Bernie Sanders exits, stage left.

That was a helluva speech Liz Warren gave. It’s unfortunate it had to be today, though, and not tomorrow, because I would have loved to have seen Bernie Sanders’ speech at RFK stadium. He was a couple minutes into it, subdued, almost pensive, like an immense weight was upon him. Where was he going with this? How would the crowd respond? I was transfixed. Suddenly it’s a split screen, and Liz Warren came walking out onto a stage, beaming. Bernie, exhausted, was speaking but you couldn’t help but be distracted by the electricity in Elizabeth Warren’s stride. Bernie was telling the crowd that his campaign is doing something different. It is telling the truth, he says, as he has said a thousand times–when the audio switches without warning to Liz Warren and Bernie is cut off mid-sentence. We hear Liz Warren launch into one of the greatest speeches in our modern political history. It was that good. Bernie’s stump speech was forgotten. None of the talking heads even mentioned he had been speaking. They were all about Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It’s like Bernie was never even there. Bernie Sanders, the man who had upended American politics, who had dominated every Democratic conversation. Bernie Sanders, who is all anyone could talk about yesterday. Bernie Sanders, who held the fate of the nation in his hands. But through the magic of live television it seemed like Warren’s star had risen, instantly, and Bernie’s had waned, just as instantly. Was it intended that way? Who knows. But it did make for exciting television. Will it have an electrifying effect on Bernie voters? No doubt, especially the under thirty young women who had been so loyal to Bernie Sanders and not so crazy about Hillary Clinton. Elizabeth Warren had changed the political demographics instantaneously. Liz will definitely win over the Millennial women for Hillary, a young under thirty journalist said, if not the Bernie Bros. Bernie Bros. She rolled her eyes saying it, as if ill mannered, foul mouthed Bernie Bros were suddenly a relic of an older, more primitive time. Angry young men with no respect for women in a women’s world.

But this was not the way this should be happening. I’d been waiting for hours for Bernie’s speech. It was supposed to be a major speech. All the news networks were waiting for it. It was to be broadcast in its entirety. This was to be one of the most significant speeches by the single most significant politician of 2016. “How Bernie Sanders’s day in Washington got eclipsed by Democratic unity” said the headline in the Washington Post. It had all happened so fast. If only somebody could have worked the timing out, coordinated the two events, but perhaps they just were determined to have Elizabeth Warren scorch Donald Trump before she endorsed Hillary this afternoon. And scorch him she did, beautifully, rehearsed to perfection, leaving a pile of cinders where once a big loutish billionaire had been.

There was a lot of stagecraft today, that was obvious, the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton campaign and Elizabeth Warren’s every move choreographed to perfection, without a wasted motion. Smooth and perfect. Political tai chi. Meanwhile Bernie, good honest Bernie, truthful Bernie, crusading Bernie, is left looking like William Jennings Bryan in Inherit the Wind, somehow immediately dated, a relic from an earlier time when he left crowds spellbound and chanting his name. Bernie’s speech today seemed divorced from reality, said the usually sympathetic Huffington Post, scolding him for pretending his campaign was not over. But you had to scroll way down to find that story, it was buried far beneath Elizabeth’s Warren’s enormous photo and name in huge red letters. Scroll down past Marco Rubio’s picture, and a bit further on, between an article on mosquitos and an article on a hit and run driver, was Bernie’s small picture and smaller font, an afterthought. “It would be extraordinary if the people of Washington, our nation’s capital, stood up and told the world that they are ready to lead this country into a political revolution” Bernie told the smallish crowd, just a fraction of the turnout he’d gotten in Los Angeles only days before. But Tuesday’s Washington D.C. primary, would be the last stop in the political revolution, and he will lose it like he lost the South, by a huge margin. Bernie knew that. He had told President Obama just that morning he understood the math. But he was putting on the show for the true believers spread out on the lawn before him. They cheered, they swooned, they knew the catechism by heart. Stay in the race, they chanted. Some said they’d write in Bernie Sanders on the ballot come November. He smiled wanly. It’d been scarcely forty eight hours since the California primary, but that seemed like another time.

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Feeling the Bern

Feeling the Bern:

“I think I’d actually like to see trump win. You see, every system must completely break down before it can reform in a higher state. Trump being president will just hurry the process along. And it will be incredibly entertaining.”

One out of five white male Bernie supporters will vote for Donald Trump.

Bernie Sanders and the very last primary of 2016

Bernie said in Santa Monica tonight that he will continue the fight for every last delegate. Yet the one remaining contest is the primary next week in Washington DC, and if demographic trends continue as they have in every other single race with comparable demographics, Bernie Sanders will get creamed. It could be 80-20 for Hillary. It is a guaranteed complete humiliation, yet he is making his last big push there, even calling for an army of volunteers and maximum effort. Today’s results were bad enough, but by announcing it is his last stand, he is bringing all the Washington and campaign press corps’ attention on his final disastrous defeat in the nation’s capitol next Tuesday, a contest that otherwise would have been a small item in the news. It’ll just make his campaign look like a failure. At least he won two of the six states tonight, but he cannot win anything in the Washington D.C. primary. And what is after that, the Super Delegates? Being blown out of the water in the last nine contests is a way to impress the Super Delegates? Because in a four day span Bernie Sanders lost the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico, and California primaries. Next week, add Washington D.C. to that list. In the three biggest of those, the ones with most of the delegates–Puerto Rico, New Jersey and California–Bernie was crushed. Three Hillary landslides. She expanded her delegate lead by hundreds, and in a four day span Hillary Clinton increased her popular vote total over Bernie Sanders by about 800,000 votes. Bernie Sanders won the Montana primary and the North Dakota caucuses. That is it. Fighting for delegates this late in the game is not doing him any good. Indeed, it’s weakening him. He was a much bigger candidate just a week ago, making demands, promising an upset in California, getting more press than Hillary. He’s not so big now. He’ll be even less big after next Tuesday.

Bernie and Barney

I suspect Bernie’s demand that former congressman Barney Frank and Connecticut governor Daniel Malloy be removed from the Democratic Platform committee has more to do with his being thin skinned than with politics…both have gone after him in ways that Bernie found upsetting (not to mention effective). Frank has exposed weaknesses in Bernie’s Wall Street reform policies (he was brutal after Bernie’s stumble with the Daily News) and Malloy has been furious with Bernie since Bernie unfortunately sided with the NRA on a couple votes after the Sandy Hook shooting. Bernie lost Connecticut, in part because of Malloy’s impassioned campaign against him, and he earlier lost Frank’s state of Massachusetts. But in particular Bernie got stomped in New York after a huge investment of resources, money and credibility, and doubtless Frank’s incessant appearances in the news after Bernie’s tongue-tied Daily News interview helped with that stomping.

But such an angry demand leaves Bernie’s own Platform Committee choices–e.g., James Zogby, Cornel West–open to demands they be booted on the same basis (especially West, who has been extremely critical of Hillary Clinton and President Obama) and as such it seems less driven by strategy than by temperament. Perhaps it actually is a sign that he, as Rachel Maddow suggested, is planning on forcing a contested convention by any means possible…but I am not convinced this was all that Machiavellian. I just think that Bernie hates the guys. He and Frank, in particular, have been arguing for decades. They have never gotten along and it has carried over into the campaign.

Of course, things like this are also a useful way to drive fundraising, as the Sanders campaign’s already weakened cash flow money will start drying up even more once the primaries are over. The campaign will have to force a series of such confrontations that will get lots of media and social media coverage and keep some funding coming in. The fact that Bernie is making these demands now, before the primaries are even over, is probably not accidental. He is still telling his supporters that they will win all the remaining contests, a belief that is critical in driving social media debate on this. He won’t win all of them, as he must know–he will lose New Jersey, Washington DC and Puerto Rico definitely, New Mexico probably and is still behind in California, where he would have to win his first ever primary in a state with less that 75% white voters–and if he does lose those races, his demands will have a lot less force behind them. So now is the time, as Bird said so emphatically on his horn.

The debate that ain’t happening.

(I dashed this off late last night (or early that morning, actually) and then before I posted it, word came down that The Donald don’t debate with no losers. So the great Trump-Sanders confrontation never happened. But here is my analysis anyway.)

I think the reason that Trump is considering debating Sanders is that he knows it will get him some of Sanders’ votes after Hillary is nominated. Sanders’ angry young white male supporters are ripe for the picking. Trump will wind up with maybe 20% of them in November. Maybe more. None of the female Sanders supporters, but a fat slice of the men. It’ll vary by state. Probably fewer from California, not that it matters. But lots from West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Florida…states where the race will be tight and the impact of those voters switching from Sanders to Trump could be decisive. Remember that 44% of Sanders male voters in West Virginia said they plan to vote for Trump in November. West Virginia is doubtless an extreme example. But 25% of Sanders’ Millennial males in Ohio, where races tend to be extremely close, could turn the state.

The angry Millennial men voting for Sanders are not a monolithic bloc. Most will vote against Trump–over 50% anyway–but maybe 40% will vote for Trump simply because he will shake things up. Men tend to vote for other men, more often Republican than Democratic men, and are suckers for an angry man. Reagan got most of that vote in 1980, including a lot of liberal Democrats, Nixon got the men’s vote in ’72, and a George Wallace got nearly 20% of Gene McCarthy’s vote in 1968, again mostly men.

And keep that in mind, this debate would be a brilliant coup by Trump. The Bernie Sanders movement is not immune to Trumpmania. There is an element among them–white men, nearly all of them, mainly young white men–to whom a crazy macho guy like Trump is exciting. You may think he’s an idiot. I may think he’s an idiot. But for a great many of us dudes, Donald Trump is somebody who can shake things up.

As the campaign heads into the fall, I think one of the top stories will be that large bloc of Bernie voters who, like the 27% of Kennedy voters in 1980, will say they will vote for Trump because he will shake things up. And in fact, for such an event not to happen, Millennials will have to be completely different from their equivalents in 1980 and 1968. To preclude the prospect of a huge number of Bernie voters becoming Trump voters you have to assume that the almost 90% of Bernie Sanders supporters among Millennials will vote as a solid bloc in November, something that has never happened before in American electoral history, ever. Far more likely is that at least a quarter of them will vote for a populist Republican.

It’s important to remember that white men almost always vote for the conservative, and by a large margin. And they will vote for Trump, by a considerable margin. Bernie must have his reasons for offering to debate Trump–it was his idea, he slipped the question to Jimmy Kimmel–but Bernie will not stomp Trump in the debate. He might score points, and his supporters would love it, but he won’t dominate Trump as we wish somebody could for once. It’s a Hail Mary pass, though, probably scoring Bernie a few points in California, but in the long run Trump benefits more. Bernie is looking to pull off an impossible upset at the convention. Trump is looking at all those angry young men who will vote for him in November.

Millennials are evenly split between Trump and Hillary.

Here’s a shock no one expected. Millennials are evenly split between Trump and Hillary.

Which means the reason that Trump has closed with Hillary is due almost entirely to a massive swing by Millennials to Trump if Bernie Sanders is not the nominee. In March Millennials preferred Hillary to Trump 64-25. In May it is 45-42. No other age group shows differences of more than low single digits. Bernie’s fierce attacks on Hillary these past two months have not changed many voters’ minds except among those under thirty years old, nearly half of whom now detest Hillary and the Democratic party so much they see Donald Trump as the better alternative. It’s not Bernie or Bust for those kids, it’s Bernie or Trump. Racist Trump, misogynist Trump, bullying Trump, some even say fascist Trump, he has now become the choice of half of the under thirty vote. Keep in mind that only 20% of Bernie’s supporters still believe he can be nominated. So most of those who are prepared to switch their allegiance to Trump after the primaries are done have already made up their minds, and somehow they are able to transition from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump like it was nothing. How I have no idea. Bernie and Trump have nothing in common except a mutual antipathy for Hillary Clinton. But apparently that is enough.

I just read a long, beautifully written and scary piece by Josh Zeitz in Politico (“Why Bernie’s Bros Might Go for Trump“) that showed that in 1968 18% of the young white supporters of Eugene McCarthy voted for George Wallace that November, rather than voting for the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey, a quintessentially New Deal Democrat with an excellent record on civil rights, was seen as the enemy who had stolen the nomination. McCarthy’s voters switched to Wallace in huge numbers, though many came back, reluctantly, to Humphrey after Wallace selected super hawk Curtis LeMay as his running mate. Still, that 18% who voted for Wallace in the end was more than enough to give the election to Nixon.

And in 1980, when Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Jimmy Carter failed after a strong finish, twenty-seven per cent of Kennedy’s primary voters voted for Ronald Reagan rather than vote for Carter. But it gets worse:

A New YorkTimes/CBS exit poll revealed that 38 percent of Reagan voters cast their lot with the former California governor because they believed it was “time for a change.” Only 11 percent voted for him because “he’s a real conservative.” “It’s the first time I ever voted Republican,” said a Michigan resident. “But I’m sick and tired of the mess that’s going on in this country.” (Zeitz, Politico)

That is, over three times as many people voted for Reagan in 1980 because “it was time for a change” than voted for him because he was a conservative. They wanted change for the sake of change. That is Trump all over, who seems to be running for the sheer fuck of it. How many voters will vote for him for the sheer fuck of it? Apparently half of Millennials, who would not benefit one iota from a Trump presidency. Just two months ago, in March, Millennials were overwhelmingly opposed to Trump. He was the butt of their jokes. But that was before the Bernie Sanders campaign began its scorched earth campaign, driving his voters into a frenzy of anti-Hillary and anti Democratic Party hatred. And a lot of them do hate Hillary now, and it’s a mean and angry hatred–remember that scene in Nevada? And as Trump is mean and apparently angry–if his is genuine anger instead of crude political theater–he is a natural draw as Bernie’s campaign comes to a bitter end. Thus the stunning result of half of voters 18-29 years old becoming Trump voters. Just as the Bernie campaign swelled to huge crowds out of nowhere, this transition was stunningly fast. If Trump wins this November, it could well be white Millennials that put him over. Bernie’s voters. He had nearly 9 out of 10 millennials at the beginning of the year, but that didn’t mean they were socialists after all. Maybe half were. The others just like rallies and excitement and free college, apparently.

This is a kick in the stomach to Bernie Sanders. Perhaps he and his campaign manager are so caught up in their war to reform the Democratic Party they haven’t noticed. But early on, in New Hampshire, this was all about a huge wave of Millennials who would rise up as one and vote for democratic socialism. That was forgotten sometime in March and April, when the campaign got caught up in a series of ferociously contested caucuses. He won all of them, but in doing so the message changed from winning hearts and minds in primaries to the bitter intra-party trench fighting that is a caucus. Suddenly rules and parliamentary tricks and backroom chicanery takes precedence, and the two sides glare and shout at each other across crowded rooms. Democracy is not really important there, it’s all power games, and the other side becomes the enemy. Bernie’s campaign piled their fervent activists into these caucuses like they were at war to make up for their catastrophic losses in the South. By the time the race got to New York, Bernie’s revolution had degenerated into accusations of cheating and fraud and voter repression, and Hillary’s campaign and its supporters became blood enemies. It was an unrequited hatred, mostly, though I don’t think Hillary’s campaign and its supporters realized they were hated with such intensity until that explosion in Las Vegas.

So now nearly half of Bernie’s voters are Trump supporters. It’s a potential electoral disaster for Hillary, but its worse for Bernie’s legacy. His kids, the Millennials, the ones who cheer his every word and are the foot soldiers of the Bernie Revolution, well half of them aren’t revolutionaries at all. Indeed, they have abandoned his revolution in droves for its real arch nemesis, Donald Trump. Half of Bernie’s young army has deserted democratic socialism, his revolution is in tatters, and he may well have spawned a wave of very angry white men reactionary politics. Feel the burn.

Bernie Sanders appoints Dr. Cornel West to the Democratic Platform Committee

Dr. Cornel West called “Brother Trump” (his term) “an authentic human being” and has called Obama things I would not feel comfortable writing here. He has since rescinded on Brother Trump (Brother Trump is now a narcissistic neo-fascist) but has doubled down on President Obama. What I can’t figure out is why Bernie put him on the Democratic platform committee. For his service to the campaign? West helped to bury Bernie in the South. He actually cost Obama African-American voters, voters who remembered Dr. West campaigning against Obama in 2012, not to mention his incessant pounding on Obama’s skin tone. As a vote getter Cornel West was a catastrophe, his campaigning on Obama’s behalf and his absurd late sixties marxist hipster rap only resulted in even more African-American votes for Hillary in every single state until they pulled him off the campaign bus. But white progressives love the guy. He’s on PBS talking trash about Brother Obama all the time. He’s the guy progressives would point to when they say that black people don’t like Barack Obama. And apparently they are the ones being awarded with this appointment. There were vastly better choices, even among the relative few African-Americans who endorsed Bernie Sanders, but Cornel West is the man who all those Hillary voters did not like. Maybe it’s payback time. In any case, Dr. Cornel West will probably make the most of this opportunity, saying outrageous things about Brother Obama and not gaining Brother Bernie any new friends. Brother Trump should find it all very amusing.

A lot more than twenty seven dollars.

Oh, irony of ironies….by far the most campaign finance violations and irregularities in 2016 are by the Bernie Sanders campaign. Thousands of them. No one else even comes close. Turns out their online donation program does not have a way to keep donors from giving more than $2700 (the individual legal limit), nor does it have a way to preventing foreigners from donating. I assume that Bernie’s campaign never imagined that anyone would be contributing thousands of dollars or that people in other countries would want to donate. The price of success. The FEC has been complaining about this for months, to no avail. And that FEC process has only just begun, too. It can go on for years. I suspect the campaign will be required to return some money to some people. Hopefully it has done a better job maintaining those records than it has done with some people’s tax returns.

It’s a lesson learned for those who will want to use this method of fundraising in the future–which will be everybody. By 2020 this will be a non-issue for campaigns, as consultants will have taken over this viral fundraising revolution and turned it slick and professional. The last campaign that had a problem like this–too much money coming from everywhere, much of it unaccountable–was Nixon’s CREEP in 1972. Of course, that was sleazy as hell, while Bernie’s is just his Frank Capra idealism run rampant. And while people will be looking for one, there will be no scandal in the classic sense. No men in trenchcoats with bags of money. Still, this story will probably have some legs. Just follow the money is still the reporter’s mantra. There will certainly be an audit. And lots of news stories. Fingers will be pointed, excuses given. And some people may wind up on Capitol Hill, answering Republican questions. Benghazi Benghazi Benghazi.

Anyway, here’s the article from The Atlantic:

“The Donors Who Love Bernie Sanders A Little Too Much–The FEC has notified the campaign that thousands of its 2.4 million contributors may be violating federal limits.”

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Bernie with rosy cheeked potential campaign finance law violators.

Bernie’s Hobson’s Choice

I think that from a genuine democratic socialist perspective, a third party run by Bernie Sanders would make perfect sense. Democratic socialism seeks to overturn capitalism via democratic as opposed to violent means. Bernie has already pointed out that it will take years to achieve. It is more likely that his under 35 voters would be pushed to the left by a Trump or Cruz than by a successful moderate Democrat like Hillary. If Bernie were to stay true to his deepest philosophical convictions, he would run as an independent to help crush and thereby transform the Democratic Party and use a Cruz or Trump to bring about a much larger far left electorate in 2020. That would enable his supporters to gain seats at congressional and state house levels as well. Continue reading