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On a Potential Sanders Primary Challenge

Having made an offhand remark in another thread (indicating that if the Virginia primary were held today and it was Obama and Sanders on the Democratic side, I'd vote for Sanders--still true as of today, BTW) I want to elaborate a bit, partly so as to do what I can to avoid being misunderstood. 
Two thought experiments. 

1. Our sitting President and Bernie Sanders each has up to one hour to talk about what he sees happening, what are the major challenges our country and our world are facing, and what are the kinds of measures he would try early in his next, or first, term as President, if elected.  They speak in turn before a randomly selected audience of, say, 500 or 1000 young people, ages, say, 18-30.  

 After the time is up, the audience is polled as to which description of the current situation and directions for change is more accurate, and more appealing to them. 

Care to bet which individual's "presentation" would win majority support?

I would bet that Bernie Sanders, age 69, white hair, enjoying his golden years if he had decided not to opt for public life, would win a majority of that audience.

Sanders would give an abbreviated version of what he said in his 8 1/2 hour December Senate floor speech opposing the proposal the President had negotiated with the Republicans.  He would talk about how we really do need to break up too big to fail banks and enlist the support of the American people in that fight that cannot possibly be won inside the Beltway.  He would talk about how we need to enlist the American people in a campaign to repeal a bad budget deal the President reached with the Republicans late last year, and that we need to use some of the money we could recapture doing that to create infrastructure-rebuilding green jobs for some of those without jobs in this economy.  He would say we need to try something on campaign finance to deal with the pernicious effects of Citizens United, maybe Lawrence Lessig's latest ideas on how to fix Congress first, to make it the peoples' Congress, or something a lot closer to it.  He would respectfully request the Senate to change its rules so that majority rule becomes what the American public undoubtedly assumed it was, the norm, that the Senate might become an institution capable of making decisions with 51 instead of 60 votes, that it would cease to be an institution that could be used, repeatedly, 200 times over the preceding 2 years, to prevent up or down votes on substantive bills from even occurring.  And he would ask the American public to write their Senators, be they Republicans, Democrats, or Independents, and support his request.

Sanders would be the first to say he doesn't have all the answers.  That alone should get him candor points but offering versions of what he's been saying would give a sense of his values and ways of thinking for people to go by.  His approach would be non-doctrinaire and pragmatic in the good sense.  He would say that he would try things to deal with the central challenges (I'd trust Paul Volcker to know how to break up the big financial institutions without doing more harm than good--would you?), and if they don't work, we'll discard them and try other things.  Like FDR.  Bold (emphasis added), persistent experimentation.  (BTW, FDR's 1932 campaign was not won on the basis of one or two or a lot of specific "new ideas".  In fact, he even sounded budget-balancing themes.  What he was very clear about was that he would try things to address the real problems, discard what didn't work, and stay with what did work.  But that he would try things.  And he asked the American public to contact their members of Congress to support his efforts. Which they did.) 

The President would offer his WTF vision as laid out in his SOTU.

And then there would be a vote.  And a majority of the young people, the people who presumably would never, ever, not in a million years ever choose what old Bernie Sanders had to say over what suave Barack Obama had to say, would do just that. 

2. If key pieces of legislation passed by Nancy Pelosi's House, Blue Dogs and all, had been able to get up-or-down votes in the Senate--cap-and-trade (inadequate, but an important start had it passed) and the $200 billion green-tinted infrastructure jobs bill (possibly all we could administratively handle in the near-term but a very worthy and important, I would say crucial, measure nonetheless)--neither would have passed.   

But at least there would have been transparency and accountability.  We'd know where our Senators truly stand on these matters.  That those measures did in fact pass the House suggests that progressives really were not very far away from making what many more of us would have considered a satisfactory start on a progressive agenda. 

The conversation right now, not just in progressive blogosphere but among progressive activists around the country, would be different.  It would be nowhere near as critical of Obama.  There would be nowhere near the sense of despair or anger among many who supported this President's campaign with enthusiasm and a real sense of hope. 

Yes, I know.  Coulda woulda shoulda.  It didn't happen.  But to those who have already given up on the Democratic party or are thinking of doing that I'd say that we were not that far away from getting a decent start on getting some important things done.  Which is pretty remarkable when you consider the forces we are up against. 

With Pelosi sworn in as the next House Speaker in January 2013, following a bigger Democratic rout than the Republican rout we saw in November, a Democratic Senate that has, or quickly proceeds to, change its rules so majority vote on substantive bills becomes the norm, and a re-elected President who has made some mid-course corrections and gotten majority public opinion squarely on his side on the economic issues in particular...well, there is your most doable possibility for moving farther forward, more publicly, more aggressively, and with greater success, some of the progressive policy agenda that was advanced tentatively and with some positive, but for many of us disappointing and inadequate overall, results in 2009-2010.  (end of thought experiment #2)

Sanders in the Democratic primaries could strengthen the Democratic party and its ability to advance a progressive agenda.  There are never any guarantees--indeed, one must acknowledge the risks--but that would be my hope at this point.  How is it possible that our President could come to see possibilities in enlisting the public on the side of a progressive economic agenda, along some of the lines Sanders advocates, unless someone willing to try to make that apparent seizes the opportunity to provide that demonstration? 

Most politicians, incumbent politicians especially, are, understandably, risk averse.  However: sometimes they are too risk averse.  Skeptical as to whether opportunities so far blocked can be created, confident that by seeming safer and more "centrist" (in the case of presidential elections in particular) and less scary than the opposition, they decline to do so.  We end up with safe, "centrist" incumbents defeating opponents who are more flawed or easier to marginalize.  In particular elections that might be a good or at least less unhelpful outcome.  But for a country facing the kinds of problems we are facing, "safe" simply will not do. 

Bernie Sanders is a centered, mature, pragmatic adult.  He is an Independent, but, unlike Lieberman, he doesn't preen in front of the cameras while threatening to bolt to the GOP side if his particular desires are not accommodated.  In the imperfect, but worthwhile-as-a-start financial reform bill, he was able to get a number of transparency and accountability-enhancing provisions into that legislation, which he voted for believing it was not adequate by itself.  I believe he is fully aware of the dangers of primary challenges, of how they can, potentially and often in fact have, weaken incumbents who are far preferable to the opposition party's candidate.  I would trust his judgments on what to say and not say--if he decides to register as a Democrat and challenge Obama in the primaries. 

His would of necessity be a very low-budget campaign, almost entirely dependent on how much free media he could attract.  If he surprised in Iowa and early primaries that could be a lot, at least for a time.  If not, if he bombed early and dropped out, I don't see much of a case that he would have harmed Obama for the general.  In fact, Obama might welcome a challenge he vanquishes so as to enable him to make a case that his course of action is strongly preferred (even if that conclusion would not necessarily follow) and look like the "centrist" he clearly wants to look like heading into next year.  If Sanders did surprisingly well, well, wouldn't it be important, in a country that likes to talk as though the people are the ultimate rulers, for there to be some national conversation about what that would mean?    

My guess is that the more people hear Bernie Sanders, the more sense he makes to them, that a lot of Americans will resonate to what he has to say, if they hear it.  Some who are not now Democrats might even conclude that if Bernie Sanders has decided that the place for him is the Democratic party, maybe it could be the place for them, too.

Unless I had evidence that the state Democratic parties were going below the belt trying to keep him off the ballot, I would be inclined not to sign a petition to put Sanders on the ballot as a 3rd party candidate, if that is the route he chose.  I would not support his candidacy as a 3rd party candidacy.  I find it hard to imagine any circumstances under which I will not vote for the Democratic nominee for President. 

The above said, such time and energies and available money as I have available to me I expect to devote to supporting a progressive, Amy Dean-style, social movement, grassroots, pro-growth and pro-equity, coalition-oriented, collaborate-wherever-possible but confront-wherever-neccessary, labor movement resurgence, and to efforts to recruit and support viable economically progressive Democratic party House and Senate candidates for the 2012 elections. 

If Obama looks to be in trouble having moved in a progressive direction on economic issues as I am hoping he will, I will be as vocal and active in support of him as I can.  I believe many who supported him in 2008 but have become disillusioned and may not otherwise exert on his behalf, would do likewise.  If he wants to run an uninspiring, audacity-challenged, less-scary-than-my-opponent, hug-the-center campaign, which it very much looks to me as though he's going to do, I don't believe he's going to need my attention or help in support of that kind of campaign.  My efforts, such as they are, will be focused elsewhere.  

But...we'll see.  Now is the time to be talking about this stuff and making decisions and commitments.  Not September 2012.    

Nicely done.  This is a difficult topic to get out and not be misunderstood by those who are understandably fearful of a Republican in the White House.  I do have one first quick question.  Why is the audience just those 18-30?  I can speculate on the reason, but it seems to give their preferences more weight than those older folks who actually show up in the non-presidential elections, etc.  I think it is fine to get the youth input, but not to the exclusion of the more "mature" crowd.  Just one facet is that I think one might find the 18 to 30s having a slightly different perspective on Social Security than the 30 to 50 crowd or the 50+ crowd.

Yes, of course, the audience for the first thought experiment could be expanded. 

I picked ages 18-30 partly in response to Genghis' challenge the other day, whereby he maintains that progressives need new ideas to galvanize the young and today's future-oriented adults.  I thought that if I'm right and Bernie Sanders gets more support for what he says than our President, then that might be a first small clue that the Democratic party can do far better in speaking to young people in this country, in addressing their future, which after all is our future as well. 

The young people who rose up peacefully in Cairo and worked a minor miracle as I understand it consisted significantly of professionally educated people who could not get jobs.  I don't know whether Egyptian public officials have been saying the same thing Democratic politicians in the US have been saying--get yourself a good education and you'll be able to get a good job.  In the US young people have been told, look, manufacturing jobs are disappearing and you wouldn't want them anyway.  Get yourself educational credentials. 

Well, a lot of young people followed that advice.  And many of them are finding that, guess what, there are no jobs for them, either.  This issue isn't going away and I don't know of any easy or obvious answers to it.  But I also think the scope of conversation about it that is permitted in polite, respectable insider political circles is ludicrously constricted, far too wedded to conventional assumptions.  Perhaps the rulers of the universe are hoping maybe the public doesn't notice that they aren't offering anything that sounds particularly promising, given that any reassurance offered on this question would almost surely have to represent a leap of faith at this point.  Well, suffice it to say I believe the public does notice and thinks about this all the time. Very much including our young people.  The political party or elected official which offers the best approach to this question stands a good chance of owning the political near-term. 

Also, check your email inbox.  Unless you'd rather not have a chance of receiving a very small contribution in support of the organization you work for.

 

On the desirability of a primary challenge, I found only this old poll (h/t Stardust)

There have been rumblings in the political sphere about another Democrat challenging President Obama for the party’s nomination in 2012. And, in fact, Democrats and Democratic leaning independent voters divide about the idea. 46% do not want such a challenge to occur, but 45% do. Nine percent are unsure.

An even break down the middle of the party. And also other interesting details

...a plurality of Democrats -- 42% -- would like to see a more liberal challenger while half of Democratic leaning independents -- 50% -- would like to see a more conservative one.

More at the link.

Thanks, Obey.  Interesting.  Of course, in line with a theme of stuff I've written here about the ambiguity involved in use of labels to describe one's philosophy, I would have loved to see breakdowns among self-described liberals, conservatives, and indies (other categories, too) on issue-specific questions of the sort Sanders raised in his Senate speech, instead of "more liberal" or "more conservative". 

Such as:

1. Some believe that individuals and interest groups who contribute large amounts of money to political campaigns have too much influence over policy decisions.  Do you:

a. agree

b. disagree

c. not sure

2. Among those who believe that the views of ordinary voters have too little influence relative to those of wealthy individuals and interest groups, one proposal is to (short description of Fair Elections Now Act http://www.fixcongressfirst.org/pages/fair-elections-now-act/)  Under current campaign financing laws....

Which best describes your views?

a. I'd like to see the Fair Elections Now Act tried

b. I think the current system is best

c. Not sure.

d. None of the above (please specify)

Ask similar questions about a green infrastructure public jobs bill, about whether the Senate should change its rules to make majority vote the norm, whether financial institutions that were considered "too big to fail" during the 2008 financial meltdown and received taxpayer funding to prevent that from happening need to be broken up into entities small enough so that their failure does not put the US or global economy at risk, etc. 

I'd love to see the overall responses on those kinds of questions, as well as breakdowns among Dems, Reps, Indies (Dem-leaning and Rep-leaning), etc.  I think those results could prove very interesting.  For example, I would bet that a significant number of folks who identify with the Tea Party (or who would, if asked) would say break up the big financial institutions so they are not too big to fail.

File it under wry humor, a piece about Obama's team looking to 'fire up his base':

"Despite his pleas, many Obama supporters clearly are disappointed. When he was inaugurated, 83 percent of Democrats said they expected his presidency to be above average, and nearly half predicted it would be "outstanding," an AP-GfK poll found. Two years later, 68 percent of Democrats rated it above average so far, and just 20 percent called it outstanding."  (High numbers, IMO; who knows?)

[snip]  Re: youth vote:

"For now, the Obama team is unveiling few new ideas specifically keyed to firing up core constituencies. A recent White House conference call urged young voters to hold roundtables, which administration officials may attend, to discuss priorities and offer feedback.

Beyond that, Obama eventually plans large rallies similar to those in 2008. They create showy spectacles that excite young voters, but they also serve a fundraising role. People who enter the stadiums or buy Obama T-shirts are asked to provide their names and contact information, which are used later to request donations and volunteer activities."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110315/ap_on_re_us/us_obama_campaign_enthusiasm

The only reservation I have about this piece is saying you won't NOT vote for the Democratic nominee.  I hear you, and have read your reasoning before, but I don't agree.  WADR.  ;O)

The only reservation I have about this piece is saying you won't NOT vote for the Democratic nominee. 

What I wrote was:

I find it hard to imagine any circumstances under which I will not vote for the Democratic nominee for President. 

I left the door slightly ajar, deliberately so.  It's a decision I won't have to make for awhile yet.  I don't know how anyone could know what the circumstances will be when it comes time for each of us to make that decision.  We don't know who the Republican nominee will be.  We don't know if there will be a third party candidate and, if so, who it will be, and what that person will be saying.  (is it conceivable such person could be advocating a direction for the country that is worse than what we have been pursuing under Obama?  My answer is yes.  I also don't think that is saying much since it is almost always possible to imagine a worse situation, one of the things Obama has going for him, as the Republicans remind us on a daily basis.)  We don't know whether/if/how Obama will handle the upcoming budget battles.  Will he capitulate to the threat of a shutdown?  Stand tall, whack the Republicans like Clinton did, get some mojo back and do something with it?  Do something in between?  We don't know what he'll do on all sorts of other issues from now through November of next year.  What will his 2nd term platform be?  What will the Congressional situation be looking like in fall 2012? 

All of which you know, of course, being the sharp cookie that you are. 

Have you made up your mind you will definitely vote for a third party candidate, not Obama under any circumstances?  Who do you want to be able to vote for next year?

BTW what is "WADR"? 

LOL!  WADR = with all due respect.  (Wiseasses R Us.)

Sorry I quoted you wrong; too lazy to look it up.  I will not be voting for Obama, long story, so I hope there is someone running I can feel good about voting for.  It won't be an R, that one will be Newt Gingrich.  Uh-oh, RL calling; I'll be bck to expand; nice to hear ya think I'm a sharp cookie, LOL!

On me not knowing what WADR meant--so you think *you're* slow, eh? 

You think it will be Gingrich, eh?  I think not, although who knows?  Here's why.  Had lunch the other day with a friend who lives in my town.  Gingrich also lives in my town.  My friend spotted Gingrich in a local supermarket the other day, looking extremely...hmm, how to say this, unpresidential.  His statue-esque 3rd wife was giving him grocery-shopping commands. 

From this my friend infers Gingrich will not be running, that he just likes the attention.  Because, in my friend's view, there simply is not enough time for Gingrich to be able to do to his body what he would need to do to make a presidential run.  (Yes, William Howard Taft got himself elected President.  Could he do that today, in the TV era?  I doubt it.  But who knows?)  Clearly he is not the President of the household of which he is, a member.  At least not in the supermarket.  Although I maintain that would not by itself, in any way, be a disqualifier for becoming President of our country.

I made up that acronym; but it should exist, IMHO.  Hell, Newtie did his mea culpa on Pat Robertson's network: "I strayed because I loved my country so much!"  And fat?  He can get a girdle!  He's smart, and full of chicanery, and he has now made his bones as a Tea Person.  He can straddle a lot of groups, our Newt.  Most of the likely R candidates are ugly.

Saving my breath was about you plucking out one thing; it just made me cranky.

t this point, I'd say Obama's not moving left, no matter what the polls say, no matter the reality on the ground. So.... Run Bernie Run. If Obama feels he might be seriously weakened by a challenger, maybe he moves to the Left.

But if Bernie's gonna run, he can't do it half-assed. A weak challenge from a "Socialist" might well be welcomed by Obama.

What a hell of a place to be... with the Republicans running out absolute madmen, and we're stuck messing around with this shit, instead of passing real bills and making real change. Argh.

What a hell of a place to be... with the Republicans running out absolute madmen, and we're stuck messing around with this shit, instead of passing real bills and making real change. Argh.

Yes.  One of the most urgent questions right now, before the federal budget issue comes to a head in 3 weeks, is whether Democrats in the state houses, and the public in those states, are going to be able to block enough of the really super-nasty shit that the Republicans are trying to railroad through as we write.  I didn't even talk about state politics in my post.  Ramona has written about what's going on in Michigan right now; kgb wrote about what's going on in Idaho.  Ohio, Indiana, Montana, soon Florida...on and on it goes.  This is a major nationwide push by Republicans to neuter or destroy labor unions, state safety nets, and public education.    

Hey AD:

Interesting and well-thought out as usual.  I have two quick questions/comments.  First, Bernie Sanders is an honorable man with an inspiring platform, but he has never run for president. So, assuming he can deal with the pre-interview powdering, all the investigations into crazy things he has undoubtedly said, and all that jazz, how would Bernie break out of the Eugene McCarthy or Henry Wallace or Bob LaFollette or Teddy Roosevelt '12, or Eugene Debs model of charismatic progressives whose candidacies and $2.25 get you on the subway?  Second, would a Bernie run hurt Obama like Teddy hurt Carter, or would it help propel Obama to a second term because fighting someone on his left would make Obama more attractive to that great swath of voters who feel strongly both ways and straddle fences?  I dunno.

Bruce

So, assuming he can deal with the pre-interview powdering, all the investigations into crazy things he has undoubtedly said, and all that jazz, how would Bernie break out of the Eugene McCarthy or Henry Wallace or Bob LaFollette or Teddy Roosevelt '12, or Eugene Debs model of charismatic progressives whose candidacies and $2.25 get you on the subway? 

I disagree with the apparent premise that a challenger who loses necessarily makes no positive difference.  Many of the great progressive reforms began as marginal and/or proposed by marginal people, aka  Don Quixote challengers.  The major parties coopted some of those proposals only when their popularity was demonstrated, when someone else's risk made it not just "safe", but beneficial, for them to adopt them.  All of which I see as part of social change processes, very often in our history.  The impossible becomes the policy--it just takes time.  No one can predict or know in advance when the time is ripe and a breakthrough will be made, although goodness knows many people claim to know something is not possible. 

One thing that can be predicted is that if no one is giving voters a choice, and no incumbent or opposing major party challenger will take that particular risk, there can be no possibility for any kind of demonstration of a proposal's popularity.  Those willing to take risks know they are going to be accused of all sorts of horrible things, that it's going to be extremely unpleasant if they challenge.  Unless they are unconflictedly happy warriors.  Which some people are.   

Second, would a Bernie run hurt Obama like Teddy hurt Carter, or would it help propel Obama to a second term because fighting someone on his left would make Obama more attractive to that great swath of voters who feel strongly both ways and straddle fences?  I dunno.

See above.  I don't think it's possible to know in advance on that, either, although there will be all sorts of people telling us with great certitude that it would sink Obama and elect the Republicans.  If it were not Bernie Sanders but a far more egotistical, more reckless, less pragmatic person instead, I would think the chances of a primary challenge being damaging would be far greater, and I might oppose having a particular person with such qualities undertake such a challenge.  Even if I agreed with such a person on a number of matters important to our country's future as I see it.

Those who regularly tell us here and elsewhere that Obama's compromises so far are in line with public opinion rather than a response to the dominant inside power dynamics in the country might actually welcome a Sanders challenge, if only for the opportunity to say "told you so, people don't want those policies" when Sanders, presumably, is vanquished. 

That conclusion--that Sanders not winning the nomination means people don't support the policies he advocates--would not necessarily follow, although it also might if voters are surveyed sufficiently on issue preferences to be able to support such a claim.  In any case, even if weren't true, it would be easy to say that and make that stick if, as I believe, most of the media and talking heads would assert the same thing, whether following from data or not.  

I disagree with the apparent premise that a challenger who loses necessarily makes no positive difference.  Many of the great progressive reforms began as marginal and/or proposed by marginal people, aka  Don Quixote challengers.

I actually didn't intend to endorse that premise AD, and I see no reason to doubt that third-party candidacies have been an impetus to positive change.  So moving beyond whether Bernie could win, my main concern would be that he might (not would) hurt Obama in the general election.  I sure as hell was angry when Teddy lost in 1980 and I think I've written before that I ended up casting a vote for Barry Commoner of the Citizens Party.  And the end result was eight years of Ronald Reagan.  I don't want that to happen again; warts and all I'd take Obama over any prospective Republican nominee.  And  I recognize that there is a distinction between what one might support in his or her heart of hearts, and accepting the frustrating reality of compromise in DC.  

Finally, I would submit that Obama, like any second-termer, is more likely to be less compromising than he is right now in constant re-election mode.  

 

Thanks for clarifying, bslev.  I agree there would be risk--there is no point in pretending otherwise.  I bother to discuss this because I think there is also risk in having no one challenge Obama from his left. 

Finally, I would submit that Obama, like any second-termer, is more likely to be less compromising than he is right now in constant re-election mode

True.  OTOH, he'd also be a lame duck... 

Unless I had evidence that the state Democratic parties were going below the belt trying to keep him off the ballot

You can count on it;....... that the Democrats will be throwing blows above and below the belt.

There is too much at stake. .

The Democratic leadership has a vested interest in keeping the Obama the status quo in place.

Obama is the coronated Democrat. "COMPRENDE"  

Bernie Sanders is a loose cannon. Who controls him, the elite or the peasants?  

I would suspect it would be the Democratic Elite who'll first be digging, throwing the mud and tearing Sanders apart in the primaries. Why wouldnt they, they have too much invested in Obama, besides he 's delivered for them, he's served their needs?

Sure the peasant class may be disgruntled, but where else will they go?

If Sanders fights back, then the leadeship will be blaming Sanders, for having destroyed the Democrats chances of defeating the Republicans. 

The democratic leadership will either Rule or Ruin,

Either way the capitalists win, and thats all that matters...... Screw the people.  

Sending a clear message to the Democratic electorate, quit screwing with those of us who understand the political realm,  It is WE of the Capitalististic Democratic leadership who make the kings, not you of the peasant class.

We will allow you to vote for any of the above candidates, that serve our interests..... not yours.

The illusion of freedom to choose keeps us in power. Should the illusion fail, then stronger measures will be employed.

The leadership; the barons of capitalism, saying "You can only choose our candidates.... Republican or Republican lite thats it.  We are the king makers...not you"   

American Dreamer, I believe as long as you are willing to tell them upfront, you will not vote for a third party; .....what power or threat do you really possess?

You've already told them they own you. Telling your opponents if they offer just a little resistance you will fold, you will run back to their arms. " please take us back, were sorry"  

They will then tell you "are you through crying.........good .........then get back in line sheeple, it is fleecing time again..... we need more wool and our masters love mutton"

Unless I had evidence that the state Democratic parties were going below the belt trying to keep him off the ballot

I was thinking of you, principally, as I wrote that, Resistance!  Smile 

American Dreamer, I believe as long as you are willing to tell them upfront, you will not vote for a third party; .....what power or threat do you really possess?

Well, first, I possess very little power by myself, as is true of most of us as individuals.  Which is why I think it is so important for there to be a labor resurgence in this country.  Few of us as individuals can make a major difference.  Collectively, working through progressive institutions including but not limited to labor, we can.  And we have before, many times in our country's history. I think anyone with insider sensibilities would have shouted from the rooftops that getting civil rights in this country was impossible.  That electing a person of color President was impossible.  That securing the vote for women was impossible.  Etc., etc.  But enough people joined together and worked effectively in pursuit of their demands.  They were not dissuaded from trying by those who told them their efforts were destined to be futile, that what they were trying to do was impossible.

Second, see my reply to we are stardust above on that same point.  If you go back and reread what I wrote in the post, I left the door slightly ajar on whether I could, conceivably, vote for a third party candidate.  There are too many unknowns for me to be able to say no, never under any circumstances.  I believe there is tremendous flux going on in the country right now, and I predict (another prediction--I'm over my yearly quota already) that there will be some unpredictable things happening between now and fall 2012. 

Who would you like to be able to vote for?  Do you have any preference as to whether that person ran in the Democratic presidential primaries or as a third party candidate?

My position is of course that I'm against anything which has the slightest chance of electing a Republican as a primary challenge would

Bslev personal anecdote confirms what I wrote earlier that supporters of a failed primary challenger are tempted to stay home and some always  do.No doubt Bernie would attempt to encourage  his supporters to switch to Obama  as defeated primary challengers always do . And it will fail as it did with bslev in 80.

Which will be all it takes to defeat Obama.

That will be followed by the cancellation of the ACA ,  further restrictions on Choice, a tax bill making the Bush cuts permanent, denial of global warming, nationwide extension of Wisconsin's ban on public sector collective bargaining,further disasterous replacements to the Supreme Court and such an inflow of corporate donations that in 2014 that the Democrats will be voted out of the few remaing states where they held power. Any reason why that shouldn't occur?

Well, I've acknowledged there is risk.  You see no risks on the other side of this question?

Just a thought here, AD. The risk-benefit calculus is going to vary according to one's values, isn't it? most obviously, centrists or moderates whose values align with Obama's will only see a downside to any primary.If you are basically okay with torture, endless war in the ME, continued deregulation in finance, and so on, then there is only downside to any primary challenge. Hence I perfectly understand the line adopted by the house centrists around here. (That is why I thought the 42% of dems in favor of a challenge as a strikingly high figure, suggesting how unaligned with the broader dem constituency Obama is).

Slightly less obviously, if you are, say, a retired CFO living on a decent pension, the economic argument has less weight than it does for the 20 million unemployed. If you are unemployed, there is not much of a downside risk to the Dems losing the election - you don't have much more to lose. If your priorities lie in worries about the expansion of the National Security state and perpetual war, the lack of daylight between Obama and Cheney suggests no downside to any leftwing primary challenge. Conversely, if your priorities are in equal rights - where Obama has done well with Ledbetter and the end of DADT - there may appear to be little to be gained from a primary.

In general, risk-benefit analysis is a perspectival enterprise - the further the distance between ones own values and those of Obama, the less distance there seems to be between Obama and any viable republican opponent. For instance, just as Brad Delong, I personally can't see any difference between Obama-Pelosi's achievements and a hypothetical Romney-Pelosi tandem (McCain-Pelosi would have looked different, though not necessarily much worse on the economic front).

The risk-benefit calculus is going to vary according to one's values, isn't it?

Yes, I think that is clearly the case.  I find myself thinking about what the political system is offering those who are un- or underemployed, up to 17% according to some definitions of the scope of the problem, and also to the great many working families more broadly who are struggling so severely in this economy, some of whose letters Sanders read excerpts from late in his floor speech.  These are not people living high on the hog on account of bad financial decisions they made.  They appear to be just hard-working families, working 3 or 4 jobs in some cases, who are hanging on by a thread, and sometimes not hanging on.  It seems to me that we should be able to do far, far better by them in a country where there are billionaires who are getting tax cuts that in some cases like Gates and Buffett they say they don't even want.  Is there no such thing as greed?  Have we gotten to that point? 

I find myself thinking that if the Democratic party doesn't have anything to offer them, what, then, is their investment in our political system? What hope can it possibly offer them?  Are they a part of this society or are they to be discarded by our system?  If we cannot or will not do better by them, isn't that a violation of what the Democratic party is about?  The answer, of course, is, not necessarily.  Isn't that a violation of what a decent society is about?  The answer to that question doesn't seem to matter to those with the power to do better.

It occurs to me another thing that gets missed in all the calculations about present levels of support among moderates, centrists, liberals, independents, etc., is the effect a whole different narrative might have on the dynamic interplay. I'm speaking, of course, about the populist message a Sanders or a Kucinich might bring to the public discussion - something that is sadly missing at present. (The following clip is worth watching in its entirety.)

People are angry. People are devoid of hope. They know if they lose their present job, they have virtually no prospects to replace it with one that maintains themselves and their families at a sustainable level of dignity and prosperity. Even WTF offers nothing more than prospects to become "innovative hobos." People see the abuses of their government, and see that Dems are complicit in these abuses as well as Republicans.

The American people see their wealth dissipating and their social safety nets coming under attack, leaving them uncertain about their future while promising them nothing but diminished prospects to provide for their children's future. Indeed, far too many now see a day coming when they will have to rely upon their own children to care for them in their old age, even as they see the banksters on Wall Street - deemed responsible for causing many of the financial hardships that have decimated the middle class - getting fatter and more rapacious by the day withoit even a modicum of shame for the misery and wreckage they have caused.

If they were presented with a message such as Kucinich offers in the video that promises legitimate opportunity for people to take control of their democracy again, I suggest that all present bets are off. After thirty years of Reaganomics and its trickle-down debasement of the middle class, hopelessness is the common message people receive from both parties. A seriously populist "stand up and fight back!" call to arms could conceivably provide a breath of fresh air; a rejuvenation of the "anything's possible" attitude that has always driven this country through its most vibrant periods of growth and prosperity.

There is no way to measure beforehand just what the response would be if the Dems went all-in with a populist "in your face" challenge to the corporate interests and the wealthy who have dominated our political system for over thirty years. But I know it is the proper place for the Dems to be in terms of messaging, especially now as these oppressors move in for the kill in our state legislatures throughout this country. And, given my faith in the spirit of the American people, I believe we might just discover that we have a lot of fight left in these people who only await someone to stand up and give the call to arms.

What have we got to lose? Our present course ain't working. We keep going backwards. So I ask: What have we got to lose?

 

"continued deregulation in finance"

Seriously?

None that makes it  worth taking the risk

The risks to be considered are that there is a condition which could have been improved by a primary challenge  , the challenge didn't happen and the conditon isn't improved.

For example the risk  if Obama is elected  without having a primary opponent.....

o he'll won't understand the depth of democratic disenchantment and

o therefore won't govern as well as he would have had , but

o The challenge will  give him that understanding and

o therefore  he'll be a better president .

Won't we  risking that ?

No .The crucial hypothetical  is the last one.

.The  reason we care about Obama learning this lesson is it will make him a better president.  But he can't be a better president if he's defeated as he will be if he has a serious opponent.

Or to try again,  there's a risk if Obama isn't challenged that future democratic presidents will be learn that they too should  ignore their base.

Furthermore,  this passes the test  of being a condition which can be improved  by a primary challenge.  By scaring Obama now we increase the probability of having more responsive candidates in the future. By not opposing him therefore, don't we risk losing that useful future influence.

No.

Well why wouldn't  an Obama primary challenge  teach a future president that he'll have difficulty being re elected if he disappoints his base?.Possibly , but only if  Obama loses this time

 If he wins , no lesson. He's doisappointed his base and won.He shows that's possible

Conversely, If he loses we'll have achieved  educating future candidates. But only by suffering a Republican win in 2012. .

It's true  by not harrassing Obama we risk this  hypothetical  combination of a more cooperative future president as the result of a present defeat. . But since that's a combination we don't want to experience it's not a risk that  by not challenging Obama we won't experience it..

Bottom line  opposing Obama will  carries some risk to his re election.But I can't conjure up an answer to your question as to whether there's a  risk in not opposing him

Sorry for the didactic tone. Seemed like a simple question but it didn't have a simple answer.

I'm now abandoning this threat. Do I hear "Good Riddance"?. .

 

 

I reread your comment but am not following your argument.  I would actually like to understand it.  I get the sense this thread is just aggravating you.  Life is too short--I hope you'll feel free to pass if you'd just as soon not take the time to try to explain it so that I, at least, can understand what you are saying.  Please do not mistake this as a dismissive "good riddance".  I don't think that.

I'm not the least aggravated ,.Good post on an important subject.

Given my personal values I'd prefer Obama to any republican running against him. 

No way of being sure but I think he'll have difficulty being reelected,  no president has been with unemployment over 8%. .

Clearly it's arguable but I believe  a serious primary  challenge will significantly reduce his support in the General . A comment somewhere by bslev is illustrative: he supported Ted Kennedy in his 1980 primary challenge. When Kennedy lost  bslev was so disappointed he voted for Barry Commanger  in November..

If Bernie runs he will deservedly engage his supporters as Ted did in 80. And  then like Bslev in 80 they will then refuse to transfer their vote to Obama . And since he needs every vote that will cause him  to lose.

If you disagree, stop here.

..........................................................................................

I agree with many of the supposed  benefits  of a primary challenge discussed here. For example the warning it will convey to future democratic presidents., etc.

Theoretically without a primary challenge  we lose the opportunity to obtain these benefits. You could say " If we don't mount a primary challenge we risk losing the opportunity to send a warning to future democratic presidents"

But I think that's incomplete. It should be put   " If we don't mount a primary challenge we risk losing the opportunity to defeat Obama while  sending a warning to future presidents". 

Put that way I consider that  risk is an inappropriate word to  describe forgoing the opportunity to cause something undesirable to happen.Even tho that undesirable consequence would be linked with a desirable one.

 

Because Bernie Sanders wears his Socialism badge proudly (and kudos to him for doing so), I wonder if a primary challenge from him might not actually help Obama. I.e., it might convince the all important "swing" voter that (alas) Obama isn't the socialist that many on the right make him out to be, which might cause them to find him preferable to many of the names currently floated on the other side. Pure speculation, of course.

Your point about unemployment is very apt, of course. I was pleased to hear that unemployment has finally dropped below 9% (although measuring unemployment is not exactly a science), so there is some hope that it might drop below 8% by 2012.

OT, I know, but are you, Verified Atheist, by any chance related to fellow dagblogian Unverified Atheist?

I had a conversion! Hallelujah!

Don't you just hate it when people wear their religions on their sleeves?

Not sure I disagree, but there was a factor with Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy family dynasty where its followers in some cases acquired almost a sense of entitlement, that theirs was the most authentic, or even only authentic voice of the Democratic party.  Bobby Kennedy lost the Oregon primary in his 1968 presidential run and charmingly mocked himself for being the first Kennedy to lose an election.  Kennedys just didn't lose, you see.  So when it was Ted losing, well, I can understand how many people who supported him passionately may have found it impossible to find any enthusiasm for that usurper, the incumbent President(!) Carter, to the point of not even finding it within themselves to vote for Carter.

Sanders' situation is radically different.  There is no aura, no family dynasty, no expectation whatsoever of winning.  Also Sanders appears to me to have an ego considerably more under control than Ted Kennedy's was at that age, before Kennedy matured considerably in his later years. 

Whereas Kennedy and his supporters surely expected to win and despised Carter, I doubt Sanders has any illusions that he could win.  I don't know what he privately thinks of Obama, whether he likes him or not.  In his December floor speech, he said he liked him and admired him.  Perhaps that's untrue.  But Sanders strikes me as the kind of person who has a deep sense of responsibility to "do no harm".  Possibly to the point of deterring him from a challenge that, I am saying, could overall be more beneficial than harmful.

I've admired Bernie since he was a  very effective mayor..If he said he admired Obama , he admires Obama. BTW his speech in December was commented upon favorably by some of the more conservative people of my acquaintance.

But you can lose by a handful of votes.The state senator for whom I went door to door in November lost by 400 votes. Out of 85,000. 

My parents once had one of the Kennedy's to dinner-not sure whether it was Joe or Jack since I was a clueless 8 year old.  

No family dynasty? The Colonel would like a word with you. 

Fried chicken for the masses beats starvation any time.

I didn't automatically assume you were kidding and when I went to wikipedia on Sanders' background I discovered another disqualifier I had not known about, beyond the Socialist self-identifier: he's Jewish.  Surprised  Put those two together and that's mighty scary for a lot of Americans.

I should have added: *as if* he didn't have enough other disqualifiers to contemplate before stating he would not be making the challenge...you know, like that incumbent President thing, plus possibly his age, plus having no political party to back his candidacy (will there come a day any time soon where that is seen as an advantage?), plus having no money to run a campaign with, plus likely having a dismissive media to refer to his campaign as "quixotic" in every other sentence of any articles they choose to write about his campaign, plus probably a few others I'm overlooking...

Also, another thought re that fried chicken for the masses thing: maybe not so helpful for the US national obesity epidemic. 

There a lot of good comments on this thread, and I really do understand that for most of you what underpins your thinking is a supreme fear of a Republican in the White House.  Every strawman Republican that is offered is a whackjob uber-rightie demagogue, and that may be what would occur, but maybe not.  Post campaign, even a Republican woud have to govern, and may find that a more complex thing than say, a Governor Walker's antics, theatrics, and revenge politics.

Two things I would argue as counter-arguments: in this scenario, you are taking the shorter view possible, i.e., the 2012 election, rather some even slightly longer arc of the future.

My thinking is that there needs to come a time when we do take risks to send our choices for  political values out into the mix, and were there a great candidate running, either in a primary or a third party, the votes that candidate would receive would not be wasted, but rather would provide a clear marker that things are changing; that the middle class is seriously not satisfied with the crumbs we live on, and that corporate power has run so far amuck that a President and Congress can dictate that we pay for gambling on Wall Street, the fraud  perpetrated on unwitting investors is/will be never prosecuted, and as a result of the losses we are asked to experience further cuts to our social saftey programs that we have paid for over our lifetimes. 

One of my biggest disappointments has been watching too many Democrats yawn or make excuses for the many Bush policies and parallel actions in regards to economics, Rule of Law abuses (in many areas some even worse than Bush), and now the further triangulation he hopes will gain him another term in the WH.  I see absolutely no indication that he will ever shift directions; he seems very content to be so bipartisan that he backs ventures that are clearly harmful to the nation in the long term (his failure to redesign his HAMP, for instance, or to end the wars, and there are others).

But one upside to a 2012 Republican Presidency could be that more of us would push back; if we suffered more, and took the time to understand not only what could have been done right, and would have been not only smart economics, or foreign policy, but in the end would have been politically smart, we'd know more about interviewing the next applicants for Prez before us, and while we were holding their feet to the fire with tough questions, we (as the voting public) would be also educating them about what we expect in a President; no--demand.

I had been pretty clear until this week that I'd likely never vote for Obama again, but when he gave as an answer to the question about Bradley Manning's evil treatment at Quantico, and said that he had 'been assured that all the protocols were being followed', I thought I had never thought I would ever hear such malign bullshit out of this man, and I concluded that he just went one bridge too far for me to ever consider him an ethical President.

Anyhow...that's some of what I'm thinking; and I know it runs counter most of your imaginings and beliefs.  That's fine.  I'm just stardust, after all.

p.s. Oopsie; I forgot to say: Um..Bernie wouldn't run against him anyway, would he?.

p.s. Oopsie; I forgot to say: Um..Bernie wouldn't run against him anyway, would he?

I don't know.  I haven't looked into the requirements in each of the states.  I would think he would have to register as a Democrat in the states where he wanted to run, and get a minimum number of valid signatures collected where that is also required by state law.  

I noticed a couple of times in the text of Sanders'  December floor speech, he referred to how President Obama, if he were to be the Democratic nominee, would have a credibility problem if he promised in a second term to end the Bush tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy, because he promised to do that during his first campaign but reneged on that as part of the budget agreement he reached with the Republicans late last year.  Which left me wondering if maybe, just possibly, Sanders wanted to leave the door open to a possible primary challenge, depending on the response or lack of response to his floor speech. 

I might have saved my breath on the rest of the post it looks like.

What do you mean by that?  Remember...I'm slow!   

My thinking is that there needs to come a time when we do take risks to send our choices for  political values out into the mix, and were there a great candidate running, either in a primary or a third party, the votes that candidate would receive would not be wasted, but rather would provide a clear marker that things are changing...

Maybe, possibly, I finally understand what you were cranky about.  I think I did and do understand the thinking and reasoning you expressed very well, I thought, in the 95% of your comment leading up to your final paragraph.  I've just been unable to think of anything that seemed worthwhile to say in response.  

 

Engaging post, yet I think Sanders knows any campaign on his part would be futile. He is not a guy who pursues vain or pointless activities.  A run would only help Republicans and divide Democrats. Sadly, few Americans would listen to either Sanders or Obama for an full hour! Are you kidding, the attention span is more like 30 seconds!

They would remember one word. Socialist. Repeat that, SOCIALIST!

Sanders is a self proclaimed socialist. If the GOP and the media could paint George McGovern as a socialist hippie commie appeasing cowardly Democrat in the Presidential campaign against Nixon in 1972, the MSM and the big money (Koch etc) would destroy Sanders, and they would link his failed challenge to the 'pinko extremists' who 'run' the Democratic Party and some would rub off on Obama.

Remember, George McGovern?  A smart energetic senator, who was against the Vietnam War? He also earned an Air Medal, and flew 35 combat missions in WW2, (and didn't get shot down). What did McGovern win against Nixon? One or two states?

The nation, and particularly the Congress,  isn't ready for the truth, or bold practical leaders, and many wouldn't believe the truth if it stared them in the face. Look at the GOP on climate change, Fox News on anything,  McCain ranting about winning in Afghanistan, or Medicare beneficiaries complaining about government-run health care. The GOP rails about deficits but won't discuss raising taxes on millionaires or billionaires, and millions of voters believe they are serious. We live in a nation where our representatives cannot even agree to, once again as was the law from 1994-2004, restrict the sale of 30+ 'massacre magazines'. The NRA won't meet with the President. Even some posters on this website have embraced the absurd position that guns are like cars or motorcycles.

Obama knows what he is up against and he is (unenthusiastically) doing what he can on progressive causes, and he appears to be the best President we can expect at this time.

Even some posters on this website have embraced the absurd position that guns are like cars or motorcycles.

Don't you wish we treated guns more like cars or motorcycles? I mean, we can regulate those and AAA and related lobbies have much less impact on the political process, but any discussion on imposing sensible regulations on guns means you hate the Constitution! Also, similes (typically marked by phrases using like and as) are not the same thing as equalities. One thing can be like another without being the same as the other. Cars and motorcycles are like guns in that both kill people. The only reason to deny that would be if you're not willing to give any ground on a topic, even to recognize obvious truths. Of course there are many ways that cars and motorcycles are not like guns. That doesn't mean there aren't ways that they are. Pigs are like donkeys because they both have four legs. That doesn't mean donkeys taste like pigs or that pigs make good pack animals. I'm only going on about that, because if you're not willing to admit there are some similarites than you're revealing yourself as an extremist unwilling to examine any evidence that doesn't completely support your position, and that's not going to convince anyone other than maybe yourself.

Yeah, I've even heard Americans compare guns to swimming pools, "Kids drown in swimming pools all the time, but we don't ban swimming pools!'. I suppose if 30 people drowned in a pool in 5 minutes, and Obama asked the National Pool Association to talk about safety, they would say its a slippery slope to banning pools and they won't come!

How about a redo of that old Western movie Shane, where Alan Ladd, the hero, after presumably impaling the bad guys with his bike, rides his Harley off into the sunset and tells the kid, "Tell your Mom there are no more motorcycles in the valley"? I think it would be a blockbuster.

The problem is that you're essentially attacking the premise (that swimming pools are like guns in that people die from them) instead of the conclusion (that we therefore shouldn't ban guns because we don't ban swimming pools). Thus, you're creating an easy to dismantle argument and not helping anyone.

P.S. http://www.680news.com/news/world/article/84102--officials-in-uk-ban-inf...

P.P.S. The best way, in my opinion, to attack that particular argument is to demonstrate its logical fallacy. I.e., by the same logic we shouldn't ban nuclear weapons. The point that we actually do ban swimming pools is fun to point out to someone making that argument, but it misses the true problem with the argument. I.e., even if swimming pools were never banned, the argument is still invalid.

And they say Obama is a Socialist, too.  So if they're going to call anyone on our side a Socialist, why don't we just run whomever can talk sense to the public, stop worrying about it, and maybe earning some respect for speaking clearly and forthrightly about what we believe?  

Do you feel really sure that, to some of those out of work or working but barely hanging on, Sanders could not possibly give Socialism a good name, maybe encouraging some of those folks to vote who don't see any reason to now?  I know--that really is a heretical thought.  Probably every person reading this was raised while the Cold War was taking place. 

Maybe Americans' well-known ignorance of history could prove helpful in this instance.  The right wingers would have to teach people all over again to hate communists and socialists, and you know, there aren't many of them left, North Korea yes, but people know this country will never be North Korea, and China, well, China right now is kicking our ass economically.  Oh, and Cuba, to which the response of many in the younger generation now is "wait a minute, we don't recognize them?  I can't go there.  Why is that, again?  Because they're...what's that you said?...communist.  What's that?  Who cares?"  At some point that just won't have meaning to people any more.  If you say we're not at that point and won't be for awhile, well, you're probably right. It might be that another generation will have to go by before you can no longer win elections doing little more than accusing your opponent of being a socialist, because no one will know what that means by that time.

I imagine someone calling Sanders a Socialist in some public forum, and Sanders, cool as a cucumber, saying (I actually don't know if he still would call himself that or not), "Why, yes, I do consider myself a Socialist.  And what I mean by that--because, you know, other people will try to put words in my mouth so I'd just like you to hear it from me--is that I'm in favor of creating public infrastructure jobs for those out of work to rebuild this country instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires who don't even want them.  And I'm in favor of holding those on Wall Street accountable who have violated criminal laws and preventing them from earning even higher salaries and bonuses after having been rescued by the taxpayers for almost crashing the global economy through their essentially fraudulent casino operations..." 

That could be do disarming as to leave the Fox crowd stupefied. What do they say in response to that?  The options in response to clear-eyed common sense of that sort, that resonates deeply with what people are experiencing and with their values, are...what?  "Well the American people don't want Socialism."  And Sanders' response is "So you're saying the American people think it's just fine what's gone on on Wall Street?  That they're just fine with one set of laws and rules that the privileged write for themselves and another set of rules that you and I are obliged to live by?  That they're just fine with an economy that can't produce enough jobs and a government neither caring nor smart enough to put people to work doing things that will the economy of the future?  Well, maybe so.  But I have a different idea on that.  You don't object to people hearing the arguments and making up their own minds rather than you making their minds up for them, do you?"

And, you know, I don't know, maybe Socialism will remain a dirty word for however long this country continues to exist, but isn't it just possible that some people on hearing that that's what Bernie Sanders means by Socialism, might think "you know, I have to say I like what that guy's saying...if that's what Socialism is, it doesn't sound so bad to me"?  And might come to think our system might have something for them, and maybe participate. 

The Cold War frame of reference, out of which the stigmatization of socialism grew, is not going to remain meaningful forever.  It might be too soon for that to fade away now--after all, many of our fellow citizens experienced their formative years during the Cold War.  But then again, desperate times can cause some to take a fresh look at what had previously been thought of as desperate and non-credible measures.

I might read this tomorrow and wonder what the heck I was thinking when I wrote it.  But I'll just put it out there for others to react to if they want to. 

I made an attempt at that S-word conversation here, but it didn't go that well; often when naysayers are the first ones on a thread, it goes awry.

http://dagblog.com/reader-blogs/speaking-socialism-and-good-policy-ideas-8548

Also some wondering about public concepts about wealth distribution, and whether they might be about to change:

It went better, save for a few detractors, lol!

http://dagblog.com/reader-blogs/are-american-attitudes-wealth-distribution-about-change-8379

Thanks for those links--I had not seen either post and thread.

Was Socialism a good thing, when it took risked taxpayer dollars to save the banker class.... but oh how terrible it is, if it should help the people?  

Expose the hypocrites. People are tired of the hypocrisy.

I want to hear directly from Obama, how he came to the conclusion, that helping the banker class was the best course for the American people.

I don’t want to hear it from the Obamabots who are ready to fall on their swords for the Emperor.

  1. Mr. President, why did you allow the lifeboats of the sinking financial ship, to be used only by the upper class; while second class and third class drowned in the sea of debt?
  2. Mr. President, did you know that the taxpayer money used to save the upper class would run up the deficit? Then saved, the upper class would insist, the government NOW needs to cut spending, in order to reduce the deficit?

Had the tables been turned and the first ones saved had been the peasant class,, I believe the banker class would have been crying “where’s are help; we can worry about deficits later, throw us a lifejacket” 

President Obama’s record speaks volumes….The lifeboats are for those of First class (upper-class) but no relief for the second class or third class. The Captain Obama says “ YOU”LL be all right, YOU can tread faster….  WTF”

President Obama  “I can see a future, where you reach the shore, all you have to do is swim faster. I know you can do it, YES WE CAN.

“WE kemo sabe? Get out of the boat Mr. President? 

Lifeboats for them while they tell us swim or tread faster?

President Obama, I want you to answer the questions to regain my trust, to assure me you are the best candidate and that you will serve my interest.

I am afraid I may not like the answers you give; in that case I want someone to replace you as the Democratic nominee.

Fool me once shame on YOU, fool me twice same shame on me.

Had I known which class you would save in a crisis; I wouldn’t have put my faith in you in the first place. You wouldn’t have been elected the first time.

I grow tired of treading water to save you’re cl..ass

Would it be too much to ask for a life preserver, or is that your seat cushion?  If you won’t throw me one; I’ll find someone who will.

Bernie Sander’s type of Socialism is a solution to the problem.

I guess it’s time to give FDR Socialism another try; nothing else seems to reign in the greed.

  

Socialist!

Oh, the horror! Dare I repeat it?

Socialist!

"Well, dear voter. I pose to you one question: How's that free market libertarian capitalism working out for you, anyway?

"Make that two questions: Want to perhaps get away from fear-mongering and the same-old political games and instead talk about your future and the future of your children and grandchildren? Well, then. listen up..."

I grow tired of the meme that the American people are so stupid that a label like "socialist" thrown before a populist with good ideas is somehow like the crucifix brandished at a werewolf. It works only for so long as we let it work, and it keeps us on the same foolish course in our rhetoric and our message, which is right in the wheelhouse of our free market libertarian capitalist opposition.

"Socialist? You goddamned right! And here's why!..."

I like your optimism.

Unfortunately, I think there's a very good reason for the "meme" that "American people are so stupid that a label like "socialist" thrown before a populist with good ideas is somehow like the crucifix brandished at a werewolf." (Although I think you're thinking of a vampire, not a werewolf.) Whether you want to call it stupid or lazy or overwhelmed with contradictory information, there are far too many Americans (i.e., significantly more than half of the voting population) who are frightened to death of socialism.

I did mean vampire, of course.

And you offer an opinion that supports the meme. "Far too many...?" "Significantly more than half?" Based upon what? (other than a belief in the meme)

Isn't it possible that a discussion of the labels actually opens the door to the discussion about how the free market libertarian capitalism of the last thirty years has failed the middle class - and failed them miserably? The people know this intuitively at this point. But how do we ever access that discussion if we allow the other side to define themselves as the only game in town? In fact, isn't that the reason they jump to declare socialism as an epithet in the first place, despite their promotion of corporate welfare (corporate socialism) when it suits their purpose? 

People understand the shift in wealth and income from the lower to upper classes that has occurred these last thirty years. And they damned sure are primed to seek a reversal of that trend. Might we not want to offer an alternative to present policy that accommodates that, using whatever labels are necessary to make the distinction?

What if the vampire was Buddhist? Do you rub his belly?

Based upon what? (other than a belief in the meme)

That's about it. If you would've asked me, I also would've told you there's no way Bernie Sanders could've gotten elected to the Senate, so obviously I don't know the American populace very well. That's about the only thing I do know about the American populace.

Isn't it possible that a discussion of the labels actually opens the door to the discussion about how the free market libertarian capitalism of the last thirty years has failed the middle class - and failed them miserably?

I think such a discussion could be very helpful. In time, it could even lead to us being able to elect a candidate who self-labels himself/herself as socialist. I just don't think that time is within the next decade. Of course, prior to Obama, I very well might have said the same thing about us electing a "black" candidate. Again, I don't claim any vast wisdom, and hope to be proven wrong. The one thing that keeps me negative is remembering how certain I was in '04 that there was no way we would re-elect Bush. (Even if the election was stolen by shenanigans in Ohio, the results were close enough to allow for such a theft.)

Again, I hope we are able to have such a meaningful discussion.

Respectfully, I just like to caution against what I see as a common mistake that is made. While arguing that the status quo is indefensibly bad, we too often reject suggestions on how to improve it or move on altogether by insisting that the new approach doesn't conform to the status quo.

Sometimes, you just don't know how some things will be received until you try. And try we must, especially when you've got nothing left to lose. And look around. The status quo definitely ain't working, so what have we got to lose? Except, perhaps, an opportunity to retard - but certainly not arrest or reverse! - the mad descent into corporate fascism to which we are presently assigned by BOTH Parties and their politics.

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people. –George Bernard Shaw

That's a great quote.  I don't think it is entirely true but it makes an important and powerful point in a wonderfully pithy way. (for example, insert the words "social" or "political" in front of "the world" in the 2nd sentence and it becomes more true.  Much progress comes about serendipitously as a result of learning, for example basic scientific research which was not embarked upon to improve the world per se, just to learn more about it.)

No statement that speaks in absolute truths is entirely true, including this one.

Smile 

IMO The term Socialist became a dreaded word during the Joe McCarthy Era.

The Capitalists used the Red Scare  to shift the country away from the popular pograms of FDR.

Whose afraid of the big bad wolf? Only the rapacious wolf was Capitalism.

That generation that saw the usefulness of social ideas, is pasing away.

If socialism ideas are ever to get a respectful heariing, the TIME IS NOW, to heck with this win the future crap. What kind of future?.....You don't count your chickens till they hatch.  

The younger generation is to self absorbed, to selfish to get out the vote, so who is it that is stopping FDR style Socialism? 

WE need to define the term Socialsim, and not allow the other side to define it.

Whats wrong with Social Security?

Nothing except the capitalist want to privatize it, the two Capitalist Parties  have stolen it and replaced it with IOU'S   

Socialism was working till the Capitalist scewed it up, drowning the babies in a sea of debt in order to destroy FDR SOCIAL ISM  

Put the capitalist on the defensive once again. Point out, as they did during the Great Depression they have done again, again, again  and again.

It is the the Capitalists, who have drained the treasury. 

Social, synonomous with SECURITY .... As in Safety net, to protect us from Capitalisms failures, to many to mention, but easily called to mind.

The elderly who still remember FDR are the voters we need, 

I suppose it is all but inevitable that when the possibility of a Sanders candidacy comes up, there will be discussion of the "S" word.  My ruminations in this thread offering some possible ways to push back on attempts to discredit a potential Sanders candidacy because he at one time described himself as a Socialist (and may still) are offered in the context of considering potential presidential primary challengers. 

Right now there is no indication I know of that Sanders, or anyone else, is considering a challenge.  His name has been bandied about as one who might possibly do it.  If he does, the Socialist question will come up.  So the question arises for those of us who like a lot of the substance of what he has to say, labels aside, and very much want a point of view like his represented in next year's presidential campaign, of how to deal with that so he is better able to get his message out for a fair test at the polls. 

I would not want Sanders not heard out on account of the S-word label.  I'd written a few weeks ago that I would prefer a challenger who believes a lot of the things Sanders does, has his plain-spokenness, passion, and clarity of expression, and character--who had not self-identified as a Socialist at one time.  Because there is no question that that could complicate his ability to get a real hearing on the substance of what he has to say.

But, you know, I don't know as there are going to be many folks lining up at the door to take on an incumbent President.  What if Sanders is the only one willing to do it?    

Personally, I am not willing to sacrifice one whit of effectiveness in defense of a word or an ideology.  Saying a policy is "Socialist" (according to whose version of it?) doesn't make it good or bad.  It's good if it's good and bad if it's bad.  I don't think any one ideology has "all the answers" and I think that to believe that I would have to drink some serious Kool Aid think less critically and independently.  I don't think most of the public cares about labels other than ones they can be trained to be uncritically scared of or repelled by.  Unfortunately, but by no means accidentally, two of those in our day happen to be "liberals" and "Socialists".

I know that one doesn't have to be a Socialist to support the kinds of policies Sanders makes such a common sense, clear case for on financial reform and employment policies, for example.  He got about 30 senators to support him on an amendment to the financial reform bill to break up the too big to fail banks.  For those who blithely write about how all Democratic party elected officials are in the pockets of the big banks just as the Republicans are, I don't know if that fact, which Sanders noted in his December floor speech, gives any pause.  I think it should give pause.  That is not insignificant.  That is a foundation which could be built upon rather than allowed to disappear due to progressives writing off the Democratic party.

I've written this before but in his book The Death of Conservatism Sam Tannenhaus notes that William F. Buckley, Jr., who did so much to launch the conservative revival, would always advise those angry or dissatisfied with the Republican party for being far too moderate and accommodationist to get on the inside and take over the party from within, instead of attacking it or competing with it from outside.  Tannenhaus thought that was very wise on Buckley's part, that it channeled and disciplined a tremendous amount of energy into building the Republican party into what it became. 

I'm not really seeing voices who believe the kinds of things Bernie Sanders does saying something equivalent on the left right now.  It seems that, broadly speaking, there are two camps.  One says the hell with the Democratic party, it's a lost cause.  The other says support the Democrats--but without any apparent strategy to change it in a more substantively Sanders-like direction, or necessarily even a belief that that could be done.   

I see tmac taking, as well as giving, abuse in these parts.  She has gotten herself on the inside of her local party.  I'm not sure--I simply don't know--whether she is following something like a conscious strategy to try to change her local Democratic party in any particular direction or not, the way the movement Republicans who over time have taken over the Republican party apparatus have aggressively pushed it to the right of the chummier, bipartisan-y GOP of the 1950s and 1960s.  

I don't see any reason why an analogous strategy on the left should be considered out of the question without further consideration. 

One of Genghis' points, which seems to me correct, is that there is no reason to believe that progressives will be more effective in getting results if they pursue the same strategies they have been pursuing, in which people who will vote no on progressive proposals thought to be central are supported by the party if they are incumbents or are thought to be the most easily electable Democratic candidate available in a CD or a state. 

That is a strategy for electing more Democrats.  But it is not a strategy for getting more done on a progressive agenda, however defined. 

I credit Genghis for forcing this issue--he's saying, look, if progressives keep doing what we've been doing we are unlikely to get progressive things done in this country at the federal level.  He's also saying, look, if you are really serious about making the Democratic party a party capable of getting done the things progressives say they want, you're going to have to get serious and busy about primarying Democrats who vote no on key progressive proposals, about recruiting viable progressive primary candidates and making sure they, rather than opponents who will vote against key progressive planks, win, etc.  Because right now you don't have the votes even when you have majorities in Congress. 

Even if--and this will happen, he says, correctly I believe--it entails the serious short-term costs of losing some general elections Democrats (but not progressives) would otherwise win.  

Just in case there was any doubt, Bernie Sanders' own site describes him as Socialist:

http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=7b6eba9b-67f5-4d8f-bc75-ce63...

While I agree that the label shouldn't deter anyone from voting for him, it most certainly will. Of course, although it undoubtedly also deterred people from voting for him for Senate, enough people have been willing to listen to him independently of any label for him to get elected multiple times (once to the Senate, and multiple times to the House) while wearing that label. Fwiw, his Senate term is up in 2012.

Thanks.  If he registers as a Democrat to run in the primaries he will have acquired a new, less threatening label although some among the Fox crowd do not seem to distinguish between the two anyway.  Which might or might not help him get a hearing.  

Sanders still calls himself a democratic socialist, Wikipedia says, though he formally belongs to no party and is listed on ballots as independent. I heard he had Chuck Schumer's endorsement before he ran for Jim Jeffords' old Senate seat in 2006, but I hadn't known this bit:

Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did easily.

So Vermont Democrats actually voted to make Sanders the party's official candidate, and he coyly agreed to let them do so. The man is one helluva politician. Maybe he could win a White House race. I say he goes for it in 2016, when the country is in even worse shape than now.

It would be easy to counter Fox's labeling of the man.

The Christain Right listeners could be reminded of another man named Jesus, who was also labeled as hanging out with Tax collectors, harlots and other sinners. ...He also collected from those able to afford and he gave to the poor.     

Very well written post. But. I live in Utah, the State where bill Clinton came in third. My vote will be undisputedly pointless and futile but I will vote anyway. I will be free of decisions as to what is most pragmatic and over which known evil I will support because no one I would support has a snowball's chace. I will be free to cast my vote with a clear conscience as an expression of something I want rather than for the lesser of two evils, though I do understand that motive. If it were today I would probably write in Dennis Kucinich.
For all those that want to ignore war crimes since about a week after their guy [he was mine too by the time it came to vote] got elected and replaced the war criminal we all despised with all our hearts, for those who are bitterly disappointed at Obama for his Republican-like policy decisions so far but think that his next opponent will be worse [I do too] and so will vote for him anyway, for those who just can't walk away and admit that he is not what they voted for, and for any who are of the kind that seem to just get off on abuse, I offer you a golden oldy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM5eYVlztJc

Rather than writing in Kucinich, if there's a third (or fourth) party candidate in your state making a significant showing, consider voting for him or her. If they get 5 percent of the vote that makes that party eligible for matching federal dollars in the next election.

 I have used that calculous in trying to make my vote have some meaningful purpose and will again. I voted Green Party in 2004 as my vote against Bush and in support for green ideas and for regulating corporations. Ironically, all who did that ended up helping create, or at least intensify, the prevalent fear of stepping outside the two party boundary in search of an honest politician who advocated what they wanted and would actually fight for it. The guy I voted for had a long history of advocating for things that make more and more obvious sense every day.  He might have actually believed what he said and been willing to fight for it. Who knows? Seems like his campaign cost him any influence he ever had, but maybe not. He hasn't ruled out running again in 2012. If he does I might vote for him again.

Sounds like a plan.

The GOP has now gotten serious it seems.

Civil war in 2 nations in Africa, Egypt in limbo, riots next door to Saudi Arabia, nuclear disaster and mass devastation in Japan, continued death and destruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a trillion dollar deficit, the Republicans are having an emergency session to address a national emergency, funding for NPR, which amounts to more or less a fraction of the amount Limbaugh gets to delude, stroke, profit from and exploit the ignorance and prejudice of the masses.

Defining Democratic Socialism looks to be a tough job, but my understanding is that the key differentiation between/among the brands concerns 'the means of production', and whether or not one advocates for private or state production, and most modern DSs think in terms of a benign form of capitalism with rigorous regulatory controls can suit us well.  Evolution, not revolution, IOW, even if some desire to travel further along the Socialist road than the mixed economics of this country.

When Obama 'saved' General Motors, fired the CEO, etc., he opened the door to charges of Socialism; too bad that since he got painted with it, it was the last Socialism we saw from him!  :o)  And didn't we just love it when he told Joe the Plumber that economic success should rise up from the bottom, not trickle down from the top!  (He never made that mistake again!)

Not long ago, the stats say that a CEO was compensated at about 50:1 compared to the average worker in the company, and now it's more often 500:1, and many economists say that just this one trend is helping to ruin the economy, and that's one of the changes I think could be sold to workers in America: CEOs taking such hige cuts means that they aren't investing in the future.  The same could be shown for unhealthy education 'reform', skyrocketing college tuition, bad trade deals, the loss of the manufacturing sector, la la la...

I loved that Dennis Kucinich spoke to the basic unfairness of the Federal Reserve, and the critical need to withdraw from Afghanisgtan, and bases around the world.  (Tall order, but it needs to be said over and over.) 

On my blog about Socialism, Emma Zahn said this, and I think she's right about it, even though I'm not sure the word Socialism can be ducked, but can be imagined in these terms:

"Because it has been so successfully villified, the term 'socialism' may well be beyond redemption for a couple of generation to come.  For sure there are people who would take up arms against that straw man.

Why not just give it up for now and use the language of business to accomplish the same social goals?  Example:  Ask why pooling our resources into private investment vehicles like mutual funds is considered a wise thing but pooling them into a government-sponsored enterprise or fund is condemned as the road to hell.  And what difference does it make if your health insurer is a private or public enterprise as long as it does what it is supposed to.  

The standard argument is that private programs are voluntary and government programs are mandatory but that is just not true, at least it does not have to be.  People could still be free to choose between being insured by Medicare-for-all or with, say United Healthcare.   Wouldn't it be better to have government enterprises setting benchmark standards for private enterprise through competition rather than than playing endless cat and mouse regulatory games.

We really need to think about setting up some of what are called sovereign wealth funds.  Imagine one set up to issue credit cards at government bond rates.  :)   How much in taxes would that offset?  Or an SWF for mortgages like Fannie and Freddie but without the profits being skimmed off.  One for student loans?  There is already at least one electric utility - TVA.

One last thought is about the way groups like Canvas approached overthrowing dictators, since our situation parallels that in some respects, is to use humor to point out the truth of what's going on, and by showing the absurdity of corporate rule, suggesting the more fair and just alternatives.  ;o)

Thanks for your comments.  I saw that EZ quote last night when you referred me to that thread.  In re to the following part of it 

Because it has been so successfully villified, the term 'socialism' may well be beyond redemption for a couple of generation to come.  For sure there are people who would take up arms against that straw man.

Why not just give it up for now and use the language of business to accomplish the same social goals?  

Not sure about using the language of business (depends on the context, as usual) but I think I agree that the less scary some proposal can be made to sound the easier it often is to get sufficient agreement to try it.  Which cuts somewhat against, or is in tension, with the views of those who believe "new ideas" are essential.

Yes; I meant to imply I wasn't signing on to the first paragraph, but I thought not including it would be unfair.  ;o)

Whatever language is used, I think however it gets boiled down to the 30 second sound bites, one needs to demonstrate/explain how this alternative or solution is going to create jobs.  Better still, how it will create jobs with better compensation.  In other words, people could buy into the government intervening into the private sector in order to control executive pay if one is able to directly tie that to the generation of new jobs.  Another point would be that it would create a net increase of jobs.  For instance, any impact on the "free trade" agreement will, aside from any jobs creation, will have a negative impact on jobs in the communities that have a sizeable shipping port, such LA and Seattle on the West Coast. 

I agree with most of what you wrote, but I'd think FAIR trade agreements might not have a net loss of port jobs, but you may be right; but the importance to American workers across the country would be/should be more important.  Shipping American goods out to the world is good, especially non-military ones.   Cool 

And 'investing in the future of the nation' did imply more and better jobs to me.  I know some here disagree, but plenty of people still like to make products that make people's lives better; it's one of the reasons I like listening to Dylan Ratigan's program: he talks about it a lot.  This morning's show (well, yesterday's actually) his panel spoke about where tech ingenuity met capitalism, without the express aim of profit.  The panel left out what it's actually like to work for Jobs or Genetech or Gates; that part ould be important, too.  Are there workers unionized, I wonder?

I'd love the ads to be humorous, with a background of, "Hey; is this fair?" and a demonstration, a chart, a re-enactment....John Hickenlooper did all goofy ads and became Colorado's governor, and the negative ads against him were horrific.  Channel some of the outrage into humor, I guess.  Very disarming to opponents.

 

The few people I knew who worked at Microsoft hated it: 60 to 65 hour work weeks on tedious programming tasks. They did like the paycheck. They all planned to work there long to pay off student loans, etc and save some monry.  Then quit and go do something more appealing, but for less pay. 

A number of people worked in various functions that were farmed out to contractors.  Which brings up another point - which is the move toward contractual workforce rather than employees.  The primary pull for Microsoft and others in this regard is that they then don't have to pay any benefits.  This is one area that is hurting the traditional union process, since the people who work at factory X or corporation Y are not actual employees.  If they have a beef, they have to take it up with the company farming out their services.  But this company is not a traditional employer.  The worker goes to them to find them a job elsewhere. 

I remember when I drove a taxi for a while.  I was an independent contractor, and had to go become a "small business" in order to get the job.  Negotiations about the "gate fee" (what the taxi drivers had to pay the owner at the end of the day) would be negotiations between two small companies rather than then between an owner and an employee.  Now all the drivers could have banded together and refuse to drive if the fee wasn't lowered, but in that field one tends to be living week to week, if not day to day.  So there were a number of guys and gals who drove who literally couldn't lose a couple of days of driving.  Not to mention a few out on the sidelines who would jump in to fill up the limited number of cars that were handed out for a shift. 

As wages go down, and the jobs become more scarce, the power of the owners to sustain the playing field on their terms becomes greater. 

One of the draw backs of being a "small business" doing contract work was that one had to pay small business taxes.  And as a number of the drivers would say around tax time, it was almost enough to make one a Republican.  There weren't many tax loop holes for us as there are for the corporations.

Good point about contract labor; it's ubiquitous, ask the military: lots of the employees don't answer to them!  This excerpt from and SEIU press release about Goldman Sachs giving some heart to Chipotle Restaurants illustrates what you're saying about wages (well, tangentially, anyway):

"In the wake of a December 2010 I-9 Audit, Chipotle lost nearly half of their workforce in the Minneapolis, MN area. Investment analysts familiar with the restaurant industry immediately expressed concerns about the corporation’s ability to remain profitable with labor issues in Minnesota – their concerns were only furthered with the confirmation of an additional audit of Chipotle stores in Virginia and the District of Columbia.

However, it’s become clear that while Chipotle once called the audits “disruptive”, they have managed to turn a devastating situation into an opportunity to exploit workers. Following a meeting between Goldman Sachs officials and Chipotle co-CEO Monty Moran and CFO Jack Hartung, Goldman Sachs released a report outlining Chipotle’s financial condition. According to the Goldman Sachs analysis, Chipotle reported that, “The financial ramifications of replacing illegal workers may be overblown. The newly hired workers in Minnesota actually cost less than those they replaced.”

Workers are disposable commodities, bottom lines rule.  Of course.

Are you speaking of small businesses or 'sole proprietorships'?  My husband and I have almost always been self-employed, and filing is a bitch, but yes, you pay all your own SS, not much break for health insurance, rarely get stimulus money, la la la.  How are we supposed to really want to become self-employed innovative hoboes if we are punished?  ;o)

Most of the new jobs have been temporary or entry level with fewer than 40 hours to avoid benefits, and even union jobs are now two-tiered crapola.  Sigh.

"Looking for a job? Here! Grab an oar. You're needed in the galley."

Define jobs. In my estimation, anything that doesn't provide a family-supporting wage doesn't qualify. And there are virtually NO jobs available to replace those who are losing good jobs at alarming levels.

Ah, come on, Jeezus; I think you are forgetting the concept of 'creative destruction', aren't you?

Workers: "yeah, but I got retrained three times now, and each successive job got off-shored; now they say I'm too old to qualify for retraining.  Oh: and the program is gone?  Now they are saying that the Unions should be training us for all these fancy-schmancy high-tech factory jobs they claim they're unable to fill.  Well fu*k them!"

But seriously; workers and unions have given about all they can with lower wages, cuts in pensions, two-tiered hiring, staying silent while Obama works to pass KORUS/KAFTA; what's left to give? 

Flavius claims over my objections that the ACA will tackle actual health care delivery costs; that's not what I read.  And small business needs that happening to be able to afford HC for their employees, and I'm not talking about the huge companies that can claim to be small businesses under some arcan legal definition.

I'd add that jobs can also need to provide dignity to workers even if they are agricultural jobs, or Walmart cashiers or wanything, so people aren't effectively slaves.

 

Flavius claims over my objections that the ACA will tackle actual health care delivery costs; that's not what I read.

It depends on how you tackle the meaning of 'tackle'. If by 'tackle' one means 'set up some studies as to how in theory one might bring down costs and incentivize experimentation on delivery systems amongst insurers', then, yes, it sure does tackle health care delivery systems costs. If one means 'actually bring down delivery costs', no it doesn't. Of course not, because doing that involves hitting providers' and insurers' bottom line. And that can't happen. So we'll just keep studying the problem until everyone is dead.

Thanks for defining terms for me; but remember: dead costs less.  Oh--you did; sorry.  But yeah, it ain't so much a health care plan as an insurance reform (not), and I read at angybear that Romney's plan ain't even lessinging health care foreclosures, and other fails.  Kicking the can down the road sucks, and claiming victory with Crap Legislation is worse.

Thanks for the alley-oop assist.   Kiss

And gettng it all back on topic, this "Health Care Reform Industry Profit Enhancement & Protection Act" shows the extensive opportunity costs we all pay when we continually advance policies and candidates in a manner to prevent Repubs from winning elections rather than actually presenting an alternative to their madness.

We could have had legitimate HCR. The people were consistently in favor of it's basic tenets (like LEGITMATE cost controlling single-payer/public option, etc.), even without any strong advocacy from our Dem pols. But what we got instead is a fetid, bloated carcass of a Health Insurance Industry bill that only intensifies the unsustainability of our present system of health care delivery.

Legitimate HCR was there for the taking. We blew it in deference to the monied masters. It's becoming a common theme in Dem politics. And all the Dem wins in elections ain't going to change that dynamic, nor will it limit the epic failures to reverse course in this country toward actually serving the people's interest as priority #1.

Which points to the issue that what we really need are more Bernie Sanders in the Senate.  My question is where are they?  I know most of us, from some mix past history, personality, and inclinations, are not suited for the world of politics.  Yet each state should have at least two or three folks who meet the standards.  If the tea party can get ODonnell into the general election, what is stopping the progressives from challenging the status quo Dems in 2012? And after the last election, the same goes for the House. 

I suspect a good part of the answer rests in the fact that an actual alternative to the Repub politics is easily discredited. After all, even his own Party's regulars establish such a candidate to be far outside the mainstream of "legitimate political discussion"

"Tax increases for the rich? When we can instead simply take away home heating oil help for the poor? Are you nuts! That's SOCIALIST and therefore not anything a GOOD Democrat would support!" You can almost see such a statement emanating from this White House and this Dem Party leadership as they would be compelled into "damage control" by the GOP attacks on such a candidate for Congress or Senate who would propose such blasphemy as the wealthy paying their fair share.

But if the sentiment was out there among the masses such that a viable challenger or third party candidate could make a least a mild run at challenging Obama, then whatever the WH does in terms of damage control would fall on deaf ears.

You're almost sounding more defeatist than me: what's the point of running progressive candidates for Senate, the people will just listen to the WH and stay with the same old corporate-loving establishment Dems.

Defeatist? Au Contraire! More along the lines of saying it's time to stick the "fat bastard" wing of the Dems in the neck and let the chips fall where they might. These guys are done, anyway.

I suppose I was just responding to that your post seemed to being saying that "part of the answer" of why there was more progressive candidates or why we can't have our McDonnell is because the WH would turn on the "socialist" candidate.  Which seems to be saying something like, "the tea party didn't have to contend with the WH.  If it wasn't for the WH we would have a whole slew of progressive candidates taking out the establishment Dems and running in the general election."

If Lamont had challenged Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary in November 2010, do you think the WH would have endorsed and campaigned for Lieberman?  Would they have tried to bigfoot Lamont from challenging Lieberman?  If Lamont had challenged in 2010 and won do you think the WH would have endorsed Lamont and campaigned for him in the general if requested to do so? 

Just posing these questions to help think about potential primarying strategies or scenarios, including how the dynamics might be similar or different depending on which party holds the WH at the time.

Flavius claims over my objections that the ACA will tackle actual health care delivery costs; that's not what I read.

If I restricted my observation to health care delivery costs , I was wrong.Delete delivery.

As writing I am replaying a discussion on "talking heads"  from last June 30 between Brad Delong andMichael Kinsley in which DeLong summarizes the CBO's finding that the cost reduction provisions of the ACA are sufficient to wipe out the projected long term fiscal deficit previously forecast for the next 75 years.

Or put another way, the ACA has a projected cost saving effect that's 40 times of the projected cost increases of the stimulus.

And therefore Peter Orzac described the ACA as

the biggest deficit reduction act the Government has ever attempted.

Kinsley's response was to say  " I'm not prepared to challenge you on (those calculations) but probably Congress won't implement it" 

That's surely a risk. Neither of us can guess what Congress will actually do. But that's a separate subject from whether the ACA as written has a deficit increasing or decreasing effect.

Joke

TV host:What has big floppy ear, a trunk, and tusks and black and white stripes ?

Guest. Dunno . What's the answer

TVH An elephant.I was lying about the stripes.

That's not really that far from some of the current criticism of the ACA.

 

 

Yes, I read those remarks by Delong. It surprised me.

Kinsley's response sounds like a copout, but in all fairness, given how the savings are structured - it's like Paul Ryan's idea of just capping medicare spending inflation, and then hoping someone somewhere finds a way to keep the actual costs from exceeding that inflation rate - it is pretty much a close-your-eyes-and-think-of-kansas kind of solution.

I meant to say, delong's remarks surprised me because everyone else - even on the left - seems to assume that the savings as written do not remotely solve the cost inflation problem, and that they constitute but a decent but modest start on dealing with the issue.

Delong is quoting Orzac.

The TV show was not talkingheads but bloggingheads.TV

Delong repeated  in his blog during Feb  those June 30th statements.

I'm sure you know , but for the sake of the few others who have labored to this point, Delong's resume ,besides having been Deputy Sec of Treasury, includes deep involvement in the attempt to launch Hillarycare and later being the go-to reviewer of the  books about that. Then in 2007 or 8  he wrote a  powerful post explining why the administrative errors she committed during that debacle convinced him she was unqualified to be President .

All that aside , if you have to chose  between a Deputy Secretary of  Treasury and almost any other authority , the burden of proof is on that  other. Secretaries of State as we observed recently might be someone whose knowledge of National Financial Systems was obtained making the trains run on time. Whereas the  Deputy is surely  always selected for his technical skills..

Bottom line. Delong  knows what he's talking about. Not so sure about any of the other commentators..

Thanks for the details. I'm not questioning delong's competence. Just noting the discrepancy in reports.

Thanks for the details. I'm not questioning delong's competence. Just noting the discrepancy in reports.

For every action there is a reaction........ it's time to react

The time is NOW to end this madness.

If we wait much longer, it'll be to late..... if it isnt already.  

Globalization serves Corporations and the returns to the worker is minimal.

Dow

  11,623.70

  -231.75

Globalization is so much fun. Yippeee  It's only our retirement funds getting swallowed up because we've become dependant.  

So you have a job. BFD .........well dummy.... slaves had jobs.  

Make that the Socialist message...... you like slavery do ya?  Either you work for the Government or the Government works for you.

I want the Government to work for me, and it takes taxes, and allowing Corporations to go overseas destroys the tax base. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure it out? 

What worker or employer cant see we are on a treadmill, we all hate? Who recieves the lions share of this current arrangement? It doesnt take a rocket scientist to ascertain. Dummy  

As the jobs get shipped overseas, there is less revenue for Social Security, more demands will be made upon employers for more pay, to fund private retirement accounts, more money will be demanded by emloyees needing to purchase medical insurance.

The employer will not be able to meet the demands,.as long as other Corporations import

IS this what it means to defend "To the Republic for which it stands" what the heck does it stand for?  

Cut the miltary defense NOW if the plan is to enslave me, When the Republic is nothing more than a task master  and I nothing more than cannon fodder for Corporations.

What is my reward......slavery? Fighting amongst ourselves for the crumbs, is that the fruitage of our labor.....crumbs? 

We need a Taxbase and  any worker or American that cant see that, should be shown the door. Get out.

Love it or leave it .....The Corporations left and so should their supporters.   

Tax imports if thats whats needed to help finance my leisure, my unemployment as the good paying jobs have left the country and will continue until the only ones making good money, are the slave owners. 

Are the slaves that happy with this arrangement? Good pay for the slave owners and crumbs for the slaves?

How else can it be viewed?  

Yup.

Microsoft didn't move to contractors so much as they moved to H1B's - grabbed something insane like 80% of the national allotment at one point. Dumped 20,000 workers in one instance. They'd fire whole departments, keep like two or three managers and then bring in a whole bunch of people who didn't build up pensions or benefits or anything. Then they send the newly trained workforce back to India or whatever to work through a subsidiary where there are zero labor protections and pay them at marginally better rates than the local peasant class.

The most visible net impact seems to have been that the northwest was *flooded* with well-degreed independent contractors all competing within a rather small pool of potential clients.

But yeah, by most accounts MS was/is a pretty tough place to work. I've heard Google kind of sucks too.

And goodness! If you were operating as an independent contractor without partners you can expense damn near *everything* if you get creative ... set it up as an LLC to run the expenses and then only pay yourself cash for stuff that can't be run through the company and 1099 yourself at the end of the year. You don't pay taxes on anything not disbursed and it even rolls over (*local restrictions may apply - consult professional*). Maybe taxi drivers aren't the most sophisticated ecosystem members, but many small business owners are able to function quite well within the structures as they exist without the latent bitterness you seem to consistently project on the sector.

Sure, there are too many loopholes for the corporations and the rich - many of which push them away from American contractors and labor. That is negatively impacting the systemic infrastructure that small business owners rely on to be profitable in America. It doesn't impact the multinational corporations much because they can just mine the wealth differential between their defacto slave colonies and consumer classes to always undercut wholly domestic competitors. The same downwards pressures that free trade has put on the American workforce are also seriously impacting a huge cross section of American small business owners. Truth is our interests are quite closely aligned.

if you get creative

It is, of course, impossible to evaluate the appropriateness of any tax planning until after the audit

You will know that you have found the right level of aggressive deducting when the service informs you that you owe an additional 20-30% on your taxes.  Thus, you have called the close ones in your favor.

cf.. a) The service sends you a 20-30% refund, making you a hopeless, gutless, chump.

      b) The service sends a couple of guys packing heat (technically, the C(riminal) I(nvestigation) D(ivision) guys, making you a potential roomate for Wesley  Snipes.

Sadly, some folks just don't understand creative types :-(

 

Flavius, I read more of your comments about deLong's opinions on the ACA, and googled about it a bit.  Most of what I found, he referenced Romney-care in MA, and extrapolated, so he seemed to believe that the mechanics were similar.  I remembered reading this piece at Angrybear quoting some reports on the MA plan's effects on real people's lives, and it wasn't all skittles and beer:

"US News and World Report: Mass. Health Reform Hasn't Halted Medical Bankruptcies

"Health costs in the state have risen sharply since reform was enacted. Even before the changes in health care laws, most medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts -- as in other states -- afflicted middle-class families with health insurance. High premium costs and gaps in coverage -- co-payments, deductibles and uncovered services -- often left insured families liable for substantial out-of-pocket costs. None of that changed. For example, under Massachusetts' reform, the least expensive individual coverage available to a 56-year-old Bostonian carries a premium of $5,616, a deductible of $2,000, and covers only 80 percent of the next $15,000 in costs for covered services," the researchers wrote.

The results from the actual published article in The American Journal of Medicine:

In 2009, illness or medical bills contributed to 52.9% of bankruptcies in Massachusetts. In contrast, in early 2007, medical bankruptcies accounted for 59.3% of personal bankruptcies in the state (P#.44 for comparison with 2009 proportion) and 62.1% nationally (P#.02). Because the total number of personal bankruptcy filings in Massachusetts increased by 51% between fiscal years 2007 and 2009(6) the absolute number of medical bankruptcies in the state actually increased by more than one third during that period, from 7504 to 10,093.

(There's more of course.)  It's not an issue I know much about, but I read somewhere recently that the reason most of the plan went into effect in what, 2014 and 2015 were partially about tweaking the numbers to look better, though I can't remember what that was about.  Anyway, I thought you might want to read these reports.

 

I agree with the socialism, but what I don't understand is how he fooled everyone the first time around.  I am an ordinary American, nobody of high status or claim to fame and power and I saw right through him.  Don't give excuses, there are none.

Coda 

As I write, now less than 4 months prior to the election, real unemployment remains dismally high. The foreclosure situation remains a mess.  Tens of millions of Americans who are in dismal straits and who were taught in school to believe that ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people have nowhere in our political system to look to for the hope many allowed themselves to feel four years ago.  It is misguided and misdirected anger on one side versus a kind of bunker "it could be worse, and it will be if the other guys win" mindset on the other.

Our choice in the presidential election--and however disappointing a choice it is to many of us, it is a choice, and an important one--presents a GOP nominee who offers a return to Bush 43's failed economic policies, which blew a gigantic hole in the federal deficit while redistributing income, money and opportunity upward. 

That Romney stands some chance of winning--notwithstanding his remarkably unwinning personality and a past and present he is flailing about attempting to conceal if he can get away with it--is a testament to the vulnerability of the incumbent.

In the other corner, our President's preferred approach to boosting our economy and helping millions back on their feet would appear to be "hope and pray".  The word "hope" is a constant from four years ago.  However, its meaning has changed.  "Hope" today seems to amount more or less to an ardent wish that, on the current trajectory, things will somehow work themselves out and we will see an economic recovery sooner rather than later.  And that, if there is to be another downturn, it will not begin until after the election.  His prayer for an almost comically limited general election opponent has already been answered. 

We will know soon enough whether the monied interests, who heavily prefer Romney as the real thing to Obama as a bit squishy and unreliable at times, will be able to take advantage of the post Citizens United campaign finance realities to prevail in this election, rather than merely ensure that any public policy options that might actually work to do what both parties will insist they want--generate a strong recovery--are off the table.

Sanders would have represented a real choice, albeit one squarely within the American political tradition.  This was, roughly speaking, the approach of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which did a great deal to reduce misery in this society and bolstered the kind of faith in our form of government, and in one another, that appears in short supply in our day.  It is also, roughly speaking, the approach recommended not solely by those as readily dismissed and marginalized as Sanders, but by Nobel laureate economists such as Paul Krugman, who are able to marshall what to my way of thinking is a case for their approach which is coherent and far superior to anything we are hearing from the presidential nominees. 

As a society we are being the opposite of "conservative".  We are preparing to roll the dice for another 4 years, at least.  We are likely to see growing public unrest in the face of what are almost sure to be further inadequate economic policies, regardless of who wins.  We have only to look at our own recent past, and look around the world, to get a preview of likely coming attractions--that would be my surmise, at any rate. 

What a sad and pathetic state of affairs in our country that, on the issue of the economy and what to do about it, this is the "choice" the American electorate is presented with.  It is no wonder that the reaction of the public overall contrasts so starkly with four years ago, amounting to a collective yawn.  

No one can honestly maintain that any of what is on offer for what to do about the economy offers some reason for grounded optimism that such measures would improve matters any time soon.   

Which is why, for me, as I've written, the choice is a matter of picking my poison.  I'll be voting for the candidate I would rather have making the sum of all the decisions the next President will make (which might keep us out of another ill-advised war and which might halt or even begin to reverse the US Supreme Court's decades-long march towards handcuffing 21st century America with imagined 18th century tools and rules), and the candidate I would prefer as the Oval Office target of the pressure that must follow from the sufficiently motivated or outraged parts of the public that needs our government to do better, or simply insists that it both can and must. 

If we are to begin to turn things around, that is, instead of continuing to flounder and kick cans down the road, or accelerate towards the cliff under our very own death wish party, the GOP. 

If Obama does win I suspect for me the feeling will be one of mild relief, a bullet temporarily dodged, hardly one of joy or celebration.  We have to be doing better in this country than avoiding a resumption of freefall descent starting next year.  We are hardly helpless to act upon our plight and begin to take up, instead of duck, unduckable challenges.   As has always been the case in American history, come November 7, it will, still, be up to ordinary citizens acting--or not--to force responsiveness out of our government.   

 

 

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