Reading time – This guest essay is longer than typical Disambiguations & worth it. Grab a second cup o’ Joe and settle in for some thinking . . .
Following a recent post about a Wall street guy who supports Bernie Sanders I received a private email from boyhood pal Frank Levy (boyhood nickname: Skip). That’s him in the pic. I don’t know how he got to look so old. The Skip Levy I knew looked much younger.
He expressed some concerns about who can actually win a general election and that resulted in some back-and-forth across the email machine. The meat of his concerns were substantive and I asked for and received his approval to offer them to you in the guest essay that follows. The views expressed are his own and you just might find that some could be yours, too.
You should know in advance that Skip is an irritating blend of idealist and pragmatist, so be forewarned that if you possess an idealist’s purity of progressive ethic, your purity may be about to get tweaked by his pragmatism.
in the primary, vote for who you feel best meets your sense of what America can and should be and who can beat ALL of the Republican candidates still standing at primary time. Then work for and vote for the Democratic Party nominee, whoever that may turn out to be.
One tactical concern about Bernie is that while he generates enthusiastic crowds and a reasonable small-donor base, I don’t think he will be able to generate enough black and brown supporters to win the national election. Right now Bernie’s support among non-white democrats/voters is slim to almost non-existent and he does not seem to be working to change the situation. Bernie and his supporters truly believe that his economic and climate change message will be heard and responded to by black and brown voters like it is by old white voters. So far that is simply not the case.
The black and brown voters I talk with want to hear a message from candidates that speaks directly to them and their specific concerns. They rightfully demand that Bernie or Hillary or Martin listen to them and respect and understand their needs and issues. They are not looking for a “translated” solution to white America’s problems. They want and deserve solutions to the injustices, intolerance, segregation, racism, joblessness, incarceration, lack of quality educational and educational opportunities, and to the violence they live with every day. I do think that Bernie and Martin are still tone deaf when it comes to the issues of non-white voters.
Just looking at the fundraising needed to run a 50 state national election campaign I think Bernie is in trouble. His supporters are mostly our old hippie friends – old, white, and middle-class – not big donor class. And while I long for the day when small donors are the financial engine that drives elections, the ugly reality is that today candidates need major donor-class donors to win elections. That is where Hillary is being pragmatic. She is building an Obama-like donor base of small donors AND taking large donations from big donors while calling for the end of Citizens United. That is not hypocritical; it is pragmatic. You cannot change things unless you get elected.
I am also not convinced that the young people who attend Bernie’s rallies will work for his election or come out on election day. I see a lot of rallies that are well attended but I do not see a lot of ground campaign infrastructure being built in 50 states. I think he is counting on the “revolution” taking hold and providing the motivation and financial support to win. History reminder: revolutionaries have a tendency to be passionate, motivated, poor and not particularly good at recruiting people to the cause, raising money or governing. Unfortunately, ISIS may be the exception to that rule. Revolutions typically take a long time to build and even given all the anger and frustration we all feel, I am not sure we are there just yet.
I am very worried about the 14% or so of Democrats who say they will sit out the election (in essence giving a vote to the Republican candidate) rather than vote for Hillary (bold mine – Ed.), as if she were some evil spawn of the devil. No party has ever nominated a perfect, pure and totally honest candidate.
I do not understand this cloud in the air that makes people say they do not trust Hillary. Hillary is what she has always been – a political animal. She is a pragmatic, driven, type-A, a calculating, intelligent, woman who has more times than not taken the right side of the issues that are important to progressives. As a senator and Secretary of State she got things done, which requires knowing how to work with the opposition party. Personally, I am not interested in a president who, by his or her very nature is such an idealist that they cannot grasp a win when it presents itself just because it is not a perfect win.
It makes a difference, a big difference, who is the White House. All three Democratic candidates are significantly better for the country than any of the Republican candidates. If we fail to work for and vote for the Democratic nominee we will assure the next SCOTUS nominations (as many as four of them) are conservative Republican judges.
I am not willing to see SCOTUS become a conservative Republican court that will never rule in favor of a woman’s right to choose, that will never rule against voter suppression, that will never rule in favor of LGBT rights, that will never rule in favor of religious tolerance, that will never rule in favor of the 1st Amendment or against Citizens United, for sensible guns laws or for equal pay for equal work, or in favor of the best interests of the American people over the gun lobby and the money and corporate class.
So, back to your original question. If you think Bernie or Hillary or Martin can beat ALL of the Republican candidates still standing at primary time, then vote for the candidate who best represents you and your ideals. If, on the other hand, there is only one candidate who appears to be able to beat ALL of the Republican crazies, then vote for that person because we cannot afford a Republican president. Then go out and work for, donate to and vote for the Democratic Party candidates (local, state, and national) on November 1, 2016 and in 2018.
That is the end of Skip’s comments.
If we sit on our idealism and fail to vote, it will be especially dangerous when in 2017 Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is sending his “privatize Social Security” bill to the President for his signature and the president is a Republican because we – let me say this delicately – sat on our self-righteous, idealist asses and didn’t vote. And when the lawsuit is brought to challenge that law, it will wind up in front of a Supreme Court that is no longer 5-4 conservative; it may be 7-2 and stay that way for a really long time. So, we may have to hold our idealistic noses and vote for the best flawed candidate in the race.
Go ahead. Write your response below. I know you have one.
And Skip, thanks for continuing to care about America and to work to make it better for all of us.
P.S. From the email signature of a colleague: “Be a good ancestor.” I just might adopt that for these Disambiguations. Be a good ancestor, indeed.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.