A Bernie Sanders Narrative for Seniors

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Yves here. Note that the “seniors” problem that Peter Dorman discusses is among Democratic Party seniors. I would hazard that Sanders does pretty well among older independents and even Republicans frustrated with Trump.

By Peter Dorman, professor of economics at The Evergreen State College. Originally published at Econospeak

What follows is some unsolicited advice for the Sanders campaign.

Politicohas an important piece on the downside of the extraordinary age bias in Sanders’ support.  Like a teeter totter, the large advantage Sanders enjoys among younger voters is counterbalanced by his dismal showing among the older crowd.  The article reviews voting breakdowns from the 2016 campaign and current poll results, and it shows that Sanders is not just behind among seniors, but way, way behind.  His political strengths guarantee he will survive the winnowing of the twenty-odd 2020 pretenders, but sheer arithmetic suggests he will need to make significant inroads among older voters, something he hasn’t done up to this point, to overtake Biden—assuming of course Biden doesn’t overtake himself.

So how can he do this?  The first thing to realize is that he doesn’t need absolute majorities among retirees and near-retires, just enough support so his advantage among the non-elderly isn’t erased.  The second is that direct material benefits alone are never enough.  People don’t simply vote in their immediate financial interest, although of course interests play an essential role.  Economic motives are like nuclei around which layers of narrative form, but it’s the narrative—the meaning—that orients people, and an economic condition can be explained in multiple ways.  Not all explanations are equally valid, of course, but in politics that’s largely irrelevant.  So yes, Sanders can and should talk up Social Security expansion and how universal health insurance would benefit  those on Medicare too.  But that’s not a sufficient political strategy; it lacks an encompassing narrative.  This narrative doesn’t have to be one all older people will gravitate to, but it has to speak to a significant portion of them.

And that’s where this post comes in.  Here’s a narrative I would recommend if I were on Bernie’s staff: As a democratic socialist, I have always believed in a future that we could approach step by step through political and social change.  That’s the America I once lived in, too.  It wasn’t perfect, not even close.  We had poverty, inequality, racism and sexism, military adventurism, and domination by the rich and monopolistic corporations.  Yet we also had steady progress against all these things, made possible by a relatively open political system—in other words, by democracy.  But for several decades that progress has stalled, and many of these problems have actually become worse again.  The system has shut down, and it will take radical means to open it up again so our country can resume moving forward.  For those of us in my generation who have seen all of this in our own lives, the era of reform and progress and then the era of blockage, this is our final opportunity to leave our legacy to the young.  It is an opportunity to recover the idealism that once, in the days of people like Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, seemed almost mainstream but now demands a revolution.  We know what America was like before it became a plutocracy, and we can come together again to return to the path of democracy.  This is not about returning to the past, but returning to a possibility we knew when we were young that the future could be ours to win.  One way or another, we will leave a legacy to our children and their children’s children.  Let it be this legacy of democratic possibility.

Then talk about Social Security and health care, and the need for a politics that can actually put these issues on the table and make the needs of the majority the driving force for change.

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  1. Left in Wisconsin

    Maybe I’m misreading Dorman but the notion that Bernie should try to craft a new? amended? just a slightly different emphasis? narrative in order to increase his appeal to seniors is completely ludicrous. Bernie is who he is and he is hardly about to spin that, nor would it redound to his advantage if he tried to. The Dem seniors that prefer others (that aren’t simply low information) likely have him at the bottom of their list, so it’s not like they are going to gravitate to him until they have no other option. The only question is will they vote for him if he wins the nomination.

    To them, and to the Repubs, independents, and non-voters that are not his base constituency but whose votes he will solicit, the narrative should be straight Bernie: “I understand most of you don’t identify as democratic socialists, that many of you might have thought you would never, ever vote for a democratic socialist. But there are times in history when the capitalist system is broken and those times require a break with the status quo. This is one of those times.”

    Also, the “steady progress” theme is historically inaccurate. The New Deal and the Civil Rights Era weren’t steady progress – they were transformative leaps.

    1. Tomonthebeach

      To echo that sentiment and add some alternatives to polling data. I’m 72, and think Bernie and Liz would make a great New Deal team. I also am not annoyed by AOC. On the contrary, if all our members of Congress asked tough questions in hearings, we might actually wake up the citizenry and pass some legislation that is not drafter to protect every special interest impacted by it.

      Bernie might emphasize more often that he is 100% for Social Security and Medicare and point out that Republicans in Trump’s administration have tried to make end runs on SSA pensions. Trump’s lies about pension support might just unnerve a few more fogies.

      Bern might also wake oldsters up the to fact that increasingly assisted living staff come from south of the border. Maria, who bathes and dresses them each morning, is not an exception to the rapists, murders, and thugs Trump makes immigrants out to be – she is typical, and we need to welcome more Marias to care for booming Boomers.

  2. WheresOurTeddy

    The young voters are coming and they’re not taking any prisoners

    “Among 18- to 29-year-olds, voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2018, the largest percentage point increase for any age group — a 79 percent jump.”

    Millenials + Gen X will outnumber Boomer voters in 2020 for the first time.

    “One way or another, we will leave a legacy to our children and their children’s children. Let it be this legacy of democratic possibility.”

    The legacy of this generation will be this: We who came after you had to *overthrow* you, 1932 style.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      “had to *overthrow* you”

      Thus has it ever been. My Boomer generation had to do a bit of overthrowing ourselves:

      The Draft

      You’re welcome for the fact that today 18-20 year-olds don’t have the choice I did of jail, Canada or killing people with whom I had no quarrel.

      Women’s Liberation

      When I was young, it was controversial for women to wear pants or smoke cigarettes (when most men did). Those restrictions were illustrative of the oppressed condition of women generally, and while the problem is far from solved, there has been a tremendous amount of change since 1968.

      Gay Liberation

      When I was young, police departments spent a significant amount of time and money trying to entrap gay men and imprison them. Again, a tremendous amount of change since 1968 has taken place spearheaded by Boomers starting with Stonewall.

      Our parents’ generation mostly resisted these changes. Many despised and hated us for the change we were bringing to the point that a majority cheered when National Guardsmen–our brothers–shot four of us down at Kent State. The last item on the list above was only achieved when nearly all of the WW II generation was buried.

      Two things happened to us that I hope Millennials and the next generation can avoid. First, we were relentlessly coopted and conned by this system. It breaks my heart to remember how many “started out so young and strong, only to surrender.” Even those things that have been achieved with the Boomer generation’s help have been twisted into IdPol, a (Jay) Gouldian weapon more subtle than using the draft to coerce people to join the National Guard. That doesn’t mean that women and LGBTQ people didn’t need liberating.

      The second thing was the de-radicalizing effects of forming families and taking on the responsibility of children. Those effects were increased in accordance to our individual susceptibility to the lure of the middle class lifestyle. You can’t do much overthrowing if you have to worry about making the payments on your McMansion to keep a roof over your kids’ heads. That’s something that Millennials will encounter as they age, and I hope they make better choices than many of us did. If we had committed to living lean and staying out of debt, we could have achieved more politically and done less damage to the Earth while we were at it.

      Our failures are legion. We helped stop an awful war, but that was twisted to spitting on vets and the knife in the back. Now we have PermaWar. We allowed the essential reforms fought for by our grandparents’ generation to be whittled away so that now Capitalism is once again as brutal and dehumanizing as it was before the New Deal. Worst of all, we have allowed the ongoing destruction of the Earth, and in this, we have indeed been complicit though some of us have also been at the forefront of trying to stop it.

      We deserve criticism, but it may be more fruitful to learn how this system managed to take our strengths and turn them into weaknesses so that it doesn’t happen to you.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Yes, appreciate this comment, Henry.

        But between the Boomers and the Millennials, there was this little generation called X.

        And we’re the generation that just got screwed.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          If you’re a Gen Xer, you should feel more strongly about this than I do. You got the worst of it, though if you chose from a few emerging professions in the 90s you could make some decent money for a bit there. I’m an Elder Millenial (first term Reagan baby) who is 6 years older than AOC, and her “this generation has never experienced prosperity” rings as true as anything I’ve ever heard uttered in American political discourse.

      2. Joe Well

        Re: spitting on vets, I hope you have a chance to read Jerry Lembke’s “The Spitting Image” about this myth. It would be right up your alley.

      3. Amfortas the hippie

        yes, thanks for the comment….and the honest assessment of the failures, instead of the usual(ime) lecturing about how good us younguns(i’ll be 50 this september) have it(see: joe biden, my mom,lol)
        a research project i’ve considered for a long while(but haven’t had the $ or time for) concerns just HOW the fire was allowed to go out…or worse, turned into a raging blaze…for those who came after.
        ie: how did a generation go from radical change to hyperconservative, this-is-just-the-way-it-is?
        my folks are the oldest Boomers…born 1942… never took part in the radicalism, and have always been more conservative in their outlook and lifeways. those who came after them that i have known, either didn’t want to talk about it(why?) or parroted Reagan, or worse…or were quintessential rednecks who hated all that hippiedippie stuff from the womb.
        the Saruman Turn(joining the other side, and selling it as logical/moral/obvious) has never been explained sufficiently for me.
        the oil shocks and economic malaise of the 70’s probably account for some of it…but i’ve always considered the whole back to the land, commune/co-op parts of the 60’s revolution to be a fine answer to that(indeed, it’s what i’m doing, right now)
        Too, i’ve often thought about the switch in drugs….from mind expanders to lizard brained drugs …as a factor(and that feels like a cia op(like the later crack), given how those drugs entered usa youth culture(golden triangle, air america).
        and disco sure looks like the first successful foray into music as a cultural weapon, when the giant corps(e) finally figured out how to use it.
        how much of the turn was a repentive hangover from excess, or just weariness?

        1. neighbor7

          Welcome words, thanks. I too have long pondered how the fire went out, not just nostalgically, but re how we can keep that from happening again (if..) Very interesting–the hunker-down, back to the land aspect may be huge and under the radar. And CIA op idea should be more looked into. After all, LSD escaped from the agency; it seems very likely that they would have worked to trash that enlightened narrative in any way possible. (The CIA giveth and the CIA taketh away…)

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          I’ll use this comment, Amfortas, to reply to all of the above.

          Inter-generational finger pointing is just another variety of IdPol used to divide us. I’ll admit that we Boomers were among the guiltiest. “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” was our cry. Yet when I watched Jefferson Airplane sing about a “new continent of earth and fire” on the “Volunteers” tour, Grace Slick was six months away from that dreaded number! My musical heroes in the late 60s were not Boomers but the older musicians who had been folkies first like Garcia, Kaukonen, Crosby and even Janis. My generation were punkers like Patti Smith.

          I agree with you about the type of drugs, though it’s clear that psychedelics only open up the possibility of escaping Pretenderom; they don’t guarantee it. Coke and speed don’t do much to open your intellect or deepen your emotions. Opiates are just a faster route to the grave than alcohol.

          One point I didn’t make in the initial comment is that every generation in our culture must fight on so many different fronts that the fingers-in-the-dike problem is overwhelming. The Man comes at you in so many different ways. There are so many problems when tackling any one of them successfully would be an immense challenge. We succeeded with a few, but a number of other problems just got worse.

          I also agree there was great promise in the hippies’ call to get back to nature and a simpler way of living. The “Easy Rider” scene filmed at the New Buffalo Commune outside of Taos, declared to be a “place to make a stand,” was meaningful enough to me that my spouse and I built an adobe on the other side of the Sangre de Cristos from Taos, but we left as our oldest child reached school age. Now we’re doing much the same thing in a poor neighborhood in a Rust Belt city. The intervening 25 years of pursuing middle class life were never as fulfilling or joyful.

          While I have always been frustrated by The Man’s ability to divide, thus making the broad solidarity necessary to combat him difficult, the level of divisiveness and growing violence raise the specter of civil war. We have to find ways to reduce division and build trust whether it’s among races, between genders or across generational divides.

          I’ll close with some Youtube links, some musical, some cinematic:

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              i agree wholeheartedly that generational sniping is most often counterproductive….except when it’s not,lol.
              consider what percentage of the boomer generation were actually out in the street, antiwar, etc.
              my folks were more the norm, as far as i can tell…peripheral, at best.
              and as a GenX-er, I hardly fit many of the taxonomic descriptions I’ve seen over the years…
              but there ARE generational attributes, and shared history, that do matter…and i wish we had a better, non-IDPol way of talking about them.
              as y’all prolly know by now, I’ll talk to a fence post…interrogating passerby on the sidewalk, in the elevator, symposia in the feedstore.
              socratic method(asking questions) applied to anthropological fieldwork…because i’m curious about why people believe the things they do.
              it is likely not insignificant that the only group that shows as much resistance as boomers do when asked about what the hell happened….is viet nam vets when asked about the war, and it’s right or wrongness.
              I long ago gave up assigning blame to large cohorts of random people….hell, i even make a habit of trying to understand teabillies and birchers on their own terms(corporate dems and the proverbial top 10%, excepted)…but the 70’s reversal remains unanswered.
              i hope that my questions along these lines can be seen as honestly arrived at, in spite of my probably hostile sounding usage(another generational trait, perhaps?).
              i also readily admit that my “sample” has been limited to Texas, and Texans…which includes the Texans from Cali, who are probably different from ordinary Californians…which is why many of them moved, it seems.
              (i could prolly write a paper on that phenomenon, too,lol. but it’s another potential research frenzy i cannot afford to pursue)
              my point in even broaching this minefield is that I’ve been asking these questions since i was 16, as best i could, and have am no closer to an answer. something definitely happened in that time frame….probably a mixture of many disparate things.
              i think it’s important to think and talk about what that(those) may have been. it echoes in all our politics, today.

              1. jrs

                ah yes the Californians I’ve known who left state for TX or AZ tended to lean (or be fully) conservative. The hippies and hipsters are more likely to be Ore-GONE.

                Of course there are some that just get so desperate for work, they’ll move ANYWHERE. Who cares about the social life, who cares about the cultural life, and who cares about the politics. As if one could pay their rent with politics.

              2. WheresOurTeddy

                Californian who has lived in Missouri and Georgia and has many relatives from Texas.

                In my experience, California-to-Texas immigrants are overwhelmingly conservatives exiling themselves from a perceived godless Babylon back to “God’s Country”. Or they’re old and retiring to a cheaper state. Or both.

        3. wilroncanada

          Your folks, Amfortas, are pre-boomers, as I am. I know they are just labels, but boomers are considered to be post-WWII, 1946 on. My one contribution, other than echoing most of what you and Henry have written, is that we (that is, boomers who marched, advocated for change, and dismissed the beginnings of neoliberalism) were never close to a majority. Most of my high school cohort, in a steel city in Canada, either went directly into the work force, or took a couple of years at technical schools, then went into jobs–early in the 1960s– which they were able to retire from after 30 years. They owned their own middle-class homes within 5 years, and from then on collected toys: extra cars, boats, cottages, RVs. They were deeply liberal/conservative–Canada’s version of US single party democrat/republican.
          We saw them in retirement on the Gulf Islands when we were struggling to start and maintain a business. They didn’t give a s–t about the community they were retiring to; it was a base from which to claim their retirement to the country medals from envious friends. Instead of shopping locally on the island, they ridiculed local business: they could buy everything cheaper by taking a ferry into the city. The island had four local theatre groups, but 10 years after these boomers or pre-boomers retired to the island there were none. They demanded “real entertainment,” not participation. The other things they demanded immediately were infrastructure for them: streetlights, sidewalks, sewer systems to replace their septic tanks, water service to replace their wells, garbage collection from their doors to replace the drop-off in the village (no way they wanted to sort anything).

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            you describe the majority of the adults of my youth north and east and south of houston, 70-91. (the far right crazies were relatively few, but made big ripples)I’ve considered that many if not most of the participants in the “60’s” had left texas as soon as possible, and haven’t returned…thus affecting my sample.
            (and what happened in your beachtown is what happened to galveston. good nutshell)

          2. orange cats

            “My one contribution, other than echoing most of what you and Henry have written, is that we (that is, boomers who marched, advocated for change, and dismissed the beginnings of neoliberalism) were never close to a majority.”

            Yes. This baby boomer didn’t do sh*t to the draft or protest for social change nor did anyone I know. I suspect it’s the same with a lot of baby boomers who use the “we” pronoun when talking about “our” accomplishments. I don’t remember a single baby boomer male in high school or college, and I went to Berkeley, at all interested in women’s liberation. The standard dismissal was that we gals have it good compared to black people, go make me a sandwich. Meanwhile I was struggling to score a minimum-wage job in a recession and getting up at 5:30 a.m. to put gas in my car. Politics was not my bag.

            I did go to the streets protesting the Gulf war, it totally worked!

        4. drumlin woodchuckles

          My understanding of “baby boomer” is starting rather later than 1942. Wikipedia entry claims that it is the group born between 1946 and 1964. People born in 1942 are late Silent Generation members, I think. ( The wikipedia entry claims “Silents” were those born between mid-to-late 1920’s and early-to-mid 1940s).

          The alleged “Boomer” birth-zone from ’46 to ’64 is so long that some have said the “late” Boomers are more like “early Gen Xers”. The name “Generation Jones” has been suggested.
          I will just do a little copy-paste from the wikipedia blurb findable from the search engine.
          “Generation Jones is the social cohort of the latter half of the Baby boomers to the first years of Generation X. The term was first coined by the cultural commentator Jonathan Pontell, who identified the cohort as those born from 1954 to 1965 in the U.S. who came of age during the oil crisis, stagflation, and the Carter presidency, rather than during the 1960s, but slightly before Gen X.”..

      4. Hepativore

        Actually, I thought until the late-1970s or so, it was considered “glamorous” and “sexy” for women to smoke, just like how smoking denoted a man’s “ruggedness” and “machismo”. Anyway…

        Biden is tanking in the polls as we speak, and at this rate, Sanders might overtake him soon. One thing that I think that Sanders should hit him on and hit him hard, is to remind everybody how badly Biden wanted to cut Social Security and Medicare in the past, and if he became president, he would probably start talking about it again. This is something that would probably give him a massive black eye in the view of many Boomers, as the whole idea of the “Grand Bargain” as talked about by Obama and Biden would be career suicide on the part of many politicians.

        1. lordkoos

          I think it’s a bogus claim that Biden is the front runner, which the corporate media began crowing about immediately after Joe announced his candidacy. That CNN poll showing those results? Turns out they didn’t poll anybody under the age of 49… but that didn’t stop them from trumpeting that Biden was the man. I’m pretty sure that Sanders remains the most popular politician in the country.

          As a senior myself at 67, I’ve been shocked how many in my generation are not “feeling the Bern”, and how narrow-minded many friends my age have become. People who once marched in D.C. to end the Vietnam war now have no problems supporting people like Hillary Clinton. It’s a weird mixture of being politically conservative AKA “centrist” while still being all politically correct about racism, LGBT rights, the environment, etc. Especially disappointing is their stance on war, many seem to swallow the endless pro-intervention propaganda without question, and the casting of Putin, Assad, etc as arch-enemies. Some white “liberals” say they don’t want Sanders nominated because he’s an old white man. Some are afraid of the word socialism. Many are fairly well off and seem to have little to no empathy for the struggles of later generations.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            “Many are fairly well off and seem to have little to no empathy for the struggles of later generations.”

            Your last sentence is my lived experience to a T and the source of my ire. I ruffle feathers around here because boomers dislike being called out (though to their credit many do understand the abject failure of the last 50 years). To this point most are willing to engage, but there’s always the attempted defenses, which rarely cite examples after 1980…

          2. Phacops

            re: little empathy for the struggles of others.

            In my experience people rarely socialize outside of their economic class. I have friends, all of us being boomers, who have never been in a working class household, much less those not even making ALICE minimums (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. See the United Way ALICE reports). To me they are in a bubble and remain convinced that they earned everything.

            Alas, they are the wrong kind of Democrats who support the corporate elite, who are unashamedly pro Hillary and see nothing wrong with Dinos like Senators Stabenow and Peters. I feel that they are crypto-republicans. That’s how I know they have no empathy for the struggles of younger generations.

      5. WheresOurTeddy

        that’s a pretty short list of accomplishments, considering the previous generation had a Great Depression to overcome, a war against 3 fascist countries simultaneously that was won in under 5 years, the Manhattan Project, the Hoover Dam, the entire Interstate Freeway system post-war, the GI bill, ETC ETC ETC

        You…got the draft ended after almost 15 years of advisors and troops and 58,000+ casualties in Vietnam. You learned the lessons of war so well that you have supported every war since. We will have to clean that up.

        Women can smoke and wear what they want…while we roll back abortion access state-by-state and prepare to roll back Roe with a bunch of Boomer and Boomer-appointed justices. Gay people are accepted :::checks notes::: enough to not be openly murdered and oppressed by police without repercussion. (Note: in some parts of the country, that’s sadly still true). Huzzah!

        Your comment ends with “don’t let what happened to us happen to you”. The words ‘avarice’, ‘selfishness’, ‘gluttony’ and ‘greed’ do not make appearances in your text, but are applied in my reading of it.

        This is your list of accomplishments for the last 50 years? No wonder this is a late stage empire in decline. Woof.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Not sure I’d be bagging so hard on the Boomers if I came from a generation who’s contributions to society consist primarily of Facebook, Uber and something called being an “influencer”.

          1. Will S.

            Jesus Christ, can we stop the intergenerational sniping? It does nothing for any of us for Xers/millennials to blame Boomers for our woes, and it does nothing for us for Boomers to dismiss millennials as lazy and unaccomplished. The true enemy is 0.1% and their tools in the 9.9% and everything else is a distraction.

            The sad fact is, the vast majority of EVERY generation is politically ignorant, disinformed/propagandized, and complacent in the face of state overreach. Leftists and progressives need to focus on the adversaries who are truly out to get us, who are of disparate age but share one thing: wealth and power.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Let those who started the intergenerational sniping be the ones to stop it. Meanwhile, I will keep watching for organized efforts to cancel the Social Security I have spent my life working to pay for, in order to kill me within a few months of my separation from work.

              I will be watching to see what part the self-styled Youngers hope to play in this Overclass-hoped-for pro-Overclass democide.

          2. Will S.

            Also, for the record, Zuckerberg may be a millennial, but Travis Kalanick is a Gen Xer (born 1978 I believe). Please don’t pin every sh***y tech squillionaire on my generation just because you’re miffed at someone talking crap about Boomers.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              For the record, i wasn’t really sniping at millenials (am Gen. X myself, not a Boomer)…more like pointing out that none of us are to blame for an entire era of births and that every “generation” has its contributions to the mess we’ve got. I think we’re in agreement, right?

              And while I definitely share your focus on (and ire at) the top 10%ers, I also think the blissfully unaware, the ignorant-of-history rest of the voting eligible citizens really are the problem. If tribalism means voting for a party and issues don’t matter, then that’s a big, big problem.

          3. drumlin woodchuckles

            Good points. And Martin Shkreli. Don’t forget Martin Shkreli, Millenial that he is.

      6. Cal2

        “it was controversial for women to wear pants or smoke cigarettes…Those restrictions were illustrative of the oppressed condition of women generally, and while the problem is far from solved, there has been a tremendous amount of change since 1968.”
        Yup, lung cancer among women now as high as men.
        The Tobacco Institute thanks you for your support.
        Pants don’t cause lung cancer.

        So just how old are you and where did you grow up? In a Mennonite community or something? Women smoked as much or more than men through the 1970s, at least in California.

        Come on out to San Francisco. Bring your money and your time, rather than your keyboard support. How’s that “liberation” working out?

        “In a survey of 1,000 of those homeless people, 29 percent said they are gay. City officials and people who work closely with the homeless said they’d always known that gay people, who make up about 15 percent of the city’s total population, were overrepresented among the homeless. But many said they weren’t expecting the percentage to be so high.”

        “The numbers suggest that more effort may need to go toward providing special services – such as beds set aside for LGBT people in shelters or social workers with special training in LGBT issues – to get gay people off the street and into temporary, and eventually permanent, housing, homeless advocates said. It’s great to finally have these numbers. What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.”


        1. JBird4049

          I am going to flip out now…

          What we get from this is that homelessness is a queer issue,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness.”

          Homelessness is a by God Human issue. Why should anyone care about the exact numbers of queer homeless especially when there are still many people who are homeless? One just has to admire the Identitarianism that just will not die. The unusual, the different, the abused have always been over represented in the homeless population. That is often why they are homeless. If you are queer, you have a gigantic bullseye for the small souled among us looking to abuse others.

          This was shown by surveys done in the 80s. I’ve known about this in the 70s. But just how does this change that 71% of the San Francisco homeless are not queer? This is just more paper shuffling to maintain the appearance of doing something. Rather like those programs in Los Angeles. Instead of providing housing according to identity why not just provide housing according to need?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Providing housing according to identity is COW leftism (Coalition Of Wokeness leftism).

            Providing housing according to need would be PE leftism ( Political Economy leftism).

  3. James Miller

    I have great respect for Dr. Dorman, but this piece is not his best. Most of it is mushy politico-speak, advice that seems more about the kind of nice things one says rather than things to do. Frankly, a holdover from the days, unfortunately all too ever-present, in which politics was not about doing, but just promising in generalities that the candidate, if elected, could easily evade. Clintonesque in spades. NOW has to be about escaping that approach.
    Bernie will benefit far more from the simple process of asking seniors like myself if they plan to vote for him, and if not, why not. Then craft a real policy package that will appeal to the “no” group, but which does not trample basic principles that Sanders has stood up for for —gad, forever. Do you think he’s thought of this? Duh.

    1. Big River Bandido

      mushy politico-speak, advice that seems more about the kind of nice things one says rather than things to do

      As I understand Dorman’s piece, that’s exactly the point: Sanders doesn’t need to change his policy, or “[promise] in generalities”, which I agree would be stupid. My understanding of the critique is that Sanders needs to explain his policies (a “narrative”) in a way that resonates with older Democrats. This is not a critique of substance, but of form/style.

      1. Code Name D

        That’s just it. Sanders have already explained his policies in detail. Some of them have already bee written up and submitted as bills to congress. The problem is getting this information out to voters. The corporate media refuses to do it – AT ALL, but would rather smear and lie about what Sanders actually said.

        As I said below. Sanders doesn’t have an “old people” problem, he has a corporate media problem which manifests itself through older voters.

    2. John

      As a Canadian Green party member, I’ve noticed a predominance of boomers at our meetings… over 80%. Surprisingly, many of my aging colleagues are clueless about what Bernie represents. For those amongst me, the “mushy politico-speak” offered by Dr. Dorman would enlighten many to Bernie’s movement.

  4. gnatt

    i’m a donor to bernie, the maximum allowed in 2016 and about 60% of that so far this time around (i got so many appeals online from the campaign that i had to ask – three times – to have the volume reduced, because i want to save some money for the actual primaries next year).

    i just was sent a list of about twenty issues that he campaign finds important yesterday and asked to pick which three i found most important. social security was not on the list.

    as recent articles point out, over 40% of people enter retirement age with little or no savings. both parties have been reducing s.s. payouts for decades. a campaign promise – a fighting, angry campaign promise – to give seniors back what is owed them, an attack on chained cpi, especially as trump has now resurrected that dreadful idea, asking for another town hall on fox news and presenting the idea there, could only benefit bernie with seniors. people do vote their economic interests if it’s presented as part of a just desserts narrative.

    1. justsayknow

      The omission of ss is very interesting. It’s #5 on his list of Issues at berniedotcom
      Any chance you could post the twenty issues they sent you?

      1. lordkoos

        This is the Sanders’ campaign email that I received:

        What are the top issues where you believe there is NO middle ground? Please pick three only.

        A $15 minimum wage
        Affordable housing
        Caring for our veterans
        Combating climate change
        Comprehensive immigration reform
        Criminal justice reform
        Disability rights
        Foreign Policy
        Free College
        Getting big money out of politics
        Gun violence prevention
        Improving rural economies
        Income and wealth inequality
        LGBTQ rights
        Lowering prescription drug prices
        Making wealthy pay fair share in taxes
        Medicare for All
        Racial justice
        Wall street reform
        Women’s rights

        Pick three? To me virtually all of these issues should have no “middle ground”.

        1. Skip Intro

          They are almost pure middle ground, if only because of vagueness. Medicare For All is the only one that, IMHO, really resonates, as we know that leaving some in the clutches of the healthcare denial cartel will undermine the universal risk pool that is critical to the functioning of a single-payer system.

          1. rob

            too bad bernie’s med for all bill was so abysmal.
            The fact that it isn’t a “single payer” , but another 1000 payer system, means it is DOA… as far as doing good for this country. It is already set to screw another generation with medical bills, and cost overruns to keep america “exceptional”.
            After all if bernie’s bill was as good as jayapals’ ; then we would be talking…

  5. Chris

    I’m shocked to hear that seniors don’t care about skyrocketing drug prices. Or a jobs guarantee given how many want to work after 65. Or half a dozen other things that Sanders supports since “direct material benefits aren’t enough”?

    I read these articles from established pundits and I wonder who is wrong.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The established pundits are wrong. They’re trying to hold onto power, but the people see through their lies.

    2. Inode_buddha

      Most seniors that I know, don’t get past the idea that Bernie is Socialist. Therefore they don’t hear any of his ideas about drug prices or anything else. Because hes a socialist, and they spent years fighting socialism don’cha know…. same crowd that its always the governments fault.

      1. sharonsj

        I’m 75 and last election my friends, most of whom are liberal Democrats, were primarily for Bernie. On the other hand, my friends are highly educated. I wonder if that’s a factor?

        1. lordkoos

          The local Dems here caucused overwhelmingly for Bernie in 2016. But I live in a college town so there likely are more well-educated folks around here.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It is good Sanders is attracting highly educated voters.

          On the other hand, an uneducated vote is as good, and as valid, as an educated vote. Both counts as one vote.

          We used to administer lliteracy tests, we have progressed from that.

        3. Inode_buddha

          I don’t think so. Most of the seniors I know are well-educated also. They were born before or during WW2. They uniformly think that FDR was a commie spy, and watch FOX all day. Some of these people have Masters and PhD’s, and have retired quite well. Most all of them think its just a case of get a job and work hard and it’ll be OK (no, it won’t) and if only the big bad government would get out of the way…

          So how does Sanders deal with that??

          1. jrs

            Honestly I don’t think committed Rs are Bernie’s to win. They’ll vote Trump or not at all (but probably Trump!). I don’t see the hope for much progress on the actual right that consistently supports Republicans (instead just make sure to turn out Dems, left independents, maybe some non-voters, because converting both committed and privileged R’s, yea good luck with that).

            Biden supporters, shrug who knows, you wouldn’t think so, but many just are going on name recognition it seems. He seems to have the least informed block of supporters out there (maybe vying with Beto supporters).

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      ^^^”…given how many want to work after 65…”^^^
      i’m not so sure how many of them “want” to work after 65.
      there’s loads of grandmothers working at convenience stores and big boxes…and I know numerous grandfathers doing construction, farming/ranching, and other more strenuous activity.
      1. that’s a job that younger folks could otherwise have
      2. i’d bet a ten dollar bill that most of these folks would really like to retire, travel, or just babysit their grandkids…but can’t….which is an indictment of the whole system.
      seems like an easy addition to the narrative.
      not every senior is a wealthy suburbanite with an RV and a boat.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Try telling that to age-racist antiboomeritic antiboomerites, though.

  6. Brooklin Bridge

    Always delighted to hear that I must be a young foot clapping “Bernie Bro.” It does this old geezer’s ticker a world of positive thunking.

    More to the point, I agree with others that this article’s “bring back the good ‘ol days” advice misses the mark of solving Sander’s old folks problem assuming he has one beyond the Portfolio Dems that can smell a stinking, of the people, by the people and for the people Pol a mile away and wouldn’t vote for one if their lives depended on it (which, ironically, they do).

  7. philnc

    Too many retired and soon-to-be-retired seniors are in denial about what is going to happen to them as Social Security and Medicare continue to be crappified. Many think they’ll be able to afford private supplemental health insurance indefinitely, for example, making no allowance for the steep inflation to come in that and many other necessities. Even the inadequate savings they have tied up in private retirement accounts is already at risk, and those who own real property are deluded into believing its equity can carry them forward. It’s time for someone to tell them the truth about what the future holds for them if democratic socialism doesn’t take hold. They need a sustained barrage of detailed economic forecasting shock and awe that will make their personal situation unavoidably clear, instead of the distracting light show being put on by the political and media establishments.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Perhaps *that’s* the “narrative” that could sell older Democrats on Sanders’ campaign…

  8. Jack

    The author said, “Yet we also had steady progress against all these things, made possible by a relatively open political system—in other words, by democracy.” To me, this is a statement that completely ignores the state of the country the last time there was a revolt against what he calls the “plutocracy”. FDR and the New Deal followed and were a part of a tumultuous, strife ridden, ugly, and violent period. There were actual gun battles between union organizers and corporate police. The US Army was even called in to attack the reformers, even once bombing them by air. The bankers tried to stage a coup against FDR by using Gen Smedley Butler and the Bonus Army veterans. I am a senior myself. Bernie appeals to me because he has been so consistent with his politics. He is not a “newcome” to the progressive table. To win over seniors I think he needs to show them he is a fighter and he needs to drop this gentlemanly act and start calling out Biden and the other corporate shills for what they are. The time for partisanship is past.

  9. rod

    well, if this is the advice for the Sen. Sander’s campaign, then it becomes advice to all engaged in pushing forth the Sander’s platform.
    Because it’s not him–it really is US.

    me and you(if you think that Sander’s solutions attack our problems effectively)–we’re the campaign voice to those around us.

    I’ve accepted the fact that if I’m not trying to get him elected, who else is going to do it. Like picking up the overnight litter in front of the house…

  10. lyman alpha blob

    I don’t see why this is an issue at all. Sanders himself and the older generation were born into the New Deal that brought widespread prosperity. It’s what they are used to – social security, medicare, good jobs with pensions, etc. Invoke FDR and that generation ought to be able to relate – not really sure why Sanders hasn’t done this more already, it seems like a no-brainer. And at the same time make it clear the the current Democrat party is no longer the party of FDR as they have run away from his legacy.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Your last sentence is the problem. Seniors still remember good Democrats and are more likely to believe Team Blue is still the Democratic Party.

      I saw a fairly common complaint yesterday about voters in regards to climate change for abandoning Carter for his speech about the environment, but this person so eager to blame voters ignored union voting declines followed Carter’s attacks on trucking unions. Was it the sweater speech or the attacks on unions that hurt Carter who had other problems as well? Instead of seeing Carter as a break from the FDR mold, voters are blamed because the attachment to the myth of the Donkey show is powerful.

    2. jrs

      Really I suspect the generation that remembers FDR is almost all DEAD. That was the WWII generation. And yes many had loyalty to Dems forever after because of FDR etc.. And they knew the harm capitalism did (the Great Depression).

      Their kids (mostly Boomers, I’m an Xer with a WWII dad but but most men didn’t wait till 50 something to have kids) rebelled against this old left. Maybe FDR has some cache among Boomers, I don’t know.

      1. Barbara

        Really I suspect the generation that remembers FDR is almost all DEAD

        Well, not all of us. But you have a point about the difference between the survivors of the Great Depression and the Boomers.

        I’m a member of the Silent Generation. We were among the ones who really benefitted from the New Deal and helped to lead our families out of the working class into the middle class. I went to Hunter College in NY for free – so know that Bernie’s policy is not hokum. And Hunter College, when I attended, was one of the top 10 women’s colleges in the country. I paid $24 a semester registration fee* – and that’s it. And for the first two years, the school lent us books. Then the “information age” hit big time and the school realized that it couldn’t use text books for 5 years and the loaners ended. But I can tell you, the books were a small price to pay.

        By the time many of the boomer generation were in school, their families were already reaping the rewards of the middle class and therefore the transition was not part of their memory.

        *- I recently told this to a great-niece who is in the second year of community college and about to go on to a high-tuition four-year school and she was in shock, knowing what she and her parents are going to have deal with over the next few year. If her lower jaw was not firmly attached to her skull, it would have been down on the floor.

      2. Big River Bandido

        The first of the “Boomer” generation were born in 1946, a year after Roosevelt died. My parents, born in 1938, barely remember FDR and what they do remember is the perspective of children.

        Very few living people have a real connection anymore with FDR or the events that called for his leadership.

      3. 10leggedshadow

        the children of those who served in world war II i thought were called the silent generation. both my parents were born in the 30’s. my mother remembers wwII as a child and her father served in the navy. this generation now in their 80’s, are also the most brainwashed my fox news. My uncle is one of those.

        1. jrs

          my mom’s silent, lately she’s leaning toward: Warren.

          I don’t entirely trust Warren, but not all Warren supporters are going to be turned off by some twitter war over Republicanism, being that they may like her on implemented (the consumer protection bureau has fans) and proposed policy. So might just have to keep talking policy. Plus if they are old, they may come from a less partisan time.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      the problem is that they(again, in my experience) seem to think that all that is still there…that welfare is easy and the 40 hour workweek and labor protections and minwage and all the rest is still trucking along, bouying everyone up…just like in their youth. jess git a jawb, work hard, and you’ll succeed…

      it’s taken me decades to convince my parents that it just isn’t so…and i was almost there, lol…until trump, and russiax3! and “bernie stole it”.
      now i wonder if the intransigence isn’t exhaustion:”you mean we have to start the fight all over again, from square one?!”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        …they(again, in my experience) seem to think that all that is still there…

        That may be the problem right there. Others mentioned that the FDR generation is mostly gone, but I was talking about the boomers, those who were born when the New Deal policies were in effect. My parents were born in 1946 and their generation never knew a time without social security, etc.

        To your point, my dad worked a blue collar job his whole life and is retired with social security and a good pension, plus they lived frugally and saved a lot. My mother worked as a secretary, mostly part time. They still don’t spend much and my dad now jokes that he doesn’t know what to do with all the checks he keeps getting every month. They have a comfortable retirement and now I can’t get my mom to stop watching Fox news. They have me telling them constantly how bad things are getting and how the New Deal they grew up with is mostly demolished, but they have been very lucky to not have any bad health problems, etc. and the creeping neoliberalism hasn’t hit them personally yet, so despite my protests to the contrary, they do still think it’s all still there when for most people it was taken away a long time ago.

        1. neo-realist

          And your dad is also so lucky that he had a blue collar job for much of his working life and a pension on top of his social security when so many of us in the present have cycled through a bunch of jobs in our working life (and a few careers) and have no pension to rely on.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            granddad was the blue collar one. dad was nasa then taking over grandad’s business.
            very different from my brother and i.
            I get my Wobblyness from my grandparents.

  11. Joshua

    My dad and I have this split. He was involved in the civil rights movement in the 60s. My political memory starts with Reagan in 1980.

    The driver is electability.

    He just doesn’t believe Sanders will survive the full-stream assault from the establishment. He remembers how Bill Clinton reinvented the party but I think the fears are driven more by McGovern. Old people have been around a long time — they are cautious. They know that most revolutions fail.

    So talking to him about a return to progress the democratic agenda is pointless. He believes it was basically a fluke that Trump got elected, Hillary just had bad luck, and any moderate politician would have beaten him easily now that people see what a disaster he is.

    I think the path for Sanders to win the nomination is making a compelling case that he can win the MidWest by getting old voters to support him through a combination of (a) turning Trump’s trade war into a class war — “Trump and his buddies shipped your jobs overseas and now want to blame on China” and (b) expand medicare “Vote for me and I’ll lower the eligibility age for Medicare by 5 years every year I am in office.”

    In the primary, the point is convincing people like my dad that you can close the deal in the general.

    1. a different chris

      >now that people see what a disaster he is.

      I would ask Dad what specifically Trump has done that is a “disaster”. How he behaves isn’t really that relevant if he is believed (true or likely not) by a large section of the population to have improved their lives, or even just their chances. I suspect the willingness to rattle the tariff saber is playing well.

      To wit: There’s no indication (not the reporter’s fault methinks, the company is being close-mouthed) of why the below is happening but wanna bet it’s Mexico? Are these people and their families going to be expected to vote as “consumers” when they are losing their jobs?


      1. Amfortas the hippie

        maybe is MSNBC. my mom can’t see past the ugly words and bloated spittle flecked face and the brash tone.
        just about everything trump’s done in office(except tariffs) has been normal at that level forever…just hidden behind propriety, manners and weaselwords.
        immigrant bashing, gay bashing, islamaphobia, poor bashing, disabled bashing….hell, that’s been the gop platform for as long as i can remember.
        they just didn;t say it so loudly and openly and in simple english.
        that he chewed up the dog whistle is his contribution to usa political life.
        the warmongering, too….seems like it’s actually less than obama and clinton did in their time.(altho the rhetoric has been rather hot)

      2. jrs

        Trumps environmental policy is a disaster for one thing, stacking the courts with ultra conservative judges etc.. This doesn’t even mean Obama is good, AT ALL. But I can see why people give up debates with people who don’t seem to understand the changes Trump has pushed and how very bad it is, but just keeping going “but Obama”, yea Obama is bad, but news has happened in the 2 years since then. If all the Bernie supporters I encountered were like that, it wouldn’t sell me that they knew what the heck what they were talking about either. Luckily there are plenty of young Bernie supporters, multicultural Bernie supporters even, DSA members etc., who do understand how bad Trump is as well as how the standard issue Dems aren’t enough.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          his environmental policy has been on the gop wishlist since silent spring.
          energy policy? the same.
          tax policy? the same.
          tariffs and some of the rhetoric about “bringing back good jobs” are the only substantial difference i can detect, beyond questions of style and comportment.
          he’s in many ways the fulfillment of the right wing nutjob dream, and was perhaps inevitable , given their trajectory and evolution.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            To your point, Amfortas…

            I don’t even think Trump should get blamed for the courts, the environmental policies, etc. It’s not as if any of it is his idea. He’s almost had absolutely nothing to do with it. It’s Congressional Republican who are driving the policy boat…

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I don’t know about convincing a person bound by belief.

      -Hillary had the lowest minority turnout since 1996, which was the lowest minority turnout since the 1954 Civil Rights Act. You might note that Bill Clinton didn’t break 50% in 1996 against a rotting corpse.
      -The 2006 and 2008 victories came after Clintonistas were forced out of the DNC. Barack Hussein Obama had a commanding victory, but then oversaw a party that lost 1,000 seats after he restored the ilk of Rahm Emmanuel, a Clinton flunky to power, and dismantled the organizing apparatus that was in place during those previous victories.
      -Then of course, the Clintons ran the party through the 1994, 2000, 2002, and 2004 defeats. Their people were everywhere.

      One problem we have is the perception Bill Clinton is a political genius when in reality they have been living off one election where Bill garnered 42% of the vote. Bill’s thrust to the right has produced little in the way of actual Republican votes. Bill’s approval rating (I question ratings done for anything after the first or second question; once it gets to Gore and W, polls about Bill Clinton are virtually irrelevant) and his “balancing of the budget” didn’t produce wins for Al Gore. Florida in 2000 was marked by (besides the cheating) George W. Bush doing very well with non-Cuban Hispanics under the age of 40. The whole point of Lieberman was to win Florida by appealing to seniors who didn’t approve of Bill’s lifestyle and Jewish retirees. Joe didn’t deliver a win, and arguably people who should be voting for Gore went for Shrub.

      When Democrats did something else, they won commanding wins. 2006 was a bleak map. The Senate should not have been in reach. Organizing allowed Democrats to take advantage of breaks such as the Senate race in Virginia. You don’t win that race if it revolved around determining which Hollywood celebrities would give the best fundraiser.

    3. jrs

      Yes, I think Boomers have historical experience of more left Dems not being electable. So this knowledge came by (perhaps bitter) experience.

      Only everything may have changed, with the Great Recession, economic precarity, ever rising costs, low wages, the collapse of the middle class, and oh yes how could I forget: complete biosphere collapse with the IPCC saying we have a decade for radical changes of everything.

      But those who still think the old rules apply can’t see this: that we may actually live in revolutionary times. And that their caution may be making impossible the best attempts at peaceful revolution. That America may be closer economically to the early 20th century that it is the mid 20th century, only yea with biosphere collapse. Some Boomers may have wanted revolution but in a time of prosperity and the timing was sadly wrong (look if they had succeeded things would not be so bleak, but prosperity blinded people). Much of that prosperity is gone though.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Except that it was Clinton and his buddies who shipped the jobs to China. And it is Clinton and his buddies that Sanders will have to run against hardest of all. After all, it IS the Catfood Clintonites who conspired against Sanders last time and are conspiring against Sanders this time.

      I’m not sure that a narrative which tries to blame Trump for all the things that Clinton did . . . will be successful.

  12. political economist

    What Sanders needs to do to appeal to older Democratic voters is to remind them that he is the most Democratic candidate as revealed by the fact that he has been shown to be the most partisan of any Democratic senator and even more partisan than the most Republican senator (Cruz). In other words, it is the current Democratic Party that is not Democratic enough, not Sanders. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/who-are-the-most-partisan-senators-220365

    He should also point out that single payer will help seniors more than anyone as the average retired couple will pay well over a quarter million dollars in out-of-pocket medical expenses. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/health-care-costs-in-retirement-continue-to-rise-heres-what-you-need-to-know-2019-04-02

  13. Bruce Wolman

    There is plenty within Bernie’s program for seniors which should receive more attention & emphasis. M4A would (or must) address many of the concrete problems commonly faced with Medicare/Medicaid, i.e., senior living & nursing home costs, non-reimbursed 3-day observation admissions, restricted rehab reimbursements and underfunded home health care, no or limited dental coverage, hidden costs in Medicare Advantage, and absurd formularies and co-pays under Medicare Part D plus the donut hole. Bernie should also address pension haircuts, poor public transport for seniors (many of whom drive long past the time it is safe for everyone), low interest rates for senior savings, accelerating rents and property taxes, and the needs of the majority of seniors with no rainy-day savings for emergencies. Most importantly, he should hammer home that unlike other ideologies his social democratic program does not pit the young against the old, being a political program that provides max security & social support through all stages of life.

  14. John B

    Hate to say it, but none of these strategies sound that compelling to me. Sanders is not new; older Democrat primary voters have had plenty of time to formulate their opinions of him. Sounds like his only hope is Biden implodes — and Sanders needs to help that along. He’ll have to go negative at some point, in some fashion.

    1. Big River Bandido

      He’ll have to go negative at some point, in some fashion.

      Biden is his own worst enemy. I don’t think he’ll make it past Iowa — if he even gets that far.

      If there’s any “going negative” to be done, I think that’s up to Sanders’ supporters rather than the candidate himself.

      1. lordkoos

        I think Biden is a loser, he represents wishful thinking on the part of the Democratic party establishment.

    2. neo-realist

      The debates will be an excellent opportunity for Sanders to challenge Biden on the Social Security and Medicare issues. He should say more or less that he will fight for payment increases and funding for both; What will you do Joe? Would also be an excellent question for the policy light Mayor Pete (Plan B establishment candidate?) as well.

    3. Skip Intro

      I disagree. The argument I have made to older Democrats is that Bernie is the only one who can beat Trump, precisely because of his appeal to youth and independents. Only Bernie has the credibility with the General Electorate to counter Trump’s populist message, so for Democrat seniors, probably full of anti-Trump vinegar, beating Trump is a priority that should motivate them to vote for Bernie.

  15. XXYY

    For those of us in my generation who have seen all of this in our own lives, the era of reform and progress and then the era of blockage, this is our final opportunity to leave our legacy to the young. It is an opportunity to recover the idealism that once, in the days of people like Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, seemed almost mainstream but now demands a revolution. We know what America was like before it became a plutocracy, and we can come together again to return to the path of democracy. This is not about returning to the past, but returning to a possibility we knew when we were young that the future could be ours to win. One way or another, we will leave a legacy to our children and their children’s children. Let it be this legacy of democratic possibility.

    This is literally, exactly, Bernie’s message, and has been for decades. He more or less says these words in every single speech. Has this dude ever even listened to a Sanders speech or been to one of his rallies?

    I think we can check this box. Any other suggestions from this guy?

  16. NoBrick

    The narrative seems to be based on the “Still crazy after all these years” premise.
    Crazy, doing the same thing again and again, expecting a new result…
    THIS time, the pols are telling the truth.
    This time, the vote of “we the poeple”, will undermine the ceded power, of the unelected-
    appointed dictators calling the shots.
    This time, the “keys” pitched by the “experts”, will unlock the gates of utopia.
    This time, the master’s tools will dismantle the master’s house.

    When I think back on all the crap I learned in Ben Dover school, it’s a wonder I can think
    at all…

  17. Barbara

    80-year-old Bernie supporter here. I think Professor Dorman is making the same mistake many millenials make when they wail about talking to their parents about Bernie. They amass logical arguments that do make sense and would make sense as arguments if people’s political actions were based on logic. An example:

    I am a life-long Democrat on the left. I have a friend who is an old cloth coat Republican who has been appalled by, in turn, Bush Jr., Obama, and in 2015, the prospect of Trump and in 2017 and beyond the actuality of Trump. (tbh, I was equally appalled at the above as well as at Clinton – both of them.) We have both been women with strong marriages who raised children while holding down jobs. In other words, our attention for many years was not first and foremost on the news stream and whenever we were unhappy with the behavior of our respective political party doings, we assumed that somehow the situation would right itself.

    In 2015, my friend told me that we were not as far apart politically as I thought we were. “I’m very interested in this Bernie fella.”

    We talked over several months – and we talked policy- Bernie’s policies. So her cross-over was based on logic – right?

    One day she said, excitedly, “Did you hear? Michael Bloomberg may be running for President.”

    So? I said.

    “Don’t you see – he’s just like Bernie!”

    I pointed out a few very salient differences between Bernie and Bloomberg.

    She waved away my objections for the real truth: “Don’t you see – they’re both strong men.”

    There you have it. If she equates Bernie with Bloomberg on the basis of their being “strong” men- irrespective of policies, then we’re not talking a logical reason for supporting a politician but a personal, emotional one.

    And this is something that is discussed by Ed Walker, a contributor at EmptyWheel in the following post: https://www.emptywheel.net/2018/01/02/on-pierre-bourdieu-part-3-habitus/
    This post concentrates on the world-view of people developed in the early years of life that can blind them to change as it occurs. It was part of an inquiry on Walker’s part as to why people vote against their own interest.

    Remember my friend and me, in our main child-rearing years, attention to politics took a back seat. A few things: my husband is still alive, still teaching – although he officially retired last week; my friend, who is in her mid-80s, lost her strong marriage partner while in her 50s. Might that not explain her attraction to a strong man in a candidate, irrespective of policies?

    Why do I suggest Walker’s piece? By the 80s, my kids had grown up. When Bill Clinton started campaigning for President, I suddenly woke up. What the hell! He’s not talking like a Democrat. But I shrugged and voted for him anyway. The real wake up call came in 2000 with the Supreme Court deciding our election. I’ve been awake ever since, but feeling terribly guilty. How could I have missed all the signs? Walker’s piece on Bourdieu made things clear for me. It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a starting point.

    I do agree with Professor Dorman that there should be an outreach to older voters, but merely reminding them of the New Deal is not going to do it. And as this campaign is relying on people power to get the news out, the best thing they can do is understand the emotional nature that is often behind people’s choices. Right now, from reading some reddit posts, it seems like younger people are at their wits’ end with the “obtuseness” of their parents. Finding out what’s at the center of their parents’ motivations and some empathy might help.

  18. Code Name D

    Sanders does not have an “old people” problem. What he has is a corpreate news problem which manifests itself through older voters.

      1. Code Name D

        Sadly, I fear that everything that can be done, is being done. Bernie has a strong social media presence, does live speeches when ever possible. He has his own you-tube channel. What more can be done?

        I might argue these venues are under used, but they are being used to some effect.

        Older voters assume that the corporate news is as reliable as it was in the 70’s and 80’s. My last conversation, my dad tried to “educate” me regarding journalistic standards – the corps have it, while the “fake news” such as RT, Jimmy Dore, Redacted Tonight, basicly work for Puten. (Yay, he said that.) So any internet sources I bring up – is automatically rejected as fake news. It can even be video footage. I showed him video of Saint Muller talking about Iraq having WMD’s and his said the footage was photo shopped (another Rusan plot, no doubt).

        At the end of the day, the older generation has to practice basic skepticism. It’s one of those things you can’t do for them.

  19. Tim

    Older conservative folks think Bernie will bankrupt the country. They won’t listen to any “appeal”.

    Bernie’s only hope is legion turnout of young voters.

  20. Amfortas the hippie

    running all of the above through the alembic of walking away and getting really high while making magic enchiladas…
    some say repubs are a lost cause, some say that corpodems are…
    maybe so. but i think we’re categorising people all wrong.
    it’s those who are comfortable who won’t be brought over to the side of the angels.
    that comfortable class is shrinking, with lots of folks falling out of it all the time…usually while pretending not to fall for as long as they can.
    is this not the most salient feature of todays’ electorate…nay, general population?
    the working class former tea people at the feedstore i’m always on about…why were they so interested in my bernie sticker in 2015…when none of them would have been just a year or two earlier…and in fact would have been quite hostile?
    what changed for them?
    similarly with all those people in and around the hospital?
    what made them suddenly amenable to socialised medicine? after 100 years of operant conditioning towards the opposite?
    the status quo experiment lies in tatters, and the only thing holding it together is habitual belief in it.
    that habitual belief is also in tatters, because so many people can’t ignore the dissonance…they can’t “put it on the card” any more.
    the tatters are whipping in the wind, and slapping more and more people in the face.
    where i live, the only people involved with any kind of seriousness with either party are, to a person, comfortable.
    for all the shenanigans that we rightly expect, from both parties, i don’t think this disbelief/feelings of betrayal/crisis of legitimacy can be forced back into the tube.
    the trick will be to keep the ire of all and sundry pointed where it belongs.
    a tall order, indeed, given the machinery arrayed against us.
    but since trump arrived…. here, in rural texas, i’ve heard not a word in all my eavesdropping and surveillance of those around me about “bad mexicans” being the cause of our problems…or about “liberals”, for that matter(save for the above mentioned true believer rump partisans).
    that is a remarkable phenomenon, and incongruent with just about all of my experience prior to 2015.
    we’re somewhere inside one of those inflection points, i think.
    so get out there and frelling evangelise.

    i love threads like this.
    i’ll be thinking of you all when i take wife to chemo manana(although, after 270 miles in a day, i won’t be worth shooting)

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