Friday, May 29, 2015

Not A Doomed Campaign, But A Steep Hill To Climb

Salon's Elias Isquith observes

Since conventional wisdom holds that her centrist position on the Iraq War cost Clinton the nomination in 2008, it’s unsurprising to hear that the new campaign’s goal is to avoid making the same mistake twice. And as a lefty who expects Clinton to ultimately win the nomination, I’d be thrilled if this were her only takeaway from ’08. The most likely consequence would be that she stops worrying so much about the center and focuses more on inspiring her base. This isn’t mere speculation; as her new positions on marriage equality, criminal justice and immigration reform attest, she’s done it already.

Isquith recognizes "Exciting as this scenario is, though, it’s not guaranteed. And the reason it’s not guaranteed is because that aforementioned explanation for Clinton’s defeat in ’08 — that it was all about Iraq — isn’t correct."  He goes on to point out that Obama received far greater support than did Mrs. Clinton from black voters, though it would be more interesting if the first black candidate with a serious chance of nomination had not pulled that off.  In fact, the New York Senator, rather than the Illinois Senator, was the favorite among black voters until Obama had almost overtaken Clinton.

The irony is that HRC was way ahead in 2007, evidently sailing to victory, when she was asked in debate whether she supported New York Governor Spitzer's plan to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. After hemming and hawing, she was caught making contradictory statements, and her image of inevitability was shattered. Seven years later, Nebraska has become the last state to extend eligibility to some illegal immigrants, commonly referred to as "Dreamers," to obtain drivers' licenses and Clinton is ahead of the curve on comprehensive immigration reform.

Isquith links to a post on Vox, "Why Bernie Sanders Doesn't Talk About Race," notes that almost no one in Vermont is black, and explains

To be clear, Sanders hasn’t avoided talking about race throughout his career because he’s a bigot. His motivations have been unsentimental and practical (again: Vermont is about as diverse as a Simon & Garfunkel concert). But they’ve been ideological, too. “Sanders believes in racial equality, sure,” writes Lind, “but he believes it will only come as the result of economic equality.” A politics of racial justice that neglects the question of economic power — or treats it as a secondary, separate issue — is, in Sanders’ mind, equivalent to “treating the symptom, not the disease.”

Remarking "hopefully, that's not how things play out," Isquith nonetheless understands

Clinton could note that the first two speeches of her campaign were about examples of racial injustice (mass incarceration and the plight of undocumented immigrants) and she could contrast that with Sanders’ relative silence in order to portray him as an out-of-touch white guy who cares more about the “professional left” than “everyday Americans.” Throw in a little of the media’s predictable talk of a“wine track” and “beer track” within the Democratic electorate and — boom! — Sanders becomes this election’s version of a way-less-weird Dennis Kucinich.

That isn't, however, only because of the concentration of black and Hispanic voters (as well as whites with concerns about racial inequities) in Democratic primaries and caucuses. Clinton did not choose the troika of issues- immigration reform, criminal justice reform, and "marriage equality"- on which to establish a  progressive identity only because of the nature of the Democratic electorate.  In contrast to Sanders' agenda (video below), there is not a conservative consensus in the financial community- or practically anywhere in the corporate community- on those issues.

There is nothing in same-sex marriage which interferes with the accumulation of profits, and it is virtually certain that big money donors support same-sex marriage at least to the degree as does the American public, and probably more overwhelmingly.  A more accepting attitude toward immigrants,which expands the supply of workers, fits in nicely with  the interests of business in maintaining wage stagnation and creating a more "flexible" labor pool.  (HRC, though, ought to be commended for emphasizing the importance of citizenship over legalization.)

Most of the suggestions, if implemented,would not curtail the continued record-setting accumulation of  profits by the corporate sector as workers are left behind.( Legalization of marijuana- notably not endorsed by HRC- is an exception.) The uncontroversial neo-liberal notion of training ex-cons for jobs which don't provide a livable wage is no exception and would if successful expand the labor pool. Ending mass incarceration, whatever its humane characteristics, also would expand the labor pool. Clinton's tilt to the left threatens no donors who will make her the best-funded candidate in American history.

As Isquith argues, "it would be tragic if Sanders' campaign, which has started out with so much promise, was undone by the same forces that have forestalled progress in America time and time again. The question said to trump all others for the Vermont Senator is "What is the economic fairness of the situation?" That it is not for most of the movers and shakers in the Democratic Party (let alone the Republican) or elsewhere in society is not only his problem, but ours also.,

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