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Old 02-02-2019, 11:47 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default Re: Ultimate Cagefight MMXIX, Democratic Edition

I was originally an enthusiastic Sanders supporter in 2016, and I initially felt his entry into the race was a net good for the country. To some extent, I still feel that way, but I’m getting increasingly sick of his claim that the Democrats have abandoned working people. That was absolutely true in the 1990s. It is not true now. Clinton ran on the most progressive platform any Democrat had run on since… probably LBJ, if not earlier. Her platform, for instance, featured a comprehensive proposal for mental healthcare reform – it would essentially have been an Affordable Care Act for mental health.

Now, is the ACA perfect? No. But one large portion of its flaws rests at the feet of non-Democrat Joe Lieberman, who voted against a public option after explicitly promising not to do that in his 2006 Senate campaign, and another large portion of its flaws rests at the feet of Republican Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, who gutted the Medicaid expansion purely for political reasons, as revealed recently in Joan Bikuspic’s superb reporting on the matter. But for those two factors, we would in all likelihood already have universal healthcare, and the insurance companies would be in a severely weakened economic position compared to their present status, as more people realised how much better public health insurance was.

Sanders is sincere and completely on point when discussing economics, but when he wanders off the topic, he loses me. He’s made a number of tone-deaf pronouncements on women’s issues, on queer rights issues, on minority issues, and so on that have tempered my enthusiasm for him. And his accusations that the Democratic primary process was rigged ultimately played directly into Individual-1’s hands in the general election. I’m not saying that he intentionally threw the election to Individual-1, but I’m getting increasingly tired of voices ostensibly on the left that focus on the Democratic Party’s flaws. The time to focus on those flaws is not while we are out of power. The time to focus on those flaws is when we have power and can actually enact changes to policy.

I’m going to give the example of healthcare. I don’t dislike the idea of Medicare for all in principle. I don’t see how you get to that point in America, however, without severely alienating a large portion of the country. We’ve already tried this experiment once with the ACA, and the wide-ranging protests to comparatively small changes in healthcare policy seem instructive. The American people are extraordinarily change-averse; they are particularly averse to changes imposed upon them by others. We’re fine if we choose to change something, but if we feel we’re being forced into a change without our involvement, a large portion of us revolt.

I’ve always felt the public option is the way forward. It gives people the option to sign onto public health insurance that, in all likelihood, will be better than the coverage they currently have. And it expands coverage to everyone. But it doesn’t force anyone into a change they don’t want.

I realise that “The Option of Medicare to All” is nowhere near as catchy a slogan. But it’s much shrewder policy. And it’s the sort of thing that leads me to question Sanders’ political acumen.

My first choice in 2016 was always Warren, but she didn’t run that year. Warren talks about the same issues as Sanders with the same level of conviction and clarity, but I feel she has a stronger grasp of policy minutiae, and she manages to express anger in a constructive fashion that I seldom see pulled off in politics. This year she’s still in my top tier of candidates.

I’m already growing fairly convinced that it’s likely to be Harris, though, no matter what issues some people are raising with her record as a prosecutor. And some of those are valid issues, and I don’t mean to diminish their importance, but I have to be honest in that I don’t find myself searching particularly intently for the candidate I agree with the most. I’m searching, above all, for an acceptable candidate who is going to win.

The problem, of course, is handicapping that in advance. No one, in 2014, thought Individual-1 had a remote chance of winning (for a certain definition of “winning”) the presidency. It was a perfect storm of events – including Russian ratfucking, treasonous behaviour on the part of McTurtle and other Republican leaders, disgraceful media coverage that amounted to giving Individual-1 billions of dollars in free advertising, and Comey’s unprecedented and completely unjustifiable decision to make biasing statements against one candidate eleven days before Election Day – that led to what a more charitable observer would describe as Individual-1’s “election”. A large portion of this is unpredictable.

However, Harris seems to be drawing the same sort of enthusiasm that Obama was gaining in 2007-2008. I’m not seeing that level of enthusiasm around any other candidate as of yet. She seems to possess a sort of unquantifiable “it” factor that thus far seems to be unique to her campaign. It’s early days still, though, and someone else could catch on.

I think Sanders is going to find a lot more difficulty finding a mass constituency in the next election, because there’s going to be a wealth of other candidates with similar messages on the economy, and a large portion of what drove young voters’ enthusiasm for him was his proposals like free college and universal healthcare. But he’s not the only one with those platforms now – in fact, they’re virtually mainstream.

I think Sanders is, in all likelihood, too old now, and while he was unquestionably ahead of the current on economic issues, he already feels a bit behind the current on social issues. There are other candidates who already had or have adopted similar stances on economics who have better stances on social issues.

And he has other liabilities, such as his inept handling of harassment in his campaign and his taxes, which he still hasn’t revealed much of. In the age of Trump, those are going to be major black marks for anyone running for the Democratic nomination.

And I don’t really care what a person believed ten years ago, and I honestly don’t even care as much what they believe now as much as I care what they’ll do in office. If a politician doesn’t actually personally agree with abortion, but doesn’t think it’s the government’s business to restrict it, I’m not going to weigh that heavily against them. If an elected official is responsive to constituent pressure, I regard that as a plus – that’s actually exactly what elected officials are supposed to do.

As a queer person, I’m not remotely bothered that Obama was not initially publicly supportive of marriage equality. His actions in office nonetheless directly led to Obergefell, and that’s far more important to me than what his private beliefs may have been at any given point. There are two plausible hypotheses here: one is that he always privately supported marriage equality but didn’t find it politically acceptable to come out in public support of it until public opinion shifted; the other is that he shifted in response to constituent pressure. I don’t know which was the case, and I can’t find fault with him on the issue in either case.

We ostensibly live in a representative democracy. That isn’t my ideal system (my ideal system is something akin to anarchist socialism), but until we live in something closer to that ideal system, I’m not going to fault our representatives for actually taking seriously the idea that they should represent their constituents’ views. That is, in fact, exactly their job.

If policy issues were my only concern, my top choice would be Warren. As it stands, I’m torn between her, Gillibrand (whose pragmatism and willingness to swear in public impress me), and Harris (reasons listed above, plus the appropriateness of having our first woman president also be a woman of colour). I can’t say any of them have stances that are entirely to my liking, but anyone who had such stances would be unelectable to the presidency in 2020.

Really, though, I already find myself wanting AOC as president. Unfortunately, she can’t run until 2024, I believe. (Maybe 2028? Depends if she’ll turn 35 before January 20, 2025. I will also admit to having developed something of a crush.) She’s got incredible natural political talent and charisma, neither of which can really be taught, and basically all the right stances. I can’t see any other self-described socialist in American politics today who is likelier to be elected to the presidency someday.

ETA: some of those criticisms in that image^ are rather nonsensical – for instance, lawyers have to represent a lot of clients they may not care for. Saying Gillibrand represented Big Tobacco is as incoherent as saying Hillary represented murderers. Doesn’t mean either of them ever agreed with those causes.

Also, if there are responses to this and I take awhile to respond to them, I’m not trying to be rude; I’ve just got a lot of commitments. (And if someone else gets there first with a lot of what I’d have said, I might not get around to responding at all.) I probably shouldn’t even have written a post this long, but when I get into a writing mode, I find it hard to stop.
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