Calming Down the Clinton Campaign

Hillary Clinton CampaignI’ve written too many articles about how ridiculous the Clinton campaign has been with regard to Bernie Sanders. Apparently, I have a super power that allows me to read a poll — a power that is apparently unavailable to the Clinton campaign. Another of my super powers is the ability to remember all the way back to 2008. My take away from that primary was that the Democratic base really didn’t like having to choose between any of the three main candidates, but most especially between Obama and Clinton. So 2016 has represented a great opportunity for these people to have the best of all worlds.

So it’s been really annoying to watch the Clinton campaign never take the high road and always act as though it was in a very close match. But maybe it’s just me and my age. I find Sanders supporters very silly much of the time too. The other day, I saw a short video from The Young Turks, and they were discussing how it was a good thing that the Republicans looked set to nominate Trump, because he was the only one that Clinton could beat. What do you even say to such nonsense?! That’s the kind of thing I expect from Fox News where it is taken as a certainty that Hillary Clinton will be in prison by June.

But the implication of the complaints coming from the Clinton campaign seems to be that Sanders should just know that he’s an issue candidate and that he should therefore not hurt the obvious eventual nominee. Now, I called this race back in February — because of my super powers of poll reading and history remembering. But the truth is that the race is rather tight nationally. Real Clear Politics has Clinton ahead by just 4 percentage points. But there are a few things to keep in mind with this.

Bernie Sanders SupportersFirst, 4 percentage points is really quite a lot. That’s what Obama beat Romney by. What’s more, in all the polls during the last month, Clinton has been right at 50%. And if you assume that she would get roughly 50% of the undecided vote (And you should!) she is well above 50%. This is a race between two figures in the Democratic Party that are both well liked. It isn’t a surprise that the race would tighten over time.

The other issue is that the national figures don’t matter at all. I don’t know if anyone remembers the obscure presidential election back in 2000. During that there was all kinds of controversy about who had won in Florida, even though one of the men had clearly won the majority of votes nationwide. I still get the question, “Can Sanders win the nomination?” In the sense that anything could happen (a humanity destroying asteroid hitting the Earth this calendar year), then yes, Sanders can win the nomination. But reasonably: no, Sanders cannot win the nomination.

Now I keep hearing that Sanders is hurting Clinton by staying in the race. Of course, the same people have been calling for him to step down for months. But the Clinton campaign thinks that Sanders is hurting Clinton in the general election. That might be the case. But I have a hard time taking it seriously for two reasons.

First, Sanders being in the race has made Hillary Clinton a far better candidate. If she had just floated through this campaign with only Martin O’Malley to fight with, she would have been a much worse candidate once the general election started. So the Clinton campaign really ought to balance out the good things that Sanders has done for them compared to the minor damage he has done. And it is minor damage. Who thinks that the Republicans wouldn’t have tried to attack her on her Wall Street connections?

The second reason is demonstrated very well in an article by Brian Beutler yesterday, Democrats Should Stop Sweating Sanders’ Attacks on Clinton. He notes how Clinton was far more vicious toward Obama when she was losing in 2008. For example:

I could stand up here and say, “Let’s just get everybody together, let’s get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world would be perfect.” Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear.

But again, I think the issue is that the Clinton campaign just takes it as granted that Sanders could never win the primary. So it was totally okay for her to say she should stay in the race because who knows what information might come out about Obama. But it isn’t okay for Sanders to do the same thing because the Clinton campaign doesn’t think he’s a viable candidate.

Just to be clear: Clinton will win the nomination. Sanders will stay in the race. Clinton is not going to be noticeably harmed by Sanders’ attacks. Once Clinton is the nominee, Sanders will support and campaign for her. There’s nothing special about this campaign. Except for all the whining.

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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.

22 thoughts on “Calming Down the Clinton Campaign

  1. What are you basing this article on? Clinton herself is not talking about Sanders unless directly asked (like she was repeatedly at the Town Hall yesterday where Maddow kept trying to claim Clinton wasn’t ahead.)

    If you mean the campaign itself keeps having to respond to reporters demands to know what they think of surrogate outrage du jour? Isn’t that what they are supposed to do?

    If you mean the endless complaining by both sides on Twitter? Meh, it is Twitter, what do you expect?

    • When did Maddow claim Clinton wasn’t ahead? I listened to the town hall, and I remember her trying to say “if you’re ahead on June 7th” but Clinton wouldn’t let her finish.

      • That is what I am referring to. Clinton has a commanding lead. There is no way that she will lose the 2.7 million votes she is ahead with or the 250 delegates by June 7th. The use of the word if would annoy me too if I was that far ahead.

    • I thought I answered this, but apparently not. What I expect is that the Clinton campaign will act like the winners they are. Am I the only one who thinks highly enough of Clinton to expect her to to take the high road? The Clinton campaign should have been in general election mode for at least two months now. And if the situation were reversed, I assure you the Clinton campaign would be far more aggressive than the Sanders campaign.

      I’m really not a partisan in this. I like both candidates. When I attack Clinton, I get guff from Clinton supporters. When I attack Sanders, I get guff from Sanders supporters. Whatever.

      I’ve come to think that it is all tribal. I’m feeling kind of down on everyone these days. On the one side there are people I absolutely hate. On the other there are people I don’t think much of. The issue isn’t Sanders or Clinton. The issue is that we live inside an evil system almost no one even aware of. Water for fish.

      • You didn’t. A great deal of the complaining is on Twitter and in the pundit world who are mad Clinton doesn’t do exactly as they assume she should do.

        And you are stressed, unhappy about work, unhappy about life and there isn’t enough Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion to let you recover.

        • Send ice cream, Zoloft, and the leftover dildos from the Oregon standoff pronto!

          Seriously. Being stressed out by work sucks. I’ve never handled it well, myself, and I seem to handle it worse as I get older.

        • You’re right in the second paragraph. As for the first, well, there will always be fools. But almost every Sanders supporter that I know is like me: Sanders before Clinton, but Clinton is fine. Of course, most Sanders supporters I know are like me: old. I always thought they should have had the term “Bernie Bros and Olds.” But (1) most people aren’t that into assonance; and (2) I think “Bernie Bros” was always meant as a way to claim that it was just young men who supported Sanders, which was never true and certainly isn’t true now that he has about 45% support in the Democratic Party.

          But in the last couple of days, I’ve been very pleased with what both Sanders and Clinton have been saying.

          • Remember, I don’t merely deal with you-the reasonable Sanders supporter who can add and subtract. I deal with the ones who really do embody all of the negatives that you may have heard about in the news. I had to unfollow multiple people on Facebook because of how unreasonable they got.

            The sole survivor of the mass of unfollowing has been so lacking in basic logic and information that if I didn’t know him personally, I would suspect he was a troll.

            As I said, I am not going to say anything more now that Sanders has lost (insert obligatory right to keep running because I know better then not to at this point) about the his campaign because it is pointless. I can tell you there is a lot of bruised feelings though that will need some time to recover.

              • I have seen the nasty from some Clinton supporters and I have engaged in dog piling of those people. We don’t need that kind of behavior on our side. It is unfair to dog pile most of the time but in this case, policing our own takes precedence.

                • I agree. And I’ve spent a lot of time calming down Sanders supporters and stopping them from repeating old Republican lies about Clinton. But for me online, Sanders supporters are Dean Baker and Brian Beutler — men who have never actually claimed to support Sanders. I’m not on Facebook and rarely use Twitter. But it is the case that supporters of the losing candidate tend to be more extreme. And given that Sanders appeals most to the young, well, what do you expect? But the extreme (and unstated) bias of Krugman and Chait does far more damage to the democratic process.

  2. Frank, yes this campaign is special. It is the first time since 1972 any candidate has appeared with something different. As you and others have pointed out, the important thing is transformation for the future, in the USA and elsewhere.

    I will forgive, but not forget, those who accused people I respect of misogyny with no evidence. I will forgive, but not forget, those who accused people I respect of unseriousness for no reason. I will forgive, but not forget, people I once respected who responded to criticism with trolling and authoritarian speech. And I will still read, but have less respect for, some people who hurled these ridiculous accusations and trolling.

    I’m happy at the change in current American politics regardless of who wins. I am less happy that I’ve lost so much respect for so many people.

    Children in Honduras, Syria, Pakistan, and Iraq might be less forgiving. We’re not going to get the left-wing guy; in the administration to come, could we please just kill fewer parents and children? I dislike murder.

    • Ditto, RJ. This campaign season is ripping off everyone’s masks.

      Bernie’s funding success alone would qualify his campaign as a political earthquake, but you could say the same about making up a 60 point polling lead with totally dismissive coverage from the mainstream media — there have been multiple instances during these primaries of media outlets literally broadcasting an empty podium in preference to showing Bernie speaking.

      The panicky behaviour of the Clinton campaign is no mystery. They have been losing. Due to Hillary’s massive head start, establishment support and structural advantages, it’s still almost a sure thing that she’ll be the nominee, but it should have been no contest at all with that kind of giant thumb on the scale.

      • Just on a political level, it’s been amazing. I thought Sander’s ceiling was 25%. So it’s been pretty amazing. Even more amazing has been how supposedly liberals like Krugman and Chait have gone absolutely crazy at the idea that Sanders could be the nominee. It isn’t that Sanders was perfect. There was lots to complain about his campaign. But there was easily as much to complain about Clinton’s campaign. I don’t mind Krugman and Chait being in the can for Clinton, but admit. And if your newspaper/magazine won’t let you, then lay off.

    • This campaign has been really bad for Paul Krugman. I used to eagerly await what he had to say on any issue (except music). But now, unless he’s writing about the one thing he really knows, he embarrasses himself.

      What I fear about the war machine is that it takes care of itself. It still would have been terrible under Sanders. But I do think it would have been better than it will be under Clinton. Part of this is just sexism. I think Clinton has tended to compensate because she knows that there are people who think that women can’t run an army. (They should watch the new Star Wars film!) But really, my number one problem with Clinton is how nuanced she’s been about TPP. I know she will sign it if she gets a chance. If Sanders could get one concession from her, that is what I would want: a clear statement that she will not sign the TPP or any other trade agreements. As I explained, No Trade Deals Until Our Economy Is Fixed.

  3. “…down into the ground
    To get out of the rain….”
    Look, its like watching the last ten minutes of a slasher movie. Really, by that point, I don’t care if the bad guy gets killed or not, I am done with the movie.
    I either have to feel I have hope for Sanders… or any hint of enthusiasm I have for the political arena is dormant for the next several years.
    While in college, there was a period where any spare dime I had went towards ‘Brown for President’ so I could hand out buttons and bumper stickers that I had paid for myself. We were a lot LOT further away from anything positive happening politically.
    For me, settling for Hillary is like finding out that your folks are going out of town for the weekend and your sitter is the elderly neighbor lady. Sure, she gives me cookies, but they smell like a warehouse.
    She’s not just the next-best-choice and its not just 8 more years of Limbo…this feign to the Left can result in a long-term shift to the right.
    In a way, maybe a vote for Trump could lead to an actual liberal trend in the not-too-far-off future.

    • I just saw an article in The Washington Post about how people are fairly bullish on the economy. That’s more why Clinton will win the primary and then the general. But as I think I say in an article later today, Clinton will govern more like Sanders than a lot of people think. Things have changed. People may not remember the agrarian way of life, but they do remember when life was a lot better. My union member sister just her first raise in 6 years: 30 cents per hour. Things are so screwed up here.

      As for Trump, the problem is that I don’t think a Trump presidency would change all that much. Presidents don’t have that much power. The main thing that would happen is that Trump would get his big tax cut for the rich, and just as Thomas Frank wrote about in The Wrecking Crew, the next Democratic administration would spend the whole time cleaning up the mess. I want to move to Tangier.

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