Ideology Versus Party Identification: The Redefinition Of Liberalism By Clinton Democrats

Eric Levitz has an op-ed in The New York Times showing that it is not true that America is a center-right nation. His primary point is to dispute the idea among many Democratic leaders that the Democratic Party should continue to move to the right to gain votes. This a topic which has been addressed many times before, but the part I found most interesting was on the relationship between party and ideological labels.

“…the number of genuine “liberals” and “conservatives” is far smaller than meets the eye. Most voters who identify with those terms are partisans first, and ideologues second. Or as Mr. Kinder and Mr. Kalmoe conclude an analysis of four decades of voter survey data, “ideological identification seems more a reflection of political decisions than a cause.” In other words: The average conservative Republican isn’t a Republican because she’s a conservative — she self-identifies as a conservative because she’s a Republican.

“One crucial implication of this finding is that political elites have enormous power to dictate ideological terms to their rank-and-file supporters. For a healthy chunk of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the “liberal” and “conservative” position on most issues is whatever their party leaders say it is. Donald Trump’s success at redefining conservative voters’ consensus views on free trade, American policy toward Russia and the relevance of personal morality to effective political leadership offers a particularly vivid illustration of this phenomenon.”

I would expand on this to point out how the Clintons and other DLC Democrats have redefined liberalism as used by Democrats to mean a rather conservative philosophy. This goes back to the years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and was exacerbated by Hillary Clinton’s neoconservative foreign policy views, her conservative views on social/cultural issues, and her far right views on civil liberties.

We saw in the 2016, along with Democratic loses when they ran as a Republican-lite party in 2010 and 2014, that this form of conservatism does not win elections. Conservative voters are more likely to identify with Republicans, while true liberals and progressives lack interest in turning out for Clinton-style Democrats. The fallacy of viewing politics on a simplistic left/right political scale was also seen with the nature in which Bernie Sanders was able to bring in more independent and Republican voters than Clinton could, and was far more likely to have won the general election if he was the Democratic nominee.

Bernie Sanders Remains Most Popular Senator In America

Bernie Sanders remains the most popular Senator in America in the latest Morning Consult poll. Mitch McConnell ranks at the bottom.

In one of the worst acts of political malpractice in American history, the Democratic Party passed up the chance to have Bernie Sanders as its nominee, which would have most likely delivered not only the White House, but also the Senate to the Democrats. Instead of nominating a popular and trusted Senator such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic leadership decided to use its rules to tilt the nomination towards the unpopular and widely distrusted Hillary Clinton.

While Bernie Sanders offered the Democrats a nominee who could excite voters and bring in Republican and independent votes, Clinton polled poorly in the battleground states, among independents, among young voters, and among liberal voters. While Sanders offered a return to more traditional Democratic values, Clinton provided the Democrats with a nominee who backed the neoconservative agenda of George W. Bush and had the ethics of Richard Nixon.

Nominating Clinton in the midst of a major political scandal would have been like the Republicans nominating Nixon if the Watergate scandal had already broken. Thanks to the foolishness and dishonesty of the Democratic leadership, we are now stuck with Donald Trump in the White House and a Republican controlled Senate.

Trump Pollster Says Bernie Would Have Won

The Hill reports, Trump pollster: Sanders would have won general election:

The pollster for President Trump’s campaign says that he believes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have defeated Trump in the general election had he secured the Democratic nomination.

Tony Fabrizio said at a Harvard University Institute of Politics event Monday that Sanders could have prevailed where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not.

“There’s no question that if it had been anybody other than Clinton or anybody other than Trump, that race would not have been as close as it was either way,” Fabrizio said. “It would not have been.”

When asked what would happen during a Sanders-Trump match-up, Fabrizio replied, “I think Sanders beats Trump.”

“I think Sanders would have had the ability to reach a lot of the less than college-educated, low-income white voters,” he added.

The polls were quite clear that Sanders had the support of many people who do not normally vote Democratic. When Sanders was denied the nomination, they voted for Trump over Clinton. Sanders often ran around ten points better than Clinton in head to head polls against Trump before the nomination. As we saw in the primaries, Sanders had greater support in key states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Sanders would have a far stronger candidate in a change election, in which Clinton was the absolute worst candidate to run.

Sanders was not involved in a major scandal and would not have been hurt by either a letter from James Comey or a leak of email by Wikileaks. After all, If Clinton supporters say that the Comey letter and Wikileaks were responsible for Clinton losing, that also suggests that a candidate not vulnerable to such actions would stand have stood a much better chance of winning.

Jimmy Carter Again Says He Voted For Sanders; Does Not Think Russia Changed Any Votes

We already learned in May that Jimmy Carter voted for Bernie Sanders in the Georgia primary. As I noted then: In 1992, he declined to endorse Bill Clinton, saying “people are looking for somebody who is honest and tells the truth.” In an interview with The New York Times he repeated that he had voted for Sanders. Carter was also asked about whether he agreed with Clinton’s claim that Russia altered the election results. From the interview:

Carter is also not as bothered as some by Trump’s Putin bromance. “At the Carter Center,” he said, “we deal with Putin and the Russians quite frequently concerning Syria.”

Did the Russians purloin the election from Hillary?

“Rosie and I have a difference of opinion on that,” he said.

She looked over archly. “They obviously did,” she said.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes.”

Rosalynn pressed, “The drip-drip-drip about Hillary.”

Carter noted that in the primary, “We voted for Sanders.”

I asked the famously ethical Carter what he made of Obama’s post-presidential string of $400,000 speeches.

Carter was also asked about the Clinton Foundation:

When I compared the Clinton Foundation with the Carter Center, Carter noted: “Rosie and I put money in the Carter Center. We never take any out.”

In other news on the Russia investigation today, NBC News reports that Robert Muller is now investigating Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group. Tony Podesta is the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta:

Tony Podesta and the Podesta Group are now the subjects of a federal investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, three sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

The probe of Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm grew out of Mueller’s inquiry into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to the sources. As special counsel, Mueller has been tasked with investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Manafort had organized a public relations campaign for a non-profit called the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECMU). Podesta’s company was one of many firms that worked on the campaign, which promoted Ukraine’s image in the West.

The sources said the investigation into Podesta and his company began as more of a fact-finding mission about the ECMU and Manafort’s role in the campaign, but has now morphed into a criminal inquiry into whether the firm violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA.

Democratic Party Having Serious Problems Raising Money After 2016 Loss

The Democratic Party continues to struggle to raise money after its string of losses, as they continue to alienate liberals and progressives, including  the DNC’s recent purge. Politico reports:

The Democratic National Committee is reeling, facing a turnaround that’s proving a much bigger lift than anyone expected as it struggles to raise enough money to cover its basic promises.

Many donors are refusing to write checks. And on-the-ground operatives worry they won’t have the resources to build the infrastructure they need to compete effectively in next year’s midterms and in the run-up to 2020…

“Donors, small and large, are so over the party,” said Nebraska party chair Jane Kleeb, summing up the problem facing DNC chairman Tom Perez and his counterparts in the states. Kleeb, who is working on grass-roots fundraising efforts for the committee, said she believes the money will come eventually.

“Everybody thinks that some magic three-page document and some magic tagline is going to turn everything around for us,” she added. “But this is very typical work.”

…So with 2018’s midterms presenting a clear opportunity for Democrats to leap forward, the worry is that they simply may not be prepared in time. While the House and Senate Democratic campaign arms — and individual candidates — are having no problem raising funds, the comparatively anemic cash flow at the central committee and state branches could affect organizing efforts on the ground across the country.

The Hill described how bleak the picture is:

The Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by more than $6 million last month, according to federal filings.

Recently released numbers show the DNC raised around $4 million during the month of September, while the RNC raised about $10 million.

The data also showed that the RNC has roughly $44 million in cash on hand, while the DNC has roughly $7 million.

The Democrats have been failing for the past decade with their strategy of moving right to be just slightly less crazy than the Republicans. This has alienated voters on the left while failing to attract voters on the right, who will vote for the true Republican Party rather than the Republican-lite Democratic Party.

Even when Bernie Sanders did show the Democrats that he could both bring in new voters and raise money the DNC chose to essentially hand the nomination to someone as unfit to be president as Hillary Clinton. This cost the Democrats both the White House and an excellent chance at winning the Senate, as many people voted for Republicans down ticket in response to the conventional wisdom that Clinton would be the next president.

The Democratic Party needs to open themselves up to liberal and progressive principles and bring in new leadership. It does not help matters when they make Donna Brazile a member of the rules committee after she cheated in the 2016 primary battle by slipping debate questions to Hillary Clinton, or when Nancy Pelosi says she should remain Speaker of the House because of her gender.

Update: While the party is having fund raising problems, Politico subsequently reported that some Democratic candidates are raising large amounts of money, fueled by opposition to Donald Trump.

Democratic Party Purges Progressives And Makes Lobbyists Superdelegates

The Democratic Party is further demonstrating that the do not represent the left, and have no serious interest in doing so. NBC News reported on the purge of progressives by the DNC:

A shake-up is underway at the Democratic National Committee as several key longtime officials have lost their posts, exposing a still-raw rift in the party and igniting anger among those in its progressive wing who see retaliation for their opposition to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

The ousters come ahead of the DNC’s first meeting, in Las Vegas, Nevada, since Perez took over as chairman with a pledge this year to unite a party that had become badly divided during the brutal Bernie Sanders-Hillary Clinton 2016 primary race.

Complaints began immediately after party officials saw a list of Perez’s appointments to DNC committees and his roster of 75 “at-large” members, who are chosen by the chair.

The removal and demotion of a handful of veteran operatives stood out, as did what critics charge is the over-representation of Clinton-backed members on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, which helps set the terms for the party’s presidential primary, though other Sanders and Ellison backers remain represented.

Those who have been pushed out include:

Ray Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic chairman and longtime DNC official who ran against Perez for chair before backing Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Buckley lost his spots on the Executive Committee and DNC Rules Committee.

James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute and prominent Sanders backer, is no longer co-chair of the Resolutions Committee and is off the Executive Committee, a spot he has held since 2001.

Alice Germond, the party’s longtime former secretary and a vocal Ellison backer, who was removed from her at-large appointment to the DNC.

Barbra Casbar Siperstein, who supported Ellison and Buckley, was tossed from the Executive Committee.

If the Democratic Party is to be taken seriously by the left it also must end the policies designed to determine their nominees, including superdelegates, front loading southern states, and making rules changes to benefit their preferred candidate–as they did in 2016 to essentially rig the nomination for Hillary Clinton.

The rigging of the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton was also exposed in the email released by Wikileaks, with Clinton recently launching an attack with bogus charges against Wikileaks which were debunked per a post yesterday.

Rather than eliminating superdelegates, as some Democrats have called for, they have made matters worse. Bloomberg reports that the Democrats plan to name lobbyists as superdelegates, confirming many of the charges against the party from the left:

The Democratic Party this week plans to name 75 people including lobbyists and political operatives to leadership posts that come with superdelegate votes at its next presidential convention, potentially aggravating old intraparty tensions as it struggles to confront President Donald Trump.

 The new members-at-large of the Democratic National Committee will vote on party rules and in 2020 will be convention delegates free to vote for a primary candidate of their choice. They include lobbyists for Venezuela’s national petroleum company and for the parent company of Fox News, according to a list obtained by Bloomberg News. At least three of the people worked for either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in 2016 while also casting ballots as superdelegates.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do to give the left any confidence that the party will have a fair nominating process in the future. It also provides further evidence for the criticism that the Democratic Party is indebted to corporate money and is unlikely to behave all that differently from the Republicans.

Much of this is probably motivated by the desire of party insiders to maintain the status quo and their own power. This is also probably also partially motivated by misguided ideas as to how to compete with the Republicans, despite having repeatedly lost elections over the past decade by turning into a Republican-lite party and refusing to stand up for principle.

Of course the Republicans also remain open to charges of hypocrisy and political cowardice as many of them remain silent about the actions of Donald Trump. Matt Bai discussed how Republicans remain silent while “Donald Trump’s presidency imperils the future of his party” in a column today which is also critical of the Democrats.

Voters for neither party are really served by the leadership and insiders in their party who are more concerned with keeping their jobs than serving the voters.

Donald Trump Meets With The President Of The Virgin Islands & Other Briefs

Donald Trump is talking about having met with the President of the Virgin Islands (who technically would be himself). He says that tomorrow he will meet with the Commander-in-Chief of the US armed forces. He has also suggested that Mike Pence schedule a meeting with the President of the Senate. This is the guy who was boasting about his IQ earlier in the week.

Columbia is talking about hiring Hillary Clinton to be a professor. Can they afford her speaking fees? Do university’s have any form of ethics agreements before hiring someone? If so, they should know that she totally ignored the ethics agreement she entered into before taking her last job as Secretary of State.

Question of the Day: Which organization is more wracked in scandal and chaos: The Weinstein Co. or the Trump White House?

It makes perfect sense that Bernie Sanders was picked instead of Hillary Clinton to speak at the Women’s Convention. Unlike Clinton, Sanders has not promoted bombing of women around the world, has not defended the use of cluster bombs where women live, and has not backed taking welfare benefits away from women.

Eighteen states are suing the Trump administration over stopping the ObamaCare subsidies. The Pottery Barn Rule should now take effect with regards to Donald Trump and the Affordable Care Act–You Break It, You Own It.

I’ve been saying all along that the real Russia story is about the money, not altering the 2016 election results. NBC News is reporting that Paul Manafort had a $60 million relationship with a Russian oligarch.

Quote of the Day: “For the last 24 hours, Donald Trump has been the president of busy town. This morning, he signed an executive order to get rid of some key provisions of Obamacare. For instance, the care part.” –Stephen Colbert

Trump Called Schumer To Work On Health Care

Donald Trump lacks long term ties to the Republican Party, and has started to figure out that his best shot of passing legislation might be to work with the Democrats. If he can bring along part of the Republican Party he might have a better chance of passing legislation by working with the Democrats than by trying to pass legislation with Republican votes alone. With the inability of Republicans to repeal Obamacare, Trump has upset many Republicans by calling Chuck Schumer to seek a path forward on healthcare.

Trump previously worked with the Democratic leadership on three-month government funding measure, debt limit hike, and hurricane aid. He has also spoken with them about  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), with no agreement reached yet.

Trump has verified that he called Schumer on Twitter but so far Schumer has not seen a path for the two to work together. The Hill reports:

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Saturday he told President Trump that Democrats would be open to stabilizing the health-care system, but that another push to repeal and replace ObamaCare was “off the table.”

“The president wanted to make another run at repeal and replace and I told the president that’s off the table,” Schumer said in a statement on his call with Trump on Friday, news of which the president confirmed in a tweet.

“If he wants to work together to improve the existing health care system, we Democrats are open to his suggestions. A good place to start might be the Alexander-Murray negotiations that would stabilize the system and lower costs,” Schumer added.

This could be just the opening round as there is reason for Democrats to work with Trump if Trump is willing to agree to a satisfactory plan to stabilize Obamacare, as opposed to continuing to undermine the markets. Even without having the votes to repeal Obamacare, Trump can do considerable harm to the success of the Affordable Care Act. So far Trump has greatly cut funding for outreach to promote signing up for the plan and his actions are causing an increase in health insurance premiums. This week his administration has also acted to cut back on the mandate to cover birth control.

If Democrats do work with Trump, they will have to make sure that they are not just enabling him to further reduce health care coverage. On the other hand, if Trump is really willing to diverge from Republican orthodoxy, rather than demanding preservation of the Affordable Care Act the better course would be to promote a single payer plan as proposed by Bernie Sanders. While unlikely to happen, Donald Trump just might go for the idea of going down in history for delivering such a great accomplishment while president.

Gerrymandering Does Not Explain All Those Democratic Losses Over The Past Decade

Even before Democrats were blaming their losses on absurd claims about Russian meddling, they would often respond to data like I presented yesterday on Democratic losses by blaming gerrymandering. I would often point out that this does not explain the magnitude of Democratic losses over the last decade. Although many Democrats do not seem to understand how gerrymandering works, I would point out that it has zero bearing on state-wide races, including governors, Senators, and electoral votes in the general election. I would also point out that gerrymandering has often been done to protect the incumbents in both parties, and that Democrats have lost many elections based upon lines drawn while the Democrats were in power.

Democrats who ignore their actual problems, such as failure to stand for anything other than being slightly less conservative than Republicans, are not likely to give up on their favorite excuses. However, if they are willing to listen to another source, Jeff Greenfield has made many of the same arguments I have made in an article entitled The Democrats’ Gerrymandering Obsession–Turning to the courts won’t solve the party’s fundamental problem: connecting with voters:

What ails the party—at every level—goes far beyond alleged Republican skulduggery. And a diagnosis of those ills requires an understanding of what the past decade has wrought.

The Democratic Party, as I wrote here even before the 2016 wipeout, finds itself in its worst shape since the 1920s. From its perch in 2009, when it had a (shaky) filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, a 256-178 majority in the House and control of a majority of states, it has seen a precipitous collapse. That fall began in 2010, when a wave election brought a loss of 63 House seats, six Senate seats—and, most notably—massive loses at the state level. Republicans gained control of the Legislatures in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and won 29 governorships.

These defeats did not happen because of gerrymandering (or voter suppression, for that matter), because Democrats had control of the politics before 2010. (When Democrats had political control in North Carolina, for example, it had some of the most unrestrictive voting laws in the country.) In order for the GOP to use its power to entrench its majorities, it had to win those majorities in the first place. That happened because Republicans and their conservative allies poured resources into a workmanlike effort to win control over state politics, while Democrats were mesmerized by the more glamorous fight to win and hold the White House.

Well, isn’t extreme partisan gerrymandering still a noxious tool whose end would help Democrats? Yes, but not nearly as much as you might think. To understand that, look more closely at what has happened in the past four elections. In 2009, Democrats held 60 Senate seats. They now hold 48, counting the two independents who vote with them, Bernie Sanders and Angus King. Some of those losses came in deeply red states, but Democrats also lost seats in competitive places like Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin. Governorships are now in Republican hands not just in battleground states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin but also in Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont, where blue has been the predominant color for years.

What do governorships and Senate seats have in common? They cannot be gerrymandered. What has happened, rather, is that the Democratic Party has lost touch not just with the white working class, of which we’ve heard so much this past year, but with a much broader segment of American voters. When a party loses a statewide election, it’s not because their opponents have cleverly divided their voters into a district or two, or because their voters are “clustered” in a city or two; it’s the product of a larger political failure…

Fundamentally, the crux of the partisan gerrymandering issue is this: The Democratic Party might celebrate a Supreme Court decision that puts limits on the practice, but to substitute that hope for the work of winning elections again is not simply an illusion, but a highly dangerous one.

Republicans have taken advantage of gerrymandering and correction of some of the abuses will be beneficial, but as Greenfield wrote, Democrats are delusional if they blame all their problems on gerrymandering (or Russians), and even a favorable Supreme Court decision on gerrymandering won’t save the Democrats if they do not fix their fundamental problems.

Democrats Might Be Unable To Capitalize On Disgust For Republicans Due To Growing Disgust For Democrats Too

We very likely will see a wave election in 2018 which gives the Democrats the opportunity to pick up seats in protest against Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The Democrats have achieved victories this week in New Hampshire and Florida. However, there are also signs of danger for the Democrats, including lack of support among millennial voters and strong interest in a third party among all voters.

An NBC News/GenForward poll shows that Democrats cannot take millennials for granted:

Millennials overwhelmingly disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job and they don’t have a favorable view of the Republican Party. But Democrats shouldn’t celebrate just yet, according to results from the first NBC News/GenForward Survey.

A majority of millennials, 64 percent, disapprove of Trump’s job performance, while 58 percent said they have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party…

Millennials are a critical group for Democrats, and although they feel warmer toward the party than they do the GOP, they don’t feel overwhelmingly positive about either party.

Similarly, millennials were more likely to say the Democratic Party cares about people like them than the Republican Party does. Only three in 10 millennials said the Republican Party cares about people like them. Still, nearly half (46 percent) of millennials said they don’t think the Democratic Party cares about them.

In other words, millennials aren’t fully convinced that either party best represents their interests…

A majority of white millennials hold unfavorable views of both the Democratic Party (54 percent) and the Republican Party (53 percent).

Similarly, neither party has convinced a majority of white millennials that their policies are sufficiently concerned with people like them — 60 percent of white millennials said the GOP doesn’t care about people like them, and 55 percent said the Democratic Party doesn’t care about people like them.

Overall, a third of millennials (33 percent) said that neither party cares about people like them — a significant portion of young adults when considering the growth of the millennial electorate.

Antipathy towards both parties was also seen in a Gallup poll which shows that about sixty percent of Americans see a need for a third party:

Nearly twice as many Americans today think a third major party is needed in the U.S. as say the existing parties do an adequate job of representing the American people. The 61% who contend that a third party is needed is technically the highest Gallup has recorded, although similar to the 57% to 60% holding this view since 2013. Barely a third, 34%, think the Republican and Democratic parties suffice.

While more than three-quarters of political independents would prefer to have a third major-party player in the U.S. political system, Republicans and Democrats are closely split between favoring that and saying the current two-party system is adequate.

More specifically, 49% of Republicans think a third major party is needed, while 46% say the Republican and Democratic parties are adequate. The split is similar among Democrats: 52% would prefer having a third major party, while 45% prefer the existing two-party structure. Meanwhile, 77% of independents favor having a third major party, while just 17% think the Democratic and Republican parties are adequate.

Neither poll does a good job of looking at the reasons for dissatisfaction with both parties. I would attribute this to the Republican Party going batshit crazy, and the Democratic Party responding by trying to be just slightly less batshit crazy, while refusing to  stand up for liberal principles.

The Democrats had the opportunity to lock up much of the millennial vote in 2016 by nominating Bernie Sanders. Instead they used party rules in place since McGovern’s loss, along with further intervention in the process, to hand Hillary Clinton the nomination in a manner which was no different from choosing a candidate in the proverbial smoke filled rooms. This gave us a general election in which neither major party had an acceptable candidate, demonstrating the need for a third party. Unfortunately most of those who express the need for a third party did not actually vote for one.

This all leaves the question open as to whether Democrats will be able to take advantage of opposition to the Republicans, especially if they repeat the mistake they have made in recent elections and run as a Republican-lite party.