Steve M: Forget Democracy When I’m Winning

Steve MI’ve already cut a number of people out of my RSS feed because they are annoying me. But Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog has thus far avoided this treatment because in general he’s insightful. But he wrote an article yesterday that was so stunningly brain dead that I may have to change my mind. The article is, Why Democrats Could Tolerate a Lot More Division in 2008. The end of the title was cut off in my feed, so I thought that it was a call for continued democracy. But no.

Steve M is making the lamest of counterarguments against those who note that Hillary Clinton fought Obama to the end in 2008. And the argument is: it was different in 2008! He even claims that he hated Clinton for doing it then. Now in one sense, this is very consistent: when his candidate is winning, he thinks the other candidate should drop out. It’s a vile position to hold, but since that’s all that is going on, he should own it. He shouldn’t be making arguments that it was okay for Clinton to do it then but it is not okay for Sanders to do it now.

Steve M’s Retrospective Argument

And really: all his argument comes down to is that in retrospect, we know that Obama won therefore Clinton did no damage. Of course, that doesn’t stop him from pulling out statistics about how unpopular Bush was. The truth is that the reason Obama won big in 2008 was the economy. And it was only in May that we started to see the economy fall apart. So the truth is that when Clinton was fighting most she and the nation did not know the election was a slam dunk. The idea that the Democrats “had the wind at their backs” is silly if not stupid.

I do wish this whole thing were over. Bernie Sanders is not going to be the Democratic nominee. Even the marginal notion that he would get the super delegates to switch to him is now ridiculous with everything he’s done to alienate the Democratic establishment. But the man has every right to stay in the race. And Clinton supporters should accept this. Steve M concluded his article, “No, the Democrats can’t afford the luxury of a sustained fight. Not this year.” That’s a nice way of saying that Sanders should have dropped out of the race in February.

Steve M Has “Reasons”

I believe in democracy. I believe in it in the Democratic primary and I believe in it in the general election. Barring an economic catastrophe, I don’t see Trump winning. And the truth is that I don’t think that Steve M would be making the argument that this election is going to be really close under normal circumstances. But that’s what he has to say to make the argument that everyone must rush to get in line behind Clinton. Authoritarianism isn’t just something for Republicans. And it doesn’t matter if the authoritarian has “reasons”; authoritarians always have “reasons.” And in the case of Steve M, we’ve heard the exact same “reasons” before.

Let me leave you with a thought: in 2008, the Clinton and Obama camps were probably more angry at his other than the Clinton and Sanders camps are today. I didn’t even follow politics that closely then I heard lots of Clinton supporters claim that they wouldn’t vote for Obama. It didn’t go like that in the end, of course. The time for unity is the general election. The only people who call for unity in the primary are the people who are winning. If Hillary Clinton loses in November, it won’t be because of Bernie Sanders.

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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.

25 thoughts on “Steve M: Forget Democracy When I’m Winning

  1. I freely admit I was a PUMA. I was so angry that the first time a woman ran for national office and had a serious chance at winning the Presidency a black guy came along and destroyed her chances. Unlike apparently everyone else I knew Obama was going to win if he announced. I thought “you are so young, you can wait until after she finishes her terms to be the first black president.”

    I also have never been that impressed with him as a speaker-I had seen him in person three times and not once did I feel the way I felt when Howard Dean spoke. I thought he didn’t have enough experience and I thought he was never going to be able to do the bridging of the partisan gap because I was used to the nasty Republicans in my state and knew it would have gone the same way it has.

    So to me it was once again the same situation like it was back after the Civil War and women asked to be included in the 15th Amendment. Women were told to wait, let the black man have his due. It took another 50 years before women won the right in all fifty states.

    So yes, I was a PUMA. I did eventually vote for Obama because I wanted to personally reject what Sarah Palin was saying all over the country. I even took a picture to shut my best friend up about it.

    Flash forward eight years-Obama has been a very good president (after a shaky start) and now Clinton is running again. While yes some of what Sanders has done has made her a better candidate, the fact is he has lost. And he is pulling some of the same stunts that Clinton did as she lost.

    The pundit class is wrong for saying he should drop out. They are not wrong for saying he should be less of a sore loser about it just as they were wrong for saying she should drop out then but not wrong for saying she should be polite about losing.

    What I don’t get is why you seem to think it is wrong for anyone who is a supporter of Clinton to respond to his saying provocative things. You are saying “She won, so shut up when Sanders insults her about it.”

    And yes, I want this race to be over already because I am tired of the infighting. Until your candidate concedes though, we are stuck with it.

    • Funny, I had to look up “puma.” There were some alternate definitions besides the one you meant!

      Reminds me of a fun story. My friend went to Denmark and one of the families she stayed with had a little boy who wanted her to visit his school for show-and-tell. She agreed, and the kids at school kept asking her if in America we had pumas. Well, sure we do, my friend said. Where are they? In the store. The kids were incredulous — in America you can buy pumas in a store?!?

      My friend had thought the kids were asking about Puma sneakers. Wrong! The kids were asking about actual pumas, as in mountain lions. (No mountains in Denmark.)

      • I believe a “puma” is an older woman who likes younger men. I learned that on Bob’s Burgers. But I had to ask Elizabeth what it meant. Such language from a judge!

        • I believe a “puma” is an older woman who likes younger men.

          I’ve always heard that termed “cougar.” Never heard it called puma before.

          There’s actually a dating website for older women seeking younger men called Cougar Life. I’ve seen the adverts on TV a few times.

          • Ha — there’s a whole category. “Puma” is a younger “cougar.” And “cougars” graduate into “Jaguars.”

            • Really?! Is there a whole taxonomy of women who like younger men? Of course, it makes more sense for older men to be with younger women because their maturity levels are the same. The problem is that the young women usually grow up.

          • I think all young people should start their sexual careers with an older partner. I’ve always loved Elvis Costello’s song “Mystery Dance” because it is the experience of most young people trying to figure out sex. They don’t understand their own bodies much less those of their partners.

            You are probably right: it is cougar. But that mix up in my mind is a good indication of what is best and worst about my thinking: lots of random connections.

          • I know! You told me. But I see that my comment was hopelessly confused. It was the “my ass” part that I was referring to. Not that I wouldn’t doubt you’re a cougar too! :-)

        • Frank – The usual term of art is “cougar” – although “cougar”, “puma”, “catamount”, and “mountain lion” are all synonyms for the same animal, I believe that using “puma” to mean “une femme d’un certain age on the prowl” only started appearing _after_ PUMA started circulating among diehard Hillary supporters in 2008.

          I’ve been wondering, ever since, whether the new usage was first applied from the inside or the outside – the term “cougar” itself was originally a bit of derisive misogyny but has been reclaimed (not universally, of course – this sort of thing is always problematic!)

          Anyway, here’s a bit of doggerel I learned in my childhood, long before either of the alternate definitions ever crossed my mind:

          A traveler passing through Yuma
          Told an elephant joke to a puma.
          Now his bones bleaching lie
          Under cold Western sky
          For the puma had no sense of huma.

          (I guess these days you could also milk a Weiner/Abedin joke out of that if you wanted to. Sigh.)

          • That’s great! It made me laugh a lot. I sent it over to MadKane, being the master of the limerick.

            It’s amazing how lively the discuss gets around here when I show off my ignorance of popular culture. Although I should point out, that episode is one my favorites. And the cougar aspect of works in perfectly with the A story of Bob cooking for a nerd frat. My Big Fat Greek Bob

    • Did I say that Clinton supporters should shut up when Sanders says something provocative? I don’t doubt you. I say a lot of things in the heat of the moment and the middle of a Double Bastard. But I agree with you: I would like to see Sanders pulling back — especially now that he was given what seems to me a very fair say in the platform committee. But my big problem with Steve M started when he predicted that Sanders wouldn’t endorse Clinton and wouldn’t campaign for her. He might be right, but that isn’t helpful. It’s just a smear at this point. And he’s not just some blogger. He isn’t as popular as Digby, but he’s in her league.

      Clinton is already in general election mode. So I don’t see he big deal. I expect Sanders to lose California — the state is a lot more conservative than most people think (but I expect Sanders to win in my neck of the woods). My hope is that he does what Clinton did in 2008 and concedes and endorses on that day (or after DC votes at least). I hope that not just for the party but for him. I don’t see what going to the convention and fighting is going to do for him given that it would alienate the very people he would have to convince in order to win. And if we want the Sanders coalition to continue on, the worst thing is to say that the party is corrupt and we should turn our backs on it. All that will lead to is apathy and a few more people joining the Green Party.

      • You were saying it indirectly by your pointing out that Clinton has won so why is she (or surrogates) hitting Sanders on stuff he is saying.
        You said it on Skype and you have said it on here in several posts and comments. At least that is the way I am now viewing it because it doesn’t make sense for her to ignore what he says completely.

        I think the big reason the bloggers like this Steve M person are saying this is because they are scared that with a literal fascist on the Republican ticket, the Dems won’t unite and won’t be able to defeat Trump. They take what Sanders is saying at face value when he is actually saying one thing in public and something completely different to the Party leaders in private.

        It is the ACA all over again Then he told Harry Reid:

        While sitting down with then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who was meeting with members of his conference one on one during the difficult days in 2009, Sanders told the then-Senate majority leader not to worry: He was going to vote for Obamacare, though he would continue speaking publicly as if he wouldn’t so he could continue to rail against the absence of a public option.

        Of course I am biased against him for various reasons, including a lack of telling his supporters to stop with things like the gauntlet of shame in LA. So if you want to dismiss everything I have said, then feel free.

        But really, I don’t think he will be doing what Steve M and others are afraid of with his being um…well. Whatever you want to term it.

        • Now that ACA move is actually something I have no problem with. The supporters behavior stuff, I will defer to your much higher awareness of these matters. Nothing wrong with yelling at the ACA to be more liberal, then voting for it anyway. I do the same most times I vote in elections!

          • I actually didn’t have a problem with the ACA stuff-after all, he is a politician and they gotta politic which means sometimes saying things that aren’t quite true.

            It is when you try to claim you are the Most Honest Politician There Ever Was while literally lying to your constituents and/or fans that I have a problem.

  2. From the beginning of 2008, I figured the Dems had an advantage just because Bush was so unpopular. Obama is fairly popular now. On the other hand, there’s the third-term curse to contend with- people usually switch parties after a two-term president. On the third hand, Trump is very unpopular as well. In the end, it’s hard to make predictions about presidential elections because there isn’t a very large sample size, all told.

    • Bush was hated by everyone including his own team (not that they would admit it) so we could have nominated almost anyone and won.

      • I agree with the conclusion, but not the cause. Economic crisis = “throw the bums out.” Obama won in 2008 because unemployment was spiking. He won a smaller victory in 2012 because the economy was improving but not by all that much. Had the economy been growing jobs as fast in 2012 as it was losing them in 2008, Obama would have won Indian and North Carolina.

        • So then 2006’s flipping of Congress was due to…me ducking because you are going to swat me for being rotten.

            • I know and you know statistics better than I do but with the fact that historically the midterms result in flipping huge numbers of House and a moderate number of Senate seats, there has to be more to the story then the economy.

              So I am wondering how much of the economic theory holds for midterms and what implications it has for the presidential years.

              • It doesn’t. And I haven’t studied it much beyond that. The one thing I know is that turnout is a big issue. The reason that presidential elects rest so heavily on the economy is because they are the most democratic elections. The mid-terms are not democratic; they do not represent the general will of the people; they represent the will a distinctly older and richer subset of the the people.

    • I don’t buy the third term thing. First: Reagan-Bush. Second, what the people actually voted for was Clinton-Gore. So before Obama, you had 3-terms, 3-terms, 2-terms. And then FDR-Truman had 5-terms. I think the 3-term curse has two causes. First: the political parties didn’t used to be to so ideologically pure. Second: political reporters are the ones who get bored. If Trump wins in November, it will be because of the economy — as it pretty much always is.

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