Monday, September 23, 2013

And In 2016, Perhaps Someone Of The Right Religion

There is a virus running through Democratic Party politics.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton lost her shot at the Democratic presidential nomination when the Democratic National Committee withheld delegate from the states of Florida and Michigan because they had defied party rules by moving their primaries (won by Clinton) up in the calendar.  Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi opposed the (ultimately unsuccessful) effort of the Clinton forces to reverse the decision, and Steve Kornacki that March wrote

This might be surprising if Pelosi really were neutral. But by all measures, she isn’t – and hasn’t been for a long time. She was somewhat cool to Clinton and her campaign from the very beginning of the 2008 cycle, and over time began sending clear signals that Obama is her candidate. When George Miller and Anna Eshoo, fellow House Democrats from California through whom Pelosi often telegraphs her wishes, endorsed Obama a few months back, the hand of the Speaker was apparent.

It appears Mrs. Pelosi has had a change of heart.

Presumably, the House Minority Leader would deny it is a change of heart. Hillary, she says, would "be one of the best-equipped, best-prepared people to enter the White House in a very long time," and that long time includes Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

But her excitement is not motivated by Clinton's experience. Other Democrats, including but not limited to Joe Biden, who would seek the nomination also are qualified.  Pelosi, though,  remarked "I always have had a habit of saying when you're serious about running, I'll be serious about it.  But I think it would be magnificent for America to have a woman president. I think it would be just wonderful."

Pelosi is one of only a number of Democrats across the land who, after supporting Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, now can barely conceal their enthusiasm for the candidate they once opposed.  The reason, many make clear, is simple: for a quite obvious reason (stated or not), 2008 was Barack's
Time and now it is Hillary's Time.

Selecting a candidate on the basis of inherited characteristics has not been a good idea throughout our long history.  And it wasn't in 2008, and wouldn't be in 2012.

If electing the President even in part on the basis of race werewise, we wouldn't have read last month from 

According to Census Bureau figures released today, 15 percent of the US population lives in poverty. In 2011, more than 46 million Americans lived below a poverty line that was set more than four decades ago, in 1969...

In fact, the USDA reports that more than 16 million American children are "food insecure."

Today's census report also contained bad news on incomes.

Median household income (adjusted for inflation) was down an additional 1.5 percent from the already-low levels of 2010. Median income is now 8.9 percent lower than it was in 1999.

Income inequality, as measured by the Gini index - the degree of income inequality, with 0 representing total equality and 100 representing total inequality - reached a new record high of 47.7 percent. A Gini index of 50 would be equivalent to half of the population receiving all of the country's income, while the other half got nothing.

All this bad news comes against a backdrop of extraordinarily low employment rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over 58 percent of the adult population has any kind of job at all (full or part time), the lowest figure in 30 years. Only 64 percent of adult men have a job of any kind, the lowest figure ever.

Today's official poverty rate of 15 percent is among the highest of the past 40 years.

When the poverty line was first adopted in 1969, the poverty rate was just 12.1 percent.

The poverty line we use today was officially set on August 29, 1969. It represented a 1969 consensus of the basic minimum standard of living for American families in 1969. Other than adjusting for inflation, it has not been updated since.

In the technical discussions that preceded the official determination of the poverty line, experts considered a methodology that "would have resulted in poverty thresholds that were 25 percent to 30 percent higher than the existing thresholds," according to research published in the Social Security Bulletin.

In essence, 15 percent of Americans today live in what would have been considered poverty in 1969, more than 40 years ago. Had our standards gone up over the past 43 years, even more Americans would now be identified as poor.

In many ways, poor Americans are even worse off than they have been in the past. For example, a record low 69.3 percent of Americans are now covered by private health insurance. Nearly 10 percent of children have no health insurance coverage at all.

But don't blame the American people, for

According to figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, America's total economic output per person is now more than twice as high as it was in 1969 (adjusted for inflation).

With twice the resources, today's America is much better placed to end poverty than was the America of 43 years ago.

Today's Census Bureau report offers little cause for hope. After 43 years with no progress, poverty is now endemic in America. But we do have the financial means to reverse it, should we ever garner the political will.

Certainly, none of this is happening because the President (who is regularly sabotaged by the G.O.P.) is black. But the economic trends of the past 40 years continue unabated despite having a president who, it was implied, was singularly equipped to turn things around because he was genetically situated to understand the plight of the poor and minorities. His response to ongoing economic trends has been, at best, lackluster. Real median income is down, income inequality is up, and the House Democratic leader believes "it would be magnificent" to have someone as President because she was born a woman.

Hillary Clinton may have been (as I believed) the best of three (including Barack Obama and the GOP) option five years ago, though Nancy Pelosi evidently wasn't convinced.  She may be the best answer in 2016, though not for the reason the House Democratic leader is so enthused.

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