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The Two Democratic Primary Winners

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humprhey1948dncgo

I really liked this Harold Meyerson piece, considering where the Democratic Party is after the primary. He argues that both Clinton and Sanders won the primary because the latter won the battle of ideas and represents the new direction in the Democratic Party, even if the former is the nominee.

Clinton changed her positions to embrace his—and the number of issues on which Sanders changed his positions to embrace hers. By my tally, the presumptive nominee reversed her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership to one of opposition; reversed her stance on slowing the rise of Social Security benefits to increasing those benefits; opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline, which as secretary of state she’d said she was inclined to support; moved to embrace a $15 minimum wage in some cases; and backed off her earlier enthusiasm for charter schools.

Sanders’s challenge was far from the only reason she switched her positions, of course: The unions and environmental organizations that backed her also pressured her to shift her stances; Senator Elizabeth Warren also mounted a powerful challenge to many of Clinton’s initial positions; and the party as a whole was clearly moving left: The percentage of Democrats who call themselves liberal has doubled since the 1970s. But if Sanders hadn’t mobilized millions to his cause, it’s hard to imagine Clinton repudiating so many previous positions in favor of more progressive ones.

As to the number of issues on which Sanders changed his positions to embrace Clinton’s: I can’t think of any. To be sure, as the campaign developed, he became more comfortable discussing issues of social, and not just economic, inequality, but he began that transition when first challenged by Black Lives Matter protestors, well before the Clinton campaign was paying any attention to him.

The second, and more fundamental, measure of Sanders’s ideological victory was his success at placing the issue of economic inequality, and a range of remedies to combat it, at the center of Democratic discourse. In the mid-1960s, at the height of the broad prosperity of the postwar period, the Democrats, under Lyndon Johnson’s leadership, rightly redefined their mission as one of extending the rights and economic security that white working- and middle-class men had won under the New Deal Order, to those left out of the deal: At first, African Americans, then women, immigrants, other racial minorities, gays, lesbians, and transgender individuals. During those decades, however, the vibrant and relatively equitable economy that existed at the time of Johnson’s pivot slowly crumbled, as unions were decimated, manufacturing offshored, jobs subcontracted, and income shifted from labor to capital. The diminution of the middle class was an issue to which the Democrats came late, and it’s taken Sanders’s candidacy to re-position that issue at the center of the party’s concerns.

The question now for Meyerson is how to build upon this. For him, the answer is for organized labor to take the lead on making issues of racial, social, and economic justice central to the Democratic Party platform in Philadelphia.

Indeed, there’s a happy precedent for unions pushing a center-left presidential nominee to embrace a more progressive, and popular, platform. In 1948—the last time the Democrats held their convention in Philadelphia—President Harry Truman, the party’s nominee for re-election, favored a bare-bones, insubstantial civil rights plank. The CIO unions, particularly Walter Reuther’s United Auto Workers, had joined with other progressive organizations to back a full-throated civil rights plank, though the White House did not encourage their efforts. Minneapolis Mayor Hubert Humphrey had said he’d give the speech putting the plank before the convention, but fearing White House disapproval, he decided the night before not to speak. UAW attorney Joe Rauh argued with Humphrey all night, until, at 5 a.m., Humphrey agreed to give the speech. When he did, the following day, it was a stemwinder, sweeping the delegates off their feet. At the prompting of their union-member fellow delegates, they voted for the plank; four Southern state delegations walked out and formed the short-lived Dixiecrat Party, which ran South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond for president. But the plank, which Truman then embraced and ran on, won him much liberal support and enabled him to reduce support for the third-party candidacy of former-FDR-Vice-President Henry Wallace to just 2 percent in the November election.

Will the unions do for Clinton what they once did for Truman? Will they play the role they’re well positioned to play, helping shape a progressive program that will appeal both to Clinton and Sanders supporters and the electorate at large? They’ve worked hard to win the votes they’ll wield at the convention. They should put them to good use.

It’s somewhat interesting that it’s 1948 Meyerson uses as his touchstone, not because it’s inaccurate but because some on the left still call the CIO sellouts for not backing Henry Wallace. In any case, despite its weakened state, organized labor is in better shape for pushing this agenda within the Democratic Party than in 1948. First, there are no Dixiecrats to worry about. The party is united and farther to the left on many issues than it has ever been. Second, the largest unions are also the most politically progressive unions–SEIU, AFSCME, AFT, and NEA. Sure, some of the building trades folks are going to vote for Trump, but those unions have never been nearly as close to the Democratic leadership as the UAW and USWA used to be and SEIU and AFT are today. Third, those unions have done a ton of work in the last 4 years fighting against inequality, including SEIU’s work on the Fight for $15 and UFCW’s now largely defunct but still somewhat important Walmart campaign. And it’s not just a chip they can cash in; it’s become the central message of the Democratic Party in 2016 because it’s the central message the Democratic Party base wants to hear and demanded to hear. Bernie Sanders deserves a lot of credit for this of course but so does organized labor, especially for doing a much better job than Sanders of connecting economic struggles with racial inequality. Let’s hope for a vigorous platform fighting all forms of inequality.

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  • Murc

    I really liked this Harold Meyerson piece, considering where the Democratic Party is after the primary. He argues that both Clinton and Sanders won the primary because the latter won the battle of ideas and represents the new direction in the Democratic Party, even if the former is the nominee.

    And boy, are some people in denial about that.

    I mean… predicting political trajectories can be hard. In 1960 if you’d said “fifteen years from now the Democratic Party will have passed enormously impactful Civil Rights legislation and be well on its way to permanently ejecting the Dixiecrat wing” people would have pointed and laughed at you. Or, at the very least, said “Well, the people pointing and laughing aren’t wrong to be skeptical.”

    If you’d said in 2000 “in fifteen years the Republican Party will nominate Donald Trump for President on a platform of ethnic cleansing and open white nationalism. He will defeat the son of President Bush in the primary” you would have gotten a lot of raised eyebrows.

    But that said, I’ve seen a lot of “oh, the Democrats don’t actually mean it” from people who should know better.

    Probably the prizewinner is this piece of insanity from Tiger Beat on the Potomac. It argues, no lie, that the Democratic Party pf the 2020’s might be more pro-business than the Republicans, that the Democratic Parties main constituency is the wealthy elite (!), that the culture wars are over, and that immigration isn’t a culture-war issue. It says that the Republicans of the future will favor universal social insurance policies and the Democrats will oppose them. That populist labor liberalism is on the decline within the Democratic Party.

    The closest thing to making sense it does is assert that eventually Latinos will be considered white both by themselves and by society as a whole, which is theoretically possible but unlikely even in as long a timeline as fifteen years.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Do you see immigration, or even racism, as a culture war issue?

      I’ve always thought of culture war issues as gender/sexuality rooted: The Sexual Revolution, Feminism, Housewives vs Working Mothers, Gay Marriage, Transgender Bathrooms, etc.

      • Murc

        Do you see immigration, or even racism, as a culture war issue?

        Absolutely, although I will also be the first to admit that there isn’t exactly an official Culture War Manual of Style.”

        Because the objections to immigration, going back to the founding of the country, are usually rooted in “they’re gonna pollute the country with their dark skin/heathen ways.” So yeah. That’s the culture war.

        • ThrottleJockey

          My thinking may have been clipped due to the focus of our culture war these last 15 years…Its hard to remember now since Hill stole the phrase back in 2008, but back when the term “glass ceiling” was first introduced, it was by Elizabeth Dole’s Labor Department as a description of the discrimination that both women and minorities faced in getting promoted.

          Instead, people say that Hill will shatter the glass ceiling, not noting that Obama did it 8 years ago.

          • brad

            Uhhhh, wat?

            The concept of the glass ceiling was originally introduced outside of print media at the National Press Club in July 1979. This was at a Conference of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press led by Katherine Lawrence of Hewlett-Packard. This was part of an ongoing discussion of a clash between written policy of promotion versus action opportunities for women at HP. The term was coined by Lawrence and HP manager Maryanne Schreiber.

            5 seconds of googlewiki.

            • ThrottleJockey

              Brad–How old are you? And do you even read the footnotes of the links you cite?

              I was an adult so I didn’t have to “Google the Wiki” when the term was introduced, and the term first widely became known as a result of Elizabeth Dole’s Dept of Labor report, a fact you would realize if you had read the footnote attached to your very own block quote.

              Were you even out of diapers when she issued that report? Were you even conceived yet?? Had your parents even met yet???

              Thanks to the leadership and vision of Secretary Elizabeth Dole—and that of her able successor, Secretary Lynn Martin— the Department of Labor became closely involved in identifying and publicizing the glass ceiling problem, issuing a Report on the Glass Ceiling Initiative in 1991. Senator Robert Dole, who introduced the Glass Ceiling Act in 1991, praised Martin’s report, noting that it “confirm(s) what many of us have suspected all along—the existence of invisible, artificial barriers blocking women and minorities from advancing up the corporate ladder to management and executive level positions.”

              • brad

                You mean a footnote to a history section about the term which concludes in 1991 apart from a status update of sorts from 2012-14 data?

                I’m old enough to remember it being used in common parlance in the 80s, but then I also grew up with Ms. magazine in the bathrooms. I’m about your age, TJ, and frankly you should be embarrassed if you think that’s the origin of the term or its intro to popular reference.

                • DrS

                  If TJ were embarrassed by a fraction of the things he should be embarrassed about, he’d have no time to post more things he should be embarrassed about.

                • ThrottleJockey

                  Don’t take my word for it, Mr. Google the Wiki, take Google’s word for it. From ~1990-98 use of the term quintuples.

                • brad

                  I’ll defer to Hob just below regarding the movement of those goalposts.

              • Hob

                TJ, if you didn’t mean “first introduced”, you shouldn’t have said “first introduced”.

                I think a lot of your posts are pretty poorly thought out, but at least you usually refrain from insulting people when they point out a flaw with the literal meaning of what you said, even if you meant to say something somewhat different. The “diapers” crap is totally uncalled for.

                (You may also note that the same Wikipedia article describes the term being popularized by the Wall Street Journal in 1986. That’s a pretty influential venue— I was a freaking high school student at the time and the term still reached me. Congress doesn’t generally name commissions with terms that are very obscure at the time. And yes, of course even more people started using the term once the Congressional commission was in the news, but that still doesn’t mean it is fair to say it was “first introduced” in 1991, let alone get pissy with people who correct you on that point.)

          • Thom

            Good point, but my way of hearing that metaphor is that there are multiple glass ceilings, all with potential to be shattered. One person cannot do it for all.

            • ThrottleJockey

              I think that’s the correct way to see it; but that’s no longer how its colloquially understood. The definition has changed.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Moreover:

            That affirmative action has produced benefits–especially for white women–is beyond question. In large numbers, white women have been able to rise as far as middle management, and now hold about 40% of those jobs. The picture is bleaker for African Americans, the very population whose problems affirmative action was created to redress. According to the federal report, black women hold about 5% of middle-management jobs, while black men hold 4%. Latinos are represented in even smaller numbers.

            But the glass ceiling (a phrase coined by the Wall Street Journal in 1986) remains intact.

            What keeps it whole are unfounded and seriously stupid stereotypes, a lack of mentoring, and fear–among other things. Latinos, the report says, are perceived as being not as highly motivated, although they have the highest work-force participation rate of all ethnic groups. Women are thought to miss work more often than men, but (excluding maternity leaves) they have a lower absentee rate than men.

    • Philip

      I mean… predicting political trajectories can be hard. In 1960 if you’d said “fifteen years from now the Democratic Party will have passed enormously impactful Civil Rights legislation and be well on its way to permanently ejecting the Dixiecrat wing” people would have pointed and laughed at you. Or, at the very least, said “Well, the people pointing and laughing aren’t wrong to be skeptical.”

      If you’d said in 2000 “in fifteen years the Republican Party will nominate Donald Trump for President on a platform of ethnic cleansing and open white nationalism. He will defeat the son of President Bush in the primary” you would have gotten a lot of raised eyebrows.

      And if you’d told most people in early 2007 that we would elect a black man whose middle name was “Hussein” president the next year, you’d have been laughed at.

      • Murc

        And if you’d told most people in early 2007 that we would elect a black man whose middle name was “Hussein” president the next year, you’d have been laughed at.

        This is true, although I think if you’d followed that up with “I’m talking about Barack Obama. Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein” you’d also have gotten a lot of the people who laughed going “Oh! Well, yeah, him specifically? I could maybe see that.”

        • Philip

          Well, substitute 2004-pre-convention for 2007 and you would get the same effect though. Until very shortly before it happened it was completely unimaginable, which gives me a lot of hope for the future of this country. Wins seem completely impossible right up until we get them.

          • bender

            Shucks, it took me a solid year after the election to believe it, and I happily voted for the guy. With the exception of Eisenhower, previous Presidential surnames were from the British Isles. I’m guessing Barack comes from the Arabic for “blessing”. I note that he dumped the Americanized “Barry” when he grew up. That seems to have been the right decision, since Barack is far more dignified.

            • tomscud

              Plus some Dutch. (Roosevelt, Van Buren).

    • Linnaeus

      Probably the prizewinner is this piece of insanity from Tiger Beat on the Potomac. It argues, no lie, that the Democratic Party pf the 2020’s might be more pro-business than the Republicans, that the Democratic Parties main constituency is the wealthy elite (!), that the culture wars are over, and that immigration isn’t a culture-war issue. It says that the Republicans of the future will favor universal social insurance policies and the Democrats will oppose them. That populist labor liberalism is on the decline within the Democratic Party.

      I don’t always agree with Lind, and I’m not fully convinced by his piece that you linked, but I think you’re being unduly harsh by characterizing it as “insanity”.

      With respect to your last sentence, populist labor liberalism appears to have made something of a resurgence within the Democratic Party and may be a lasting trend. It would be a mistake, however, to get too complacent about that potential, because there are other forces working to gain influence in the Democratic Party. Tech sector billionaires, for example, and they are not sympathetic to populist labor liberalism at all.

      • Cassiodorus

        Exactly. When the Silicon Valley wing of the party and the union base disagree, it’s been the positions of the tech sector that have won out, be it charter schools, trade deals, or H1B visas. In fairness, that tech sector strength has been more positive on environmental issues.

      • joel hanes

        there are other forces working to gain influence in the Democratic Party. Tech sector billionaires, for example

        This is why friends don’t let friends vote for Ro Khanna.

        • mongolia

          Been a constant refrain to anyone who’d listen (and some that have tuned out) for the past 2 years around here. Need to have Honda knock him down again, though the primary result isn’t particularly promising in that regard, especially if the R’s all vote for Khanna.

    • Cassiodorus

      This has long been Lind’s hobby horse, going back to “The Next American Nation”: the oligarchies are using things like affirmative action to feed racial resentment. It ends up being bizarre because he’s part of Third Way groups like New America, but the argument has a strong tone of far-leftist “ending capitalism will end racism.”

    • AMK

      If you said in 2000….

      The GOP’s hedge fund vs. flyover split and the regression to the basest elements of its base was eminently predictable in 2000 (I think you can make an argument that Bush II actually put off the inevitable for 8 years by being a unique combination of Yalie big money legacy and bumblefuck persona). What’s surprising is that the neo-fascist agent of that split is Donald Trump, instead of, say, Senator Oral Roberts Jr.

  • Owlbear1

    It’s definitely true that Bernie not changing his message helped Hillary win the nomination.

    Thanks Bernie.

    How long are we going to have to put up with this “Bernie was the real winner” tripe?

    • Other than not actually winning a race it would have been a shock of the century to win, how did Bernie not do wonderfully?

      • FlipYrWhig

        Wasting far too much time talking about the nomination process than about the economic issues that supposedly were his campaign’s raison d’etre. See below.

        • TopsyJane

          At present he also seems to be distracted not only by the nomination process but by seeking various heads on a pike (and not just according to Politico). So much for the revolution. Well, that’s the Bernie his Senate colleagues know and put up with, I understand.

          I’ll consider his honorary winner status when he actually admits that he lost a race that he had already lost, in effect, months ago.

          All that said, I’m happy to allow that Clinton would probably not be talking about free community college at this particular moment if not for Sanders. He doesn’t deserve all the credit for Clinton’s shifting leftward, but he certainly deserves some.

          • PohranicniStraze

            I thought heads on pikes were an essential part of any revolution worth the name?

            • TopsyJane

              I should hope not. However, even if such were the case, right now Sanders seems more interested in settling scores. Let’s hope this livestream on Thursday doesn’t reflect that.

            • Ahuitzotl

              how 19th century of you. Heads on datapens, please

      • Owlbear1

        His pandering has put Democrats in a position of making promises that will fail to materialize and once again cost us a midterm election.

        • Murc

          His pandering has put Democrats in a position of making promises that will fail to materialize and once again cost us a midterm election.

          I am somewhat sympathetic to this as a line of argument, Owlbear, but the Democrats aren’t going to be able to fulfill any election promises beyond “responsibly administer the already-existing edifice of the executive branch.” Hillary cannot make good on hers any more than Sanders could, no matter what they are, because we almost certainly won’t control the House.

          But that doesn’t absolve you of having a platform. Every American political platform ever, with the possible exception of Trump’s because I really do believe Trump thinks he’s running for king, has the unstated qualifier “… subject to our ability to get this agenda past multiple veto points.”

          If us succeeding in the midterms depends only on making promises we can keep (which it doesn’t, because elections are decided mostly on the fundamentals and our midterm fundamentals are weak)) then we’ve already lost. Because there aren’t any promises we can make that we’ll be able to keep that aren’t very anodyne.

          • Owlbear1

            Bernie has pushed Democrats into the realm of a fairy tale and it will be the Democrats who get blamed for not reading it correctly.

            • Hogan

              If Bernie had won the nomination, you’d have a point.

              • Owlbear1

                The entire point of the article was how Bernie had pushed Democrats to his policies.

            • Murc

              Bernie has pushed Democrats into the realm of a fairy tale and it will be the Democrats who get blamed for not reading it correctly.

              … this is so non-responsive as to be nearly incoherent.

              • Owlbear1

                He has set an expectation in many people that a Government Program can solve all their problems.

                • DrDick

                  Which is absolutely true for a large portion of the problems he addresses. Of course, no such program will pass as long as the GOP controls one house of congress.

                • witlesschum

                  Oh, my stars and garters.

      • EliHawk

        He did fine, but the key takeaway is that the actual future of the Democratic party isn’t Bernie’s platform, but the resilience of the diverse Obama coalition, which actually, you know, picked the nominee by overwhelming margins. The ‘Future of the Democratic Party’ is ever more clearly something that Bernie’s campaign was clearly not: Diverse.

        • witlesschum

          The idea that “the Obama Coalition” has a big objection to Sanders’ platform of more full-throated economic liberalism doesn’t seem established to me. It’s a binary choice and people chose Clinton, whose policies weren’t that different, who was more well-known among Democrats and who more closely tied herself more closely to President Obama.

          • EliHawk

            It is a binary choice, but it’s bizarre to see people tout Sanders’ platform as the future, or the real choice of Democrats/the Obama Coalition, when the other candidate, with a different platform, won that coalition. It was a binary choice alright, and Sanders, with his platform, lost. By a lot. And did the worst in places, like cities, where the most Democrats are (and are becoming more Democratic). His electoral maps often looked like the usual November ones, with his territory being the red counties.

            • This is awfully simplistic. It’s true on a superficial level, sure, but it also totally ignores that Sanders was a dark horse candidate who came out of nowhere while Clinton had effectively been campaigning for 4 years. I know that Clinton supporters want to downplay Sanders and make it sound like they received a resounding victory because people don’t like Sanders, but that’s not really the case, except to say that the people in various states liked Clinton or Sanders better at a given point in time that led up to the nomination. But if we moving off simplistic analyses based upon primary grudges, I think the story has to be more complex than this.

              • mongolia

                One thing I’ve been curious about this election is how much of Sanders support from the non-left is really just low-info voters voting for the classic “Generic Democrat.” As in, they basically assume Sanders is a standard boring white male Democrat, and that they dislike Hillary because of either Iraq (legimitate IMO) or some implicit or explicit sexism. Point being, that if “not Hillary Clinton” was going to get, say, 20+%* of the vote anyways, then adding on leftist voters and nearly all of the youth vote – who appear to be voting for him for a combination of ideology, identity politics, and standard youthful idealism – could get you to the 40-45% of the vote Bernie got, without really representing a sea change in the views of the broader Democratic base.

                *-don’t have data for this number, meant more as a thought experiment for contexualizing Sanders support

                • EliHawk

                  Point being, that if “not Hillary Clinton” was going to get, say, 20+%* of the vote anyways

                  Looking at Huffpost Pollster, coming into the cycle, HRC’s total support was around 60-61%. If you assume as is reasonable that that came with about 100% name recognition among Democratic voters, that left about 40% for whatever reason open for an alternative or not voting for HRC from the start. Two hundred million dollars later, Sanders got that up to 43%.

              • EliHawk

                people in various states liked Clinton or Sanders better at a given point in time that led up to the nomination.

                I think that’s some of the most simplistic explanation I’ve seen, and it’s awfully simplistic to say that he was, by the time the primaries got going, a “dark horse candidate who came out of nowhere” because, by January, he wasn’t. By mid-summer 2015 he was more or less the annointed anti-Clinton, and had a base of support and small donor money. He spent over $200 million in this primary, $25 million more than Clinton. He spent more than Cruz, Trump, and Rubio’s campaigns combined. In most states after March, he outspent her by at least 2 to 1. And he still lost, quite badly for a two horse race. He lost the popular vote 57-43, he lost elected delegate 55-45. He lost 13 of the 15 biggest contests (and one of those two wins was the Washington Caucus; when there was a higher-turnout primary, he lost). He won upper New England, Wisconsin, the Pacific Northwest, low turnout caucuses in the Republican plains states, and places (OK/WV) where he was Not Clintbama. Whether it’s New York, Illinois, California, Michigan, or Pennsylvania, he lost Blue counties, and won Red ones.

                More importantly though, he lost black voters overwhelmingly, and Latino voters substantially, and he lost them everywhere. These voters are the core of the Obama coalition and the core of the ‘expanding Democratic majority’ in the post-Obama era. Once he had the money to play out the string, this ended up being a contest of demographics, and no amount of money or message he shoveled out onto the election moved those voters–solid Democrats.

                His message had plenty of an opportunity to get out there, and it did not penetrate communities of color in any real substantial way. He had the money and he had the time to get his message out, and a substantial part of the Democratic coalition was not receptive enough to it to vote for him. Various retrospectives and hype pieces have told us that his platform and his message are the core of the Democratic Party, or the future of the Democratic Party, but it was delivered to the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party rejected it by a solid majority for an alternative vision. When you can spend that much, bombard the airwaves so thoroughly, you don’t get to tout a participation trophy and being a dark horse. You just don’t.

                • UncleEbeneezer

                  Also, Bernie’s mostly-White (insert obligatory #NotAll caveat) supporters can play the take-our-ball-and-not-vote game with a much greater freedom and effect than Minority voters. They have greater influence both through % of population, $ and a White Supremacist society that amplifies and listens to their voices, and they have the luxury of being able to actually follow up on the threat of abstaining or voting 3rd Party, if they choose to. So it’s not surprising that we are talking about Economic Inequality rather than Police Reform, Gun Violence, Immigration, etc.

    • Murc

      How long are we going to have to put up with this “Bernie was the real winner” tripe?

      Awhile, because it isn’t tripe. It’s a commonly-used rhetorical device. Example: “The real winner of the 1980 Carter vs. Kennedy slapfight was Ronald Reagan.”

      The argument that Bernie was the real winner because it is his ideas and policies that will control the party going forward is not at all risible.

      (The argument that he was the real winner because Hillary supporters rigged the primary results in a bunch of states, which I’ve seen, is a risible one. But that’s not the one being made here.)

      • ThrottleJockey

        Until we see Clinton actually start pushing these things and not just paying them lip service, I won’t believe it. Remember these people are triangulators…If we could take the Clintons at their word, Monica Lewinsky would just be a lowly intern.

        • witlesschum

          I fully trust President Clinton to want to be reelected and not face a strong primary challenge from the Sandersish wing of the Democratic Party, so I’m not sure triangulation and doing whatever she can to push more liberal economics etc are actually in opposition.

          • ThrottleJockey

            I don’t see zombie Teddy Kennedy running against her, so I’m skeptical that that’s sufficient enough a bulwark.

            • jim, some guy in iowa

              the surprise to me, considering your support of gun ownership, charter schools, etc, and your fear of terrorism and worry that the Democratic party is taking too aggressive a stance on abortion, is that you say you *don’t* want a centrist triangulator for President. You come off as more a moderate Republican who’s stuck with us than a liberal pining away for Ted Kennedy

        • I think making the reproductive rights speech was a pretty strong signal that she will not be triangulating to the center (and I say that as a Sanders supporter who has be wary of Hilary). This wasn’t just a defensive speech trying to maintain the embattled status quo, it was a call to go after the Hyde Amendment and strengthen reproductive rights. It was one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen this campaign – and at a time when she wasn’t being pressed on the issue, she was choosing to go there.

      • FlipYrWhig

        But that presumes that Hillary Clinton didn’t have plenty of ideas about addressing equality and inequality until Bernie Sanders came along, which isn’t true. My hunch is that the only real shift in Clinton positioning prompted by the unanticipated strength of the Sanders challenge was on trade. You can’t tell me that Hillary Clinton, intersectional feminist, wouldn’t have been talking about inequality if she had run against non-Bernie candidates like Martin O’Malley and Andrew Cuomo. Lest we forget, she ran in 2008 as the grizzled veteran straight-talkin’ lunchbucket candidate.

        • Philip

          You can’t tell me that Hillary Clinton, intersectional feminist,

          ???

          Clinton is many things, but well-loved among the people who take intersectionality seriously she is not. A lot of them use her, along with e.g. Sheryl Sandburg, as the faces of everything wrong with white, corporate feminism.

          And you can argue that Sanders gave her cover to shift leftward in ways she already wanted to, but her entire political history suggests that her default is cautious center-left.

          • FlipYrWhig

            Yes, because a lot of people who think they take intersectionality seriously are immensely and thoroughly full of shit. Someone who cut her teeth at the Children’s Defense Fund and launched legal aid clinics and rape crisis hotlines has always been intersectional, not to mention her recent status as a champion of LGBT and people-of-color causes of all sorts. To label her career “white, corporate feminism” is to be an enormous fucking idiot.

            • Philip

              her recent status as a champion of LGBT and people-of-color causes of all sorts

              Which is exactly why they don’t trust her. Her career also includes doing awful things to those groups. If you want to give her credit for following the Democrats’ middle as it improved on those, you have to ding her for doing the same when the Democrats’ middle was awful on those issues.

              Someone who cut her teeth at the Children’s Defense Fund and launched legal aid clinics and rape crisis hotlines has always been intersectional

              What?

            • Linnaeus

              Hillary Clinton did cut her teeth at the Children’s Defense Fund, but by the 1990s, there was significant tension between Clinton and Marian Wright Edleman over welfare reform:

              Hillary’s schism with her former friends in the advocacy world was profound. Ahead of Bill’s signature, Marian Wright Edelman, Hillary’s early mentor and the president of the Children’s Defense Fund, where Hillary once worked, wrote an open letter calling on Bill to veto the legislation, saying it “would be a great moral and practical wrong” for him to sign it. In an interview with Democracy Now! in 2007, she said, “Hillary Clinton’s an old friend, but [the Clintons] are not friends in politics.” Edelman’s husband, Peter, resigned from his post as assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services just after Bill signed the welfare-reform law, as did HHS officials Mary Jo Bane and Wendell E. Primus. Following his resignation, Edelman wrote an article in The Atlantic about welfare reform entitled “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done.”

              • FlipYrWhig

                Correct. IMHO Hillary Clinton’s liberal cred was used as ideological cover for Bill Clinton’s welfare reform initiative, and she deserves the slings and arrows that come with her willingness to have done that. But nonetheless Hillary Clinton is not a creature of white corporate feminism, much less a latecomer or a poseur when it comes to the interests of everyday people including people of color. If anything she was a social justice warrior avant la lettre.

                • Linnaeus

                  To be clear, I don’t think Clinton is merely a corporate feminist or that she doesn’t understand intersectionality. Just as Sanders got criticism (rightly) for trying to make a little too much out of his support for civil rights in the 1960s, Clinton shouldn’t be able to ride overmuch on what she did in the 1970s Bryce Covert makes a good point in her piece: Hillary Clinton has never really repudiated welfare reform and she won’t unless she is pulled to do so.

            • ThrottleJockey

              not to mention her recent status as a champion of LGBT and people-of-color causes of all sorts.

              Say whaaa…? Whatcha talkin’ ’bout Willis???

      • EliHawk

        I’m amused that the 2012 Democratic Presidential campaign, where inequality and anti-Big Business populism were front and center, was apparently invented by Bernie Sanders sometime in 2015.

        • ThrottleJockey

          I loooove me some Obama but front & center is a stretch…

          • EliHawk

            I mean, the campaign song was Bruce Springsteen talking about “We Take Care of Our Own” and the message on Mitt Romney was he’s an evil plutocrat who wants to outsource your auto job, give Wall Street millionaires another huge tax cut, and Ryan wants to take away your Medicare. It was pretty front and center populism, it just also included things like immigration reform and women’s rights that appeal to people other than White men. A good chunk of Sanders’ message (Wall Street Bad, Billionaires Bad, Health Care Good, Affordable College Good) is taking standard Democratic Red Meat, adding a garnish, and people hailing it as freshly discovered haute cuisine.

  • CrunchyFrog

    It’s important that Clinton keep on the current track on these issues. Right now things look like she’ll have an easy victory over trump, but 3 weeks ago it looked very different and things could change a lot more before November. In addition, there is a non-zero chance that Trump drops out if things get too one-sided in the polls and his VP may take his spot and appear as “fresh” and “likable” in October, meaning that a lot of voters may swing away from Clinton unless she’s given the voters something to vote FOR, not against.

    Finally, it’s important that the Democrats start pointing out that Trump *is* the GOP – his winning the primaries is not an aberration. Otherwise if he does drop out the GOP will be able to pretend that they expelled the racist from their midst and sweep all of the things he said – which GOP voters loved – under the rug.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      While I’m still skeptical that Trump will end up being the Republican nominee, his VP nominee can’t “take his spot” in October. That would be after the ballot deadlines for every state, AFAIA. Trump’s name would still be on the ballot as the Republican presidential nominee at that point even if he declared that he was dropping out.

  • FlipYrWhig

    It still strikes me as over-interpretation and/or wishful thinking to say that the core of the Sanders campaign was “placing the issue of economic inequality, and a range of remedies to combat it, at the center of Democratic discourse.” I feel like that was the original rationale but that after Michigan all of the “economic inequality” stuff languished, to be replaced by the “corrupt system”/”rigged election process” stuff that Sanders proceeded to harp on for several months. If the reason for that was that Clinton co-opted Sanders’s message on inequality, so that we didn’t end up needing to hear about the many ways in which they agree about things, fine; but I’m still not sure why the campaign that was supposed to be all about economic inequality got so over-invested in delegate math, open vs. closed primaries, and proper fundraising methods.

  • marduk

    Oh dear. Sending out the bat-signal to all the obsessive anti-Sanders trolls like this can’t be a good idea.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Is simples, as the meerkat says:

    Bernie won the Vanguard Democratic Party primary and Clinton won the Mass Democratic Party primary.

    • LosGatosCA

      Bernie won the Vanguard Democratic Party primary

      Bernie won the primary of projections by people who don’t like Hillary.

      And he served as a wakeup call to the Democratic Party that a significant portion of the base is not happy about Hillary, default positions, DWS, etc.

      We’ll see what happens next. Especially if the House remains in Republicans hands. Hopefully the Democratic Party can avoid circular firing squads in a way the Republicans haven’t been able to since 2006.

      Luckily, Trump is the worst possible candidate the Republicans could put up – except for all the otherz- and if the House actually swings, that may allow the Democrats to avoid some of the nastier conflicts.

      • LosGatosCA

        OK – Game on

        “A new Bloomberg poll published Tuesday shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 49 percent to 37 percent among likely voters nationwide. It also showed that 55 percent of those polled said that they would never vote for Trump.”

        49% for Hillary
        55% never Trump

        Bernie’s job is to crush Jill Stein.

  • howard

    just to take a stroll down history lane, humphrey’s endgame – apologist for vietnam in the johnson administration and then cranky old man in ’72 – always saddened me tremendously, because 1948 was a famous enough stemwinder – and launched a national career that until he became johnson’s vp was roughly comparable in impact and scope given the different times to elizabeth warren’s today – when i was still a kid that i had a soft spot for him.

    which doesn’t mean i wasn’t young enough not to try and talk my parents into sitting ’68 out, but that’s a separate story saved for october and any lingering sanders bitter enders.

  • EliHawk

    As to the number of issues on which Sanders changed his positions to embrace Clinton’s: I can’t think of any.

    Here’s one: Guns. He pretty blatantly flip flopped on gun manufacturer immunity during the campaign.

    • bender

      I wondered at the time why he didn’t just say, “I voted that way on the bill because I was representing the views of the people who elected me. I personally favor [the provision he voted against] and as President, I will work to get it enacted into law.”

      For someone whose appeal was supposedly straight talk, I think that would have gone over fairly well.

      • UncleEbeneezer

        I agree. I was doing the best I could for my State’s constituents, but now I have 49 more States to represent, seems like a pretty good and honest explanation for changes in policy stance from the State-to-Federal transition of being an elected servant. Same would go, obviously, for Hillary and her connection to Wall Street.

  • JB2

    “You’ve both worked very hard. And in a way, you’re both winners…But in another, more accurate way, [Hillary] is the winner.”

  • paulgottlieb

    I think Meyerson overstates the importance of Bernie Sanders in influencing Clinton to the left. The most important factor in play in this election is that the median Democratic Senator is far more liberal than the median Senator in 2008, and way more liberal than the median Democratic Senator Bill Clinton needed to work with in 1992. The only worthwhile legislation is legislation that becomes law.

  • paulgottlieb

    I don’t know if Sanders every really budged from his initial view that Planned Parenthood and Black Lives Matter were just annoying special interest groups, but at least he quit saying it out loud. I guess that’s progress

  • australianrulesquidditch

    >believing hillary changed anything

    Don’t worry lads, Trump will protect you from free trade and throw in ending muslim terror for free

  • Latverian Diplomat

    I guess I’m not seeing the connection between Sanders pushing Clinton left and the labor unions pushing Clinton left.

    AFAIK, most of the big unions endorsed Clinton (NEA, AFSCME, UFCW, SEIU, etc.). Now maybe the rank and file broke more for Sanders, I don’t honestly know. Even if that’s true, is that going to change what these unions ask for/do for Clinton in the short term?

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