I caught Rachel’s show the other night, when Bernie Sanders made a comment about how Hillary Clinton was squeezing endorsements from groups like Planned Parenthood and the Human Rights (gay rights) Coalition.
Very clearly, Sanders was saying that he wasn’t planning on getting endorsements from the “establishment”. This threw the Democratic community (really, the people looking to buttress Hillary Clinton) into a frenzy. “How can you say that the beleaguered Planned Parenthood is ‘establishment’?” “How can you say that any sexual minority group is part of the ‘establishment’?” Stuff like that.
I don’t think that’s what Bernie was getting at all.
What Bernie was saying was that the leadership of groups that, yes, frankly, make up the Democratic party establishment are not currently ones that are going out there and giving him the ringing endorsement. A lot of these folks decided, months and months ago, that they were for Hillary. This was when the, ehem, establishment of the party decided (without input from the actual people who vote) that Hillary was going to be the candidate.
Do you realize that a lot of these big endorsement headlines are being generated by a handful of well-connected Democrats, who haven’t bothered to survey the people that they allegedly represent? Of course you do. But somehow the narrative–or the narrators–haven’t considered that we are already that far advanced in the analysis.
I have said this several months ago, when I mentioned that I was some of Bill Clinton’s very early money support in Pennsylvania in 1992 (1991, actually), that I have nothing against Hillary per se. But, honestly, the Clintons (plural) are, in essence, political social climbers. That is what they were in 1992, and certainly that is what Hillary Clinton has been doing throughout the last decade and a half.
The ordinary Democratic voter obviously sees Mrs. Clinton as: there because she is somebody’s wife. Yes, talented in her own right. Nobody is arguing about whether “qualified” or not. And, additionally, what she has been selling so far, besides “inevitability”, which pisses a lot of us off, is this sort-of back to the 1990’s moderation/triangulation, which is dated and is not where the Democratic voter is today at all.
The 1990s were a long time ago. Few people reminisce about the 1990s. Maybe the Clinton family (and the lords of the Democratic establishment) reminisce about the 1990s. I don’t. The 1990s sucked. The only good thing about them is that everyone was younger than they are now. The 1990s sucked. The 1980s sucked. The 2000s sucked. It’s been over 30 years of disappointment. We keep getting told that the good times are just around the corner. Nobody buys the Billy Joel lyrics.
(Keeping the faith . . .)
This is what Bernie Sanders has tapped into. The whole idea that “money” and elites are going to guide us into something better is an idea that might have been pitched well in the 1980s or ’90s. Nobody believes that anymore. People are buying into wholesale transformation of the game, that takes the runners of things and hauls them out of their paneled offices on their asses, out into the streets. Like that. You see the same thing going on with the Republicans, and why they can’t sell their canned candidates like Bush version three. (Jeb, exclamation point.)
Political media manipulation worked so well from when it was isolated or derived by people like Roger Ailes in the 1968 Nixon campaign. “All we have to do is start suggesting this or that about the other side, something horrible, and the people will be for us in no time!” Hillary Clinton is the 2016 Nixon. The striver. The person, waiting in the wings, just ready to steer at the helm. Not exactly loved. But respected for the respectable things they could do. Nobody loved Richard Nixon in 1968, except maybe Pat. But he was better than the nutty alternatives, and Hubert Humphrey was a news cycle or two too late from distancing himself from Johnson. (And the Southerners didn’t want him.)
This is the kind of campaign that Hillary has been running: 1968 Nixon. The Republicans are the Chicago radicals. Hillary can provide the stability. However, it is not 1968. The issues are entirely different. This is 2016. The economy has sucked for the middle class for the last ten years, no fault of Obama. It’s really been sucking for a long time. People who follow this understand that it’s because the basic social framework of the 20th century—that the government has a key role in expanding the middle class and keeping it healthy—was abandoned by one party (the Republicans), who never really bought into the notion anyhow, and then by the Democrats, whose exemplar of this way of thinking turned out to be Bill (“Era of Big Government is Over”) Clinton.
Whatever you want to call it, “socialism” (or more appropriately in modern language, social democracy) was the secret sauce of the 20th century. It’s what made the 20th century American economy work. It’s what made the middle class, and stopped America from becoming a society of lords and serfs, with local subsistence farming being the only thing that kept most people from starving. This is the long arc of history, not drummed up nostalgia for some recent decade, that wasn’t as great as the spin tries to make it seem.
What Bernie Sanders is doing is pushing the debate back to where the Democratic Party is supposed to be. And since he is authentic, and not the front for shadow money in the background, he is getting what is called “grassroots” support, but more realistically can be said to be the support of the People. What Hillary Clinton is doing is playing lawyer, and trying to spin the argument to win the case.
Bernie doesn’t expect to win the Democratic establishment. We understand that. That’s what he meant. What I wonder is why the Democratic establishment thinks they’re so great, and that their every word be bowed to. On the money issue, they have been screwing up for a long time.