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December 29, 2016 09:05 AM UTC

Thursday Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted.”

–Groucho Marx


14 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread

  1. I'm going to say the biggest story of the year was how the Democratic Party completely missed the anti-Establishment mood of voters, even after Bernie Sanders' major disruption of The Party and its inflexible, out-of-touch leaders.

    Playing it so safe as to believe that refinancing your student loan was going to be compelling issue for voters, the party's national strategy meant blatantly ignoring the obvious, keeping quiet about President Obama's key accomplishments (again), ignoring as much of Bernie and Warren's ideas as possible while still glomming on to their names, and telling themselves that you can be Pro-Wall Street and Pro-Main Street at the same time.

    Does Hillary Clinton understand that the biggest divide in American politics is no longer between the right and the left, but between the anti-establishment and the establishment?

    I worry she doesn’t – at least not yet.

    A Democratic operative I’ve known since the Bill Clinton administration told me “now that she’s won the nomination, Hillary is moving to the middle. She’s going after moderate swing voters.

    (Oh Lord above, how many times do we have to hear that horseshit?-ed.)

    Presumably that’s why she tapped Tim Kaine to be her vice president. Kaine is as vanilla middle as you can get.

    And that's how Democrats lost the presidency, barely kept even in the Senate and House, one of which they could almost guarantee winning.

    And even though they're just stoopid bloggers, Markos and Atrios consistently point out the political and policy errors in that worn-out, obsolete strategy and the need for it to stop it right now (please note the sarcasm throughout):

    Democratic centrism isn't the same as Republican centrism. It's better! For example, it isn't true that Obamacare is just the Heritage Foundation health care plan. It's better! But it's still based on the same blueprint. It's still deep in the ideology of centrism which still only flirts with more solid Lefty positions. Democratic centrism still doesn't see that things are fucked up and bullshit, and going on 40 years of ideological centrism has been the problem, not the solution. It still laughs at those crazy lefties and their "unicorn" ideas. It still sees centrism as both the only achievable thing (perhaps true!) and the only politically popular thing (likely not true!). It's still an ideology which sees that political wisdom is found in talking to Joe Klein, David Brooks, and Tom Friedman. It's politics that sees winning elections as winning over the Charlie Rose Green room while signalling some cultural affiliations with the rubes in Fritters every four years.

    Dems have to quit being defensive, start going on offense, even to the point of offending big-name and big-dollar donors, and take what the people were willing to give them in popular support and campaign donations. And if they can't explain to their BFF's in corporate boardrooms the need disrupt an economy that favors the 1%-ers over the 99% or 47%, then they aren't worth much having in office.

    And yes, I'm looking at you, Michael (check out those pitiful social media numbers) and Jared as two Democrats still in office who need to lead, rather than follow, on this critical issue. 

    Happy New Year, Everyone!

    1. Tom S throws in at Digby's

      The Democratic Party as an "establishment" organization is conservative by disposition. When shaken or defeated, or when facing the unknown, like now, such organizations by reflex seek safety in the comfortable and familiar. They shy from risk. Democrats fret about what Republicans might say about them at election time. Inner circles across the country worry about fundraising: regular donors might not support untested, young leaders. Democrats fret about how a new direction might induce "division in the party." ….

      Institutional reserve leaves Democrats as a party in a perpetual, defensive crouch, looking for all the world more like abused spouses than bold leaders. All defense, as if in the age of Trump they have something left to lose. 

      This plays out at the local, state, and national levels. You can see it in the race for DNC chair.

      Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is (reportedly) the White House's "safe" pick, someone who won't rock the boat.

      Rep. Keith Ellison, the erstwhile Bernie Sanders primary supporter, is the "risky" pick. The election is perceived as a proxy battle between the Clinton and the Sanders factions. But that's not where the split is. Those personalities are simply the loci.

      The real split is between top-down leaders and bottom-up, grassroots activists expected to wait their turn. A top-down establishment holding onto the past with white knuckles is not going to grow the party out of the minority status in which it finds itself.

      The familiar and comfortable is not what the electorate is thirsting for. Years of service is not enough. Voters want bold, forward-looking leadership. Offer a new generation of activists something less and they'll stay away. That's not a promising vehicle for change to anyone under 40 years old.

      As if……….

      This is a "political" blog they say. Maybe CPols will critique the politics of how Democrats should move forward after another dismal election rather than holding to the simplistic and easy task of critiquing those dumb Republicans all the time.

      1. I'm not sure that

        the biggest divide in American politics is no longer between the right and the left, but between the anti-establishment and the establishment….

        There are all kinds of ways to draw the divisions, dozens of Venn diagrams overlapping various coalitions and policy stances. But there are real, significant policy differences between the right and the left, that are erased with a simplistic establishment vs. anti dichotomy.

        I do agree with your thesis in your first post, that

        the Democratic Party completely missed the anti-Establishment mood of voters, –

        to which I would add that the Republican party did the same thing. And, in an effort to avoid being "politically correct", they were flabbergasted by the depth of resentment,and readiness to blame economic woes on immigrants and people of color.

        Neither party got the deep dissatisfaction with incremental solutions to fundamental needs like health care, education, pollution and climate change.

        I know that we better stop playing the blame game, and figure out how to heal those divisions and work together, real fast. The Trump-ists rely on "shock and awe" bombardment to keep us off balance and grasping at straws of fake normalcy.

        We have to jump out of our circular firing squad and identify real enemies….and coalition allies that we only partly agree with. And we don't have very much time to do it.


        1. I don't think the Democratic party "missed" the anti-establishment mood of the voters.  The establishment that runs both parties saw it.  If you were an establishment politician who was determined to run for the highest office in the land are you not going to run because someone else would play better to the anti-establishment crowd?

          The problem is that there is little democracy within the political parties and it was not in the party elder's interest who control things to act on the obvious.

          1. Holy crap, I agree with something AC wrote:

            there is little democracy within the political parties and it was not in the party elder's interest who control things to act on the obvious.

            But then, how do you explain Trump's triumph as the "anti-establishment" candidate for the GOP?

            I know how I'd explain it, but I'm curious as to what you'd say.

            Another question I've asked you before, but you've declined to answer, twice: Are you proud that this man is representing your party?

            Perhaps 3rd time will be the charm.

            1. AC should feel free to chime in, but here's my take.

              Trump isn't the candidate of the GOP, He's the candidate of people who generally affiliate with it.  The same would have been true if Bernie came out the nominee for the Democrats.  The party, as with Bernie, was a necessary link into an electoral system that's generally foreclosed to non-major party candidates.

              I'd argue that the difference is that the Republican establishment, who'd already had the benefit of managing the Tea Party, was smart (and Machiavellian) enough to get out of the way of the Trump train, jump on as it passed, and work from the inside to establish lines of control, which are already evident in the extreme choices for almost all the cabinet and advisory post nominees.  I think, best of all for the establishment, they can rely on the good work of Vice Secret President Pence (since I don't know why Trump would only make that offer to Kasich).


              1. Pseudo,

                I don't think the Republican establishment was smarter.  I just think they had less power to "fix" things than the Dem establishment did.  It was not for lack of trying.


                Am I proud of everything he has done in his life? No.

                Am I proud that we elected him, as opposed to Hillary and what she has done in her life? Yes.

                Elections present a binary choice. Both candidates had warts. I found Hillary’s warts less attractive.

            2. Some of the rather important differences that led to different results of the establishment keeping control:

              15% of Dem delegates are "super" delegates hand picked by the establishment.

              7% of Republican delegates were "super" delegates.

              Dems had a party structure picked by an incumbent who supported one of the candidates.

              Republicans had no candidate that was preordained in any meaningful way.

  2. President Obama throws down the gauntlet to Donald Trump — are you going to be the first president convicted of treason?

    “All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” the president said in a statement.

    “It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said Thursday.

    But Obama appears committed to proving Russia’s responsibility despite the denials from Trump and the Kremlin. His administration wants Congress to receive intelligence reports that lay out the evidence before Trump enters office and is able to call off such investigations.

    “If a future president decided he wanted to allow in a large tranche of Russian intelligence agents, presumably a future president could do that,” an Obama aide said. “We don’t think it would make much sense to reopen Russian intelligence compounds … we don’t think it makes much sense to invite back in Russian intelligence agents.”

    Putin affirms his role as Donald Trump's puppeteer in his response:

    Putin’s spokespeople attacked the Obama team in personal terms, calling them “losers” and promising retaliation.


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