Saturday, February 20, 2016

If the DNC fears Bernie Sanders, it is from a lack of integrity, not funding

The Washington Post is running an interesting article on the reasons why the establishment in the Democratic Party, especially the Democratic National Committee (DNC), fears Bernie Sanders. Reading the article, it's easy to come away thinking that Clinton is doing so much hard work for the party, helping the party do the fundraising. That article goes into some detail about how Obama ran a parallel fundraising network to win the White House at the expense of the Democrats in Congress and in the statehouses. As if to say, going outside the party for fundraising is a bad thing. That is the explicit and stated source of fear among establishment types at the DNC.

It's important to remember what kind of fundraising we're talking about with respect to the DNC and to Hilary Clinton in particular: it's known as "money primary" fundraising. That Washington Post article is sly in their omission of this simple fact. A good chunk of the money raised by Obama was that same "money primary" funding from large corporations and wealthy individuals. Same is true for Clinton.

Some liberals have pointed out that Clinton has been giving money back to the DNC to support those same races in Congress and in the statehouses, where Sanders has not. But if much of that money comes from the same wealthy corporations and individuals, it is a reasonable question to ask if there are strings attached. The unsaid message might well be, "vote like a conservative Democrat".

As noted and well documented by the Sanders campaign and by numerous news sources, Sanders has no SuperPAC, and accepts only small donations from individuals. He will accept no proxy donations as far as we can tell (his site requires users to check a box to confirm that this is just their money and not from somebody else). He has received over 3.7 million donations averaging $27 each, eschewing the big dollar fundraising events bringing in $500-$1000 or more per plate. There are some who say that Sanders has an obligation to share the money he raises with the DNC to assist with fundraising for other Democrats in Congress and statehouses. Given the way the the DNC is working to shield Clinton from Sanders' challenge, I find it hard to believe that Sanders has any such obligation.

It is also worth noting that Clinton won the Nevada primary. Her victory there became obvious early in the day and Sanders conceded the primary. The race was close but it was a clear victory for Clinton, 52.7 to 47.2%. Considering the enormous advantages that Clinton has enjoyed, it was still a close race and it was not the overwhelming victory that the Clinton camp had hoped for. Sanders was also gracious in his concession speech, complimenting her campaign and their efforts.

In her victory speech Hilary once again tries to co-opt the rage and the rebellious spirit of the Sanders' campaign while reminding people of her so-called pragmatism. "Wall Street can never be allowed to threaten Main Street again," she said, in reference to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Conveniently, she omits her husband's role as president in fomenting that same crisis by signing the law that repealed the original Glass-Steagall Act.

The original Glass-Steagall Act separated the commercial banks from investment banking so that the government would not insure risky investments the same way that savings are insured. Repealing that law allowed the mega mergers that in turn allowed the banks to become too big to fail, too big to jail. This is the kind of candidate that the establishment members of the DNC would like to run with?

If so, then yes, the DNC has something to fear from Bernie Sanders and others like him. The Washington Post paints the problem as a funding problem. But as Sanders has shown, it's not just a funding problem. In fact, if you put the right candidates out there - you know, someone with integrity and the ability to get things done - the candidates can often fund themselves. Remove the dark money, and it becomes crystal clear who would prevail in our statehouses and Congress.

To put it differently, compare the typical moderate to the moderates of the 1970s and even 1980s. The modern moderate in Congress or the statehouses looks downright conservative compared to their counterparts of the past. They look a lot like Republicans did three decades ago. Voters faced with such a moderate on the ballot finds there is really not much of a choice to be made, so what do liberals do? They stay home because they don't see the candidates they want fighting for the issues that concern them the most. Clinton is a moderate if not a conservative Democrat if I ever saw one.

This is the predicament most liberals are in. If we're liberal and we do vote, we still vote Democrat, or go independent and look for alternatives like the Green Party. If there is no real choice, staying home or going shopping seems more appealing.

If Clinton wins the nomination, this is the problem that the DNC will face: low voter turnouts. Democrats lose when voter turnouts are low. That's been proven in almost every modern election, and should go without saying because it drives the point of this post home. Sanders is bringing out the votes. He set a record in New Hampshire and got the highest tally of votes of any primary candidate in history in New Hampshire.

Sanders has coattails that can bring in the votes in a way that Clinton cannot. She's tried. God knows she's tried. She not polling well against any of the GOP candidates, where Sanders defeats them all. Sanders will bring independent voters to the polls where Clinton cannot. Clinton has trust issues where Sanders does not.

If Clinton wins the nomination and the voter turnout is low in November, we need only look to Clinton and her hollow victory in the primaries. A Sanders nomination would invigorate every Democrat running for Congress and every statehouse. Liberals would once again feel that they have a meaningful choice in the polls.

This is the choice that the DNC is asking us to make. Fortunately, they don't get to make that choice for us. Sanders lost the Nevada primary by 5.5 points. In 2008, Obama lost by 6.
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