Bernie and the argument that a plurality is enough

At the recent Democratic debate, all of the candidates were asked if the convention should nominate the candidate with the most delegates even if it wasn’t a majority. Only Bernie said yes.

It used to be that each state would pick delegates to go to a convention and then, at the convention, they’d all debate and decide who should be the candidate. Then states started deciding that it would be better if delegates were committed to a specific candidate when they went, so they started having caucuses to decide this and then later primaries (which, in the history of this country, is a fairly new development). And even then, these committed delegates were allowed to change if no one candidate could get a majority.

Bernie and his supporters are now screaming and yelling that this is undemocratic and is just a ploy to keep Bernie from getting the nomination if he has the most delegates.

Apparently, this manipulative ploy is so devious that it was established long before Bernie was ever born, simply in an effort to keep him from becoming the candidate.

If Bernie doesn’t like the way the way the Democrats set their rules for the way they choose their candidate, maybe he should have worked to change it during all those years when he was a member of the party.  Oh, right.

Here’s why we should not nominate whoever has the most delegates.

Suppose Bernie ends up with 32% of the delegates and Biden has 31%. This is not a glowing endorsement for Bernie, is it? Should we really be handing the nomination to someone who maybe only has a one delegate advantage, especially when the majority of delegates there support someone else?

Or worse yet: Suppose Bloomberg manages to convince 32%? Clearly, 68% of the delegates wanted someone else. Bloomberg shouldn’t get the nomination when a majority doesn’t want him, should he? No, what should happen is what works in a democracy: compromise. Negotiations. Working to find a candidate that the majority can support.

Now if Bernie ends up with 49.9% of the delegates, then yeah, politically it’s probably a good idea for him to be nominated on the second ballot.  It would look terrible otherwise.

But to just make a blanket statement that it should go to the person with the most votes even if it is a minority of those voting is ridiculous.

The latest anti-Hillary lies about that DNC lawsuit

First, a disclaimer: I supported Bernie in the primaries, and believe that had he won the nomination, he may very well be President today. But that’s an issue for another day.

Some rabid Bernie people (perhaps spurred on by Trump people behind the scenes who troll liberal pages and try to get us fighting each other) are making absurd claims about the recent lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee.

Basically, the lawsuit was filed by some Sanders supporters.  I’ll summarize their argument here:  “Waah! The Democrats were mean to us!”bernie-and-hillary

Okay, it’s a bit more complicated than that. What they said was that the leaders of the Democratic party were biased against Bernie and were doing what they could to make sure he didn’t get the nomination. The lawsuit complained that the DNC worked behind the scenes to schedule debates in a way that helped Clinton; that the people in charge supported her; that they planned events in ways that harmed Sanders. (The lawsuit did not claim — nor could it — that any laws were broken.)

Oh noes! Whoever thought there would be politics in politics!

Setting aside the problem of an outsider suddenly joining a group and demanding to be in charge of it and how that group would react, the lawsuit faced its first challenge that all lawsuits face: A Motion for Summary Judgment.

This is where the defendant in the case (the DNC) tries to get the case thrown out. The law requires the judge to say “assuming the plaintiff’s recitation of the facts is true, is there a claim for action here?” In other words, just because you may claim to be hurt doesn’t mean the law provides a remedy.

The judge rightly concluded that there was no case here and threw it out. Instantly, memes and blog posts started popping claiming that the judge found that everything the plaintiffs claimed was true. That’s not how it works.

The Democratic party is a private organization. They can set whatever rules they want for picking their candidate. The don’t have to have primaries (and in fact, many states have a caucus instead). They don’t have to sponsor debates. They can go back to the old days of choosing candidates in smoke-filled rooms (although being Democrats, it would be in a “smoking not permitted, have some latte and a croissant” room).

Don’t like it? Join the party and work to have the rules changed, instead of, you know, being an independent for your entire political career, joining the party just in time to run for office, and then quitting the party again as soon as you lose.

Did the DNC violate its own internal rules? Very likely. But that’s an internal problem they need to deal with — it’s not subject to a lawsuit.

So if you see someone claiming that the judge found that everything in the plaintiff’s lawsuit was true, they’re either completely unaware of how lawsuits work or else they are aware and are lying to you.

Would Bernie have won? The view outside the Bubble

Would Bernie have won? I don’t know, and neither do you.

What I do know is that Hillary didn’t.  Mind you, that was because of the Electoral College — the majority of Americans wanted her by a pretty big margin.

But would Bernie have attracted more votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, thus guaranteeing a win? Hillary’s losses in those states was within 2%.  These are states with large populations of working-class white voters who felt (wrongly) that the Democratic party had abandoned them.bernie bird

When I suggest that Bernie could have done it, I am often knocked down by those who point out all his negatives and say the people would never support him. Many made the same argument a year ago during the primaries. These same people predicted with confidence that Trump would never get the nomination.

The fact is that we don’t know. This year has turned everything topsy turvy. The traditional rules I learned when getting my Political Science degree and in all my years of working on campaigns were thrown out the window this year. Nobody knows anything.

Pointing out that he lost the primaries to Hillary isn’t convincing. Primaries involve a small percentage of the voters, and are almost always the insiders and most active of the party members. Hillary had already wrapped up many of them years beforehand. In any event, winning among Democrats doesn’t mean much because in order to win the final election, you have to reach independents and even some Republicans. Hillary’s negatives among those groups was high, Bernie’s wasn’t.

We often criticize Republicans for living in a “bubble” and ignoring facts that are inconvenient, but Democrats do that too. The Democratic bubble has to do with dismissing non-liberals as rubes or ignorant rednecks or people in the fly-over states that don’t matter. It has to do with ignoring how much people didn’t like Hillary, whether justified or not.

Perhaps a different candidate — one that could appeal to the working class as well as the “liberal elite” in the big cities — could have made a difference.

 

The Enthusiasm Gap

Although polls show the race tightening, as every political scientist worth his or her salt told you would happen months ago, Hillary is still predicted to be the winner by anyone who studies these things. Nate Silver has her chances at 70%.

The “worst case scenario” map

But there’s still one problem, and that’s the enthusiasm gap.

The Tea Party people are thrilled. For years, they’ve been portrayed as outsiders, crazy, on the fringe — racists, bigots, ignorant people that possibly could win a few House seats every now and then but clearly could never get into the big leagues. Trump has been their standard bearer, and this has emboldened them to be angrier, meaner, more public, and more violent.

These people will vote.

We were able to hold them back in the past partially because there are more of us than them and when we come out and vote in equal percentage, math works to benefit us.

And our enthusiasm was great, too, when we had Obama running. Young voters came out like never before, and minorities voted in almost equal percentages as whites for the first time ever.

But now?  Hillary’s enthusiastic supporters are primarily women my age and older who grew up with terrible sexism and discrimination and identify with the candidate and want the first female President. They’ll come out and vote, but will they be enough to counter the Trump fanatics?

This is why I still say that we would have been better off with Bernie. Sure, they’d be attacking him left and right for being a socialist, but I think he’d probably be doing better than Hillary because his support was enthusiastic (and even conservatives admired him for his honesty in the same way liberals used to admire McCain without agreeing with his politics). Young people especially would be out working for him and would be voting for him. Many of these people will instead be staying home in November like they usually do or else wasting their vote on Stein or Johnson.

So while I still predict a Hillary victory, I think it will be closer than expected given that our candidate may suffer in the “enthusiasm gap.”

Bernie Sanders Deserves a Beach House

by Guest Blogger Mark Mensch

So there’s a large outcry about how Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist, wanting equality throughout the US for everyone, has just bought a beach house in Vermont for $600,000.

And true to internet and shock media, that has been the extent of their fact checking. From there they have begun to speculate that he used all of his campaign donations to buy it, that he’s not a true socialist for buying it, that he’s just another member of the 1% club and so on. In other words, let’s just slam him and not give a crap about the facts.bernie

Well let’s check the facts.

Yes, Bernie Sanders bought a beach home in Vermont for $600,000. Prior to this purchase, owned two homes – a joint rental property in Burlington and a condo in Washington, D.C. However according to the Seven Days Vermont news service, Bernie’s wife inherited a family vacation home in Maine recently and decided to sell that house and use it to put down a down payment on the Vermont Beach house (I had found somewhere on the internet that the house sold for something just over $500K but cannot find that information now – sorry).

Bernie did not use campaign funds to buy it. In fact, any left over campaign funds they can donate the funds to charities or political parties; it can contribute $2,000 per election to other candidates; and it can save the money in case the candidate chooses to run again. That’s it. They can’t use them to buy a house.

Next, Bernie Sanders’ net worth, according last week to MoneyNation, is $528,014. But how can that be with now three houses and everything else? Well there is this thing called debt and Bernie Sanders has it – anywhere from $25K-$65K. Putting that all aside, he is far from the 1% club – whose actual net worth requirements vary from place to place but according to the New York Times, the top 1% has a household income of $380,000 annually (over half of Bernie’s overall net worth) and a net worth of nearly $8.4 million.

Yes, he’s pretty well off compared to the average American – as are all senators, congressmen and other people in those elected offices. And even some of our most outspoken and loved ‘socialist’ presidents (such as Kennedy and Roosevelt) were millionaires. But Bernie Sanders is no 1%.

But the strangest argument is that he is turning on his democratic socialistic principles. A democratic socialist is not against people having nice things. They don’t expect everyone to have the same house, with the same car, with the same dog and the same job. What they do expect is that those who make more due to the advantages given within our country give back more. They don’t find loopholes to hide money or enact legislation to make sure they continue to make a profit while hurting other people. And that’s what Bernie Sanders is all about: Having corporations and the rich pay their share, and maybe a little more, back into the country instead of finding new ways to protect their assets while other hard working individuals wind up having to foot the bill.

Bernie Sanders spent the last 50 years of his life fighting for equal rights for everyone. He had worked hard and long and paid his fair share back to the society that helped him arrive there. And if he managed to afford a beach house not through lobbyist gifts or kickbacks and paid his property taxes for it, then I say he’s earned a beach house for his golden years.

 

Mark Mensch is an avid gamer and very active within the Live Action Role Playing community here in the US and abroad. He has had several short stories published and also runs a small etsy store for live action props and masks at www.etsy.com/shop/LARPGear. He lives with his 14 year old rabbit Maryann and tends to have opinions about everything – quite often on both sides of the issue.

Why the Bernie supporters lost their seats

Apparently, a group of Bernie supporters were denied entry to the convention last night. (Supporters, not delegates. The delegates remained.) These supporters are quite upset about it.

But let’s step back a bit and think about it.13631489_562587023923545_9030153240511055177_n

The way to win elections is to have four nights of a convention with no protests — with unity. Free advertising on TV for four nights! Democrats needed to put on our best image.

Some Bernie supporters are complaining that the whole primary system was unfair because the DNC leadership had already chosen a candidate years ago. But that’s what always happens. There’s always an insider. Eight years ago, it was also Hillary Clinton. That time, she lost. Obama got more votes. And then Hillary’s supporters showed up at the convention, didn’t protest, and cheered on the nominee because they were Democrats who knew what was best for the party and the country.

On Monday, a bunch of Bernie supporters (upset with the fact that he had lost) disrupted speeches, argued with other attendees, and showed the party to be at war with itself. Or was it with itself?

Let’s face it, Bernie was not a Democrat. He became one, ran, lost, conceded, and then announced that he had resigned as a Democrat and is now once again an Independent. He bolted from the party even before the convention was over.

He is no longer a Democrat. He is no longer in consideration for the nomination.

So now a bunch of people dedicated to someone who isn’t even a Democrat and is not in consideration for the nomination want admission to the Democratic convention? For what purpose?

The Democratic convention is not a place for non-Democrats. And after the way the Bernie supporters disrupted Monday’s convention, you can see why they weren’t exactly welcome.

The key is this: If you really care about the Democratic party and what it stands for, and especially if you realize how important this election is, then you look after what is best for the party (and America).

You don’t get to crash and disrupt my party and then get mad when I ask you to leave.

We choose the lesser of two evils every day

Life is full of tough choices.  Deal with it.

As I encourage my fellow Democrats to support Hillary over Trump, I constantly get people who point out Hillary’s faults (which I acknowledge many of) and profoundly say, like they’re reading a fortune cookie, “The lesser of two evils is still evil.”*donald-trump-h-1024

Most insulting is when the Bernie Bots say these things to me as if I am just too stupid to understand. Yeah, the old “wake up, sheeple” really helps to convince me. The decades I have spent getting my Political Science and law degrees, working as a lobbyist, college professor, campaign manager and lawyer, getting elected as a Judge of Elections, writing about politics, and being an officer in the Democratic party means nothing — the teenager who will be voting for the first time understands the system way more than me.

This is not to say you can’t have a different opinion about things, but please don’t lecture me about how politics works when you believe the superdelegate process is “illegal.”

Look, I supported Bernie too, as anyone who has read this blog knows. But he lost. Now we have a choice between someone who isn’t perfect and someone who is the most unqualified and dangerous person to ever win a major party nomination.

Two evils? Perhaps. Two equal evils? Not even close.

We have to make tough choices every day in life. We don’t always get what we want. Part of being mature is recognizing this. You don’t give up striving for a the best, but you also don’t refuse to take second best when that’s your best option.

I only wish someone had said that to me when I was young, because I was a lot like these Bernie supporters at that age.

*in bed

You have to play the game to win

Hillary won the nomination, as was always expected. I wanted Bernie but hey, Obama was the only time the candidate I supported in the primaries actually got the nomination. I’m used to not always getting my first choice. hillary2

Some Bernie supporters are not taking this well. Some of their complaints are indeed legitimate — there were some irregularities in voting in some of the contests that are suspicious — but those things still wouldn’t have changed the ultimate result. After all, Hillary did get more delegates and more votes.

And that’s not counting the superdelegates. Some Bernie supporters spent the entire campaign complaining about them, saying that they were thwarting the “will of the people.” These same people are now saying that the superdelegates should ignore the “will of the people” and cast their votes for Bernie instead. Come now, how can you commend Bernie for having a consistent set of policies that don’t change based on poll numbers while arguing this?

Politics is a game, and it helps to know the rules of the game. Hillary plays the game well, and she has been preparing for this day for a dozen years or more. Those superdelegates were there the whole time, and Bernie could have been playing that same game to get them on his side all those years, but he didn’t. You can’t complain about the rules of the game if you don’t play.

And let’s face it, is this a bad thing? Isn’t that what politics is about — getting people on your side, making deals, compromising to get what you want? Isn’t that a skill we want our President to have?

I congratulate Bernie on his successful campaign. He originally announced that he was running to raise the issues he felt important, and he did. People are really talking about income equality now. He also accomplished two other goals: He showed that it is possible to run for President and raise money without having to appeal to the standard Big Money interests; and he showed that you can move to the left and even call yourself a socialist and still get significant support. Those are huge things that no political scientist would have predicted a year ago (including me, here on this blog).

The important thing now is to defeat Trump. If I were a betting man, I’d place my bets on Hillary winning this for a lot of reasons, but it’s certainly not a sure thing. Those Trump supporters are rabid and fanatic, and they will vote.  We Democrats have the problem of sitting at home on election day despite the fact that there are more of us than them, and despite the fact that polls show our views are the majority ones.

And when you don’t play the game, you lose.

 

 

To my fellow Sanders supporters

Yes, Sanders may win the California primary on Tuesday, but remember: the delegates are given out proportionally. He doesn’t get them all. This is not the electoral college.bernie

To win the nomination, he’s going to need at least 66% of all the remaining delegates in all of the races that are happening on Tuesday.

That’s not going to happen.

Hillary only needs 256 delegates to win the nomination and that doesn’t include superdelegates. There are 763 pledged delegates to be chosen by Tuesday, and so Clinton can win the nomination even if she only gets one out of every three.

Still, I want Bernie to remain in, as was his plan all along, to influence the platform and use his power to make other deals with the eventual nominee.

Someone else did the exact same thing eight years ago. Let’s see, who was that? Oh yes — Hillary Clinton.