Friday, July 29, 2016
Time for Reflection After the Conventions
I was going to post on how the Facebook and Twitter followings of the major party candidates (including 3rd party candidates) correlate with their poll numbers but with the conventions just concluded it will take about a week to see what impact they have on their poll numbers and their social media following. Instead I will share my thoughts on how the conventions transpired and where we Bernie people should go.
I know many of my friends in the Sanders campaign were disappointed that he did not get the nomination at the roll call, in the selection of Tim Kaine as Clinton's running mate, and in the release of DNC emails which seemed to show plotting against Sanders. This was evidenced by the walkout that was staged after the convention completed the roll call and Sanders moved to nominate Hillary Clinton by acclamation. The Sanders campaign brought in many new people to the political process. Some may not fully understand the process (who really does) at the convention. Nomination by acclamation is what is normally done at the conventions to show unity behind the nominee.
At the GOP Convention the non-Trump delegates staged a similar walkout when they wanted a roll call for the rules of the convention. They had enough signatures from 7 states on a petition for the roll call but pressure from party leaders caused 2 states to withdraw their signatures. Both conventions seated state delegations that were more sympathetic to the winning candidate closer to the podium to give the illusion of unanimous support.
Bernie Sanders was just doing what he said he would do by challenging Hillary in the primaries. The primaries are not just the time to choose a party nominee. It is a time to give the voters a say in what direction they want their party to go and, hopefully, for the parties to follow their lead. He did get some concessions from Clinton on the minimum wage, the public option in the Affordable Care act, and not endorsing (though not opposing) the Trans Pacific Partnership. There's not telling how much of these planks in the platform will be enacted after the election.
The selection of Tim Kaine is troubling for Sanders supporters because of his support for free trade/neoliberal policies. Is this a signal for Clinton's fat cat donors to not worry about her once she is in office? Like Obama in 2008, African American voters were the primary bloc that propelled Clinton to the nomination so she owes them big time more than her fat cat donors.
The Wikileaks email dump, whether it came from Russia or Trump or not, shows the bias in the DNC that many supporters already suspected were there. How rigged was the system against Sanders? Clinton did better in closed primaries like PA's than in open ones like NH's. The media coverage of Sanders may have been slanted against him due to DNC pressure. The system of closed primaries and superdelegates is a long standing one but the media coverage may have helped too. In spite of all that, Sanders won 22 states, garnered more than 12 million votes and 1836 delegates which both Clinton and (clumsily) Trump have been appealing to.
Even if Bernie Sanders had won the nomination and defeated Donald Trump he would still have a hard time governing as the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers, and 'centrist' Democrats would work to defeat his agenda. What is at least as important as winning elections is having a large grassroots movement to counteract these forces. I have been working to build this here in Johnstown, PA in healthcare.
As the general election goes I believe that Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Candidate Gary Johnson should absolutely be on the ballot and in the debates to keep up the pressure on both Clinton and Trump. I am waiting to see how the election transpires before deciding for whom to vote.