Greetings. I’m here thanks to the good sportsmanship of Professor Lemieux, plus dumb luck. Last August I watched a press conference given by Donald Trump. He totally wiped the floor with the assembled journalists and persuaded me that he would be politically invincible. I proclaimed in Scott’s Internet presence that Trump would be the nominee of the Republican Party. Scott doubted it to the extent that he was willing to enter into a wager. His winnings would be twenty bucks, mine would be a one-day pass at LGM.
Why my interest in this blog? Because it has been a hive of Hillary-mania, and I am quite the other thing. It’s an opportunity to set the record straight on delusions about the Sanders campaign. We might agree on quite a few things, but today I’m not bringing coals to Newcastle.
I plan to support Ms Clinton in the general election. She is the nominee. There is no other viable option. In his June 16 Internet address, Sanders set two immediate tasks for his followers: influencing the Democratic Party platform and defeating Cheeto Jesus. After November I will revert to criticism of Democratic Party orthodoxy and leadership. It’s not a new thing for me. I was onto Bill Clinton before 1994, as his betrayals began to blossom. The Clintons are the gravediggers of U.S. social-democracy. But there is a more urgent task just now.
A bit of personal background: I’m an economist who started blogging in the early days of the form, roughly 2003 to 2007. I hope to resume on a full-time basis in the near future. I have no connection to the Sanders campaign. I did offer to quit my job and work for them, full-time, but that entreaty fell on deaf ears. I doubt it affected their electoral performance, but I like to think I could have tuned up their policy material.
The fundamental misconception that befuddles the vast bulk of anti-Bernie commentary is the failure to appreciate that the Sanders movement is not a mere electoral campaign. To get press coverage, anybody running for office must insist that he or she is serious about winning an electoral contest. If you concede that point, you are dead meat, news-wise. A candidate has to pretend it’s always all about winning. For the Sanders campaign, it was always about more.
In this light, all the yammering about delegate math and convention leverage is utterly beside the point. I couldn’t care less about delegates, never did. I don’t give a shit how Harry Reid’s machine ramrodded the Nevada convention. I don’t care about uncounted ballots or super-delegates. In boxing, it’s said that you can’t beat the champ on points; you have to knock him out. There was no knock-out, whatever you think about anybody’s adherence to election or caucus rules. By the mores of bourgeois politics, Hillary stole it, fair and square. But the movement survives, bigger than ever. It must persist through the convention, the November election, and subsequently.
What we are witnessing is historic, not an accumulation of delegates by an ordinary politician. We have witnessed the resumption of an uprising against business as usual, as practiced by the Democratic Party as usual. Moreover, the development of the Internet has meant that for the first time ever, such an insurgency can obtain ample financial resources. This is big. This is bigger than the election of another Democratic president.
We could trace it to the Seattle festivities, to Occupy, to Black Lives Matter, and to Obama’s electoral triumphs. As articulated by Sanders, the revolt centers on the pardons afforded to the commanding heights of finance by the Obama Department of Justice; on decades on wage stagnation and its opposite, the ‘Fight for $15’; on the prohibitive cost of post-secondary education, the key to upward mobility in a slack labor market; on the fragility of access to medical care; on fears as to the future habitability of planet Earth.
I don’t know about you, but to me this is pretty damned interesting! It underlines the inanity of those dopey “socialists for Hillary” commentaries. At a recent book event in my area, one of the authors summarized this school of thought as (paraphrasing) “I am foursquare against U.S. Imperialism, but some Bernie Bro on Twitter . . . “
The nomination of a woman by a major party is historic too, but the nomination of this woman takes the bloom off that rose. The electoral victory of someone emerging from an oppressed class or group is interesting because it promises breakthroughs for those denied the full benefits of citizenship. As far as the interests of African-Americans are concerned, the election of Barack Obama has gone over like a gigantic lead balloon. Apprehensions along similar lines attach to Hillary Clinton. I’m glad that the elections of both make many people feel better, but just being there is a low standard of accomplishment.
The usual moderate exception taken to progressive ideas has been a pragmatic one: “We agree with your proposal but it isn’t practical.” This objection is now exposed as disingenuous. The actual responses of Clinton, Inc. to progressive ideas has been principled ideological rejection, attended by a bodyguard of whispered slander, overt demagogy, and false victimhood.
In the posts that follow, I will try to defend these claims in more depth. As the day goes by, I will also respond to commenters. Thanks in advance, as we used to say in Blogovia, for reading and writing.