And then there were ten. Democratic candidates on stage, that is

I haven’t made a final decision on which candidate I’m going to vote for but I’m sure as hell not going to base that decision on what kinds of nasty things I think Donald Trump will say about them.


That’s OK but millions of sheep - AKA Americans - will. More importantly, however, is what a politicians’ response is.

Responding to Drumpf’s DNA needling - multiple times! - illustrated her lack of political instincts. Responding directly to baseless poltical attacks - and not changing the subject or other rhetorical devices that you see any experienced poltician do - is something to be worried about. In 2016 GOP candidates fell like dominoes to the Lying King by responding directly to his lies.

Anyone who gives a shit about what Trump has to say on the topic is already going to vote for Trump regardless of who the Democratic candidate is.


Well, if you’re going to base election strategy on the premise that Americans are just sheep, then all bets are off. You think those same “sheep” are going to vote for someone that the same media call a “Socialist” a billion times?

Your litmus test cuts out everyone except Bernie. Other litmus tests other Democrats might have – POC, woman, not old, calm demeanor, not a socialist – will cut out Bernie. Fortunately, the actual way the party chooses candidates is by primaries, not peremptory challenges, and those determine things like electability through actual elections.

Sanders supporters (and I’m one) don’t do him any favors by channeling so much energy into angrily rubbishing all the other candidates at this time, not to mention the electorate. I’m pretty sure Bernie wouldn’t agree with you that Americans, even Trump supporters, are sheep.


Corporate Democrats of all stripes - POC, women, not old, calm demeanor, not a socialist - have ruined the ideals that people like FDR (as flawed as he was) vigorously fought for. Many leading Democrats today stand for little else than “don’t rock the boat; and what big money fundraiser am I scheduled for tonight?”

Senator Sanders is the only viable one running for president who hasn’t. I base my vote on policy and history. If a two headed chicken had the track record and policies that Bernie has I would vote for that chicken.

Conversely, if someone said “M4A is nuts!” a few years ago but now somehow they love it (just to pick one thing) - it’s a problem.

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You can choose whatever criteria you like for the candidate you support in the primaries, just bear in mind that some people are different from you, their priorities might be different, and that doesn’t necessarily make them sheep.

Bernie Sanders has probably engaged less in triangulation than any major American politician in my lifetime. That is a thing of wonder. However, ideological purity is not always the shortest route to effective change. As Saul Alinisky told us,

If you start with nothing, demand 100 percent, then compromise for 30 percent, you’re 30 percent ahead.


I can guarantee that if Bernie Sanders wins presidency, within six months half of his outspoken fans are feeling distinctly betrayed and disillusioned because of things he has and hasn’t done. This is not because Sanders is somehow particularly dishonest; it’s because when idealism collides with the messy, compromise-filled reality of actual politics, the idealism always loses.


I can see that happening. It’s as sure a thing as Biden supporters excusing or embracing every needless compromise he makes with conservatives and every move to the right he makes out of fear of offending the Know-Nothings and corporations if he somehow becomes President.

The really interesting thing is that the bulk of the obnoxious and/or disingenuous supporters in both cases would come from the same demographic: privileged white cis-het male supporters from middle-class backgrounds who would have the least to lose from either too much intransigence (as BernieBros would demand from Sanders) or too much Third-Way abandonment of liberal values and programmes (as would likely be the case with apologists for the DNC establishment on behalf of Biden).

We saw a preview of these unhelpful attitudes in 2016, and it seems we’ll also be seeing them again as this over-long primary season continues. The introduction of a progressive female candidate this time around will make for an interesting new twist, though.*

[* ETA: this is because in the cases where she breaks with Sanders the segment of BernieBros we’re discussing will let their sexism fly as they did in 2016, but the establishment apologists will be less inclined to defend her than they were with Clinton. Poor Warren.]


The problem with Third Way Dems is that on issues deeply tied to economics (e.g. health insurance, military spending) they usually stop there and declare total victory and don’t aspire to much more than 30%. Maybe they should have been calling themselves “One-Third Way” Dems all along (same goes for Blairite Labour in the UK).

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The DLC was Alinskyism made flesh, and it did work for two important elections. Unfortunately, the people behind it didn’t understand the difference between “means” and “ends”, and so didn’t use their electoral victory as simply the first step in forwarding the revolution, as they should have done. I think the cynical disillusionment this engendered among many of us with the strategy is justified, and I agree that Biden, based on his track record, is likely to be as bad. (Possibly worse, since we know HRC at least studied RFR, and should have understood the full message.) However, that doesn’t mean it is flawed as an electoral strategy, it is better to be 30% of the way to progress than rushing headlong into darkness as we are doing now.

They also didn’t understand that, as nice as it would have been, the 1990s couldn’t last forever. A lot of them still don’t understand that and are operating as if history ended sometime in the mid '90s.

Also, the establishment constantly counts on having incredibly charismatic and smooth candidates like Bill Clinton or Obama, when the norm is more someone like Gore or Kerry or Hillary Clinton or Biden.

Alinskyism posits that 30% is only the first step, a strategic compromise with the opposition on policy to help win elections. That’s as far as the DLC was ever able (or I’d argue, willing) to go because they’d committed to the neoliberal consensus and were operating out of pants-pissing fear of not being conservative enough on economic, military, and law-and-order issues and out of briefs-soiling terror of offending big-money corporate donors. And thus you had the chair of the supposed duopoly party of the left also being a political shill for the payday loan and private prison industries.

What “darkness”? There are several proven models to choose from for single-payer universal and free or subsidised college tuition that have been in place for decades in other OECD countries. The same goes for financial and corporate governance regulation. And the Green New Deal is modeled on the original FDR-era emergency programme (with a bit of the post-war space programme mixed in). The details have to be worked out and there’s room for some compromise between the establishment and progressive wings of the party, but this isn’t a leap into complete unknowns.

If there’s darkness, it’s smoke being generated by the GOP and the corporate media. With the not-unrelated threats of health care costs that regularly bankrupt families, growing inequality, the resurgence of right-wing populism, and global warming threatening the country we need a rush of fresh progressive air to blow away the conservative/Libertarian miasma of FUD that claims progressive policies aren’t possible in the U.S. because “reasons”.

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The darkness led by the GOP. You can’t implement anything better than what we have while the people in power are pushing for something far worse than the status quo.

Biden’s strategy on health care, however one feels about the plan itself compared to something more NHS-like, is politically appealing:
(1) People like the ACA. (They do!)
(2) I, Joe Biden, was instrumental in getting ACA passed. (He was! Though after he opposed it internally…)
(3) The GOP wants to tear down ACA. (They do!)
(4) So let’s associate me, Joe Biden, with something Americans love, and the GOP with something they hate.

It is a completely reasonable political stand for Joe Biden to take, and because of (2) he can get more mileage out of it than can, say, Kamala Harris.

Any improvement on the plan needs to come through the legislature, so let’s win the damn Senate this year. If a MFA candidate wind the White House, they can send a MFA bill to the legislature and twist their arms to pass it. If Biden wins the White House, the Senate can pass such a measure and send it up for Biden to sign (which he probably would, whatever he’s saying now). If Trump wins the White House, political purists can feel self-righteously happy about not having had to compromise while the country continues to go down in flames.

BS. You can’t implement anything better only if you live in paralysing fear of them and their bullying. The Dems are still a duopoly party, and the progressives are saying that enough is enough, and that the days when the GOP could be compromised with in good faith are decades in the past.

Clap harder for that typical One-Third-Way policy (originally called Romneycare). People like it only in the sense that they like a dirty-water hot dog more than they like starving.

I’d prefer a candidate who’s experienced in getting things through the Senate and has greater aspirations than getting a recycled Mass. GOP plan passed.

They want to tear down or undermine any plan that the threatens purely for-profit health insurance. That includes Medicaid and even Medicare. Who’s surprised about this?

“So let’s associate me, Joe Biden, with something borrowed from the GOP that I pushed through that Americans like better than nothing, and associate the GOP with stuff we already know they’re associated with.”

This I agree with. That’s why we need some of the no-hopers in the presidential primaries to drop out and put their time and resources and raised profiles toward running for the Senate.

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You also can’t implement anything better if you only hold one house, no matter how courageous you are.

(1) People like the ACA. (They do!)

Clap harder for that typical One-Third-Way policy (originally called Romneycare). People like it only in the sense that they like a dirty-water hot dog more than they like starving.

Polls repeatedly show that the majority of voters support ACA, so it is a political winner. I personally prefer NHS – I lived under it for years – but most Americans don’t parse things at that level, and don’t see a difference. Candidates can support whatever they support, but Biden’s campaign strategy here doesn’t seem misguided to me. However, perhaps the primaries will prove him wrong.

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Yes. Polls conducted after ACA was implemented also show that 70% of voters want true single-payer universal health insurance instead of this half-baked solution.

70% of them seem to be able to parse it well enough to understand the difference between a real single-payer not-for-profit base system (be it the NHS or the Canadian one) and the ACA. It’s really not that difficult to explain in terms someone with an 8th grade reading comprehension level can understand.

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(Italics mine)
If you dig down to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, it was a simple question: “Would you support or oppose the following? A POLICY OF MEDICARE FOR ALL? (When it comes to the U.S. healthcare system).”
So, it does say that 70% favor MFA. It doesn’t distinguish it from modified ACA or any other plan, and didn’t ask respondants to do so. “Instead of” isn’t there.

Fair enough. More accurate to say “as much as if not more than”. My points stand, and if a poll was commissioned explicitly on “instead” I’ll bet the result would be the same, especially since that poll was taken when ACA was already in effect for years as the standard (implicitly posing it as the alternative to single-payer universal). It wasn’t a poll asking people if they wanted steak when they were starving, it was a poll asking people if they wanted steak when they were eating hot dogs.

Also recall that people at a Fox News town hall were cheering Sanders’ “Medicare for All” (AKA SPU) plan. The fact is that you’ll find very few voters who would choose to deal with for-profit insurers at all, ACA or no ACA, when they’re in the middle of a health crisis if they’re offered a non-profit SPU alternative. Physicians, including those who’d be opposed to an NHS-style system, don’t much like dealing with for-profit insurers either.

I kind of hope Biden sticks with the strategy you describe, though, since it’s a truly universal and personal issue for voters that could further sink his chances in contrast to what Sanders and Warren are offering.

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If Biden loses in the primaries to someone with better proposals, that’s fine with me, that’s the way the system is supposed to work. I’ll be delighted if one of the other candidates on Biden’s left takes the nomination, as long as it isn’t a Pyrrhic victory. However, I don’t think that a Biden victory is the end of the world, as I don’t think he believes in much of anything and therefore can be led to better policies just as he was with ACA.

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