Are Dems who propose cuts to Social Security “stupid” or just doing risk-analysis?

This is part editorial, and part analysis of my own. The kickoff point relates to Social Security, but it also relates to a whole set of similar unpopular, unpopulist proposals.

Let’s start here. I frequently read statements like these:

How can Democrats be so stupid? Don’t they realize that when they agree with Republicans about cutting Social Security (or whatever), they’ll still get attacked by Republicans for … cutting Social Security? How dumb is that? When will they learn?

This has been happening recently, in fact, on just the issue above. Buzzfeed:

Republicans Now Attacking Florida Democrat For Supporting Simpson-Bowles

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has taken an odd course in the Florida special election to replace Republican Rep. Bill Young after his death in October of last year: The NRCC is bashing Democratic candidate Alex Sink for supporting Simpson-Bowles, a deficit reduction plan Republicans most often attack President Obama for abandoning or ignoring.

ClassWarKitteh_catfood“Alex Sink supports a plan that raises the retirement age for Social Security recipients, raises Social Security taxes and cuts Medicare, all while making it harder for Pinellas seniors to keep their doctors that they know and love,” Katie Prill, a spokeswoman for the NRCC said, according to the Sunshine State News. “Sending Alex Sink to Washington guarantees that seniors right here in Pinellas County are in jeopardy of losing the Social Security and Medicare benefits that they have earned and deserve.”

The list of Republicans who have praised, cited, or attack Obama for ignoring Simpson-Bowles is long.

“Simpson-Bowles” is the informal name for the Catfood Commission chairmen’s report. Florida Republicans who formerly supported the Simpson-Bowles recommendations are accusing Democrat Alex Sink of supporting … Simpson-Bowles, ’cause, Catfood.

Smart move on the Repubs part. But is it a dumb move on the Dems part, in general, to do otherwise? Candidate Sink talks about cutting Social Security because she believes it (possibly); because her “professional consultants” tell her to say it (probably); because the Dem–funding class, the Robert Rubins and their ilk, insist on it (certainly).

So is that “stupid” or something else?

My personal belief is that the “how stupid are they” comments offer a great deal of undeserved ground cover for Dem misdeeds, and shield them from being held responsible for what they may actually be doing, something much worse. Let’s look at that.

Are Democrats “stupid” — or something else — when they risk election by promoting anti-populist messages?

It’s clear that reducing Social Security benefits, like other anti-populist (and unpopular) proposals, poses a risk to election outcomes. Just look at the case of Ms. Sink, who might lose her bid in Florida. Or, in fact, President Obama, who tried all through his first term to grand-bargain his way to a set of benefit cuts. That could have cost him big in 2012.

So why do they make these proposals, these benefit-cutting Democrats? And while we’re asking, why do they keep offering these NAFTA-style trade agreements, when in fact, the whole country now knows how bad they are for us ordinary people?

To answer those questions, I think we have to consider the world from Robert Rubin’s point of view, and that of his friends in the billionaire class. And to do that, I’d like to offer a short history lesson.

American free-marketeers left the Democratic Party in the 1930s, and then came back

Let’s posit that the billionaires of both parties have many cultural differences, but one main common interest — money and power. Back before FDR, “free-marketism” and “liberalism” (now called “classic liberalism”) were the same thing — “liberation” of markets from government interference. That’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. For more than a century prior to FDR, “liberalism” and “free market ideology” were identical. This goes way back, deep into the 1700s. (I wrote about that here.)

FDR re-introduced a needed role for government regulation of markets in order to stave off what could have been popular revolt during the Depression. That semi-anathema offshoot of classic liberalism came to be called simply “liberalism” in the U.S., but in fact it was “social liberalism,” a variant, a side path (now called “socialism” in Europe).

Because pre-FDR liberalism had as its gospel, zero interference from government in markets, the Democrats’ pro-government heresy had the effect of moving most of the free-marketeers into the Republican party, and at the same time, taking away their former name (“liberal”). Things stayed this way until the 1970s.

Fast forward to the beginning of the effort to kill the FDR revolution, the Carter years and after. Troglodyte (knuckle-dragging, John Birch Society) free-market billionaires stayed in the Republican Party, their natural cultural home. But because of the increased interest in “deregulation” by Carter and the Democrats, the more open-minded of the moneyed class (those who hated gays less, for example, or believed in some civil rights) returned to the Democratic Party as “neo-liberals” — which actually means its opposite. They were “new liberals” only from an FDR point of view. They were actually “old liberals,” classic free-market liberals from pre-Depression days.

Al From and Bill Clinton fronted for them politically when they built the DLC, but it was a billionaire op all the way. (For a great exposé of this by Rick Perlstein, click and read here. The birth of the DLC and the rise of the neoliberal Democrats is a fascinating story.)

So now the free-market strain of billionaires, which is actually a “we want to control markets for our benefit” strain, is rampant in both parties. It’s a deep strain in the billionaire class, on all sides of the social spectrum, and as I say, it goes back before Jeremy Bentham.

There’s a perfect expression of that here, in a speech given by new-Senator Barack Obama to a founding meeting of a Robert Rubin think tank dedicated to advancing neoliberal goals via the Democratic Party.

What you’re seeing is former Clinton Treasury Secretary multi-millionaire Robert Rubin (“Bob” in Obama’s intro), the self-interested front man for his “enlightened” band of millionaires and billionaires, hosting a gathering that makes the same pitch for free-markets and austerity that the Republican-aligned billionaires are making. Why the benefit cuts? Because it frees up more money to scoop up. That’s why they want to kill pension funds as well.

" I am an unapologetic free market capitalist (mostly). But the third spirit of Christmas haunts me" (source)

” I am an unapologetic free market capitalist (mostly). But the third Spirit of Christmas haunts me” (source)

Bottom line — This is in their historical and personal blood, and it’s also in their self-interest. It’s what almost all billionaires and their enablers want. (And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the writer Masaccio has figured it out for you — there are no free markets and never will be. All markets are rigged by the rules that regulate them. Guess who regulates today’s “free” markets?)

So what’s the electoral calculation on the Democratic side?

Which brings us to why the Rubins and the Clintons and the Obamas — and whoever is financing campaigns for the Alex Sinks of the world — are apparently willing to look “stupid” to make these destructive neoliberal, unpopular, anti-populist proposals. If I’m Robert Rubin or someone in his position (there are many), I’d figure it like this:

If the Republicans offer “free markets” and racism, and I offer “free markets” and far friendlier social politics, I can still win the White House most of the time. (The White House is where the power and money are, money I can dole out to my friends via gifts and appointments.)

So whenever someone in my base says, “But wait … I don’t want the billionaires and bankers to win and skate free. I don’t want bailouts and “free trade” agreements. I don’t want benefit cuts. Also, jobs!” — I immediately reply, “Really? So you want Chris Christie? Mitt Romney? Rush Limbaugh to run the country? You just had Bush because you messed up and weren’t loyal enough.”

“Line up, son, or take the blame,” they say. And they mean it. And in fact, most do line up; daughters and sons alike. Some do not, of course, and some just stay home, bored and sick with the lack of real choice. Sure that diminishes the Democratic vote total, but if they win the White House by +3% instead of +10%, so what? They still win.

And for them, when it comes to the general election, if the choice is between two free-marketeers anyway, so what? Rubin doesn’t suffer when Bush is in office, nor does anyone he hangs with. He and his friends still get their factories in China, and they still get the strongest stock market the Fed can deliver. They suffer all the way to the bank, count their cash, wait for the next electoral round, and try again. Most of the real pain is felt by those below, by the failed electeds, and by us.

So that’s the calculation, and it’s based on, yes, triangulation and the squeeze play. They triangulate and the base gets squeezed. True, there’s a slightly greater risk of losing the White House than if they propose truly progressive, truly popular policies. But there’s no price to them personally for losing, and they’ll win most of the time anyway, especially in this era of shifting demographics. It’s a relatively low-risk, high-reward strategy, based on this calculation.

So they take the risk. This is my speculative thinking, my explanation, but I don’t think I’m wrong. Frankly, if I were evil in a Robert Rubin / hedge-fund billionaire way, I’d do this 10 times out of 10. Win or lose, I’m still in France half the time anyway, when I’m not at St. Andrews with David Koch, or counting my cash on my yacht.

The real risk to free market billionaires is from the populist left

By this calculation, the real price to be paid by the Rubins, their enablers and their beneficiaries, would only come if an actual FDR–type (or an emboldened Elizabeth Warren–type) got into the White House. That would present a problem. She’d have to be dealt with. Much better to never let her get close. For me, this explains the Rubin–Obama disdain for the actual left; and as you know, Rubin and Obama are not alone. The populist left is the real direction of danger to all these people, so they shed the actual left like flies and cling to more like-minded candidates.

Naturally there’s a risk with this strategy. Consider the 2012 presidential election. That 4% popular vote differential was not much of a margin, and if Romney hadn’t become “Mr. 47%” in most people’s eyes, it’s conceivable he could have pulled closer. But there’s just no way the Rubins and the hedgies and all their minions are going to allow an anti-billionaire “Warren populist” into the general election. They have to stick with a free-market type.

So the very best they can hope for is a newbie who can lie, pretend to be something he’s not, a man or woman without a track record. (Remind you of someone? Obama in 2008, Kid “Hope and Change” and “Yes We Can”?) That brings out the Hopeful and swells the numbers. Otherwise they just have to go with what’s available and roll the dice. By 2012 no one was Hoping, certainly not in great numbers, not after four years of Grand Bargains and promises betrayed (do click; it’s a stunning list). Many were just voting not-Romney, those who voted at all.

So yes, there’s some risk to this neoliberal calculation and strategy. In 2012 they took the risk and it paid off, in a 4% popular vote victory. Could the strategy still lose occasionally? Yes, but again, given the demographics and with appropriate pushback in the states, it’s increasingly less likely.

And even if it does produce a loss, consider the alternative from the Rubin side of things. What do you do? (1) Put a real FDR in the White House and let him challenge the whole billionaire system, or (2) risk having to count your money in electoral exile for a just few years, then try again?

I don’t see the Rubins of the world ever making the first choice. And I do think they’ve really thought this through. To return to where we started, very few of these men and women are stupid.

Side thought — Keep the above in mind when scoping out the 2016 race. We have a neoliberal front-runner with a track record and an unwillingness to speak on most issues. Where’s the turnout going to come from?

Mes centimes,


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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66 Responses to “Are Dems who propose cuts to Social Security “stupid” or just doing risk-analysis?”

  1. Butch1 says:

    Yes, they have been described as two wings of one huge corporate party running Washington DC receiving its orders from Wall Street. I can believe this since we 99% er’s have no representation.

    Congress is essentially full of 1% er’s and they take care of their own.

  2. rmthunter says:

    To respond to your last comment: No, popular uprisings are not going to scare politicians into reforms unless they turn into full-blown revolution, and even then — well, why do you think local police forces are more and more resembling military contingents?

  3. GreatLakeSailor says:

    “People don’t need to be convinced that their conditions are bad; they need to be convinced that there is an alternative.”
    “Our task should not be to focus on compromise, but on how best we can strengthen our side.”
    –Kshama Sawant(S)

  4. eahopp says:

    You’re probably right. And the socialists created worker’s state won’t be created until after the revolution takes place due to the implementation of the Aires Project!

  5. Bill_Perdue says:

    The money won’t be stripped from the political system until socialists create a workers state and confiscates all the wealth of the rich.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    Socialists don’t support either wing of the rightist Democrat/Republican party because it doesn’t matter which of them win.

    Both are enemies of working people and will continue to pauperize workers and bust unions. Neither are for a decent minimum wage. Do you support that? Will you vote for it.

    Both are enemies of world peace and ended up involved in the recent fascist coup on behalf of the the bankers in the Ukraine. Both support wars of aggression and the zionist colony in Palestine. Do you support that? Will you vote for it.

    Both support attacks on the Bill of Rights via FISA, NDAA, the racist and extralegal murders of Arab and muslim citizens and the Paytriot Act. Do you support that? Will you vote for it.

    Hillary Clinton was a rabid supporter of the Bill Clinton/Bush wars in Iraq. It’s inaccurate beyond belief to call it Bush’s war – it was an all-American b-partisan genocide to control oil and other resources. If it was just Bushes war Pelosi wouldn’t have refused to prosecute Bush. She took a war crimes impeachment ‘off the table’. That’s because she knew that Democrats would commit the same crimes.

    Nader is a reformist and a centrist and he’d never get my vote.

  7. eahopp says:

    I believe that voting in the primaries and general elections will not make much of a difference because, by then, the candidates are already in the corporate and billionaires’ pockets–they’ve already have been purchased. The corporations and billionaires are not going to allow true progressive candidates become elected into high positions of power–the White House–where such candidates could shape policy and enforce rules and regulations that will upset the corporation and billionaires’ ability to make huge amounts of money. The system can not be changed from the inside, not with the huge amount of money corrupting the elections. The system will have to be changed from the outside, where people will have nothing left to lose in taking their protests to the streets. Protests which will clash with a militarized police force.

    It is just a matter of time….

    To add one more comment. It may be possible for “outside” street clashes to scare a politician to instituting the necessary changes on the “inside.” I do not know if this will be true or not.

  8. eahopp says:

    Responding to Gaius comment here,

    Am I frustrated with the way the Democratic Party is playing
    the game? Of course I am. For the past 30 years, I have watched the
    Democratic Party shift its policy positions further rightward, almost to the
    point where the 1980 Republican Party is more liberal than the Democrats are
    today—today’s Republican Party makes the batshit crazy seem like a church
    ladies social. The usual election work
    of voting for Democratic candidates, giving money to Democrats, or even
    volunteering for Democratic candidates is useless—all that time and money the
    citizen voter may spend for a particular Democratic candidate will not make him
    change his position on an issue more than the gobs of campaign cash coming in
    from the corporations and billionaires.
    That is the only vote that counts.
    It costs millions of dollars to get into office, and the candidate will
    whore themselves to the corporate and billionaire teat because that is where
    the money is to get them elected into office.
    And if these Democratic lawmakers piss off their corporate benefactors
    enough, they will find themselves running against a corporate Democratic
    challenger in the primary, with the money going to the challenger.

    Yes, the game is not over—the game will never be over. No
    whistle will blow. Clinton will suck the
    air out of the room, leaving no room for a Democratic challenger. I expect Clinton to run in 2016, and get the
    nomination very easily. I’ll probably
    end up voting for Clinton in the general election, simply because of the Supreme
    Court . Unfortunately,
    I do not believe that any true progressive candidate will have a shot at
    breaking into the White House due to the huge influence of the corporate and
    billionaire money that is flowing into the political system. It takes money to run an election, and these
    guys have it. They will have their say
    on political issues that will affect their bottom line, even at the expense of
    the whole country.

    The obvious conclusion here is that you need to get the
    corporate and billionaire money out of the campaign and election system. Otherwise, the system continues to remain
    corrupted, with politicians continuing to kowtow themselves’ to whatever
    corporate interests are funding their campaigns. I have no clue on how to remove the corporate
    money from the elections. If we have some system of publicly funded
    campaigns, maybe we can get better candidates, or even some progressive

    Ironically, I did volunteer for then-Senator Obama’s Democratic
    presidential primary campaign against Hillary Clinton—just to see what
    volunteer work is like for a presidential campaign. Of course then, I had no difference of
    opinion between supporting Obama or Clinton—I could have voted for either of
    them over any Republican after the eight year disaster of President George W.
    Bush. I talked with a few of the Obama
    supporters volunteering, and they were drunk with the entire “Hopey-Changey”
    thing. A few were ready to eviscerate
    Hillary Clinton with a machete. I only
    volunteered with the Obama campaign for two weeks in technical support and
    phone support, and then left.

    As for today, I do not believe anything a politician says—either
    Republican or Democrat! They all lie on
    a regular basis. The only thing to
    believe in for a politician is which corporation and billionaire is giving how
    much money to a politician, and how is the politician voting for legislation
    that benefits those corporations and billionaires who are giving the
    money? That is today’s morals for a
    politician. And it will not stop until
    the money is stripped from the political system.

  9. Butch1 says:

    Well, you continue to vote into office the people who stab you in the back after promising they will protect Social Security and the rest of the Safety Net and not touch or harm it and after the elections just do that very thing. If you think your way is any better, go right ahead and let them continue to screw us. I think that way will ruin us. These democrats are traitors and their attitude is ” Who else are ya gonna vote for?” Well I have news for them; they need to be replaced by people who have not been purchased by Wall Street. The whole democratic party is practically bought off and the very few who haven’t been are weak or spineless against the powerful in their own party.

    So, do you like what you have gotten with your loyal vote so far? What has it gotten you? Not a damned thing. These quislings do not listen to you. They listen to the lobbyists and those on Wall Street who help pay for their reelections.

    I am tired of being screwed by these people and their false promises and I am tired of people such as yourself who tell me if I don’t like getting screwed by the democrats that the republicans will get into office. So what? How much worse could it be to remove the bad democrats that are in office now? I would rather take the chance and continue voting for a good third party candidate than a very poor democrat who continues to stab me in the back. To hell with the scare tactics. I will take my chances and so are many other people who are sick of these quislings as well. Perhaps, if there are enough of us that finally start voting for third party candidates we can get rid of this cancer in Washington DC and take back our government from the 1% and get representation once again. If you like this present type of government, then you go right ahead and continue voting for the people who stab you in the back. They are counting on YOU! Don’t fail them, but don’t count on myself and others who have had enough and want a real change.

  10. 2karmanot says:

    There is progressive wing of the party.

  11. 2karmanot says:

    Judy, Judy, Judy

  12. 2karmanot says:

    Disqus is the anti-Christ.

  13. GaiusPublius says:

    I do understand the frustration. Re this:

    > The same game will be played, by the same players, with the same rules.

    Yes. But the game isn’t over, and a note for all of us, we should always play to the whistle. Clinton will suck all the air out of the room (meaning the primary) as long as she’s in. What’s the obvious conclusion, if you want a real progressive to enter? What can you do do help make that happen?

    Feel free to answer these questions in these comments. A suggestion — append your answer as a main point, not a reply to this note. It will get more notice.

    Thanks, all, for a good discussion.


  14. eahopp says:

    I hope you are right, but even I would have to question a progressive, primary challenge. I thought we might have had something similar in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, where Hillary Clinton represented the Third Way / Business-As-Usual Democratic wing of the party, and Barack Obama was the New Kid on the Block. Obama ignited the passions of Democratic voters with his “Hope and Change,” and ‘Yes We Can” message. There are even images of Obama, dressed as Jesus Christ, walking on water with rose petals flowing out of his monk-like robe! All that Hope and Change message was for nothing, with Obama’s policies being no different than Clinton’s. Now that Obama’s two presidential terms are finished, it is time for HRC to become the successor.

    The same game will be played, by the same players, with the same rules. In a sense, it does not matter that Obama became president before Clinton, or if Hillary Clinton became president first and then Obama. It is all rigged by the billionaires and big corporations spending billions of dollars to purchase their own politicians into office. It is a matter of which corporations are buying which candidates. Voters will not get the information they need to make informed voting choices on candidates from a corporate media that prefers to spoon-feed information to consumers in the interest of profit–not the public good. Voters are having enough problems trying to survive in a world of rising prices, stagnant wages, job insecurity, and more problems. This is not the 1960s. The system now is so badly broken, with too much corporate influence in the media, in elections, in the lobbying, in the non-profit think tanks, ALEC, and corruption entwined into corruption. I don’t think there is a solution, except on the outside game.

    And with the outside game, the opposition has a militarized police force here in the country.

  15. Number Six says:

    I dunno — you can get a pretty good high from strychnine (if you survive it, that is).

  16. eahopp says:

    Actually, a Gore Presidency would have been far more different than a Bush Presidency–we would have not gone into a 10-year war with Iraq, and I doubt we would have had the Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich to add trillions to the deficit, result in Republican “austerity” measures to fix problems the GOP started in the first place.

  17. FLL says:

    To put an even finer point on my reply to Judy below, GaiusPublius took the time and effort to write an informative post about elected officials and the various alternatives to those elected officials in the upcoming 2016 Democratic and Republican primaries and elections. If a commenter felt that party primaries and general elections make “no difference,” then why the need to even comment on this thread? Huh?

    P.S. Disqus doesn’t show the tally for downvotes anymore (although Disqus certainly shows an actual reply to a comment); Disqus now only uses downvotes to calculate “Sort-by-Best.” As Julius Caesar was dying, he said, “Et tu, Disqus?”

  18. FLL says:

    Good comeback.

  19. FLL says:


    In his reply to eahopp, GaiusPublius calls primaries and elections an “inside game” and street demonstrations (e.g., the Occupy Movement) an “outside game.” I believe that both affect the larger culture, but there are some on these comment pages who have said that only grass-roots movements and street demonstrations affect the course of politics, and that primaries and elections make “no difference.”

    Occasionally, though, I’ve run across a quandary and I’m hoping you can help me figure it out. I’ve sometimes run across commenters who claim that only grass-roots/street demonstrations are effective, but then exhibit the most unusual interest in partisan politics—even to the point of losing their temper when Democrats win elections and beaming with pride when Republicans win. Can you help me unravel this mystery? If you claim that Democratic and Republican primaries and general elections make “no difference,” then it would be a contradiction to show such obvious interest and emotion concerning the results of those primaries and elections. What’s going on with that, Judy? Doesn’t that sound like a conflicted (or misrepresented) point of view?

  20. judybrowni says:

    Looks like it’ll be boys against the girls, so guess which way guys may swing?

    If we’re lucky, we’ll get your dream of a third party candidate in Rand Paul, which should drain away some Republican votes.

    Or maybe Nader will join in — again — and screw the Democrats, and you’ll have your Third Party victory for yet another Bush.

    But what does it matter? According to you, a Republican president will be “no difference” and a third Bush Oil presidency can mean yet another war for Halliburton.

  21. nicho says:

    Best idea I’ve heard from you in a long time.

  22. nicho says:

    They don’t have to be “exactly the same.” That is a very weak straw man. Strychnine is not “exactly the same” as cyanide. Neither one of them is good for you.

  23. 2karmanot says:

    Good Idea, thanks!

  24. 2karmanot says:

    We should have elected Ralph Nader for president.

  25. 2karmanot says:


  26. Bill_Perdue says:

    It’s all sewn up unless some new version hope and change can dupe a lot of people. “A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds 82% of Democrats say they want Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, “showing a level of interest in her that no other potential candidates – Democrat or Republican – come close to matching among their party’s voters.”
    “The potential candidates drawing the most interest after Clinton are Vice President Joe Biden, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). For each of them, about 40% of self-identified members of their party said they hoped the person would run.” via Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

  27. judybrowni says:

    Are Dems who propose cuts to Social Security “stupid” or just doing risk-analysis?

    I’d say “insane,” “venal,” and “deserve to be drummed out of office.”

    luckily, the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party has pressured those Dinos into up on any Grand Bargain, for the moment

    But we have to keep our eye on those jerks.

  28. Silver_Witch says:

    And hence the reason the media turned on him in one voice over getting excited to have won the primary and his “scream”. Never saw anything like that one before or since.

  29. Silver_Witch says:

    Emjayay – I totally support you – I like your posts. On this one though you can not change my view. Nader was not the problem with that election – it was the United States Supreme Court decision that is to blame for that electoral win. I can hope that Gore would have been better – but I am thinking we would only have seen the continuation of Clinton policies, plus the Carbon Tax Scheme wouldn’t have taken hold and Gore would be a richer man than he is now.

  30. judybrowni says:

    It’s funny how facts don’t change.

    You can dream up whatever delusions you like, but since I’m sticking to the facts — and recent history — I’m rather constrained from either fantasy or untruths.

  31. judybrowni says:

    Which is why Daily Kos, for one, advocates for “more — and better — Democrats.”

    As it has been for the last 85 years or so, a recession or depression followed each Republican majority: but when Democrats were in power that forced to minority Republicans to be more moderate, and the economy recovered.

    Electing Republicans has only led to Democrats aping ’em. Electing Democrats allows the progressive left to pressure the “centrist” Dems more liberal.

  32. Silver_Witch says:

    Judy – do you have all these responses saved in a text file so you can just cut-n-paste them into blogs…cause you always say the same thing.

    Did you even read this article – you are doing what Gaius warns about…the shaming and blaming to keep the status quo as it is. This is about change – not about Party.

  33. judybrowni says:

    Which is, and always has been, a recipe for electing Republicans.

    How’d ya like that Bush presidency? Fun for ya? You and other third party dupes like you help elect him!

    But I suppose you fantasize that a Gore Presidency would have been “no different.”

    Hang on to your delusions, they’ll be necessary to get through the next Republican presidency.

  34. emjayay says:


  35. emjayay says:

    Yes, and George Bush and Al Gore were also exactly the same, which is why we elected Ralph Nader president.

  36. ronbo says:

    Slaughter. I remember the good ole’ days of Howard Dean, extreme moderate (but unfortunately NOT a 1% supporter).

  37. Silver_Witch says:

    I poorly worded my post Ronbo – I think that Warren is their “new Obama”. Woman vote and full of hope and retrorick that she is going to “take-on wall street”. She talks a great game – but I think like President Obama it is all talk and no game.

    I would love to see Senator Bernie Sander run…but he is the real deal and would never make it – they would slaughter him.

  38. Bill_Perdue says:

    We have the option of ‘none of the above candidates’ in Nevada. Or you can vote for socialists or other real leftists or write in Chelsea Manning. Like millions and millions of others I’ll probably sit it out unless there’s some referendum on the ballot that I care about.

    “In U.S., Perceived Need for Third Party Reaches New High – Twenty-six percent believe Democratic and Republican parties do adequate job – PRINCETON, NJ — Amid the government shutdown, 60% of Americans say the Democratic and Republicans parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that a third major party is needed. That is the highest Gallup has measured in the 10-year history of this question. A new low of 26% believe the two major parties adequately represent Americans.”

  39. ronbo says:

    Trolling again? Your support for Joe Lieberman is noted.

  40. ronbo says:

    True that. But, once bitten, twice shy – even with Warren. Obama has given me trust issues.

    I like what I see with Warren; but, she doesn’t have a history. Sen. Sander, a non-Democrat, seems to be one of the proven good ones. I’m not saying you are wrong, I just put “caution” tape on every politician… now.

    I’m not looking for perfection, just 25% or more actual Democratic content. Hillary doesn’t pass.

  41. Bill_Perdue says:

    The Democrat and Republican parties are twin parties that are active enemies of world peace. constitutional rights, unions and the both aim to drive down the standard of living of working people and increase the wealth of the rich. That’s been the case at least since Carter began union busting in a big way.

    It’s increasingly clear to larger and larger numbers of people that relying on either of them or on elections to create change is not going to work.

  42. Butch1 says:

    Yes, perhaps primaries are the answer if there were a way of chopping off the heads of those who actually control the democratic machine. Can anything change if they continue to control the strings of the democratic party?

  43. Butch1 says:

    Sorry, Start supporting third party candidates and stop this madness once and for all.

  44. Bill_Perdue says:

    “Perhaps Democrats should really be viewed as mercenaries hired to keep the proles in line while they loot the nation into poverty and not a political party per se.” Exactly. Democrats and their Republican cousins are friends of the rich and enemies of working people.

  45. Silver_Witch says:

    100% agreement Lynchie – however I will not sit it out. I will vote for my freaking self if I have to rather than not vote. What I would love most to see on a ballot “None of the Above”. Bet it would win on both sides.

  46. lynchie says:

    So far only Biden has talked about running against the Clinton dynasty. If he does it is because he will give a semblance of choice to the election. He will be rewarded with offshore money, directorships, etc. LBJ was toppled with a primary challenge but that was a different time and a different set of rules prevailed.

  47. Bill_Perdue says:

    Reforming the Democrat party and somehow making it an instrument for change is a forlorn dream. Remember Clintons “For People, for a Change”. The people who voted for Bill Clinton gave us NAFTA, DADT, DOMA and the deregulation bills of 1999 and 2000 that caused the economic chaos of 2007. Remember “Change We Can Believe In.” People who voted for Obama and the Democrats gave us more of the same corruption, exemplified by Obamacare, more austerity, more unemployment, more attacks on the Bill of Rights and more foreign aggression. That may not be what many Democrat voters wanted (although some did and continue to support it) but it’s what they gave us.

    Change won’t happen because this is a class ridden society and the rich own both parties, lock stock and barrell. In such a society the real role of the left has to be based on an understanding the our electoral role is one of organizing and education, as socialists and leftists are successfully doing around the country. “Seattle now resembles a mini-Venezuela. It’s not a perfect comparison, but like the average Venezuelan the people of Seattle are experiencing an explosion of political consciousness. Recently I took the three-hour drive from Portland, and although Seattle is only a couple of hundred miles away, it’s politically thousands of miles ahead of “progressive” Portland. …The “fight for $15” is the reason Seattle is in a political uproar” From Revitalizing the Workers’ Movement by Seamus Cooke, an elected officer of SEIU 503.

  48. Bill_Perdue says:

    “This time the Democrats will have to prove who they are running actually cares about the middle and lower classes before I will put a check by their name. And Hillary Clinton can not prove anything of the kind.” Neither can any other Democrat candidate.

  49. Ford Prefect says:

    One aspect of the Party’s anti-populism is they don’t care what voters think. They’re whole attitude is, “They’ll take what we give them.” That’s been the case for 20 years now.

    The polling has been pretty clear for years now: Americans aren’t nearly as right-wing as the Democratic Party is. The Party does pay attention to polls, so they can’t claim ignorance. But giving little people what they want isn’t where the money is.

    They want the money more than they want WINNING.

  50. lynchie says:

    The stench of Wall Street and Walmart are all over the Clintons. Their tax shelter the Clinton Foundation is nothing more that a scam to provide them unlimited wealth. No oversight, no regulation. Obama went from a community organizer and his net worth is now $11.8 million. Not bad for a 6 year salary as President.

    Put a high value on your vote, don’t accept the lesser argument and research the candidates. I fear we will be given Hillary as the only source so i will sit it out and watch the poor and elderly continue to be asked to pay for the transfer of wealth to the 1%.

  51. Ford Prefect says:

    It’s entirely possible there won’t be any primaries in 2016. That’s what HRC’s corporate benefactors are all trying to prevent. That’s the whole point of her bogus inevitability campaign. 1960 this ain’t.

    Even 2008 is no longer relevant.

  52. Ford Prefect says:

    Terrific post, GP. Still, it’s worth noting party elites define “risk,” “winning” and “losing” differently than most people. For them, the real risk is in losing donor base support, not losing elections. As it is now, all the incentives for people like Alex Sink run in the direction of “it’s better to lose the election than lose access to corporate funding and post-race sinecure.” All that without even going into the mundane norm enforcement that is party culture. Personally, I would like to see more people pointing how just how profitable it is to lose an election, as long as one is toeing the anti-populist, pro-oligarchy line.

    It’s hardly stupid to go where the money is. Some would even call that rational self-interest!

    As for 2016, I expect the current trend of ever dwindling turnouts to continue… until they finally do away with these silly “elections” due to lack of turnout. HRC can win, as long as the GOP maintains it’s Crazier-Than-Thou persona. It’s just about the only thing they’re good at and its the best thing they’ve ever done for their frenemies in blue. In return, she’ll give them 98% of what they want and they can keep the House and maybe the Senate as well. Partisan rancor will blind the polity to all the gladhanding going on in the cloak rooms and all the money sloshing around the Capital.

    Both parties are doing very, very well these days. Not in terms of popular support, but in terms of cash on hand. Both parties have essentially whored themselves out to the point of being paper tigers, with almost all control of campaign expenditures existing outside of party committee control. Dark Money is now in control, not the dinosaurs we call political parties. The term “Democrat” is increasingly meaningless, as it stands for nothing. When the party doesn’t control its own campaigns, why bother calling it a party at all?

    Perhaps Democrats should really be viewed as mercenaries hired to keep the proles in line while they loot the nation into poverty and not a political party per se. After all, what kind of a political party celebrates its willingness to kick powerless people in the teeth as “making tough calls”? Their claim for popular support is based on what exactly? It’s mean spiritedness?

  53. GaiusPublius says:

    Not really. If you want to play an inside game (as opposed to an outside game, in the streets) the key is in the primaries. A primary challenge toppled LBJ and opened the door for Kennedy to enter the race.

    And for 2016, the time to make sure the primary is open to progressives is now.


  54. eahopp says:

    So I’m damned if I vote for a Republican, and I’m damned if I vote for a Democrat. What is left? Vote Green, or Peace and Freedom, in protest? Just stay home and not vote, or vote local tickets and avoid the national ticket? Because the way things are stacked for the big corporations and billionaires, my vote is pretty much worthless now.

  55. Silver_Witch says:

    Exactly Lynchie! Agreed and agreed. This time the Democrats will have to prove who they are running actually cares about the middle and lower classes before I will put a check by their name. And Hillary Clinton can not prove anything of the kind.

  56. Silver_Witch says:

    This is exactly why we can’t let Clinton run; if she does then it doesn’t really matter which side you vote for – because they are exactly equal and the same. Yes for the billionaires and stomp upon the little ones. I think Warren is their hope, I believe they will try to run her as the “alternative” to Clinton-croniness.

    No more voting for the lessor of two evils…no matter how many come on here and try the blame game that Gaius so clearly laid out for us.

  57. fredamae says:

    No, they’re not stupid-nor are they oblivious to what their constituencies need and want–they’re simply doing the work for and listening to- the people who bought, control and direct them, imo–all we gave them is our vote(s). There are no accidents, coincidences and stupid people in politics. I’d describe it as calculating how long they can ride that fence before their respective constituencies/masses notices the game is rigged even inside their Own Dem Reps ofc’s. It will change only if and when We stop trying to “excuse it, forgive it and justify it” for the “sake of the party”-Period.

  58. lynchie says:

    No I still value my vote too much. Not that Nader is a bad vote. Might consider writing in Bernie Sanders but I have doubts occasionally about him.

  59. lynchie says:

    well they are idiots so we know how this is going to play out.

  60. emjayay says:

    Maybe you can write in Ralph Nader.

  61. Indigo says:

    Here’s one senior the Republicans have never counted on.

  62. Indigo says:

    I’ll go with “stupid” but I’ll also point out that the Neoliberals are stinking up the Democratic Party in ways alarmingly similar to what the Tea Party people are doing to the GOP.

  63. Houndentenor says:

    They are useful idiots. The one demographic the GOP can count on is seniors. They want Democrats (especially Obama) to do this for them, then they’ll turn around and blame the cuts on Democrats. If they do it, they are idiots to let themselves get played like that.

  64. ronbo says:

    So very, very true. It’s too bad that the Democratic Leadership would 86 any Democrat with an actual history of Democratic ACTION. The Dem Leadership (much like Republicans) ONLY wants individuals who will carry water for the 1%. They seek to maintain the Bush economy.

    Eloquent words for Hope and Change are nice; but, with so very little action, it has become obvious that they were used to deceive. The “appearance” of change doesn’t put food on the table. The Great Labor Depression continues.

    It hasn’t gotten better; it only has the “appearance” of getting better. You can’t feed children a steaming hot bowl of “appearance”.

    It’s time Democratic voters demand candidates who have more than just the appearance of Democratic values.

  65. lynchie says:

    Sadly Dems are no smarter than Repubs. We would like to think that liberals are smarter but having met a number of congressmen and women they are just lucky to be connected through birth or networking to be able to be given money to run. As a group the liberal congress is not that committed to things on the left but committed like all of congress to bettering themselves at the expense of the people they represent. Like all politicians they will do and say whatever anything to get elected. Obama is a perfect example of talking progressive and liberal and doing the opposite. His constant appeasing of the banks, wall street, big business and the 1% shows he really does not have any progressive core values.
    We have to learn on the left to stop trusting politicians and hold back on voting for the lesser of two evils especially when a year or two down the road the differences are minimal. I put a high value on my vote and think it is important to get a return on that vote. I voted the first time for Obama, sadly his constant pandering to the right convinced me he lacked a committment to the left. Hillary will never get my vote because she epitomizes the left’s love of money and her core values are about Hillary not you and me.

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