Thursday, February 11, 2016

Inside Vs. Outside in the Democratic Party

An article in the Guardian is saying the insiders might be able to install Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee whether she wins the popular vote in the primaries or not.

If true, if this is really happening, it is dead wrong and defeatist. A recipe for disaster. A big opportunity thrown away.

If it's just a perception it is a perception that needs to be debunked by the DNC.

The party machinery must be there to empower the voters not dictate to them or to tip the scales.

If Hillary wins the nomination legitimately, by getting the votes, she will need the Bernie voters behind her in November, just as Bernie will need the Hillary voters if he is the nominee.

Hillary stepped gracefully aside in 2008 and joined the Obama administration in 2009. She respected the voters. I admire that. She has a great resumé. She has incredible political gifts. Women all over the country feel a woman president is long overdue, as do I. But it isn't cynical or anti-feminist to feel that Bernie might be a better candidate, that he represents a larger slice of the electorate, reaching outside the core of the party, perhaps reaching people in other parts of the country who have never voted for a Democrat. We don't know who has the stronger chance at winning. Voting in primaries is how these things are sorted out.

But Bernie is the real deal. He's shown that. An authentic champion of the interests of Americans who work for a living against the entrenched power of the much smaller group of Americans who own for a living. He has tapped into something powerful by speaking honestly and bravely without worrying about big donors or powerful people. He represents the outsider, which is most of us, against the insider, which Hillary Clinton most definitely is. Her inside game could mean she'd achieve more. Bernie's outside game could mean he'd be able to remake our politics, strengthen the progressive side by sheer force of numbers. He might set up an off-year wave of upsets to retake the Congress and statehouses.

I think the Bernie Sanders phenomenon represents an even stronger version of the wave that brought Obama into office: the sudden and enthusiastic involvement of millions of previously disengaged voters is something we’d be fools to throw away.

We have gotten into the habit in this country of engineering our politics, of prearranging the winners or (as in 2000) anointing someone who hasn’t won the popular vote, of the elders deciding what the children should have for dinner. The children have grown up and won’t have that.

It is true that the popular vote can be dangerous, as we see on the GOP side where it has been so divorced from our better angels and become pure ID, chasing a reality TV racist and sociopath, a billionaire who plays to our hatreds and our fears.

It is unfair and untrue to create a false equivalency between Bernie and Trump. They are both populists but Bernie is not one to rev up fascist emotions in the voting public. Trump is.

It's the GOP that divides us up by class and race and gender in order to control us.

The DNC should be the opposite of that.

I think it's time for both candidates to sit with the DNC and establish a process that will see fair play and a true expression of the will of the voters, an open nomination process without cronies, without the insider machinery, without resorting to the ill-named SuperDelegates.

I seem to remember this idea of Super Delegates emerged as a tool to prevent coups similar to the Lyndon LaRouche phenomenon which messed up our process in the 1980s. Bernie is not Lyndon LaRouche. He is tapping into decades of very legitimate anger and grievance but he is not exploiting these emotions to force the 12-tone scale onto classical orchestras or to create a right wing monster out of far flung parts of the Democratic Party. The Super Delegate is a relic. It echoes the Orwellian phrase about some pigs being more equal than others. It gives the party sages a feeling of involvement but the party is not about them, it is about the voters.

If the DNC is setting up a pre-ordained nomination they, and we, are throwing away an enormous wave of energy. New voters, fresh blood, fresh enthusiasm, a chance to build on what Barack Obama began in 2009, which the Republicans did their damnedest to block at every turn. The GOP seeks to divide us up and suppress the will of the voters. That is the sort of thing that makes voters cynical and disengaged. That is the GOP’s strategy. We shouldn’t be playing that hand too.

I will vote for whoever wins. Gladly. Hillary is a strong candidate. Bernie is a strong candidate. But if we split, we lose. We can't afford to lose this one.

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