Fellow Travelers

Monday, July 25, 2016

For the Progressive Left to win, Clinton must lose

Apparently this needs a tldr, because 7 pages about the political future of the country is too long for an electorate raised on 30 second sound bites. So, here's the summary:

1. Clinton is demonstrably corrupt, as is the DNC machine that got her the nomination, and electing her rewards that corruption.

2. With a corrupt and unpopular incumbent, the Democrats lose downticket elections in 2018 and 2020, as well as allowing someone even worse than Trump to take over the Republicans and beat Clinton in 2020.

3. The president's party loses seats in the midterms more than 75% of the time.

4. Democrats have lost 900 state legislature seats since the reasonably popular Obama was elected, and it'd be much worse under Clinton.

5. Republicans need 38 state legislatures to be able to overrule the Supreme Court and change the Constitution and its amendments however they want.

6. Currently Republicans control both chambers of the state legislatures in 31 states, and one of two chambers in 8 more.

7. If Trump wins, it will be a disaster for Republicans for the same reasons that Clinton would be a disaster for Democrats.

8. Trump isn't nearly as bad as he's presented, and his worst excesses would be limited by the leadership in his own party.

9. For these reasons, it is imperative that Clinton loses in November, because the alternative is 12 years of Democrat losses. A Trump presidency would be bad but it wouldn't be that bad, but it would lead to 12 years of progressive wins.

10. Vote for whoever you want. Clinton, Trump, Stein, Johnson. Trump perversely actually does have the best and the most specific trade policy right now, Johnson is pro-TPP, and Clinton is lying about opposig it. I'll probably be undecided until I push the button on the Diebold machines only to have it get edited in post to a Clinton vote.

Recently emails were released that were hacked from DNC email servers showing something we all suspected, that the DNC was extensively colluding with Clinton and with the media to favor her campaign over that of Bernie Sanders.

This is in violation of DNC bylaws. Article 5, Section 4 of the charter and bylaws of the Democratic Party requires the DNC chair to remain impartial during the primary process, a rule that Schultz seems to have violated in these emails:
In the conduct and management of the affairs and procedures of the Democratic National Committee, particularly as they apply to the preparation and conduct of the Presidential nomination process, the Chairperson shall exercise impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns. The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.
“She finally did, but not before speaking with President Obama — and not without a fight, according to Democrats familiar with the negotiations.”
“I want to thank my longtime friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her leadership of the Democratic National Committee over the past five years. I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership. There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie–which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states. I look forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid–because as President, I will need fighters like Debbie in Congress who are ready on day one to get to work for the American people.”
She was forced out for misconduct, for actively working against Clinton’s challenger, and she was immediately rewarded for that. It’s corruption as plain as day, as plain as the nose on my face. And to me at least, it is inexcusable.

How do we as voters, as regular people, force the Clinton campaign to see real world repercussions for this? How do we keep Clinton and DWS from getting away with it? We have only one option. 

Don’t vote for her.

If Clinton wins in November after all this, it will become the way politics are done. She presents herself as the status quo candidate, and this will be the new status quo. It will be impossible to get anyone in office again at the federal level, certainly as a Democrat, who is not in the pockets of the wealthy. Anyone who hasn’t benefited from years of patronage and dealmaking. It will be eternal corruption.

Donald Trump right now is the candidate of racists and idiots. And he may be one himself, or it may be an act. Certainly Tea Party conservatives and republicans are unquestionably the easiest people to manipulate as a politician. The only thing you have to do is say what they want to hear. There’s a very important point in the existence of Trump’s base that can’t be ignored, and yet it often is, and this is that point:

Trump’s supporters would be present in American politics with or without him.

These are people whose positions and beliefs and viewpoints have been shaped by their lives and by the economic circumstances they’re living in. If Trump loses, they’ll still be there, except they’ll feel even more desperate and pissed off and powerless. And in the highest office of the land we’ll have one of the most flagrantly corrupt politician in many people’s memories.

This will leave conditions right for a far right strongman politician, one who is actually everything Trump pretends to be, somebody who has the Republican establishment on his side and who has the alt-right racists and white supremacists on his side. He’ll promise to clean up DC’s corruption, and he’ll have an easy time getting into office on the backs of national exhaustion following 4 years of Clinton crony corruption.

That’s a hypothetical, admittedly. What is not hypothetical is that the party of the incumbent president tends to lose seats in midterm elections. In the 21 midterms since 1934, the incumbent party has lost Senate seats 76% of the time, and has lost House seats 86% of the time. This is also a trend that holds over into local and state elections. The Democrats have lost over 900 state legislator elections since Obama’s election:
“The bottom line: Republicans now control about 56 percent of the country’s 7,383 state legislative seats, up 12 percentage points since 2009.
Thirty-five states posted double-digit seat losses for the Democrats in state legislatures, including more than 50 seats each in Arkansas, New Hampshire and West Virginia.”
Why does this matter? Well, the Democrats have focused their energy on winning federal elections, and occasionally on Senate and House and Governor elections. Republicans have realized that they have a very hard time winning on the federal level, so for at least the last decade they’ve focused on the state legislatures.

If Clinton wins the presidency this year, that trend likely continues. The Democrats continue to lose Senate and House seats in the midterm, and the Republicans increase gains in the state legislatures. We’ve seen the drastic and tone deaf missteps that Clinton in her unbridled arrogance can’t stop making. That’s going to happen during a Clinton presidency too, and it will be a lead weight dragging on those downticket races.

There are two very important reasons why this could be disastrous. First, we’re coming up on the 2020 US Census. Whoever wins state legislature seats in 2018 and 2020 will be the ones deciding redistricting following the 2020 census. When Republicans got into office in 2010, they gerrymandered the House districts in their states and ensured that their midterm gains would be solidified and could be expanded upon. It’s why the Republicans held the House for the last three congresses and why the Democrats aren’t even talking about taking back the House, just *maybe* the Senate. Effectively, and what we’ve seen from recent political history, whoever wins the state legislatures will decide who holds the US House through the 2020s.

That’s the best case scenario.

The other reason ties into a growing progressive movement called the Wolf PAC.  They have a plan to overturn Citizen United and get big money out of politics by using state legislatures to call for an amendment proposing convention.
“According to Article V of our Constitution, Congress must call for an amendment-proposing convention, “on the application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States”, and therefore 34 state legislatures would have to submit applications.”
That number is a very significant one. 34 state legislatures would have to agree. If 34 state legislatures move for a Constitutional Convention, it happens, and it would take 38 states to ratify the results of that convention.

Right now the Wolf PAC is a long shot. It’s only passed in a handful of states. Its supporters will tell you that these sorts of political movements work slowly but grow rapidly. There’s a problem with that.

Right now the Republicans control both the state house and the state senate (or equivalents) in 31 states. In 8 more states they control one of the two chambers. This means that the Republicans are 3 state chambers away from being able to call their own constitutional convention, and only 7 state chambers away from being able to ratify it.

The US Constitution is effectively the operating system code for our country. If they can change it, they can change anything they want. Rewrite the 1st amendment to not apply to Muslims? Ban gay marriage? Ban abortion? Abolish the minimum wage? They could do all that. They could do anything they wanted.

And Republicans at the highest levels know this. It’s a long term goal of ALEC, an otherwise little known conservative group you may not have previously heard of:
Cruz, along with fellow Republican presidential aspirants Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Gov. John Kasich (Ohio), has endorsed an old conservative goal of a Constitutional amendment to mandate a balanced federal budget. The idea sounds fanciful, but free-market ideologues associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a secretive group of right-wing legislators and their corporate allies, are close to pulling off a coup that could devastate the economy, which is just emerging from a recession. Their scheme could leave Americans reeling for generations. A balanced budget amendment would prevent the federal government from following the Keynesian strategy of stimulating the economy during an economic depression by increasing the national debt. (Since 1970, the United States has had a balanced budget in only four years: 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.) 
Article V of the Constitution lays out two routes for changing the law of the land: An amendment can be proposed by Congress or by a constitutional convention that is convened by two-thirds of the states (34). Either way, three-fourths of the states (38) have to ratify it. Previously, changes to the country’s founding document have been achieved by the first process. But as of today, 28 states—six shy of the two-thirds threshold required by Article V—have passed resolutions calling for a constitutional convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. 
The ALEC-affiliated Balanced Budget Amendment Task Force (BBATF), which proffered the pledge signed by Cruz, is hoping to meet that 34-state threshold by July 4. BBATF is one player in an astroturf movement backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and embraced by right-wing state legislators.
Picture four miserable years of a Clinton presidency with Trump crowing from the sidelines the whole time. The Democratic Party and its voters demoralized from having to defend every terrible tone deaf arrogant corrupt move from the Clinton White House. Picture losses in 2018, and a loss in 2020 to somebody more charismatic than Trump but so much worse. Picture increased Republican control over the state legislatures, to 34 states and maybe even 38.

We’re told Hillary Clinton must be elected if for no other reason than for Supreme Court nominations. First off, we don’t know that her Supreme Court nominations will be anyone we want to see on the Supreme Court. Look at her record. Look at her priorities. Look at what she considers acceptable. And imagine her picking a Supreme Court Justice. But that’s beyond the point. Even if she picked perfect Justices, it won’t matter if there’s a constitutional convention. It won’t matter even a little bit.

The whole point of the predominantly left wing Wolf PAC is to overturn a Supreme Court decision using a constitutional amendment pushed through state legislatures. Republicans have the same goal, they are a lot closer to it, and they have a lot more Supreme Court decisions they want overturned. Additionally if Clinton gets a solid left majority on the Supreme Court, it will feel urgent and imperative to Republicans that they do exactly that. You’ll see a nationwide movement for it.

Where does that leave us? Yes, it’s common to share memes saying “If everybody who says they’d vote for a third party but third parties can’t win would actually vote for a third party then that party could win.” But let’s be honest. The United States federal system of government favors two parties and two parties only. Sometimes a party will break up and another will take its place. Nobody is currently alive from the last time that happened, when the Republican party was formed. Other times the goals and ideals of a party will shift over time, as happened with the Democrats and Republicans in the middle of the 20th century. Nothing has changed on that front since the Civil Rights Era, but it’s at least more likely. However, at this exact moment in time, barring force majeure like somebody dropping out of the race entirely, either Trump or Clinton will be elected in 2016.

What happens if Trump gets elected? Well, the racists will feel like they’ve won. And as we’ve seen with progressives after Obama got elected, people tend to think that winning the presidency is all they need to do and then they can sit back and take it easy, that they have accomplished their goals. Meanwhile Trump will be politically toxic for anyone in Republican governments to support. He’ll be a danger to any Republican Senator or Representative who works with him, especially anybody from a purple state. Republicans will love working with Democrats to block the worst of his insanities in Congress. Even if he tries to put utter loons up for the Supreme Court, they’ll be blocked by Congress.

This will lead to dissension in the ranks of the Republican Party, as the racist loons in the Republican Party see so much opposition from Congressional Republicans. From that you’ll get primary efforts in 2018 and 2020 to those Congressional Republicans, and Democrats have a good chance of picking up seats in those cases if a moderate Republican loses a primary. You may also get a primary challenge to Trump in 2020.

Meanwhile the incumbent President’s party, the Republicans, lose seats in 2018 and 2020. This helps the Democrats with redistricting after 2020, and a resurgent progressive wing will be able to put progressives in Congress through the 2020s. It also pumps the brakes on a Republican constitutional convention. And the Democrats will have a new person up in 2020, the result of a wide open primary without any “presumptive nominee”, somebody untainted by association with the toxic Clinton political brand that couldn’t even beat Trump. On top of this, you’ll have an electorate that is much more liberal, much more progressive, much more energized, and it will have spent the last 4 years outraged at Trump, instead of outraged at Clinton.

Will Trump kill terrorists and their families? Maybe. But Obama is doing that already. He's done a lot of that, and personally I'd welcome having the left opposing it again as they would under Trump, instead of excusing it as they are under Obama and would under Clinton. 

We’re conditioned in the US as voters to only focus on the current election. We’re conditioned to never think ahead, like a chess game, two more elections, three more elections, and so on. The electorate is like a bull, and the red cape of the other party is waved in front of us with the hope that we will charge, every time, only to have the cape be pulled away so we can be stabbed. Trump is a hell of a red cape, but he’s a cape nonetheless. And we know from leaked emails that the Clinton campaign and the DNC (is there a difference?) has been colluding with the media. Considering that, how bad do we actually know Trump is? Oh, he’s bad, sure, but is he the end of the world? Certainly the DNC wants us to think that, and the media coverage he receives makes him look that way, but we know the DNC works with the media to push false narratives. We have the proof in writing.

On top of that, if you read some of Trump’s more recent speeches, he’s not a *complete* moron. Take for example this speech on jobs and the economy from June. It’s said that Trump doesn’t offer specifics, but here he assuredly does:
Here are 7 steps I would pursue right away to bring back our jobs. 
One: I am going to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified. 
Two: I'm going to appoint the toughest and smartest trade negotiators to fight on behalf of American workers. 
Three: I'm going to direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. I will then direct all appropriate agencies to use every tool under American and international law to end these abuses. 
Four: I'm going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don't mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal. 
Five: I am going to instruct my Treasury Secretary to label China a currency manipulator. Any country that devalues their currency in order to take advantage of the United States will be met with sharply. 
Six: I am going to instruct the U.S. Trade Representative to bring trade cases against China, both in this country and at the WTO. China's unfair subsidy behavior is prohibited by the terms of its entrance to the WTO, and I intend to enforce those rules. 
Seven: If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets, I will use every lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes, including the application of tariffs consistent with Section 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. 
President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.
He knows the specific sections of these trade deals that can be used to correct the wrongs. Those things would not be terrible to have happen. What’s more is they’re going to resonate in the Rust Belt, in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and so on. Tim Kaine, in addition to being a poke in the eye to progressives, was a desperate attempt to get blue collar white voters back for the Democrats. But Tim Kaine supports trade deals. A credible job and trade plan could easily put Trump over in the swing states he needs to win.

Am I likely to vote for Trump? Probably not. But I don’t know who I’d vote for; I have serious problems even with Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. The Green Party supports homeopathy, and Gary Johnson recently came out in favor of the TPP.

I definitely think I’ve shown that Trump winning wouldn’t be the country ending disaster we’ve been told it would be, and that many of us believe it would be. And indeed, Clinton winning could be worse in many ways. Vote for whoever you want to vote for, but do not feel pressured into voting for Clinton as though the world will end if she doesn’t win. Because there’s a very real chance our country as we know it could end if she does. 


  1. It's unsettling that I (a progressive arm-chair Sanders supporter) am now seriously considering voting for Trump after hearing about the email leaks, the DNC collusion, and that Trump is against the TPP...

  2. As much as I hate to say it, his jobs and trade speeches are coherent and rational and genuinely sound like Sanders speeches did.

    1. Right? The policies we agree on are some of the ones I feel the most strongly about, so it's tough to honestly say I would "never" vote for him; I just wish he had left out all that racist / sexist / build a wall stuff.

    2. If it makes you feel better I genuinely think that shit is only in there to rope in the Republican alt-right.