Awful Choice Of Clinton v. Trump Leaves Opening For Minor Party Candidates

ClintonEqualsTrump

This year the “presumptive” nominee from each of the major political parties is so awful that it hardly makes sense to throw away one’s vote on them if the general election is between Clinton and Trump. While each has advantages and disadvantages over the other, either way we will see the continuation of the warfare/surveillance state regardless of which is elected. The unpopularity of both candidates in recent polls does bolster Sanders’ argument for the superdelegates to support him at the convention, but looking at it more realistically, the Democratic leadership probably would rather lose the general election with Clinton (and have hope of keeping their positions) than to see Sanders win and remake the Democratic Party.

David Brooks’ column asking Why Is Clinton Disliked? is receiving attention today, but it gets the answer wrong. Is is not because of voters missing the touchy feely information he misses. Clinton’s popularity dropped when she became a candidate and voters were reminded of her views and record. Just seeing Clinton on the campaign trail was enough to remind many people of why they did not vote for her in 2008. Her popularity really plunged in the polls as the scandals broke, reminding voters of how dishonest she is.

People might not understand all the specifics of the scandals, but were reminded that with Clinton there is always a scandal just around the corner. Some are totally bogus, such as Benghazi and Vince Foster. Others do show shady behavior on her part, such as failing to reveal the donors to the Foundation while Secretary of State as she agreed to, and then unethically making decisions regarding parties both donating to the Foundation and making unprecedented payments to Bill for speaking.

We don’t know how others will turn out, such as the current FBI investigation into her mishandling of classified information. Today’s potential scandal involves the investigation of Terry McAuliffe for campaign contributions. CNN reports on a potential tie to the Clintons: “As part of the probe, the officials said, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.” Whether or not this turns out to be anything significant, we know the next scandal will be here soon, and a fair percentage will turn out to be true.

Of course Donald Trump comes across as being even more dishonest than Clinton. In many cases I’m not sure if he is intentionally lying about world affairs, or just repeating what he read in some right wing email, showing the same lack of knowledge as is commonly seen on the far right. I’ve pointed out in the past his propensity for spreading nutty conspiracy theories, and First Read looked at this problem today:

Donald Trump, conspiracy-theorist-in-chief?

Last night, the Washington Post wrote how Donald Trump described the 1993 suicide of White House aide Vince Foster as “very fishy.” From the Post: “When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail. He called theories of possible foul play ‘very serious’ and the circumstances of Foster’s death ‘very fishy.'” This isn’t the first time that Trump has dabbled in conspiracy theories. There’s the 2011 “birther” crusade against President Obama; there’s the allegation that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald; and there’s Trump flirting with the idea that the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have been murdered. As MSNBC’s Benjy Sarlin wrote earlier this month, “[Trump], whether by choice or by nature, appears fundamentally unable to distinguish between credible sources and chain e-mails. Equally significant, though, is that he uses these falsehoods to elevate fringe conspiracy theories and anecdotes that politicians are normally careful to keep far away from mainstream politics. He’s spread discredited claims linking vaccines to autism, for example — a debunked theory that medical officials say has harmed efforts to wipe out preventable diseases.”

While the two major party candidates will probably obtain the majority of the vote if it is a race between Clinton and Trump, this could be a better than usual year for minor party candidates. FiveThirtyEight points out that Libertarian Gary Johnson is now polling at around ten percent and predict he “might be on the verge of becoming a household name.”

Jill Stein provides another alternative from the Green Party. She made a strong appeal to Sanders voters in an interview with Truthout:

…I think the Green Party and my campaign [are] “Plan B” for Bernie supporters because the Democratic Party is the opposite of everything they’ve been working for and building for the last eight months or so, and to simply be dumped into Hillary’s campaign right now is kind of unthinkable.

The sabotage of Bernie’s campaign by the Democratic Party really makes the point about why we need an independent party, because it has shown that it is very hard to have a revolutionary campaign inside of a counterrevolutionary party…

So this is what the party does, and it has only become more corporatist, militarist and imperialist even while it has allowed very inspiring, progressive campaigns like Bernie’s to be seen and heard for awhile. After George McGovern was nominated in 1972, the party changed the rules of the game over the course of the next decade so that that kind of a grassroots campaign could never happen again. So Bernie had to fight on a very steep playing field and it’s just that the machine is powerful. Over the decades, as the Democratic Party continues to fake left, it continues to move right. I think that is the take-home lesson here — that we are not creating a more progressive, more grassroots party; it is only becoming more of a corporate instrument.

Either Stein or Johnson would be preferable to Clinton or Trump.

Birth Of Anti-Clinton Protest Movement From The Left

Chicago 1968

This year is looking a lot like 1968 politically. While the campaign is not over, it is increasingly looking like the Democratic Party will be nominating a candidate which is unacceptable to many on the left. In many ways this is reminiscent of how the left opposed the Democratic leadership in protest against the war in Viet Nam. Plus, in addition to protesting Clinton’s ultra-militaristic views, protest against her extends more to economic matters as the corrupting role of money in politics has become a bigger issue. While LBJ at least received credit for the Civil Rights Act and programs such as Medicare, Clinton’s record has been far less liberal. A return to the Clinton/DLC philosophy is a return to conservative policies of the past. As Dan Roberts wrote in The Guardian, Clintons continue to tout legacy where others see era of mistakes and scandal.

Roberts wrote, “From trade liberalisation and welfare reform, to gay rights and the war on drugs, the once-vaunted legislative successes of the first Clinton decade are being re-litigated in a very different America.”

Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy views, support for restrictions on civil liberties, and opposition to government transparency add additional reasons for protest from the left.

In this atmosphere, protests against the Democratic establishment are inevitable.

Protests will be on two levels. Bernie Sanders will go to the convention with a strong contingent of pledged delegates, even if the superdelegates will probably give the edge to Clinton. Sanders will fight for more liberal planks in the party platform and for reforms in the primary process. Unfortunately, changes in the party platform will have no bearing on how Clinton actually governs if elected, and procedural reforms can be changed in the future if conservative Democrats remain in control of the party apparatus.

There has also been talk on social media for several weeks regarding protests outside the convention. The Wall Street Journal reports on Sanders supporter obtaining permits to hold protests. (In case the story is behind the WSJ pay wall, The Hill also has a report).

Philadelphia has approved four demonstration permits in support of Sen. Bernie Sanders at the July Democratic National Convention — including a large rally planned near the convention’s epicenter.

One of the permits is for an event consisting of four days of all-day rallies at FDR Park in support of Mr. Sanders. The city said it expects 30,000 participants, and organizers said in an interview they hope turnout will be much higher.

The park is adjacent to the Wells Fargo Center, where many of the Democratic National Convention events will be held — raising the possibility of a large demonstration in support of Mr. Sanders just steps away from where delegates will officially select the Democratic nominee. A growing number of Democrats are concerned the convention could turn out to be divisive and disorderly due to activities planned by Sanders supporters.

The city has also granted permits to three smaller demonstrations at Thomas Paine Plaza, a few miles from the Wells Fargo Center. The city says it expects 2,000 to 3,000 participants at those events.

The events — which are being organized independent of campaign by supporters of Mr. Sanders — aim to call attention to support the Vermont Senator has received throughout the primary process and push for long-term changes in the way that the Democratic Party nominates candidates.

“The whole Bernie movement is an ideology. If Bernie wins the nomination, wins the presidency, that would be amazing. But even if Hillary does win the nomination, the movement has already started,” said Steve Okan Layne, who is helping organize one of the demonstrations.

It is important that the movement to protest against Clinton has already started. If Clinton is the nominee, and winds up being elected president, top priority will be to establish a liberal opposition to her, which could be difficult seeing what lemmings so many Democrats are.

Sanders Protests That Democratic Convention Is Rigged Against Him

Sanders May

I’m sure it wasn’t any surprise to  Bernie Sanders that the Democratic establishment would rig the convention against him, and I see his protest more as an effort of Sanders to continue to fight for the nomination, despite the odds against him. Politico reports:

In a letter to the chairwoman, Sanders noted that of the 45 names he submitted to Democratic National Convention committees, Wasserman Schultz appointed only three.

“I believe the composition of the standing committees must reflect the relative support that has been received by both campaigns,” Sanders wrote in the letter dated May 6. “That was why I was so disappointed to learn that of the over forty people our campaign submitted at your request you chose to select only three of my recommendations for the three standing committees. Moreover, you did not assign even on of the people submitted by our campaign to the very important Rules Committee of the Democratic National Convention.”

Sanders said that if the disagreement over convention committee appointments is not resolved, he would have his delegates move to change the platform on the floor of the convention.

“It is my hope we can quickly resolve this in a fair way,” Sanders wrote. “If the process is set up to produce an unfair, one-sided result, we are prepared to mobilize our delegates to force as many votes as necessary to amend the platform and rules on the floor of the convention.”

As I discussed recently, the system is heavily rigged to prevent insurgent candidates such as Sanders from winning the Democratic nomination. The Democratic primary system turned out to be even more rigged and less Democratic than the Republican. Despite the likelihood of Sanders beating Clinton in the upcoming primaries, the system has guaranteed that Clinton will go into the convention with a majority of delegates. Sanders’ only remaining hope is if superdelegates defect from Clinton to him.

It is unlikely that the superdelegates will support an outsider over the establishment candidate. This could only happen if the situation changes considerably between now and the convention. There is the long shot possibility that superdelegates could change their mind if they saw how much weaker a candidate Clinton would make against Trump than Sanders, but I fear that many establishment Democrats would rather lose with Clinton than allow Sanders to take control of the party.

As I discussed yesterday and Gawker discussed today, Clinton is capable of blowing it against Trump, despite her considerable lead at the present. She has demonstrated both in 2008 and this year that she is a terrible candidate and makes many mistakes with messaging. While she currently has a strong lead over Trump, she would be facing a very tough race against virtually any other Republican, and it is not impossible that Trump could overcome his deficit in a race against a candidate who is as unpopular and flawed as Clinton.

What To Do With Bernie’s Email List Rather Than Giving It To The Democratic Establishment

Sanders Fundraising

The nomination battle isn’t over yet, regardless of the odds, but Democratic strategists are already thinking about picking up something of great value from the Sanders campaign–the email list. Politico reports:

The post-campaign fate of Sanders’ list — his 2016 crown jewel, and the backbone of the Vermont senator’s online fundraising juggernaut — is the topic of frequent conversation among operatives working with the Democratic Party committees, down-ballot candidates and a variety of liberal interest groups. Some have already begun strategizing about how to access the list through informal conversations with people close to the Sanders campaign.

For those fighting for the issues Sanders has made the centerpiece of his campaign — like campaign finance reform, the environment and economic justice — his list of several million fervent activists willing to volunteer and donate money, often repeatedly, is regarded as something of an electoral gold mine…

Sanders’ staffers won’t comment on the exact size of the list, but his campaign has said it has 2.2 million donors, and the New York-based firm eDataSource estimates there are 5.2 million email addresses on it. The very fact that Sanders’ online fundraising prowess has become a focal point means that the question of what to do with the list is all the more complex.

“There’s this view among the Washington consultant class that these members are an ATM and you throw some words at them and they’ll give you money no matter what,” said Neil Sroka, a former Obama 2008 campaign aide now working as communications director of Democracy For America, which has endorsed Sanders. “Everyone in the Democratic Party is going to want Bernie Sanders’ seal of approval and a chance to share their message with the people on his email list.”

The Democrats’ eagerness to get their hands on Sanders’ list took off after he sent emails for congressional hopefuls Lucy Flores of Nevada, Zephyr Teachout of New York, and Pramila Jayapal of Washington. While it’s still unclear exactly how much of a Bernie bump they all got, Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV reported earlier this week that Flores had already raised $428,000 in mostly small-dollar contributions. Sensitive to any implication that Sanders may lose the nomination to Clinton, the campaign has yet to offer any hints of its plans for the list.

I’m sure that the Democratic Party would like to have this list, but they should not be so certain that those on the list will be willing to continue to contribute money should Clinton win the nomination. There are many Sanders supporters who are coming out of this campaign questioning whether the Democratic Party supports their views. As Sanders recently warned, Clinton and the Democratic Party cannot just assume that his supporters will automatically support them.

I suspect that Sanders will wind up backing the party in the end, but that is far from certain. What we do know is that, regardless of whether any of the Republican candidates or Hillary Clinton wins the election, we will have a president with views and agenda far different from that of Sanders supporters.

Should a Republican get elected, we will probably see Sanders and Clinton supporters united in opposing their agenda. If Clinton is elected, her agenda might not be all that different from that of the Republicans on many issues, and she is to the right of them in areas such as interventionism. The difference is that if Clinton is president, rather than having the Democrats united in opposing her more conservative views, many Democrats will be defending her, as they have done during the campaign.

If Clinton is elected, a top priority will be in establishing an opposition to her from the left, to oppose the corrupting role of money in politics, to oppose her neoconservative foreign policy, and to oppose restrictions on civil liberties which she has been far too comfortable with. I do hope that, rather than falling in the hands of the Democratic establishment, Sanders’ email list is used to help organize such an opposition.

Sanders Warns That His Supporters Will Not Automatically Support Clinton If She Is The Nominee

Sanders Clinton

A big question for Sanders’ supporters has been what to do should Clinton win the Democratic nomination. This nomination battle differs from other recent battles in the vast ideological difference between many of those supporting Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I previously looked at some of the reasons that some Sanders supporters might not vote for Clinton here. The normal pattern is for the losing candidate to endorse the winning candidate. That does not mean that the losing candidate’s supporters will go along, and Bernie pointed out that he realizes his supporters will not automatically support Clinton if she wins:

Bernie Sanders says Hillary Clinton shouldn’t expect his supporters to automatically back her should she win the Democratic presidential nomination.

“It’s a two-way street, the Clinton people are also going to have to listen to what these people are fighting for,” Sanders said during an interview on CNN’s “New Day.

“The Clinton people are going to have to say, well, maybe Bernie has a point that we should not be the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people or have paid family or medical leave. And maybe, yes, the billionaire class should start paying their fair share of taxes, and maybe, yes, we should break up Wall Street,” he said.

“It’s not me. I don’t control millions of people, but the Clinton campaign is going to have to make the case to those young people that in fact they are prepared to stand up for some real, fundamental changes in this country, and that’s the case they have not yet been able to make,” Sanders said…

Sanders maintained Monday that while Clinton is the Democratic front-runner and has moved to the left on some issues during the campaign, she has not yet made the case to win over his supporters.

“They’re very good at rhetoric, and certainly she has moved to the left in this campaign in response to many of the initiatives that we have brought forth,” Sanders said.

“The average person understands that when you collect such large amounts of money from Wall Street and other special interests, they have their doubts whether the Clinton people will stand up to these powerful forces,” he added.

Clinton might have moved to the left on selective issues during this campaign, but she is certainly no liberal. Supporting programs to benefit women and children is admirable, but is not sufficient to make one a liberal–especially when she is a warmonger, opposes government transparency, supports the corrupting role of money in government, opposes single-payer health care, ran in 2008 as a self-described pro-gun churchgoer, worked with The Fellowship in the Senate, and supports restrictions on civil liberties. On issues such as trade, the drug war, and foreign intervention, Clinton is even to the right of Republican front runner Donald Trump (who has many faults of his own).

Preventing independents from voting in the New York primary, as well as the other irregularities there, will also not make independents supporting Sanders feel good about voting for Clinton if she wins.

I also wonder if there is more meaning to these words from Sanders. Most likely he will endorse Clinton if she is the nominee, with the understanding that his supporters will make their own decisions. However he has sounded less and less like someone who is willing to support the party if he loses, making me wonder if he is reconsidering his previous statements that he would not run as an independent.

Why Millennials, And Older Liberals, Support Sanders Over Clinton

Clinton Progressive

The endorsement of Hillary Clinton by Rolling Stone was a surprise considering how this conflicts with the views of millennials, whom I assume make up a substantial portion of its readership. Matt Taibbi responded by writing, Why Young People Are Right About Hillary Clinton. Taibbi made many good points but only provided a broad outline. While this is not the article to give to try to convince them not to vote for Clinton, the points made are worth repeating, and expanding upon.

Taibbi correctly traces the problem with the Democratic Party, and disconnect with the views of millennials to living in the past, not getting past the defeat of George McGovern back in 1972. Never mind how much the country has changed or the unique specifics of 1972, with McGovern running against an incumbent president when there was a reaction against the 1960’s counterculture in this country. (Besides, Richard Nixon had the best campaign slogan ever: Don’t Change Dicks In The Middle Of A Screw, Reelect Nixon in ’72.) The Democratic establishment saw southern politicians like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton win and McGovern lose and they built the nomination process around that. As Taibbi put it, “it would be a shame if we disqualified every honest politician, or forever disavowed the judgment of young people, just because George McGovern lost an election four decades ago.”

Even besides the manner in which the DNC has rigged the nomination process for Hillary Clinton this year, preexisting rules favor a moderate southern candidate, or at least one who can win in southern Democratic primaries. We have a political process, from the nomination process through the general election, makes it difficult to achieve change.

The Democratic nomination system both super delegates, who are in place to keep insurgent candidates like McGovern or Sanders from winning, and front loading the primary process with southern primaries. The party has not taken into account the fact that a current Democratic candidate, no matter how moderate, will not win in the south, but they do risk depressing Democratic turnout in the battleground states with their current choices of candidates. They risk a repeat of 2014 when Democratic voters stayed home with a candidate such as Clinton who performs poorly among independents and in the battleground states.

The results this year could easily be quite different with fairer rules. Imagine if Iowa announced the popular vote, as they did eight years ago, which Bernie Sanders probably won. If he started out with wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, and then we had a mix of other states besides multiple southern states, Sanders and not Clinton would probably be the front runner now.

Taibbi described the transformation of the Democratic Party at the hands of the DLC and the Clintons:

That ’72 loss hovered like a raincloud over the Democrats until Bill Clinton came along. He took the White House using a formula engineered by a think tank, the Democratic Leadership Council, that was created in response to losses by McGovern and Walter Mondale.

The new strategy was a party that was socially liberal but fiscally conservative. It counterattacked Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy, a racially themed appeal to disaffected whites Nixon tabbed the “Silent Majority,” by subtly taking positions against the Democrats’ own left flank.

In 1992 and in 1996, Clinton recaptured some of Nixon’s territory through a mix of populist positions (like a middle-class tax cut) and the “triangulating” technique of pushing back against the Democrats’ own liberal legacy on issues like welfare, crime and trade.

And that was the point. No more McGoverns. The chief moral argument of the Clinton revolution was not about striving for an end to the war or poverty or racism or inequality, but keeping the far worse Republicans out of power.

Taibbi was relatively mild in his criticism of the DLC Democrats. Two weeks ago I cited two more detailed accounts of the era from Thomas Frank and Howard Zinn.

Taibbi tied this into the present with a look at Hillary Clinton and other recent Democratic policies:

For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others.

And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues.

Hillary not only voted for the Iraq War, but offered a succession of ridiculous excuses for her vote. Remember, this was one of the easiest calls ever. A child could see that the Bush administration’s fairy tales about WMDs and Iraqi drones spraying poison over the capital (where were they going to launch from, Martha’s Vineyard?) were just that, fairy tales.

Yet Hillary voted for the invasion for the same reason many other mainstream Democrats did: They didn’t want to be tagged as McGovernite peaceniks. The new Democratic Party refused to be seen as being too antiwar, even at the cost of supporting a wrong one.

It was a classic “we can’t be too pure” moment. Hillary gambled that Democrats would understand that she’d outraged conscience and common sense for the sake of the Democrats’ electoral viability going forward. As a mock-Hillary in a 2007 Saturday Night Live episode put it, “Democrats know me…. They know my support for the Iraq War has always been insincere.”

This pattern, of modern Democrats bending so far back to preserve what they believe is their claim on the middle that they end up plainly in the wrong, has continually repeated itself.

Take the mass incarceration phenomenon. This was pioneered in Mario Cuomo’s New York and furthered under Bill Clinton’s presidency, which authorized more than $16 billion for new prisons and more police in a crime bill.

As The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander noted, America when Bill Clinton left office had the world’s highest incarceration rate, with a prison admission rate for black drug inmates that was 23 times 1983 levels. Hillary stumped for that crime bill, adding the Reaganesque observation that inner-city criminals were “super-predators” who needed to be “brought to heel.”

You can go on down the line of all these issues. Trade? From NAFTA to the TPP, Hillary and her party cohorts have consistently supported these anti-union free trade agreements, until it became politically inexpedient. Debt? Hillary infamously voted for regressive bankruptcy reform just a few years after privately meeting with Elizabeth Warren and agreeing that such industry-driven efforts to choke off debt relief needed to be stopped.

Clinton not only voted for the war, she went beyond most supporters in making false claims of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. While she later claimed this was a mistake, she showed no signs of learning from her  mistakes with her hawkish views on Libya and Syria.

Taibbi only managed to mention a portion of the issues where Clinton is out of touch with millennial voters, along with older liberal voters such as myself. While millennial voters tend to be more libertarian on social and civil liberties issues, Clinton is conservative on both. She spent her time in the Senate working with the religious right as a member of The Fellowship, and her social conservatism can be seen in many of her views. She is far right win in her views on civil liberties, falling to the right of Antonin Scalia and not far from Donald Trump in her view of freedom of speech.

Taibbi concluded with matters of corruption, but again was very limited in this discussion of a very large topic. He did write:

Then of course there is the matter of the great gobs of money Hillary has taken to give speeches to Goldman Sachs and God knows whom else. Her answer about that — “That’s what they offered” — gets right to the heart of what young people find so repugnant about this brand of politics.

One can talk about having the strength to get things done, given the political reality of the times. But one also can become too easily convinced of certain political realities, particularly when they’re paying you hundreds of thousands of dollars an hour.

Is Hillary really doing the most good that she can do, fighting for the best deal that’s there to get for ordinary people?

Or is she just doing something that satisfies her own definition of that, while taking tens of millions of dollars from some of the world’s biggest jerks?

Plus he pointed out, “her shifting explanations and flippant attitude about the email scandal” along with the “faulty thinking” of her defenders: “My worry is that Democrats like Hillary have been saying, ‘The Republicans are worse!’ for so long that they’ve begun to believe it excuses everything.”

Her defenders ignore how Clinton’s actions included serious breaches of rules to promote government transparency, including new rules instituted under Obama in 2009 in response to the abuses under George W. Bush. Her claims, such as that what she did was allowed, have been repeatedly debunked by the fact checkers. She acted highly unethically in making decisions regarding parties who were either donating to the Foundation or paying unprecedented speaking fees to Bill. She also failed to abide by an agreement to divulge all donors while she was Secretary of State.

While his article was limited in specifics, he hit the key argument against her:

Young people don’t see the Sanders-Clinton race as a choice between idealism and incremental progress. The choice they see is between an honest politician, and one who is so profoundly a part of the problem that she can’t even see it anymore.

A platform of “the Republicans are worse” might work if the problem was simply that (as her defenders often frame it) Clinton was not progressive enough for her critics on the left. However, that is not the case at all. The problem is that Clinton is not progressive at all. If anything, throughout her career she has been a “progressive” who gets conservative results. She has been on the wrong side of most issues, and not all that terribly far from the Republican viewpoint.

Sanders Beats Clinton Among Americans Abroad With 69 Percent Of Vote

Democrats Abroad

In order for Sanders to take the lead with elected delegates, he will need to win by margins exceeding sixty percent in the upcoming primaries. He did achieve this in the primary held by Democrats Abroad. (Or as Fox might report this, anti-American Democrats who moved to Socialist countries back Sanders.) The actual results:

In an unprecedented turnout, up 50% from 2008, 34,570 voters cast their ballots from over 170 countries all around the world, through in person voting, by fax, email, and post, and the results are as follows:

Bernie Sanders received 69% of the vote in the Democrats Abroad’s Global Presidential Primary, Hillary Clinton 31%.

Sanders picks up 9 pledged delegates as a result of the primary, while Clinton secures an additional 4 delegates.

Republicans do not allow comparable participation among Republicans living abroad.

The Hill Warns Of Chaos Scenario For Democrats With Clinton Server Under FBI Investigation

Clilnton FBI Investigation

One astonishing characteristic about this presidential race is that Democrats who were justifiably outraged about every violation of the rules and acts to obstruct government transparency under George W. Bush are willing to defend actions which were often worse when committed by Hillary Clinton. Even if they are willing to excuse her actions on partisan/tribal grounds, it is a risky proposition to nominate a candidate whose activities are under FBI investigation. It would be like the Republicans nominating Nixon after the facts about Watergate were known. The Hill considers Clinton’s problems in discussing The Chaos Scenario for Democrats:

It’s the scenario that Republicans dream of and Democrats believe is all but impossible: Hillary Clinton being forced to drop out of the presidential race due to criminal charges over her email server.

Any bombshell findings in the FBI’s investigation of Clinton could plunge the Democratic race into chaos…

In the event that Clinton stepped aside after winning the nomination at the convention, the Democratic National Committee could decide on the replacement on its own.

If an indictment came before the convention, the path would be more difficult.

Unlike the Republican Party, which binds most of its delegates to candidates regardless of delegates’ personal preferences, Democratic candidates have input on who represents them on the convention floor.

“There are no Clinton-bound delegates who would prefer voting for Sanders, for example,” delegate expert and University of Georgia professor Josh Putnam, told The Hill.

“Those folks are essentially hand-picked to be loyal. They are unlikely to stray.”

They discussed options including Sanders winning the nomination based upon his delegate strength, versus party leaders turning to a more establishment candidate:

“The superdelegates would flee first because they are politicians,” said one Democratic strategist who has worked on presidential campaigns.

“They are most likely to feel the pressure not to cast their ballots in favor of a nominee under indictment.”

If enough pledged Clinton delegates and superdelegates went to Sanders and delivered him 2,383 delegates, he would win the nomination.

But delegates could also coalesce around a new candidate not in the race. One likely fallback would be Vice President Biden, who came very close to running for president last year.

But denying Sanders the nomination could come with a heavy price, potentially alienating the millions of Democrats who cast ballots for him in the primary process…

Should the party be forced to leave Clinton, one thing that could work against Sanders is his late arrival to the Democratic Party. He’s spent his entire 30-year career in Congress as an Independent, and recently said he ran for president as a Democrat for media coverage.

“Most of these other politicians and political leaders in the community, they don’t really know Bernie Sanders because he’s never been a national Democrat,” the Democratic strategist said.

“They know Joe [Biden], they know John Kerry. It’s completely conceivable that they would turn from somebody they know and respect — Hillary — to somebody else they know and respect and bypass Sanders.”

This assumes a clear cut result should Clinton be indicted when there is time to chose another candidate. I suspect the outcome of the current investigations might not be so clear cut. The FBI could recommend indictment, but this does not mean that the Obama Justice Department would agree to prosecute. News of such an FBI recommendation would be huge if it were to come out. Is is quite possible that they might see Clinton as too big to prosecute, but she has three top aides in her campaign who also were involved in the handling of classified information under her at the State Department. Clinton might go on as the nominee if one or more of them were indicted, but it could greatly cripple her campaign.

It also must be kept in mind that, while the mishandling of classified information is the most dramatic complaint against her, with others prosecuted for doing less, this is only part of the entire scandal. Her actions included serious breaches of rules to promote government transparency, including new rules instituted under Obama in 2009 in response to the abuses under George W. Bush. Her claims, such as that what she did was allowed, have been repeatedly debunked by the fact checkers. She acted highly unethically in making decisions regarding parties who were either donating to the Foundation or paying unprecedented speaking fees to Bill. She also failed to abide by an agreement to divulge all donors while she was Secretary of State.

Reportedly the FBI has extended its investigation to such conduct at the State Department. Congress is also investigating, and I bet the Republicans will time matters to use this to embarrass Clinton during the general election campaign. It will not be as easy for her to respond to these legitimate concerns as it was to blow off the Benghazi nonsense from Republicans. All of this will provide a tremendous amount of ammunition for the Republican candidate this fall. If Donald Trump could destroy Jeb Bush by calling him low energy, imagine what he might do with actual evidence of unethical behavior by Clinton.

Democrats might wind up wishing that one of the scenarios play out early to allow them to pick a different nominee. Voters in the remaining primaries should also keep in mind that Bernie Sanders does better than Clinton against potential Republican candidates in the polls, and he is not under FBI investigation.

Sanders Gains Momentum With Michigan Victory

Sanders Wins Michigan

Bernie Sanders’ upset win in Michigan hopefully foreshadows victories throughout the midwest, and the west. Super Tuesday was devised to help moderate candidates win the nomination. Clinton is running out of Southern states. She is increasingly looking like a southern regional candidate while Sanders could become a stronger national candidate. Now the map is starting to favor Sanders. Clinton still has the big lead among super delegates, but will they risk seeing the party torn apart by handing the nomination to Clinton should Sanders continue to win?

Sanders won despite trailing in the polls and surprised the pundits. While he still lost the African American vote, he showed he could do far better with urban black voters, who have been harmed by Clinton policies, as compared to the south. He might do even better in upcoming primaries as he continues to get his message out.

After Super Tuesday the pundits assumed the usual trend of a losing candidate seeing their money and support dry up. Instead Sanders’ support has continued to grow significantly–with more money coming in and more volunteers working to get out the vote.

It is dangerous to predict election outcomes based upon anecdotal evidence, but I was confident that Sanders might pull an upset in Michigan having seen so many people who are not normally active in politics express support for Bernie over the last several months–including some Republicans. Sanders’ victory in a large and diverse state like Michigan demolishes the arguments from the Clinton camp that Sanders cannot win.

Seeing Trump win big in Michigan also presents a warning for Democrats. If Trump is the Republican nominee, the midwest, along with New York, are all in play against Clinton. Democrats need Sanders to win in these areas. Clinton’s support in the southern Democratic primaries won’t help her in a general election.

Clinton Again Uses Debate In Flint To Distort Sanders’ Record

CNN Flint Debate

Last night’s Democratic debate  was typical of the Democratic debates this year. Sanders came wanting to discuss the issues. Clinton came with plans to again distort Sanders’ views. She not only repeated her lies about Sanders’ position on guns (when it was Clinton who ran as a self-described “pro-gun church goer” in 2008), but also greatly distorted Sanders position on the auto bailout, which he did support. No doubt she was waiting until this debate to spring this lie.

At the start of the Fox Democratic Town Hall, it was noted that the fact checkers sided with Sanders on this issue.

The frequency of lies seen from Clinton is greatly disturbing. While all candidates bend the truth to some degree with campaigning, Clinton takes it to a far greater level than most. Plus her dishonesty has often included major matters of government policy, including her false claims of a tie between Saddam and al Qaeda to justify the Iraq war, and the many lies she has told about her conduct as Secretary of State.

A person this dishonest cannot be trusted with the powers of the presidency.

I am also not impressed with the major concern of many Clinton supporters coming out of this debate. I worry about the Democratic Party when so many are outraged when Sanders objects to Clinton interrupting him at the debate, but the same people don’t care when Clinton supports military intervention in other countries, restricting civil liberties, and protecting polluters who contribute to her. Besides, Sanders sure deserved an opportunity to defend himself (which Clinton was trying to deny) when Clinton was lying about his views.