Tom Rinaldo's Journal
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Looking toward November, our choice is becoming clearer. Democrats can pick Bernie to run against Trump, or we can pick Hillary. Each candidate has shown differing areas of strength in the Democratic contests so far. The numbers vary from state to state, but overall Bernie has done better with male voters, with white voters, with young voters, with working class voters, with Independents, with strong progressives, and with voters outside of the South. Hillary has done better with minorities (African Americans in particular - Latinos somewhat less so), with older voters, with moderately liberal voters, with women, and with Southern voters.
Bernie always does better with voters under 30, but often he triumphs with all voters below 50. Plus he's held his own with women in some contests. The Southern blow outs for Hillary tend to skew the overall results somewhat when looking at general demographics - for example her overall strength among women is buttressed by massive support for her by African American women who voted for Clinton in southern states.
When it comes time to run against Trump, what are the implications for the trends that we've seen so far? It's simple: Sanders is the candidate best able to win demographic groups that Democrats need but can't reliably count on. And he does so in the sates that we must carry to win the electoral college, without losing the votes of typically reliable Democrats in the process.
With the voter groups where Hillary has an advantage so far, her support tends to be genuine and heartfelt - they are pro Clinton voters, and that reflects well on her. But there are few anti Sanders voters in those ranks. Sanders isn't overtly being rejected by Clinton voters, it is much more a matter of them just preferring Hillary. This is in stark contrast to what we find on the Republican side, where strong ideological disagreements and personal animosities divide them. By and large, outside of feverish activist enclaves, registered Democrats feel positively toward both of our candidates, and simply are more strongly drawn to one or the other as the case may be. Notably both Hillary and Bernie have strong platforms and voting records that resonate with minorities and women.
So let's look at the swing factors that will determine whether Donald Trump wins or loses to a Democrat come November. No matter who we run we can count on African Americans, and especially Latinos, tuning out in force to defeat Donald Trump. The same is true for women who understand that reproductive rights, to name just one major concern, are at stake in the fall election.
Young voters have a lot to lose if Republican win in the fall, and a case can easily be made that they should turn out in force regardless of which candidate Democrats run, except that history says otherwise. Repeatedly voters below 30 have been under represented in the electorate, often dramatically so. That was less true in 2008 than usual, when Barack Obama inspired a whole new generation of voters to participate. That type wave of enthusiasm is evident again during this election cycle, but only for one candidate; Bernie Sanders.
Progressives too should be counted on in force to vote Democratic against Donald Trump and I believe they will no matter who we nominate. But progressives traditionally have been among the most fervent grass roots activists and volunteers working in the trenches to elect Democrats during the heat of a campaign - in that sense we fight above our weight class. Progressives will vote Democratic in November regardless, but how much blood sweat and tears they invest in the struggle is partially a by product of enthusiasm. And the progressive base, as evidenced by Move On and Democracy for America endorsements among others, tends to be far more enthusiastic for Bernie Sanders.
When it comes to other demographics however, an overall Democratic advantage is far less assured in the coming fall campaign. Independents are a much larger voting block than either registered Democrats or Republicans. Two candidates have so far shown a consistent ability to attract excitement and interest from that critical mass of voters: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. If nothing else is clear this year one thing should be; establishment candidates like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Hillary Clinton have not been wining the Independent vote.
Donald Trump has already articulated his game plan for a victory in November, he will be going after (white) working class voters in the Mid West and North East. He will be trying to flip some blue states red while pulling purple ones like Ohio into his column also. He will specifically be appealing to male so called Reagan Democrats who have swung both ways in recent decades. Trump will campaign against Free Trade. Trump will campaign against adventurist wars. He counts on winning the Deep South no matter how impressive Hillary Clinton's primary wins were there.
Hillary Clinton is vulnerable to Trump's strategy in ways that Bernie Sanders is not. That truth has been bubbling up for weeks now, and with her loss in Michigan now it can no longer be ignored.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Mar 9, 2016, 10:23 AM (37 replies)
That is the standard challenge made, by those who accept huge campaign donations or speaking fees from corporate America and/or the donor class, to those who decry the corrupting influence of money in politics. That is what Hillary Clinton says when asked about her six figure speaking fees to Wall Street institutions. She claims her public record is transparent, that she represents only the voters, and there are no quid pro quos for the money she receives. In the legal sense I don't doubt her. This is from "The Legal Dictionary":
"For instance, an elected official might promise favorable governmental treatment to a person in exchange for something of value. This form of quid pro quo would be a violation of the law. On the federal level, the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 1951 ) makes it a felony for a public official to extort property under color of office. Trading campaign contributions for promises of official actions or inactions are also prohibited under the act."
It's all very specific, very concrete, very traceable in an evidentiary sense. There are some politicians who would attempt such an arrangement, but Hillary Clinton isn't one of them. I am very confident that personally she's not corrupt; which is not the same as saying though that she hasn't been corrupted by money – in the larger, not the legal, sense of that word. I know that Hillary Clinton denies this, I understand why she does. What she engages in politics, when she raises money for her campaigns, it is all perfectly normal, well within the letter of the law. The laws were written to allow that behavior, and then further expanded on by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision.
But I can find the quid pro quos even when they are legal. They are hiding in plain sight, and not confined to one politician or political party. Unspoken quid pro quos are why America's greatest financial institutions could crash the world economy and get fined billions for doing so without a single top executive going to jail. They are why the Trans-Pacific Partnership was swarmed over by industry representatives for years during its drafting, while our elected Representatives had to wait to make an appointment to read over it in a small windowless room without clearance to make copies. They are why Senators and Congressman have job security for life: Even when their constituents vote them out of office because there is always a corporate board or well paid lobbyist position awaiting them - if they were business friendly while in office. They are why both political parties spent most of the last few decades appealing to voters predominantly on the battleground of social issues, while our middle class spiraled into steep decline and became an endangered species.
Sarah Silverman, comedian extraordinaire, shared a brilliant insight when she was on “Real Time with Bill Maher” She likened money in politics with steroids in sports, and said she once accepted that in order to compete at the highest levels in the political sphere, politicians like Hillary Clinton had to use the steroids of big money in order to stay viable. And then Bernie Sanders refused to go along with the doping. That's why he has no transcripts to hide.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Mar 7, 2016, 04:48 PM (13 replies)
Both scenarios are long shots, but they are real. Sanders did well enough last night by winning four contests to make scenario number one possible; which is an outright defeat of Hillary Clinton. For that to happen the campaign narrative needs to change significantly, and with it the momentum in the race.
Outside of the South, Hillary Clinton has had a had time putting Sanders away in any contest by anything approaching a resounding manner, and he has won most of them. Clinton's razor thin victory by about a quarter of one percent in Iowa barely counts; that falls well within the margin that triggers off an automatic recount in almost all normal elections. Hillary won clear but non decisive victories in Nevada and Massachusetts. Bernie won resounding victories in New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, and Vermont, plus a strong ten point victory in Oklahoma.
The national campaign now starts to shift away from the South where Hillary Clinton has so clearly been dominant. There are four Democratic contests coming up this week before the primary in Michigan next Tuesday. Hillary can be expected to do extremely well in Louisiana, that is already baked in. The outcomes in Kansas, Nebraska and Maine are less certain, but there are reasons to think that Bernie can do well in all of them. There will also be another Democratic debate before the Michigan primary. If Bernie has a good week preceding the Michigan primary that contest becomes key to him.
Here is where the expectations game potentially shifts. Unlike with Super Tuesday, election night coverage next Tuesday won't literally be all over the map. On the Democratic side there will only be Michigan and Mississippi, and there is no mystery or intrigue concerning the latter. With an upset win in Michigan it may be possible for Sanders to leave that state having won four out of the last six Democratic contests, with the only exceptions being two deep South states no one gave him any prayer of winning. Not only that, but for Bernie to win in Michigan he will have had to demonstrably over performed current expectations of him. He will either have had to significantly decrease the percentage by which Hillary has been winning minority votes and/or strongly dominate the working class white vote and/or turn out the youth vote in much higher numbers than has generally been the case so far. None of that will be easy, which is precisely why it will instantly become very news worthy if Bernie Sanders wins in Michigan.
Obviously what determines who wins the Democratic nomination for President comes down to who wins the most delegates, not who has the best campaign narrative or the most momentum in mid March of 2016. But when the question is asked can Bernie Sanders still win the delegates he needs to become the nominee, the answer is yes. Not likely, but still definitely yes. If and when momentum strongly shifts, so does subsequent political reality. It is rare for momentum to swing back and forth like a pendulum, which is why whoever has it at this stage of a race usually builds on it and coasts to victory. That is why it seems so virtually impossible to many for Bernie Sanders to still turn this around, for him to win enough of the remaining states with big enough margins of victory to overtake the lead in delegates that Hillary Clinton now enjoys. But a scenario like the one I describe above is one that could open that window of opportunity for him.
The Clinton camp will deny that possibly vehemently. It is in their self interest to do so, to do so loudly, and to do so loudly repeatedly. Momentum, after all is ultimately an intangible that frequently spawns a self fulfilling prophesy. Based on current campaign dynamics, and the difficulty involved in altering those meaningfully, the odds do clearly favor Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic nomination for President. But there is a real factual basis for extrapolating how that can still change. And with a strong and passionate base of support and plenty of money in the bank, it is still possible for Bernie Sanders to do that. The seemingly improbable has happened before. Bernie Sanders has already shown that.
The second scenario is also a long shot, and I am not in any way arguing for it, but Hillary Clinton's campaign could still end up in serious difficulty if Hillary Clinton does herself, in regards to the FBI investigation of her emails etc. I really do not expect that to happen, but it is not beyond being conceivable. In the very unlikely event hat Hillary Clinton is forced to leave the race her delegates would then be up for grab in an open convention. If Bernie Sanders remains in this race and wins a considerable number of contests and delegate from here on out while doing so, it would become harder for the Democratic Party establishment to deny him the nomination by pushing for someone who didn't compete, say Joe Biden, instead. Under the circumstances it is prudent for Bernie Sanders to continue to actively contest the Democratic nomination throughout the full primary season.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Mar 2, 2016, 12:12 PM (25 replies)
She can campaign strongly and persistently against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Yes Hillary is now "on record" as opposing it. I would love to see clear evidence of that opposition in action - not just as a check mark placed on some website summary of positions taken. One of the main knocks against Hillary Clinton is a belief that she will slide left to preempt positions taken by Bernie Sanders during the primary fight, and then slide back toward the center once her nomination is secure.
Hillary Clinton is a leader in the national Democratic Party who has won the endorsement of many sitting members of Congress. If she opposes the TPP let's see some action where action matters. Since she is a leader than she can demonstrate leadership on this matter. That would count for something real.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Mon Feb 29, 2016, 12:17 PM (2 replies)
Both she and her supporters have good reasons to feel proud. Hillary earned that victory in a way that Bernie supporters should respect. She was embraced by a strong majority of the electorate she was competing for. It was a powerful pro Hillary Clinton statement, not a reluctant lesser evil driven defensive vote that brought her victory in South Carolina, among African America voters in particular. She has real and deep support within that community. Any attempt to say that black voters in South Carolina, or elsewhere, are somehow just voting reflexively for a brand name without feeling genuine warmth toward Hillary as a woman who they are familiar with and inherently trust is not only foolish, it is insulting to those voters.
It was a positive embrace of Hillary Clinton, not a rejection of Bernie Sanders, that drove results in South Carolina in the 2016 primary. It was a positive embrace of Barack Obama, not a rejection of Hillary Clinton, that drove results in South Carolina in the 2008 primary. Hillary started out that election cycle with strong Black support in the South and elsewhere, but African American voters ultimately decided, in overwhelming numbers, that they had a better 2008 choice in Barack Obama and they took it. Running against virtually any other white politician I can think of, and a good number of black ones, I believe that Bernie Sanders would have fared far better among African American voters than he did. But he ran against Hillary Clinton, and it's not campaign rhetoric to say that she has strong ties to the Black community in America, it is simple truth. That should not be minimized. A great number of Black leaders, both at the local and national levels, know Hillary Clinton personally and respect her greatly. You don't simply inherit that type of respect. In any of a number of ways you must earn it over time.
Hillary Clinton does not have a perfect record in regards to minority communities. There are numerous well placed voices of people of color speaking with authority and authenticity who challenge Hillary on one or more fronts. Some of them embraced Bernie Sanders instead of her. But the vast majority of blacks strongly believe, in the bigger picture, that when lines are drawn Hillary Clinton is on their side. That doesn't mean however that they have concluded that Bernie Sanders isn't.
So yes, there is a stark and impossible to ignore difference in the extent that Hillary Clinton is actively supported by people of color, particularly by African Americans, than she is by whites relative to Bernie Sanders. There is also a stark and impossible to ignore difference in the extent that Bernie Sanders is actively supported by younger voters than he is by older Americans, relative to Hillary Clinton. Both African Americans and the Young are key components of the larger Democratic coalition that enabled Barack Obama to be elected President. The support of both will be essential to a Democrat defeating whoever the Republicans nominate, most likely Donald Trump, in November.
I still strongly support Bernie Sanders for President, for many substantive reasons that I've written about elsewhere. But one of the many things that I respect greatly about him is how he relates to an establishment figure like Hillary Clinton. He doesn't oversimplify things into cartoon heroes and villains. Bernie is attacking a systematic cancer in our body politic, not all of those individually who now make it up. Sanders supporters like myself honor his honesty and authenticity, so I do not doubt it for a second when Bernie says that he has known Hillary Clinton for many years, and that he both likes and respects her. I think African Americans by and large say the same.
I am confident that if Bernie Sanders manage to stay in the game through Super Tuesday, and then starts to turn the tide around after the bulk of primary contests leaves the deep South, that he will ultimately win the strong support of black voters should he become the Democratic nominee. I would like to believe the same about younger voters and Hillary Clinton should she become our nominee, though I am not quite as confident of that. But I know that she will try hard to earn their support if she does. If Hillary wins our nomination, I will do what I can to help her.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Feb 28, 2016, 08:22 AM (8 replies)
Bernie Sanders said that to Chris Mathews about Social Change Movements when Mathews fixated, during their interview, on the impossibility of winning 60 votes in the U.S. Senate next January for a progressive legislative agenda.
MEMO to Chris Mathews:
Not only is Bernie Sanders right (it doesn't just take a village, it takes a movement to bring about real change) but those of us who know radical change is essential in America won't be judging progress towards it by some Senate vote count in January.
The Republican opposition doesn't care how reasonable the next Democratic President may seem if we elect one this November - they will obstruct the same regardless. Any changes that Republicans in Congress may allow into law will by definition be insufficient, or they will not pass. Whether we have a President Sanders or a President Clinton, that is the reality.
At the end of the day, before the United States government enters permanent shut down during some prolonged budget crisis, some compromises will be reached and no one will be happy with them. There is no inherent conflict between being a visionary and being pragmatic, as Hillary Clinton likes to point out. After the forces on both sides are fully marshaled, after all the fiery speeches are made and the behind the scenes maneuvers executed, we will all do the math and take the best deal we can get for now. That will be the case whether it is Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton who is sitting in the oval office. If anything I would suggest that by asking for more to begin with we will end up with more at the finish, but even that difference won't be earth shattering.
Whoever we elect our next President will have the same intrinsic powers of the Executive Branch. They each will have a veto pen, they each can issue executive orders. They each will staff the executive branch with people who share their priorities for America. While a Republican opposition in Congress can make a show of resisting some high profile presidential appointments, there will be a Democratic administration put in place which will work to implement Democratic objectives through rules and regulations. And unless we elect a Democratic majority House and a Democratic super majority in the Senate in November, Republicans will retain their ability to obstruct.
Even if we accept that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each have the same ultimate goals for America, Hillary Clinton through the power of her being will not be able to implement a more positive program for America come next January than could Bernie Sanders, particularly in so far as legislation is involved; and vice versa.
With all due respect Chris you have fundamentally missed the point. We aren't playing a short game here, we are playing a very long one Your most basic miscalculation is apparent in how you framed your verbal challenge to Bernie Sanders. You asked him what he can possibly achieve as President next January when you can barely understand yourself how he got to the place where that concept is even conceivable. You point out that for Sanders to succeed his notion of a political revolution has to be more than just an idealistic slogan, there must be real evidence it can happen. Then you note that young people did not vote in high enough percentages for Sanders to even win in Nevada.
OK Chris, you have a point. Now turn it on its head. If your political world view holds up though the current election cycle, there won't be a President Sanders in office come January to propose any legislative agenda for Republicans to obstruct. But what will have to happen for Bernie Sanders to actually win the Presidency and then confront the congressional obstacles you envisioned? The answer is a political revolution that you couldn't see any hint of as recently as last summer, one that in your estimation is still insufficient to win Bernie Sanders the Democratic Party nomination for President let alone the Presidency itself. You may be right about that now Chris, but what if you are wrong, what would that say about America and the political power of a social movement for change? You are gaming a 2017 political battle map based on conventional 2015 political intelligence, so I'm not surprised by the conclusions you reach.
Like I said, you may be right. There is something happening in America that is upsetting all conventional political thinking, but it may not be advanced so far as to elect a President Sanders now after first having to defeat the most sophisticated and entrenched political machine in Democratic politics. The fact that Bernie has already gotten this far though should stop and give you pause. Sanders isn't just winning the classic "Rock the Vote" vote, his youth support isn't confined to students. America below 40 is looking like Sanders country, and not just among Democrats. Unlike Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders has done quite well with Independents too, and they are the largest voting bloc in America,
So no I don't expect a President Bernie Sanders to rapidly move a progressive agenda through Congress with strong Republican opposition. I expect him to continue to catalyze a social change movement that is rapidly growing in this nation while moving to the fore. Bernie has the power of a message whose time has come Chris, but someone had to pierce the cone of silence that was preventing it from being heard, and that is what his candidacy has now done. Sanders, with the help of a movement growing behind him, has already rewritten the political agenda in this county - he has changed the frame of reference. How far back do you have to go to find issues of burgeoning poverty and income inequality dominating a national election campaign like they are now? That's not Hillary Clinton's doing.
How long did it take for segregationists to lose control of the United States Senate Chris? No it didn't happen one day after an election. But when JFK defeated Richard Nixon for president in 1960 few could foresee that, less than four years later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would pass through the United States Senate. During those few intervening years an awful lot was going on outside the Halls of Congress. It's the only way change happens in America.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Feb 26, 2016, 12:08 PM (11 replies)
Our world is inhabited by invisible people. I am one of them and so probably are you. Andy Warhol once famously said "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes" but he was only off by a factor of several billion. Most of us only show up as an occasional blur. Fly a blimp over a football stadium, or a Civil Rights March on Washington, and we can be viewed en masse, individually indiscernible in a crowd. To the establishment we are as faceless as a sea of extras assembled for a film shoot. To them we primarily exist as demographics, grouped together by the tens of thousands when we are noticed at all.
Who is the establishment? For the most part they are the visible ones, known beyond their neighbors, families, friends and coworkers. Even when they move anonymously their reputations precede them. The rich and powerful are in the establishment, but they aren't alone there. Much like a college football dynasty, the cheerleaders are part of it to. At the state and national levels, America's major political parties are in the establishment as well, branches of Phi Beta Dogma irregardless of the ideologies each may express. In a seen and be seen world, membership is determined by the company you keep, who you know and how you know them. There is an in crowd, and then there's the rest of us. Hillary Clinton is imbedded in that in crowd, Bernie Sanders - not so much.
People still talk about a Washington bubble, but that bubble has grown until geography no longer matters. Washington now is a state of mind at the intersection of wealth and power. Always kissing cousins, the two have interbred, and the result is a bastardized democracy. Regardless of where they call their home, politicians spend less time now with people who elect them and more with those who fund elections. Inside of an establishment bubble it's hard to see outside it. Surrounded by its members, their routines define reality. It's less about distinguishing right from wrong, it's more about familiarity and what is viewed as normal, which truths are recognized and which aren't: Who is visible and who isn't. Living in a bubble good people get separated from their roots.
I believe that Hilary Clinton is a very good person, I honestly do. But though that is meaningful it's no longer the point. She is out of touch with the pain of most Americans. How powerful is the bubble she's in? Strong enough that Hillary literally couldn't intuit why earning $21,648,000.00 in speaking fees between 2013 and 2015 would cause political problems for a Democrat running for President in 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/05/politics/hillary-clinton-bill-clinton-paid-speeches/
When Bernie Sanders reminds the public that since the great recession 99% percent of all new income is going to the top 1%, he is describing Hillary Clinton – literally. How badly did she need that money? Even without those speaking fees the net worth of Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2015 would still have placed them in the top one tenth of one percent for all Americans. “The top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and almost the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.” http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-11/fed-won-americas-01-are-now-wealthier-bottom-90
I believe that Hillary Clinton is at her best right now, during the midst of a difficult primary contest for the Democratic nomination for President, when the bubble that surrounds her is at its thinnest, when some of the people standing outside of it become visible to her at Town Hall meetings, where they can personally gain her attention. But Bernie Sanders has stood with invisible people for his entire life in politics. That helps explain why Bernie was so dimly seen by the national establishment before his insurgent run for President. To them he has seemingly come out of nowhere. But that's where most of America lives.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Wed Feb 24, 2016, 10:25 AM (22 replies)
I'm betting during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention if he wins their nomination and it tuns out that Hillary is his opponent in the General Election. That is exactly Trump's style. Of course a typical Republican politician would want to bury any evidence of prior donations he made either to a Clinton campaign fund or to the Clinton Foundation, but that's just not The Donald.
Some of his Republican opponents have tried to make an issue out of Trump's prior support for Hillary, but he turned it to his own advantage. He made it part of his stump speech about how America's professional political class is owned by big business donors, people like himself who invest in politicians on both sides of the aisle in order to curry political favors. Except, Trump is always quick to add, now he is working for the American people and he owes no favors to anyone: He is self funded, doesn't need more money, and only wants to make America great again.
Whereas most political figures who raise large sums of money on Wall Street, Hillary included, can argue that their votes were never for sale on any issue, Trump is in a position to make that argument ring hollow. He simply explains how it works, how it always has worked for him; spread enough money around and your needs will generally be accommodated. No specific promises need be asked for, no quid per pro demanded. As a successful businessman who has long invested in politicians, Trump can state that he usually gets his money's worth by doing so.
Hillary Clinton was a United States Senator from New York, and Donald Trump was a major real estate developer in New York while she served in the U.S. Senate. Frankly I believe that Hillary Clinton is too smart a politician, but of more importance too good a public servant, to have ever changed her position on an issue that she cared about in return for specific campaign contributions, Foundation donations, or corporate speaking fees. But someone like Donald Trump doesn't have to prove that she ever did. All he has to say is that at the end of the day, from a business perspective, he was satisfied that he made good investments when he wrote checks to politicians like Hillary. and he knows that he's not the only businessman who feels that way.
How can that be countered?
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sun Feb 21, 2016, 04:33 PM (6 replies)
The potential presidential match up that worries me the most would be Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Trump is strongly perceived as an outsider in an anti-establishment year. Even though Hillary won a narrow but solid victory over Bernie tonight in Nevada, that doesn't negate the fact that there is a strong anti-establishment tide on the Democratic side as well. It is clear that virtually the entire national apparatus of the Democratic Party has united strongly behind Hillary. It is a meaningful accomplishment that she's won such strong loyalty from her peers. But considering that, the fact that Clinton has had to battle so hard to hold back a challenge from Bernie Sanders speaks louder than her victory tonight does against a surging insurgent - one who was virtually unknown six months ago and had miles of catching up to do without the support of virtually any key inside players.
I am not taking anything away from Bernie Sanders in saying this, but does anyone really doubt that Hillary would be in deeper political trouble now than she already is had Elizabeth Warren, who would have started out far better known than Sanders, had chosen to enter the race for President instead of Bernie (who remains the politician I most deeply believe in)?
Two candidates this election year have generated unexpected and historic levels of excitement on the stump; Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Two have significantly under performed earlier expectations in that regard; Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, and both of them were pegged as the arch typical establishment politicians from their respective parties. Yes Hillary remains far more viable than Jeb does now, and clearly there is much stronger active support for Hillary Clinton than there is for Jeb Bush, but she has continually struggled to generate sustained grass roots passion at levels commiserate to either Sanders or Trump.
Trump prides himself on being spontaneous and coming across as refreshingly candid, whereas Clinton sometimes suffers from coming across as staged. There is troubling consistent polling data on the question of "telling it like it is" and being "truthful". Donald Trump, like Bernie Sanders, polls very well by that matrix. Hillary Clinton does not. Part of what makes an anti-establishment mood an anti-establishment mood is a loss of confidence and trust in the perceived system that the public believes runs our lives, and those who they associate with that system. Trump is better positioned to ride an anti-establishment wave than is Hillary Clinton.
If Hillary Clinton becomes our nominee she will be attacked from the right on many fronts by whoever the Republican nominate, as would Bernie Sanders. In addition though, as our former Secretary of State, she will be blamed by them personally for the continued existence of every threat out there in the world that may cause Americans to lose sleep. She can counter with experience, some significant nuanced accomplishments, a grasp of details, and overall superior judgment. Depending on the existing level of fear among the public during the election campaign that Republicans will seek to exploit, Clinton's foreign experience advantage could dissolve into her being made the scapegoat for everything that has not gone as well as people would have wished for. If there are ready made trust issues to exploit against Clinton on top of that, the latter scenario becomes easier for Republicans in general, and Donald Trump specifically, to sell.
If Donald Trump becomes the Republican nominee he would additionally be able to attack Hillary Clinton in ways that are considered highly unorthodox for most Republicans, from the left so to speak. That starts with the Iraq War where Trump would strongly attack Clinton for her pro Iraq War Resolution vote. Whereas Bernie Sanders has a long standing history of strenuously opposing international trade deals that many believe hurt working Americans, Hillary Clinton does not. She would be vulnerable to an attack by Trump there as well. Finally there is that matter of Hillary taking large sums of money from Wall Street to fuel her own election campaigns etc.
Trump positions himself as incorruptible, he would probably characterize Hillary as hopelessly compromised by big money interests, and do so in a manner far more viscous than anything that Bernie Sanders has said against her. I expect Trump would claim, true or not, first hand knowledge of ways in which Clinton is bought by Wall Street special interests that he himself is so familiar with.
In a normal election year I would still say that Hillary Clinton would enter a fall campaign holding most of the cards. I still think that's true, more likely than not, but I also know that this is far from being a normal election year. And that is why I will worry if the Presidential election ends up being between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Sat Feb 20, 2016, 10:39 PM (47 replies)
That could be fraught with the potential for some old fashioned racial divisiveness, or at the very least things could devolve quickly into an ugly rehash of the 2008 presidential election campaign when accusations flew daily over who was or was not playing the race card. I was doing a lot of political blogging back in 2008. In fact for most of that primary season I was backing Hillary Clinton. I remember well how bitter things became. At the time I thought the accusations made against both Bill and Hillary Clinton for being or behaving racist were way overblown. I felt the same about some counter charges against the Obama campaign over their supposedly playing the race card also. But it was a pretty big deal at the time nonetheless. It still is for some people today, but I have no interest in going back to re-litigate any of that. What's more interesting to me though, is that neither does Bernie Sanders.
With the success of his presidential campaign probably resting on the number of African American voters he can win over from those currently supporting Hillary Clinton, Bernie shows no interest in going there; back to when charges of race baiting hung thick in the political air. Regardless of how well or ill founded those charges ultimately were – they obviously exposed raw feelings at the time and contributed to shifting fortunes during that 2008 contest. A more typical candidate would have had a team of opposition research experts pouring over old transcripts and video tapes from the 2008 campaign, looking for material to exploit to unravel the ties of loyalty many African Americans now feel toward Hillary Clinton. The furthest Bernie Sanders will go however, when his own degree of loyalty to Barack Obama is attacked, is to remind people that he never personally ran against Obama. Bernie never raises doubts over how that race was run, although obviously he could.
So the next time anyone even hints at suggesting that Bernie Sanders has or is going negative against Hillary Clinton, an appropriate response might be to laugh in their face.
Posted by Tom Rinaldo | Fri Feb 19, 2016, 10:43 PM (32 replies)