Tag: 2016 election

Clinton Opens Double-Digit Lead in National Poll

Brexit’s got people nervous about a possible Trump victory in November. It shouldn’t. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton opening up a double-digit lead over Trump, 51%-39%. Now that she has clinched the nomination, Clinton is beginning to consolidate and expand support—as many observers predicted she would. The poll also shows: First, Trump’s racism and sexism play well with a rump—though never a strong majority—of the GOP. Racism and sexism are a disaster, however, in the general electorate. Roughly two-thirds of those polled think Trump’s comments about Muslims, women, and racial minorities are racist and/or unfair, and an overwhelming majority strongly disapproves his recent comments about a judge whose parents were Mexican immigrants. Only 36% of the electorate thinks that Trump is standing up for their beliefs. While […]

What Bernie Sanders’s choices for the DNC platform committee tell us about the Israel/Palestine debate in the US

According to the Washington Post: Sen. Bernie Sanders was given unprecedented say over the Democratic Party platform Monday in a move party leaders hope will soothe a bitter split with backers of the longshot challenger to Hillary Clinton — and Sanders immediately used his new power to name a well-known advocate for Palestinian rights to help draft Democratic policy. The senator from Vermont was allowed to choose nearly as many members of the Democratic Party platform-writing body as Clinton, who is expected to clinch the nomination next month. That influence resulted from an agreement worked out this month between the two candidates and party officials, the party announced Monday. Clinton has picked six members of the 15-member committee that writes […]

Was Carl Schmitt Right After All?

Since I came online, I’ve been involved in or watched a lot of fights and really bitter campaigns. Over Israel/Palestine, neoliberalism (not the recent tempest in a teacup but the great neoliberalism wars of 2011), Charlie Hebdo, campus speech codes, labor unions and Wisconsin (that was fun!), Occupy, Jacobinghazi, libertarianism. Not just fights where the obvious suspects lined up on the obvious sides but where friends took opposite positions or desperately (and unsuccessfully) tried to avoid taking a position at all—if for no other reason than to avoid alienating someone they cared about. But nothing I’ve seen online (this is entirely impressionistic) has been as divisive, acrimonious, emotional, as the Clinton/Sanders race. Not just among partisans of the two candidates but […]

What did we learn today?

What did we learn today? Clinton’s big money supporters are trying to kill single payer in Colorado. Her possible VP pick has “a more nuanced position on abortion than many liberals.” John McCain’s right-hand man declared, literally, “I’m with her.” And the Jewish socialist from Brooklyn just won the Indiana primary. All the rest is commentary.

Magical Realism, and other neoliberal delusions

1. At Vox, Dylan Matthews offers a sharp analysis of last night’s debate, which I didn’t watch or listen to. His verdict is that the three big losers of the night were Hillary Clinton, the New Democrats, and liberal technocrats. (The two winners were Bernie Sanders and Fight for $15 movement.) As Matthews writes: But just going through the issues at tonight’s debate, it’s striking to imagine a DLCer from the ’90s watching and wondering what his party had come to. Sanders was asked not if he was sufficiently tough on crime, but if his plans to let millions of convicted criminals out of prison would actually free as many felons as promised. Clinton was criticized not for being insufficiently pro-Israel, but […]

Historically, liberals and the Left have underestimated the Right. Today, they overestimate it.

I’m going to float a series of vast and quick historical generalizations in order to try and get at something that is distinctive about the present moment in US politics. Beginning in Europe in the 19th century, liberalism has been engaged in an on-again, off-again, two-front war: against the right and against the left. Against the right’s revanchism and the left’s radicalism, liberalism has held itself up as the original Third Way. It is the reasonable and moderate alternative to the extremes, offering men and women the promises and profits of a capitalist, vaguely democratic, modernity but without its revolutionary perils and reactionary mystique. Though it has on occasion entered into a more productive, albeit tension-filled, front with the left, liberalism has always been […]

The Definitive Take on Donald Trump

Sorry, that’s just my self-aggrandizing way of introducing this Salon column I wrote about Trump and what he means within the long arc of conservatism. My frustration with much of the discussion about Trump is that it presumes he’s a complete outlier within the conservative tradition, that he simply crashed the party. Not so: in many ways, he’s a classic conservative. But there are some elements in his campaign that are new and that make him dangerous. But those elements have less to do with Trump, the man, than with the state of play of the conservative movement. Here are a few excerpts from my piece: If Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination and the general election in November, it will be […]

Are We Dying of History?

Nazi salutes and Weimar pastiche. Debates laden with references to Mossadegh, Allende, Cambodia, and the Sandinistas. Gaffes about Nancy Reagan. Discussions of George Wallace. Decades-old legislation. Have we ever had a presidential campaign so saturated in history, not just of the US but of other parts of the world? I feel like we’re watching history unspool, in a completely chaotic, unedited way. It’s as if we’re at one of those sumptuous and feverish Viennese balls from the turn of the century, and every ghost from empires past has shown up to dance. What’s going on? Joseph Roth, where are you?

Liberalism and the Millennials

Last night, Hillary Clinton and her online supporters went after Bernie Sanders over his support in the 1980s for Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas. Glenn Greenwald shows why Clinton is in no position to be lecturing Sanders about tyranny in other countries. Clinton has not only walked the walk, but also talked the talk, on behalf of serial violators of human rights across the globe: Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel, Honduras, the Gulf states, not to mention “Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state.” As I said in a tweet last night, “Sanders stood with the Sandinistas, Clinton stands with Kissinger. Is this really a tough one?” But Glenn raises another […]

Same as it ever was: From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump, “This man scares me.”

In 1964, this ad ran on behalf of Lyndon Johnson (h/t Alex Gourevitch). The man in the ad is a Republican (probably an actor) who can’t bring himself to vote for Goldwater. Because? He’s a “very different kind of man. This man scares me.” Sound familiar? Here are some excerpts: I certainly don’t feel guilty about being a Republican. I’ve always been a Republican. My father is, his father is, the whole family is a Republican family. I voted for Dwight Eisenhower the first time I ever voted, I voted for Nixon the last time. But when we come to Senator Goldwater, now it seems to me we’re up against a very different kind of a man. This man scares me. […]

Notes on a Dismal and Delightful Campaign

I’ve been posting about the presidential primaries on Facebook and Twitter, and neglecting the blog. I thought I’d gather all the posts here. Some notes on an often dismal—and sometimes delightful—campaign… 1. Amid all the accusations that Hillary Clinton is not an honest or authentic politician, that she’s an endless shape-shifter who says whatever works to get her to the next primary, it’s important not to lose sight of the one truth she’s been telling, and will continue to tell, the voters: things will not get better. Ever. At first, I thought this was just an electoral ploy against Sanders: don’t listen to the guy promising the moon. No such thing as a free lunch and all that. But it […]

See You in September

Last summer—otherwise known, in election time, as a long time ago, in a land far away—when Hillary Clinton unveiled her campaign, she was positioning herself as the inheritor of FDR, championing the little guy and inveighing against…economic inequality. Much to the applause of her defenders in the media: It’s not all that’s gutsy about Clinton’s latest roll-out, which she marked on Saturday with a lengthy, policy heavy speech. There’s also the fact that a mainstream Democrat is trying to become the first woman president by invoking Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her speech, billed as her Campaign Kickoff, replaced recent Democratic simpering about Ronald Reagan and “reaching across the aisle” with jabs at trickle-down economics and a chilly invitation to cooperate with “willing partners;” that was refreshing. […]

Is Hillary Clinton Running the Most Cynical Campaign in Recent History?

After Clinton’s stunning loss in New Hampshire tonight, the campaign is getting a facelift: Now, after a drubbing so serious as to call into question every aspect of her campaign from her data operation to her message, the wounded front-runner and her allies are actively preparing to retool their campaign, according to Clinton allies. Staffing and strategy will be reassessed. The message, which so spectacularly failed in New Hampshire where she was trailing by 21 points when she appeared before her supporters to concede to Sanders, is also going to be reworked – with race at the center of it. Clinton is set to campaign with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, unarmed African-Americans who died in incidents […]

The Blast That Swept Him Came Off New Hampshire Snowfields and Ice-Hung Forests

Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary tonight. Edith Wharton described it best: The blast that swept him came off New Hampshire snow-fields and ice-hung forests. It seemed to have traversed interminable leagues of frozen silence, filling them with the same cold roar and sharpening its edge against the same bitter black-and-white landscape. Some fascinating tidbits about the Democratic primary voters from the New York Times exit poll: 72% of the voters said that the candidates’ issues were more important to them than the candidates’ leadership or personal qualities; only 25% of the voters said that the latter was more important to them. This confirms what Jedediah Purdy argued in this excellent piece contrasting the Sanders’s candidacy with Obama’s candidacy. Obama’s […]

To My Friends Who Support Hillary Clinton

According to the latest polls out of New Hampshire, Sanders is currently leading among all Democratic women voters there, and not just among women millennial voters. In Iowa, Clinton beat Sanders among women by 11 points; now she is losing to him in New Hampshire among women by 8 points. I thought this young woman quoted in The Washington Post, who’ll be voting for the first time in this election, explained well why women more generally are turning to Sanders: While many older women’s rights advocates see the election of Clinton as the next logical step in a broader movement, some younger activists have expressed resentment at the notion that they should feel obligated to vote for Clinton simply because she’s a woman. […]

On Electability

I would have thought—after the surprises of the 2008 campaign and now this primary campaign—that media folks and academics would have acquired a degree of circumspection, if not humility, about their claims to know who is or is not electable. What these recent campaigns have shown is that the electorate can upend our expectations and that the opinions of voters are not static. Those opinions can change in response to the changing dynamics of an electoral campaign—you know, what we used to call “politics.” Not only did the voters in 2008 cast their ballot for a black man—something many right-thinking people were sure was not possible in the United States (remember the Bradley Effect?)—but now, to an increasing and unanticipated degree, they are casting their ballots for […]

What is Hillary Clinton Up To When…

…she says this? I am a person of faith. I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist….There is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger… It’s uncharacteristic of her, journalists note, to talk about her faith on the campaign trail. Is she trying to say, “I’m not an atheist Jew“? Or she is trying to make us forget she once referred to poor people—”these people,” she called them—as “deadbeats”? Or is she trying to make us forget what she said in 2014 about children who are undocumented immigrants? We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t […]

Clinton’s Firewall in South Carolina is Melting Away…

In my last post, I talked about the liberal pundits who see black voters as “Hillary’s Firewall.” Even if Sanders wins in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which have large white populations, the pundits say he’ll find his support plummeting in a state like South Carolina, where black voters are firm Clinton supporters. I pointed out that in 2008, Clinton saw that firewall in South Carolina quickly melt after Obama’s victory in Iowa and his strong second-place finish in New Hampshire. I also pointed out that South Carolina representative Jim Clyburn, who is African American and one of the top Democrats in the House, was cautioning against the notion that black voters were solidly behind Clinton this time around. Turns out, he was right. […]

Bile, Bullshit, and Bernie: 16 Notes on the Democratic Primary

For the last two weeks or so, I have been trying to stay focused on my work on Clarence Thomas, but all the liberal commentary on the Democratic primary has gotten me so irritated that I keep finding myself back on social media, posting, tweeting, commenting, and the like. So I figured I’d bring everything that I’ve been saying about the election campaign there, here. In no particular order. 1. Clintonite McCarthyism According to The Guardian: The dossier, prepared by opponents of Sanders and passed on to the Guardian by a source who would only agree to be identified as “a Democrat”, alleges that Sanders “sympathized with the USSR during the Cold War” because he went on a trip there to […]