What Do You Mean ‘Sanders Might Be Another George McGovern’?

George McGovern was the Democratic nominee against incumbent Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. He lost in a landslide. Just as the events of the 1980s shaped the current economic environment, the 1970s “Nixonian” politics of division shaped the current political environment. Did Democrats learn the right lessons from that election?

That’s the core question being asked as “establishment” Democrats worry that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would be “too far to the left” to compete against the Republican nominee in a general election.

McGovern, son of a poor pastor who was a war hero and eventually a U.S. senator for South Dakota, had a reputation as a decent man who sided with the people. He campaigned on ending the Vietnam War, cutting military spending, helping economically distressed Americans and confronting Republican lawbreaking.

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Dem Debate Schedule Is Allowing GOP To Frame Election Narrative

There’s just no way around it: the Democrats are intentionally hiding their presidential candidates from the public.

The last Democratic presidential debate was buried on a Saturday night up against the opening of Star Wars. Naturally it drew a fraction of earlier Republican debate audiences – and even of the earlier Democratic debates. The next debate is scheduled, astonishingly, on a Sunday night, January 17, the middle day of a three-day weekend. But just in case that might still draw an audience, it is also up against NFL playoff games. What is going on?

Partly as a result of this scheduling, Republican presidential candidates and their campaign proposals dominate the news and therefore the public’s attention. But the Republican candidates are not addressing the country’s many problems or offering serious proposals for solving them. Banning certain religions? Even more tax cuts for the rich and their corporations? Unleashing oil companies? More guns? What?

Meanwhile Democrats, with superior candidates and serious proposals for actually addressing our problems, are barely part of the national discussion. Is the pubic hearing about the need for infrastructure investment? No. Is the public hearing about the need to expand Social Security? No. These are winning proposals, but the debate schedule is keeping the public from hearing them. It’s as if the leadership of the Democratic party wants to lose the coming election.

John Nichols at The Nation sums it up well, in “Resolution for 2016: Let’s Have Lots More Presidential Debates“:

That’s bad for the Democratic Party and its candidates. It’s also bad for a body politic that requires more than the junk-food diet offered up by Donald Trump and most of his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nod.

What is going on? Why are the Democrats hiding their presidential candidates and potentially sabotaging their 2016 election prospects?

Democrats should demand that the Democratic National Committee schedule several more debates and schedule them at times when most people can and will watch.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

How The Clinton and Sanders Infrastructure Plans Measure Up

“Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board.”
– Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced a plan for infrastructure investment. How does her plan stack up against that of her chief competitor, Bernie Sanders?

Also, how will Clinton and Sanders pay for their plans? On that question, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recently came up with a set of principles we can use to judge this.

Clinton’s Infrastructure Plan

Clinton on Monday announced a plan for investing in infrastructure improvements. Meteor Blades laid out the need for infrastructure investment at Daily Kos in “Clinton proposes $275 billion spending for infrastructure“:

… 11 percent of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient and a fourth of them are functionally obsolete. Similar deficiencies can be found in schools, dams, levees, railroads, the electrical grid, and wastewater facilities. In its 2013 quadrennial report card on U.S. infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers said the nation would need to invest an additional $1.6 trillion by 2020 to put its infrastructure into good repair. And that doesn’t include innovative infrastructure like universal broadband.

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Sanders’ Socialism Speech: America Is For All Of Us, Not Just Wealthy

“I don’t believe in some foreign “ism”, but I believe deeply in American idealism.”
– Senator Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders billed his talk Thursday at Georgetown University as a speech on “democratic socialism,” but it was immediately clear that what Sanders was really talking about were not the ideologies of a Cold War adversary but deeply American traditions of fairness that have been under attack by ideologues brandishing American flags.

Sanders anchored his speech as building on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1944 “Second Bill of Rights” address. “Real freedom must include economic security.” he said. “That was Roosevelt’s vision 70 years ago. It is my vision today. It is a vision that we have not yet achieved. It is time that we did.”

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Here It Comes

Trump says “you’re going to have to strongly consider” shutting down mosques in the US.

Update – now the Republicans only Christian refugees should be allowed into the US. This is beyond disgusting, it is getting dangerous.

Ted Cruz said in South Carolina last night: “There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror. If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they we would have a different national security situation.” Jeb Bush said on CNN that the government should focus on helping “Christians that are being slaughtered.”

Republican Debate – Strange Days

I can’t get this out of my head since watching that very strange Republican debate…

Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy
Our casual joys
We shall go on playing
Or find a new town

Yeah!

Strange eyes fill strange rooms
Voices will signal their tired end
The hostess is grinning
Her guests sleep from sinning
Hear me talk of sin
And you know this is it

Yeah!

Strange days have found us
And through their strange hours
We linger alone
Bodies confused
Memories misused
As we run from the day
To a strange night of stone

What Do Candidates Propose To Boost Stagnant Economy?

Thursday’s bad news: Third-quarter GDP lands with thud: just 1.5 percent growth. That is down from 3.9 percent growth the previous quarter. The economy appears to be slowing, partly because of the drag effect of our trade deficit and partly because of the drag on the economy due to austerity policies (federal spending cuts that take money out of the economy).

In the presidential campaign Republican candidates are proposing even more austerity as a solution to the lackadaisical recovery, combined with tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street and the giant corporations. Democrats, on the other hand are proposing infrastructure investment and a number of other positive solutions.

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Clinton vs Sanders vs O’Malley On Fixing Banking

How do we fix Wall Street, a.k.a. “the banks”? How do the candidates compare? This question came up in the first Democratic debate and there has been lots of online commentary on this since.

The first place to look, of course, is CAF’s Candidate Scorecard. “The Candidate Scorecard measures the positions of Democratic candidates for president against the Populism 2015 platform endorsed by organizations representing 2 million Americans.” On Wall Street – specifically, making “Wall Street serve the real economy” – the Candidate Scorecard rates the candidates as follows:
● Bernie Sanders: 100%
● Martin O’Malley: 100%
● Hillary Clinton: 63%

Note that Clinton’s 63 percent rating is primarily based on not having a position on a financial transaction tax – “Has yet to take a position, though has used rhetoric against high frequency traders who game the system” – as well as opposing reinstating some form of a Glass-Steagall Act and a lack of specific proposals related to the categories “Break Up Big Banks” and “Affordable Banking.”

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The Dem Debate Was Good For The Country. Let’s Have More Of Them

In contrast to the Republican clown shows they call debates, last Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate was serious and focused on policy. It let the public know that there are still adults at work trying to help deal with the country’s real problems. It helped the country move forward.

Tuesday’s debate gave the public a positive, optimistic presentation of the Democratic Party and its progressive message and how this gives hope for a positive direction for the country. For those worried about the debates helping one candidate or another one, polls tell us the debate lowered the “unfavorable ratings” of both Clinton and Sanders.

But the Democratic Party leadership still seems to want to try to limit the Democratic candidates from public exposure. Last Tuesday’s debate was on a pay TV channel (my cable/internet/phone monopoly rent-seeking bill is closing in on $200+ a month) – not a very aware move for a party that supposedly wants to represent and get votes from low-income Americans – and still 15 million Americans tuned in. Even with that audience, this viewer-suppression strategy worked; that’s almost 10 million fewer than the first Republican debate.

While Republicans chose a Republican-right TV channel with Republican-friendly moderators, the Democratic debate was on a Republican-lite channel with semi-hostile moderators. (“Will you say anything to get elected?” “You honeymooned in the Soviet Union.” “The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest.”)

The next debate will take place November 14 – a weekend evening that many suspect was chosen so younger members of the potential audience will be out on dates, out at the clubs, at movies, and so on. (At least it will be on a broadcast network so people can tune in without paying.) The one after that, December 19, is also on a weekend evening, but on top of that it is also on the last Christmas shopping weekend. The one after that is on a Sunday night.

Not everyone pays attention to these things so far before an election. But those who do can see this for what it is. One candidate has a big lead early on, the other has low name recognition. It looks like people at the top are helping the leading candidate “sit on” that lead and “run out the clock.” Some also think that the same people do not want the other candidate’s “message” to be heard widely because it threatens entrenched interests.

What’s in it for those helping rig this primary process? Washington politics now runs on exchanges of promises – jobs, favors, and the like. We don’t know if or what the chair of the Democratic National Committee was promised to protect Clinton’s lead and keep the public from hearing Sanders’ message. If this is what happened, it might show Clinton to be just the kind of savvy D.C. power-politics player who really can get things done. Maybe the country needs someone like that right now. Maybe, maybe not. Or maybe it is an unfortunate sign that a Clinton administration will be another pay-to-play corruption operation, people inside doing favors for the powerful. Maybe the public is sick of this kind of corruption.

The first debate was great for the country, the party – and Clinton. So how about we stop the nonsense and schedule plenty of debates, in prime time on weekdays, and let the country know that there is something available besides Trump and obstruction.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

The First Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate Had Adults On The Stage

The first Democratic debate showed the country what it is like to have adults on a stage. It doesn’t matter who “won.” The candidates showed they all are concerned about governing the country and proposing actual policies that will help actual people have better lives. And they showed that we have a serious and lively Democratic primary race in front of us. The country will be the winner.

In contrast to the entertaining Republican cage fight clown show racist, anti-government insult fest “debates”, the first Democratic debate was almost entirely a serious debate on issues and policies, by serious people with serious policy proposals, who all did very well. It was a debate for people who actually care about governing the country and making regular people’s lives better. It was a debate that would make Americans feel better about the future of their country.

Finally, A Democratic Debate

The Democrats finally held their first presidential candidate debate Tuesday. It seems the party has tried to avoid having any debates. (At this point in the 2008 cycle there had already been a dozen or so.) Tuesday being the day after a three-day weekend for many people, they decided to risk it. This debate showed just how big a strategic mistake this thinking was for Hillary Clinton and for the party’s ability to take their case to the public in November of 2016.

Hopefully this will convince the party’s leadership to expand the debate schedule. The Democrats all did well, and this debate showed that the party has a good and convincing message to deliver to voters. The party needs to have more public debates – on weeknights in prime time – both for the Presidential race and for Democratic “down ticket” candidates.

The Candidates

The candidates in the debate (click the name for the campaign website) were:
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Martin O’Malley
Lincoln Chaffee
Jim Webb

For a comparison of the policy positions of these candidates please visit CAF’s Candidate Scorecard The Candidate Scorecard measures the positions of Democratic candidates for president against the Populism 2015 platform endorsed by organizations representing 2 million Americans.

The Debate

The debate will be analyzed over time; things will become more clear. The public will weigh in. But here are some quick impressions:

● There were lots of “establishment” cheap shots by moderators at Sanders (and a few at Clinton) on guns, “socialism” (oh, scary) and immigration. But these gave Sanders and Clinton a chance to respond and give good answers. It backfired.

● Clinton gave a lot of rehearsed, obviously focus-group-tested answers done very, very skillfully. Again and again she talked about “comprehensive plans” to imply that Sanders does not have the ability to get things done. She talked about being the “first woman president” to appeal to the female demographic, saying she can “find common ground” because polls show that voters want politicians who will “compromise.” It was a perfection of “politics” as we have come to know it, for better or worse. These are not bad things; it might still be what it takes to win elections in the U.S. and this is important. This “kind of person you want to have a beer with” approach might still be how you get votes, but Clinton also did well when she was forced to move away from this style.
● There were still too many “zingers,” like “I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground.” Some of the prepared zingers were really great, such as “They [Republicans] don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood, they’re fine with big government when it comes to that, and I’m sick of it.”
● Clinton’s attack on Sanders over guns failed, and gave him an opportunity to give a good response. Clinton won’t attack Sanders again.
● Bernie Sanders came across very, very well. He showed he is experienced, showed the public he is “presidential” and introduced himself to a lot of new people, depending on how many people watched. He is now introduced to many people who have not heard of him or heard his message. Sanders also had a few prepared phrases, like, “Every other major country on earth has … ” (health care for all, family leave, maternity leave, etc.) and “we are an international embarrassment.” He also said variations on “the Secretary is right” a number of times.
● Sanders repeatedly called for a political revolution, asking millions of people to take on “the billionaire class” to change America. Will he get enough millions?
● O’Malley was very good on most policies, but was rather rehearsed and did not appear quite ready to be on this national stage. As Van Jones said later on CNN, “He did not come across as commander-in-chief.” Clinton and Sanders did.
● Chaffee and Webb possibly wrote themselves out of the race. They both showed themselves to be serious people with very good resumes, but not candidates who are ready to be in a Democratic party race at this time. And Webb was channeling Rand Paul.
● Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley gave great answers on “Black Lives Matter.”
● Biggest applause line: Sanders, in support of Clinton, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails.” “Enough of the emails.”

One last thing. Joe Biden doesn’t have an opening to enter the primaries now.

Democrats Are A Progressive Party Now

These candidates understand that winning in Democratic primaries means they have to spell out solid progressive policy proposals that actually help solve the country’s problems. Progressives are entirely driving the debate on a range of issues now.

This is because time has shown that a progressive approach to solving the problems of the country will work – and conservative or “centrist” (almost conservative) policies have hurt regular people and the country while driving inequality. The public has also realized that the old-style “Marlboro Man” politics of image has not worked for regular people. It is now apparent that “economic democracy” is the way an economy and a country can work.

Note (again): The website Populist Majority collects polling results showing that the public backs progressive solutions to the country’s problems, often by large majorities. The website Candidate Scorecard rates candidate according to the Populism 2015 platform.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.