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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 22,309

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Sanders and Minorities: Confusing racial support with a racial agenda

Before "primary season" ends at DU, there is something that I think needs to be said. A few players here on GD-P have tried to make political hay by insinuating that Bernie Sanders is the candidates for whites, with unspoken implications that there is an intentional racially tinged divide between Sanders and Clinton and/or between their supporters. It started here early and never was far below the surface. There are genuine points for discussion about why one candidate appeals more to one group or another, but racial support and racial politics are not synonymous.

Sometimes it can be one and the same. Other times not. When David Duke ran for Governor of Louisiana he had strong white support and he also had a political agenda that appealed to white racism. In 2008 when both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton ran for President support for each deviated strongly along racial lines, with Hillary running significantly stronger among whines than she did with African Americans. Does anyone claim that she then had a racial agenda deigned to especially appeal to white sentiments or, even more extreme, to white racists? I don't.

In 1968 George Wallace ran for President soliciting racial support from whites with his clear racial agenda. He did fairly well with many working class white voters. But before Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Bobby had been wining the loyalty of those same voters instead.

There are many reasons why support for candidates can differ along racial lines, many of those reasons are wholesome and legitimate enough without being evidence that one candidate or another is less supportive of racial justice, or less inclusive of diversity in their vision for America. Hillary Clinton did not fundamentally change as a human being between 2008 and 2016, but the racial profile of her political support during the two democratic primary years clearly did. It is not a bad thing to appeal to white working class voters unless that appeal is based on racism.

It was not a bad thing that RFK won support from voters who then turned to George Wallace after Bobby was gone, it was good that Bobby did. Those voters would have helped him defeat Richard Nixon and end the Vietnam war 5 years earlier. Kennedy stood for racial justice AND won working class white voters, because he also spoke to issues of deep concern to those white voters. Some of those voters no doubt were racist, to varying extents. But that often is how racism is overcome: fighting for a common cause can cause those who once fought each other to discover a deeper commonality.

I was supporting Hillary Clinton here on DU in 2008 when many here were accusing her of appealing to a racial divide in an attempt to maximize white votes for her. I defended her then, but clearly whatever concerns anyone may have had then on that score were not reflected in the results this year when Hilary won very strong minority support, especially among African Americans. I do not second guess why that is so. By whatever criteria those voters held most dear she won their support in 2016, and that reflects well on Hillary. But it doesn't reflect poorly on Bernie that they preferred her over him, unless he himself had run a racist campaign. And he didn't. All of our candidates this year spoke strongly to the importance of racial justice, and they all were sincere in doing so. And as long as that is the case, we should no more fear a Bernie Sanders winning white support in Oregon in 2016 than we dd Barack Obama wining black support in South Carolina in 2008

We need to restore a coalition of common interests among an overwhelming majority of Americans that bridge the walls of racism built to divide and conquer us. It is a lesson labor unions learned long ago before workers could bargain from a position of strength. It is how we some day hopefully soon will have the majorities we need in Congress to repair the damage done to our nation by the oligarchy that now control it.

Congratulations to all those who believe in Hillary for her victory

She will be an infinitely better leader for America and the world than would be Donald Trump. She is a Democrat as that has been defined in recent decades. The Republican Party still poses a grave threat to the economic well being of the vast majority of our nation's citizens, still embracing policies more severe in their negative impact for working and most middle class Americans than those of New Democrats. Beyond that Donald Trump is toxic and unstable beyond words. Hillary has a long and distinguished record of fighting for women's rights. While I don't believe that gender tops policies in picking a leader, it will be good for our nation to finally break an undeviated chain of dozens of male only leaders occupying the oval office.

There is immediate work to be done together to defeat Donald Trump, but the long term work to ensure internal democracy in the Democratic Party continues, as does organizing for a more progressive future where both our economy and our politics do not remain beholden to the same narrow entrenched special interests whose rule extends unbroken.

It wouldn't take a far fetched conspiracy to link the Clinton camp to the AP call.

Nothing illegal would have been required, and the Associated Press wouldn't have to have been "in on" anything for the actual timing of an announcement on the night before California voted to have been set up by Clinton's campaign.

Some question what motivation would cause Hillary's team to want events to play out that way, when the optics potentially were so much better to clam clinching the nomination at a victory Party in Brooklyn after the NJ results came in. It would have allowed Hillary to announce with fanfare that she had won by securing the majority of pledged delegates at stake in the overall contest - a far more powerful taking point than relying on a secret poll of nameless party apparatchiks to declare victory. True, no doubt that was Plan A.

Why might Hillary's team have benefited by ditching Plan A then, and moving instead to a Plan B? That's pretty simple really; to better manage the news and spin cycle if the Clinton campaign's internal polling numbers for California had turned bleak. If she was headed toward an embarrassing loss in California, with high voter turn out in a highly diverse state which she won in 2008 against Barack Obama - that would be a reason to reshuffle the deck with an 11th hour call of victory before polls actually opened in California.

If one assumes that team Hillary feared a pending loss in California with the inevitable subsequent media commentary about her limping across the finish line for the nomination showing clear sign of weakness, then it all makes sense. As it stands now though she is benefiting from a full day positive news cycle focused on becoming the first woman ever called the presumptive presidential nominee of a major political party. Had the Associated Press not stepped in with their call last night, Hillary still would have claimed overall victory at her campaign party today in Brooklyn as planned. But the positive glow from that would have competed with election returns in progress and lasted at most a few hours, if she still went down to a humiliating defeat out west. Why would she take that chance if she didn't have to?

Now Hillary is guaranteed to escape that worst case scenario, even if she does still lose California. She can simply say her voters chose to stay home after the nomination was called for her, having nothing left to prove, while Bernie's people still turned out to cast a protest vote. Overall voter turn out in California will almost certainly be depressed below potentially record breaking numbers now as well, and that too will help reduce the sting of any loss Clinton may suffer there.

So I think the motivation may well have been there on the part of the Clinton camp to have this race "called" last night, but how about the means? That part would be pretty straight forward. Both the Clinton and Sanders camps know exactly who at AP was conducting ongoing Super Delegate polling. Hillary Clinton, it is safe to say, has plenty of friends within the structure of the Democratic Party who just so happen to be Super Delegates. I'm not saying they are not sincere and honest people, let's assume the best about all of them. Some may have held back on pledging their support to Hillary before now for any number of reasons. For example, maybe some of them are from states that are finally voting today, and maybe it had been their intention not to announce until that voting was over. Whatever, we will never really know, because the Associated Press is hiding their identity from the public.

Hillary's team could have prevailed on a number of them to make their preference known to the Associated Press a day or a week earlier than they had originally planned, so that the nominating contest could be called for Hillary at the last minute before California voted. They could have reached out to the Associated Press, not the other way around. It was entirely possible, and it would not have been very difficult, for the Clinton team to determine the timing of when she got declared the presumptive nominee by the Associated Press.

Is that what happened? I don't know, I can only say that it is plausible that it happened. And that clearly points to what sucks about how the political game gets played in a system where a significant percentage of the delegates are unaccountable to any real electorate, and remain obscure if not totally anonymous. And where the stating of an intention (to later vote for candidate "A" or "B" is equated with an actual official vote by the electorate in a primary that binds delegates to support the person thus favored by registered voters.

If that happened it was all quite legitimate, in that the game got played consistent with all stated rules. But those rules suck whether or not they lent themselves in this instance to that kind of political hardball on the eve of today's important vote. They need to be changed before another Democratic presidential election cycle comes around again - because any system that suppresses or disenfranchises voting has no place in a party that calls itself Democratic.

All who have already called for Sanders to unite behind Clinton will have to regain my respect

You have lost it for now. Not that my individual respect means a hill of beans to anyone, but it is mine to give or not to give and that is where matters stand. Had you waited until this Wednesday, I would likely feel differently about it. I'm not sure I would agree with you on that even then, but then that debate would at least be honorable. Now I find it deplorable. Virtually everyone who is making the case for Sanders to "make peace" now is a die hard Clinton supporter, and it was Hillary Clinton herself who refused to "make peace" in the name of party unity until the voters had had their say and the 2008 primary season was over. Now it is about "stopping Donald Trump". In 2008 it was about life and death and the war in Iraq, and the danger of another pro War Republican again taking control of the White House. At this point in that cycle Hillary remained defiant. As did almost all of her supporters.

At this point in the cycle it is not only about winning or losing, it is also about leverage. Even during her gracious performance at the 2008 Democratic Convention, Hillary was proud to point to "18 million cracks in the glass ceiling". She was counting every vote she won and making sure the whole world, Democratic Party and its presidential nominee included, knew about every one of them. And Hillary fought hard to the bitter end, and was lauded by her supporters for doing so, trying to wrack up each vote that she could. They all contributed to Clinton's continuing standing and power inside of the Democratic Party looking forward, after her defeat by Barack Obama. Had Hillary taken her foot off the throttle weeks earlier than she did, her influence would have been diminished. She would have been viewed predominantly as a defeated rival, not as the leader of a political movement that fell just short of making Hillary President.

The time for Party unity is at the Democratic National Convention, on its final day with all of it's leaders standing arm and arm and smiling together on a stage together. It can happen sooner, sure, but that is subject to negotiations. There is not all that much to negotiate when a contest ultimately is one sided, a commanding victor dictates the terms. That is how a winning camp prefers it of course. That is at the root of much of the weeks, if not months long, frenetic campaign by Team Clinton to force Sanders to concede early defeat - sapping energy from his subsequent campaign. But Sanders isn't just campaigning for himself, he is also fighting for a cause. Had Bernie dutifully backed down when "Party Elders" long ago asked him to, and scaled back the intensity of his campaigning, what he fought for would have faded from the public sphere and public mind.

The highly anticipated vote tomorrow in our nation's largest state would instead have been a mere asterisk on the 2016 election. By fiercely contesting (and potentially winning as a strong underdog) a California Primary that Clinton herself won in 2008, Bernie Sanders ensures that his message will remain front and center at Philadelphia come July. For all those so obsessed with talking about "the Math"; the margin of a victory is as relevant to determining the relative strength of the key elements of a coalition within it, as the outcome is to determining who ultimately heads it. The Democratic Party is and always has been a coalition. In a two Party political system both political parties by necessity become coalitions with various factions having varying degrees of strength.

We, the People, collectively exercise our peak level of influence on the internal dynamics of the Democratic Party during a contested presidential primary season. We, rather than the often personally dedicated insiders of the Party, get to make our own will known through the counting of ballots in every state in the nation that conducts a presidential primary or caucus. Those of us who support Bernie Sanders have already made a strong impact on the Democratic Party through the success to date of Bernie Sander's once thought wildly improbable presidential run. They wanted to ignore us, they thought they could but they couldn't. A few weeks ago they made yet another concerted attempt to turn the page and relegate us again to the past. They wanted voting in California drained of further meaning. Why even bother, hey implied, the race is over?

It is that attitude that I find unforgivable, especially from a camp that eight years ago knew full well why California, and other late voting states, still mattered, irrespective of "the math". Assuming that hundreds of Democratic Super Delegates who now support Hillary Clinton don't discover very compelling reasons to switch to Bernie, Hillary will be our Democratic nominee. Under that likely scenario it will be official by the last day of our national convention. Under a similarly likely scenario we will have Party Unity by then as well. Whether that happens two days from tomorrow or two days into our convention is subject to negotiations, and it takes both sides to conduct a negotiation. I am not any kind of high up Democratic insider. I don't know what was negotiated between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the final stage of their contest in 2008, or exactly when agreements between them were reached. I do know however that the fact that Hillary carried California over Barack was a relevant factor in those negotiations.

When it comes time to negotiate a contact between organized labor and management sometimes those talks go on past midnight of the day when a strike was threatened to be called. Sometimes a settlement is reached weeks earlier. It all depends on the issues on the table, the relative strength of the parties to the negotiations, how badly each side wants to avoid a strike, and yes, the skill of the negotiators. The deadline for Democratic Unity falls during the Convention in July. I hope a good deal is reached before then, I pray that a good deal is reached by then, but I am not in a position to second guess all of the specific tactics of the negotiators. For now I am focused on urging support for Bernie Sanders in the States voting tomorrow. My reasons for doing so ow are at least as strong as those advanced by Hillary's supporters back in 2008.
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