Extended Debate With Someone Over ‘Inside/Outside’ the Democratic Party & Related Issues

There’s no easy answer to all of this but someone in the U.S. and I kicked around a few ideas against each other yesterday on the net and tried to discuss some issues. I quietly corrected some typing mistakes but left in some repetition:

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ME: “It’ll be an establishment Democrat, someone like Kamala Harris. The neoliberals have just got too much power, too much money and too big a mass ‘megaphone’ to smash people into line.

The Democrats will learn the wrong lesson from 2016; the lesson that they always take: if a centrist Democrat wins it shows the value of running to the middle ground. If a centrist Democrat loses, it shows that they weren’t running to the middle enough.

The only way out of the chokehold will be if Bernie and others, like Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard, all jump to a People’s Party or re-constituted Green party, to either run themselves or leverage the Democrats, ultimately endorsing them for the presidential election. The Democrats formed behind the already known Andrew Jackson, the Republicans formed behind the already known Abraham Lincoln. It’s a two party system, essentially, but it hasn’t always been the same two parties.

Bernie Sanders name recognition is gold dust. It was near 99% name recognition that gave Hillary Clinton a 60 point lead in the primaries. Bernie should run as a two-fer with Tulsi or Nina or Liz Warren: vote me as 46th president and I’ll hand over after two years and one day so the first female president can finish the term and run for two more under her own steam.

Otherwise, the ‘incumbency factor’ might allow Pence or Trump back in or someone like Harris might indeed win…and so be another Democratic empty suit with no vision, priming the backlash for another hooligan to take the reins in four or eight years time. Maybe Zodiac killer, Ted Cruz; a different kind of maniac, someone who could actually get horrible things done and passed.

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“Sanders will not run as an independent just as he didn’t last year. One of his goals and one of the primary reasons why I voted for him was to push one of the two parties that can actually win elections and govern further to the left, and he succeeded. As far left as I would prefer? No. But a helluva good first step.

In my first election in 1980 I voted for Jon Anderson who did well enough to get on the debate stage and to get matching funds in the next election had he chosen to run. There’s been six other, solid independent runs since, the last four of which promised to be damned that theirs was the start of a viable third party. Forty years, and I’m still waiting for that glorious day. In the meantime, all I’ve received is the disastrous W presidency and now Trump.

The Tea Party and the Freedom Caucus graphically demonstrate Sanders’ point: it is possible to capture one of the two parties and push it idealogically while gaining enough political power to change policy significantly. I’d rather spend my energies focusing on the possible rather than tilting at windmills.

Real change in this country is a long, hard slog over time, not the result of some one off election. If Trump makes it through his first term to run again, you’ll guarantee his reelection if you insist on idealistically splitting the DNC by putting your energies into starting a third party rather than working, as Sanders does, to make the DNC more progressive.”

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ME: “In the spirit of discussion rather than confrontation:

Sanders will not run as an independent just as he didn’t last year. One of his goals and one of the primary reasons why I voted for him was to push one of the two parties that can actually win elections and govern further to the left, and he succeeded…..”.

Did he? The Democrats lost miserably; they can’t win elections. Also, I don’t buy the “pushing left” narrative. If you push someone, they push you back and return to where they once were. It’s accepted discourse for a candidate to “run left” or “run right” in the primaries and then “tack towards the middle” in the election. Clinton offered only rhetoric. If she’d wanted to unify the party, she’d have picked Sherrod Brown or Liz Warren or Bernie or another progressive as her vice-president. Instead, thinking that the left had nowhere to go, she picked a Democrat even more right-wing than her and went to pander to non-existent ‘Never Trump’ republicans instead.

Bernie was boxed in. He made his bed when he decided to run in the Democratic primaries, signing a pledge to endorse the eventual Democratic candidate. If he’d reneged and run with Jill Stein on her ticket, the Democrats would have destroyed his USP of being honest and, from a purely political science perspective, they’d have been correct to do so. Bernie gambled but lost his shirt. He got nothing.

“…Forty years, and I’m still waiting for that glorious day. In the meantime, all I’ve received is the disastrous W presidency and now Trump….”.

And during that time, many were trying to work within the Democratic party and where did that get them? It’s been a forty year slide ever rightwards. Trump, some argue, is a result of the Democrats offering nothing but milquetoast. Indeed, were it not for Gary Johnson’s right-wing third party run throwing Colorado, Minnesota, Nevada and New Mexico to Hillary, she’d have had her clock cleaned even harder. As for the Greens’ run in 2000, it’s a myth that they cost Gore.

Besides the fact that Gore won Florida, the 97,000 Green vote in Florida, when Bush “won” by 537 before the Supreme Court stopped the count, was deemed dispositive at large yet over three times that Florida Green vote, 308,000 of *registered Florida Democrats* didn’t vote Green, didn’t vote Democrat, didn’t stay home but voted *for* Bush..

Gore also banned the ready, willing, able and 63% popular sitting president, Bill Clinton, from campaigning for Gore in Gore’s home state of Tennessee but Gore lost his home state, a victory that would have put him over the top and negated Bush’s theft of Florida. Add the Green vote (19,781) to the Democratic vote in Tennessee (981,720) and Gore was still (60,448) short of Bush’s total (1,061,949).

“….I’d rather spend my energies focusing on the possible rather than tilting at windmills…. If Trump makes it through his first term to run again, you’ll guarantee his reelection if you insist on idealistically splitting the DNC by putting your energies into starting a third party rather than working, as Sanders does, to make the DNC more progressive….”.

People have tried that: it doesn’t work. The establishment Democrats will continue to crush the progressive left: there’s already a resentment-filled split. Their attacks on Sanders haven’t let up and they hammer Tulsi Gabbard and Nina Turner too while kissing the ring of Kamala Harris. The (neo)liberals punch left like crazy because they think that the left’s got nowhere else to go and, within the mindset, they’re correct.

One doesn’t “push left”, one has to “pull left”. Other parties, such as the Communist Party of the USA, weigh in to endorse the Democrats and have done so for the last two decades. Talking about what is possible and practical, there can be no “unity” between the progressive left and the doughy middle so I’d contend that if Bernie, Tulsi and Nina formed a People’s Party or re-constituted the Green party, they’d finally have some leverage. Bernie would take most of the Democratic party, all the Greens, he’d kill with independents (who usually swing elections and are now the biggest constituency in the U.S.) and Trump voters who want real populism rather than Trump’s phony-baloney populism would be on board too.

Here’s the thing. This would be real leverage.

If, faced with this figurative gun at its dome, the Democrats then decided to get their heads in the game and actually stand for something: like a Green new deal; like single-payer; like Glass-Steagall; like free college then this new people’s party could declare victory and – like the CPUSA – tell everyone that they endorse the Democrats and throw their weight behind the newly relevant Democratic party who’d also have a good infrastructure and ballot access made easy.

That would be how you get things done. Everything else is just words and tap-dancing, I think. That would be how to break the choke hold. Otherwise, prepare for more inch-by-inch progress with a right-wing backlash every few years.

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First, thank you for trying to pursue dialogue. Much appreciated. I’ve not yet read part 2 of your response, but thought I’d respond now to the first of your posts.

The democrats, and Hillary in particular, did not lose miserably. She won the confidence of the vast majority of voters (you know, actual living human beings known as citizens) by nearly 2.9 million actual votes (3.1% of the national vote). Trump won by 80,000 votes across three states out of 136,000,000 million cast nationally, or 0.0006% of the vote. Hardly a crushing defeat. Even in spite of the realities of extreme partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression laws , more Americans in this last election voted for democratic representation in Congress than GOP gains and retention would imply. And you can yammer on about how Gore lost his own state and how 308,000 Floridians demonstrate (somehow) the cutting edge of a national progressive movement (as yet to crystallize 20 years later), but the fact of the matter (as demonstrated by your own figures), only 537 Floridian votes determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. 300,000+ idealistic votes gave us 8 years of W and our two longest wars ever as well as global economic collapse while setting the stage for Trump twenty years later.

Your assert that there’s some kind of stasis that results from pushing back against the political establishment from within such establishment. If such is true, how did the Democrats of yore become the civil rights party of today? How did the party of Lincoln, who argued for the primacy of labor over capital become the party of protecting capital at all costs? More currently, how did the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus take over the GOP? Why aren’t the “old school” republicans of my youth still in control? Because they were primaried by TP types working within their own party system – not by independent libertarians that officially splintered the party in a quixotic quest to establish a viable, independent Libertarian Party – they took what they could grab and built on it, to our country’s detriment. Do you really think that a VP Warren or a VP (Socialist! Communist! Soros! Rothschild!) Sanders would have won over “flyover” country? Really? This middle-aged, born and bred Midwesterner sure doesn’t think so.

Bernie did not “lose his shirt” (and since when did the Communist Party of America’s endorsement have any kind of realistic, positive, overwhelming impact on electoral outcomes?). Had he run as an independent: 1) his coverage would have been no better, if not worse, than Stein’s; 2) the DNC platform would have been far more “New Democrat” than progressive; 3) issues such as universal/single payer healthcare wouldn’t have remained in the public discourse nearly nine months following the election. Bernie did what he realistically set out to do.

And, unity between the “doughy middle” and the progressive left absolutely must happen it we’re to have even a prayer of forcing change for the better.

“Inch-by-inch progress” is the only way that real progress in this country was ever obtained. Slavery happened over night or by decades of hard work by abolitionists and the enslaved themselves? Labor rights came about ’cause FDR woke up one morning thinking, hey, here’s a swell idea, let’s protect labor? Women’s suffrage, civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, gay rights came about by something other than “inch-by-inch progress” gained through the long hard fights of the people themselves?

You know what leads to successful, right-wing “backlashes” (I’d refer them to electorally unopposed gains) every few years? A liberal\progressive voting public that only turns out every four years (in my liberal, progressive, college town in a redder than red state, us supposed “lefties” turn out to vote at 7% in midterm primaries and a 31% in midterm final election and yet somehow “burn the system down” progressives insist that it’s the system, rather than the electorate itself, that has failed). One of the primary causes of the 2010 Tea Party/Libertarian sweep (leading to extreme partisan gerrymandering at state and national levels) is because disenchanted democrats/liberals simply didn’t bother to vote or voted idealistically.

By insisting that no “establishment” candidate is worthy of one’s “special and ever so sacrosanct” ballot unless they’re a die hard leftie such as oneself, then so-called liberals help to elect died in the wool arch conservatives to office by voting for daydream candidates that GOP numbers easily overwhelm.

And I’ll ask again, when was the last time the CPUSA had any sort of realistic impact on voting outcomes? While they may be on the right track, they’ve never, I repeat never, swung national elections in the good old USA.

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ME: “The democrats, and Hillary in particular, did not lose miserably. She won the confidence of the vast majority of voters (you know, actual living human beings known as citizens) by nearly 2.9 million actual votes (3.1% of the national vote). Trump won by 80,000 votes across three states out of 136,000,000 million cast nationally, or 0.0006% of the vote. Hardly a crushing defeat……”.

Hillary lost to a game show host. Hillary and the Democrats, under the cockermamie electoral college system, couldn’t stop Wisconsin from voting Republican for the first time in 32 years; from Michigan voting Republican for the first time in 28 years. When the agreed ‘weapon of choice’ is the electoral college, the popular vote victory means zero without the electoral college vote too. Why was Hillary messing around in Arizona with six days to go? This is all of a tale of woe, misery and maladroit electoral malpractice. As I showed above, without Gary Johnson, it would have been even worse…..and all against a game show host.

“…you can yammer on about how Gore lost his own state and how 308,000 Floridians demonstrate (somehow) the cutting edge of a national progressive movement (as yet to crystallize 20 years later)….”.

Strawman argument. That’s not what I contended. My point in bringing up Gore’s ineptitude was to show that it was not the fault of the Green party that Gore lost to the Idiot Son. I took it that you were previously inferring that Dubya and Trump could be laid at the door of those voting third party. My contention was that the Greens didn’t cost Gore or Clinton anything. Gore cost Gore and Clinton cost Clinton.

“…but the fact of the matter (as demonstrated by your own figures), only 537 Floridian votes determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential election…..”.

Incorrect. Bush’s 537 votes threw Florida to Bush when the Supreme Court stopped the count. Gore won Florida. The 537 is a figure manufactured by the court spitting in the face of States’ rights. The 537 gets laid at the door of the Greens’ 97,000 votes but 308,000 *registered Florida Democrats* found Gore/Lieberman so sickening that they actively voted against them by voting *for* Bush.

“…300,000+ idealistic votes gave us 8 years of W and our two longest wars ever as well as global economic collapse while setting the stage for Trump twenty years later…..”.

Nothing idealistic about voting for the Bush/Cheney crime syndicate. And, when they were registered Florida Democrats and they were never in the Green column, having voted for Bush, how are those 308,000 voters ever the Greens’ fault? They aren’t; it’s down to Gore.

“….how did the Democrats of yore become the civil rights party of today? How did the party of Lincoln, who argued for the primacy of labor over capital become the party of protecting capital at all costs?….”.

Yes, good points. My sketchy understanding of American history leads me to argue that the Republican change came over decades and decades while the Democratic change came from LBJ’s signing the Civil Rights Act, saying immediately to someone that they lost the south. And MLK and Malcolm X were outside the Democratic party, not inside, no?

“….how did the Tea Party/Freedom Caucus take over the GOP? Why aren’t the “old school” republicans of my youth still in control? Because they were primaried by TP types working within their own party system – not by independent libertarians that officially splintered the party in a quixotic quest to establish a viable, independent Libertarian Party – they took what they could grab and built on it, to our country’s detriment….”.

Because Tea party types are real maniacs who are terminally confused and driven by race-hate: “Keep your government hands off of my medicare!” as one is supposed to have said. It’s apples and oranges. The left’s too reasonable and loves to debate and listen to arguments. And the establishment Democratic media megaphone is too huge, too powerful. They’ll get beaten down. The ‘run to the middle’ will get forced even harder down throats when faced with a second term of Trump (if he stays out of the hoosegow) or that maniac Mike Pence.

“….Do you really think that a VP Warren or a VP (Socialist! Communist! Soros! Rothschild!) Sanders would have won over “flyover” country? Really? This middle-aged, born and bred Midwesterner sure doesn’t think so…..”.

That’s what the polling seemed to suggest. Notice how Sanders, post-election, isn’t going to speak in places that are solidly blue, he’s going more into the heart of Trump country, having town halls with Trump voters and he goes down very well. People know a straight shooter and respect a straight shooter.

Republican Bob Ney was sickened by the Trump/Clinton choice and was seriously considering Clinton but, when asked, what if it was Trump/Sanders, said he’d vote for Sanders in a second. Ney said that he disagreed with Bernie on everything almost but knew that he was honest, had the country’s best interests at heart and was a great legislator who’d leave his name off and add people’s names on if it was the difference between something passing or failing.

“…Bernie did not “lose his shirt” (and since when did the Communist Party of America’s endorsement have any kind of realistic, positive, overwhelming impact on electoral outcomes?…..”.

Since never but my point was to show how a party, another party, could still support the Democrats if they saw fit. The Hillary operatives desperately tweeted the CPUSA’s endorsement of Hillary’s run during 2016 as a sign that she wasn’t too far to the right during the election so they tried to use it to swing in more progressives behind Hillary, I suppose, not knowing that the CPUSA endorsed the Democrats by rote for two decades and it was a Hobson’s choice anyway. And Bernie’s credibility took a huge hit when he endorsed Hillary, it made him out to be a sheepdogger and a phony to some. As I said, I think he had no choice but Bernie didn’t come out unharmed.

“….Had he run as an independent: 1) his coverage would have been no better, if not worse, than Stein’s…..”.

Yes, if he’d run totally outside the Democratic party but no if he’d jumped onto Stein’s ticket once the Democratic primaries were over (I don’t blame him. Once he was in, he had no choice but to stay and endorse Hillary.).

“….2) the DNC platform would have been far more “New Democrat” than progressive….”.

Again, yes if he’d never run in the Democrats’ primaries but no if he’d gone to Jill Stein’s ticket. That would have been a long-deserved gun at the Democrats’ collective head.

“…3) issues such as universal/single payer healthcare wouldn’t have remained in the public discourse nearly nine months following the election…..”.

Quite possibly true. Charles Krauthammer bemoans that single-payer is inevitable. Again, though, there’s the discourse and there’s activists like the nurses’ union, on the ground who work state-by-state and often get the pushback from Democrats rather than Republicans (see Anthony Rendon).

“…And, unity between the “doughy middle” and the progressive left absolutely must happen it we’re to have even a prayer of forcing change for the better…..”.

The only fake unity will come once the neoliberals beatdown the left, brutally, in a propaganda war. They’ve been on the warpath ever since the fiasco in November. Bernie, Nina, Tulsi make their shitlist and get constantly attacked while Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand get carried shoulder high. The middle threw down the gauntlet months ago and have already installed Harris as the front-runner. They are aching for a fight. Again, if they’d wanted unity, they’d have been angry at Tim Kaine as vice-president but they thought that it was peachy. The liberals will always attack and punch the left, not because they’re bad people but because they’re liberals.

“Inch-by-inch progress” is the only way that real progress in this country was ever obtained. Slavery happened over night or by decades of hard work by abolitionists and the enslaved themselves? Labor rights came about ’cause FDR woke up one morning thinking, hey, here’s a swell idea, let’s protect labor? Women’s suffrage, civil rights, voting rights, reproductive rights, gay rights came about by something other than “inch-by-inch progress” gained through the long hard fights of the people themselves?……”.

Aren’t you making my case for me? All the pressure of those changes came outside the two main parties, not from within. The progress finally comes from the grudging acquiescence of the politicians inside the system, once they finally come to accept which way the wind is blowing.

“…You know what leads to successful, right-wing “backlashes” (I’d refer them to electorally unopposed gains) every few years? A liberal\progressive voting public that only turns out every four years (in my liberal, progressive, college town in a redder than red state, us supposed “lefties” turn out to vote at 7% in midterm primaries and a 31% in midterm final election and yet somehow “burn the system down” progressives insist that it’s the system, rather than the electorate itself, that has failed)…..”.

All the more reason for Democrats to actively obtain votes rather than to expect them to be delivered like pizza. Gore, Clinton and Kerry tried to surf into the White House on a ‘we’re not them’ platform. Of course it is the system’s fault. Give people something  to vote for rather than merely something to vote against. Obama was a phony, as is Trump, but at least they posed as people who were offering something. Clinton said that single-payer would “…never, ever come to pass….”. Hardly inspiring and then they wondered why people weren’t enthused. Hillary’s launch video: “So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote….” but she never really tried to earn it.

“….One of the primary causes of the 2010 Tea Party/Libertarian sweep (leading to extreme partisan gerrymandering at state and national levels) is because disenchanted democrats/liberals simply didn’t bother to vote or voted idealistically……”.

So maybe the Democrats should strain to listen and to offer them something for which to vote? Remember the Republican post-election “autopsy” after 2012? Demographically, they thought that they were toast in 2016 if they didn’t change. That they went further ‘up-river’ with Colonel Trump doesn’t mean that the common thought wasn’t that the Democratic nominee in 2016 was inevitably going to be the 45th president. The Democrats started ‘leaning for the finishing line’ four years out. Who’s easier to corral? A nominee and their team whose raison d’être is politics or millions of voters who probably don’t even have the time to think about politics more than once every two years? The Democrats really have to take some responsibility for trying to make things happen and not expect whole swathes of the public to dutifully turn up and ‘deliver’ their vote.

“…By insisting that no “establishment” candidate is worthy of one’s “special and ever so sacrosanct” ballot unless they’re a die hard leftie such as oneself, then so-called liberals help to elect died in the wool arch conservatives to office by voting for daydream candidates that GOP numbers easily overwhelm……”.

I’d agree with this. If I was an American, I’d have voted for Clinton in a heartbeat, if I’d have been in a swing state. Perhaps even in a safe state too. Trump’s second amendment comments were so outrageous (repeated a month later after he got away with it the first time) he should have been in jail, much less running, much less winning an election. Again, though, why then put up such weak candidates, running slightly to the left of right-wing maniacs? When faced with the real Republican and the phony-baloney Republican the public will pick the real over the fake. When a centrist Democrat wins, the takeaway is that that proves the merits of running to the middle. When a centrist Democrat loses, the deduction is that they didn’t run to the middle enough. No wonder that people don’t come out to vote.

“…And I’ll ask again, when was the last time the CPUSA had any sort of realistic impact on voting outcomes? While they may be on the right track, they’ve never, I repeat never, swung national elections in the good old USA.”.

They didn’t and haven’t but the 2016 Clinton operatives hilariously tried to give them an impact when they shouted about the CPUSA’s endorsement of Hillary’s run as “proof” that she wasn’t running to the middle, post her pick of Tim Kaine. Not knowing, or hiding, the fact that the CPUSA endorses the Democratic party by rote for the last two decades and that they had no other option.

 

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