Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A new Clinton Administration and the near future of the Sanders left and Bipartisanship

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have their final debate tonight, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

With Hillary highly likely to be the next President, I'll be paying particular attention to how she frames her economic priorities and how she handles the subject of "entitlements" (Social Security and Medicare). "The Commission on Presidential Debates has announced that the topics of their final face off will be debt and entitlements, immigration, the economy, the Supreme Court, foreign hot spots, and fitness to be president." (5 Things to Watch for at the Final Presidential Debate Yahoo! News/Variety 10/18/2016)

And, in general, it will be worth noticing whether she uses the debate to build a mandate around issues framed in a Demodratic way. Or whether instead she tries to strike a "bipartisan" posture. If she does the latter, that will be a very bad sign for people who support progressive positions and who have, with few exception, backed her over Trump.

Ed Kilgore, who was once policy director for the now-defunct Democratic centrist mother ship, the Democratic Leadership Council, writes with an almost audible sigh about how obvious it is that the Republican Party is thoroughly committed to radical opposition to Democratic government, mandates be damned (John McCain Announced the Dawn of a New Winner-Take-All Era in Washington New York 10/18/2016):

When Senator John McCain publicly promised that Senate Republicans would extend their blockade of Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominations through Hillary Clinton’s presidency, the significance of this ominous step was largely obscured by the generally toxic partisan atmosphere of this presidential election cycle, including the fact that Donald Trump is already accusing Democrats of stealing an election that won’t happen for three weeks. ...

You see where this is all headed. We are on the brink of a new era in which bipartisanship is functionally dead and divided partisan control of the federal government keeps anything significant from happening. That is significant not for the reasons we so often hear — the demise of those wonderful days when the good old boys of both parties got together over drinks and cut deals without regard to party or ideology — but because divided government is the rule more often than it is the exception in our system. Indeed, since Ronald Reagan became president, periods of “trifecta” control of the executive and legislative branches have been limited to the first two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, four years in the middle of George W. Bush’s presidency (plus a brief period in 2001 before Jim Jeffords switched parties and gave control of the Senate to Democrats), and the first two years of the Obama presidency.

That’s why it is a very bad sign for a functioning federal government when a supposedly “centrist” Republican who used to take pride in co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation on subjects ranging from campaign-finance reform to greenhouse-gas emissions is announcing in advance as a matter of principle that a Democratic president can forget about what used to be a routine political process. [my emphasis]
El Kilgore may be may favorite recovering-centrist writer.

Harold Meyerson assesses the current potential of the progressive left under a Clinton Administration in Progressive Politics After Bernie The American Prospect 09/29/2016:

By winning 45 percent of the vote in the Democratic primaries, Bernie Sanders both exercised and won power. As a direct consequence of his campaign, Clinton and the Democratic Party platform now call for an expansion, not a reduction, to Social Security, for free tuition at public colleges and universities, for a new version of Glass-Steagall, and for a rejection (or, in the case of the platform, a rejection of the key provisions) of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

To experienced political activists, these were clear victories. To many political novices, they were compromises that, taken alongside Sanders’s endorsement of Clinton, signaled a betrayal of the revolution. And Sanders’s army was comprised disproportionately of novices — not just because so many young people responded to his attacks on the plutocratization of American life, but also because so many progressive groups, assuming the nomination was hers for the asking, backed Clinton, thus leaving experienced progressives largely missing from the Sanders campaign, and from his delegations to the party’s national convention.

If the Sanders revolution is to realize its transformative potential, its adherents will have to recognize that its radical program can advance only if it wins the backing of the broader progressive universe — not just the Sanders-faithful arrayed in the rearview mirror. Its ability to move forward depends on its own strategic decisions and on the political space that a Clinton victory would create for the left, or, conversely, that a Trump victory would close off. “We can’t win the political revolution from a bunker,” says [George] Goehl of People’s Action, “and that’s where we’ll be if Trump wins. We can be engaged in both defeating Trump and building a movement at the same time. We have to be.” [my emphasis]

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