Bob Schwartz

Tag: Bernie Sanders

What if Hillary had to face these contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2016?

This is a thought experiment.

Back in 2008, Hillary Clinton presumed that she would be the front runner for the Democratic nomination and would be the eventual winner. Then along came the phenomenon of Barack Obama, who wrestled the nomination from her because…well, because Hillary is no Obama.

In 2016, it was planned that Hillary Clinton would have little opposition for the Democratic presidential nomination. Maybe a token opponent to make it look competitive and democratic, but little more than that. Somehow, the most un-Obamaish candidate imaginable came along to almost spoil the party for her again. Bernie Sanders didn’t make it, Hillary became the nominee. Being less than the perfect candidate, Hillary was unable to close the deal in the general election, even against the most reprehensible Republican candidate—one who went on to be the most reprehensible president.

What if we retroject all the current Democratic candidates for the nomination back to 2016—including Joe Biden (who didn’t run against her) and Bernie Sanders (who did)? Do you think she would have still won the nomination?

There are reasons to think she might not. One thought is that her unique status as the only woman candidate would be immediately gone; six women are currently running, two of them high in the polls. Another thought is that while Hillary was severely tested by Obama in 2008, she faced less testing in 2016 before she faced Trump as the candidate. Would she have withstood the attacks that are natural from such a huge field? Would the Democratic Party establishment have been able to “protect” her and still seem fair-minded and even-handed?

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The Democrats Need Boldness Not Gamesmanship

“Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the elder Democratic leadership in Congress were able to fend off an insurgency and keep their jobs. It was explained that they deserved to maintain their roles, even if they are beholden to the old ways, because they are all veteran insiders who know how the game is played.

Knowing how the game is played has value, but not nearly as much value electorally as being bold. Being passionate. Convincing people that you believe in something so wholeheartedly that nothing, not even keeping your job, is more important. The evidence mounts that Democrats have ignored this, don’t believe it or can’t do it.

When Barry Goldwater was nominated for President by the Republicans in 1964, the party establishment rent its garments in despair at his supposed extremism, and felt vindicated by his colossal loss in the election. But within 20 years he was the intellectual soul of the party, and within 50 years—right now—even though Republicans speak with reverence about Ronald Reagan, the one they really owe their dominance to is Goldwater. They are the political heirs to his boldness.

In an alternate universe, the Democrats nominated Bernie Sanders, who proceeded to lose, maybe not as badly as Goldwater did, but possibly badly. Yet immediately after the election, an entire generation of young Democrats gets genuinely fired up, remaking the party as a vehicle of sweeping progress, of resistance to the worst and change for the best. Within a few years, Republicans have a fight on their hands, and within a few more years the tide turns—not just in Congress, not just in the presidency, but in the governorships and state legislatures, where the Democrats are also currently a minority. This happens not because President Trump or the Republicans are so bad, but because the Democrats are so bold, charismatic, appealing and inspiring.

Genius, power and magic. That’s the Democratic ticket.

Democratic Millionaires and Billionaires To Meet in Palm Beach to Plan the Future of the Party of the People

For a while today, I thought that Kanye West announcing he would have voted for Trump—if he had voted—was the most interesting bit of news.

But this from Politico is much better:

David Brock on Thursday night emailed more than 200 of the biggest donors on the left — including finance titans George Soros, Tom Steyer and Donald Sussman — inviting them to a retreat in Palm Beach over inauguration weekend to assess what Democrats did wrong in 2016, figure out how to correct it and raise cash for those initiatives.

For the Democratic establishment, it is not just that they are pretending that Bernie Sanders never happened. They are pretending that the election never happened, or that what did happen had nothing to do with the party being hopelessly and cluelessly out of touch with the constituencies it needs to win elections.

Thomas Frank wrote about this in his recent book Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? It is an insightful work, and one that presages and sort of predicts the results of this presidential election. It deserves a complete reading, and his multi-faceted analysis is not quickly summarized. But here is one aspect:

ON THE LIBERALISM OF THE RICH

I am pressing on a sensitive point here. Democrats cherish their identification as the Party of the People, and they find it unpleasant to be reminded that affluent professionals are today among their most dedicated supporters. Democrats’ close relationship with the successful is not something they advertise or even discuss openly.

Exceptions to this rule are rare. One of the few works I know of that seems to approve, albeit with reservations, of liberalism’s alliance with a segment of the upper crust is the 2010 book Fortunes of Change, written by the philanthropy journalist David Callahan. The premise of his argument is that our new, liberal plutocracy is different from plutocracies of the past because rich people today are sometimes very capable. “Those who get rich in a knowledge economy,” the journalist tells us, are well-schooled; they often come from the ranks of “highly educated professionals” and consequently they support Democrats, the party that cares about schools, science, the environment, and federal spending for research…

There’s a simple reason that financial firms rallied to the Democrat [Barack Obama] on that occasion, Callahan suggests: because people on Wall Street, being very smart and very well-educated, are natural liberals….

To this honor roll of intellectual and financial achievement, Callahan appends the following observation: “This is definitely not the Sarah Palin demographic.”

No. But neither is it a demographic with any particular concern for the fate of working people.

In addition to Frank’s book, also recommended is the new book from Bernie Sanders, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. I don’t think Bernie’s going to be invited to the Palm Beach gathering, but boy howdy, that would be something.

Bernie Sanders and Pope Francis

Bernie Sanders at the Vatican

This kind-of-cute headline from Politico sort of says it all.

Bernie’s fanboy moment: A meeting with Pope Francis

As you may know, Bernie Sanders was invited to a conference at the Vatican on issues related to economic justice. He interrupted his New York campaign to attend, gave an excellent speech that frequently cited the Pope’s own writings, but was told that the Pope would not be able to meet with him and others at the conference.

Then, at the last minute, the Pope was able to meet for five minutes with Bernie and his wife Jane. It was thrilling to hear that. It is unimaginable to conceive what it must have been like for Bernie, who as the headline suggests, is a huge fan of the Pope and his thinking on economic issues.

In case you think this is all about electoral politics, think again.

A major American politician has met with the Pope, based on a shared vision of economic justice. That vision comes from a background of Jewish fairness and compassion in one case and from the deepest, most Jesus-based tenets of the Catholic Church in the other. This doesn’t happen every day, or month, or year.

It is a unique and sweet moment for those who care about the future of America and the world. If that sounds a little grandiose, maybe believing big is exactly what we need.

British Victories in the American Revolution

British Occupation of Philadelphia

For those who are supporting an American political revolution, and may be discouraged by the results of some of the battles, take heart.

The original American Revolution, an attempt to bring truly representative democracy to the North American continent, was a long and seemingly impossible series of battles, many of which the colonists lost. And lost. And lost.

Today, of course, Americans of all beliefs celebrate the perseverance of those who, at the time, many considered political pests and unrealistic dreamers, naïve and fooling themselves into thinking that things could radically change.

Reason and evidence suggested that these revolutionaries were possibly delusional. Except. Except they didn’t think so, and thought that the naysayers were shortsighted or even traitors to the cause of freedom.

And so, for you political revolutionaries, a partial list of the British victories in the American Revolution. In case you forgot, the winner of these battles ultimately lost. Big time.

Battle of Kemp’s Landing – November 14, 1775
Battle of the Rice Boats – March 2-3, 1776
Battle of Block Island – April 6, 1776
Battle of The Cedars – May 18-27, 1776
Battle of White Plains – October 28, 1776
Battle of Fort Cumberland – November 10-29, 1776
Battle of Iron Works Hill – December 22-23, 1776
Battle of Bound Brook – April 13, 1777
Battle of Ridgefield – April 27, 1777
Battle of Thomas Creek – May 17, 1777
Battle of Short Hills – June 26, 1777
Siege of Fort Ticonderoga – July 5-6, 1777
Battle of Hubbardton – July 7, 1777
Battle of Fort Ann – July 8, 1777
Battle of Oriskany – August 6, 1777
Second Battle of Machias – August 13-14, 1777
Battle of Staten Island – August 22, 1777
Battle of Setauket – August 22, 1777
Battle of Cooch’s Bridge – September 3, 1777
Battle of Brandywine – September 11, 1777
Battle of Paoli – September 21, 1777
Siege of Fort Mifflin – September 26 –November 15, 1777
Battle of Germantown – October 4, 1777
Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery – October 6, 1777
Battle of Matson’s Ford – December 11, 1777
Battle off Barbados – March 7, 1778
Battle of Quinton’s Bridge – March 18, 1778
Battle of Crooked Billet – May 1, 1778
Mount Hope Bay raids – May 25-30, 1778
Battle of Alligator Bridge – June 30, 1778
First Battle of Ushant – July 27, 1778
Siege of Pondicherry – August 21–October 19 1778
Battle of Newport – August 29, 1778
Grey’s raid – September 5-17, 1778
Baylor Massacre – September 27, 1778
Battle of Chestnut Neck – October 6, 1778
Little Egg Harbor massacre – October 16, 1778
Carleton’s Raid – October 24-November 14 1778
Battle of St. Lucia – December 15, 1778
Capture of St. Lucia – December 18-28, 1778
Capture of Savannah – December 29, 1778
Battle of Brier Creek – March 3, 1779
Chesapeake raid – May 10-24, 1779
Battle of Stono Ferry – June 20, 1779
Great Siege of Gibraltar – June 24, 1779-February 7, 1783
Tryon’s raid – July 5-14, 1779
Penobscot Expedition – July 24-August 29, 1779
Action of 14 September 1779 – September 14, 1779
Siege of Savannah – September 16-October 18, 1779
Battle of San Fernando de Omoa – October 16-November 29, 1779
Action of 11 November 1779 – November 11, 1779
First Battle of Martinique – December 18, 1779
Action of 8 January 1780 – January 8, 1780
Battle of Cape St. Vincent – January 16, 1780
Battle of Young’s House – February 3, 1780
Battle of Monck’s Corner – April 14, 1780
Battle of Lenud’s Ferry – May 6, 1780
Bird’s invasion of Kentucky – May 25-August 4, 1780
Battle of Waxhaws – May 29, 1780
Battle of Connecticut Farms – June 7, 1780
Battle of Camden – August 16, 1780
Battle of Fishing Creek – August 18, 1780
Battle of Charlotte – September 26, 1780
Royalton Raid – October 16, 1780
Battle of Jersey – January 6, 1781
Battle of Cowan’s Ford – February 1, 1781
Capture of Sint Eustatius – February 3, 1781
Battle of Wetzell’s Mill – March 6, 1781
Battle of Guilford Court House – March 15, 1781
Battle of Cape Henry – March 16, 1781
Battle of Blandford – April 25, 1781
Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill – April 25, 1781
Action of 1 May 1781 – May 1, 1781
Siege of Ninety-Six – May 22-June 6, 1781
Action of 30 May 1781 – May 30, 1781
Battle of Spencer’s Ordinary – June 26, 1781
Battle of Green Spring – July 6, 1781
Battle of Dogger Bank – August 5, 1781
Battle of Groton Heights – September 6, 1781
Battle of Eutaw Springs – September 8, 1781
Siege of Negapatam – October 21-November 11, 1781
Second Battle of Ushant – December 12, 1781
Battle of Videau’s Bridge – January 2, 1782
Capture of Trincomalee – January 11, 1782
Battle of Saint Kitts – January 25-26, 1782
Battle of Wambaw – February 24, 1782
Action of 16 March 1782 – March 16, 1782
Battle of the Saintes – April 9-12, 1782
Battle of the Black River – April-August, 1782
Battle of the Mona Passage – April 19, 1782
Action of 20–21 April 1782 – April 20-21, 1782
Naval battle off Halifax – May 28-29, 1782
Battle of Negapatam – July 6, 1782
Battle of the Combahee River – August 26, 1782
Grand Assault on Gibraltar – September 13, 1782
Action of 18 October 1782 – October 18, 1782
Action of 6 December 1782 – December 6, 1782
Action of 12 December 1782 – December 12, 1782
Action of 22 January 1783 – January 22, 1783
Capture of the Bahamas – April 14-18, 1783

John Lewis clarifies comments on Bernie Sanders

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., behind him, arrive for a news conference at the DNC where members of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, February 11, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

John Lewis is the latest elder statesperson to have experienced some difficulties in speaking on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

First it was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who apologized for seeming to suggest that young women who didn’t support Hillary were going to “a special place in hell.”

Then it was feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem, who apologized for saying that young women were flocking to Bernie Sanders because that is where the boys are.

Now it is the turn of civil rights era leader and legend John Lewis. On Thursday he suggested that he knew the Clintons from way back in the movement days, but he had never seen nor heard from this Bernie Sanders guy.

Today he apologized for misspeaking.

”If you take a look at a transcript of my statement, you will find I did not say that I met Hillary and Bill Clinton when I was chairman of SNCC in the 1960s. My point was that when I was doing the work of civil rights, led the Voter Education Project and organized voter registration in the South in the 1970s, I did cross paths with Hillary and Bill Clinton in the field. They were working in politics, and Bill Clinton became attorney general of Arkansas in the 1970s as well. That began a relationship with them that has lasted until today.”

As for Bernie Sanders:

“I was responding to a reporter’s question who asked me to assess Sen. Sanders’ civil rights record. I said that when I was leading and was at the center of pivotal actions within the Civil Rights Movement, I did not meet Sen. Bernie Sanders at any time. The fact that I did not meet him in the movement does not mean I doubted that Sen. Sanders participated in the Civil Rights Movement, neither was I attempting to disparage his activism. Thousands sacrificed in the 1960s whose names we will never know, and I have always given honor to their contribution.”

In fact, Bernie Sanders had been involved in the movement almost as early as John Lewis was. Sanders’ sacrifice included going to jail for trying to desegregate the University of Chicago dorms.

Everyone is entitled to zealously support preferred candidates, and zeal sometimes crosses over into exaggeration. But when icons like Albright, Steinem and Lewis get caught overreaching so far that they are forced to furiously backpedal, especially all in one week, you have to wonder what exactly is going on.

New Hampshire Primary: Chinese New Year Quiz Edition

Pig Snake

It is the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey. Time to guess what the Chinese lunar calendar tells us about the two Democratic candidates.

Following are descriptions of the two astrological animals representing the dates on which Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were born. The game is to guess which is which.

For those not obsessively interested in the often ridiculous and disheartening zoo/farm of this silly season, good for you.

Note: It is good fortune to wear red for the Chinese New Year, especially red underwear. You likely don’t know me well enough to know it, but I have no red underwear. I do have red ties and am wearing one today. If you are someone who does have red underwear, wear it and good luck.

And now the quiz. Which is Hillary and which is Bernie?

Democratic Candidate 1:

Born in the Year of the Pig

Elemental type of Pig based on a 60-year cycle: Fire Pig
Ambitious, persevering, but impatient.

Pigs are diligent, compassionate, and generous. They have great concentration: once they set a goal, they will devote all their energy to achieving it. Though Pigs rarely seek help from others, they will not refuse to give others a hand. Pigs never suspect trickery, so they are easily fooled.

General speaking, Pigs are relatively calm when facing trouble. No matter how difficult the problems are Pigs encounter, they can handle things properly and carefully. They have a great sense of responsibility to finish what they are engaged in.

People born in a Year of the Pig will encounter so many disruptions in their career that they will work under great pressure. It will not be suitable for them to carry out new plans or new measures.

Democratic Candidate 2:

Born in the Year of the Snake

Elemental sign based on a 60-year cycle: Gold Snake
Determined, courageous, confident, and able. A born leader.

In Chinese culture, the Snake is the most enigmatic animal among the twelve zodiac animals. People born in a year of the Snake are supposed to be the most intuitive.

Snakes tend to act according to their own judgments, even while remaining the most private and reticent. They are determined to accomplish their goals and hate to fail.

Snakes represent the symbol of wisdom. They are intelligent and wise. They are good at communication but say little. Snakes are usually regarded as great thinkers.

Snakes are materialistic and love keeping up with the Joneses. They love to possess the best of everything, but they have no patience for shopping.

Snake people prefer to work alone, therefore they are easily stressed. If they seem unusually stressed, it is best to allow them their own space and time to return to normal.

Snakes will have a smooth career after overcoming hardships in 2016. They will be hampered by unscrupulous people at the beginning of the year, but the situation will change in the middle of the year, and it will turn out smoothly at the end of the year. They will not achieve anything if they give up halfway; therefore, they must be confident about their future.

Shepard Fairey: The Art of Political Revolution

Shepard Fairey - Bernie Sanders Concert

Not many people had heard of the artist Shepard Fairey (“Manufacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989”) until he created the Obama “Hope” poster, one of the most famous pieces of art in modern American politics.

Since then, he has been spending his time creating, exhibiting and selling all sorts of provocative and eminently viewable art/propaganda on the beneficial edge of society, politics and culture.

He created the poster above for today’s Bernie Sanders benefit concert in Los Angeles. For those who haven’t looked for a while, or don’t know Shepard’s work, here is a sampling:

End Corruption

Make Art Not War

3fe6ad0d-98bd-49f4-b2d3-851ef7c7a746

 

Snow White in Iowa

Snow White - Magic Mirror
Hillary Clinton: Magic mirror on the wall, who won the Iowa caucus?

Magic Mirror: Over the seven jeweled hills, beyond the seventh fall, in New Hampshire campaigns Bernie Sanders, the winner in Iowa.

Hillary Clinton: I won Iowa. Bernie Sanders is dead. Behold the results.

Magic Mirror: Bernie Sanders still lives. You failed to vanquish him.

Hillary Clinton: Then I’ve been tricked.

With sincere apologies to Ted Sears, Richard Creedon, Otto Englander, Dick Rickard, Earl Hurd, Merrill De Maris, Dorothy Ann Blank, and Webb Smith, the writers of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). And to the Brothers Grimm.

Bernie Sanders Is Barry Goldwater

Bernie Sanders for the Democrats is what Barry Goldwater was for the Republicans.

In the short run that might make the current generation of Democrats unhappy. In the long run, they should ask the Republicans how that turned out.

This is how it turned out. An unlikely, marginalized, and idealistic candidate tried to remind a party of its deepest philosophical roots. He won the party’s nomination for President, against all odds and against the wishes of many in the party, who believed he would lead them to total and inglorious defeat. Which he did.

Barry Goldwater also won. It is understandable that the Republican Party lionizes Ronald Reagan as its hero, model and godfather, since Reagan went on to serve two inspiring terms as President. But it was Goldwater, that embarrassment to some in 1964, who inspired Reagan himself and that first young generation of modern Republican conservatives (including Hillary Clinton, who began her political involvement as a Goldwater Girl).

We don’t know how the Bernie Sanders adventure turns out, either in the upcoming caucuses and primaries or at the convention. He is just as unlikely, marginalized and idealistic as Goldwater, and maybe less likely to win the nomination.

But in the long run, progressives who have been sidelined by the siren song of unwavering pragmatism—politics as the art of the possible—may be the winners. A new generation of genuine and fearless progressives may be born, even as the unlikely messenger is pushed aside.

In the words of Barry Goldwater, and as Bernie Sanders might also say:

“And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”