The Bernie Backlash

Number 1.  The media is making a way bigger deal out of this than it actually is.  The media has a built-in bias for conflict and negativity.  And they hate, carefully orchestrated PR events like conventions with no real news.  Hey, look, the nominee is official and a bunch of people gave speeches.  Therefore, whatever conflict there is, will always be dramatically magnified.

Number 2.  The Bernie delegates are not a representative sample of Bernie supporters.  In many cases, they are the most committed.  And many of them are not your typical Democratic party pols.  So, they are more likely to make a fuss as we’ve seen.  Add number 1 and number 2 = media catnip and blowing this out of proportion.

The actual Bernie supporters?  Jamelle Bouie:

Yes, there are angry and discontented delegates who supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Some are avowedly anti-Hillary and believe Sanders was sabotaged by the DNC in an effort to subvert the will of Democratic voters. There is no evidence that this is true. If, in January, you looked at nothing but the demographics of Clinton and Sanders support, you could have predicted the outcome. Here’s what I wrote at the beginning of the year. “If Sanders can break or subvert Clinton’s relationship with black Democrats, he can win. If he can’t, he won’t.”

More important than the mechanics of the primary, however, is the simple fact that these delegates—these vehemently anti-Clinton voters—are an unrepresentative minority of all Bernie supporters. Of the voters who backed Sanders throughout the course of the Democratic primary, 90 percent support Clinton, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center. [emphasis mine] Of those who switched from Clinton to Sanders or from Sanders to Clinton, 88 percent now back Clinton. Even with a third-party candidate in the mix, as noted by Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight, the picture is one of general unity, with around a third of Sanders’ primary voters rejecting the Clinton ticket. And those voters are neither regular voters nor consistent Democrats. Many are voters who normally support third-party candidates, but who signed on to Bernie’s campaign because of its distance from the Democratic establishment.


The problem: Sanders had little control over his delegates, who seemed unwilling to get behind his endorsement of Clinton. This was in part a matter of sloppiness on the part of Sanders’s team in selecting delegates. But as one operative told me, there was another reason Sanders’s delegation was so unruly: Everyone was so afraid to cross Clinton by serving as a Sanders delegate that he couldn’t convince the kind of party loyalists who normally take the job to do it.

Instead, many Sanders delegates come from the world of left-wing protest culture rather than party politics. And on the floor of the Wells Fargo Center, they acted like it.

This may be one reason Silverman’s speech resonated with these boisterous delegates whereas earlier politicians’ speeches tended to alienate: She’s an outsider too.

And another Yglesias post:

Every modern political convention features thousands of delegates. And traditionally, a candidate’s slate of delegates from a given state will draw heavily from the ranks of local politicians and politician-aligned interest groups.

For example, in Washington, DC, Hillary Clinton’s delegates include the mayor, a couple of members of the DC council, an ex-council member currently serving in the mayor’s Cabinet, and so forth.

As a website for Sanders supporters explains: “Delegates are often party activists, local political leaders, or early supporters of a given candidate. … Delegates can also include members of a campaign’s steering committee. In some cases, delegates are long-time active members of their local party organization.”

But while this is an excellent description of Clinton’s delegates, it does not describe Sanders’s delegates at all. As one longtime Massachusetts Democratic Party hack observed, Clinton’s delegates were almost all people he recognized from party politics. Sanders’s were not.

Drum on Bernie’s responsibility for this:

Our reporters say that Sanders “looked a bit surprised by the intensity of the Clinton opposition.” I can’t imagine why. This is one of the big problems I had with him back during the primary. It’s one thing to fight on policy grounds, as he originally said he would, but when you start promising the moon and explicitly accusing Hillary Clinton of being a corrupt shill for Wall Street—well, there are some bells that can be unrung. He convinced his followers that Hillary was a corporate warmonger more concerned with lining her own pockets than with progressive principles, and they still believe it. And why wouldn’t they? Their hero told them it was true.

Hillary is no saint. But her reputation as dishonest and untrustworthy is about 90 percent invention. Republicans have been throwing mud against the wall forever in an attempt to smear her, and the press has played along eagerly the entire time. When Bernie went down that road, he was taking advantage of decades of Republican lies in the hopes of winning an unwinnable battle. He was also playing directly into Donald Trump’s hands.

And, finally, Seth Masket on the nothingburger that is the emails the Bernie supporters are so freaked out about:

The disclosed e-mails have been depicted as showing a rigged system that systematically undermined Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

But even if you believe the worst interpretations of these e-mails, the evidence is pretty mild. What we see is DNC staffers trying to spin the media in favor ofHillary Clinton and to complain to each other about Sanders. One certainly does not get the impression that the DNC staff was impartial between Clinton and Sanders — they appear biased and unprofessional — but there’s hardly evidence they materially manipulated the contest.

If one wants evidence of that, look to the overwhelming numbers of Democratic governors, senators, representatives, and state legislators who endorsed Clinton last year. Look at the Barack Obama-leaning super PAC thatannounced its support for herback in 2014. All these things had the effect of scaring off qualified Democratic candidates. Arguably, sure, they limited voters’ choices, they tilted the contest toward Clinton, and they weren’t fair. But they’re a pretty far cry from corruption or criminality. And to expect Democratic Party staffers to be impartial in their internal correspondence about a contest between Clinton and someone who arguably isn’t even a Democrat just seems unrealistic.

I’m certainly not claiming that anything is permissible as long as it’s better than what Nixon did. But we need to recognize the challenges of expecting a party to impartially manage a contest in which it clearly has preferred outcomes.

And it’s really hard to find evidence that Sanders’ voice was in any meaningful way squelched. He had nine debates with Clinton to make his case. He kept pace with her in fundraising. He was competitive in basically every state contest and had no trouble recruiting many dedicated volunteers, caucus-goers, and voters. He simply came up short. If this is a rigged system, then basically every contest is.

So, short version.  Hillary voters: relax, but be annoyed at the media (but accept that this is simply the media reality).

The surrogate gap

Very interesting take from Greg Sargent based on the Day 1 speakers at the Democratic and Republican (e.g., Elizabeth Warren vs. Scott Baio!) conventions:

What last night really showed is that there will be a profound, fundamental imbalance between the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns when it comes to the wattage of surrogates out there making the case this fall.

The biggest speeches of the night, from New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, projected a tone that seemed designed to contrast sharply with the hate-and-rage-fest otherwise known as the GOP convention. All of them, in one way or another, sought to align the Democratic Party, optimistically and aspirationally, with culturally and demographically changing America. They explicitly called out Trumpism — the rendition of it featured at the GOP convention — as brimming over with reactionary hostility towards the evolving and diversifying America of the 21st century.

All of this is driven in part by the fact that the voter groups out of which Democrats hope to assemble a winning national coalition — college educated whites, nonwhites, women, young voters — appear to rejectthe xenophobia and ethno-nationalism at the core of Trumpism’s appeal. But there’s a key nuance here. There is a direct link between Trump’s alienation of key demographics and the lack of high profile surrogates that will be there for him this fall. Senior Republicans are keeping Trump at arm’s length in part precisely because he’s putting off those voter groups, which many top Republicans know the party must improve among for the sake of its future. [emphases mine]

This is a dynamic that both Republican and Democratic strategists are taking note of this morning.

“Hillary will have Bernie Sanders, the Obamas, Elizabeth Warren, who has been elevated to star status by Donald Trump, and Joe Biden,” Stuart Stevens, the chief strategist for Mitt Romney in 2012, tells me. “Who will be campaigning with Donald Trump that has a large constituency?” Stevens adds that many Republicans who do have large constituencies — such as Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio — will likely be M.I.A. once the campaign kicks into high gear.

Stevens also noted a connection between the disparity in high wattage surrogates and Trump’s alienation of key demographics. “The essence of politics is about addition, not subtraction,” Stevens said. “Donald Trump finds it very hard for any given moment not to be about Donald Trump, which makes coalition building and the blocking and tackling of politics more difficult. If you’re in a fight with the Republican governor of Ohio and the Hispanic governor of New Mexico, how can you expect to build a broader coalition?”

“Trump’s fight with Susana Martinez is a perfect illustrator,” Stevens concluded, referring to the governor of New Mexico. “He desperately needs women and Hispanics.” …

Obviously there is no telling whether all of this will matter enough to prevent a Trump win, which of course remains very possible. Clinton still has serious weaknesses, and it remains to be seen how, or whether, the rest of the convention will successfully address them. But the point is, Day One revealed that Clinton has a very clear structural advantage that very well may assert itself this fall, when voters are really paying attention. And this is also another way in which there is simply no equivalence between the degree of disunity that is afflicting the two parties.

Why do sane Republicans support Trump?

In a hyphenated word… self-delusion :-).  Really good piece by Fred Hiatt last week that gets at the psychology of otherwise reasonable Republicans supporting this fabulously unqualified charlatan:

For every Gov. John Kasich (who stayed away) or Sen. Ted Cruz (who came but did not endorse), there are a dozen Republican bigwigs in Cleveland who believe Donald Trump is unfit to be president but have endorsed him anyway.

How do they live with their decisions? These are politicians who are privately persuaded that Trump is too ignorant, too narcissistic, too potentially tyrannical, not genuinely conservative—or some combination of the above. So how to justify an endorsement?

I’ve had a chance to ask some of them on the sidelines of the convention this week. The most common answer is: We know Hillary Clinton will be terrible, whereas we might be wrong about Trump, so let’s take a chance.  [emphases in original]

But I’ve also heard: Donald Trump doesn’t care about policy or understand how it is shaped, so Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will set the agenda. In this fantasy, Trump would be satisfied with the trappings of the office, while a Republican Congress finally gets to work its will.

Then there’s the vision of Trump as empty vessel: Donald Trump has no fixed beliefs, but he will surround himself with genuine conservatives who will gradually shape his ideology.

Or this variation: Donald Trump has despotic tendencies, but the people around him in the White House and the Cabinet will rein in his worst instincts.

If that fails, there is this: If necessary he can be impeached.

And finally, from an ardent free-trader whom I pressed about supporting someone who would impose tariffs, spark trade wars and potentially trigger a global depression: It’s okay — he can’t win.

I’m sure it is more difficult politically than most of us can imagine for a Republican to stay aloof from the Republican candidate for president. The one genuine, uniting sentiment in the party this year is a visceral, almost frenzied hatred of Hillary Clinton. One congressman who has yet to endorse told me the blowback from constituents is intense and constant.

But I’m also pretty sure that most of these people know the stories they tell themselves are fiction. Donald Trump is not going to win the most powerful job in the world only to let some uncharismatic wannabes down Pennsylvania Avenue dictate his agenda. A man who wins the presidency by taking advice only from himself, and maybe his adult children, is not going to suddenly learn to govern by committee. As to impeachment: it is beyond far-fetched to think that Republican legislators who cannot stand up to Trump while he is a private citizen will find new courage to resist him once he has the power of the presidency.

The way I see it, if you are a Republican who believes we should have a minimally-qualified president who is not a literal threat to democracy and our Constitutional order, the Republican Party already lost this election in the primaries when it chose Trump.  To pretend otherwise is simply to lie to oneself about the epic horribleness that is Trump.  Understandable, yes, but complete self delusion nonetheless.

Who are the anti-vaxxers redux

So, I was reading this Slate article on why vaccines should be absolutely mandatory (I wholeheartedly agree)…

There is simply no reason vaccinations should be treated differently than any other form of medical care, and they must be protected within the same framework that has been created for child protection and against medical neglect. There are many ethically gray areas of medicine, but this is not one. Our laws must unambiguously and without loopholes reflect this, and there cannot be conflicting standards of child protection based on race, wealth, and education. By continuing to allow exceptions, we are fueling the misconception that vaccinations are an option, a choice, a subjective topic about which people can have different opinions that ought to be respected, when in fact all of the data proves they are not. Enacting a policy that is consistent with the science would provide clarity for the parents—the majority of whom are loving caretakers trying to do the right thing. We are failing our society by creating unequal standards of parenting, and worse, we are failing our children by not protecting their right to be vaccinated against deadly, preventable diseases. Competent parenting must include fully immunizing all children according to the medical standard of care.

Yes.  But this part really struck me:

Those who refuse vaccines represent a privileged segment of society, making it easier for us to turn a blind eye as part of the systemic racism and classism still deeply embedded in modern medicine. [emphasis mine] We have spent hours explaining to CPS case-workers that it is impossible for the homeless parents of a critically ill infant to simultaneously attend medical rounds, to participate in medical decision-making for their child, and apply for public housing and employment. Then we turn around and treat a purposefully un-immunized child for a serious brain infection caused by vaccine-preventable bacterium—requiring weeks of hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics—and watch his mother continue to refuse vaccines for him or his siblings, and we can’t do anything about it.

Okay, I’m not aware of data as to those who specifically refuse to vaccinate, but when it comes to public  opinion on the matter, there’s really no evidence to suggest its the most “privileged segment of society.”  Actually, much like with politics and vaccines, the striking thing is how small the demographic differences are (from Pew)



Childhood Vaccines

Views on Childhood Vaccines by Education, Knowledge and Income

No gender difference.  No Black/White racial difference.  Hardly any education difference.  No meaningful income difference.  The big difference?  Age.  Those damn Millennials (okay, and somewhat my Generation X).  They are the ones both breeding and looking to ruin this for everybody.

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