Yves here. One addition to this post: Wray is making the assumption about delegate math that has been treated as gospel by the media: that all the Democratic party superdelegates go to Clinton. In fact, in 2008, superdelegates pledged to Clinton switched to Obama as Obama racked up more delegates in the primaries.
We’ll see how the upcoming primaries fall out, but as this post describes, Sanders is not over as far as having a shot at winning a majority of delegates ex the superdelegates. Yes, the odds still favor Clinton, but this is not a done deal. And if Sanders were to get within striking distance, the superdelegates are not a monolith. Rather than going after all of them, which seems to be the approach of Sanders supporters, the ones to target are elected officials, particularly in states where Sanders won or was close to 50%. Unlike lobbyists or other party hacks, they have to worry about the potential for highly pissed off voters in their states to make them their pet Special Project for years to come.
By L. Randall Wray, Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives
The drumbeat is quickening as Hillary’s surrogates insist that Bernie’s supporters fall in line. Bernie’s chances are said to be hopeless. Continuing to run only plays into the hands of truly despicable Republicans.
And forget about trying to pressure the Democratic Party’s establishment to let Bernie play a role in formulating the convention’s platform. That also would just play into the hands of the Republicans.
Time to unite behind Hillary, and let her move further to the right. No more talk of revolution, of trillions of dollars of new spending, of significant increases to the minimum wage. Let’s talk about Hillary’s issues: regime change abroad, downsizing dreams at home, and protecting Wall Street from the pitchforks.
Some Hillary surrogates are even talking about retribution for Bernie supporters. I saw the following blog by a supporter:
After yesterday the word–and the obvious thing–is to stand down. Mind you: The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for Guevarista fantasies about what their policies are likely to do. The day will come when it will be time to gleefully and comprehensively trash people to be named later for advocating Cominternscale lying to voters about what our policies are like to do. And it will be important to do so then because overpromising leads to bad policy decisions, and overpromising is bad long-run politics as well. But that day is not now. That day will be mid-November.
Those who “fantasized” about Bernie’s “overpromising”, his “lying to voters”, are going to get trashed come November. As one who argued that Bernie was not “overpromising” I suppose I might be among the “named” in November. Great, I look forward to that!
It does give one pause, however. Are Hillary’s supporters fantasizing about bringing back the good old McCarthy era? When an accusation that one is too socialist—too close to revolutionaries like Che, or Castro, let alone a Lenin—could end one’s career? Hillary’s campaign has already hired trolls to attack blogging critics (I think I’ve met a few at NEP!). Old Senator McCarthy must be envious. Too bad he didn’t have the internet.
But is this supposed to bring Bernie’s supporters over to the Hillary camp? Remember, voters came out by the millions to vote for a candidate who proudly claimed to be a democratic socialist, and his voters proudly cheered every time he said it. Not only that, they gave their hard-earned savings to him so that he could run.
By contrast, the establishment candidates relied on Wall Street funding, donations by fat cats with much to gain by retaining control over Washington. And even with all the support that the establishment could muster, Bernie is still in the race—much to Hillary’s consternation. I think the McCarthy-ite scare tactics will fail this time.
While Hillary is slightly ahead in the votes, she’s viewed with far more suspicion by Americans. To put it as plainly as possible, they do not like her, and the more they learn, the less they like her. The more they learn about her surrogates, the less they’ll like them, and her.
Yes, she’s way ahead in the delegates. She was awarded a quarter of all the delegates before the campaign even started. All she needed was to get one more quarter, plus one, of the remainder in order to “win”. She only needed to earn 26% of those up for grabs, while Bernie would have to actually win 51% to come out ahead in delegates. You call that democracy? And, true, Bernie is running behind that pace. But that was by plan—with all the Democratic establishment calling the race on day one, only the stubborn would refuse to vote for the putatively inevitable “winner”. After every primary, win or lose, Bernie was declared the underdog with no chance of catching up.
I noted with some amusement that Brad DeLong, a Clinton supporter who worked for her husband’s administration, has dissed Trump by running some numbers: “Donald Trump collects only 40% or so of the vote from the 15% or so of the adult population that votes in Republican Party primaries, and polls tell us he is massively unpopular with the bulk of American adults.”
OK, true. As of March 25, The Donald had received just 5.7% of the vote among eligible voters in the primaries that had been run up to that point. What DeLong failed to note is that Hillary had received 6.6%.
Talk about an unpopularity contest! Add the presumptive nominees together and you get just over a tenth of eligible voters choosing the next president.
The Donald was running against some dozens of candidates (to tell the truth, I could not tell who was not running in the Republican primaries—I think there might have been more candidates than voters), while Hillary was running against just one (well, if there were others, they dropped out quickly and no one remembers them).
Full Disclosure: the one she ran against was the 74 year-old democratic socialist calling for revolution, who got 4.7% of the eligible voters in those primaries, which took place mostly in conservative states that a few years ago would have been more likely to jail a socialist than vote for one. Until this year, the idea that almost 5% of southern eligible would go for the “Brooklyn Jewish Pinko Socialist” would have been earth-shatteringly newsworthy.
And with the Democratic primary season as rigged as it could possibly be to stop someone like Bernie, she’s pulling a percent more of the eligible votes than a reality TV star and less than 2% more than a self-professed socialist. In the conservative states. In states where independents are denied the right to vote. All front-loaded in the primary season to give a southern conservative former Goldwater Republican an insurmountable lead.
With 26 primaries already completed by March 25, Hillary had garnered votes from just 10.9% of the registered voters—in the primaries that lean right—versus Trump’s 9.4%.
A mandate for Hillary this ain’t.
(By contrast, “none of the above” is winning in a landslide. 34% of those who registered did not vote, and 39% of the eligible chose not to register. That is no vote of confidence for our two party system that tries to restrict our choices to party-sanctioned unpalatable candidates. While The Donald has brought in voters, Hillary has repelled them. If it were not for Bernie, voting by the Dems would be way down.)
I was also amused by DeLong’s “take-down” of those who “pander to populists”—by promising that which he claims cannot be delivered. And he argues the populists point their fingers at imagined damage done to them by the mainstream Democrats: deregulating Wall Street and shipping jobs abroad through NAFTA and by ignoring Chinese currency manipulation.
Now, the first of these happened, and it has played a huge role in producing the boom-bust cycle followed by stagnation that we now find ourselves in. It was a Clinton deal. Bill and Bob and Larry. All of them presumed advisors to a presumptive Hillary administration.
And while I side with DeLong in criticizing the second two claims, I don’t know many Bernie supporters who make them. NAFTA had little to do with loss of America’s jobs (but a lot to do with destruction of Mexican agriculture—that pushed migration to the US), and the accusations against China amount to little more than “red-baiting”.
Still I found it curious that he neglected to highlight the Clinton role in what he identified as true problems: “financialization and making profits by convincing investors to bear risks they should not; on health-care administration and making profits by passing off to others the hot potato of actually paying for care and treatment for the sick; on making profits by getting paid for locking up two percent of our young men for terms so excessive as to be cruel albeit not, alas, unusual”—all of which have Hillary’s hands all over them, especially the incarceration part but one should not forget that she supports financialization of healthcare through mandating private insurance over actually providing healthcare through universal coverage.
So here’s the question: can a progressive let a friend vote for a Neocon? This has become all the more relevant as it looks more likely that come November many will choose between Hillary or The Donald.
On social issues, I must admit that Hillary looks better. But who wouldn’t? The Donald, for reasons only known to himself, has decided to alienate some 85% of the population on social issues. I don’t get it. So his maximum vote take will be 15% of eligible. Hillary might be able to beat that.
On economics and dealings with the rest of the world, it is a toss-up. The Donald will Wall us in for protection (it is somewhat ironic that a China-basher would choose a Great Wall?), while Hillary will bomb and drone her “enemies” for regime change. I would prefer the Donald if he’d stop talking about deportation and religious litmus tests for immigrants. But he won’t. He prefers to be repulsive.
On economics, Hillary will continue to promote Wall Street’s depravities (after all, her husband delivered Wall Street to the Democrats, or, more accurately, the Democrats to Wall Street), while The Donald will make America Grand Again. Apparently by building more casinos and hotels for people with money to blow. Neither plan is appealing—but legal and supervised gambling in casinos is better than illegal and unsupervised gambling by Hillary’s Wall Street.
Who do you choose? How about neither.
As is well-known, Hillary was a Goldwater Republican. Not just a supporter, but an activist. She attributes that to youthful exuberance. As she matured, she became a Kissinger-Albright Neocon. In other words, she moved from isolationism to Neocon regime change.
And, with no small help from her husband’s presidency, the Democratic party moved so far right that a Goldwater Republican can fit nicely within its folds.
A progressive should not let a friend vote Neocon.
I know, I know. If you do not vote for the Neocon, you get the Donald. Well, maybe. That’s November. There’s still a lot of water to run under that bridge before we reach November.
But in any case, I don’t buy the argument. I don’t vote for the lesser of two evils. I don’t vote for evil, period. Yes, my candidates almost always lose. I’ve voted for exactly one winner in my life. I don’t regret any of my votes, even though that one winning candidate turned out to be a huge disappointment. All the winning candidates that I did not vote for were even worse disappointments (and my expectations were understandably low). I would not have felt any better had I voted for winners Obama 2012, Clinton (twice), Carter, or LBJ, nor if I had voted for losers Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale, or Humphrey.
Yes, I voted for McGovern. I’m precisely the type of voter that the party establishment has tried to disenfranchise—to ensure that the party never again makes the “mistake” of running someone who leans toward peace and progressive policy. I’m not a “loyalist”. I cannot be trusted to vote the party line.
I do not accept the argument that progressives have no choice but to vote for Neocons. If you settle for the lesser of evils, all you will get is evils.
I do have a choice. And so do you. As the great philosopher said, “It ain’t over, until it’s over”.
And, “It’s déjà vu all over again”. Floor fights. 1968.