January 29, 2016

Sanders vs Clinton: Who's the real "can do" candidate?

For many of the more ardent backers of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, their bottom line, their fallback position, against Bernie Sanders and his supporters is that she will be more effective as president, because she's more pragmatic, and this has made her more effective in the past.

Well, it's time to put this to an empirical test.

And, the survey says?

Bernie Sanders. And, it's not really close, to be honest.

Many of these Clinton backers have made "pragmatism" into a shibboleth, in place of substantive, consistent campaign positions, while at the same time thinking that "pragmatic" always,and "magically," whether with or without substance behind it, translates into "efficacious." And, as far as their claims to pragmatism, they ignore that Sanders as mayor, AND also as Representative/Senator, whether pragmatic or whatever, has gotten a lot accomplished.

There's yet more here from Vox, of all places, on the "can-do" spirit, or the efficacy, of Sanders.

The story, if you will, by Matt Yglesias, comes largely from a Facebook post by Nevada State Rep. Lucy Flores, who is now a candidate for Congress.

It bears extensive quoting. (I won't quote quite as much as Yglesias):

I was a junior in college when the reality of today’s economic and social injustice hit me squarely in the gut with soul crushing force. After managing through my own set of difficult circumstances – escaping the cycle of poverty and dysfunction that included abandonment by my mother, gang-involvement, a stint on juvenile parole, a teenage abortion and becoming a high school drop-out - I was working several jobs to get myself through school at the University of Southern California. 
One of those jobs was assessing kids involved in a long-term study on the impact of early learning on brain development.
She then speaks of a particular case:
And then it struck me: this bright kid, this happy, starry-eyed kid, this kid with all the potential in the world, had nothing. … 
I gave it all to him. Then I said, “Ok, I have to go now. Have fun coloring your sheets. And remember to read at school every chance you get!” He happily nodded as he walked back into his filthy apartment. I walked to the sidewalk, sat on the curb, and sobbed uncontrollably. I sobbed with despair I hadn’t felt, well, ever. I knew as soon as I walked away what was likely in store for that kid – I knew the odds were against him, just like they were against me. … 
And I knew I was powerless to do anything about it. Until I realized that I wasn’t.
Until I realized that change is achieved one person at a time, one day at a time, and one vote at a time.
I think about this boy all the time. I wonder if he beat the odds. I wonder where he is. I wonder if he’s still alive. He still makes my heart hurt. I thought about him when I first heard Bernie Sanders speak. … 
(O)nly one of these candidates makes me think of that young boy in South Central Los Angeles– and that’s Bernie Sanders.

She ends:
I believe that Bernie Sanders will lead the charge, with many millions of Americans behind him, against the unfettered Wall Street greed that has threatened the very existence of the middle class and shackled so many more to permanent poverty.
And then says she supports a political revolution.

Yglesias, of all people, then brings out the efficacy angle:

(S)he connects Sanders and the Sanders campaign not to a particular policy proposal but to a sense of personal efficacy. … She discusses the merits of both candidates a bit, but she closes again on the efficacy issue.
Interesting, indeed. 

Yes, Republicans will fight him. And? Obama gave them a neoliberal, big-business insurer friendly health care reform bill, and they called him a socialist. 

Sanders didn't get all he wanted as mayor of Burlington on the land trust, which is what that top link is about, but he got a lot, with a mix of fighting against and winning over, both business conservatives and some liberals in town and their voices on the Burlington city council. Along the way, Sanders showed himself to be pragmatic enough to see that, at least in Burlington, this was a better option to rent control and housing subsidies.

In the House and Senate, especially when he entered the House, his potential for effectiveness was again doubted, per that second link. Instead, he helped get bills passed for restitution for white collar crime victims (sounds logical?), funding community health centers, expanding low-income heating assistance, "greening" federal buildings and more. Click that link to see the whole list.

Bernie Sanders as pragmatic — a principled pragmatism — and efficacious. Gee, sounds like an alleged version of Hillary Clinton.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton as senator has a relatively thin track record. (Not as thin as Barack Obama, but, Clinton wasn't making the "pragmatism" or "get things done" in 2008.) Twenty Dems responded to a "takedown" rhetorical question from Carly Fiorina about what Clinton had done in general. Almost all talked about her time as either Secretary of State or as First Lady. Few talked about her time as Senator, and even when they did, it was more in terms of platitudes than actual legislation.

And, as for her Secretary of State accomplishments, trying to give her majority credit for things like the Iran deal that were wrapped up under John Kerry? That's a stretch. It's a huge stretch to claim that she had any real role in taking down bin Laden. Claiming that she made the State Department better than it had been under BushCo? Per one of Shrub's few statements that are often true, that's "soft bigotry of low expectations," the same phrase that explains why her warhawk, drone-loving boss got a shiny prize from some folks in Norway.

It's an even bigger stretch, is Ed Kilgore's comment at the end of the second page, that she's had a formative influence on universal health care. First, we don't even have that yet. Second, Hilarycare was an even greater clusterfuck than Obamacare, something only a true neoliberal could love.

Speaking of that, most the commenters on that page? Mainly neolibs and insiders. Bill Burton, as noted, ran an Obama Super PAC. Howard Dean? Ugh. Harry Reid? Better, but also the top Dem in Congress. Anita Dunn? Dear Leader's first communications director. Chuck Schumer? A Dem who fellates Wall Street even more than Clinton. Bill Richardson?  Suck-up extraordinaire who's been out of the political spotlight for years. Chris Dodd? Another fellator of the Street. Paul Begala? Clinton consigliere.

Bill Scher? Left-neolib at best and apologist for Dear Leader's Spy State. Patrick Leahy? Not horrible, OK. David Alexrod? Puhleeze. Neera Tanden? Neolib of neolibs, working at the shop run by Clinton's campaign chair. Center for American Progress and Center for America's future show why the word "progressive," the way it comes out of their mealy mouths, is worse than the word "liberal." Tracy Sefl? Noted as a Hillary Clinton adviser. Hillary Rosen? Lobbyist. Doug Schoen? Identified as the Slicker's pollster.

Barbara Boxer? Other than in-state enmity against Fiorina, especially since she's retiring, why is she letting herself be quoted? Because she's a gender feminist who endorsed Clinton way back in 2013. Less left than she tries to give the impression of being. Howard Koh? Clinton's legal counsel at State. Probably gave her back-door advice about private emails.

Dennis Kucinch? Has become a fucking laugh who long ago crapped his own bed. Donna Brazile? Clintonista and Inside the Beltway media hack. Ed Kilgore? Neolib who calls himself a Bull Moose Democrat.

In all of this, to me, that response list to Fiorina was kind of an embarrassment for Clinton, if anything. If another Democrat had raised her rhetorical question, many Dems on that list probably wouldn't even have answered.

It's also kind of an embarrassment to the Democratic Party. A dog's breath of ward heelers and hangers on, for the most part. Beyond those are that, this also shows that most elected, or election-connected, Democrats, like Republicans, think their constituents are more conservative than is true.

Beyond that, per Adolph Reed, since Bill Clinton ran for president pledging to "end welfare as we know it," his record of actual accomplishments is kind of thin.

Hell, Bernie's even got better rockers and rappers fronting for his appearances than Hillary does. Let alone the fact that he's got Spin writing about it, which I am sure will NEVER happen with her.

And, speaking of, as for whether Sanders "can do" in this year's Democratic primary slate, along with issues of superdelegates, possible coverage bias and more, I take a look at all of that right here.

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