who is acting like a 17 year old and just drives me crazy for the first 2/3 of the book. But she does finally grow up. But it’s weird because now I’m not really sure what the plot is because she made substantial changes in the two versions.

                      Oh! Small Gods showed up at the library. I’ll probably pick it up tomorrow.

                    • Oh JOY!!

                      Fifty Shades of Abuse Manuel falls under romance technically I think.

                      The plot of your friend’s book sounds like immature person grows up, now witb details!

                    • It’s just that to me “chick lit” usually involves a lot of female-female relationships. I haven’t read Fifty but it seems kind of misogynistic to me. I mean: man dominating woman? Isn’t that like so the entire history of humanity?

                    • Yup…it is bad Twilight fan fiction best known for some of the funniest reviews ever.

  2. “Socialism” strikes me right now as a giant “pfft.” Since Repubs have labeled everything Dems have done for 50 years as socialism, I doubt the word means anything anymore. Ooh, spooky. My God, Sanders is somewhat anti-bank! It’s socialism! Government thugs will rain down on your home and check to see if you obey Stalin appropriately!

    The people who are scared shitless by that word being assigned to moderate reform aren’t going to vote Democratic anyway, and the people who want moderate democratic reform aren’t scared by that word.

    • I have to disagree-rather vehemently. I was a candidate in the 2010 elections and it was extremely ugly for those with the D next to their name in a red state. I knew all three of the congressional members with the literal target on their backs. I watched the polls on various different topics and how even having stood in the same room as Nancy Pelosi was sufficient to drive the numbers one way or another.

      So yes, using a term like socialist has an impact. The longer time goes on perhaps it will not be as bad (many people who automatically associate socialism with the USSR/Cold War Propaganda are dying off) but there are reasons that the Republicans used the terms they use, they know they work.

      So don’t be so quick to dismiss the very real concerns that people have over these labels and how hard it is to get people to ignore it.

      • Well if you didn’t like this article, you’ll hate my article tomorrow! But you’ve grabbed onto a small part of my article. Loomis’ main point is that people are going to be disappointed with Sanders. My argument is that they are going to be disappointed with whomever. That ain’t an argument. And I am tired of what I see as non-argument arguments against Sanders. “People won’t vote for a socialist so vote for Clinton!” I’m fine with that argument. I’m not fine with his main argument which I think is clearly ridiculous.

        Oops. Just noticed this was in response to James. And I haven’t read the rest of today’s comments yet. I’ll let you know later if I still disagree with you. :-)

        • Apparently the base did turn out to vote in the midterms of 2010 according to the comments because the base always puts up with it but I do remember a lot of my friends being incredibly disappointed in how little fight Obama seem to make for things we though were important with the ACA. Few of them were more than “eh, whatchagonnado?” for the stimulus package but most of them were livid he seemed to be giving ground constantly on the ACA.

          The fair weather voters who were all “hope and change” were much more willing to punish him by staying home since he did not usher in a brand new era of good feelings but they were likely to pull that stunt anyway.

          To me, and apparently to Loomis as well, the worry is that this is going to happen again with Sanders. He has all these people super duper excited about his candidacy and then after he doesn’t do exactly what they want once in office, they will flit away like all fair weather people making it much harder to get anything done. I think it is a legitimate concern.

          • You are talking about the Carey Wedlers of the world. And I understand that. But there is a difference here. One is that I don’t think they are the same people. The other is that the Obama supporters were willfully blind. Obama never claimed to be the great liberal. They just saw what they wanted to see. As I’ve been saying over and over for months: as a practical matter, there will be little difference between Sanders and Clinton. (Although as Loomis later noted, TPP is one thing that Sanders would kill that Clinton will just love.) And regardless which Democrat wins in November (assume they do), in 2018, a large chunk of Democrats will stay home and give a whole bunch of power to the Republicans. Because that’s what always happens. Of course in 2010 and 2014 the hardcore Democrats showed up. We always do!

                • Gerrymandering. I probably will not be active in politics locally here in AZ again, I just don’t care anymore.

                  • Yeah, I’m really hopeful about 2020 too. I look back at 2010 and think of all the people who didn’t vote and think of Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Not voting in 2010 was as important as voting in 2008 was.

                    • I don’t think so. I just think they have to be constantly reminded that elections matter. It is so much easier to make that argument when you are getting inundated with presidential election coverage.

                    • You are being way more kind then I am. But then, you are nicer then me. :-)

      • You are quite right in terms of local elections in Arizona. Nationally, is being “socialist” (meaningless label inapplicable to Sanders) worse than being a “fascist” (meaningful label quite applicable to Trump)? We’ll see. Of course the prognosticating wizards give neither a chance.

        (And if you love the weird brains of how computers work, as I do, you’ll love how “prognosticating” doesn’t register as an incorrect word on spell-check.)

    • I don’t doubt that the word still has some power. But you are quite right that at least since 1992, conservatives have called everything to the left of Rush Limbaugh “Socialism!” Even “communism” doesn’t have much power because people don’t seem to know what it was. But I don’t know what the future will bring. But I did finally donate some money to Sanders today — more because I’m annoyed at all the liberal attack dogs coming out than anything else. Although having thought about it for a few days, I’m now fairly sure that the Democratic establishment will be as petty as the Labour Party is being to Corbyn. If Sanders wins and the party does that, we will need to stage a revolution in the party and take it over. We may need to anyway. Debbie Wasserman Schultz does not inspire confidence.

      • If there is one thing the two camps can agree on it is that: GET RID OF DWS.

        Has your state party already voted for the various new DNC members? Because now is the time to get the people in place to replace her.

        • The convention is in February. I need to become more involved, but first I have to learn to stop staring at women’s breasts.

          • Wear sunglasses and say they are medically necessary. Sure it is a lie but at least no one will know you are being even more awkward than normal.

            My state is tomorrow and I have zero say in it. That is okay, I know everyone and they will do a good job.

            • I just need to get better and not getting nervous and looking down and away all the time. Here’s the thing. You come back to California; get involved in the Democratic Party; and then you can introduce me and I won’t feel so out of place. Although I have to admit: the people I met were very kind.

              • That is the plan! Find a law firm to go work back home and get involved where election night is not trying to resist the temptation to get black out drunk after yet another horrendous loss.

                Dragging you with me is just a bonus.

                  • Generally speaking we have mostly libertarian leaning folk who vote in elections. They are inclined to live and let live unless it does something to rile up the evangelicals or racists. New Mexico doesn’t attract those types since there isn’t as big a base for them as there is here. And New Mexico is not known for being a retirement state where plenty of wealthy (or at least very comfortable people) move to it to live out their remaining years and get annoyed that they have to pay for someone else’s kids who they presume are nothing more than illegal immigrant kids anyway who shouldn’t be taking seats away from Timmy and Jane.

                    Plus and I hate to say this-the Democratic Party doesn’t always have a good candidate strategy. Last gubernatorial election there was no Democratic primary which prepared the candidate for the much rougher race when he went up against the Republican. There also was no media attention since the Republicans had seven to ten people running for governor and who wants to hear the same story from the Democratic candidate? As a former candidate I understand not wanting opposition but while that is fine for a very low on the ticket race, it does not help up ticket.

                    • So what you are saying is that, as I’ve been arguing for years, 95% of libertarians are really just Republicans.

                      Don’t you think the problem with the state party has to do with the low chances of success. That is to say, the California Democratic Party is great because it has a lot of power. The California Republican Party is a mess. Back in 2012, I wrote an article that had photographs of the Santa Rosa Obama and Romney headquarters. It was sad. The Romney HQ was almost always closed and had a homeless man living in front of it.

                    • Not sure, the Republican party out here is a huge mess most of the time. But since the Republican candidates can raise a great deal of money on their own, it doesn’t seem to matter.

  3. The Loomis article is silly (doesn’t exactly make me want to read more by him), but it’s fine. He’s pretty clueless thinking Sanders would appoint advisors the same way Obama did. Sanders knows a hell of a lot more about economics than Obama did. They’d probably be the same on foreign policy. I doubt it’s because either is a a dope on foreign policy — they’re both quite intelligent people — but that there’s no way to scale down the US military machine right now. The public just isn’t behind it.

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