The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump Hysteria

So, yeah, I oppose Trump. (I oppose Clinton, too.)

But let’s get real, here.

America is already ruled by monsters. Bill Clinton killed 500k Iraqi children for no particularly good reason (is there a good reason to kill half a million children?). George Bush invaded Iraq. Obama green-lit the destruction of Libya. Hillary Clinton voted for the war on Iraq and pushed hard for the destruction of Libya.

These people have crippled the economy for ordinary people, immunized bankers, destroyed safeguards put in to protect us from another Depression, and so on. They have deliberately made sure the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class becomes the poor.

They have been completely inadequate on climate change. They have gutted civil liberties (remember, Obama is worse than Bush on civil liberties). They all torture. Obama deported more Hispanics than Bush, by a significant margin.

Clinton has been there for all of it and demurred for very little of it.

They are all monsters.

Every time you are offered someone better, you refuse. If someone truly decent runs, like, say, Kucinich you think that’s hilarious and would never consider voting for him because he’s not viable. Of course he wasn’t viable, because you wouldn’t consider voting for someone who’s not a monster.

So, yeah, Trump may turn out to be worse. But he’s just a greater evil, and Americans are used to voting for evil.

Heck, if Trump means what he says about foreign affairs, he may turn out to be the lesser evil. Oh sure, he’ll be horrible for people with melanin inside the US, but if he doesn’t attack any countries while President, the net math will be in his favor.

So calm down. All that’s happening is that more of the violence America has so casually exported to the rest of the world might be coming home. If you didn’t mind it for other people, on what ethical grounds do you now object to it in your own country?

Trump will probably be bad, if he’s President. But net worse than your other Presidents? That’s yet to be seen.

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Trump and Clinton Win


Why Poor White Males Are the Core of Trump’s Support


  1. tatere

    A climate change denialist government in DC is a guaranteed death sentence for millions of people and thousands of species and ecosystems, with a fair shot at collapsing human civilization (such as it is). That’s enough of a difference. Americans today get a crap deal either way, sure, maybe. But for people all over the world, for generations to come, not to mention all the other life on the planet, it matters.

  2. Ian Welsh

    And what, exactly, has Obama done that would make a big difference on climate change?

  3. markfromireland

    Have you considered that Trump might be the lesser evil, Trump’s just a populist, with Cruz you’d get the real thing. Then again, it’d be no more than they deserve, see Galatians 6:7 and de Maistre.


  4. Ian Welsh

    I said he might be the lesser evil.

    And yes, Cruz is abominable, but I don’t see him winning. If he was going to, I might prefer Trump. There is a chance he might wind up nominee from a brokered convention, of course.

  5. markfromireland

    I don’t see Cruz winning this time around either but I could well be wrong. On the basis of their past performance it seems fair to say that Americans invariably plump overwhelmingly and with great enthusiasm for the greater evil. So on that basis Cruz is still in with a chance.

    In their ideal world Americans’d be faced with a run-off between Greg Stilson, Cthulu, and Caligula alas the world is far from ideal so they have to choose between an unreconstructed Goldwater girl, a bombastic neo-Peronist, and a man whose ideology and beliefs I can only describe as horrific.

    How does the idea of a Trump presidency with Cruz as a vice-presidential reincaration of Dick Cheney grab you as a possibility? Trump has said that his VP would be some sort of politician on the basis that he’d need someone who knew the ropes.

  6. EmilianoZ

    Sanders is just the new Kucinich. Maybe it’s a case of too little too late, but you’ve got to give people credit for voting for him. He doesnt seem more viable than Kucinich. It is very plausible that the Dem primary is being stolen. Even Chris Hedges has suggested so.

  7. Ian Welsh

    I don’t think Trump will choose Cruz. Cruz is hated in DC. A politician who is more liked would be more useful to him, and Evangelicals have proved willing to vote for Trump, so I don’t know that he needs Cruz to get that vote.

    I expect Trump to pivot back to center. He’s not stupid. Cruz would hurt that.

  8. Jeff W

    I’ve been saying that any single Republican candidate is the lesser evil as compared to a Democratic party that tacks ever further to the right over the long run, complacent that voters will choose it in a battle between two evils.

    If liberal or progressive voters over the decades had seen the outcome of their voting for the “lesser of two evils”—a neoliberal party flush with corporate money that pursues job-destroying “free trade deals” and holds up a Heritage Foundation-inspired health insurance scheme, rejected in 1993, as its crowning achievement—would that to them appear to be a winning strategy?

    There is never a point at which the GOP is not “more evil,” where the Supreme Court is not “at stake,” etc., etc. It is never-ending short-term tactical thinking while, in the long-term, things get worse and worse—as evinced by 30 years of rising inequality and stagnant wages.

  9. markfromireland

    I hope you’re right but Cheney was far from popular. I agree that Trump is not stupid. Far from it.

  10. astro

    And it begins:

    Trump is going to roast Hillary like a butcher roasting suckling pig over a fire pit. Brilliant move Hillbot morons to support the worst Democratic candidate in modern history.

  11. astro

    Oh, and that ad that I posted that makes Hillary look like a complete imbecile? That’s just kid’s gloves. Just wait until he starts to connect things like pedophile Jeff Epstein and his sexual deviancy to the Clintons.

  12. Lisa

    Ted Cruz? US women’s and LGBTI people’s worst nightmare…

    “So let’s step back for a moment and consider what a Christian Nation with Christian Laws based on a strict literalist interpretation of the Bible would mean for LGBT people. According to Phil Robertson while introducing Ted Cruz at a rally, “We have to rid the earth of them. Get them out of there.” At the National Religious Liberties Conference pastor Kevin Swanson Swanson, reiterated his view that homosexuality should be punished by death in the US just before Cruz joined him on stage. Swanson has endorsed Cruz, along with several other Evangelical leaders calling for the systematic execution of gays.

    One might argue that surely Ted Cruz doesn’t really believe that gays should be put to death in America, despite his desire for a system of law based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, and belief in a God who shows no leniency. Actually yes, Cruz dropped a big hint several months ago that this is exactly what he believes.”

    “When a reporter questioned Cruz about his stances on LGBT issues, Cruz shot back, “I recognize you want to ask another question about gay rights. Well, you know. ISIS is executing homosexuals. You want to talk about gay rights? This week was a very bad week for gay rights because the expansion of ISIS…”

    The implication here is that until Christians in America are throwing gay people off of buildings and crushing the heads of those who survive with rocks, LGBT people need to quit whining. Embedded in this is the notion that LGBT people should be grateful that Christians aren’t doing this to us, because it’s what we would deserve under a just, “Christian” legal system. It also fits Cruz’s personality to be able define himself as a good, more merciful than we deserve, loving man of God by allowing LGBT people to exist.

    For now.”

    “Hope all my queer friends out there have their passports updated.”

    Then there is his stance on abortion, contraception, other womens rights and violence against women (multiple articles on this).

  13. Every time you are offered someone better, you refuse. If someone truly decent runs, like say Kucinich you think that’s hilarious and would never consider voting for him because he’s not viable. Of course he wasn’t viable because you wouldn’t consider voting for someone who’s not a monster.

    No, he wasn’t viable because not enough American voters were attracted to him as a candidate full stop, and the people who were telling you that knew it, whoever they were. How that came about and whether it was right or wrong and so on are another matter.

    If y’all want a left-wing populist to win, those Americans with the power to do so need to choose a left-wing populist and a left-wing populist message that resonates with the public. Which public? First and forement: Democratic primary voters. That requires answering the question, “What resonates with Democratic primary voters?” And understanding that requires the sort of thinking/intellectual work that makes a lot of progressives feel dirty. Because it isn’t Pew polls of policy preferences that matter here, but the public’s emotional constitution.

  14. tater

    if you see no difference between any standard Democrat and a political party that, uniquely in the world pretty much, *denies that climate change is even real*, then there is nothing more to be said.

    here’s a preview of Republican climate policy:

  15. Lisa

    Cruz vs Clinton = Clinton win, though a lot of people will hold their noses doing it.
    Trump vs Clinton = Trump win. A lot of people just will not vote for her. A lot of traditional Dems will switch vote to him or not vote.
    Trump vs Sanders = Sanders win. Sanders splits the male vote (he gets the smart ones), gets the women’s vote and the young vote in droves. The hard and/or well disciplined votes go the usual way.

    In a voluntary voting system like the US, the people who don’t vote are just as important as those that do. A lot of anti HRC people may not switch to Trump, they just will not vote at all.

  16. Lisa

    Cynical but accurate:

    “My personal view, wholly unbacked by any evidence other than bitter experience, is that Clinton and the Democratic Establishment affirmatively do not want Sanders or Sanders voters. As neoliberas, they hate even a whiff of socialism, because markets, and more importantly they hate his small donor model, because it would lay waste to their personal networks in the political class, and deprive them of the pleasure of servicing squillionaires and suits. They want Trump as a nominee, at which point they will tack to the center, seek moderate Republican support, and throw the left under the bus”.

    The trouble with that ‘logic’ is that Clinton will just lose lots of votes, either they will go to Trump or they will not vote.

    If Trump gets all the ‘traditional’ hard GOP votes (likely), plus the working class vote, Clinton loses some of the Dem women’s vote, most of the male working class and a lot of the young vote, doesn’t get the GOP ‘moderate’ vote (likely)…then Trump wins.

  17. Sam Adams

    Trump or Hillary, the choice is a Sophie’s Choice. There is no real escape because moving out of the USA and opening any non American banking account for the necessities of life in another country is getting near impossible. For better or worse Americans are stuck.

  18. markfromireland

    @ Sam Adams March 16, 2016 Well if you’re stuck perhaps it’s time you started to fight. Cornered rat, ferocity of, etc.

    Dunno about South America but you’re right about the EU countries being effectively barred to Americans.

  19. V. Arnold

    Sam Adams
    March 16, 2016

    That’s not true; not a problem opening a bank account.
    But, it’s a bit more involved because the banks must be able to report accounts exceeding $50,000 USD.
    You sound like one who has read a lot; but lack actual experience.

  20. BlizzardOfOz

    That requires answering the question, “What resonates with Democratic primary voters?”

    Mandos, what did you have in mind with this? Democratic primary voters are a coalition of the fringes that don’t have much in common. (eg, Bernie is populist, but blacks hate him). What would a winning Democratic populism look like?

  21. Bill Hicks

    Another factor, nearly the entire Washington establishment will oppose Trump and try to undermine him. Unless he decides to play ball with what will almost certainly still be a Republican congress. If that happens, he will merely be a more blustery of Jeb.

  22. sumiDreamer

    What we are fighting is actually PLUTOCRACY; if we name it we might stop it. How do you stop when the people holding the reins to government are billionaires, or approaching it. STOP THE PLUTOCRACY points at the MIC, the viperous criminal justice system, the SecurityState, the TBTF parasites – and the presstitutes, too. Right now, the Clintons have the edge on all of those machines. Trumpster is huckster.

    The Clintoni$ta$, plutocracy’s faithful servants, have proven if you suck up long and hard enough and can grant enough favors, you can become a plutocrat yourself. Obama reeeaaachs for his giant slot machine in the trade deals – and his new foundation, too. The people who would make out like bandits under TPP are the lawyers …

    Trump and his weaselly friends – Rahr, Adelson, Michael Cohen – are a very sick bunch. They either personally used guns (Including the campaign manager!) OR a variety of shocking lawsuits to shot people down. This not a gathering I would enjoy seeing handling the nuclear codes. It would not be terrific! Incredible! Tremendous! by any streeeeeeetch.

    Let’s see what happens with Killery Klingon aka Her Slyness with her stealing the gold in Libya by using Special OPs from Osprey Global Systems. Even Obama took swings at her or the Libya castastrophe in the current Atlantic article about him

    But to show you just how deep the “FIX” was in, I refer you to this:

    The fight about plutocracy is at a flash point with the SCOTUS nomination. No amount of liberal spin is going to take away the sting of Merrick & Garland llp. To me, the person who holds that vacant seat will be MORE powerful than any presidential nominee.

  23. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    The Kewl Kidz all hate HRC. (Eeeeeuww, she’s such a nerd! Barf out! Gag me with a spoon!)

    Everybody who’s anybody hates HRC.

    I guess there must be a lot of Nerdy Nobodies out here in Flyover Country, then, because she just keeps winning primaries. :mrgreen:

  24. Hugh

    The lesser of two evils got us Obama. How did that work out? If you are in the lower 80% of the US population, the odds are you entered an economic Depression in 2009 which you never really left. Meanwhile the rich got trillions which they have used to blow huge bubbles in stocks, commodities, and emerging markets.

    In foreign affairs, Obama could have been out of Iraq by the end of 2009, his first year in office. Instead he followed Bush’s timetable and left at the end of 2011, two years later. Even then he tried to keep American forces in Iraq beyond this deadline but failed to get a deal with the Iraqis. Now of course he’s back although the game plan looks extremely unclear. And he’s still in Afghanistan, and in more countries and wars than Bush. An then there are the security, i.e. police state, and the war on whistleblowers where he has out-Bushed Bush.

    As for Clinton, I am done with Republicans and Democrats and will never vote for one, including Sanders. Clintonites like Ivory Bill Woodpecker are whistling past the graveyard. A lot of progressives and independents really dislike her, and a Democratic nominee can’t win a general election without them. A lot of Millennials whom Sanders has energized will simply stay home if the nominee is Clinton.

    As for her victories so far, most have been in th South, and although she won these easily, it is unlikely she will carry any of them in the general election no matter who the Republican nominee is (barring the Republicans completely blowing themselves up at their convention). Where Clinton needs to do well in the general is in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the West Coast. Given the full support of the Democratic party in these states and all her financial resources, she should have been blowing ann upstart candidate like Sanders away in them by 20 point margins. Not only did she lose some like Michigan but her best effort, as I recall, was a 13 point win in Ohio. These are not strong numbers. And if she loses California or just edges out a win, this will underline the fact she runs strong in states she can’t win and weakly in states she needs to win.

    In a Trump-Clinton matchup, I think Clinton’s whole strategy will simply be to hope that his negatives are even higher than hers. As for the idea that large numbers of Establishment Republicans will crossover and vote for her, I think this is a pipedream. Much more likely, they will, like progressives and independents, just stay home.

  25. jcapan


    Blacks might not feel the Bern but they’re hardly averse to populism. Jesse Jackson is the last Dem to run a New Deal campaign and he gained 92% of the black vote (but only 12% of whites).

    So, to some extent it’s simply about who the messenger is. Is anyone going to deny that if Bernie were black, he’d have beaten Hillary throughout the south? One would hope 2016 is not 1988 and that more than 12 % of whites have evolved sufficiently to support a black populist today. They were certainly eager to vote for a black neoliberal.

    This is not to deny that class is playing a huge role in the primaries–Dem voters over 50 have essentially become conservatives, closer to Nixon than Roosevelt–but Dem dysfunction has an awful lot to do w/reducing voting decisions based on a candidates plumbing or skin color.

    This is why it would be compelling to see a Warren-Clinton primary fight, or a Jackson-Obama battle. Then we might be able to more coherently ID the reactionaries.

  26. different clue

    I voted for Kucinich in Michigan Primary 2008. But there weren’t very many of me.

    The “electability” argument should not matter during Primary Season. The primaries should be about who WE WANT to be our party’s nominee for various policy interest reasons. People who accept the “electability” argument against the Sanders they personally would prefer are pre-emptively psyching themselves out ahead of time. Sanders could be just as “viable” and “electable” as enough I-WANT-WHAT-I-WANT people would care to make him.
    If they haven’t been psyched out and wet-blanketed first.

  27. Shh

    @ Jeff W. yea man. Fully agree.

    @the rest of us…’round the mulberry bush we go.

  28. different clue


    If Sanders reaches the Convention Floor with significantly fewer elected delegates than Clinton, the Sandernistas will be sullen, but will accept the outcome as legitimate. If Sanders reaches the Convention Floor with as many elected delegates as Clinton, or with even more such elected delegates than Clinton, and the Party Leaders and their Superdelegates assign the nomination to Clinton; the Sandernistas will feel schlonged and bitter, and many of them will not vote for Clinton.

    If it turns out that way, one hopes they do not just stay home. There will be many downticket office-seekers to vote about and often referenda or initiatives to vote about.
    Such elections would give bitter Sandernistas an opportunity to get revenge on many Superdelegate office-seekers who supported Clinton, by voting for their most likely enemy.
    That might mean voting for “the Republican opponent” to try and defeat a DemParty superdelegate office-seeker who helped schlong Sanders out of the nomination.

    Separately, it would also be an opportunity for bitter Sandernistas to vote against every DemParty officeseeker who has supported Free Trade Agreements. For example, Wyden of Oregon voted for Obama’s Fast Track. The most effective revenge that Oregon Sandernistas could take would be to vote for Wyden’s Republican opponent. If enough do so, Wyden could perhaps be defeated and his political career exterminated. In a few rare cases there might even be a DemParty office-seeker worth voting FOR. Marcy Kaptur of the Greater Youngstown area opposed every Free Trade agreement voted on for the last few decades. She is an Economic Patriot, whatever else she might be, and should be voted for. Whereas Nancy Pelosi supports Free Trade and so her Republican opponent should be voted for by every bitter Sandernista in Pelosi’s district. ( All three or four of them). Pelosi would still have such broad support among the latte’-lapping limousine liberal majority in her district that she would still win. But the principle still applies.

    If Sandernistas saw themselves and eachother make a visible difference in terms of the visible extermination of several Free Trade Treason DemParty office-seeker careers, it might give them hope to undertake the patient work needed to conquer and take over the DemParty from within over the next couple decades . . . and conduct the disinfection and decontamination needed to remove the DLC Clintonite Obamacrats from the DemParty.

  29. I will be voting, as I have for the last several elections, against the incumbent regardless of party affiliation and, if no incumbent is running, against the party which currently is in the majority. I live in California, so my vote is meaningless, but what the hell, it expresses how I feel.

  30. The “electability” argument should not matter during Primary Season.

    How could this even possibly be true, especially if one is e.g. a minority voter? When choosing a candidate, it is absolutely rational and correct to keep an eye on the other side, particularly wavering white voters who could give the other party a majority. This idea of there having to be some point at which an election is a pure policy (or even ideological) choice makes no sense whatsoever and will never ever happen.

  31. markfromireland

    @ V. Arnold March 16, 2016

    What you say might be true for Thailand, it’s not even remotely true of anywhere in the EU.

  32. Hugh

    Electability is just another term that means one thing in theory and another in practice. In theory, it sounds very reasonable, very pragmatic, but much like pragmatism, in practice, it means lesser evilism, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” etc. It doesn’t work as the last 25 to 35 years have shown. All lesser evilism promotes is evil, not the good, not the perfect.

    Seriously who cares about pragmatism or electability if the “pragmatic”, “electable” candidates have nothing but contempt for you and have established records of working against everything you believe? As I so often say, no one owns your vote. If a candidate can not give me good, positive, and substantial reasons to vote for them, then they don’t want my vote, and I don’t care how “electable” they are.

  33. Hugh

    different clue, American voting rates are so low precisely because so many voters do stay home. Also I doubt there is much evidence for revenge voting. The more common phenomenon as with Bill Clinton and George Bush is that after 8 years of one party in the White House, people get tired and will vote for a change of party in the Presidency.

  34. Electability is just another term that means one thing in theory and another in practice. In theory, it sounds very reasonable, very pragmatic, but much like pragmatism, in practice, it means lesser evilism, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” etc. It doesn’t work as the last 25 to 35 years have shown. All lesser evilism promotes is evil, not the good, not the perfect.

    Because most people aren’t voting based on a shopping list of policy preferences nor are elections about satisfying lists of policy beliefs. They are partly about that and not wholly about that, and the evident contempt for the voter who worries about “immediately worse” prevent the level of empathy required to produce viable progressive candidates. Bernie Sanders is the closest y’all have come so far, but it still may not be enough.

  35. V. Arnold

    March 17, 2016

    Really. Why is that; because of the new regulations imposed by the US on foreign banks with American citizens accounts?

    Admittedly there are a few banks here reluctant to U.S. citizens, but most are okay.

  36. suttree

    I’m registered Green Party.
    Jill Stein is GREAT, but entirely off the radar.
    I’d place my last naively optimistic vote for Bernie, but the DNC will never allow him near the nomination.
    We already live under fascism – see Sheldon Wolin’s ‘Democracy Incorporated.’

    I’m fed up, and I’m in.

    À la lanterne!

  37. someofparts

    I’m waiting with V. Arnold to hear about policies keeping Americans out of EU countries.

  38. dfg

    “level of empathy”? Good grief Mandos. A dozen posts back you were asked just what qualities you thought made a progressive candidate viable and you’ve done nothing but dance around the question.

  39. markfromireland

    @ V. Arnold March 17, 2016 @ V. Arnold March 17, 2016

    No, not primarily, the EU’s money laundering regulations are a more important factor (although the American regulations are a factor for banks that have branches or dealings in the US).

    If you as a non-EU citizen want to open a bank account the bank is required to exercise due diligence to satisfy itself that you are doing so for legitimate purposes and that the funds involved were legally acquired.

  40. different clue


    You are correct about what the lack of revenge voting so far and about the tendency of the disillusioned and the disappointed to stay home.

    I am suggesting that the Sandernistas could do something different. They could all come out and vote downticket if they feel they have no Presidential possibility to vote for. I’m not saying they will. I’m saying they could if they decide that they could make several million little differences by doing so. I am also suggesting that they could practice revenge voting against Free Trade Treasonist and DLC Democrats if they want to. But first they have to want to, and then they have to believe that it is possible.

    “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?”

    ” Only one. But the light bulb has to want to change.”

  41. A dozen posts back you were asked just what qualities you thought made a progressive candidate viable and you’ve done nothing but dance around the question.

    Getting to it. Dancing around not intentional. I was going to answer it, but then different clue said something that was to me quite startling.

  42. Not to put too fine a point on it, and not to oversimplify things — but it seems the times we’re living in could easily be summed up as A Box Of Bad Crazy That’s Looking For A Way Out. There are simply too many ways for things to blow up, and having Trumpo The Killer Klown or Hillary The Inevitable! in the mix doesn’t surprise in the least. It’s where things have been trending.

    The possibility that we would have to choose between these, uh, persons reminds me of a leaflet that was being handed out during the 1968 presidential campaign, which said in effect, “Tomorrow, you will be able to go to your polling station, and cast your vote for the President of the United States — between Richard Nixon, and Hubert Humphrey. Welcome to life in a Banana Republic.”

    Deja vu, y’all. No matter what happens, I think we all have a bad feeling about this mission.

  43. Mandos, what did you have in mind with this? Democratic primary voters are a coalition of the fringes that don’t have much in common. (eg, Bernie is populist, but blacks hate him). What would a winning Democratic populism look like?

    It has less to do with the candidate and more to do with the symbolism around the candidate. I’ve lived outside the USA for the past few years now, so I’m not as in touch with the actual “situation on the ground”, but at least online (not just here but on social media, etc), Bernie supporters project a kind of alienating one-way emotionalism, ie, they get to be passionate about their issue(s), but others do not.

    Every time someone asserts (and Ian is not the only one to have done this, obviously) that Bernie Sanders is a better feminist than Clinton because Clinton made policy concessions on women’s issues to get ahead, he reminds very many women and indeed, even some blacks and other minorities, of the concessions and personal compromises they also might have had to make to get ahead in workplaces in which they are one of the Others. It in a way confirms the belief of anyone who wants to vote for Clinton, that their vote is at least partly self-affirming.

    When many people here look at Trump, even those merely taking the position that in *some* dimensions he might not be overall worse than Clinton in terms of policy, they seem also to neglect a major factor in the popularity of people like Trump: he’s someone on which a lot of people can project themselves. You may find it very startling as he’s a plutocratic real estate speculator and grifter, etc, etc, but it’s the same way a lot of people identified with the Palins, who were/are also grifter-plutocrats. Some Europeans identify Trumpism with the Berlusconi phenomenon, which had the same characteristics: Berlusconi was a plutocrat onto which a good chunk of the Italian working class could project a portion of their own personalities, aspirations, etc. And for years the Italian center and left could hardly get a handle on it.

    So what would a Democratic populism now look like? Whatever it is, it needs to take into account this emotional dimension. I have been beating the drum of the neglected emotional dimension for a long time, since a decade easily. What Bernie supporters, and in general left-wing progressive populists seem to think of as appropriate political emotions, include a righteous wrath at being cheated, noble fears for the future, etc, etc. This is all well and good.

    But there are other families of emotions that the other candidates (Obama, Clinton, even Trump) use that don’t seem to appear here. These are the “wishy-washy” positive emotional states of empathy, inchoate hope, satisfaction, etc, as well as the “petty” negative emotions, like status-rivalry, petulance, etc. These seem to be missing from the Sanders political marketing, at least from my now-distant perspective, and more importantly, they seem to be missing from Sanders’ core base. And until that formula is achieved, a left-wing populism, Democratic or otherwise, probably won’t catch fire. To give Sanders credit, he’s come the closest to it that I’ve seen so far…but it’s still not enough. He isn’t offering what Trump is selling, and he’s not even offering what Clinton is selling on those dimensions.

    (And that’s of course only on the emotional dimension. You can’t exhort people to vote for X out of their own interests, and then turn around and say that Y is better even if it is bad for they themselves; then why would they believe you have their interests at heart, even if you actually do?)

    What I said above is going to seem to you to be very wishy-washy. And that’s the problem. It still reminds me of the whole Obamacare business, where the people marketing it were mocked for doing weird focus groups with Hallmark-card emotional evaluation slogans. Some of the pro-single-payer people attempting to criticise these studies instead held their own focus groups, which were, as I recall inperfectly, these sort of citizens commission-like things, which were about presenting the facts and participatory analysis and so on and so forth. Naturally, the outcomes of these were that single payer was the best option. Which it is, obviously. But that’s not the point…

  44. “level of empathy”? Good grief Mandos. A dozen posts back you were asked just what qualities you thought made a progressive candidate viable and you’ve done nothing but dance around the question.

    Did I deliver an answer to your satisfaction now? Probably not, eh? Because, yeah, it was about levels of empathy.

  45. Ché Pasa

    Love the fact that this cabal of would-be political consultants has already elected Trump and convinced themselves — one and all — that it couldn’t be any worse than electing the She Demon of the Universe.

    Cruella DeVille ain’t got nothin’ on Herself, and at least Trump will be entertaining, right?


    If the People had more than a marginal — and diminishing — say in all of this, then Trump might have a chance at being elected to the Presidency. But they don’t, not in contemporary electoral politics, and really never. The game is rigged.

    Trump and Sanders are doing their part to ensure that Hillary or someone else acceptable to the Oligarchs ascends to the Presidency; they are keeping the political flanks (not really right and left anymore, but simply outside the mainstream) occupied and engaged, while the kleptocrats gear up for their next round of looting and enmiseration of the multitude.

    Will Trump be elected? NO. Will Sanders? NO. Will Hillary? Maybe. Will it be one of the other Republicans? Probably not. Could it be a Democrat other than Hillary? Mmmm. Could be. If she fails her audition — and she’s been stumbling lately — someone else may be assigned her presumptive role. It’s still too early to say.

    1968 has been held up as a model for this year’s Presidential contest because of Trump’s claim that if he doesn’t get the R nomination, there will be “riots.” Like 1968? If the “riots” refer to the Democratic Convention in Chicago, those were police riots. Is that what he means? The police will go on a rampage if he isn’t given the R nomination? That would be interesting. It’s unlikely to happen, but it would be interesting if it did.

    A few observers have suggested that the Trump campaign is designed to elect Hillary — or another Dem candidate if Herself falters significantly. In other words, the Rs are throwing this election for strategic purposes.

    That’s what it’s looking more and more like.

  46. atcooper

    I think I get the ‘level of empathy’ argument, but I don’t know how it can be reconciled with multiplicity of identity. In that aspect, the US right has a distinct advantage. There’s a much smaller identity to market to.

  47. I think I get the ‘level of empathy’ argument, but I don’t know how it can be reconciled with multiplicity of identity. In that aspect, the US right has a distinct advantage. There’s a much smaller identity to market to.

    The right has at least two advantages. Yes, an ideology that entails, ultimately, viewing the world as an organism of hierarchies, inevitably putting other identities at risk of being labelled the Other, the impurifier aka ab-normal. The other advantage is, in the present case, a desire to Undo and to break down what bulwarks have been made against the full assertion of these organic hierarchies.

    But that doesn’t mean that it’s an inevitable or insuperable advantage in the emotional domain. The center-left Democratic-associated neoliberals at least, were (and *still are*) able to put together a “winning” emotional programme. And they aren’t right-populists selling a single identity.

    Of course, that word “selling” is some of the problem here. The idea of marketing as a political instrument, indeed of marketing at all, clashes with some of the ideological investments (and, indeed, emotional!) of economic and foreign-policy progressives — what I call half in jest “guns-and-butter” progressives. At least English-speaking ones. It doesn’t, necessarily, clash with other forms of economic left-wing ideology in other times and places. I think people have this idea that marketing is a form of studied dishonesty, with marketers as grubby-pawed cynical drivers of the consumer economy. There are Mad Men-style marketers like that, I guess, but I’ve met marketing professionals from time to time, and they often struck me as no less or more idealistic or cynical than anyone else—they often believe that they’re making the world better through marketing, believe it or not.

    All that to say, I don’t think an emotional left-wing populism is out of reach, but it requires a moderate-scale change of attitude.

  48. Making her closing argument to Iowa caucus-goers, Clinton now cloaks her detailed policy plans in Sanders’ outraged rhetoric. Pharmaceutical pricing “burns” her up. Companies that take advantage of the tax loopholes get her “pretty riled up.” And she promises to “rail away” at any industry that flouts the law.

    “I’m going after all of them” she declared in Davenport, her tone escalating to a shout. “When I talk about going after those companies, those businesses, those special interests, I have a much broader target list than my opponents.”

    I almost guffawed when I read that. Rolled gold unintentional humour. How gullible would you have to be to believe a word of that faux outrage bluster? Erm, my point is I want to expand on your last paragraph to compare Trump’s net-worseness to Hillary the Presidential candidate.

    In terms of the never ending chorus of pearl-clutching predictions of doom – because apparently Trump is power hungry and unhinged, I score Hillary as a desperate megalomaniac vs. Trump the megalomaniac. On trustworthiness, Hillary just oozes slime. Have another read of her rant up there, willya. Nothing that comes out of her mouth sounds like a lock-in vs. Trump the bombastic straight shooter. I can’t fathom how any sane person could deduce that Trump has more sociopathic tendencies than Hillary.

    Then there’s the big one, in that Trump is not beholden to any lobby group or big money donor. Surely a massive asset when trying to make America great again. Discounting all other skills and credentials on their CVs that would help make a great President, if you boil it down to first principles then it’s Trump all the way.

  49. First time commenter. Apologies for the dashes between paragraphs up ^^there, not trying to be clever. Paragraph breaks weren’t appearing on preview and it looked like a mess. Any idea what I was doing wrong?

  50. VietnamVet

    The 2016 election is a three ring circus. The plutocrats are cracking their whips. Donald Trump is using the dispossessed white anger to lead the GOP pack. Hillary Clinton is once again relying on race and gender wedge identity politics. The ringmasters retain control. After all, Donald Trump is one of them. But, they have one big problem, as more former middle class families descend into third world misery, their mercenary sons and daughters, taking the only jobs available in the privatized military, will eventually turn on the global aristocracy; who actually are evil. Myself, after the crazy 2003 invasion of Iraq, I vowed never vote again for a Republican which rules out Donald Trump. I cannot vote for the war loving female plutocrat want-to-be unless she is running against the Dominionist, Ted Cruz.

  51. markfromireland

    Big Ramifications March 17, 2016

    You’re not doing anything wrong – paragraph breaks don’t show up in the preview. They do


    show up

    in the final comment.

    Hope this helps.


  52. Cheers, markfromireland. I thought that was a possibility…. but first impressions count! I erred on the side of caution rather that producing a stream of consciousness in one big block of text.

  53. I sometimes get a BIll Gates vibe about Trump. Remember the festering Microsoft / Bill Gates HATE that was all over the internet not that long ago? What did Bill eventually do? Quit Microsoft and began a full time career giving away his money and trying to improve the world…. Not saying it’s an apples and apples analogy, but like Gates, what more has Trump got left to achieve?

    I believe it’s VERY possible he will put personal gain a distant 2nd to the incredibly important task at hand. I’m not suggesting he is an altar boy, but for the life of me I don’t understand why so many liberal types are predicting he will become an uncontrollable megalomaniac if he gets into power. I’ve even heard “warmonger” thrown around plenty of times. The hell?

    A thoroughly despised, ruthless billionaire businessman dramatically changes his goals in life and uses his powers for good. The precedent is there.

  54. capelin

    hey big r, good points.

    i’ve wondered the same thing about trump pulling a bill gates. sometimes responsibility changes a person.

    ‘course, i also wonder how much the whole thing is just scripted theatre.

    or how much anyone would be “allowed” to signifigantly change the system for the better.
    the precedent is there for that as well.

  55. ProNewerDeal

    the LO2E advocates’ favorite justification is “but consider the Supreme Court!”

    0bama is crapping on that notion with his pick of center-right Judge Merrick Garland.

    If H Clinton had a clue, she would “denounce & reject” or at least claim “deeply disappointed” with the Garland pick, & contrasts that she would pick a clear Progressive who is “litmus tested” & clearly anti-Citizens United, pro-Roe v Wade, someone like R Bader Ginsburg or H Clinton’s former fellow candidate Lawrence Lessig.

    Otherwise, this may be a typical conversation in November:

    Sanders primary voter (SV) “I am considering Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, as her policies are similar to Sanders, & actually slightly better”.

    H Clinton voter “you must vote for Hillary, for the Supreme Court! Even Prof. Noam Chomsky advocates LO2E voting!”

    SV “H Clinton sux on the Supreme Court, she is likely to nominate center-right judges like 0bama did with Garland. I am reminded of that line from that Talib Kweli song ‘You try to vote participate in the Government, but these MF Democrats are acting like Republicans’. Jill Stein 2016, #ImWithHer !”

    I doubt H Clinton will publicly disapprove of the Garland nomination. If NakedCapitalism authors are correct, evidence shows H Clinton would rather attract anti-Trump Mint RawMoney-voter type Rs, than attract Sanders voters.

  56. Hugh

    Hate to be the bringer of bad news. Family foundations, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, are vanity projects and tax scams. Gates and family keep effective control of the tens of billions he “donated” into the foundation, escape paying inheritance and other taxes on them, get his image rehabilitated for his “charitable” work, and are free to use these funds to pursue a crypto-political agenda, like his championing of charter schools and privatizing public education.

  57. I pretty much agree. But one cannot deny the existence of an public-private apparatus consisting of, among others, party brass & corporate networks, most specifically, who televise the debates and generally skew coverage and who — most pertinently to your post — struck Kucinich from the debate stage when he had his first chance in such a narrow field (from ten down to four), and then appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court to get him struck from the same stage a second time after the candidate had successfully sued to be included. I’ll grant you that voters having seen any of the debates up until that point should have had enough to make an obvious choice, but still.

    And ballot access is another thing. The cards are so stacked against it that there is just no friggin way that Sanders voters are going to look to, for example, Jill Stein, who gives them everything Sanders did plus being anti-imperialist, but is still struggling just to gain ballot access in Illinois.

    No doubt, they vote for monsters, but the system is the most brilliant monster of gordian riggery to putative legitimate democracy the world has yet to witness, and the people are for all intents and purposes effectively brainwashed by lifelong indoctrination into patriotic exceptionism. I mean, am I right or what am I missing here?

  58. tony

    “And what, exactly, has Obama done that would make a big difference on climate change?”

    Well, he has protected the bankers. If we are lucky, the financial system could blow up the entire global economic system and we could have repeat of the bronze age collapse that destroyed the advanced, trade dependent civilizations of the time.

  59. Breton

    Ian writes a clear straight forward piece.
    Reading these comments reminds me of an old Arabic saying:
    “The dogs bark and the Caravan just moves along.”
    Politics is hard disciplined work just like anything of value here in life. And what do we read here? Words and ideas about everything but …..a lot of hard work. Sad but symptomatic. You want to make a difference, want to Vote? Work for Trump or Bernie. And then work for whomever is left after the Conventions and get the losers people to join you with the survivor
    Only hope.
    Last chance for a generation. These Rulers of ours will not release the reins without a lot of long term hard work and a big fight.


  60. highrpm


    yea, i guess i fit ian’s profiling of the poor southern white trump’s supporters, although i won’t vote anymore as this two party system is way past it’s operational health and usefulness and needs a hardware reset, including a new constitution.

    i’ll fall in behind a leader i deem worth their salt. you have any suggestions? at this point, jill stein is the ideologue voice crying in the wilderness. yet i deem lending any effort to the green party a waste of everyones’ time and money.

  61. Donna

    Well I plan on being with Bernie to the bitter end. If he doesn’t get nominated then I’ll vote Green but a Green vote in Massachusetts doesn’t mean much.

    One recurring nightmare I have is a Clinton/Warren in the General Election. I’ve seen people suggesting it. No. No. No. No. No. The idea of Liz Warren wasting her political capital on that makes me feel sick. I think Warren didn’t endorse a candidate because she wanted to feel free to work her best with whichever one was nominated which was fine with me. A lot of people here, myself included, worked very hard to get her in the Senate and on that Banking committee. I hope that’s where she stays. I think that’s where she’ll do her best work.

    Sad note: I did some canvassing for Kucinich way back when. One voter told me he would never vote for Kucinich because he “looked like a Keebler Cookie Elf.” (Sigh… only in the USA.)

  62. DMC

    Note to those wishing to flee to Europe: The Czech Republic is still not on the Euro and getting a bank account is pretty simple, although we managed to live there 8 years with nothing but our US based credit union account, getting cash out of ATMs and paying the rent and bills in cash. My wife’s co-workers who were US citizens only complaint about the banks is that they tended to “nickel and dime” you to death with checking account fees. Though if you DO get a local bank account, you can pay bills on-line(for many things). If you want to work towards citizenship(or even just long term residency) you need either a job and work permit for the job in country OR that you have sufficent cash($5-6000 last time I checked) in some bank somewhere and “health insurance for foriegners” that will run about $600-900 per annum, for the period you propose to stay. And expect a criminal bacround check and numerous appointments with the dreaded Czech Foriengn Police, where they WILL NOT speak English even if they can(without dire provokation) so bring a Czech speaker with you.

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