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Old 01-23-2019, 08:43 PM
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erimir erimir is offline
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Default Re: Ultimate Cagefight MMXIX, Democratic Edition

I know it sounds like just "excuse making" but I think that "authenticity" is a little overrated in politicians.

Bernie Sanders has such a good argument for it because he's never had to appeal to any constituency except for lily-white, very liberal Vermont. Well, it's easy to be a left-wing politician in Vermont. So he has authenticity, but he doesn't have a proven track record of being able to manage a less homogeneous and moderate constituency (which the US as a whole would be). Sherrod Brown, by comparison, manages to be relatively liberal for his state but still has to make more centrist moves than Sanders. Ohio is also more diverse than Vermont. So who is more "authentic"? Who is really more liberal/left? It's hard to separate those concerns from the fact that Ohio is very different from Vermont. The naive conclusion is that Sanders is either more left than Brown, or Brown is less authentic, because if Brown is really more progressive than Sanders, his voting record is less so because of pandering to his less progressive constituency. But then that means we can't really ever support candidates who are from and can get elected in places like Ohio.

(I'd also note that on gun issues, Sanders has pandered to Vermont's more gun-friendly culture at times. And he voted for the 1994 crime bill and has pandered to "tough on crime" rhetoric in his past. So was that inauthentic, or was he authentically wrong on those issues?)

But what we really care about is how Brown would govern vs. Sanders. If Brown made some compromises in order to keep that Ohio Senate seat rather than having a Republican in it (while still being pretty liberal for an Ohio Senator), does that mean he would be less effective? Maybe his willingness to recognize when to compromise while still pushing leftward means he would actually get more done than Sanders, who would want to push left but might fail because of inflexibility (which overlaps with "authenticity") and end up achieving less.

Kirsten Gillibrand is going to be dinged for "inauthenticity" because she was in a conservative Upstate NY district and when she only moved left when she became Senator from NY (which is much more liberal than her district was). But she could've remained much more moderate than she did. I'd also note that even when she was in that conservative House seat, she supported allowing people to buy into Medicare. Andrew Cuomo has been much more centrist than her and was reelected easily. If it's purely opportunism, she has moved far more to the left than you would expect on that basis. You might expect her to moderate on issues that are unpopular nationally, but the idea that she wouldn't push left doesn't seem to match her record either.

Which, in relevance to Harris, I would say that some of her past can be explained as relating to the type of position she held. California is fairly progressive, sure, but it didn't get these shitty criminal justice laws all because of Kamala Harris and nothing to do with California voters. And a prosecutor and AG candidate would probably be held to different standards than voters would hold their Senator. The Republican only lost by 1 pt in her 2010 race for AG. So some of it can probably be explained by the politics of being a prosecutor and an AG, even in California. I do know that she declined to seek the death penalty against a cop killer as a prosecutor, where the pandering move would probably be the opposite. But I don't know that that's a good enough excuse for all of it, which is why I have concerns.

But regardless of whether it's President Harris, Gillibrand, Sanders or Brown, if the deciding votes in the Senate are Joe Manchin, Doug Jones, Mark Warner and Angus King or the like, it's going to take pressure from the left to get the outcomes the left wants. It's not enough for President Sanders to say he wants Medicare For All for it to get done. And I'd say the same on criminal justice issues.

I'm not convinced that Harris would oppose criminal justice reform. But likewise, I'm not convinced that Sanders would prioritize it - he certainly seems like he'd rather spend his political capital elsewhere. So I'm not sure how much of a difference there would end up being on those issues. But certainly Harris has more work and explaining to do on this than the other candidates.

If Harris really catches fire, and can thump Trump, having more seats in the senate is going to be more valuable than how much she wants to push personally, because the 50th senate vote is more likely to be the limiting factor than which Democrat is president (assuming it's not someone like Michael stop-and-frisk Bloomberg), particularly if our senate majority is narrow. The people who think who the president is is going to define what can get done and perhaps think it's better to have the leftmost platform that can beat Trump (even if it means only beating Trump by 3 pts) are not really paying attention to what will matter more in getting things through Congress. And the ones who dismiss most Democratic candidates as irredeemably corrupt and incapable of being pressured to the left are just promoting fatalism and voter disengagement/demoralization, which will only help the right-wing.

But anyway, I think their positions on the filibuster and DC/PR statehood will be more consequential than the specifics of their platforms in most cases, since eliminating the filibuster and adding two DC senators (and potentially two PR senators) will have more effect on what can get passed than the details of their platform. Candidates that express openness to eliminating the filibuster will get more points from me as a result.

But right now, Warren and Gillibrand are my top choices.

Last edited by erimir; 01-23-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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