Monday, May 9, 2016

To stop Trump, Bernie needs to drop out, refocus his fight

Donald Trump is counting on pissed off Democrats to hand him the presidency. The longer Bernie stays in the race, the more likely that is to happen.


Bernie has every right to stay in the race as long as he wants. But he shouldn’t. Bernie is right now where Ted Cruz was the other week: promising the impossible to people he’s worked hard to convince that he’s the only one who comes close to representing them. Like Cruz, it’s not true – he’s not the One True Party Representative who stands for the same things the base stands for, and he’s not going to be able to pull off a miraculous victory. On the issues, like Bernie, Hillary supports a higher minimum wage, healthcare access for all, attainable education, action on climate change, equal rights for women and LGBT Americans, etc. She’s not as far left on some issues, and she’s further on others (like gun sense). Further, with a Democratic legislature, she will advance the things we care about. She will appoint SCOTUS justices who will protect our rights. She will defend and advance a progressive agenda.

As far as a miracle win…even if Bernie is able to win all the remaining contests, his victories would have to be extraordinary to beat Hillary’s pledged delegate count. Pulling in a few more delegates than Hillary in each state isn’t going to cut it. It’s not going to (nor should it) convince the superdelegates he’ll need to ignore the millions more votes than Bernie Hillary has won, and support him instead of the clear favorite of the voters.

What it will do, though, is it will extend an already bitter contest closer and closer to the general election. It will give that anger, the sadness of loss, less time to dissipate. It will give progressive and Democratic voters who supported Bernie less time to cope with loss, less time to readjust their focus to the next contest: the general election.

Right now, Ted Cruz’s supporters are in the throes of that anger. There’s party registration burning and promises to stay #NeverTrump to the bitter end. That anger will burn hot, and largely extinguish, because no matter how much Cruz Republicans may hate Trump, they want to steer the country rightward. Trump isn’t their first choice, but most will choose Trump over Sanders or Clinton. That disappointment of loss will make way for the excitement of a president who can advance conservative goals – and who can appoint conservative justices who will do so for decades to come.
The longer Sanders puts off his loss, the nearer the general election we get. That puts us at a distinct disadvantage to the Republicans. And let’s make no mistake, Trump is counting on Democratic division. He needs it. It is what will hand him the White House.

It cannot be overstated: the only way a clueless misogynist bigot like Donald Trump will take the White House is if disgruntled Democrats hand it to him by refusing to support the Democratic nominee who receives the popular vote.
Bernie himself has stated that on her worst days, Hillary Clinton would be a far preferable president than Trump. This doesn’t have to be the end for Bernie, or the revolution he’s trying to start: uniting the party, and working with Clinton to send a strong wave of Democratic legislators to Washington will have more impact than a protracted primary fight, particularly one he will lose.

Bernie made a good play for the ticket, but he’s in a spot where winning it is all but impossible. Now is the time to look past the personal and toward the greater good. A united, strong Left can make the revolution happen – whether led by Hillary or Bernie. A bitter, divided Democratic party, whoever is at its head, can’t. And if this is really not about Bernie, but us, he should put aside his personal ambition for the sake of the greater good.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Ted Cruz’s campaign, and the Religious Right, were crucial to Donald Trump’s victory

Iowa, it seems, is a great indicator for which Republican candidate will not get the nomination. The particularly interesting thing about this political season’s primary though is that the Iowa swing toward Cruz – and the continued bolstering of Cruz via the Religious Right – was not only not enough to stop Trump, but it was also just enough to stop anyone else.

It’s the great irony of the primary so far: Trump’s arch nemesis "Lyin’ Ted" was exactly what he needed to knock out any more mainstream contenders. With more Republicans voters opposed to Trump than supporting him (Trump won more votes than any individual candidate, but more voters overall preferred other candidates to the Orange Menace), the key to Trump’s success was the division of the opposition. The Religious Right likes to flatter itself that it is the Kingmaker of the Republican Party, but as Trump’s success demonstrates that's just not true anymore. On the contrary, the Religious Right’s power is not enough to pick the party's own kings, but it's still formidable enough to throw a wrench in the process and screw everyone over.

Now, the voting base who wanted a political messiah instead of a leader isn't solely to be, let's say, credited with Trump. Cruz’s own efforts surely can't be sold short in all of this. After all, it was Cruz who campaigned on painting the kinds of candidates who had the best chance in a general election as the conservative witch-of-the-day. Cruz, who was a decided long shot for the general, worked hard to whittle away as much support as he possibly could – starting well before the actual campaign. And this came largely in the form of trashing the guys who were far less of long shots. Now, that's politics: take the other guys down to build yourself up.

The problem was that Cruz was building up a guy (himself) who was, frankly, an unlikeable prick. So he could build a moderately strong coalition of religious extremists and tea party extremists; but it was never going to be enough to topple Trump, and Cruz lacked any sort of appeal outside those groups.

Even when the #NeverTrump crowd turned to him, it was done out of absolute desperation, and with their noses firmly pinched. Like Lindsey Graham said, Cruz was still poison. Cruz was only, ever turned to as being marginally better than the alternative; as poison to Trump’s shot. Which is kind of what you can expect when you go out of your way to be a prick to pretty much everyone. Couple that with all the charm of an eel hellbent on selling you a car that won't start, and, well, you can't be surprised when people call you Lucifer in the flesh. And you can't be surprised when you fail to win over a majority of anyone.

On the other hand, if a candidate with more mainstream appeal had been Trump’s chief rival, instead of any overly ambitious eel in a human suit, Trump’s chances might not have been so good. Any other Republican running would necessarily have been more religious, and therefore more likely to get the Religious Right’s vote, than Trump. So they could have nailed down that part of the base. More importantly, they would have had a much better time with the entire #NeverTrump crowd.

Instead, Cruz’s purity politics turned the race into the kind of anti-establishment blood sport that bolstered the non-politician Trump. No matter how he tried to cast himself as the One True Believer, Cruz was still a politician, still part of the system he was trashing. In building up the myth of the righteous outsider, Cruz built up the Trump myth. Furthermore, his feeble attempts to paint Trump as the establishment candidate were never particularly strong, but once the establishment embraced him as the anti-Trump, they became downright laughable.

Meanwhile, though, in tarnishing the party and drawing enough of the anti-Trump Republican electorate to his own doomed efforts, he effectively squashed any hope of a viable mainstream anti-Trump candidate. The question was one type of extremist versus another – with Cruz sharing and even exceeding some of Trump’s more mortifying stances. The radical elements of the anyone-but-Trump camp pushed toward a candidate who was himself so radical that many Republicans could not in good conscience support him except as an absolute last resort. Even then, as the support for Kasich indicates, there were many who just couldn't bring themselves to take the poison.

In the end, splitting the anti-Trump crowd, siphoning so much of it too far right for the rest of the party, was exactly what Trump needed to win. A segment of the party that could have united to defeat Trump was split between the extreme and moderate wings, by a self-styled savior.

Cruz’s messianic delusions were key to Trump’s victory.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How stupid does Donald Trump think Democrats are? Pretty stupid

So how dumb does Donald Trump think we are, really? As it happens, pretty dumb. He's been taking to Twitter lately to stoke the flames of the #BernieOrBust crowd, with accusations of unfairness against Bernie. And claims that he'd much rather run against Hillary than Bernie. Which is totally believable, because I at least would absolutely expose my fears about running against a candidate midprimary. Wouldn't you?


And then there's this advocacy for Bernie, where Trump encourages a third party win. All from an impartial need for justice, of course.



So how stupid does Trump think we are? Pretty stupid. Stupid enough to hand him the White House in November.