Hillary Moving Right, Already, Where Do Progressives Go?

imagesNew Orleans   The headlines in today’s papers range from the bizarre to the insulting.

Donald Trump is having trouble getting Republicans that he has spit on to kiss and make up. The Bush family, one and all, have declined to endorse him. He’s attacking former opponents like Senator Lindsey Graham with vigor. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to join an alternate reality, even though he’s chairing the Republican Convention, and strategists are suggesting that candidates for the House and Senate avoid the Convention like the plague. That’s enough for the bizarre.

For the insulting, one has to turn to the Clinton campaign which seems to be double-clutching to shift gears from its recent appeals to progressives and the liberal base in the contests with Senator Bernie Sanders to re-position her candidacy, and presumably the Democratic Party and its platform, to something of a center-right party in order to be a more comfortable home for disaffected Republicans fleeing from Trump. Progressives, the young, minorities, immigrants, Muslims, women, Clinton is calculating that none of us have any other place to go, so it’s time to her to swerve hard right.

What are we facing here? One far-right fringe party, led by Trump, calling itself Republican, and one center-right party, calling itself Democrat?

Don’t get me wrong. Of course Hillary needs to go bottom-fishing given how much mud Trump has thrown into the pool. Sure, extend an olive branch, a glad hand, a big, fat grin, but why move right and why the rush? Why not conclude that they can either be no-shows or people with no place to go? Why walk back on the mildly progressive positions so recently weakly embraced?

Seems everybody is being pushed in and out of parties, but no one wants to do the work to actually build their own parties. Let Trump have whatever he wants to call it. Chances are if he wins, or comes close, he’ll re-brand whatever elephantine thing he has left with his name anyway. Let Ryan, the Bushes, and whoever, fight over whatever they think the Republicans pretend to stand for. And, if Hillary wants to make the Democrats back into a 21st century version of the center-right party that Bill Clinton tried to assemble in the 1990s and beat the drums for Wall Street and war and whatever this right shift settles into, how many slaps up against the head is it going to take the rest of us to realize we need a home of our own, too?

One’s a headache and the other may be a heartache, but eventually we need to go somewhere that we’re wanted and respected. And, that’s a far better place to be.

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Sanders Wants Leverage on the Democratic Party for What?

Revolution-FistNew Orleans   There are five more primaries this week, and Senator Bernie Sanders is favored to lose almost all of them, extending Hillary Clinton’s lead and her inevitable nomination by the Democratic Party. Sanders is will-bringing it hard every day and trying for every vote, as he should. The simple political calculus is usually that more votes, equals more delegates, equals more leverage. In Sanders case, at this point we have to ask more pointedly what he hopes to accomplish with increased leverage.

Reports from within his campaign indicate he is focusing increasingly on having impact on the Democratic Party platform. Despite the compelling evidence that the Chair of the Party is already stacking all of the major committees with Clintonistas, including one report that of over forty appointments less than a handful went to Sanderites, the Senator is still saying that he expects to get a fair shake at the convention, blah, blah, blah.

Really? Is this what it’s all worth?

Reports from the Clinton camp over the weekend were unusually frank about how she and the campaign were viewing potential choices to fill out her ticket with a vice-presidential nominee. They characterized her as unconcerned about needing to make any concession to the left or the rabid Sanders supporters, because, as we have continually predicted, in the general election, they have nowhere else to go and will have to vote for her given the Republican field or no one at all. It’s hard not to get the sense that Sanders is already negotiating with himself and that Clinton has left the room and moved on, while continuing to make the motions and show up when scheduled.

A founder and former grand poobah of Politico took to the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal of all places to argue that what we needed was a third-party. He laid out what he felt were the preconditions for a successful candidate in what I would argue is a want-ad for the political class. Meanwhile Sanders is angling for a better platform for the Democratic Party. He seems to be reminding us that he is a “coincidental” Democrat, likely never having lived through a Democratic convention from start to finish and certainly not familiar with the fact that a Democratic nominee is held to absolutely no accountability to any stack of paper produced by the delegates.

I’m not saying Sanders should go rogue and go third party. It’s too late for that, and the wrong strategy for him now, but why not use his leverage so that it means something. Ignore the platform and focus on candidates and races where elections of progressive candidates could make a difference. Take the “revolution” he’s calling for and bring it home. Help the Working Family Party get more votes on its party line in November. Turn time and fundraising to Congressional races where candidates are willing to embrace the arguments for change that Sanders has articulated. Go local on some legislative and gubernatorial races with the same fire. Jump out of the box and join with Rev. Barber in North Carolina and anyone who can be found in Mississippi to stand against hate laws. Pull out the stops to join with Planned Parenthood where they are attacked. Carry a sign with Black Lives Matter. Walk the line with unions.

Platform, splatform. Don’t play the game. Be true to your voters and supporters and change the game right now, while you have the chance, and your voice can still be heard clearly and have weight. There’s no next year. Seize the time and make it matter.

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