The iron law of institutions versus Bernie Sanders

US Politics
on 33 Comments

The New York Times publishes an op-ed by a Sanders voter (“Let’s Grow Up, Liberals,” by Kevin Baker) and he repeats exactly the same arguments as Paul Krugman or Andrew Rosenthal or virtually every NYT opinion writer in the past several months.  I haven’t seen a single NYT opinion piece from any Sanders supporter explaining why they will vote for Clinton in November on lesser evil grounds, but would have greatly preferred Sanders.  Instead, the focus has been on Sanders for having the temerity to point out her flaws.

The pragmatists at the NY Times think it is pragmatic to pat themselves on the back as mature and infantilize both Sanders and the people whose votes they ostensibly want. Baker pays lip service to the idea that  Sanders was right about Clinton’s flaws, but it’s a throwaway line meant to give the rest of the piece credibility–it doesn’t fit with the part where he describes how awful Sanders is even when he supports Hillary. Party unity has a totalitarian feel with people like this. Baker was published because he says he voted for Sanders and now regrets it, making him the only type of Sanders supporter the Clintonites really want. Some Clinton supporters who think they can win without the Sanders voters state it openly and gleefully.

This isn’t about issues or pragmatism or about making the world a better place or even about saving the world from Trump.  It’s tribalism pretending to be something better. They don’t want the votes of Sanders supporters who fail to renounce any criticism they ever made of Clinton.  If Clinton loses they want a scapegoat–in fact, they are acting like people who would almost rather have a Clinton loss with Sanders as a scapegoat than a Clinton victory with the help of people who are deeply critical of Clinton.  They can’t really think this if they are that (rightly) fearful of Trump, but on the emotional level their hatred of Sanders and his supporters runs deep. The left wing criticism of the Democrats really bites–they want people who think that way utterly discredited and you can see that if Trump wins they will turn on the left with all the hatred they gave to Nader, even though Sanders did exactly what people had said Nader should have done.

There was an intense  debate on the platform committee over fracking, TPP, global warming, health care, college tuition, and Israel-Palestine.  The Sanders people pulled them to the left on the tuition and health care issues to some degree.  They lost on the others.  Pulling the Democrats to the left has been the purpose of the Sanders campaign even if he couldn’t get the nomination. If the “liberals” at the NYT actually cared that much about some of these things they’d have written about them in detail, but they haven’t, because they are much more interested in demonizing Sanders and to the extent they did write about it they wrote about it as a contest between groups, not as if the issues actually mattered.

I wouldn’t mind if they sided with Clinton on some of the issues–she might be right sometimes.   But they only wrote about issues if they could portray Sanders as an impractical nut.   I didn’t expect this behavior from Krugman last January–I thought he’d support Clinton as the more pragmatic or electable candidate in his view, but didn’t realize just how much he still despises people to his left.  But he does, just as much as he did in the late 90’s when he was constantly bashing the (poorly named) antiglobalization movement, and so do the rest of the people who write the opinion pieces for the NYT.  This is all about discrediting people who want to challenge the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party.   If you want to read about the struggle over issues within the Democratic Party, you’re going to have to read something other than the NY Times.

People familiar with the iron law of institutions will understand what’s happening in the Democratic Party structure and NYT editorialists who obviously see themselves as part of it.  One thing that surprises me slightly is how much people who are not part of the power structure identify with it.  Before the internet I never would have guessed how many ordinary folk described themselves as “pragmatists” and had such a strong identification with rather sleazy politicians–I had thought most people simply picked the one they thought was better based on whatever values they had, but on the internet there are a vast number of people who act like paid partisan hacks and David Brock’s minions aside, I’m sure most do it because they really think this way. Maybe this is a self-selected group–people who identify so strongly with someone like Clinton would naturally go to the comment sections of political websites and pledge their fealty.

That’s the Rosenthal piece I mentioned. Clinton supporters at the NYT have been almost uniformly nasty– they hate Sanders and don’t bother concealing it. Ultimately his policy based critiques of Clinton terrifies them and they don’t want him or the movement he represents to have any credibility even if he endorses Clinton, because he hasn’t retracted his critique. And yes, this does tie in with the Israel-Palestine conflict, because Clinton support for Benjamin Netanyahu flatly contradicts liberal ideals, so she either does this for the money or because she is a militarist like Netanyahu or both. (I think both). They tiptoe around that.

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33 Responses

  1. Blownaway
    July 14, 2016, 11:41 am

    Is being pro gay and abortion rights enough to label one a liberal if on every other thing you agree with conservatives and neocons? If yes than Clinton is a liberal but I don’t think so. She’s no different than Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham or you name the right wing nut ( witness the kagan and Kristol fans) But for the anti gay and abortion agenda it’s really hard to differentiate

    • Kay24
      July 14, 2016, 12:10 pm

      I agree there is not much of a difference. She is also a war hawk and most probably go along with her dear friend Nutty, if he wants the US to bomb some other Arab nation. After all she must show the world she is a tough woman, who has a pair just like a man, and pleasing Israel shows she is just like the neocons who agree with Israel and eternal wars.

      • inbound39
        July 14, 2016, 7:27 pm

        The bigger problem Clinton faces is sticking to supporting Israel and the special relationship. In the UN this week there has been a very strong address by World Leaders addressing the Security Council for more or less an end to Israel impunity. That Israels declared support for Two States is shown to be a lie by increased settlement activity and continued incitement and attacks toward Palestinians.

        For Clinton to continue Israeli Support it will only serve to undermine American interests and stature. The tide is very clearly turning against Israel and America can no longer support what the majority of the World views as a criminal state. If Clinton stubbornly refuses she is then condemning America to a world of International problems.

      • Kay24
        July 14, 2016, 10:25 pm

        Inbound, it seems our government throughout the decades pretended that they believed Israel’s lies, and the games they kept playing. We all know that Israel does not have ANY intentions of making peace, ending the occupation, and stopping the shameless land grabs. They prefer the status quo, and until they have killed or driven the Palestinians away, they will keep playing the fake peace card, which is old and worn out. Clinton will be no different, and yes, you are right, Israel is disliked, and looked upon like a rogue nation, by the rest of the world, and Clinton’s unwavering support for it, will only bring us down, and we will be condemned for such a unforgivable alliance.

      • inbound39
        July 15, 2016, 8:05 am

        I found this article Kay24 by Chas Freeman announcing his new book. He makes a damning paragraph aimed at Hilary in it and talks about what we just discussed.http://www.palestinechronicle.com/americas-continuing-misadventures-in-the-middle-east/

    • David44
      July 15, 2016, 12:16 am

      This is, to put it mildly, fantastic nonsense. Let me remind you: Hillary Clinton was a senator, with an actual voting record: and that record not only made her very unlike the Republicans, it made her more liberal than most of her Democrat colleagues – certainly more liberal than Barack Obama, for one. This can actually be quantified, using her DW-Nominate score – see http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/3/31/1374629/-Hillary-Clinton-Was-the-11th-Most-Liberal-Member-of-the-Senate.

      It is true that she is very Republican-like on foreign policy (which I find depressing), but on domestic policy? Hard to differentiate except on gay rights and abortion? Not even close (I mean, seriously – what about HEALTHCARE, to name one example among many?).

      At the end of the Daily Kos article I linked to above, the author says (I quote): “By her voting record in Congress, Hillary Clinton is squarely in the mainstream of the national Democratic party in America, and would be a good ideological fit for it as its nominee. If anyone tries to tell you differently, ask them to show their work.” If you intend to reply to what I have written here, show me your work. Don’t just pontificate or cherrypick a tiny handful of issues: show me how, overall on all of the dozens of areas of domestic policy, there is no policy difference between Hillary Clinton and (let’s say) Paul Ryan. I don’t believe there is even the slightest case to be made along those lines.

      • Sibiriak
        July 15, 2016, 3:43 am

        Daily Kos: But suggestions that she is “a liberal republican or a conservative dem,” to take one example of a quotation I read today, should stop here. By her voting record in Congress, Hillary Clinton is squarely in the mainstream of the national Democratic party in America.
        —————

        This, to put it mildly, is nonsense– given the fact that the “mainstream of the nationial Democratic party” IS in fact “liberal Republican” or ” conservative democratic”. Which is to say NEOLIBERAL.

        Democratic neoliberalism combines traditional liberalism on social/cultural issues with global militarism+predatory transnational capitalism. (Republican “conservatism” combines traditional conservatism on social/cultural issues with the same militarism/predatory capitalism.)

        Hillary Clinton’s record demonstrates her neoliberalism in spades. Evidence of her liberalism on social/cultural issues alone provides no evidence whatsoever against her characterization as a neoliberal.

        Her neoliberalism is anathema to most Sanders supporters, i.e., old-style liberals and progressives. Rightly so.

      • David44
        July 15, 2016, 8:47 am

        Sibiriak, all you are doing here is moving the goalposts. The proposition to which I was responding was that “She’s no different than Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham or you name the right wing nut … But for the anti gay and abortion agenda it’s really hard to differentiate”. I pointed out that there was a huge difference between Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan et al. Your response to that is to argue that the Democratic Party as a whole is more right-wing and ideologically closer to the Republican party than you would like, in particular because both parties share a belief in what you refer to as “global militarism+predatory transnational capitalism”.

        This may well be true: and you don’t have to like it. But it doesn’t change the fact that there is a DIFFERENCE between Hillary Clinton and the Republican Party that goes far, far beyond gay rights and abortion, and indeed between the Democratic Party as a whole and the Republican Party as a whole, contrary to what Blownaway stated. DW-Nominate scores not only show that Hillary Clinton is on the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party (even if not nearly as liberal as Bernie Sanders); they also show that the most conservative Democrat is considerably more liberal than the most liberal Republican. After all, even if “traditional liberalism on social/cultural issues” is not enough to satisfy you, it still provides a clear axis of distinction which separates mainstream Democrats from all Republicans.

        (And is healthcare, to mention the example I gave that separates Hillary Clinton from Paul Ryan, really an example of a “social/cultural issue” anyway? To my mind, it has a strongly economic aspect as well – and again, even if the economics of Hillary Clinton’s views on healthcare are different from those favored by Bernie Sanders, they are ALSO demonstrably different from Paul Ryan’s, which is the point I was making.)

      • Annie Robbins
        July 15, 2016, 2:46 pm

        david, all you are doing here is moving the goalposts. The proposition to which Sibiriak responded was “Hillary Clinton is squarely in the mainstream of the national Democratic party in America.”

        and i agree that she is. i also agree w/Sibiriak that the mainstream of the national Democratic party IS in fact “liberal Republican” or ” conservative democratic”. Which is to say NEOLIBERAL.

        not sure how it works over at dkos anymore but here, when people preface their comment with a quote, it is the quote they are challenging (your supporting evidence) not necessarily what your point (no different than Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio or Lindsey Graham) is.*

        speaking of your point, the majority of the electorate in this country identifies neither as dems or republicans but independents. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/11/independents-outnumber-democrats-and-republicans-but-theyre-not-very-independent/ the reason people are dumping their party affiliations is because the party no longer speaks for them. however people still generally vote along party lines and the majority of independents are ex dems and dem voters. no one can win the nomination without the support of independents which is why it is a gamble and irresponsible (of either party) to run a candidate independent voters don’t like.

        *regarding the issue most important to me (FP and war) she’s no diff than Ryan, Rubio or Graham. she’s a war hawk. she’s not left, she’s a neocon neoliberal war hawk. which is why, after over 4.5 decades, i am joining the electorate majority (independents) and dumping the dem party. i hope it implodes on itself.

      • echinococcus
        July 15, 2016, 3:26 pm

        David Nth

        I’ll be damned if this isn’t the first time in about a year I head anyone saying “mainstream candidate” as if it were in any way or wise positive.

      • echinococcus
        July 15, 2016, 4:31 pm

        Not “I head” but “I heard”, of course.
        How much did MW have to pay to get this commenting system?

      • Blownaway
        July 15, 2016, 5:24 pm

        @David Ok so let’s start with what we agree on that in foreign policy she’s very conservative (republican like) Iraq Libya Syria regime change etc and no real learned lessons. You mention healthcare as a progressive social issue but nothing else of significance here’s some work on domestic issues that she’s more conservative like 1) waffle on Wall Street reform 2) TPP the gold standard which is also a neocon project to poke China in the eye and continued her husbands legacy of gutting Wall Street reform like gutting glass steagal and job sucking trade deals2) social security Clinto voted against warrens bill to increase SS benefits and was part of the grand bargain with republicans to cut benefits and increase taxes 3) bankruptcy bill Clinton voted to gut protections for women and children in the bankruptcy bill because During her two terms as a New York senator, Clinton collected more money from the finance, insurance and real estate Industry than any other member of Congress: more than $31 million — a hugely hefty sum given that she was only in office for eight years. Between 2009 and 2014, Clinton’s list of top 20 donors included Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, whose chief Lloyd Blankfein has invested in Clinton’s son-in-law’s boutique hedge fund. Consider the two Canadian banks with financial ties to the Keystone XL pipeline that fully or partially paid for eight of her speeches…or the more then $2.5 million in paid speeches for companies and groups lobbying for fast-track trade. I think I need a bath and then vote for Jill stein

      • Dan
        July 15, 2016, 9:09 pm

        …“mainstream of the nationial Democratic party” IS in fact “liberal Republican” or ” conservative democratic” ”

        There is no “Liberal Republican”. There might be some rare and exotic individuals here and there, but like a functionally extinct species they have no effect on the ecosystem.

  2. Kay24
    July 14, 2016, 12:53 pm

    Apparently Mike Pence is Drumpf’s VP pick.

    I guess Pence lost some self respect somewhere during this process.

    • Citizen
      July 14, 2016, 8:43 pm

      At 840PM tonight, MSNBC is saying Trump put off his VP pick until tomorrow due to Nice truck murders. Simultaneously, I got an email saying Trump picked Pence, which I have not read yet. My guess is he wants to pick Christie, but Ivanka’s hubby hates Christie for prosecuting his dad for Wall St crimes.

      • Kay24
        July 14, 2016, 10:18 pm

        Well seems Drumpf was overruled by dear son in law.

  3. yonah fredman
    July 14, 2016, 5:37 pm

    If the question is: how to turn the bernie sanders candidacy into a movement, then the new york times is besides the point.

    to me, a trump presidency is a disaster i’d prefer not to see. but i think a clinton presidency will be in toto inadequate to the tasks facing america. her weak political skills (speechmaking), the lack of an imaginative program (true, america might not be able to afford a truly imaginative program and i myself often call a lack of imagination realism) and the fact that she is going to lose the white vote big time, means that she will not be able to stir the country out of its divisions into something resembling hope. the left must be prepared to run a candidate against her in 2020.

    the primary political facts include the following:
    1. the middle class is shrinking
    2. people seem to be polarized and angry
    3. the republicans control more state houses and state legislative seats and congressional seats than they controlled in 2008
    4. particularly while a democrat sits in office, but even as a rule, democrats do much better in the presidential election years rather than in the congressional election years.

    how about moving election days to sundays. (republicans will never go for that, because they want to suppress voting, but it’s something the american people would buy.) is the left ready to go to the streets with something as simple as changing election days to sundays? the answer i fear is no. the left is very weak and sanders shows that there is life there, but is there energy, patience, foresight, strategy and realism? it doesn’t really seem so. (When will the left make a move to win over the white vote in this country? Never? Is demographics the be all and end all for the democratic party? is it really acceptable for the democratic party to ignore the majority of white voters?)

    The new york times is the gray old lady. that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be criticized. But it does mean if you are trying to start a revolution, you really don’t go to the gray old lady to get things started. she’s more like the party pooper, not the party starter.

    and for me to take the sanders movement seriously, there has to be something real happening after november, something a little more promising than just the occupy movement, which was fine, but tiny in comparison to the hitting the pavement selling the new gospel on the streets that a real revolution would be about.

    • Donald Johnson
      July 14, 2016, 8:24 pm

      Nothing to disagree with there. I have seen someone somewhere mention that Sunday voting idea, but it doesn’t seem to have caught on. No doubt the Republicans would find some way to say it’s unamerican, though I’m not imaginative enough to predict how. But it does seem like an easy way to increase turnout.

      • RoHa
        July 14, 2016, 9:02 pm

        If you want to increase voter turnout, follow the Australian model. Voting is compulsory for all citizens, and Election Day is always a Saturday.

        Doesn’t do us much good, though. We still end up with a bunch of arsehole politicians.

      • gamal
        July 14, 2016, 9:55 pm

        “Election Day is always a Saturday.”

        and orthodox Jews? vote when?

      • gamal
        July 14, 2016, 11:50 pm

        “Sunday voting idea”

        Kill the Sabbath breaker

      • RoHa
        July 15, 2016, 12:29 am

        Early vote.

        “You can vote early either in person or by post if on election day you:

        have religious beliefs that prevent you from attending a polling place
        …”

        http://www.aec.gov.au/voting/ways_to_vote/

      • Stephen Shenfield
        July 16, 2016, 8:28 am

        gamal: The Jewish Sabbath starts on Friday evening (when the first three stars appear in the sky, or would appear in the absence of cloud, mist, and light pollution) and ends at the corresponding time on Saturday evening. So provided that polling stations stay open late enough observant Jews can vote after Sabbath ends.

      • gamal
        July 16, 2016, 9:15 am

        “The Jewish Sabbath starts on Friday evening (when the first three stars appear in the sky,”

        thank you i see they can vote after dark.

      • RoHa
        July 16, 2016, 9:35 am

        Polling stations close at 18:00.

      • yonah fredman
        July 16, 2016, 10:53 am

        Stephen is correct regarding the end of the Jewish Sabbath, but the beginning of the Jewish sabbath is a bit before sunset. (in theory the sabbath should be 24 hours and a bit. (24 hours being a day and the bit, being adding a little bit). but because the precise time of the end of a day, which is signified by sunset, is not knowable, time is added after sunset until the three stars are seen in the sky.) (it is also traditional to light candles before the sabbath about 18 minutes before sunset.) (none of this affects voting patterns in our theoretical scenario.)

      • Raphael
        July 19, 2016, 12:12 am

        The Jewish Sabbath starts on Friday

        There is the Enoch calendar. When I was living in Israel, I appreciated having the opportunity to see how my great grandfather prayed as a Orthodox Jew. I think my grandfather was also a Orthodox Jew, because, he was a member of the Sons Of Zion. It seems that there were many Judaisms at around the time of Christ. In addition to the Pharisees and Sadducees type of Judaism there was Essene Judaism, which used the Enoch Calendar.

        It appears that the Rabbinic Jews wrote this part of Jewish history out of their history to counter Essenic, and maybe Sadducee Judaism.

        Many people in Israel saying Shabbat Shalom to me; and all the other rituals was sort of like living in a Third Temple when I lived there.

        However; now that I’m more political then the average Jew; I more identify with the revolutionary forms of Judaism, and language of that that was counter to the empire, and that was counter to the official state religions such as that of Ezra. And, the counter languages; such as expressed in the Greek form of the Bible called the Septuagint, which the Rabbinic Jews wrote out of their version of Jewish history, as well as many other books such as those written about the Nazarenes; that are counter to the empire.

        The Enoch Calendar was a solar calendar; I’m trying to find a Hebrew version of it, too counter the Jewish calendar. If I move back to Israel I will follow the Enoch calendar cycles; as the ancient Israelites did before Rabbinic Judaism even existed.

        As a Zionist, I’m more interested in the liberal forms of Zionism. But, the liberal forms of Zionism in Israel seem to be more socialistic; and they are ethnic oriented, and atheistic or agnostic, as well… so I would just be marginalized. My own opinion is that Judiasm was much more liberal before World War 2.

      • Mooser
        July 19, 2016, 1:12 pm

        “If I move back to Israel I will follow the Enoch calendar cycles; as the ancient Israelites did before Rabbinic Judaism even existed.”

        That’ll show ’em! Here’s something to help you keep time.

    • RoHa
      July 14, 2016, 8:58 pm

      I desperately hope that Trump wins the presidency. I do not want war with Russia.

      • Theo
        July 15, 2016, 1:50 pm

        After facing the SU 30 years long right here near the once communist borders and watching the developments since the fall of that empire, I can say that I am a specialist on east european affairs, and that makes me rather very worried about the NATO expention into countries very near to the russian border. We should never have done this stupid move.

        There was a tacit agreement between the west and the russians that the NATO will never enter the once Warsaw Pact countries, however within a very few short years we had our military all over the east, incorporating them into the NATO.
        Today we have military parades in Lithauen only a few miles from the russian border, more and more NATO soldiers are stationed near Russia, our navy have exercises on the Black Sea, near Sevastopol, the main russian navy port and US planes fly over the East Sea, just outside the russian borders. One little incident, an idiot pushing the wrong bottom, and we have a major war on our hands. We should ask our politicians, what would we do if the russian set up shop in Cuba and other islands in the Caribic, would we risk a world war, like in 1961? We may tease the russian, but they cannot come near our shores?

        I am also very worried, because it seems certain groups in the USA want a war with the russians, without realising that the russian bear has huge claws. In that case american cities would go up in smoke with millions dead. Is that what we want?

        What are we trying to prove? Russia is not the SU, they may not have the same clout , however with about 15,000 nuclear warheads, the best fighterplane in the world and other sophisticated weapons, they are not a pushover. One should ask Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler about their experiences fighting the russians. Our great supply of modern weapons did not help us in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, we lost those wars against bare footed soldiers, because airpower does not guarantee a victory when the enemy fights a non-conventional war.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        July 16, 2016, 7:39 am

        RoHa: You prefer war with China?

      • RoHa
        July 16, 2016, 7:58 am

        Only two choices?

  4. lysias
    July 15, 2016, 11:48 am

    Mainstream media conspiracy of silence about Jill Stein appears to be continuing. If they really wanted Hillary to lose in a way that they could blame on Sanders and his movement, wouldn’t they be giving publicity to Jill Stein?

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