Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The left in 2016 and the Democratic Party

This is a really good interview with Van Jones, who worked in the Obama White House for a while, reflecting on the inside/outside nature of progressive change, Van Jones Interview On The Young Turks 06/21/2016. TRIGGER WARNING: The word "revolution" is mentioned a couple of times without any sneering or pants-wetting involved; you've been advised!



Van Jones says just after 11:05, "You have to have a leader willing to be moved, and a movement willing to do the moving. I think that LBJ was basically a scummy racist guy most of his career. But when you had a movement willing to do the pushing, it turns out he was willing to be moved."

Yes, that may be a bit harsh on LBJ's earlier career; he campaigned against anti-lynching laws but also got the 1957 Civil Rights Act passed as a Senator. Also, Van Jones even uses the word "neoliberalism." (Lawdy, Miss Mellie, bring me the smelling salts!) Also, hey, did you know Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't a conservative who was mainly dedicated to fighting affirmative action? Wow, you learn something every day.

Donald Trump's difficulties in raising money for the general election has been getting a lot of coverage the last few days. Tierney Sneed and Lauren Fox report for TPM (Why Trump's Fundraising Struggles Spell Disaster For The Entire GOP 06/22/2016):

The dismal numbers are more than just the latest piece of evidence that Trump’s campaign is in a free-fall. It has a cascading effect on the Senate and House races down the ballot.

“My sense is that it is like an epic disaster that is going to get worse," said Rob Jesmer, a former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is charged with electing Republicans to the Senate and keeping them there. “It is highly problematic for people running up and down the ballot.”

As the Republican National Committee -- which also saw a drop in its May fundraising compared to 2012 -- is forced to prop up Trump's rickety campaign apparatus, it means less money will be passed down to congressional committees and to state parties. It also means less money to finance the party's crucial but costly get-out-the-vote efforts.

Contrast Trump’s pathetic $3.1 million fundraising haul in May with Mitt Romney’s efforts in May 2012, $23.4 million, and that raised by John McCain in May 2008, $21.5 million.

This creates an assortment of complications for GOP Senate and congressional candidates who, even before Trump, had the electoral map working against them and since his emergence, have had to answer for every bomb he's thrown.
From a Democratic perspective, expecting an across-the-board Republican disaster in November just seems too good to be true.

Robert Reich on his Facebook page today posted a link to this article: Joshua Green and Sahil Kapur, Nearly Half of Sanders Supporters Won't Support Clinton Bloomberg Politics 06/22/2016

Reich's comment to the article was this:

Will those of you who supported Bernie eventually come around to Hillary? A June 14th Bloomberg Politics national poll of likely voters in November’s election found that barely half of those who favored Bernie Sanders — 55 percent — plan to vote for Hillary Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson, and the many are opting for the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

Historically, voters eventually rally around their party’s candidate, even after a divisive primary. After beating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary, exit polls showed that Barack Obama won 89 percent of Democrats in November. But the primary of 2016 is different in one significant way: Many of Bernie’s supporters backed him not because of Bernie himself but because of his message of reclaiming the economy and democracy from the moneyed interests – and they view Hillary as part of the problem.

My estimate is a third of Bernie supporters won’t vote for Hillary under any circumstances, but she could garner the votes of the remaining two-thirds if she embraces some of Bernie’s agenda – particularly getting big money out of politics -- and if Bernie endorses her.

What do you think? Would Bernie’s endorsement sway you?
I would actually be surprised if as many as a third of Sanders supporters vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton in November.

But not voting for Hillary is not the same as voting for Trump. Some of them could just not vote. And that's a real risk for the Democrats, especially considering that Sanders was particularly successful in bringing out young voters and first-time voters.

Some of them could go to third parties. But I seriously doubt that there will be a significant numbers of people who actually voted for Sanders in the primaries who will vote for Trump in the general. There probably are some nontrivial number of swing voters who would have voted for Sanders over Trump who might consider voting for Trump over Clinton.