Gaius Publius: Sinking the Sanders Campaign Beneath a Wave of Silence

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By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, Americablog, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. This piece first appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

You knew that “the chatterers” — writer Steve Hendricks’ name for corporate-employed pundits and analysts — would try to sink the Sanders campaign. As Hendricks points out below, their bosses want nothing less, and employees live to serve.

Hendricks, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review:

On the eve of the 1948 presidential election, Newsweek asked the 50 reporters on President Truman’s campaign train to forecast the winner. To a man they went the way the Chicago Tribune infamously would on election night: “Dewey defeats Truman.” Lay historians will recall that not only did Truman defeat Dewey; he clobbered him. Sorting out how the media got it so wrong, The New York Times’ James Reston concluded that he and his brethren had been a lot like the aloof Governor Dewey himself, who was said to be the only man who could strut sitting down. Dewey played well with plutocrats and publishers. “[J]ust as he was too isolated with other politicians,” Reston wrote, “so we were too isolated with other reporters; and we, too, were far too impressed by the tidy statistics of the polls.”

This was true, but it fell to A. J. Liebling, the nonpareil of The New Yorker, to pick out the crucial vice that Reston and similarly minded colleagues overlooked. “A great wave of contrition hit the Washington newspaper world in the days immediately following the joyous catastrophe,” Liebling wrote, “and men swore that they would go out and dig for the real truths of politics as they never had dug before. But few publishers encouraged them in their good resolutions, and most of them are back again running errands designed to bolster their bosses’ new illusions.”

As Hendricks points out, Liebling’s most memorable bon mot is also his most eternal — “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

The “bosses’ illusions” about the Sanders campaign are that it has no chance to succeed, and that it should be given no chance. And they’re doing their best, the chatterers and their bosses, to give it no chance at all. Hendricks on the wave of silence in the press:

“[That this] crank actually could win” is nearer the mark. But having settled on a prophecy, the media went about covering Sanders so as to fulfill it. The Times, for example, buried his announcement on page A21, even though every other candidate who had declared before then had been put on the front page above the fold. Sanders’s straight-news story didn’t even crack 700 words, compared to the 1,100 to 1,500 that Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Hillary Clinton got. As for the content, the Times’ reporters declared high in Sanders’s piece that he was a long shot for the Democratic nomination and that Clinton was all but a lock. None of the Republican entrants got the long-shot treatment, even though Paul, Rubio, and Cruz were generally polling fifth, seventh, and eighth among Republicans before they announced. ..

There’s more about this in the article, including similar coverage by those whom Hendricks calls, not euphemistically, Sanders’ “admirers.”

“But He’s Such a Long-Shot…”

Yet Hendricks firmly believes that Sanders could win, that the Sanders campaign could succeed after all. (I share that belief.) In addition to the “Eugene McCarthy in 1968” argument, which Hendricks doesn’t make, there are several strong arguments which Hendricks does make.

First, about those long odds (my emphasis):

The foregoing would be woeful enough even were it true that Sanders has almost no chance of winning, but it’s not true. I’ll skip lightly over the conspicuous fact that any frontrunner can have a Chappaquiddick, a deceptively amplified “scream,” or a plane crash. Instead, let me dwell on the simple fact that over the last 40 years, out of seven races in which the Democratic nomination was up for grabs—races, that is, when a sitting Democrat president wasn’t seeking reelection—underdogs have won the nomination either three or four times (depending on your definition of an underdog) and have gone on to win the presidency more often than favored candidates.

Some of these seekers were long shots indeed. Jimmy Carter was a lightly accomplished governor from a trifling state beyond whose borders he was little known and less regarded. A few weeks before he entered the presidential race, the Harris Poll asked voters their thoughts on 35 potential candidates. Carter was not on the list. After a year of campaigning, just a couple of months before the first primary, he routinely polled 1 percent among Democratic voters and finished eighth in the narrowed field of eight Democrats. But he won all the same because the other guys were Washington insiders, and after Watergate and Vietnam, Democratic voters (and eventually the wider electorate) didn’t want another insider, no matter how often journalists told them they did. If you don’t see a parallel to the present moment—a discontented time of Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Moral Monday, Fight for $15, the People’s Climate March, Move to Amend, and other anti-establishmentarian agitation—you’re either asleep or a publisher.

Michael Dukakis also polled as little as 1 percent just a few months before he announced (Sanders, by the way, was polling 5 to 8 percent at the equivalent stage), which paled beside the Hillary-esque 40 to 50 percent that Gary Hart was drawing. When Hart’s campaign went down with a boatload of bimbo, Dukakis profited, although even then he was no favorite. Shortly before the first primary, he still polled no better than 10 percent, which was toe to toe with the forgettable Paul Simon and 15 points behind both Jesse Jackson and a resurrected Hart, who mounted a brief comeback because Dukakis and all the rest looked so impotent.

Some observers wouldn’t rate Bill Clinton an underdog, mostly because he wasn’t one for long after he hopped into the race. But so slight was the shadow he cast nationally that nine months before the primaries, pollsters weren’t listing him as a potential contender. Even he thought so little of his chances (Mario Cuomo was supposed to run, and to be invincible once he did) that he didn’t announce until five months out. His odds improved from there.

The quixotic Barack Obama entered the race against a juggernaut whose endorsements were so thunderous and war chest so surpassing that many spectators thought the young senator was only trying to make himself known for a future contest. After campaigning all of 2007, he not only failed to advance on Clinton but found himself a little further back, dropping from 24 to 22 percent, while Clinton advanced from 39 to 45 percent. There were rumblings that he should bow out before the first vote so as not to weaken the ineluctable nominee.

That’s a pretty decent list of precedents. Of the four, three entered the White House as residents.

What About Clinton’s Money?

And then there’s the issue of the money, specifically Clinton’s money relative to Sanders’. I’ll let you read Hendricks’ counter-arguments for yourself — start with the paragraph beginning “Spurious though early polls may be.” But consider that among the points he makes is this:

But the last contested nomination, in 2008, was itself a huge-money affair, and Obama won despite having started from a worse financial position than Sanders is in now (Clinton had $10 million at the start of 2007, Obama virtually nothing) and having been out-fundraised by Clinton throughout 2007.

Just one data point of many.

Is Sanders Too Far from the “Center”?

Which brings Hendricks to the final argument against Sanders’ viability — his distance from the “political center.” Hendricks, pointing to several past elections, notes how valuable that distance can be. I agree. His prime example is Michael Dukakis — distant from the center indeed — and he could easily have added Georgia’s Jimmy Carter as well, or Arkansas’s Bill Clinton.

But consider — what does the “political center” means in modern America? It means the place where the wishes of the One Percenters — of David Koch and Jamie Dimon, for example — overlap each other. The political center of the American people is way to the left of that.


For example, 87% of Republicans want Fast Track and TPP to fail. Republicans want that. And therein lies the real danger of the Sanders campaign — that it does represent the people, a great many of them, and it therefore could easily succeed if it gets any tailwind at all. Hendricks:

Is the day of the IKEA socialist at hand? The chatterers don’t know the answer. What they know is how to do their damnedest to ensure that day doesn’t come too soon.

They can try, the chatterers and their bosses, to sink the campaign beneath a wave of silence, but with impassioned words like these coming from the likes of Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Sanders’ core platform has a huge megaphone:

I’m willing to bet that the Warren megaphone, whatever her eventual endorsement ends up being, isn’t going away. Nor is coverage of her by “the chatterers.” All this bodes well for the Sanders campaign.

(Click here if you’d like to help his campaign. You can adjust the split in any way you like. My collected Bernie Sanders coverage is here.)

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  1. Paul Tioxon

    I couldn’t agree more. Presidents are elected, by voters, and are not winners of a race in which their political power moves them speedily past competition. It is not an athletic game of skill. It is an election. And as much as a pol has to campaign, he/she has to be voted for. As far as the historic precedent argument goes, the strongest link in the line of reasoning is Hillary herself. Up until 2007, you could predictably assume certain iron laws of party politics. One of them being wait your turn for both parties, but especially the republicans. No young upstarts there. Predictable candidates like Dole and McCain, old and with the most Seniority got the nomination. Think Reagan in the 70s and then, his turn in 1980.

    When Hillary first ran, she looked to me and my fellow low level political ward denizens of Philadelphia’s Majority Party as the presumptive democratic candidate for the presidency. Slowly but surely, the numbers and voting in the primary started to turn. I heard Obama give a campaign speech from my apartment window when he spoke from the newly constructed Abington HS athletic field, just outside of the city in Montgomery county PA. I saw first hand the crowd that came out of its way to see him or even stand within sight and sound of him, as i could without even moving from my apartment. He was impressive and the people he moved went on to vote for him.

    And from that point on, including the financial collapse, the old knowing inside the beltway political received wisdom became obsolete. The republican party had mutated worse than the economy, and America did something I thought it never would: elect a Black man president. America, to its credit, overcame its centuries old prejudices and voted for him. It says more about us, the people who chose Obama, first over Hillary, then over McCain, than it does about the candidates. I did not need social media to view this and come to a conclusion, but a lot of observation of the media in general and numbers coming out of polls and other surging indicators such as voter registration drives. Something was up by the people, massing in numbers to act at the ballot that I had not seen locally before. Obama overtaking Clinton bodes well for Sanders. It shows that it can be done. It would not surprise me at all that the first Jew in the White House would be the next big surprising prejudice that America finally gets over. This of course would be at the expense of not putting a woman in the White House.

    But Bernie is talking about the things that matter without beating around the bush. Hillary has to do this and deliver. If she wants people to come out of the woodwork and mass for election day like they did for Obama here are the 2 things that make a democrat a democrat and even more electable in Nov. Expand Social Security and Medicare. Close the loophole that caps payments into Social Security and include capital gains and rents and all other forms of income. Close down Meidcaid, and Federalize healthcare by placing that category into Medicare. And offer one form of Medicare, a 100% coverage with no need for a 20% supplemental policy, and have no co-pays. Give this out to every military service person and their dependents, to let them choose to go to the VA Hospitals or if not convenient, any hospital or doctor available, so they don’t have to wait with a disease that won’t wait for a VA to approve treatment or make an appointment.

    Make a 10 year goal, like Kennedy with the moonshot for solar energy. Place urban America in electric vehicles in 10 years along with solar and wind power producing at least 50% of electricity. This will keep us from exporting dollars and clear out our lungs from auto fumes that killing us. Hillary can’t skate by on humanizing herself by talking about coloring her hair. Her tweets are not policy statements about solar energy. She needs to take control of the things she will have authority over, like domestic policy with Social Security and Solar Power, rather than chest thump her way to the oval office declaring that America will never back down from a military threat, and no act of terror will go unanswered by the awesome might of our brave soldiers, sailor and fighter pilots, blah blah blah USA USA. The republicans sound more like comic book versions of politicians threatening to bomb IS back the stone age, bomb them back to the 7th Century, just bomb bomb bomb, bomb Iran, bomb bomb bomb, bomb Iran. Hillary can lose trying to show she is the iron lady or the dragon lady or whatever. Keep us out of war and keep us from sliding into poverty and disease when we are still so wealthy a nation, that should not even be possible.

    1. JEHR

      I look forward to having a neighbour that worries about Social Security and Universal Health Care more than bombing. North America is badly in need of some good news and excellent politicians. I worry about the Canadian election in October because so many people have been bamboozled into thinking that Harper has the people’s interests at heart; he does not. He is mean in person and austere for the country. He would like to turn back every good social action and every community endeavour that Canadians have undertaken since 1867. Our countries deserve better than what they now have. I hope that Canadians, and Americans, will see that their best interests will not be served by conservatives of any stripe for some time to come.

    2. Gaius Publius

      So much here that’s right, Paul. Good job. Read paragraphs 3 and 4 especially, folks.


  2. Ditto

    This article has an implicit faith in the American voter that is unearned. I’m deeply skeptical that the elites are the problem. I support Sanders. I think Americans are in denial and identify too much with the elite.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      Another way of looking at it is tht Americans want to be part of the winning team. At the same time, they want a candidate that they believe is on their side.

      That may have a lot to do with Obama’s victory – he convinced a large number of people that he WAS on their side.

      It also explains why a large number of us have no respect for what’s left of his administration, and it explains why a lot of people are less than fully optimistic about Hillary.

      Bernie lacks the Wall St connections and the Wall St money. It’s hard to see him as the inevitable winner. But we do know what he stands for. I’ll vote for him in a primary and in the general election precisely because he is not the lesser evil.

      The only way I would vote for Hillary would be if she convinced me that she was on my side. It’s not likely to happen because she was tightly connected to the New Democrats, and they have demonstrated over and over that they are on their own side. She used up the time when she might have demonstrated who she is. It’ a little late to start now and be believable.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Bill Clinton was on our side. He felt our pain. Reagan was on our side. We just knew it, he talked so good and trustworthy and he was a war hero, wasn’t he? Like John Wayne?

        To paraphra, no one ever went broke underestimating the stupidity of the American public.

        1. Lambert Strether

          In general, I deprecate the “voters are stupid” trope. Basically, I file that under the heading of “Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others.” (Too lazy to find the soruce of the quote; Churchill?) I deprecate it for two reasons: 1) Tactically, it’s foolish. Why insult the people you need to persuade? (And if you write them off, what then?) 2) Morally, I’d appeal to “There but for the grace of ___ go I.” After all, who among us hasn’t done something really stupid, and sometimes persisted for years? I certainly have.)

          1. kemal erdogan

            It is just that people are remarkably gullible. Most people is able to hold contradictory positions on two related issues and not realize that.And oh, there are so many idiots who would campaign for an apparent evil just because they appear to share the same religious identity.

            Yes, one must not insult the people whose support is needed. But, you should also know your material you want to shape.


    2. neo-realist

      I also believe that with many Americans, cultural values trump good economics: Americans may not want to support broader based health care programs and or a stronger social safety net in general if they believe that those more redistributive economic policies leading to such would provide equal quality benefits to people they consider less than worthy—-poor people of color, poor people of color on federal assistance, substance abuse addicts. People who oppose abortion would vote for an anti-abortion candidate whose economic policies served the wealthy much more than a pro-choice candidate whose economics better serve the 99%.

      Right Wing Corporate media has also done a bang up job over the past 3 decades “manufacturing consent” among main street Americans to economic policies that better the wealthy than themselves.

  3. bkrasting

    Okay – Yves likes Sanders. But is Sanders really a viable candidate?

    The man is 73 today. If elected he would be 75 when he takes the oath of office. The oldest president to take the oath was Ronnie Regan. He was 69 when he swore on a bible. Sanders will be six years older than Ronnie.

    Bernie is a good guy, and he has ideas that have support – but there is no way that he is qualified to be the next Prez.

    1. abynormal

      I say FINALLY…ditch the Am Idol Bierber Bops!
      Sanders will have the experience and position to DELEGATE instead of being DELEGATED.

      Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. Eisenhower

      1. abynormal

        funnee, that’s the only angle Brucie chose.
        look’n good…he’s Not joking.

        “Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”

        “Settling for what is comfortable is one of the biggest enemies to our enlargement…”

      2. Jagger

        Goes in at 75 and out at 83. Good timing because 50% of Americans 85 and older suffer from dementia.

        Unfortunately, age becomes a factor whether we like it or not.

        1. Ian

          Let the doctors determine if age is a factor, particularly a disqualifying factor in regards to Sanders personally. I know enough tough old fuckers that are sharp as a whip well into their 80’s to know that you disqualifying him due to age is BS. They have medical examines to state of health.

          1. Jagger

            —-age is BS—-

            No, age is not BS but you are entitled to your opinion. Maybe you are lucky and get the tough old bugger and maybe you are unlucky and you get severe dementia. Good luck dealing with any sort of dementia.

            And unfortunately, in most cases, medicine can’t predict if or when you will come down with dementia.

              1. Jagger

                That data is not applicable for percentage of people with dementia at age 85. I had a discussion with my doctor a couple months back and he specifically stated the 50% number for age 85. Although I just did a quick search and found an older study showing 1/3 over age 85 and 1/9 of all over the age of 65. Quite a few results with the search, so with a little digging, might be able to find the 50% number. Whether 33% or 50%, still significant.

                I suspect the 1 in 738 is dementia rates for total population and not age restricted.

            1. Lambert Strether

              “Let the doctors determine if age is a factor.” That’s the key argument, and I don’t see a response from you.

              In addition, we have not only doctors but the campaign trail and its rigors. If the campaign wraps Sanders in tissue paper, like the Republicans did Reagan, and the Democrats may do Hillary, that will tell us there’s a problem. If he’s out there doing retail, and nobody spots anything, I think we’ll be fine.

              Also, this is why we have Vice Presidents, and a process for handling incapacitated Presidents.

              1. craazyboy

                “and a process for handling incapacitated Presidents.”‘

                You mean running them for a second term.. right?

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Joe Biden is 72 and is often mentioned as a possible hillary challenger without ever mentioning his age. This despite the fact that there’s a lot more reason to suspect that Biden is aging far less “gracefully” than Bernie.

      While there are a lot of reasons to have reservations about a Sanders candidacy, being “qualified” isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, I’d argue that his age is a bonus, especially if he could convince, say, Elizabeth Warren to accept the vice-presidential spot.

      He wouldn’t NEED to spend the bulk of his time “governing” with an eye on the “career” he’s going to have AFTER he leaves the oval office, like a few of the previous younger, more “qualified” presidents I could mention.

      1. ogee

        I agree that letting a person who is reflecting on their past ; be president. Is better than allowing these younger schmucks we have had in their lately , who are building future financial connections.
        As far as odds go, I’d guess we would be better off at taking the chances of a person who may begin to lose focus, over a person whose focus is going to be squarely on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    3. Ian

      Bernie is about the only one I see as qualified right now that is running for President. Hillary certainly isn’t qualified to represent the interest of the general populace.

      1. craazyboy

        But Hillary could cut SS and still have a $400K salary to fall back on. Plus maid, chef and limo service.

    4. Sal

      I completely agree with you bkrasting, especially given how full of youth and “youngness” Hillary Clinton is as well. You are so perceptive and brilliant.

    5. Vatch

      “Bernie is a good guy, and he has ideas that have support – but there is no way that he is qualified to be the next Prez.”

      Just wondering: when was the last time we had a President who was qualified for the job?

    6. Northeaster

      Age has nothing to do with it. While he has a partial platform that some people like (i.e. anti-Wall Street), people are forgetting he is a full-blown self proclaimed Socialist.

      1. redleg

        Horror! Bank sock puppet Ds and Rs have implemented innumerable policies that were beneficial to the vast majority of the population, both foreign and domestic.

  4. Carolinian

    A couple of points:

    If Sanders supporters ever thought that the mainstream press was going to help them in their crusade they are deeply delusional. The dismissive attitude of the political press is exactly what one might have expected.

    And the Carter comparison is a bit of stretch. Carter brought the South into the Democratic fold when that was hardly guaranteed. Sanders brings…Vermont? The favorite son idea may seem antique in this media age but the last New Englander to win was JFK, and he was from the largest state in the region.

    For once I actually agree with Chuck Todd and the rest. If Sanders wants to prove his political viability he’s going to have to do more than cite popularity in tiny Vermont. Might be time to start shaking hands, kissing babies.

    And finally isn’t it way too early to be talking about any of this? The tea leaves are very murky.

    1. jrs

      Way too early yea, I’m more with what Chomsky says in that voting should take 5 minutes, then get back to real activism. Now I think the 5 minute thing is wrong (and he uses it to defend voting for such “lesser” evils of Obama), I mean if your going to be a semi-intelligent voter do more research than that, or you really would be better off not voting, especially if your voting on referendums and things you have a direct say on. But it’s closer to the truth than starting on the Presidency, of all things (the position we have least ability to affect), now.

  5. Code Name D

    My response is, “so what? What’s Bernie going to do about it?”

    All of these issues and more are already well known. If Bernie is not aware of them, then I would have to say the cynics are right; Bernie is just a pretender intending to spoil the vote for Hillary. It’s not like this hasn’t happened for every presidential primary.

    If he dose know, and can’t think of a way to deal with these issues, then he isn’t really aware of these issues, because these issues have been a stable of the political landscape for some time now. Clever people have come up with ways around these problems.

    I myself have come up with the Projected Presidential Cabinet strategy. It’s a simple idea. Instead of waiting until after he wins the election, Sanders selects his presidential cabinet NOW and puts them to work on the campaign trail. The potential for this simple strategy is huge. It deepens his academic bench significantly on the relevant issues, if expands the labor power of the bench itself, letting Bernie “visit” more states to pitch his platform or at least parts of it. If commits to the people the kind of administration he intends to run. It will harden his political rhetoric against both legitimate skeptics as well as detractors. The people get to know who these candidates are, so by extension they are not just voting for the President and Vice-president, but also the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Surgeon General, and so forth, giving them political capital and political gravitas during the nomination phase. And most importantly, it would make a huge pivot to the issues and away from the cult of personality that Hillary is going to rely on.

    And that is just one idea, there are others. He just needs to find them, and decided which one has the best chance of working given his available resources.

    But if he is aware of these barriers – he should still have his own ideas on how he might defeat them. If he doesn’t, then he lacks the imagination and initiative needed for the office. He is back to being a fake candidate again.

    This is nothing new. I fact, these issues are so baked into the system that this is how the establishment has remained in power for so long – by turning these sorts of initiatives on their heads and using the insurgences as spoilers. If he isn’t breaking the rules, than that is exactly what he is – a spoiler there for the benefit of Hillary Clinton. If he isn’t breaking the rules – then he isn’t serious.

    But I also say that Bernie needs to keep his eye on the real prize here – which is actually much larger than the White House – and that is the principle of change itself, something that he doesn’t need to win the presidency or even the nomination in order to achieve. He can show leadership now and make it happen.

    For example, Bernie has a formidable ally with Warren, who can be his attack dog. He couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. If he uses her right, it not only advances his own chances, but Warren’s as well, by better positioning her in congress and even making changes in the congressional races. This is nothing new. But it would be jaw dropping to see a Democrat playing political hardball like this – political competence would be awesome to see at work.

    1. Carla

      I really like the idea of Sanders appointing his Cabinet and putting them to work on the campaign trail. And completely agree that systemic change has to be the real objective.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Good comment and good question; What is Sanders going to do about it? Gaius is saying, keep the faith (long shots are not always so long), because the electorate is still looking for actual representation as illustrated by Gaius’ somewhat less than compelling examples and will manage to find it somehow. That may be true, Gaius has a way of being early to recognize things. But you are absolutely correct that Sanders has to do something to make that happen and as you also point out he is not without possibilities. It won’t be enough to simply blame the media if he fails.

      The media will do a lot to hinder Sanders and silence is indeed their biggest weapon, but this is only the beginning. Personally, I’m more suspicious that wittingly or not, he is fulfilling other purposes than simply those of an enlightened choice in a democratic process – and that is the direction you will see the media, or a significant part of it, pushing things as hard as they can once the primaries get going. Will he be aware? Can he use it to his advantage? Sanders is a deeply political person and a very capable one so he will deserve little excuse if his run turns out to be simply channeling energy into the Hillary coronation.

    3. Lambert Strether

      That’s an interesting idea; future cabinet as campaign surrogates. I think the problems are: 1) the future cabinet members would have to bet on a Sanders win, and 2) it’s a little like picking the drapes in the White House before the election.

      But surrogates is good, and they could stand in for the cabinet topic areas.

      1. ogee

        While I agree with your rational reply, on one hand.
        On the other; what we need now, is for don Quixote to charge the windmills. I think it would be great to see a group to charge with him. They have to be ” the all in” type. What is rational for the council on foreign relation types, who will be the ones who will be chosen to fill the cabinet posts , as per usual; is for them to choose a winning horse, after the race. as well as circle around all others before hand.. But really, the idea of a team of people who can launch more retaliatory press releases to the mass media sneering jabs, just adds more publicity.
        The odds are against any outsider being “electable”, but Bernie has timely message now. and that may hit a nerve with a lot of people.It can’t hurt..
        Look at how serious ralph nader was. The quality of his message. the import of what he was saying. All he was left with was being defamed and maligned in the media. History was rewritten that he was who lost al gore the election.not al gore.Nader was a presidential candidate who was not only not allowed to take part in debates. he was not even allowed to be in the audience of the debate, though he had a ticket for admission.
        People need to charge the windmills. There is no middle ground anymore.

    4. marym

      There’s a law:

      Title 18, Part I, Chapter 29, Section 599 of the U.S. Code

      Whoever, being a candidate, directly or indirectly promises or pledges the appointment, or the use of his influence or support for the appointment of any person to any public or private position or employment, for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

      Romney caused some flutter when he talked about naming cabinet choices.

      1. Code Name D

        Perhaps there is a law in place that would prohibit a Projected Cabinet… but I don’t think it this one.

        The wording of the law you quote is clearly geared towards influence pedaling. That is using a position as a quid-pro-quo for another favor. For example, promising a political position in exchange for campaign donations. (As if this doesn’t already happen.)

        A projected cabinet however is simply naming a qualified person for a position before the campaign rather than after being elected. It all boils down to how one defines “procuring support”, if it’s interpreted to liberally (which would be required to enable prosecution here) than any appointment becomes illegal by definition. For example, hiring some one as a campaign advisor (private position) or any paid staff members (for employment) could be argued to violate this law.

        I am not dismissing your observation. It’s a strong reminder that at minimum one must be carful about who one appoints. It also exposes a counter move that might be taken (law suit or call for prosecution) in an effort to sink Sander’s campaign.

        But I also point out that the whole purpose of the Projected Cabinet is for the selected candidates to be scrutinized in advance and for that knowledge to be part of the voter’s consideration. I suspect that a case study would reveal that past prosecutions involved clandestine appointments that take place away from public scrutiny.

        I welcome skepticism. This goes in the negatives column.

  6. Vince in MN

    MSM are large corporations. Large corporations plump for corporate approved candidates. Sanders isn’t a corporate candidate. End of story. By the way, double-check your calendars, it isn’t 1948, nor even 1972. In the post Citizens United world, none of this matters. Do we need a free press -yes. Do we have one – no. But then we don’t have democracy either.

    1. jrs

      Yes I’ve asked, could Sanders win on small donations alone? But we are told there are rich people or corporations who mean well that will donate. Ok, lets assume that (although I’d really rather not assume it about the corporate persons at least), would we even be able to KNOW WHO is donating to him? (or to any other candidate)

    2. inode_buddha

      Indeed we may not have a free press anymore, but we *DO* have an Internet, and they didn’t have that in 1948 or in 1972. I think anything Bernie does should capitalize on this face, and word-of-mouth with the younger crowd. Not to mention all the disillusioned D/R voters.

    3. Ed Walker

      Elizabeth Warren raised $44 million in small money in a Senate race. It’s still possible.

  7. Jill

    If people truly believe in the candidacy of Sanders then they should do everything in their power to get him elected. I cannot say if other ways of person to person communication can undo the silence of the MSM, but it’s certainly worth a try.

    For me, the more important question is this– what are the people getting with a Sander’s win? Just as Obama won, I would not say that ordinary people around the world or the earth itself is a better place due to his winning. His win has been an unmitigated disaster in this regard. It has also been an unmitigated, uncompromising success for his real constituents.

    All I am asking is that people look not only at what Sanders says, (which like what Obama said before his election, is profound, excellent, impassioned and great), but that voters judge him on his votes. The votes are different from the speeches. Actions tell a story that voters need to understand.

    We were all told it was necessary for Obama to win. Was it? Did his win help ordinary people and the earth?. Has his win accomplished the goals people sought in voting for him? I would say, absolutely not.

    This country is very ready to vote for an actual left wing politician. I also see that we are again in a position of desperation, seeking a savior. That desperation, that desire for a savior can be very dangerous while trying to make a good judgment about our political class. However, if people look at Sander’s actions and want to pull for him, that is what I would do. Go around the MSM in every possible way. It may not succeed but it is still worth doing.

    1. Jagger

      What was his position on the Israeli attack on Gaza or Russia and the Ukraine debacle? What about Syria and Iran? And I guess now we need to look at China as well.

      Hopefully, there isn’t a neocon cloaked underneath that nice shiny anti-neo-liberal facade.

      I guess I should do some homework on him.

      1. Ned Ludd

        Will Miller, an anti-war activist who fought to unionize the University of Vermont faculty, called Sanders: “Bernie the Bomber”.

        Since 1991 the Democrats have given Bernie membership in their Congressional Caucus. Reciprocally, Bernie has become an
        ardent imperialist. Sanders endorsed Clinton in 1992 and 1996. In 1992 he described Clinton as the “lesser of evils,” (a justification he used to denounce when he was what the local press called an “avowed socialist”). By 1996 he gave Clinton an unqualified endorsement. He has been a consistent “Friend of Bill’s” from
        since 1992. One student I know worked on the Clinton Campaign in 1996 and all across Vermont, Bernie was on the stage with
        the rest of the Vermont Democratic Party Leadership, while the unauthorized Democratic candidate for his Congressional seat was
        kept out in the audience.

        Sanders continues to support sanctions even though the Iraqi body count has now passed 1.5 million. Just as he has supported every bombing of Iraq since 1992. When Clinton sent military
        units to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in October, 1994 because Iraq moved troops inside Iraq closer to the Kuwait border (apparently
        about 100 miles away), Bernie supported this because “we cannot tolerate aggression.” […]

        The overwhelming majority of the people present were against Sander’s [sic] support for the bombing… and his active support for every US intervention since he has been in Congress–Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Liberia, Zaire (Congo), Albania, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.

        When Delores Sandoval, an African American faculty member at the University of Vermont, ran as a Democrat against Sanders, she “was amazed that the official party treated her as a nonperson and Bernie kept outflanking her to her right. She opposed the Gulf build-up, Bernie supported it. She supported decriminalization of drug use and Bernie defended the war on drugs…”

        1. Jess

          So, the question is, “Do we want just more bombing and imperialism?” or “Do we want more bombing and imperialism to go along with cutting SS and Medicare, privatizing education, debt servitude, no prosecution of banksters, etc?”

          Also, although MMT advocates may disagree, isn’t it conventional wisdom that to do the kinds of things at home that Bernie advocates, we’ll have to cut back on the foreign misadventures?

          1. Lambert Strether

            We would certainly have to re-allocate real resources devoted to the empire, regardless of whether one accepts the reality that Federal taxes don’t fund spending, or not. It’s the real resources that truly matter.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Good point. You need to start posting his voting record, or your posts get more hollow as you go along.

    1. Ned Ludd

      The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman“, a response to Amy Goodman’s column on Obama’s re-election, questions the entire role of the lefty media in electing Democrats.

      It’s their bread and butter to know, that, yes, the government IS bought and paid for and to remind us of that again and again in laborious, depressing and mostly disempowering detail. But it’s also built into their job to hint at the way out and this they crucially do by habitually endorsing Democrats with loose talk of ‘making [them] do it’ via grass roots agitating. But if the government is bought and paid for and only mass uprisings will help, why squander time and money on elections at all? Why not just get straight to the shit-disturbing?

      Forget about ever hearing those questions posed, or answered, by Goodman and her ilk, at least not with any seriousness. That’s not what they’re paid to do.

      Elections are a sink for activist energy. After my state’s Green Party became hopelessly corrupt, I wasted far too much time electing more & better Democrats based on progressive promises and liberal voting records.

      In a corrupt system, popular progressive, socialist, and Green politicians will follow the path of Joschka Fischer. Once he rose to the position of foreign minister of Germany, the former communist street fighter became a charismatic advocate for neoliberalism.

      1. Lambert Strether

        If true (and I’m not showing you the door, I’m making a serious point) isn’t the opportunity cost of commenting here substantial when compared to doing the form of activism you ought to be doing?

        I’m amazed at the amount of energy invested in saying “There’s no point investing energy in this.”

        1. Ned Ludd

          Why criticize at all – Syriza, Democrats, Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Martin O’Malley, etc? Why tell their supporters – “There’s no point investing energy in this.”

          1. Lambert Strether

            I must not have been clear. You wrote: “Elections are a sink for activist energy.” So why do people come here and say that, over and over again, as opposed to investing that time in their own activism? Or why don’t they come here and contrast their own activism, in terms of concrete results, to voting? I just find the whole attitude puzzling.

            1. Ned Ludd

              My comment combines media criticism and political analysis. Gaius’ post combines media criticism and political analysis.

              Commentary on politics and power is part of NC’s motto.

              If NC becomes more focused on fostering activism – electoral or otherwise – the tone and substance of the comments will likely follow suit.

              1. Lambert Strether

                I’m still not getting it. I hear you saying “X is bad.” Very often in life, and especially in politics, and even more when discussing policy, we hear “X is bad, and so I prefer Y (for these reasons).” It’s the second clause that I don’t hear.

                I’ll collect the links on request, but I think it’s more than a little unfair imply, as I hear “more focused” doing, that NC is merely commentary, since a lot of what Yves writes is designed to empower people to change things, as throughout the robosigning crisis, and latterly with Andrew Bowden. I personally write about my own (peripheral but real) activism against landfills and the East-West Corridor in Maine. And though I say it, my regular coverage of activism in link aggregration is hard to beat.

                So I really don’t know what kind of “fostering” you want. And I don’t see why NC has to do a thing for you to alter the tone and substance of “the comments” (depending on the nature of the activism; I don’t think the NC readership would go for motorcycle gang activism, for example.)

  8. Uahsenaa

    This is Iowa, so take what I say with a grain of salt; people here have a tendency to overestimate the significance of being “first in the nation” (many eyerolls).

    However, Hilary’s campaign trail behavior has already been deeply irritating to voters here. At Kirkwood (Community College) she basically got out of her van, walked immediately into a building, delivered a speech to a bunch of cameras (no press!), where she talked about the importance of meeting “everyday Iowans,” all the while many many flesh and blood Iowans were waiting outside, because she willfully ignored them. There was much grumbling in the crowd.

    Meanwhile, Sanders is actually going to rec centers and townhalls to be bombarded with dumb midwestern platitudes, something which will almost certainly ingratiate him to the “ordinary folk” around here. I’m perfectly willing to predict a Hilary loss in Iowa even at this point in the game.

    1. Lambert Strether

      That’s very important. If material like this gets any coverage in Iowa, whether at the Des Moines Register or blogs like Bleeding Heart, will you or other readers send me links, please? (Contact form at the bottom of Water Cooler).

      Sounds like they’ve wrapping her in tissue paper — as if she were fragile china.

      1. Code Name D

        More like cellophane, trying to keep that freshness in. (Or at the very least, trying to keep her from becoming more stale than she already is.)

  9. Pelham

    If one judges by the various candidates’ policy positions and — far more importantly — their credibility (how likely they are to foIlow through on promises), Sanders is literally the only serious candidate.

    If the press were truly objective, Sanders would be the dominant figure in the race, not an afterthought.

    After nearly 40 years in journalism, I’m still amazed at just how routinely the press violates nearly every ethical precept that is supposed to guide its work.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Can’t resist a question. I’m assuming, after 40 years in journalism, that you have contacts, friends, acquaintances among the media. Are they aware of the unflattering similarities between themselves and say Baghdad Bob, but the money is sweet, or do they really imagine they are reporting the facts?

  10. Steven Greenberg

    The point of the article is not so much, “What is Bernie going to do about it”, and more “What are you and I going to do about it?” While we still have access to the internet, this is the biggest tool we have to get things done our way. It is up to us to use it, Tweet, Facebook, Blog, MeetUp, Organize, Petition, or do whatever else you can imagine doing on the internet to overcome the lame stream media’s silence.

    Don’t just sit back and say it can’t be done. How do you know it can’t be done, if you don’t try? If a 72 year old guy can muster the energy, perhaps the younger folk can find a little energy to invest, too. (Of course forcing you to have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, is a good way for the oligarchs to make sure you don’t have too much excess energy to devote to politics.) If you are participating in this thread, then you must have some spare time on your hands.

    “They” may have the money, but, at least for the time being, “we have the votes.”

  11. grayslady

    Some thoughts on Bernie:

    1) Regarding age: It was only 5 years ago that Bernie filibustered for a solid 8 1/2 hours against a tax cut for people earning over $250,000. He’s clearly a lot hardier than many people his age.

    2) Bernie’s campaign team includes the excellent Tad Devine as senior strategic consultant. Bernie’s digital team includes Revolution Messaging, a firm comprised of many of the individuals who worked on Obama’s campaigns.
    These two choices tell me that Bernie knows he needs someone with serious credentials on how to win the Democrat primary and, also, that he understands the traditional media is going to give him short shrift. I don’t personally participate in any of the standard social media platforms, but I don’t underestimate their power. Consider that recently two housewives, and a quarter of a million online supporters, successfully forced Kraft to eliminate artificial dyes in their mac and cheese product. Online campaigns can be extremely powerful in reaching audiences that newspapers and television miss.

    3) Democrat opposition: Hillary still had vestiges of populism in her 2008 persona. Today, it’s difficult for anyone to imagine a woman who helps her daughter buy a $10 million co-op in NYC is anything but part of the .01%. Her refusal to condemn TPP, her brazen condemnation of Chelsea Manning, her pathetic responses on Edward Snowden, and her abnormally secretive actions–as SofS and before–also indicate a personality totally out of touch with the majority of Americans.

    4) Bernie’s voting record: Bernie hasn’t always ended up voting the way I would have liked on issues, but I appreciate that as a member of Congress without a political party behind him, he has occasionally made deals that didn’t benefit the public at large even if he was still able to negotiate some small victories for his Vermonters.
    When first asked if he was considering running for President, Bernie said it depended on two things: he would only run if he thought he could win, and he understood that for him to win he needed a movement behind him. He understands the fallacy of a political “savior”. He’s willing to be the voice of the people if the people are finally ready to take back their government–not just hand it over to one individual and hope for miracles.

    5) Voter turnout: Bernie has a potentially broader base of voters by staying away from hot-button issues such as immigration and gay rights. His platform of universal free college has to be a winner with young people, and his campaign announcement included, as part of his platform, women’s equality.He’s also a serious advocate for environmental protection. Most importantly, anyone who works can easily relate to his primary platform issue, more and better jobs.
    For what it’s worth, my best friend’s 17-year old grandson, who was an active foot soldier in our local congressional campaign last fall, said recently that looking at all the current candidates for President, he liked Bernie the best. If Bernie can catch hold with the younger voters, he won’t have to worry about whether he’s picking up the ethnic, single-issue voting blocs.

    No candidate for President is ever ideal, but I agree with the author that Bernie has a real shot at the nomination as long as the voters, and not the traditional press, say he has a shot and are willing to back the movement Bernie says we need to develop.

    1. jrs

      Was Bernie’s filibuster real or hadn’t everyone already gone home for the weekend by then? I mean very well, he does a so called filibuster, so does Rand Paul do so called filibusters and quits at the last minute (by the way I don’t know why Rand Paul was able to insert a Patriot Act filibuster in a trade debate, but anyway.).

      If we’re going to develop a movement shouldn’t it be for more than Bernie Sanders? Even a reformist movement should look toward I don’t know taking over a political party or something. What happened to all the movement Obama allegedly built, sure some were Obots, but some probably really wanted change. Nothing of course. What do those types of single candidate movements do but churn through people and demoralize them if they lose the one office that was the whole reason for being of the whole movement.

      I don’t’ just believe looking for a political savior is a fallacy, I believe starting at the top of the political system (the presidency!) is a fallacy. Why do we continually focus where we have no power, but not where we might (maybe city counsel member or something). But sure spend 5 minutes voting for Sanders if it makes sense to you. I’m undecided. I know why we start at the top: because all the propaganda is aimed there, every slight of hand has us looking in that direction, we’re continually told the Presidency is what really matters (and witness voter turn out in Presidential elections versus non-Presidential), because the intoxication of so much power is seductive, because one can’t help being informed about the Presidential race by osmosis and learning some down ticket items takes real effort. But it’s not working.

      1. grayslady

        Try reading the bullet points. My point about Bernie’s filibuster wasn’t the content, or the time of day, or the day of the week. I’m a year younger than Bernie was when he filibustered and I couldn’t stand up for 8 1/2 hours with only a glass of water and one bathroom break.

        As to a movement, Bernie isn’t talking about an Obama-worship type movement. He’s talking about everyday citizens taking back their government from the monied class. He’s indicated a willingness to be the governmental representative leading the charge, nothing more. Having started his political career running for mayor, I don’t think Bernie ignores the importance of local action. But when you can have the state override local action, such as recently happened in Denton, Texas, you can’t ignore the importance of changing state and Federal actions at the same time.

        It’s natural to feel jaded, I suppose, after so many years of political hucksters. Being from Illinois, I knew Obama was a con man from day one. Obama was never in the news here for anything, much less helping ordinary citizens, until Emil Jones decided to start manufacturing a bogus c.v. for him. Bernie has a long, public record to examine, whether you like his record or not. Personally, I’d rather try one more shot at a legitimate political contender before opting for revolution.

        1. abynormal

          Personally, I’d rather try one more shot at a legitimate political contender before opting for revolution. taking this with me…thanks

          “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
          H. Zinn

        2. Carolinian

          Maybe what we need is a political savior. I think one error of the Occupy movement was thinking it could succeed without visible and charismatic leadership. After all we don’t celebrate Civil Rights day, we celebrate Martin Luther King day. The Republicans win election after election by making it all about personalities because the reality is that’s what wins Presidential elections. Even in the extreme situation of a 1930s style Depression–far worse than now–the right leader was needed and happily got elected.

          What the left really needs is an Obama type figure who isn’t a gold plated phony. It’s a tough order. Some of us are just wondering if Sanders fits the bill.

          1. Ned Ludd

            Martin Luther King, Jr. was an outstanding orator, but compare the time he was given to defend his views on The Mike Douglas Show, versus the concision required by today’s news programs.

            Jeff Greenfield, Nightline producer: One of the things you have to do, when you book a show, is know that the person can make the point in the framework of television… We’ve got to have English-speaking people. We also need concision.


            Chomsky: The beauty of concision, you know, saying a couple of sentences between two commercials, the beauty of that is you can only repeat conventional thoughts. […]

            You can’t give evidence if you’re stuck with concision. That’s the genius of this structural constraint.

            Today’s media ensures that anyone with unconventional views “can’t give evidence” and will “sound like they were from Neptune.” Consequently, a contemporary dissident whose views cannot be explained in two sentences would fare better as an outstanding writer, instead of an outstanding orator.

            1. Carolinian

              It’s kind of moot because no such politician as I describe seems to be anywhere around. Warren might be it (despite all the kvetching–legitimate if she were to become President–about her foreign policy statements). But she has shown her sanity or modesty by not making the attempt. She does strike me as someone with a lot more cred than Sanford when it comes to being outside the system.

              And even if there were such a candidate then free media, as you say, are no longer the platform that they once were.

              On the other hand events shape the world and it’s a long time to the election. All these early speculations (including my own) probably don’t count for a whole lot.

            2. Lambert Strether

              The long form is hard to do on a cellphone (or so I hear). And that’s where so many of the 18-to-35s Obama betrayed are to be found. Maybe we have to figure out how to do that two sentence thing. “Peace, land, bread” worked well for Lenin.

          2. Anthony Kennerson

            How about instead we support an Independent Left built from the bottom up through local activism, lead by leaders who are viable enough to lead. Kshama Sawant, anyone??

  12. Doug Terpstra

    This is an encouraging post. But ISTM that the examples of upstart outsiders, with the partial exception of Carter, maybe Truman, really turned out to be stealth insiders, whose appeal to the 1% put them over the top. Weren’t Truman and Carter both militarists and Carter a big deregulator? Truman’s support for the partition of Palestine and the recognition of Israel probably out him over the top in 48. Ditto for Slick Willie, the come-back kid who went all-in for Wall Street. But the prize goes to the ultimate dark-horse Trojan horse, Obama, whose fealty to Israel, Wall Street, and the MIC are unconditional. These examples turned out to be very establishment presidents, with the exception of Obama, a radical fascist.

    If Sanders follows these exemplary Democrats, no thank you. He already supports Israeli crimes and he supported the health insurance racket bailout bill (Obamneycare). Will he become yet another Wall Street waterboarding to pull off an apparent “upset”?

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Should read Wall Street “water-boy”, (predictive typing typo) though “waterboarding” might fit too.

  13. Oregoncharles

    You do realize that the party machinery will cheat, if necessary?

    Rigging elections was the meat and drink of the big city machines – almost all Democrats. Chicago is the last survivor.

    If Republicans can do it, Democrats certainly can, too, unless you think they’re actually dumber.

    The party apparatchiks’ grip on the kind of power they care about is at stake.

  14. JurisV

    I have a question I’d like to ask to ask the commenters who criticize Sanders about age, his support of particular items, and doubts about his odds of actually being elected.

    How, other than his candidacy, would you suggest a better method/plan to get serious “leftist” ideas into the swarms of the Media????

    -Screwing the big banks

    -Restoring “Glass-Stiegel”

    – Getting rid of “Citizens-United”

    – Treating Natanyahu like the creep that he is

    – Expanding Social Security

    – A $15 national minimum wage

    – NOT approving trade deals that export American blue collar jobs

    – A single payer health system rather than the giveaway Obama care benefit to insurance companies

    – Letting people pretend to be married in whatever manner they favor

    – Publicly funded college for the qualified

    Against him:

    – He is opposed to developing nuclear electric power generation

    – He is a socialist? So what. What does that even mean these days? (unquote)

    The quote above is from SicSemperTyrranis by Patrick Lang.

    I recommend reading the whole post because it’s an example of the stirrings of recognition that we, as a country, are seriously off the tracks and that this recognition is seeping into public awareness. Pat Lang’s post and the poster “Uahsenaa” upstream.

    I can’t think of a better to get real progressive ideas past the PTB in Washington and the MSM than Bernie Sanders campaigning for President.

  15. sharonsj

    On the same day that Bernie gave a speech to 5,000, Rick Santorum gave a speech to 50 people. I expect this makes the establishment very nervous…. Maybe it proves that Chris Hedges is right about revolutions and that Americans aren’t as stupid as they appear.

    1. Gaius Publius

      > On the same day that Bernie gave a speech to 5,000, Rick Santorum gave a speech to 50 people. I expect this makes the establishment very nervous….

      I’m starting to agree with whoever said that Martin O’Malley will be the media’s candidate to block Bernie Sanders (from getting in Clinton’s way).

      Just a thought, but watch for lots of O’Malley media love, plus lots of “Sanders language” from O’Malley, an insider who could steal the outsider’s thunder, then lose — and never have to make good on those Sanders-style promises.

      Hmm. The spidey sense is twitching…


      1. Lambert Strether

        Yep. If people want a sheepdog (conscious collusion) I’d look to O’Malley, not Sanders. I’m not sure I understand if there is actually a rationale for his campaign, though people in Maryland don’t seem to he very surprised he’s running. (I like the anti-Wall Street rhetoric, but… If this were a local race, his name would be “Saunders,” right?) Boy, does he have a chiseled jaw, though. It juts superbly, especially when photographed from below.

        1. abynormal

          Lambert, i just caught his am speech on npr. he was heckled pretty hard on his ‘0 tolerance’ but he sounded prepared…as in Screaming.

          1999 – ” O’Malley has promised to clean up 10 drug corners in the city in the first six months of his administration and make low-income neighborhoods as safe as wealthier communities.”
          cleaned 10 and got 20 more thanks to his deep understanding of poverty.

      2. willf

        I’m starting to agree with whoever said that Martin O’Malley will be the media’s candidate to block Bernie Sanders (from getting in Clinton’s way).

        Interesting, I had entertained the notion that this was the same role Sanders was filling w/r/t a Warren campaign.

        1. Lambert Strether

          On no authority at all, I think O’Malley was the sheepdog, and a legitimate, i.e., collusive one, but the Baltimore events got in the way, since he was Mayor there and governor of Maryland. By the time that died down and they were ready to roll him out, Sanders had grabbed the left wing ball and ran with it. And now all O’Malley has going for him is his jawline. What a shame.


  16. ErnstThalmann

    Terribly sorry but I refuse to be sucked credulously into a discussion that presupposes that Sanders – or Warren for that matter – represents a political vision that differs materially from Clinton. Sander’s’ support for just about every defense expenditure he’s considered over the last decade or so qualifies him as every bit the crazed warmonger that is Hillary. And Warren’s nausea inspiring support of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza last Summer recommend her more than anything else for Elsa Koch look-alike of 2014. Sanders is no alternative, he’s right out of DNC central casting. How stunningly naive it is to read trustfully a piece that treats him as anything else.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Personally, I’m happy even a notional Socialist is in the race. I’m also happy that policies such as single payer health care and free college are near, if not on, the table. I have few expectations for any candidate in the race, but I think the discourse will become more sane with a Sanders run.

      I do try to pay attention — like most of the NC commentariat, I think — and I know Sanders is terrible on Israel, and I know Warren is not only terrible on Israel, she (unlike Sanders) is terrible on single payer (link on request).

      Idea: Rather than telling people who pay attention things that they already know, why not take an old political saying to heart? “You can’t beat something with nothing.” Show me the party with a platform that beats Sanders, or show me the candidate who (say) has a better position on Israel than Sanders (which shouldn’t be hard to do, right? And please: Not generic party literature, but actual compare and contrast policy takedowns based on positions a candidate has actually taken. Also, too, links.) Greens? Libertarians? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

      Rather than pissing and moaning that Sanders is teh suxx0r, how about the Left (Greens, etc) propose better alternatives, further to the left, and ride whatever wave Sanders is riding, but further and longer?

      1. ErnstThalmann

        It matters little to me, Lambert, that there will even be an election, what for all the authenticity elections for representative governments actually have. So if it’s not already entirely clear, it is to your – and others – loyalty to these institutions that I addressed my remarks. As long as you persist in imagining that the present context can produce “better alternatives”, you remain, in my mind, the very expression of the underlying problem. Many years ago, the Bernie Sanders version of this problem was aptly called “social fascism”. So it is by no means certain that by “telling people who pay attention things that they already know”, one is addressing people who actually do know.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, YOU are the problem because you persist in failing to propose anything better. And given your position, it would be entirely consistent that you are not taking any action either. If you are so opposed to current political arrangements, you should be fomenting revolution. Are you?

          If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. You walk, talk, and quack like part of the problem.

          1. ErnstThalmann

            Its a strange logic indeed that requires a critic to pose any solution at all to a state of affairs that he or she might criticize. And even more so to find such logic in a context in which it is presumed an absolute as it is here. What are we to call this amazing principle, anyway, a Smithism, or are we simply to see it for what it is: An attempt at a diversion? You can deal with the complaint as it has been presented.

            1. Lambert Strether

              Your complaint has been registered. But in your view, there’s nothing to be done about it. Wouldn’t a dignified silence be preferable to endless whinging? Or to making up clever names for your host’s views?

              Adding… Yves’s approach would indeed seem strange to a “nihilist.” Are you a nihilist?

              1. Jim

                Lets for a moment assume that everyone in the Thalman/Yves/Lambert back and forth has honorable motives.

                From my perspective it would be extremely worthwhile if the respective political/economic/financial/cultural arrangements of each position could be sketched out.

                Then we would all have something to really sink are teeth into.

                1. Lambert Strether

                  Gee, thanks. But we don’t take assignments. Feel free to consider the daily posting and the archives as a workable substitute for a “position,” assuming, for the sake of the argument, that Thalman actually has a position, as opposed to a posture.

                  Adding… It’s perfectly possible for a nihilist to come by their position honestly.

                  But Thalman is, in essence, like a guest at a cocktail party who buttonholes one guest after another to say: “I hate this party.” And I think it’s perfectly reasonable for a guest so buttonholed to ask: “Well, where would you rather go instead?” To which Thalman’s answer is: “That question exhibits ‘strange logic.”‘ At which point, I feel, the non-plussed guest may feel free to move on, especially if Thalman has already buttonholed him several times in the evening to communicate the same message.

                2. Mel

                  This sketching has been happening right in front of our noses, yes? It’s all here. Sink all the teeth you want.
                  For my money, Thalman is pissed off, he’s walking away. Fine. He can walk. He wasn’t here before; he won’t be here after; that’s sorted then.

  17. TarheelDem

    I get the reference to Eugene McCarthy 1968, but is that all that the great hope for Bernie Sanders amount to?

    Jimmy Carter was on the map at all because in 1970 in his inaugural speech he committed as governor to ending segregation in Georgia. Bill Clinton was on the map because he, like Richard Riley of South Carolina, succeeded in getting taxes raised to fund public education in an era in which “no new taxes” was the mantra everywhere. And he did that with a conservative, if not Republican, legislature.

    Barack Obama was on the map because of his 2004 keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, which made him an instant Presidential candidate like Reagan’s address in 1964 made him an instant Presidential candidate.

    Sanders gains momentum if he wins in Iowa (a matter of playing the quirky caucus system properly), New Hampshire, and can prove in South Carolina that he has the potential of developing momentum in red states. It was not Carter’s and Clinton’s centrism but their ability to deliver Southern states that made them attractive to Democratic voters in 1976 and 1992. Ideological alignments with voters are only part of the appeal of Presidential candidates. Trust that they are up to the demands of campaigning and the operation of a huge executive operation are critical parts of a candidate’s appeal. Sanders’s encouraging polling seems to indicate that he is beginning to build that sort of trust. Another is the hints that the candidates’ campaign style gives into his means of continued communications with voters, especially voters who might not agree with him all the time. Sanders goes into over-marketed campaigning at his peril; so far it looks like his team understands this.

    The big question is can Sanders’s campaign end run the Wall Street media and their subsidiary local media, blog presence, and social media so as to have two-way communication with voters. If he can transform marketing-oriented politics and gain traction, winning becomes much easier.

    The other issue is governing after winning, which requires having coattails in the Congress within and outside the Democratic Party so as to create the prospect of challengers to Democratic and Republican candidates in the 2018 mid-terms.

    He must change the nature of the conversation not rhetorically but institutionally.

  18. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Let’s face it, elections are about money and power, more than ever after Citizens United. The shocking part is that with all of this nation’s billionaires (>1400 at last count, up from 700 in 2008) not a single solitary man of principle, a man (or woman) who gives even the tiniest possible damn about the actual direction of the country and the people in it, has committed *anything* to candidates like Warren or Sanders.
    Instead we get Rupert’s whore, Koch’s favorite fascist du jour, ossified Cold Warriors backing (retch) Bush, and flat earthers supporting any number of clown car passengers.
    Billionaires smugly calculating which utterly corrupt puppet will be best for their personal bank balances or best for their own personal nutjob fantasies is a pretty damning indictment of “civic responsibility” in this age of ours.

    A groundswell of public disgust will not turn the tide in 2016 without Really Big Money behind it. Probably will in 2020, in the midst of WW III and a financial meltdown that will make 2008 look like a picnic (if they still let people vote from the FEMA camps, that is…)

    1. jrs

      Last congressional election was the most expensive ever. And it shows. But money couldn’t possible influence anything …. could it?

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    The levels of discontent are beyond anything I can recall from earlier times. Both red and blue voters are concerned and unhappy. I will vote for Sanders. He may wheel around like Obama and disdain his base. I doubt it. As for his past, he is not lily white. I am less concerned with his past than his future. As for his age he must be especially careful in choosing his vice president.

    I don’t know the answer — What was FDR about before he was elected? Did he have a lily white liberal voting record?

    A rhetorical question — who else might … might … lead our country in the correct (“right” direction offers too much semantic propriety to what has become a direction toward madness) direction? At least Bernie doesn’t offer any truly crazy ideas like an Adolf did in a similar period of discontent in a sibling country — so many years ago.

    If you are for Bernie already, what to do about it? Send Bernie your $50 or what you can afford. Design your own Bernie Sanders for President sunscreen plastic to mount inside a rear window of your car and offer it to friends who have little kids. Talk Bernie up to your barber. Talk Bernie up at your Post Office, where you get your oil changed, anywhere many people congregate and occasionally talk and exchange opinions, anywhere a person like your barber talks to and listens to many people.

    Even if you don’t especially like Bernie, vote for him in the primary as the lesser Evil — although in Truth there is no lesser Evil. BUT don’t vote for Evil lesser or otherwise in the final election — and DO vote and be counted as an undervote — at least do this if you do care and are not apathetic.

    I voted for Obama, twice to my shame. I will never again vote for the lesser of Evils in the final election. But, I will vote my ballot in some way to assure it is counted as a ballot.

    As for marching in the street and other such nostrums. I leave that to someone else. Direct confrontation with a vastly superior force, with absolutely no moral constraints holding them back, is simply unwise. The lessons of warfare in this and the previous century teach other far more effective tactics and strategy.

    Money cannot buy votes directly. Money can buy advertising, signs, good words and bad words against enemies in the papers, radio and TV but those cannot buy your vote. Laziness against complexity and nuance buys votes. Credulity buys votes. Disinformation and fatigue buys votes. Money only greases the transaction. Take and enjoy the bread and circuses for what they are, use them. Remind all your friends, acquaintances and all who will or might listen — Citizenship is a sacred responsibility upon which our freedom depends. We don’t live in an English men’s club! Politics and its free and wide discussion by individuals is the vital life blood of a free and democratic nation.

  20. Lexington

    It’s too bad that Intrade is no longer functional because it appears I could make a killing on Democratic nomination futures by betting against the starry eyed dreamers that believe for even one second that there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that the Democrats are going into the 2015 campaign with Bernie Sanders as their nominee. That dog won’t hunt.

    After the 1972 fiasco the Democrats specifically adopted the superdelegate rule to ensure that party establishment could exercise a de facto veto over the nomination process in order to ensure they would never again be saddled with an unelectable McGovernesque candidate by the party rank and file. From the point of view of the party establishment Sanders is McGovern with 10% of the charisma and 1000% of the ideological baggage.

    Not that it’s ever going to come to that. They destroyed Howard Dean literally overnight with the meme that he was some crazed out of control freak on the basis of one boisterous post primary celebration rally – and Dean was then a frontrunner with a extensive ground organization and Obama-like adulation from young Democrats. Taking down a 73 year old senator from a small state with no organization and no constituency within the Democratic Party is almost an insult to their finely honed mastery of the Machiavellian arts.

    I like Bernie Sanders but he’s a protest candidate at best whose real opportunity is to highlight issues that insiders in both parties would rather not discuss, and in so doing move the Overton Window and possibly help lay the groundwork for a future grassroots challenge to the biparty consensus.

    1. Jess

      I would tend to agree with you except that since Zero got elected in 2008 the curtain has been ripped down. There is now much more disenchantment and resentment against the direction of the mainstream institutional Democrap party. And many grass roots conservatives are equally fed up with the Wall Street wing of their party. Much different terrain to fight this battle on than in times past.

      1. Johnnie Fever

        Oh no, that didn’t happen. The democrats insist there was no curtain, you where just a “low info” voter, dontchaknow.
        The campaign speeches where just hyperbole, been like that forever.
        Democrat is a disgusting moniker, not Liberal/Progressive”.
        They (Democrats) sell their Mothers too, but it’s behind a veil of policy, that’s never brought up.
        Obama stunted the vote of the 18-30 year olds for possibly eternity. There was no “Change”, and almost all have lost “Hope”.

      2. Lexington

        Not disagreeing with you, but my point is regardless of how the electorate at large feels about the state of the nation and its leadership the Democratic nominee is going to be someone acceptable to the party establishment, who are the people who erected the curtain and stage managed everything that occurred behind it. That someone most definitely isn’t Bernie Sanders. Sanders is toxic to the establishment not only because they regard him as unelectable, but more importantly because even if he was nominated (never mind thinking the unthinkable, as in a President Sanders) the plutocracy would abandon the Democrats in droves and take their money and patronage with them. From the perspective of the establishment that would be the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

        There was an excellent post on NC a while back about how the leaders of an organization will ultimately always sacrifice the organization’s putative objectives if this is necessary in order to preserve their own position and authority within it. Don’t have time to look it up right now but I think it’s very apropos the situation in which the party now finds itself.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        It was a very different political world when Dean got crazy boated. There is a general and quantifiable disaffection with the political process and with politicians today that wasn’t present then at anything like its current level. Legitimacy is actually eroding, increasing volatility. A similar attempt on Sanders could easily backfire, if it’s seen as (another) attempt at subverting the will of the electorate. People believe–justifiably–that the political process is rigged against them and people might well take great offense at a naked power play done in plain view. Forcing the Democratic Party to take steps publicly that risk blowback is perhaps one way to get sunshine into the process. I hope Bernie and supporters force them to do something really stupid and risky. Who among us would be surprised if they did? If Sanders begins looking like a viable nominee, I can well imagine panicked phone calls being made along the lines of, “Damn it, do something, I don’t care what. This wasn’t supposed to happen. That’s what we’re f-ing paying you for.” A few disaffected insiders with moral qualms perhaps spill the dirt and the whole thing could melt down into a toxic pool of political poison.

        The Democratic Party as it exists needs to be destroyed–the Republicans in fact aren’t the real problem. And I mean like scorched earth and salted fields destroyed. The best way perhaps is to bait them into doing it themselves.

        1. Lambert Strether

          On the parallels between the Dean Scream and whatever they’re cooking up for Saunders: One aspect of the Dean Scream was advance work: Dean had the wrong mike for the hall. So Dean couldn’t be heard, and had to yell. IIRC, a FOX photographer got a close-up shot and audio, and our famously free press and the Democratic loyalists were off to the races and we got Kerry, gawd help us. I think the Sanders staff is a lot more battle-hardened than Dean’s, so I doubt they’ll make that kind of slip or give that kind of opportunity. I also agree that this is a very different political world. Do the elites, and in particular the Democratic elites, believe that? I don’t think they do, and if I am right, they will pick the wrong plays out of their playbook. Pass the popcorn. (Sanders also has the advantage that nobody hates him, except maybe some political opponents in Vermont, who must be getting a lot of calls from oppo researchers these days.)

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Obama by all accounts should have lost in 2012 with the economy in the crappy shape it was but the Republican nominated Romney, who managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with incidents like having had a Swiss bank account and his remarks about the 47% who don’t pay taxes (which is untrue since everyone pays sales taxes and property taxes, either directly or indirectly through rent). So as much as the Republicans ought to win, again given the state of the economy and Democrat fatigue, they have a tone deafness as to how plutocrats play with the general public.

      As to the popularity of the positions that Sanders advocates, the US polls consistently well to the left of the political center of gravity represented in the media and inside the Beltway.

      1. Lexington

        I fear I’m being misunderstood – I’m not saying that a genuine progressive candidate can’t be at least a serious contender for the presidency, I’m saying there is no way the Democratic establishment will allow such a person to be nominated. There is little real difference between the two parties on economic and foreign policy (which is why they milk the culture wars for all they are worth, it’s all they have to differentiate themselves to voters) and the American electoral system is rigged to stack the deck heavily against the emergence of third parties. As a result there is an enormous amount of inertia sustaining the status quo and little incentive for Democrats to be responsive to a leftward drift in the electorate, especially since doing so would destroy their credibility with the plutocracy, which is really the only constituency that matters to the establishment of either party.

        My own belief is that an effective challenge to the biparty governing consensus can probably only be mounted from outside of the system. Unfortunately I also believe that if such a movement were to coalesce and seriously threaten the interests of the elite they would have no hesitation in resorting outright repression to protect their positions. Indeed they have already put all the necessary infrastructure in place in readiness for such an eventuality.

        1. Lambert Strether

          Well, my view is that anything that gets the policy proposals into the discourse is a good thing. And if it turns out that Sanders, and the policies he advocates, have enough clout to at least expose the structural weaknesses of the Democratic Party, then that’s a good thing, too. And Louis XVI had a ton of repressive apparatus, too. It didn’t help him much.

          I’m not saying that you’re saying this, but there seems to be a some agita on the left that Sanders took the ball and ran with it. Good for him, say I, good for us, and take advantage of the opportunity.

          1. Lexington

            I’m in no way opposed to Sanders running, quite the opposite. As I said in a previous post his candidacy has the potential to move public discourse in a constructive direction and provide a much needed counter narrative to what would otherwise be a Clinton coronation procession. I’m not just saying he has no practical hope of securing the nomination for himself.

            As for Louis XVI in his wettest of wet dreams he could never have imagined the capacity for mass surveillance that is now at the disposal of the state. Big Brother is already watching. Also, Louis’ position became untenable when the rank and file of the army abandoned the regime. The American elite has taken that lesson to heart and exempted law enforcement from their efforts to pauperize public employees, as well as giving them a stake in the status quo by granting them broad authority over their fellow citizens (e.g. civil forfeiture), which will become much broader when the pretense that civil liberties actually mean anything in contemporary America is finally abandoned.

            1. Kurt Sperry

              Knowing everything isn’t a help when the facts are that your grip on power is slipping. In fact, seeing how despised you are in Super HD may prove counterproductive. Surveillance has its limits; it doesn’t fundamentally change the reality, it only highlights it. You can leverage and act on intel against chosen individuals or small groups, but it can’t be scaled up against popular discontent. What if it tells you things you don’t want to hear?

              1. Lexington

                You think the elite actually cares if they aren’t loved by the masses? On the contrary they have worked assiduously for over three decades to divorce their material comfort, well being and security from their socio economic inferiors. People with wealth and power aren’t unduly troubled by the opprobrium of their lessers, if anything they expect it. Was there ever a time when the ugly ducklings didn’t resent the swans? In most respects they actually have far more in common with the 1% in other countries than they do with their less fortunate nominal compatriots. They embrace an ideology which says that in America anyone with ability, persistence and a strong work ethic can succeed – so they’re entitled to what they have, and they’re not going to give it up just because rabble rousers like Bernie Sanders are telling hapless losers that the state owes them things they were too weak to get for themselves. Hell no.

                There’s a reason the end of the ancient regime is almost never peaceful: it’s because entrenched elites never voluntarily surrender their own privileges. If they really cared about anyone else wealth inequality would never have been allowed to reach the point that it has. They made their choice, and if you think that when the chips are down they will quail before the consequences you’re in for a bad shock.

                1. Kurt Sperry

                  The difference here is that, however corrupt the American political process has become, it is still sold and marketed as democratic. We are raised from birth to believe the voters have the final say and this deeply ingrained narrative, however factually questionable, is still a very real constraint on the ruling elites. You can buy the parties and you can buy the politicians but the narrative/mythology of a democratic process where the voters ultimately make the choices is too baked into the culture to simply blow off as if it weren’t. You cannot claim to be a democracy and at the same time disrespect or repudiate the narrative we’ve been taught without limits. If independent polling shows say 75% of the electorate is in favor of policy A and the corrupt political process serves up its opposite, then the political process loses legitimacy. And if this happens repeatedly, the damage will be cumulative.

                  Money and corruption are thus ultimately limited in their exercise by the fairy tales of democracy we are fed in civics classes and in popular culture. It may seem like this point isn’t imminent or can continually be managed by a supine and co-opted press, but money and corruption are in the end still subject to limits in any putative democracy, however phony and corrupt it may be. They may corrupt the process as much as they please, but they must still not be widely seen as doing such. When the common perception becomes that democracy is broken and corrupt, the old tricks and manipulations may no longer work.

            2. Lambert Strether

              On surveillance, I am not at all sure you are correct functionally. The French intelligence services were pervasive and efficient, especially in Paris, which was both small in size and dominant. We might remember that the Stasi achieved nearly total surveillance with a paper-based system. There is also the issue that they’ve accumulated so much data they can’t make sense of it. I do not agree in any way that current elite dominance is historically unprecedented. As for the law enforcement, I see the potential for massive blowback, and not only because of #BlackLivesMatter. Law enforcement for profit affects everyone.

              1. Lexington

                Louis XVI had an intelligence service? We must be reading different histories of the French Revolution.

                The Stasi managed to keep a highly unpopular regime in power for almost half a century. When the end came it wasn’t because East German dissidents triumphed over the police state but because of a confluence of factors that fatally undermined the regime, significantly including the complete loss of legitimacy even among many of its own guardians. Apparently not even the Stasi could alter the iron law that no regime lasts forever.

                Now as for current elite dominance, consider this: for the first time in history almost everyone voluntarily carries a surveillance device that allows the authorities to eavesdrop on every one of your conversations at will, to see anything in the in the field of view of the device’s camera, and to track your every movement. They know what websites you visit, your purchasing habits, every intimate detail of your finances, whom you associate with, your medical history, what your interests and hobbies are, and even what library books you borrowed. They can access any networked device you own and, if reports are to be believed, soon will be able to remotely activate and peruse your devices even when they are switched off. They can access anything you have placed online, including anything in cloud storage. And even better things are in the pipe: soon they will know every ride you took on public transport, every time you used an access card to enter your apartment building or in the workplace, and the location of your vehicle every minute of every day. Probably not long after that cash, together with direct possession of other stores of value (precious metals, negotiable securities, etc.), will be eliminated, so that every transaction is recorded and traceable. As comforting as it may be to believe they will eventually gorge themselves on all this information the truth is probably much more sinister: with this kind of access to every person’s private life they have all the information they need to ferret out the malcontents and the troublemakers, it’s just a question of putting all the puzzle pieces together. And you’d best believe the NSA and its peers are working around the clock on the data mining algorithms that will do exactly that with a high degree of efficiency. In the near future there will no longer be any interminable investigations, painstaking wading through bankers box after bankers box of files, or tedious cultivation of contacts and informers, there will just be a computer spitting out a list of names. All that will be left for the enforcers to do is pick the people up and warehouse (or dispose of) them. The revolution will not be televised. George Orwell is yesterday’s news, we’re well on our way to Minority Report territory, where people will be arrested even before they have the opportunity to commit a crime.

                Even in its heyday the Stasi could never dream of reading every letter, wiretapping every phone call, and monitoring every movement of every citizen, yet such a world is now feasible in principle and soon will be feasible in practice as well.

                Which brings us to the following dilemma: in order for dissidence to move from being the province of angry, isolated, impotent individuals and coalesce into a movement dissidents need the opportunity to communicate with each other. How do you envision that communication occurring in the digital Panopticon we have constructed?

                The great irony here is that the Internet was supposed to bring people together, but in the end it might prove to be the elite’s ultimate weapon in keeping the undesirable elements apart.

                1. Kurt Sperry

                  This panaopticon surveillance state, even assuming perfect global knowledge and assuming all that data can be cogently collated and translated into actionable form (this assumes competence not in evidence), is ultimately useless if the first waves of detentions and interference are not sufficient to stem the tide of popular discontent. The management of discontent will ultimately fail if the numbers it faces become too large, and rounding up and detaining ever larger numbers of dissenters is likely to become a real and existential political problem as well as a logistical impossibility.

                  In fact I welcome their surveillance in a sense, I want to be heard–even if that involves being surveilled and spied upon. I don’t see that surveillance necessarily as a threat but even ultimately as ultimately a tool of dissent, communicating upward the level of discontent in the same way street protests and other expressions of political dissent do. If the level of discontent becomes sufficiently large, the intimate knowledge of that discontent becomes powerful not for those reading it but conversely for those expressing it. Intelligence telling one exactly what one does not want to hear isn’t really empowering at all. In fact it may well prove disempowering and more so given its assumed authority. Total surveillance of this type is also clearly and unambiguously in violation of the constitutional basis of the US, and I think people broadly understand this. Read the 4th amendment alone and there is no reasonable reading of it that supports what the NSA et al are now publicly doing. Now obviously they can just ignore all that for now, but as people know it’s illegal, it costs in terms of legitimacy. I’m guessing there are huge hidden exposures and costs associated with that.

                  I think your trust in the infallible efficacy of total surveillance in a putative democracy with clearly constitutionally delineated citizen’s rights is in fact naive. It works, sure I guess. Until it doesn’t. Like almost anything else.

                  1. Lambert Strether

                    I wish I’d written the above.

                    If I have a brainwave for how emerging alternative political groups should communicate clandestinely, I’ll certainly share it. That said, despite all the surveillance, and despite all the militarization, there was Tahrir Square, the indignados, the Capitol occupations, Occupy proper, #BlackLivesMatter, and a ton of civil society movements like anti-fracking, some very successful. So I just don’t buy that the State’s tools are as powerful as you seem to think they are; in fact, one might think of them as real King Canute stuff, commanding the tide to roll back (though I should take back that metaphor immediately, because sounds like I believe in inevitable historical forces, which I don’t). I think this is another case where the left needs to learn to take yes for an answser.

                2. Lambert Strether

                  “Louis XVI had an intelligence service? We must be reading different histories of the French Revolution.” Apparently so. I’ll do more research if needed, but after a cursory Google search, I find at least once source which maintains that the French invented the Secret Police.


                  Moreover, if one believes that the Bourbons had no intelligence service, one believes that the Bourbons were less skilful in the tradecraft of kingship than the Tudors; that makes no sense.

    3. Phil

      Lexington, you could be right, but something is changing in America. The Plutocrats are in our faces with hegemony and privilege, and using their elevated position of power to decimate the middle class. Sanders resonates with people in both parties. Social media and its bottom-up power is more sophisticated than it was in 2008. New communication tools have the potential to trump Power. I would love to see Sanders go all the way. Lets see what happens.

  21. Mogden

    Sanders has balls to admit being a socialist; let’s give him credit for that. Now, his economic program would be ruinous to the nation if it were somehow enacted, probably even exceeding the damage of Bush II. But he does have one thing in his favor: he is not Hillary.

  22. TG

    Indeed. But Clinton and Obama were not ‘quixotic’ – they made explicit deals to sell us out, and from that point forward the corporate press suddenly gave them glowing coverage out of nowhere. That (I hope) does not apply to Bernie Sanders.

    And it’s not just silence that will be applied to Sanders – also the magnification of minor flaws or past mistakes until that’s all the people know about him. The things he stands for – like not having TPP or bank bailouts, which even the tea party supports – will not be covered. So in the conservative press we hear nothing about Sander’s opposition to TPP etc., only that he is a ‘socialist’ who fifty years ago wrote a stupid essay on something. And the liberal press won’t talk about Senator Jeff Sessions’ opposition to TPP, because his opposition to the use of foreign workers to drive down wages means that he’s a racist who scapegoats immigrants. Divide and conquer, report only that which makes the enemies of the 1% ‘unelectable’.

  23. washunate

    Very interesting read and comments. One angle I might add is to recall how important it was in 2007 to break the aura of inevitability. To grossly oversimplify, a few thousand teens and 20 somethings in Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, and farther away worked to ensure that Hillary Clinton finished third in the Iowa Caucus.

    The good news is that it can be done. The bad news is that you can only fool people so many times. A lot of those Obama and Edwards folks in 2006 and 2007 are wary of anyone operating within the Democratic Party today.

  24. Jackrabbit

    The fundamental flaw made by those who support Sanders is that the Democratic Party is an independent institution. It is not. It is a member of the Duopoly which, by design, offers the illusion of democracy. That makes Sanders nothing more than a prequel to lesser evil voting.

    Berie Sanders is no Eugene Debs

    Sanders’ policies are pretty good on working-class economic justice demands and climate action, and not so good on foreign policy and militarism. But his positions on the issues is secondary to the question of whether his politics are helping the working class act for itself or subsume itself under the big business interests in charge of the Democratic Party. By entering the Democratic primaries with the promise of supporting Clinton as the lesser evil to the Republicans, Sanders is not helping the working class to organize, speak and act for itself.

    By failing to act on its own and speak for itself in U.S. elections, the left committed political suicide. It lost its independent voice and its platform from which to be heard. The public doesn’t hear from the left in elections. They only hear from pro-capitalist Democrats, who most of “the left” promotes as the lesser evil to the Republicans.

    By trying to get Democratic politicians to say and do what the left wants them to say and do, the left has been engaged in a pathetic and hopeless attempt at political ventriloquism. It is dependent politics, powerless politics. It has been 80 years–20 presidential election cycles–since the left largely disappeared itself into the Democratic Party. It is way past time to draw the lesson of this experience: the left won’t regain power and public significance until it breaks with the Democrats and acts independently for itself.

    THE INDEPENDENT left should be talking to progressives who have decided to support Sanders. We should talk about why independent politics is the best way to build progressive power, about the Democratic Party as the historic graveyard of progressive movements, and about the need in 2016 for a progressive alternative when Sanders folds and endorses Clinton. I don’t expect many will be persuaded to quit the Sanders campaign before the primaries. But I do expect that many of them will want a Plan B, a progressive alternative to Clinton, after the primaries.

    H O P

    1. Jackrabbit

      Interesting bit of history (from “Bernie Sanders is No Eugene Debs”):

      THE INDEPENDENT left was a force to be reckoned with in U.S. politics from the 1840s through the 1930s. The Liberty Party, the Free Soil Party and the Radical Republicans carried the banners of abolition, land reform, labor rights and Reconstruction from the 1840s through 1870s. With the post-Civil War industrialization and rapid expansion of industrial workers, the surviving radicals of the pre-war reform movements formed the populist farmer-labor Greenback Labor and People’s Parties of the 1880s and 1890s.

      With collapse of Populism into the Democratic Party, its radicals were central to the formation of the Socialist Party of America, as well as regionally based Labor, Farmer-Labor and Progressive Parties between 1900 and 1936, which came close to establishing a major third party on the left with a farmer-labor popular base. Together, they elected hundreds of local officials, scores of state officials and dozens of members of Congress. The Farmer-Labor and Progressive parties of the Upper Midwest in the 1930s had two governors, three U.S. Senators, 12 members of the House, and scores of state and local elected officials.

      Those successes fueled widespread agitation for an independent labor party based on unions, which reached a peak as the 1936 election approached. Unfortunately, the unions and the Communist Party’s Popular Front policy led most of labor and the left into the Democratic Party’s New Deal Coalition in 1936–from which they never emerged afterward in a major way.

    2. jrs

      If we believe that Sanders could win and be entirely different than Obama, then we believe the Democratic party could support both Obama and someone unlike him (the anti-Obama). Is this a coherent position? I don’t know as I have a hard time making coherent sense of what parties really are, of having a mental model of them.

      I sometimes think that parties are: interest groups for certain industries. And if so Sanders could be different as long as he’s the same on the issues these industries care about. And maybe that’s what could happen, he’ll be allowed some progressive economic policies that still have to pass Congress, and thus may never see the light of day, in return for steering the empire through another round, which will of course see the light of day. The popular perception is to see parties as ideologies but to accept that is to condemn a party that will not condemn and disown Obama as having no principles, or no decent principles at any rate. Because the Dem party is really not coherent as an ideological entity except as a champion of the worse types of things. Sometimes I think parties should be seen more as junior high school cliques or yes as tribes, though I think that’s a hard conception for those who never were “in with the in crowd” to get their minds around. But maybe they are just all people in exclusionary (to the other party) and inclusionary (to anyone in the party) social circles, and no we non-elite really aren’t part of the club.

      The other individualist alternative is to see Sanders as purely an individual, but he is running on a party platform. Would we vote for Sanders if he ran as a Republican? Why not? Maybe parties are branding, but branding of what, maybe those exclusionary and inclusionary social circles, that yea we the masses will never be part of.

      1. jrs

        I reject the simplification that both parties are the same big party. I can accept that they BOTH represent plutocrats and not the common person. But at the same time they fight too hard to win (even cheat to win as in hacking and counter-hacking the voting machines) to be the same exact party. Even if it’s really just fighting for the spoils and to distribute some spoils to their cliques (no their cliques are not us). But some may believe their own spin of it being for the greater good.

        1. Jackrabbit

          It is a simplification. Together, they are a duopoly because they operate in much the same way and reinforce the establishment. They are co-dependent abusers.

          They each take advantage of their base, telling them what they want to hear but act to benefit cronys behind the scenes. Neither has any incentive to stop the other. Each points fingers at the other’s foibles and excesses. Together, they call it Democracy. Even as they each acknowledge that it is money, not votes that really matter.

    3. Lambert Strether

      Here is the key sentence from Howie Hawkin’s excellent article:

      Analysis of the general election results shows that about half of Teachout’s vote came to the Greens in the general election, and that it constituted about half of the Green vote.

      So, reverse engineer your strategy based on that expectation. Needless to say, I don’t think calling Sanders people sheep — which is exactly what the “sheepdog” metaphor does — is conducive to executing that strategy successfully. So I’m basically shaking my head at the Green reaction.

  25. Mr Creosote

    Well Bernie’s getting coverage today (Sun. 31) with a scan of the news headlines.
    Even NYT’s front landing site has an article.

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