“Bernie Sanders Vote” Myth and Jonathan’s Chait’s Hope

Jonathan ChaitIt amazes me to think that only a few years ago, I thought Jonathan Chait was an insightful analyst — even when I disagreed with him. I no longer think that. He’s just sliding along on his reputation at this point. Yesterday, he wrote, How Can Hillary Clinton Win the Bernie Sanders Vote? Always loving the counter-intuitive take, the subtitle is, “By moving to the… right? That’s what the data says.” Oh my! Such shallow thinking.

Chait presented some data that showed that the Sanders holdouts — the ones saying they will never vote for Clinton — are actually more conservative than Hillary Clinton supporters. I have little doubt. It’s been well known that Sanders did best in open primaries. So he was pulling from independents. And his populist message certainly did appeal to conservatives, even though that was not the core of his support. But these are supporters who Clinton is most certainly not going to get — even if she does move to the right as Chait suggests.

Bernie Sanders VoteAt the same time, there is an opportunity cost. Clinton could lose support from the vast majority of Sanders supporters who do now plan to vote for her if she decided to make a sharp right turn. (Of course, she won’t do that. I don’t understand why so many people seem to think that politicians have no actual beliefs — as if they would all join the Nazi Party if it would get them elected.) So no: Clinton can’t win “the Bernie Sanders vote” by moving to the right.

This gets at something that has bugged me for months. Most Sanders supporters are like me: they don’t hate Hillary Clinton; they just like Bernie Sanders more. But despite this, Sanders supporters are painted with a broad brush using obnoxious Twitter trolls as the model. It bugs me especially because I like Hillary Clinton. There aren’t that many Democrats that I would have voted over her. Certainly Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown would top her. But she’s vastly superior to my own Democratic Representative, Mike Thompson.

It was interesting watching the coverage of last night’s primary. My biggest concern about Hillary Clinton is that she seems soft on the TPP. I’m afraid she will “evolve” on the issue. I don’t think there’s a strong probability there. Politicians reflect their times and I don’t think that Bill Clinton would support NAFTA if it came up today. So I’m not too worried. Just the same, listening to Donald Trump talk so forcefully against the TPP last night would have inspired me if I didn’t know he was a pathological liar.

The main thing is that there is no “Bernie Sanders vote.” There are millions of Bernie Sanders voters. And there are millions of Sanders and Clinton voters who want to see the Democratic Party become more liberal. I don’t think that’s true of Jonathan Chait, however. As Eric Loomis likes to point out: Chait thinks that Chait is the most liberal a reasonable person can be. And he clearly thinks the Democratic Party shifting to the left is a bad thing. So he has cause to cheer on Clinton to turn right to appeal to the “Bernie Sanders vote.”

Election Day 2016: Thoughts and Complaints

Election DayAs I write this, it is noon on election day here in California. I have no idea who will win in the presidential primary. It’s pretty close. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. Look: if things were reversed and it were Hillary Clinton saying that she was going to flip super delegates, I’d take that a lot more seriously. But Bernie Sanders (much like me) is an outsider. He’s been his own party for decades. He isn’t going to convince the Democratic Party elites to abandon Hillary Clinton.

And here’s another thing: I wouldn’t want them to. One of my big complaints about the Democratic Party is that it is not very loyal — at least not loyal in the way that the Republican Party is. The Democratic Party pretty much is the Hillary Clinton party. And we Sanders supporters need to do something about that over the next twenty years. Regardless, Bernie Sanders winning California would be cool, but it doesn’t change the election.

For the record, in addition to voting for Sanders, I voted for Loretta Sánchez for Senate, Nils Palsson for the House (mostly a vote against Mike Thompson), and Jim Wood for Assembly (he is the only one running). I also voted for local measure AA that (for a change) taxed property owners rather than consumers to clean up the Bay. And I voted against Prop 50, which would take benefits away from state legislators who are suspended because of legal matters. I’m sure that Prop 50 will win by an overwhelming margin because Americans (1) don’t believe people are innocent until proven guilty and (2) don’t believe in democracy. That was all that was on the ballot.

If the choice for me was between Hitler and Trump, as much as I hate Trump, I would have to go with him. If I said I couldn’t vote for Trump in that case, I would be duplicitous.

But while running my election day errands, I was listening to NPR. I was really struck by this story, California Republican Lawmaker Explains Why He’s Uncomfortable With Trump. The lawmaker in question is Assemblyman Rocky Chavez. He is a 28-year veteran of the Marines. And he thinks that Trump would be a catastrophe for the nation and the world. But he would never vote for Hilliary Clinton because she is “duplicitous.” And I thought that was really interesting. Here we have Trump who people like Chavez think might start a nuclear war. But that’s equally offset by the fact that Clinton might not always tell the truth.

If the choice for me was between Hitler and Trump, as much as I hate Trump, I would have to go with him. If I said I couldn’t vote for Trump in that case, I would be duplicitous. And you hear this all the time from Republicans: “Trump is totally unacceptable but I have some minor complaint about Clinton that makes her just as bad.” If they would just come out and admit the truth I wouldn’t mind: they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a Democrat.

Later, I heard the tail end of a discussion about Silicon Valley. And I heard this line, “…and allows the smartest people to contribute the most.” That certainly sums up what Silicon Valley thinks of itself as: a pure meritocracy where the best rise to the top. Of course, the reality is different. Just look at Carly Fiorina. But more than that, look at the conspiracy that Steve Jobs and other high tech CEOs engaged in to not hire each other’s employees. Have to keep those wages down. Once you’re at the top, pull that ladder away! And now they claim to be for Bernie Sanders on election day?

And finally, Bob Kerrey Says He Won’t Step Down as Chair of New University in Vietnam. I don’t particularly care about the issue and I don’t think that Bob Kerrey is really any worse than any other man in his position. But he mentioned that although the US did some terrible things during the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong were a thousand times worse. And the statement doesn’t raise even the smallest amount of dissent. We are America and therefore when we kill civilians it is just a mistake. The other side, of course, is just evil and loves to kill civilians. This from the country that used almost 400,000 tons of napalm in Vietnam.

But election day is always nice. I like the process. I don’t expect the US empire to be perfect. But that won’t stop me from complaining that it isn’t.