Bernie Sanders and the Fifth Great Awakening

Oh man, another Bernie supporter telling me that Bernie is GOOD man (not merely a good man, but a GOOD man) and therefore deserves to be president. And another just told me that Bernie will never lie to us….

So what’s with this weird “he’s a GOOD man” trip that so many Bernie people are on? They make it sound more like a religious movement than a political movement. Is Bernie the messiah, promising utopia? Any time anybody mentions even the slightest hint of imperfection they start with the Bernie is a GOOD man mantra. Or how Bernie will never lie to us. Hell, he’s a politician, he will lie, he will sometimes betray his own principles. It goes with the gig. But if Bernie’s losing campaign has proven anything, he’s shown that the under 40 year olds in this country are as ripe for the next great American religious revival as were the under 40 year old baby boomers in the 1970’s. They called that one the Fourth Great Awakening. Looks like the Fifth Great Awakening might be right on its historical schedule. Continue reading

Going out on a limb

On the eve of the latest Super Tuesday, March 15….

I haven’t read or watched or listened to or imagined any of the news today, but I’ve been assuming Bernie Sanders has had Missouri for a few days now. Maybe Illinois too, as Rahm Emanuel is so unpopular he’ll probably drive some urban votes to Sanders. But Bernie would have to have a huge Millennial turnout, a huge independent turn out, a huge turn out in the suburbs, and 25-30% of the black vote, not to mention a sizable chunk of the Hispanic vote. It’s a tall order but not impossible. But it would bring him close, even if he lost, to splitting all those Illinois delegates fairly evenly. Continue reading

Bernie’s Castro crush

Bernie’s old Castro crush won’t hurt him much in the Democratic primaries, and nothing can help him win Florida on Tuesday anyway. Florida is a closed primary, which mean only registered Democrats can vote, and Bernie doesn’t do well without independent voters, especially as so many of his fervent Millennial supporters are registered as independents. But if he were the nominee he could now certainly kiss Florida off, and the last time a Democrat was elected president without Florida was 1992, and before that you have to back all the way back to 1960 with JFK. But in 1960 Florida had maybe a third of the population it does now, even Iowa was bigger. Florida was not a must win for either side back then, it was just another ten electoral votes to be worked into various possible combinations to get to 270 electoral votes. By 1992 Florida was much bigger, with 25 electoral votes, and though Bill Clinton lost the state to the first President Bush, Clinton was a southerner and took enough southern states to make up for Florida. But Bernie is not a southerner.

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Generations

The Millennials today will have their presidential election year about the time they morph into grumpy middle aged people who actually vote. 2024, maybe, or more like 2032, when today’s eighteen and twenty-nine year olds are thirty four and a thoroughly disagreeable forty five, respectively. As for the geezers, well, some of us will be there for it, and some will never have our year, we’ll be memories. The luck of the draw. But it won’t be the baby boomers’ world by then anyway, thankfully, we who voted more for Nixon and Reagan than Gene McCarthy and George McGovern, we who helped sweep the Reagan Revolution into power and helped it dismantle the New Deal. This mess we’re in today is as much our fault as the establishment we railed against way back when. We can’t blame it all on the Greatest Generation. Half of us voted for Reagan, even icons like Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Johnny Ramone were card carrying Republicans. (You gotta serve somebody, Bob said. Keep on rockin’ in the free world said Neil.) And a lot of us Baby Boomers will wind up cranky old Republicans, chasing left wing Millennials off our lawns. No, we fucked up, sold out, gave up. The New Deal generation never let the US descend into income inequality hell like we did. They had their priorities right. And it’s hard to imagine that Millennials won’t eventually do something about getting those priorities right again, once they get off their aging asses and vote. Continue reading

Come the revolution

When I was a college kid in the seventies, surrounded by intellectuals of radical or wanna be radical temperament, there were a lot of Revolution jokes. Come the revolution this, come the revolution that. Come the revolution, you will no longer have to wait in line at the falafel stand. Some the revolution, we will not pay the landlord, that landlord will pay us. Knock knock. Who’s there. The revolution. The revolution who. The revolution will not be televised. No one said they were funny. But everyone said them. Continue reading

A little early for the Revolution

Someone read a blog post of mine and told me it just show who frightened I was of a Bernie Sanders victory. That was weird, I mean why the hell would a Hillary supporter today be frightened? Had the guy even looked at any of the poll data? Bernie’s campaign is doomed. It’ll run for a while, and with fervor, but Bernie has lost the support of the majority of voters. He simply cannot find enough voters to win him the delegates he needs to win the nomination. He peaked in New Hampshire, as predicted (in fact as I said all along, and said beforehand he would, it was so predictable), and collapsed afterward, as predicted. The only surprising thing for me* was that his collapse is happening so much faster than expected. I mean look at Massachusetts. He is behind. He is behind so much–somewhere between 5 and 10 per cent–that the results while not certain for Hillary and very uncertain for Bernie. Bernie should be up 20% there now. Massachusetts is the state where, outside of Vermont, he should be massively popular. Which he is, actually, voters love him. Love him even more than Hillary, who is also very popular in Massachusetts, but those same voters will tell pollsters, over and over, that they would prefer Hillary as president because Hillary has the experience and skills need that Bernie lacks. The problem for the Bernie campaign in Massachusetts now is that after the New Hampshire win Bernie was about 20 points higher than he is now. So any Hillary win, or even a very close Bernie win, will be seen as a Bernie loss. He has to win by a solid margin for it to be seen as anything other than proof of weakened momentum in the most liberal part of the country. The fact that he is desperately struggling to hold Massachusetts is just indicative of just how much Bernie’s momentum after his big New Hampshire win has collapsed.

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Bernie Sanders’ ad campaign for Hillary Clinton

Apparently the Bernie Sanders campaign actually outspent Hillary on TV campaign ads in South Carolina. He also had 200 paid staffers working there. That is a huge investment of money and resources. Ironically, his expensive advertising campaign actually worked in Hillary’s favor, as Bernie’s numbers dropped as his advertising blitz went into effect. Those must have been some commercials. And I read a couple weeks ago that those 200 paid staffers were knocking on doors in African-American neighborhoods to read people quotes from Dr. Cornel West about Bernie Sanders. That in itself must have cost him votes, as West is notorious for his unrelentingly vicious attacks on President Obama. I suspect Bernie’s campaign in South Carolina will become a textbook case on how to spend lots of money to get people to vote for your opponent.

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Trump, Cruz, Rubio and William F. Buckley

So I just saw a replay of that portion of the GOP debate in Texas where it degenerated into complete anarchy, kind of like the examination scene in A Day At the Races, but instead of the Marx Brothers you had three obnoxious assholes who want to be president. Then I switch stations and it’s an old Tonight Show. Johnny Carson is talking to William F. Buckley, and Buckley is using words I’ve never heard before, big huge words. It’s 1980 and he’s lecturing Johnny on conservatism which, he doesn’t know yet, is right on the cusp of its golden age. He was Mr. Conservative back then, the smartest guy in the world, a conservative so intellectual he could hate communists in iambic pentameter. They’d bring him out to argue with Gore Vidal or trade bon mots with Truman Capote. But today, after watching that debate, it’s like William F. Buckley was from another planet. Do they even have conservatives like him anymore? What happened? Was it Rush Limbaugh that made things so stupid? I like to think so, but it’s certainly more than that. Still, you could imagine Rush on stage here with the three stooges, pitching in, shouting at Cruz, calling Rubio names, yelling louder than Trump. But not William F Buckley. I can’t see him on that stage, I can’t see him asking questions, I can’t even imagine him in the same room. But I do wonder just what Bill Buckley would say, watching Trump, Cruz and Rubio on PBS yell insults at each other. Maybe he’d say the superstition that the hounds of truth will rout the vermin of error seems, like a fragment of Victorian lace, quaint, but too brittle to be lifted out of the showcase. Not that I have a clue what that means, but at least he didn’t say sweat.
William F. Buckley watching the debate at Cato's pad.

William F. Buckley watching the debate at Cato the Elder’s elysian pad.

Trying to figure out the Nevada caucuses

Been checking in sporadically on the Nevada caucus predictions, and it was neck and neck a few days ago and now Hillary is edging out Bernie again, but who knows, it’s a caucus. It’s really impossible to tell who will show up to a caucus and where and with both sides as fired up as they are and the Culinary Union sitting this one out (membership being so split) it’s all quite up in the air. I know that for the Democratic Party in Nevada (looking at the Nevada’s Secretary of States voter data here) you have the initial caucuses which selects about ten thousand delegates (out of about 600,000 Democrats in the state, though how many are expected to attend the caucuses on Saturday I have no idea), then over the next three months those delegates meet at their respective county Democratic conventions (there are 17 counties in Nevada) and are whittled down to maybe three or four thousand delegates who go on to state Democratic Party convention in May which manages to pick the 24 delegates who will go on to the Democratic national convention. And kind of like how the electoral college is weighted in favor of small states and against big states (so that a Californian’s presidential vote is worth about one-third of what a North Dakotan’s vote is worth*) residents of rural counties (a couple of which have in Nevada are disproportionately represented in the state convention. Thus a candidate can do really well in the biggest county–Clark (450K Democrats)–and win the popular vote count yet lose in the delegate count by not having enough delegates Washoe (95K Democrats) and in the small counties (none of which come close to 10K registered Democrats and six of which have less than a thousand, Esmeralda County has 120 registered Democrats, Eureka County has 112). This is what happened in 2008 (using date from here) when Hillary won over 50% in the caucuses but wound up losing the final delegate vote at the state convention because the Obama campaign had worked the small counties and thus had more delegates on hand because Hillary had majorities in less counties. The initial vote in the Caucuses of 50% Hillary to 45% Obama (due to Hillary’s high turn out in Clark County) in January became 55% Obama to 45% Hillary at the convention in May, because Obama had managed to get more caucus goers to attend the precinct caucuses in Washoe County (Reno) and the small counties back in January than had Hillary (who won in hugely populated Clark County), even though Hillary had more total caucus goers state wide. Basically it’s not so much how many supporters you have, but where you have those supporters. Obama had more in the right places, even though he had less overall, and wound up with fourteen delegates to the national convention to Hillary’s eleven. If California selected its delegates in the same manner, a candidate could win most of the big counties in the Bay Area and Southern California yet still lose the delegate total because the other candidate won all the small rural counties, and there are many more small rural counties in California than big urban ones. Same goes for Nevada. It’s not whether you win or lose in the Nevada caucuses, so much, but how you play the game. Obama’s team in Nevada outplayed Hillary’s in 2008. It was not that far different from how the more popular Al Gore was defeated by George W Bush in 2000. Gore got a half million more votes, but Bush got his smaller number of votes in the right places. Of course, the results of the Nevada caucuses, skewed as they were, did not affect the outcome of the nomination race at all. Indeed, they had little significance in the overall picture. It’s just that the Nevada Caucuses were the fourth contest that year (preceded by Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan) and as such get a lot of media attention. Which, at the time, gave Hillary a “win”, since the actual delegates weren’t to be selected for months, long after Obama has already racked up the delegates he needed. Continue reading

Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face

(February, 2016)

Since everyone so long ago unfriended everyone whose politics differs from their own, right now you have millions of passionate Trump devotees–the kind who would not object, he says, if he shot someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue–and millions of passionate supporters of Bernie Sanders, and yet each could scarcely name a handful of people they know personally, I bet, who are supporters of each others candidate. Maybe in real life they could, guys at work, or family members they never agreed with anyway, but on Facebook they see none of each other’s posts, memes, blog articles, and puff pieces. Two huge universes full of people who would like to punch each other in the face if they ever met on Facebook, but they don’t. Instead both are surrounded overwhelmingly by people who feel exactly like they do, who all like the same memes, agree with the same bloggers, believe the same conspiracies. And each side, the Trump people and the Bernie people, is convinced that most people in America, the good people of America, think like they do, and support their candidate. Each sees itself in a revolution, an overwhelming tide of history that will sweep their enemies before them. And each sees a vast media conspiracy to deride their candidate and spread lies because the media is in the hands of the establishment. Continue reading