On Elizabeth Warren

When I say I like Elizabeth Warren, some people are surprised. In fact, she is among my favorite candidates in the field (I do not have one candidate, yet). If the primary were today, I wouldn’t be voting for her, but I’m still considering her. I find her intellect to be very, very impressive.

“But Rich, you hate Bernie! But Rich, you’re a moderate (only by today’s warped politics)!”

I’m amused by the notion that someone couldn’t both like Elizabeth Warren and say Joe Biden, or Cory Booker. I suppose in the world where you’re silo’ed off into corners from the start, sure. In truth, there are things I like about many candidates, and things I don’t. Warren certainly has done or said some things that drive me nuts. I also find a lot to like in her- her feisty spirit, her detailed plans for everything (cuts both ways here), and her clarity about what she represents.

Given how badly I’ve beaten on Bernie Sanders though, and the ideological ties between him and Warren, it is worth examining why it is I like her, and whether or not I am giving her a free pass that I don’t afford him. I say he’s too far left for me, he’s not electable, he’s not a good Democrat, that he’s a lefty Trump. I think that’s all true. How is she different?

I’ll start on the ideology. There are lots of similarities. Both are absolutely progressives. Both embrace a much bigger, more active federal government. Why is her progressivism better than his? Certainly she is more serious, and has more concrete plans, but is that really better? Having a white paper for everything also means giving the GOP a target for everything. Even if she did win, what would she get done? Which of her plans would get 218 votes in the House and 60 in the Senate? I know she says she wants to get rid of the filibuster, but that’s actually a terrible idea- inevitably the GOP will control the government again someday, and probably control the Senate more often if current demographic trends hold, and a future version of Trump would only need 51 votes for a “Mass Deportation Act,” or some other white nationalist garbage legislation. Besides, even at a 50 vote margin, I think it’s very dubious that single-payer health care or complete student loan forgiveness would pass a Democratic Senate. I’ve spent a lot of time ripping Bernie for not being truthful about how he’d pay for his ideas, and to Warren’s credit she has laid that out more clearly and honestly (even if she won’t admit a tax increase is coming to Chris Matthews). If we’re being honest though, her pathway to actually enacting her plans is as unrealistic as Bernie’s. That’s even more true when you consider the messed up State our government will be in come 2021.

Is she more electable than Bernie? While I say she is, the polls disagree with me. Bernie, much like Joe Biden, usually beats Trump by a significant margin. Elizabeth Warren, like Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg, is normally in a margin of error race either way. The entirety of my electability theory for Warren is that she has more actual appeal to the base of the Democratic base than Bernie, and that she will excite people more. The first problem with that theory is that I have absolutely no science or statistic to back that up, other than basically crediting her for being a woman. The second problem with my theory is that the Democratic base doesn’t win the major swing states on it’s own. Firing up the base was Hillary’s strategy, and she consistently, narrowly lost the swing states. My assumption that Bernie would be exposed as weak once the “socialism” attacks start on him is something I stand by, but why wouldn’t that work on Warren? If Bernie didn’t exist, we would be calling Warren the most left-leaning candidate on economic issues in modern politics. She’s for single-payer health care, the “Green New Deal,” free child care, and student loan debt forgiveness- just like Bernie. Really, she’s open to almost all the same attacks, but she doesn’t call herself a socialist. I pretty much base her electability on her being smarter and more detailed than Bernie, and her being a woman. In the end, is she even as electable as Hillary Clinton?

I can definitively say that at least she is a Democrat. Bernie is not. Warren calls herself a Capitalist, while Bernie literally calls himself a Socialist. On these two matters, I give her major points over Bernie. To be clear, they are purely an argument in semantics, but they mean something to those of us who both want to win in 2020, and maintain some level of pragmatism moving forward. Beyond that, Warren has lent her hand to the cause of electing other Democrats around the country, while Sanders has spent his time building up groups like the Justice Democrats, groups that criticize and primary Democrats. Sure, Warren has done some annoying things like lend credence to the conspiracy theories of Berners that the 2016 primary was rigged against Bernie, but I at least believe she’s on our team. He’s a Trojan horse.

If Sanders is a “lefty Trump,” isn’t Warren also kind of extreme? Both are populists at their core, and lefty progressives, but there is a real difference in the two. For Sanders, there is a narcissistic edge that Warren doesn’t quite have. For her, it is more about the ideas, while Bernie is mostly leading a movement that has ideas, but is centered around himself. This is much more like Trump, where the ideas can change if it works for him. In some ways, marriage to the actual ideals like Warren has can be almost fundamentalist, but it’s still preferable to marriage to the leader- Which history shows can lead to awful outcomes.

If I’m being honest, a real evaluation of Warren definitely leads to some actual misgivings. She’s probably a step to the left more than I’m comfortable with. Even so, I’m more comfortable with her than Bernie. While I don’t necessarily believe in her winning and enacting policies she’s promising, I could sleep much better at night with her than Bernie.

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Give Me Nancy Over AOC Every Time

Nancy Pelosi is taking more than her share of grief from the far left right now for stating the obvious- real politics isn’t twitter. She was mad that AOC, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley voted alone against the House Democrats border supplemental spending bill, then voted against the Senate bill too, and criticized House leadership for caving. Pelosi fired back with “All these people have their public whatever, and their Twitter world.” Pelosi then continued with “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.” The internal fault lines of the House Democrats are on display.

This is not a new fight. In one of the very first votes of 2019, AOC joined Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard in voting against the rules package. AOC once voted with the GOP against re-opening the government during the shutdown, because the bill funded ICE. AOC joined up with Tlaib, Pressley, and Omar to vote against the 2020 Appropriations bill for Labor and Health and Human Services, putting them in strange company with more conservative Democrats Colin Peterson (MN), Ben McAdams, and Denny Heck. Obviously their stated reasons were different, but for the four freshman “progressives” they claim it was opposition to the Hyde Amendment remaining in the legislation. Never mind the hypocrisy. Never mind ending the Mexico City Policy (Global Gag Rule).

This is not the extent of the AOC lead internal battles. Her spokesman stated this week that “the greatest threat to mankind is the cowardice of the Democratic Party.” No, really. But that’s not all. AOC wants to see Caucus Chairman, Black Caucus member, and fellow New Yorker Hakeem Jeffries face a primary. Yes, really. On impeachment, AOC claims it has more support within the freshman class than publicly stated, and that progressives are frustrated with Speaker Pelosi. Yes, really.

I think it’s about time we call it as it is, and stop trying to make it anything but- AOC is pretty much a younger, non “white dude” version of Bernie Sanders. She is not “loyal” to the party, but rather views herself as a leftward critic of leadership. She’s sponsored just two pieces of legislation so far, neither of which has passed Congress, one of which was a resolution and wouldn’t have the force of law, and on the Green New Deal, she bungled the roll out. So basically, passing legislation is not her thing. Also, voting for legislation, if it’s less than perfect to her, is not ideal. Critiquing the Speaker though? That’s her jam.

AOC is using her seat in Congress for advocacy work, rather than legislating on the behalf of her constituents. If that’s what the people of Queens and the Bronx want, they are certainly free to re-elect her. Don’t hold this up as a blue print for America though. AOC, like Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley are all freshmen, but all represent seats that Democrats held before the 2018 Election, unlike the 40 seats Democrats picked up that were held by Republicans after 2016’s Election. Those 40 freshmen were running on far less divisive messages, like protecting Obamacare (not voting against the Health and Human Services appropriations bill, like her) and defending traditional Medicare. They may have talked about raising the minimum wage or expanding green energy development, but they weren’t going as far as AOC. They couldn’t. The Democratic Party can’t, unless it plans on going back to pre-2018’s 180 seats where they win 60% or more in the districts, but fail to win majorities. Those 40 new Democratic members can’t afford to legislate like AOC. They didn’t run on her agenda, because they would just lose.

Nancy Pelosi is not an advocate, she’s a legislator. She’s the woman who came to Congress and advocated for those suffering from HIV and AIDS. What does that mean? From her House website:

Armed with the lessons of San Francisco’s model of community-based care, Congresswoman Pelosi worked to accelerate development of an HIV vaccine, expand access to Medicaid for people living with HIV, and increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative and other research, care, treatment, prevention and search for a cure initiatives vital to people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.

In 1989, Pelosi, along with Rep. Jim McDermott and then-Rep. Charles Schumer introduced the AIDS Opportunity Housing Act, which led to the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA)initiative – an essential lifeline for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Legislating is about action. It’s about passing bills. For Pelosi, that’s passing the last minimum wage hike in our nation. It’s passing H.R. 1. It’s passing the Affordable Care Act. It’s passing Dodd-Frank. It’s usually about swallowing some things you don’t want in a bill. Sometimes it’s about being responsible, and even if you don’t like a piece of legislation, passing it any way because otherwise children sleep on concrete floors, with no blankets, soap, clean clothes, or toothbrushes. I know it can feel smart to simply say no if you don’t like something, but who do you leave behind? Someone leading a major party in Congress, you have more obligations than to your own ego and ideology. So while you may want to impeach a bad President, you may realize it’s not wise- both because he’ll never get convicted, and it will kill your party in the next election. Legislators have to get things done. Leaders have to have better judgment than to just do what the Twitter mobs want. Nancy Pelosi legislates and shows that judgment. Is it always perfect and satisfying? No. Adult life isn’t either though.

So back to the top, “the left” attacking Speaker Pelosi and supporting AOC- give me Nancy 100 times out of 100. I’d much rather have a responsible adult leading the Democratic Party, the first woman to ever lead any branch of the United States Government. I have faith that Speaker Pelosi has the best interests of the people of our country in mind. I have faith that she will get the best deal possible under any circumstances, and that she understands how to get things done in Washington. I don’t believe any of this about AOC. I believe she knows how to get television cameras to follow her, how to create memes, and how to get re-tweets. None of that is legislating, or leading. I’ll take a hard pass.

There’s No Actual Bernie Momentum, So What’s Actually Going On?

Hit pieces on Neera Tanden. Declarations of “victory” over Fox News. Accusations that Democrats are “agonizing” over how to beat Bernie. Even reporters threatening twitter users with “doxxing” for criticizing their work on Bernie:

https://twitter.com/regwag2003/status/1118287071104372736?s=21

Yes, this is real life. It’s not even one incident.

https://twitter.com/katierogers/status/1118239852720533505?s=21

I keep asking myself the same question- why the f**k does the press keep covering for this guy? Like, I come to all the normal “white bread” answers that leave me unsatisfied- they’re hyper educated big city kids that think socialism is cool, they despise the overly secretive “Clinton Washington” crowd, they think the system is broken, etc. I just find that answer quite unsatisfying. This guy gets a pass for his lack of achievements in Congress, his lack of realistic details in his plans, his creepy essays, his lack of a job until he was 40, his hiring a Putin stooge, his bad votes on immigration, guns, and the crime bill, and everything else, from so many reporters. The answers for why this happens fall flat for me. Even things like the investigation into his wife bankrupting a for-profit college, Bernie’s hypocrisy on millionaires, and Bernie failing to vote for Russian sanctions get less ink than Hillary’s e-mails, and always come with caveats. It’s like they’re a part of his press shop. It couldn’t be that Bernie is nothing but an angry, old grifter. Never.

Their advocacy has changed in the past few days, as I noted above. It’s not just advocacy for ole’ Bernard- it’s offensive aggression on his behalf, particularly coming out of the New York Times. It’s an actual effort to enforce a view of the race that isn’t true- the myth that Bernie Sanders has momentum and is the front-runner to be the Democratic nominee. To be clear, he has a chance to win the nomination, provided the field stays divided. He raised the most money in the first quarter, just as he out-raised Hillary Clinton in 2016- but his $18 million haul is not overwhelming and crushing when compared with Kamala Harris $12 million, Beto O’Rourke’s $9 million plus, Pete Buttigieg’s $7 million, or even the $6 million of Elizabeth Warren and $5.2 million of Amy Klobuchar. All of these candidates are less known, and in their first national run. As the field begins to narrow in the coming months, all can improve. On top of this, Bernie trails former Vice-President Joe Biden in nearly every poll, and has seen roughly half of his 2016 support evaporate in the last three years. He’s a front-runner, he might win if he never has to get 50%, but Bernie Sanders has no particular momentum, or recent strength that should back up his supposed “momentum.” All of this reporting is a myth.

So- why? Honestly, I have no idea. I’d love to know why @NYTLiz, @kenvogel, and @katierogers are all racing to aid Bernie right now. Of course they’ll call it a ridiculous accusation. Who would ever question their intentions?

Since Bernie’s Visiting My Home, Let Me Welcome Him…

Bernie Sanders will be about fifteen minutes from my home tonight, in Bethlehem, PA, where I went to college, doing a town hall on Fox News. Given the “help” that the “Bernie Bros” gave me in helping build up a Twitter following of 10,000 people, help received in the form of being put on a hit list and targeted for harassment, I feel like the least of things I could do for ole’ Bernard is to welcome him to the swing area of one of the key swing states, the Lehigh Valley.

Let’s dispense with some of the basic buzzwords we know are coming from Senator Bernard. Yes, the Lehigh Valley was the epicenter of a generation ago’s working class America. Bethlehem Steel, Mack Trucks, and Ingersoll-Rand did employ tens of thousands of people, many of whom were off the boat Catholic Europeans (white working class for those of you new to this.). Thanks to the Steelworkers, UAW, and many of the other major industrial unions that make up the Building Trades unions, thousands of middle class households had a good living. All of those companies are gone though, and while strengthening unions is still a key part of our politics here, other things matter too. What other things? Well, for one, immigration reform is important to our growing Latino population, and to the growing tech industry here (we have over a half dozen colleges). Bernie May want to avoid that subject though, since he voted against immigration reform when he had a chance. The main point though is that there’s bigger issues to us than bringing back yesterday’s economy for the Lehigh Valley, we’ve moved on. Even most of our union members are working on 21st century projects that fit a community that is progressing with the world- so talk to us about that.

We know we’re also going to get a large helping of “Medicare for All,” free college, and “Green New Deal” talk. All are noble ideas, but trouble voters in a swing district suburban area like this. These middle class voters wonder if the tax hikes associated with his Medicare for All plan will be larger than their current costs of premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, not whether or not the total cost is bigger or smaller for our macro-economy. The thousands of people employed by Lehigh Valley Hospital and St. Luke’s hospitals, two of our region’s largest employers, wonder if their jobs will survive under his revamped system, as do all of the folks working in the health insurance industry around here. As I said above, we have over a half dozen colleges and universities in this area, and the employees there wonder what will happen to them if Senator Bernard’s plan for tuition-free college passes. Many, many people in the Lehigh Valley commute to work in North Jersey, New York City, and Philadelphia, almost all by car, and wonder what will change under Sanders’ climate policies, or how he would fund a massive investment in mass transit from this region to those hubs, to get people off the roads. Will Bernie address these concerns tonight? Of course not. He’ll broadly talk about making the economy “fair,” which to these people sounds like they’ll get the shaft when the details get sorted out. He’ll stay at thirty-thousand feet with the details on funding, talking about “taxing billionaires” and cuts to Defense spending and corporate welfare, all great places to start, but folks around here know that’s not enough to get the job done. In short, Bernie will appeal to his base with red meat, and not to most of the people of this swing area of a swing state.

With all of that said, it should serve as no surprise that Bernie’s track record here isn’t so great, politically speaking. In the 2016 Presidential primary, Bernie lost Northampton County (50-47) and Lehigh County (52-47), as well as neighboring Monroe (53-46), despite the fact that Clinton struggled in the region and never even visited during the primary or general election. Not one significant public official on the Democratic side- the Congresswoman, our long-time State Senator, either county’s Democratic County Executive, any of the four major mayors, the District Attorney and Controller in Northampton County, or any of the state representatives in the region have endorsed Bernie in 2016 or 2020. Most of the unions that he will speak about a lot tonight, also backed Hillary in 2016. Bernie has not had much appeal here. Early national and Pennsylvania polling show Joe Biden handily beating Bernie here, and show Bernie’s support as being almost cut in half since 2016. People are waking up to the sham he is.

It’s time to be honest about who Bernie is- he fashions himself as a European style leftist, but really is just a critic of the Democratic Party that lacks substantive answers. It’s all “30,000 feet,” it’s all just about pointing out the compromises Democrats make to get things done, and it’s all preaching to the choir about what he’d do, with no realistic plans to get there. I’m glad he’s campaigning to my home area, but there’s all of a zero chance I’ll support him.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Bernard.

A Hit Job By Any Standard

Let me start by saying what I think- It’s not going to work. I don’t believe attacking Joe Biden for kissing a woman on the back of her head, or rubbing noses with a woman is going to kill his potential Presidential bid. While it might resonate with supporters of Bernie Sanders, or more activist driven feminists, those folks weren’t going to probably support Biden in the Democratic Primaries anyway. Biden’s base of support within the party, a base that currently puts him in the lead, would probably require a much higher standard of wrong doing- something much closer to criminal, to even give it much thought. These aren’t the issues animating them, and they’re not likely to be moved by them.

Let’s be clear for a second that while Biden is very popular within the party, he’s not universally loved, or the absolute sure thing, silver bullet candidate his fans sell him as. He’s run and lost for the nomination twice. He’s gaffe prone, at times. He’s an old, white male, and there are plenty of people in the party who would rather not do that. I like Biden a lot, and could easily vote for him in November against Donald Trump, without second thoughts, even with these attacks on him. I’m also not committing myself to support him yet, because well, he does have flaws.

Let’s also be clear that what’s being done here is an absolute political hit job. Lucy Flores, a Bernie Sanders supporter and surrogate, dropped this revelation about Joe Biden “smelling her hair” and “kissing the back of her head” on the Friday before the second fundraising quarter was set to begin- roughly the point where many folks believe Biden may enter the race. It got her on the Sunday shows, and now a Congressional aide comes out and says he “rubbed their noses” together the next day. It comes as polls show Biden with a significant lead nationally, and a lead in the kickoff state of Iowa. A Biden candidacy right now would be the biggest roadblock for Bernie Sanders, Flores’ candidate of choice. To be clear from the pictures above, Flores isn’t always upset by older men entering her personal space in a friendly manner. If you think this is all happening randomly and accidentally right now, I have some ocean front property for you in Nebraska.

Now, through all of this, let’s be clear here, I’m not saying we should give Biden a pass here. Hair sniffing is kind of weird. His intimate, physical style of interacting may not be welcome by everyone, and if it isn’t, he needs to understand that and adjust his behavior accordingly. Stephanie Carter, the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter, rushed to Biden’s defense when a picture of him touching her shoulders was used to attack Biden’s style, as did several former female aides to Biden. They are entitled to their feelings on Biden’s actions, as is Flores and those who don’t appreciate it. I’m not going to rush to judgment on other people’s feelings. When Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders a decade ago in Iowa, it didn’t bother me, but I only get my say.

I just wish people would be honest about their real issues with Joe Biden, rather than making a mockery of real accusations against actual monsters. Lucy Flores is already backing away from making this a sexual harassment issue, instead saying it’s a “personal space issue.” Can we call it what it really is though- a front-running candidate issue. Some people don’t like Biden on ideological grounds. Others don’t like him because they don’t feel he represents the identity of the base of the Democratic Party. These are legitimate reasons to oppose a Joe Biden candidacy for President. Pretending Biden is some sort of predator for kissing the top of a woman’s head, or rubbing noses, is a ridiculous hit job, being done on the behalf of an inferior candidate for President that is not as likable or achieved as Biden. Should Joe check this behavior? Yeah, while it’s endearing to me, it’s just not something he can do indiscriminately in 2019. His rivals should stick to taking him on with real issues, not making the entire American left look like a bunch of prude clowns though.

There Will Be No Peace

I wish I could say that I was shocked that NYU students Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf cornered and berated Chelsea Clinton at a vigil for the Muslim victims of the terrorist shooting in New Zealand that killed 50 people, but I’m not. I wish I could say these two young people had a point, but they don’t. I wish I could say that I’m glad to see young people engaging the political process, but I’m not. About the only thing I take from this unhinged and unfair behavior is that I told you so.

Chelsea Clinton is not a public official. She has never run for public office. Despite popular opinion, she is not actually her mother or her father. By the way, her former President father isn’t running for office ever again. Her former Secretary of State and Senator mother is also not a candidate for office either. Strange as this is for many supporters of Bernie Sanders, Chelsea Clinton is just a pregnant woman in New York with her own career and a famous last name. You’re not really “speaking truth to power” when you corner her at a public event to attack her views, you’re just using her fame to get yourself attention.

Here’s the real kicker though- Dweik and Asaf are wrong about Chelsea Clinton, and Clinton is right on her criticisms of Ilhan Omar that angered them so much. Now I’ve given my opinion of the good and the bad on Omar already, but here’s the simple fact- Omar has repeatedly used anti-semitic and over the top language in her criticisms. One doesn’t need to say Israel hypnotizes it’s supporters, or that it’s “All About the Benjamins” to allude to Israel buying support, when making the very plausible case that the Netanyahu Israeli Government is ineffective, opposes peace, and is bad for both U.S. and Israeli interests. It is a point that can be made without slurring a whole religion or nation. It is a point that can be made without old-line anti-semitism accusing “the Jews” of using money to control the world. Omar is a smart enough woman to know what her words mean, to choose the words she wants to use, and to understand context. She chose not to. She deserved every condemnation she got for that. Perhaps these young ladies are drawn to defend her though because she aligns with their views- one of them has actually called for Israel to be demolished. I am not a supporter of Likud and Benjamin Netanyahu, but these are radical views that should not be given credence.

Let’s be clear here, the American far-left is radical. It is not just fighting a war against Trump extremism, but against anyone who doesn’t accept their “revolution.” I’ve personally been put on their hit-lists, but worse yet, I’ve seen them bully people in public, like in this case. It doesn’t matter if you are Chelsea Clinton or some private citizen living in Southwest DC, these folks are ready to attack you, and even cause your career harm. Behavior like these NYU students displayed is not an exception, or something to be treated as an isolated incident. This is the norm. This is how they wish to conduct politics. This is what they want the American left to be.

I see no pathway to peace between the Democratic Party and the Bernie-inspired far-left. I’m sick and tired of hearing Democrats say we all need to “unite,” and “be positive” with these folks. It’s not going to happen. They’re never coming to the table to unite. Stop pretending that it can happen when only one side is interested in it. These people wish to destroy the Democratic Party, not work with it.

The Clinton-Sanders primary has been over for more than 2.5 years. Like Japanese troops who didn’t know World War II was over and continued to fight, these students are in the ranks that haven’t stopped fighting yesterday’s war. You can’t make peace with these people.

He Woulda’ Lost

One of the favorite refrains of the Berner crowd is that “Bernie would have won.” Their logic is pretty straight forward- Hillary *barely* lost the 2016 Election, and Bernie had less baggage. The belief of Berniestan is that he would have won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. After all, he’d do better with groups she underperformed with, he’d motivate more people, and he’s the most popular politician in the country. Right?

Hillary Clinton actually beat Bernie. Despite the fact she lost the general election, she beat Bernie Sanders handily in the 2016 primary, by every metric available. With or without super delegates, regardless of caucus or primaries, and without any DNC interference, Hillary beat him. She beat him in pledged delegates. She beat him by about 15% in the popular vote. She had all but won the nomination by March. In fact, if caucuses were eliminated in places like Nebraska and Washington, in favor of higher turnout primaries, she would have beat him even worse. When on the ballot, Bernie’s alleged popularity never showed up. He got crushed.

Hillary was once the most popular politician in America too. In fact, she was so right up until she ran for President in 2016. When you’re not a candidate, that’s normal. When you’re not the front-runner, that’s normal. When no one thinks you can win, you’re popular. Bernie did not face much in actual vetting and criticism in 2016, because no one believed he would win, ever. No one believed he would be nominated or elected. This time he will enter as one of the few front-runners in a big field. Had he been nominated in 2016, he would have faced unprecedented scrutiny, for him. A nominated Bernie would probably not be the most popular politician in the country, and would probably end up viewed quite partisanly.

Bernie is weak with white people too. Like every other Democrat in America, he’s under water. He’s above water with women, but under with men. He’s above water with African-Americans. In other words, once Bernie became known, he became similar to just about any national Democratic candidate in terms of who supports him. In other words, it’s far from clear he’d win people Hillary did not.

Bernie’s support from African-American’s is wide, but shallow. Like every other national Democratic figure, Bernie Sanders and his policies are popular with the most loyal Democratic voting bloc. The thing is, the votes never followed Bernie in 2016. He was crushed in South Carolina, and every other majority-minority primary, particularly African-American ones. His endorsed candidates in 2018 generally lost non-white voters. At no point has Bernie shown an ability to turn favorable ratings from African-American voters into votes. His inability to energize African-American voters, coupled with his rather normal white approvals, would have made winning in 2016, or for that matter 2020, very difficult.

Bernie is basically a left-wing Democrat, politically, but he simply rejects the party base. Bernie has spoken pretty openly against identity politics. In other words, he’s not trying to deepen his wide but shallow support among African-Americans, women, or Latinos. It would have been hard to turn out more of these voters by eschewing their particular interests. Given that Bernie is rather average as far as candidates go otherwise, how would he change the results of 2016?

Bernie Sanders would have lost- and would lose in 2020 if he changes nothing. While he has had high approval numbers in the past (his latest I’ve seen are 44-42), those numbers will melt towards an average Democrat’s over the course of the race. He will have to win in a rather standard, boiler plate fashion in 2020- something he was utterly incapable of in 2016. What’s worse for him is that he won’t have Hillary as a foil this time. This time it will be him under the microscope. That would have been the kiss of death in 2016. It should remain a concern in 2020.

A Little Cold Water on Bernie and His Ideas

The year was 1992. I was 9. The youngest eligible 2020 voters were not born for another decade. The Mayor of Burlington, Vermont was elected to be the lone Congressman from his state. A full 27 years will have passed by since that night by the time the Iowa Caucus is contested in February of 2020. That former Burlington Mayor will be nearly 80 years old.

2020 is not 2016, and Bernie Sanders is not what he’s claimed to be. He’s certainly not the outsider he claimed to be in 2016- He’s been in Washington over a quarter-century. His achievements there are not numerous, and probably don’t even outshine his disastrous tenure overseeing the Veteran Affairs Department as a chairman in the U.S. Senate. His 26 years (to date) Congressional career lacks accomplishments, and would not inspire one to think he’s the change agent he claims. In fact many of his “bold” ideas- “free” college, Medicare for All, massive action on climate change, $15 minimum wage- were things he wasn’t really championing before he launched his 2016 campaign. Bernie probably wasn’t fighting for them much because he actually does understand legislating- they weren’t going to pass Congress, maybe in his lifetime, let alone career.

But let’s talk about his actual record, shall we? While his supporters beat the crap out of Hillary Clinton for saying “super predators,” Bernie actually voted for the crime bill in Congress. He voted against immigration reform in 2007. He voted to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits connected to shooting deaths. If you google each of these votes, you’ll find Vox, or some other generally liberal news source tell you why “it’s complicated,” and you know what? It is. But we lived through 2016, where Bernie and his online bros told us why Hillary Clinton was a “neoliberal” or “corporate whore,” and why all of us were too for supporting him. Bernie’s “purity” argument against Hillary for taking campaign contributions was supposed to suggest she was corrupt by the system, that she could be bought, which is why she wanted to improve the ACA instead of push Medicare for All, or why she supported strengthening Dodd-Frank over re-passing the antiquated Glass-Steagall Act. Bernie knew his argument wasn’t grounded in reality- that’s why he took complicated votes on the 1994 Crime Bill, on protecting gun manufacturers in a pro-gun state, in immigration reform, and yes, even in support of the ACA. I can accept that legislating isn’t pure, and would give him a pass, but he and his supporters didn’t afford that same reality to Hillary Clinton.

I understand why some Democrats like Bernie’s ideas- there’s power in aspiration. It gives you something to aim at. Let me be clear though- Bernie will never, ever get you there. Is that clear enough? He has not shown a record of being able to pass difficult bills, like say a Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, or even (sometimes controversially) a Joe Biden. It’s not clear Democrats could get 218 votes entirely in their own 235 member House caucus without any Republican help for his health care, taxes, or energy plans. Democrats barely were able to push the ACA, “Cap and Trade,” or Dodd-Frank through the House in Obama’s first two years, with similar majorities. There’s literally zero chance of the Democrats getting 60 votes for his plans to pass the Senate in their current forms. He doesn’t have the skill and tact to do what President Obama could not, which is get Republicans to the table.

Reality isn’t something that curtails Bernie’s ambitions though. He lost the primaries in 2016 by hundreds of delegates, or by any other measure or system you want. She beat him by well north of 10% in the popular vote. She won a majority of pledged delegates. She crushed him with super delegates. He was basically done after South Carolina, and had no mathematical shot at all after New York, but kept her running all the way to California in a hopeless slog, and then all the way to the convention. Never mind that he had no plan to achieve his policy goals, he had no plan to win the nomination either. He just kept running. His wife, who bankrupt a college, had the audacity to ask the FBI to “hurry up” with their Clinton e-mail server investigation. His supporters came to the convention in Philadelphia and made it a shit show. They played right along with Trump’s “crooked Hillary” messaging. It certainly didn’t help. Bernie just kept trudging along.

Bernie Sanders is not an outsider. He’s not a revolutionary. He’s not even a Democrat. He’s an angry man that is doing this for self benefit, to the point of paying his wife, step-daughter, and son to be advisors. He knows he can’t deliver his promises, but he’ll puff you up on them anyway, to collect those $27 donations and pay his family. Fortunately, I don’t think he’ll win, or even do as well this time. For all the talk of him being “the most popular politician in the country,” it’s worth noting that Hillary was that too, before she wasn’t. This time Bernie won’t benefit from being the recipient of the “anti-Hillary” vote in what was basically a one-on-one race, and will face a large field of newer, shinier objects. Already his 40% from 2016 is down below 20% in polls, because voters are not that into him. If you were betting Bernie against the field, you’d be smart to take the field.

I hated basically everything about the 2016 election, even down to a lot of things Hillary’s campaign did, but I liked her. Bernie and his supporters made the whole experience rotten. Their online attacks didn’t stop though in 2016, and continued into the Trump era. I’m proud to say I voted against him then, and will again. I’ll wear the crazies’ attacks as a badge of honor going into 2020, right down to the enemies list I made:

I’m going to have to go with “Thank you, next,” on Bernie 2020.

My Evolution on Bernie- From Harmless to Negative

There was a time when I really didn’t mind Bernie Sanders. I thought he was too far left to be President, but I was generally, philosophically fine with him. Yes, we need to invest more in the working class, sure we do need to regulate big banks, and yes we do need to expand access to health care. Sure, the devil is in the details, but that devil was less important than the broad agreement.

So as the 2016 Presidential process began, I was actually not really anti-Bernie. I supported Clinton. I liked O’Malley. I thought Bernie represented an important voice. When January of 2016 came, I even collected petition signatures to get Bernie on the Pennsylvania ballot (I also did this for Clinton, but I don’t often carry for more than one candidate in a race). Bernie seemed fine to me, and I liked that he was collecting younger supporters.

So what changed, and how? I didn’t go from “fine with Bernie” to fierce critic over night. While I’m unimpressed by his biography and personal flaws, I knew most of that when he entered. I knew he had very little support from non-white voters. I knew he wasn’t a Democrat. I knew all of that, but still didn’t hate him. I even knew he called himself a socialist- which didn’t bother me yet, as I had never hated socialism (my advisor in college was a socialist). Yet, today I’m passionately never Bernie.

For me, the first annoyance point with Bernie came in his disastrous New York Daily News editorial board interview, and the fallout from it. He was universally panned for it, then lost the New York race decisively, then stayed in the race. It was great that Sanders wanted to be a fighter for the working class, but he really hadn’t done his homework to explain how he was going to do it. This was the point I started to believe he was misleading the flock.

The next real annoyance was here in Pennsylvania, just after New York. Several friends of mine were running for delegate to the convention for Bernie. They worked hard to help him, and to be on the ballot, and probably felt like the campaign should help them. Instead, a group of the other Bernie delegates and supporters put out a voter guide saying not to vote for the establishment Bernie delegates on the ballot, only those who would refuse to support Hillary, ever. It was at that point I realized that these people were total wackos. As the weeks went by, right through California, this became more and more clear.

When the primaries ended, I expected peace to come soon after. I thought maybe the crazies wouldn’t support Clinton, but I expected the campaign eventually would. Then Bernie kept up his rhetoric about corruption. Then came the big blow- Jane Sanders saying the FBI needs to “hurry up” their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Jane was feeding into the right-wing crackpot investigations. It’s fair to say I enjoy that she’s under investigation now.

The breaking point came in Philadelphia, at the convention. Had Team Sanders been firm, but gracious in defeat, I could have given them credit. Instead they pushed out the DNC Chairwoman, held anti-Clinton rallies and marches, and raised holy hell in the convention. While I give some credit to Bernie for campaigning for Hillary after that, the damage his people did in Philadelphia was lasting and unforgivable. Wikileaks played them for willful idiots, and they were right.

The weeks after the 2016 Election were bitter and cold. Infighting ran rampant after Hillary’s loss. Just days before Trump’s inauguration, Bernie supporters were launching attacks on Cory Booker for “supporting pharma”- because he voted for a non-binding resolution about reimportation and negotiating drug prices that wasn’t Bernie’s. Then Bernie insulted the Democratic Party while on a listening tour with our next chairman. Those early days of Trump were a chance for Bernie to be a force for good. He didn’t bother.

It would unfair to lump all Bernie supporters into one “bad apple” camp. There are those like Tulsi Gabbard, Susan Sarandon, and Shaun King who actively tried to harm Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, as opposed to the majority who did not. There are Bernie-backed candidates in 2018 like Andrew Gillum (who backed Clinton) that are full of good ideas, positivity, and hope- but there are also straight-up troublemakers like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who provide the same negative value as the 2016 troublemakers. Bernie had some outstanding staffers on his campaign that do amazing work, and really don’t deserve disparaging remarks either. There are always shades of gray.

What I figured out about Bernie though is that he’s a fraud who isn’t really interested in a better tomorrow, unless he owns that tomorrow. His interest is in being a critic against the Democratic Party, rather than governing and leading. He’s not serious about the details, only about the rhetoric that brings in the $27 donations. He’ll go to the Senate and mostly vote right, but when he votes against immigration reform or gun control, he’ll want you to hear out his nuances, while he’ll crush Cory Booker out of hand for having his own state-based, nuanced positions. The man exposed who he was to me, and I did not like it.

Tom Perez and the DNC Fail Their Voters

By every measure we have, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Democratic Nomination for President by a country mile. Current DNC Chairman Tom Perez supported her at that time, and got some mention as a potential running-mate for her. Clinton won the pledged delegate count cleanly, the overall delegate count clearly, and the popular vote by roughly 15%. Despite the cries of conspiracy nuts, there is no sign that the DNC took any clear or tangible act to support Clinton in her race against Bernie Sanders. Even the over zealous cries of a “rigged” primary by Donna Brazile and others had to be walked back when placed under the microscope of reality in the time since the conclusion of the 2016 Election.

Here’s the fact- the 2016 Democratic Primaries were totally fair, Hillary cleanly beat Bernie, the “superdelegates” have never tipped a Democratic nomination against the winner of the pledged delegate count, and the Democratic Party had absolutely no need to reform their process in selecting a Presidential nominee. Despite the complaints of backers of Bernie Sanders, he quite simply lost the vote to be the Democratic nominee. The voters did not want him. The DNC under Perez has chosen to “bend the knee” to an old man who lost clearly, and is not a member of our party. No one actually benefits here, except for potentially the GOP.

There was no pressing need to change the Democratic nomination rules. Never since the adoption of the modern Democratic Convention nomination rules have the delegates chosen to override the selection of the elected delegates to be our Presidential candidate. This includes the nominations of Hillary, Barack, Kerry, Gore, Clinton, Dukakis, Mondale, and Carter. There is no need to “return the nominating process to the grassroots,” because the will of the people has always been done.

Beyond that point though, the reforms being done will cut off more access for party activists, not improve it. More party and elected leaders are likely to run for pledged delegate slots to the national convention, given their inability to vote on the first ballot, cutting down the opportunity for most common voters to be a delegate. Given the probability of a large 2020 field, there is a high likelihood that those superdelegates that don’t run as pledged delegates will decide the nominee if the vote goes to a second ballot. In the search for a problem to solve, the DNC made their process less fair and likely to increase access to the grassroots, and probably created an unnecessary monster for 2020.

The Democratic Party made their Presidential nominating process worse for 2020. While “solving” false problems, they made it less likely we get a fair nominee. More importantly, they paid mere lip service to real problems of voter suppression. They didn’t force states outside of the “first four” to abandon caucuses (states after Iowa and Nevada don’t nearly get enough personalized attention from candidates and campaigns to justify highly restrictive caucus systems). They didn’t ban “open primaries” that encourage non-Democrats to run. They did nothing to empower the Democratic base in the process. They empowered loons and wackos, and made it harder to stop future unelectable, “McGovern style” nominees from getting nominated.

Tom Perez’s DNC should never have entertained suggestions to change the nomination process from the “Unity Reform Commission.” These folks set out to do damage, and their reforms do more harm than good.