Saturday, January 16, 2016

...And Expecting Different Results

A long list of things he doesn't have the systemic
Authority to implement
In the Democratic primaries, I really don't have much of a dog in the fight¹. Primarily because it is so utterly crystal clear that a Sanders presidency and a Clinton presidency would look essentially identical. But it's true that I do sometimes get snippy with Sanders supporters. I don't ask for much, but I do like my political conversations grounded in observed and observable reality. No, if you clap harder, you won't get a pony, and no, if you click your heels you won't go home. The American system of governance has rules and friction and veto points - many, many veto points - and merely being the President isn't enough to overcome them.

Many of Sanders' supporters have gone way over the top, speaking breathlessly about a 'revolution' in American governance, a new era in social justice. It's gotten so bad they are even starting to predict support from the right. For Bernie Sanders. As President of the United States.

Of course, the Sanders campaign is ultimately responsible for much of this hyperventilation. They have felt no need to explain what they'd do or how they'd do it - instead of policies, we get bullet points. Instead of plans, we get a rehash of his ten years in the Senate.

He'd break up the banks. But, of course, the President CAN'T break up the banks, and he gives us no sense of how he'd try to get that kind of legislation through congress and the courts. (ProTip - he can't.) He'd reduce income inequality. Ok, that would mean some kind of income redistribution - how would he do it? Tax policy? No, the President doesn't make tax policy. Government spending programs? No, the President has no power to allocate funds. Education? Well, to work on tuition reform he needs to work through fifty different state governments along with hundreds of private institutions - good luck with that. Student Loan reform? Um, once again, that's done through legislation and approved by the courts.

In the case of the Clinton campaign, we know a great deal more about her policy agenda, and we know the Republicans will just as gleefully block and derail it at every opportunity. The only difference is she is more likely to get the support of the more 'moderate' Democratic legislators - but with the huge Republican majority in the House, that's unlikely to change anything to any significant degree.

Remember back in January of 2009, the outpouring of joy as we inaugurated Barack Obama, ending the foul, ugly GW Bush administration? Remember the lofty rhetoric? He'd close the illegal prison at Guantanamo Bay. He'd end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He'd prosecute the criminals who destroyed the economy with their criminal greed. And remember the bitter anger and recriminations from the American political left as reality set in, and we discovered that not only could he NOT do these things, there was also assassinations and massive domestic surveillance and an outright war on whistle blowers?

Now, imagine it's the late spring in 2018. The Sanders administration² is well into its second year. And nothing - NOTHING - that he promised in his campaign has been accomplished. The Republicans in congress have gleefully blocked his every move. Many of his proposals are too far left for a lot of Democratic congressmen, who join with their Republican colleagues to derail them. An overwhelmingly conservative Judiciary blocks and obstructs his executive actions. Can't you just hear the shrieks of anger and frustration from liberals over his 'betrayal' - the very people that helped forge the narrative of unworkable promises that got him elected in the first place.

1 - Actually, I very much prefer Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, not because of any significant differences in effective policy, but strictly due to electability. The Democrats have a structural advantage in the national popular vote of between 3 and 8%. Sanders gets the far left wing of the party - but so does Clinton. They're not going to vote for the Republican. But the 'moderate' wing of the party - rural and blue collar voters is NEVER going to vote for a self described Socialist. 

2 - The reality is, despite what Sanders supporters who haven't bothered to learn how the American primary election system works want desperately to believe, that Clinton has a HUGE structural advantage in the only thing that matters - delegates. The way the Democratic party allocates delegates - proportionally rather than winner take all, along with 800 party elite "Superdelegates" - strongly favors the establishment candidate. Numerically, it's almost impossible to conceive of a Sanders nomination.


  1. 1. Sanders is a better matchup against Trump than Hillary Clinton. Cruz is hated by all and fading, and I don't think Rubio is going to beat Trump either.

    2. Sure, the Wall St. Dems have rigged the system in their favor. I don't see that as a reason to do what they want in the primary.

    3. There's a lot more to an Administration than what you can get through Congress. (And I don't expect the GOP to cooperate with Hillary anymore than Sanders, except on things we don't want...see Obama and Fast Track.)

    For example, Obama picked Eric Holder as his A.G. in November, 2008. Holder picked fellow Covington and Burling employee Lanny Breuer as his head of enforcement.

    Together, they prosecuted no banksters. They prosecuted no Bush-Cheney criminals, either. (But they did go after whistle-blowers in an unprecedented fashion.) Then they went back to Wall St. criminal defense firm C&B for big raises. Hillary, not Bernie, is as beholden to Citibank and Goldman Sachs as Obama was (and is).

    Futhermore, the President is head of the party. When Obama was elected, he and Rahm (that vicious, lying fuck) ditched Howard Dean's successful 50 state strategy. And he picked our current worthless DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    How's all that working out for us?

    In summary, Bernie Sanders 2016.

    1. How's that working out?

      Perfectly. Because I got the best outcome available - I got Obama rather than Romney, which were the only two options on the table. Even with the downsides, we're massively better off than if we had allowed them to actually adopt the Ryan budget and pull trillions of dollars out of an already weak economy.

      As always, we're at loggerheads over reality. You want something that isn't an option. If the choice is oatmeal or brussels sprouts, you can't choose ice cream. No amount of holding of breath and stamping of feet will change that...