Tag: Bernie Sanders

They Came From Everywhere

Last night, my wife Laura organized a terrific debate watch party for Bernie Sanders supporters at a local bar. About 40 to 50 people showed up. The best part of it was that while most people were firm Bernie supporters, a fair number were not. They were Bernie-curious, but undecided. They came because of friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and so on, who brought them there. So it felt like a base-expanding moment. Even better, I had an interesting conversation with one woman, who is a definite Bernie supporter, and her boyfriend, who is less certain about Bernie. They’re both nurses. Her parents immigrated from China about 30 years ago. She lives in Sheepshead Bay. So she told me she identifies with […]

Beer Track, Wine Track, Get Me Off This Fucking Train

Yesterday, on Twitter, I tweeted a version of this claim: Beto, Harris, Klobuchar, Biden, Gillibrand, Booker: The basis of their candidacies is ultimately them, their person. That’s what they all have in common. Sanders and Warren are the only two candidates whose basis is a set of ideas, well worked out over the years, about the economy and the state. The tweet was one part of a much longer Facebook post, in which I elaborated the point. Here’s a short excerpt from that post: Among the many reasons that I have no time for the first set of candidates is that I’m so tired of these quintessentially American campaigns that are so wrapped up in the personality of the candidate, […]

The Bane of Bain

Back in 2012, Barack Obama made so much hay out of Mitt Romney’s connection to Bain Capital that a distraught Cory Booker was inspired to cry out, “Stop attacking private equity. Stop attacking Jeremiah Wright.” Booker called Obama’s attacks “nauseating” and “ridiculous,” which earned him a supportive tweet from John McCain. Fast-forward to 2017. The Obama people are now pushing hard for Deval Patrick, the former two-term governor of Massachusetts, to run for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Guess what Patrick has been doing since he left the governor’s mansion? Working at Bain Capital. It’s something. The combined forces of Wall Street and the Hamptons—sorry, Clinton and Obama—are pushing hard, variously, for Joe Biden (who’s making strong noises that he’ll be […]

One Bernie With One Stone

There really is something rotten about the discussion of abortion and the Democratic Party. In a Washington Post oped, the leader of a reproductive rights coalition calls out Democrats who would sideline abortion rights in the effort to build a big tent. Oddly, the author doesn’t cite or link to statements by Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected official in the Democratic Party, who, within the last several weeks, came out against making abortion a litmus test not once, but twice. Not does the author cite or link to the statement by Tom Perez, the official head of the Democratic Party, chosen by the members of the Democratic National Committee, who supported Mello for the sake of electing Democrats, even if […]

What we talk about when we talk about Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon says Trump’s election may help the revolution. Liberals scream, “IRRESPONSIBLE!” The Democrats say that Trumpcare’s victory in the House will help the Democrats in 2018. Liberals say, “Strategy.” Bernie Sanders says abortion shouldn’t be a litmus test. Liberals cry, “SOCIALIST CLASSBRO HATES WOMEN!” Nancy Pelosi says—twice, second time even more strongly—abortion shouldn’t be a litmus test. Liberals say…almost nothing at all. It’s almost as if we’re not really having an honest conversation about our disagreements.

January Journal

As some of you know, more and more of my commentary now appears on Facebook rather than on this blog. If you’re not averse to joining Facebook, you can catch it there; I encourage you to do so, as the conversations can be quite lively and good, involving lots of different folks. I’m maxed out on friends, but you can follow me. But since a lot of readers don’t want to join Facebook, I’m going to try to make it a regular feature—monthly or semi-monthly—to catch you up to speed on what I’ve been saying there. I’m going to collect various Facebook posts and post them here as a kind of regular journal or diary. Some will be out of date […]

Neera and Me: Two Theses about the American Ruling Class and One About Neera Tanden

A few days ago, I had a strange experience. I got trolled—some might say gaslighted—by the person who many think will be Hillary Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff. Her name is Neera Tanden. Tanden is the head of the Center for American Progress, the Democratic Party think tank that works closely with the Clintons. Though you may know of Tanden for other reasons. I’ll come back to that. It began on Tuesday afternoon, when I tweeted this. Take six minutes to watch Cornel West take on the DNC re Israel/Palestine, while Neera Tanden rolls her eyes. https://t.co/XZkQ5Moe4V — corey robin (@CoreyRobin) June 22, 2016 Cornel West represents Bernie Sanders on the DNC Platform Committee. Tanden represents Clinton. Electronic Intifada had excerpted some clips from the Committee’s […]

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 […]

When Neoliberalism Was Young: A Lookback on Clintonism before Clinton

Yesterday, New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait tweeted this: What if every use of “neoliberal” was replaced with, simply, “liberal”? Would any non-propagandistic meaning be lost? — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) April 26, 2016 It was an odd tweet. On the one hand, Chait was probably just voicing his disgruntlement with an epithet that leftists and Sanders liberals often hurl against Clinton liberals like Chait. On the other hand, there was a time, not so long ago, when journalists like Chait would have proudly owned the term neoliberal as an apt description of their beliefs. It was The New Republic, after all, the magazine where Chait made his name, that, along with The Washington Monthly, first provided neoliberalism with a home and a face. Now, neoliberalism, of course, […]

Maybe if you’re not at war with reality, you’re not focused enough: Bernie in Brooklyn

My eight-year-old daughter Carol and I went to hear Bernie in the park today. We went with our friends Greg Grandin, Manu Goswami, their daughter Eleanor, Manu’s mom Toshi, and thousands of others. Three highlights. First, New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who’s a former student of mine, stole the show. For me at any rate. He gave a great opening speech for Bernie (see the 8 minute mark here). After quoting a Daily News editorial that accused Bernie of being at “war with reality,” Williams responded, “You’re goddam right!…Maybe if you’re not at war with reality, you’re not focused enough.” Perfect. And then Williams added, “So all we’re asking is: The people who say that it cannot be done, please move out of the way of the people who are doing it.” Exactly. […]

Homo Politicus ≠ Homo Wonkus

I’m always amused by the bien pensant recoil at politicians who don’t have Kennedy School-level mastery of policy details. You’d think the last half-century of American politics hadn’t seen candidates like Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, or Al Gore, wonks all who knew more about policy than your average PhD, yet whose intimacy with the arcana of state was somehow insufficient to propel them to—or keep them in—the White House. Or Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, whose relationship to policy details was, how shall we say?, attenuated, yet who nevertheless managed to completely rearrange the political furniture of our lives. Maybe, just maybe, mastery of policy detail does not a successful political actor make. And if you think Reagan or Bush […]

The Bernie Sanders Moment: Brought to you by the generation that has no future

Last week I met with a group of ten interns at a magazine. The magazine runs periodic seminars where interns get to meet with a journalist, writer, intellectual, academic of their choosing. We talked about politics, writing, and so on. But in the course of our conversation, one startling social fact became plain. Although all of these young men and women had some combination of writerly dreams, none of them—not one—had any plan for, even an ambition of, a career. Not just in the economic sense but in the existential sense of a lifelong vocation or pursuit that might find some practical expression or social validation in the form of paid work. Not because they didn’t want a career but because there was no career to be […]

Trump Talk

1. At last night’s debate, Trump said of Rubio, “And he referred to my hands—if they are small, something else must be small—I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee you.” Lest you think we’re tumbling down a new rabbit hole here, it’s important to remember that once upon a time, the king’s body and the body politic were one and the same. Trump’s reference is more pre-modern than post-modern. Ernst Kantorowicz’s classic book on the topic, The King’s Two Bodies, was subtitled “A Study in Medieval Political Theology.” In any event, I’d rather hear Trump’s opinions about his penis than his views on Muslims and Mexicans. 2. The rhetorical brutality of Trump is unprecedented. Never before have we seen a candidate so cruel.   […]

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. […]

Hillary Clinton: Still a Goldwater Girl After All These Years

It’s no secret that Hillary Clinton grew up a Republican. In ninth grade, she read Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. In 1964, at the age of 17, she was, as she wrote in Living History, a “Goldwater girl” who campaigned for the GOP candidate. But then things changed. Or did they? In her latest iteration as a defender of African Americans, Clinton has taken to criticizing Bernie Sanders for being a “one-issue candidate.” Because he focuses on, you know, the economy. Not unlike another presidential candidate of recent memory. Here’s what Clinton said about Sanders over the weekend: Not everything is about an economic theory, right? Sanders, you see, wants to reduce all social and political issues to the economy. But there […]

90% of what goes on at The New Yorker can be explained by Vulgar Marxism

On Tuesday night, Alexandra Schwartz, a critic at The New Yorker, posted a piece criticizing the young supporters of Bernie Sanders. Ordinarily, I’d be mildly irritated by an article titled “Should Millennials Get Over Bernie Sanders?” In this instance, I’m grateful. It clarifies the dividing line between Sanders’s supporters in the electorate and the liberal journalists who can’t abide them. First, some context. Exit polls from Iowa, according to Vox, show that “Sanders absolutely dominated young adult voters, in a way that even Barack Obama couldn’t in 2008.” Eighty-four percent of voters under 30, and 58% of voters between 30 and 44, cast their ballots for Sanders. More generally, as countless articles have noted, younger voters are shifting left, embracing ancient taboos like socialism and other […]

Every Movement Fails. Until It Succeeds.

I have friends on both sides of the Bernie-Hillary divide. And tonight on Facebook, they’re all posting articles that give the edge to their favored candidates, articles that anticipate alternative—and conflicting—futures. And that is as it should be. Politics is not a science of representing reality exactly as it is (that is, uni-dimensionally). It is an art that sees reality in all its flux, a mode of judgment that identifies multiple paths and possibilities, a mode of action that presses harder on some of those possibilities—pushes further along some of those paths—than others. Not because they’re more probable but because they’re more desirable. Which is why I have so little patience with the armchair strategists in the media, those political meteorologists who […]

Hillary Clinton: The Ultimate Outsider

Veteran Democratic Party strategist (and former Clinton 2008 adviser) Peter Daou: One of the prerequisites of Washington insiderism is disdain for Hillary Clinton. Hating Hillary is an industry among the political class and media elites… There’s much talk of populism in 2016, of establishment versus outsiders, of Trump and Bernie. But what’s more populist than a candidate beloved by the people and reviled by political tastemakers and media elites? Yes, Hillary is the true outsider, and yes, that statement torpedoes conventional wisdom. It definitely torpedoes something. Here is the number of Clinton’s endorsements*: Cabinet officials: 28 Governors: 42 Senators: 47 House Representatives: 192 Members of the DNC: 113 By way of contrast, here is the number of Sanders’s endorsements*: Cabinet officials: 1 Governors: 1 Senators: 1 House Representatives: 3 Members of the […]