#DemExit: A Democrat’s Guide To Why Millions Are About To Change Their Registrations.

by Russell Dobular

Personally, I believe in democracy.  I believe that given accurate information and the necessary education to process it, a majority of people will correctly discern their own best interests and vote accordingly.  But that’s very different from the situation that we have in America.  What we have is a generation raised on the internet and born into an America coming apart in the wake of 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and now a global pandemic, doing its own research and mostly tuning out official narratives, in conflict with an older generation that mistakes Anderson Cooper for Edward R. Murrow, and doesn’t seem to understand, or even want to understand, that the America they knew is long gone.  For the latter, Joe Biden is familiar and comforting.  For the former, his nomination is a cruel joke and in many ways a gob of spit in the eye of the people who are going to live with the consequences of his past policies the longest. 70% of voters under 50 voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries.  Sev-en-ty percent.  While much has been made on the op-ed pages of Biden’s demographic coalition, that coalition is a mirage.  The single greatest predictor of Biden’s support isn’t race or gender or socio-economic status; its age.  Old people took their cues from cable news and party leadership, while younger people tuned those voices out.  Unfortunately, the elderly are much more reliable voters than the young, and as a result, Biden is on the verge of becoming the party’s nominee.  But the nature of Biden’s geriatrically driven victory raises an obvious question: if young people didn’t come out in large numbers to support a candidate they were passionate about, what makes you think they’re going to come out on Election Day to cast a ballot for Joe Biden?  For this reason alone, Biden is very likely to lose to Trump, with or without a formal #demexit.

Democrats seem to live in a fantasy world in which everything we know about human psychology and voter behavior can be suspended with the simple argument, “This candidate is better than (fill in the Republican), so you must vote for them.”  If voters behaved that way in real life, Hillary would be the President right now.  And Hillary was FDR in a pantsuit compared to Biden.  If you’ve been running around attributing opposition to HRC from the left to sexism, you really don’t understand the left.  Hillary’s gender was one of the few things a progressive could hang their hat on to justify voting for her.  At least it would set a precedent.  At least it was something.  With Joe Biden there is zero rationale other than “better than Trump.”  And that’s just not the potent argument that a lot of VBNW types think it is.  Joe Biden is so bad, nominating him feels kind of like a double-dog-dare.  It’s as if Democratic consultants and donors got together and decided to find out how bad a candidate would have to be to lose to Donald Trump a second time, and Joe Biden was what they came up with.  You may not know a lot about his record now, but you will once The Donald begins to exercise his singular gift for controlling the media narrative.  There’s not one accusation that can be thrown at Trump, from sexual harassment, to dishonesty, to nepotism, to racism, to crony capitalism, that can’t be turned back on Biden.  Sure, Trump is worse on all counts, but not by much, and when Biden lies about getting arrested trying to meet Nelson Mandela, or about his civil rights activism, you can be sure Trump isn’t going let it pass like Bernie Sanders did.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Pretty much everything Biden said in the DC debate was a lie.  But you’ll find that out soon enough when he’s facing an opponent who doesn’t go out of his way to describe him as his “friend” every five minutes.

Those are just some of the reasons why Biden will probably lose to Trump.  There are many others, including his melting brain, that I haven’t gotten into because I know the propaganda machine has programmed VBNW voters to stop listening as soon as anyone points out his dementia symptoms.  And no one is really thinking yet about how much of a gift having an opponent who helped pass the bank-friendly 2008 bailout is going to be for Trump, who is on the verge of sending everyone in America making under $99,000 a year, a check, probably the first of several.  But it is my intention here to help people understand why this is happening, which I can’t do if they’re all raged out on Jennifer Rubin columns.  So, what follows is a brief explanation and summary of what the last five years have looked like from the left’s point of view.

Most Sanders voters that I know, if they were old enough, voted twice for Barack Obama and were at one time just like you: hardcore Democratic partisans, who accepted the political wisdom of the Times editorial board as the “smart take.”  Then 2016 happened, and for a lot of those people, the underlying assumptions they held about pretty much everything in the political realm were shattered by the way the primary was conducted.  Without relitigating that whole nightmare, let’s just focus on where the left went one way, and VBNW went another: if you experienced those primaries through the lens of the Sanders campaign, the core belief that the only thing holding back progressive change was the Republicans, was made completely untenable, along with the accompanying belief that corporate media outlets had sympathies that could truly be considered “left,” or even “objective.”  Once you no longer believe those things, and your political world isn’t defined by a struggle between good Democrats and evil Republicans, but by a class war between working people and wealthy elites, you’ve already left the Democratic party for all intents and purposes.  After that, keeping your registration in order to vote for progressive primary challengers is just a formality.  Functionally, you’ve already become an independent.

Now, flash forward to 2020.  Once again, Bernie Sanders is running, only this time his base of support is largely made up of people who only continue to be Democrats in order to use the party machinery to affect progressive change. And a lot of them would have left the party already, if it wasn’t for Sanders signaling to his supporters after 2016 that changing it from within was the way to go.  So, once again, they donate, they advocate, they canvass, and they phone bank.  And while they’re doing all of these things, they’re being called “brownshirts,” dirtbags,” and “Bernie Bros.”  They keep their heads down anyway and win the first three contests.  It looks like this time is going to be different.  They start to think that Democratic voters themselves have finally woken up and realized that rich pundits and consummate douchebags like Rahm Emanuel are the last people they should be listening to about “electability.”  And then Biden wins SC by overwhelming numbers.  Smelling blood in the water, the Democratic party establishment immediately coalesces around the most retrograde, least progressive candidate in the field, and executes a Monday night massacre on the eve of Super Tuesday that is breathtaking in its efficiency.  And just like that, it’s over.  So, what do you think a group of voters who were only Democrats of convenience at the start of the contest are going to do after months of being unfairly maligned and insulted by the same people who pulled out all the stops to make sure their candidate couldn’t win? Are they going to decide to suck it up and vote for a candidate they despise who’s running on the ticket of a party they are no longer a part of in any meaningful way, or are they going to conclude that Sanders’ project of reforming the party from within has been a failure and walk away?  This isn’t a moral question, it’s a psychological one.  You just can’t treat voters that way and not expect there to be fallout, much less voters who weren’t particularly connected to your party in the first place.

Another factor is the way that Democrats bend over backwards to court “moderate” voters and “Never Trump” Republicans, believing it to be the surest path to electoral victory.  Aside from the fact that there’s no evidence to support this theory, and a lot of evidence to refute it (quick, name one Democratic candidate billed as “safe,” and “electable,” who actually won the election.  I’ll wait), it also lays down the philosophical framework for a #demexit.  If Democrats only seem to care about winning the votes of people whose votes aren’t guaranteed, and you’re trying to move the party ideologically, eventually it’s bound to occur to you that not being a Democrat is a pretty sweet deal.  No one seems to vote-shame those independents and moderates.  Indeed, when a Democrat loses, the blame is often directed at the party and the candidate for not doing enough to appeal to them.  It is the unique privilege of the left to be held personally responsible for Democratic losses.  Never will you see Jake Tapper sadly hang his head, sigh, and regretfully inform his viewers that the candidate didn’t do enough to reach out to the left.  That there’s what they call in the news biz, “framing.”  And the left is tired of getting framed for the losses of a party that’s done everything they can short of directly saying, “please don’t vote for us,” to drive them out.

So, now that you understand what’s happening and why, the best thing to do going forward would be to think of the left the same way you’ve been trained to think of independents and moderates: as swing voters who you want to persuade, rather than as Democrats who owe you their votes.  Even though I hate to give that ravening psychopath a shout out, Gwyneth Paltrow has contributed a phrase to the culture that’s relevant here: conscious uncoupling.  The left is now an ex that you want to maintain good relations with, and with whom you still need to coordinate visitation rights.  So, next time you want to sit down at your keyboard and start spewing about Bernie Bros, take a second and think, “Is this going to make it easier to negotiate with my ex, or harder?”  Then take a breath, and try to come up with an argument for voting blue that doesn’t involve Donald Trump, because I gotta tell ya, that really doesn’t impress the ex.  Its one of the reasons they left you in the first place.  Try to talk instead about your own admirable qualities.  And when they point out things like how you held primaries in the middle of a pandemic in order to secure the nomination for your preferred candidate, try not to gaslight them.  Listen, and consider that they might have a point, and think about what you can do to improve the relationship.  You’re never getting back together, but you might be able to coordinate on certain projects and in certain elections.  How that plays out from here is going to depend largely on your behavior.  Are you going to consciously uncouple, or are you going to be the psycho ex screaming, “Vote Blue No Matter Who,” outside the window at 3AM, until someone calls the cops?  How you choose is going to largely determine where we go from here.  My money is on a Fatal Attraction kinda dynamic, but trust me, if you think the break-up is bad, you really don’t want to see the restraining order.

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Why Michael Bloomberg Is More Dangerous To Democracy Than Donald Trump.

by Russell Dobular

There have been a lot of explanations offered for the unlikely victory of Donald Trump in 2016.  Russia, racists, James Comey, economic distress, sexism, voter suppression, and the missteps of the Clinton campaign, have been the most common.  There has probably never been an election in American history more pored over and dissected in the aftermath than the one that made a (maybe) billionaire reality TV star, with no previous political experience, the leader of the free world.  And while with Clinton having crushed Trump by 3M in the popular vote, the electoral college has gotten a lot of attention, our undemocratic way of practicing democracy long pre-dates 2016, and can only be blamed on the nation’s founders.  But there’s one explanation that no one has ever offered for Donald Trump’s victory; no one has ever said that he bought the office.  The reality is quite the opposite.  Trump won in spite of a huge cash deficit, being outspent 2 to 1 by the Clinton machine.  Thus, whatever strange brew of unlikely events you believe led to his presidency, you can’t really say that Donald Trump wasn’t duly elected, based on the admittedly unfair terms by which we’ve been deciding these things for 200-plus years, or that his ideas didn’t have greater appeal to roughly half the population (or at least 46% of the population, located in just the right places), than his opponent’s.  By contrast, if Mike Bloomberg were to emerge victorious, it could only be through means that would end up making Trump’s campaign look like a Capraesque paeon to the virtues of representative democracy.  While Trump may be anti-democratic, Bloomberg is post-democratic, and once we go down that road as a nation, it’s unlikely we’ll ever recover.

If Bloomberg wins it will not be because a majority of voters were persuaded by his ideas; it will be because he used his wealth to buy up all the political operatives who might have gone to other campaigns, by paying them double; it will be because he saturation-bombed every media platform with campaign ads; it will be because he’s been buying the allegiance of politicians and activists with the strategic use of grants and donations for decades; it will be because the corporate media wouldn’t go against a candidate who was able to significantly boost their annual revenue with his ad buys.

Bloomberg isn’t running a campaign so much as he’s running a political marketing experiment that was perhaps inevitable in the wake of 2016.  Trump’s victory demonstrated loudly and clearly to the nation’s oligarchs that the door to the White House is wide open to anyone with enough money to fund their own campaign, who can also command the media’s attention.  Bloomberg and others like him were surely watching Trump’s run with keen interest and not a little bit of envy.  Why didn’t I think of that?  If this half-bright, trust fund, con man can do it, anyone with a few billion dollars lying around is a shoe-in, must have been the gist of their thinking, along with, Why keep giving millions of dollars to these politicians, when there’s always the off-chance that they go against our interests under public pressure?  Why not just cut out the middle-man? 

Before 2016 it probably never would have occurred to Mike Bloomberg that a controversial mayor with a horrific history on race, and almost 40 workplace discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits to his name, could actually win the Presidency.  AS A DEMOCRAT.  But all bets are off now.  And we can be sure that everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Jeff Bezos is watching Mike run this cruel experiment on an already shaky and strung out target population, in the hopes that it will end with proof of concept.  Because if Bloomberg can pull this off, any of them can.  And if any of them can, a lot of them will.  And if that happens, it will be the end of democracy in a far more profound sense than the election of Donald Trump portended.  If Bloomberg succeeds, you will never again see a Presidential race in which candidates who simply go around to oligarchs with hat in hand begging for donations, are viable. That kind of campaign will come to seem as quaint and innocent as a small town Mayor’s race circa 1900, in light of what will come after.

To be clear, I don’t think Bloomberg has a snowball’s chance in hell of beating Trump, were he to become the nominee.  For Trumpsters, the Michael Bloomberg Show will never have the sheer entertainment value of the Trump Comedy Hour, and for the left, Bloomberg is the one blue they just can’t “no matter who” for.  While the media might tell you otherwise, the vast majority of Sanders’ primary voters, ended up biting the bullet and voting for Hillary, and in far greater numbers than Hillary ’08 voters supported Obama. That won’t be the case for Mike Bloomberg. Whereas there was no mainstreamed ‘Never Hillary’ effort in 2016, progressive journalist Shaun King has already written a persuasive article about why Bloomberg is the line he just can’t cross, and he isn’t alone. The result will be the kind of Trump landslide that will ironically evoke memories of the Nixon victory over McGovern that the establishment is so fond of attaching to Bernie.

In spite of all this, I know a lot of people are so conditioned to see Trump as the source of all our evils, that some of them are incapable at this point of seeing anyone running against him as an even greater evil.  If Rep. Lucifer Morningstar ran with a D next to his name, these folks would line up to sign their voter registration forms in blood if they thought he could win.  And the truth is, a second term of Trump will be devastating to the country, there’s no doubt about that.  But Bloomberg’s defeat would have the limited virtue of discouraging all the Lex Luthor wanna-bes out there (am I the only one who’s noticed Bezos’ uncanny resemblance?) from grabbing for the brass ring the next time around.  ‘Cause if there’s one thing narcissistic billionaires don’t like, its abject public humiliation.  Seeing Mike get spanked by the voters will likely make them stick to the old ways: buying the candidates with their donations, instead of being the candidates themselves. It’s not much, but it’s something.

In the end, whatever the outcome of a Bloomberg v Trump race, a “democracy” that offers its citizens a choice between voting for one racist billionaire, or another racist billionaire, with “not racist,” and “not a billionaire” nowhere on the menu, is probably doomed either way.  At that point, your best bet is to focus on securing citizenship in a civilized country and stocking up on bottled water in the event that you can’t get out.  But in the “lesser of two evils” spirit that centrist types are always going on about when they’re trying to persuade you to vote for someone who’s taken money from the “toxic waste in backyards” lobby, because their opponent has taken money from the “toxic waste in school lunches” lobby, ensuring Bloomberg’s defeat is probably the lesser evil.  Our job right now as citizens is to do everything in our power to ensure that it doesn’t come to that, even if it means incurring some backlash by stating loudly and publicly that you’ll vote for any Democrat, but you’ll never vote for Michael Bloomberg.  Those statements are not mutually exclusive.  #nevermike

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Russell’s (Assuming They Don’t Rig It) Caucus Night Predictions

by Russell Dobular

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably at least a little bit of a politics junkie, so I’m going to assume you don’t need to have the caucuses explained to you. The fact that anyone who doesn’t make the 15% threshold in the first round of voting will be eliminated, with their voters free to caucus for other candidates, makes predicting Iowa notoriously treacherous. Nonetheless, I’m going to risk it here, and either hang my head as Keaton mocks me unmercifully on our next podcast, or demand a raise if I called it right. Here goes:

  1. Bernie Sanders
  2. Elizabeth Warren
  3. Joe Biden
  4. Pete Buttigieg
  5. Amy Klobuchar

Here’s why:

1. Sanders

Every fact-set you can name favors Sanders in this contest. He’s led in all the recent polling, including the final Emerson poll released on Sunday, in which he’s up on Biden by 7%. He also has the most donors, and the most volunteers. On top of that he closed out his campaign in the state with a rally that drew about 3,000 people – triple what any other candidate was able to pull in. According to the campaign, Sanders’ volunteer army knocked on over 500,000 doors leading up to the caucus. I can also tell you anecdotally from making calls into culturally similar Minnesota, folks out in the heartland are feeling the Bern. About 80% of the people I reached were planning on supporting Sanders. It was a palpably different experience from phone banking in 2016. Not only do I think Sanders will win it, I think he’s going to crush it, given the difficulty of accurately polling Sanders supporters. If Sanders is up by 7% in the polls, he’s probably up by 10%-15% on the ground.

2. Warren

Warren has been fighting it out with Mayor Pete for the college-educated white vote for several months. Now that most of the Sanders-to-Warren folks have gone back to Sanders in the wake of her M4A 3-year plan and CNNgate, that’s about all she has left. So, the real question is, who wins that group? I think it’s Warren for a couple of reasons. We’ve been hearing from everyone on the ground in Iowa that she has the best field operation in the state, and that she’s pretty dug in, and that she has been for awhile. She also isn’t polling at 0% with black voters in South Carolina, unlike her main rival in this lane, Mayor Pete. If you’re an Iowa voter, you’ve gotta be asking yourself, “Why vote for someone who has no chance after New Hampshire?” I think that swings the “too cool for Biden, but too rich for Bernie” vote in her direction.

3. Biden

Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti of The Hill, have placed Biden in 4th, and that could definitely happen if his field operation is as bad as we’re hearing. Lets face it, its gotta be pretty bad for John Kerry to be caught ranting on the phone in the middle of a hotel lobby about jumping into the race, mere days before the vote. I don’t think its going to play out that way only because of the Klobuchar factor. Almost half of her voters have Biden as their second choice. Given that Klobuchar is virtually certain to fall short of the 15% threshold, that’s going to give Biden a boost. Between that, and the tendency of his geriatric cohort to show up at the polls, I think he manages to squeak into 3rd.

4. Buttigieg

He’ll probably clear the 15% threshold. But not by much. I only think he’ll clear that because of the resources he’s poured into the state, the months the corporate media has spent promoting his candidacy like it’s their job, and the fact that the white college educated vote is a big part of the Democratic base in Iowa. Big enough to both push Warren into second, and place Buttigieg right on the edge of qualifying for delegates.

5. Klobuchar

No real need to explain this one, but I’ll make another prediction: she’s going to drop out after Iowa, and endorse Joe Biden as part of a desperate establishment effort to prop him up.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it with the proviso that I could be completely wrong about everything. Except Sanders. He’s gonna crush it.

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Collapse of the Wokesters: 2020 is Exposing the Impotence of Identity Politics

by Russell Dobular

There’s a great scene in Oliver Stone’s classic Viet Nam War movie, Platoon, where a black soldier questions Charlie Sheen’s protagonist on how a college educated white boy ended up in Nam. Sheen explains that he dropped out to enlist because he didn’t think it was right that only poor kids had to go fight. The soldier laughs and responds, “Man, you gotta be rich to think like that in the first place.” I’ve always found that scene very profound and revealing (given that the film was semi-autobiographical, I’d be surprised if it wasn’t taken from an actual exchange). It illustrates how when you’re coming from a place of privilege, even the way you think about fighting against privilege, reflects a privileged perspective. And so it is with “woke culture.” And that’s why it’s electoral poison, as virtue signaling media darlings like Harris and O’Rourke discovered when their campaigns both imploded on the launch pad, in spite of all the encouraging words from the Twitterverse.

For the wokesters, this election cycle has been a non-stop cognitive dissonance machine. Note the rash of knee-jerk articles that greeted Harris’ exit from the race as evidence of structural racism and the foul perfidy of white Democratic voters. Also note how quickly that take went away. By the time we got to Castro and Booker’s respective withdrawals from the race, we heard nary a peep about it. Turned out it was impossible to maintain the default shocked outrage narrative in a world where the two people leading among black and Latino voters, Biden and Sanders, are both old, white guys, while Harris, Booker, and Castro, got nowhere with those constituencies. This kind of patronizing, “We know what’s best for you,” signaling from educated white people is as old as the earliest urban social workers, who would drop into poor neighborhoods around the turn of the century and attempt to solve juvenile delinquency by teaching Aristotle. To the surprise of no one outside the 10% of people who generate 80% of the tweets, it turns out POC are as concerned with policy as anybody else, and are perhaps even more disinclined than working class whites (who themselves are pretty disinclined), to choose milquetoast candidates based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation in order to send some kind of message. As Aqil Shakur, a 53 year-old black voter, told the New York Times, “If I had a Kamala Harris or a Corey Booker that sounded like Bernie Sanders, of course I would choose them because they’re closer to my lived experience. But the Kamalas and Coreys aren’t discussing the issues he’s discussing.”

Going beyond the way this cohort turns off voters of all stripes, with a full 80% identifying “political correctness as a problem in the country” (including 74% of those aged 25-29, and 79% of those under 24), the intellectual bankruptcy and outright hypocrisy of their movement, such as it is, couldn’t be made more clear than it is in who they choose to support. Mostly this group has been bouncing back and forth between Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete. Warren is a person who spent her entire career claiming to be Native American, based on a family legend, going so far as to submit “family recipes,” to a book called Pow Wow Chow, that were plagiarized from the New York Times. She also allowed Harvard to claim her as the first Woman of Color hired by their law school for several decades, then lied about having told them she was Native, or knowing that she was being touted as such. Even with the kindest interpretation, which would assume that Warren actually believed the family stories, how on earth would the notion that you had a Native great-great-great grandparent, give you the right to identify as Native American? I have a Mongolian great-grandfather. But it would never occur to me to identify as “Asian” on official forms, as Warren indisputably did regarding her “Native” claims. This is supposed to be the kind of thing that gets you cancelled in Wokeworld. But Warren is a female candidate with a ‘D’ next to her name, so down the memory hole it goes, never to be spoken of, even as every comedian who ever said anything off-color, anytime, anywhere, is to be tarred, feathered, and driven from the public square.

And what about Mayor Pete? This is a man who started his career by firing the first black police chief of South Bend, possibly at the urging of his donors.  He then went on in this election cycle to claim endorsements from black politicians for his Presidential run that he did not actually have. According to the edicts of wokeness, this is the kind of thing that oughta make your head explode, no? Like, this is tweet-until-your-fingers-bleed-and- you’ve-lost-all-your-friends territory. But, like Warren, he checks an identity box, and he has a ‘D’ next to his name, so once again, down the memory hole it goes, with a big assist from a corporate media that makes it much easier for their addled consumers to forget all this, by refusing to report on it, leaving Democrats to be blindsided later when the GOP beats the snot out of their candidate by putting it all into an ad blitz. Given the almost total lack of black support for Buttigieg, it would be very interesting to poll his voters on how many of them included lack of diversity in his base as part of the case against Bernie Sanders in the last election. I’m saying you’d get about 99% in the affirmative column if they answered honestly. But as their enthusiasm for two candidates that, in their preferred nomenclature, are “deeply problematic,” illustrates, intellectual consistency is not the strong suit of this crowd.

The latest evidence of how unpopular woke culture war appeals are among rank and file voters, has been the polling since CNN’s dumpster fire of a debate. After Warren and CNN smeared Sanders as a sexist in what was clearly a closely coordinated attack, Sanders took the lead for the first time nationally in a Reuters poll, with Warren losing 3% and Biden losing 4%. That’s great news for the vast majority of us who would much rather talk about health care and student debt than bathroom laws and Kevin Hart. The arsenal of weapons built up over decades to channel dissent into areas that don’t cost wealthy political donors any money, i.e.; cultural issues, are proving to be so wholly ineffective, that after this election its hard to imagine anyone will try to run that kind of national campaign again. No one likes to be on the losing team, and as a result, the long, national nightmare of tyranny by twitter, may finally be coming to an end.

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Yes, Warren Is a Lying Liar Who Lies, But It’s Time To Get Back To Beating Joe Biden.

by Russell Dobular

If you’re a Sanders supporter, you’re probably furious with Elizabeth Warren right now. If, like me, you’re a Sanders supporter who’s been going out of their way to say nice things about Warren, you’re probably a little embarrassed too. And if, in spite of her long history of stretching the truth, you’ve been looking the other way, you might feel like you should have seen this coming. I know I have all those feelings, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been responding to her fundraising emails with the kinds of comments that are likely to drive the poor bastards manning her campaign’s info@ box to double down on the Xanax and re-evaluate their life choices. But it’s time to take the win and move on.

What win am I talking about? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, the fallout here has been a victory for the progressive movement on every level. Let’s start with the corporate media. We always knew that if and when Sanders started leading in the polls they would pull out all the stops to blunt his momentum. It was my hope that they would go so over the top in their efforts that it would shred whatever credibility they had left with all but the most dedicated worshippers at the Holy Shrine of CNN and the most devout devotees of the Cult of Maddow. That happened a lot faster than I expected. And we owe it all to CNN and its horrendous debate. The questions were so slanted, and the hostility to Sanders so pronounced, even Mika Brzezinski wasn’t buying it.  And when you can’t convince the corporate shills at Morning Joe that you ran a fair debate, you know the mask is slipping in ways that are hard for the average viewer to miss. That’s probably why #CNNistrash and #CNNisgarbage have been trending on Twitter for the past 48 hours. Progressives have been asking for a long time, “When are people going to wake up and realize this is all propaganda?” Looks like the answer is: now. They’re waking up now. I’d say to send Wolf Blitzer a fruit basket, but no one needs that kind of scrutiny from the FBI.

To understand how epic this fail was, for both Warren and CNN, one only has to look at the numbers. Sanders broke a record for real time debate fundraising in the first hour, with 15,000 donations. That’s 250 a minute, amounting to 43% of total Act Blue donations. Keep in mind that this was at the exact same time that moderator Abby Phillip pulled her now infamous hack move of ignoring Sanders’ denials of Warren’s claims to ask Warren how she felt when “Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election.” There was a time when a signal like that from corporate media would have tanked your campaign immediately, as poor Howard Dean (the Bernie Sanders of 2004) discovered when he had the temerity to scream awkwardly on an open mic. They broke that man so hard with their constant mockery and replays, that he’s a pharmaceutical lobbyist now. He used to be for single-payer health care.

But 2020 is a long way from 2004. Between WMD’s, 2016, Russiagate, and Beto-mania, they’ve lost all credibility with most of the public, and, as usual when it comes to assessing the mood of the body politic, they seem to be the last to know. Sanders has gone on to raise $4M since the debate, from 200,000 contributions, including 25,000 new donors. And he undoubtedly owes a lot of that to Warren’s desperate tactics, combined with the sheer awfulness of CNN.

The other win is the damage that Elizabeth Warren has done to her own campaign. In the end, even if you were well-disposed to Warren, you knew she needed to get out of the race in order for Sanders to consolidate progressive support. Yes, she mostly attracts white, well-educated voters, but we know from polling that around 31% of them will end up with Bernie when she drops out.  I’m expecting that number to decrease in the coming days. Why? Because a lot of those voters are Bernie to Warren voters, who are going to jump ship early and come home to Bernie now. And we owe it all to her campaign’s brilliant decision to launch an identity politics-based smear against the politician with the highest favorability ratings in the Democratic Party. All she’ll have left at that point are the folks who are privileged enough to prioritize her gender over her integrity. By the time the dust settles, she could be under 15% in Iowa. Not even enough to get delegates.

Sure, we’ve had our fun over the last few days, from the Biblical plague of snakes dropped onto Warren’s Twitter feed, to the inundation of Act Blue with requests for Warren donor refunds. And it’s not like Warren didn’t ask for it. In spades. But to keep this going is only going to turn off voters who might otherwise support Bernie when Warren drops out. ‘Cause a lot of those people don’t like Bernie, but they really don’t like Joe Biden. Given a choice between the two, many will come over. Unless we get their backs up to the point that they decide to vote Biden out of spite. Warren will be out of the race before Super Tuesday. But Joe Biden will still be there. Let’s not waste our time on a sideshow when the main event is still to come.

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There’s No Privilege Like Class Privilege – Which is Why We’re Not Allowed To Talk About It.

by Russell Dobular

“You are kept apart that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings. You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism which enslaves you both.”-Tom Watson, Georgia Congressman, 1892

It’s a strange time to be a white guy from the American underclass. In a moment when the cultural conversation is being defined by educated elites as one about the inordinate privilege of white people generally, and white men specifically, it puts poor white people in the very odd position of getting “called out” by folks who usually come from far more exalted backgrounds than themselves. It’s kind of like if the villain from Karate Kid grew up to be a social justice warrior and started telling Ralph Macchio to check his privilege. What are you supposed to do with that? These richies have always been around, and they’ve always found reasons to look down on the working class, but in the past they at least had the decency to stay in their lane; if you weren’t part of their world of sports cars as graduation presents and hefty donations securing their slots at Ivy League schools, you didn’t hear from them much. You drank beer on the corner, while they drank cocktails in Daddy’s den, and rarely did the twain meet. Sure, a few daughters of the suburbs, usually the ones with particularly aloof fathers, would make their way to your part of town looking for someone to play Patrick Swayze to their Jennifer Gray, but they never stuck around long. For this new generation of rich white kids though, economic privilege just wasn’t enough. Now they want to virtue signal too.

The thing is, a poor white person and a poor person of color have a lot more in common in the kinds of experiences they’re likely to have, and the kinds of attitudes and values they’re going to cultivate as a result, than either one of them do with someone in the upper 20% of income distribution. Understanding society as a thing that’s been designed to keep you and yours down, seeing the police as enforcers of an unfair system, and the cultivation of a reputation for generosity and reliability among your own, (cuz when you can’t buy your way out of trouble, you never know when you’re going to need help from your network), are attitudes that all poor communities hold in common. I’ve always related to the people I’ve met in jail a lot better than I ever have to the people I’ve met in college. Because of systemic racism, I’ve usually been the lone white dude in the cell on those occasions, and I am not in any way suggesting that POC don’t face a huge, glaring, extra obstacle that poor whites don’t. But I am suggesting that class has more to do with your way of seeing the world than race does, making any discussion of “white privilege” that treats white people as a monolith absurd in its contradictions. By way of example: a friend told me that white people don’t have to code-switch. But if you get me drunk or angry, I sound like I just walked off the set of the Sopranos. That’s my most natural way of speaking. Try getting taken seriously in a university setting speaking that way. When I went away to college, I had to suppress it. I’ve been code-switching since the day I left home. I still slip once in a while, dropping “Lookit ‘dis fuckin’ guy ovah heyah,” and such, in mixed company. I bet Michael Herriott, whose great piece on Pete Buttgieg went viral recently, could relate to that. I definitely related to his story of growing up the book smart kid from a poor neighborhood, who got to go to college. Yet, Herriott describes himself as an expert in “whypipology,” as if those kinds of experiences are exclusive to POC. I don’t know what to do with that either. When everyone wants to deny the reality of your experience, because it doesn’t fit neatly into their preferred narratives about race and class, it can feel like your entire identity is being erased in service to a narrative.

But all ‘whypipology’ aside, I’ve never actually had a working-class POC accuse me of white privilege, probably because people from the lower-classes have a certain way of handling themselves that’s easy to spot if you know the vocabulary. I’ve only ever heard that from other white people, all of whom had it a lot better than I did growing up. That’s because being naïve is a privilege. So’s being an asshole. Poor people can’t afford either, so they usually size up who they’re dealing with based on their actions and aren’t all that quick to jump to conclusions. When you don’t have money, relationships are your most valuable resource. There’s no reason to write off a potential ally in a world that’s stacked against you, until you get a sense of who they are and what they’re made of. When poor people say “ally” they don’t mean a straight person who marches in the gay pride parade to show their solidarity. They mean someone you can call at 3AM from central booking to be there in the morning with your bail. ‘Cause when you’re poor, those things happen. And when they do, you’d better hope someone out there owes you a favor.

Aside from the deflection from their own class privilege that drives wealthy virtue-signaling white people, the phenomena is actually just a new twist on something that’s as old as the country; the cultivation of resentment and mistrust between poor whites and poor blacks, in order to keep them from uniting. In the past this was always done from the white side, meaning it was the poor white people who were flattered and exalted by society’s elites, by way of keeping them from making common cause with poor blacks, and indeed that tactic is alive and well on the political right. But that’s not a tenable approach on the so-called “left,” so instead, elites are exalting POC and denigrating poor whites, which, in the end, has the same effect of keeping them from getting together and fighting against their eternal common enemy: the rich.

There have been both white and black leaders who have attempted to challenge this divide and conquer strategy, from John Brown, to Fred Hampton, to MLK. They all got whacked. Huey Newton, Kwame Torre, Louis Farrakhan; they all made it to a ripe old age, in spite of their fiery and often violent anti-white rhetoric. And Malcolm didn’t get taken out until he re-evaluated his views on black separatism. Stoking racial resentment doesn’t threaten to overturn the apple cart. It actually helps to maintain the status quo. But when you start trying to bridge racial divides by focusing on class solidarity, now that shit is dangerous. That’s one of the reasons Bernie Sanders is so terrifying to the establishment. Old and white though he might be, his views on race and class are dangerously Marxist, and were he to become president, he’s going to be talking a lot less about micro-aggressions, than he will be the macro-aggression to all non-wealthy people that is the capitalist system. They’d much rather have you talking about glass ceilings that people who start life in the basement are never going to encounter, and who is and isn’t allowed to wear a kimono, than to develop a real class consciousness that brings the entire American underclass together under one banner.

So, does this mean we should ignore the reality of “white privilege?” No, of course it doesn’t. I lived in Harlem throughout most of the Bloomberg administration, and I never got stopped-and-frisked once. That honor was reserved for black men on my block, who I would often see getting a pat down on the corner for no good reason at all. To live in a black neighborhood is to see up close and personal that the nightmare police state that only exists for white people in dystopian sci-fi films is the actual lived reality for much of the black population. When white people fret that Trump will bring fascism to America, what they really mean is that they’re afraid Trump will bring fascism to them. Fascism is already here for POC, and always has been.

But woke virtue signaling isn’t going to solve these problems. If it could, they’d have already been largely solved, or at least ameliorated, by now. Since the 50’s, we’ve gone from ‘negro’, to ‘black’, to ‘African-American’, and back to ‘black’, and through it all, the actual economic conditions of blacks in America have barely budged, and actually worsened in some areas, over the past 50 years. Given that the incarceration rate in the black community has increased 16x in that same period, largely as a result of the racially motivated “war on drugs,” you could make the case that things are worse today in some respects than they were 50 years ago.

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If language policing and feel-good symbolism had any meaningful real-world impact, why would that be the case? And if rich white people really cared about the underlying causes of poverty, wouldn’t they be spending more time freaking out about the fact that we’ve re-created slavery by a different name through the carceral state, and less time trying to cancel people on Twitter? The truth is, they really don’t give a fuck about POC, and they never have. They only care about preserving their privileges and feeling good about themselves while they do it. POC are used simply as props, in order to deflect attention away from any examination of an economic system that favors those who already have over those who have never had and, in all likelihood, never will have.

So, by all means, let’s keep talking about “white privilege.” It’s real, and it’s important. But lets not weaponize it, and most of all, let’s not allow the concept to divide working people by race the way they always have been in America, going all the way back to indentured white servants and the black slaves they worked alongside from the earliest days of the colonies. Let’s always consider the realities of class and how much impact it has on outcomes and opportunities for people of all backgrounds. And lets not forget that policies aimed at helping working people, like Medicare-for-All, a living wage, and free college, are going to benefit all of us. The struggle for those things must not be derailed as it has been so many times in the past, by internecine fighting over race. When that happens, the only people who benefit are the same wealthy elites that have been keeping us at each other’s throats for the past 400 hundred years. It doesn’t really make a difference if they’re doing that by convincing white people that blacks are inferior, or if they’re doing it by portraying all poor whites as ignorant racists; the end result is always the same. We waste our energies attacking each other, while nothing really changes. If we want to do something truly new in all of American history, we should try not to fall for it this time.

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Who Are Joe Biden’s Supporters? One Op-Ed Writer Accidentally Breaks It Down.

by Russell Dobular

Melissa Henneberger, a regular contributor to the KC Star, and the political editor for the Huffington Post, recently published an article in USA Today that explains the unfathomable in a way that no other pundit has managed to do: who the fuck are these people keeping Joe Biden at the top of the polls month after month? Whether they’re progressive, centrist, Republican, what have you, I’ve never talked to a single person who actually wants to see Joe Biden become the Democratic Party’s nominee. At best, I’ve spoken to a few who have swallowed the “electability” narrative. But an enthusiastic Biden supporter is virtually impossible to find in the wild. We owe a debt then to Ms. Henneberger for voicing her full-throated support for Biden in a column that reflects not only her worldview, but, in all likelihood, the worldview of a lot of these mystery voters who think a man whose every public appearance is a nerve wracking, suspense filled exercise in waiting for him to say something horrible, is the best person to run against Donald Trump.

So, lets start with the headline:

“Joe Biden is my Harvard, not my ‘safety school.’ He really is my favorite 2020 Democrat.”

So, listen Mel (can I call you Mel? I feel like if I’m going to break this down we should get comfortable), I know that a Notre Dame graduate such as yourself who earned her degree in European Studies (of all things) in frikkin’ Belgium (of all places), is probably completely incapable of understanding the class implications of this headline, but as soon as you wrote it, you lost most of the voters who are going to decide the next election. Those would be the same voters who decided the last one: blue-collar workers in the Midwest who are living in third world conditions right here in the United States of America. They don’t have “safety schools,” and they generally don’t go to Harvard, or know anyone who has. Their choices aren’t so much between Harvard and Notre Dame, as they are between food and insulin. Really, if we consider your age (61) and correlate it with this headline, we could stop right here with a pretty good understanding of where a large portion of Biden’s support is coming from. But I have the morning free, so lets continue.

“I keep reading that no one — not even Jill Biden — actually prefers Joe Biden to the other Democratic presidential candidates. Supposedly, he is a front-runner who is solely supported, with tiny sighs and great regret, by those too fearful to follow their hearts. My friend Walter Shapiro has written that Biden is the “safety school” of Democrats — regarded fondly, but the first choice of nobody.”

Okay, so to be fair, apparently you didn’t start this whole “safety school,” thing. You wrote this article in response to your friend Walter’s article. I’m sure you and Walter had a delightful discussion about all this over drinks at some famous Washington watering hole favored by pundits and Senators, after your response went live. But, listen Mel, and this is just a suggestion; maybe if you want to really understand what’s happening in the country, you need to stop taking your cues from folks like Walter, and start spending a little more time with average people. ‘Cause this is starting to sound like a private conversation between two rich assholes that somehow spilled out into the public sphere.

“Early admission: He’s my Harvard, OK? And I do not favor the former vice president because I think he has the best chance of winning, which may or may not be true.

Instead, if the contest were tomorrow, I’d vote Biden because I think he’d do the best job if we did manage to grab the wheel away from a president who reminds me more every day of “Vinny the Chin” Gigante, a mob boss who used to go around New York City in his bathrobe and house shoes, babbling to himself. (Vinny might have been faking madness to stay out of prison, but the guy currently faking sanity to stay in the Oval Office does a pretty good Vinny imitation all the same.)”

Again, with the Harvard. Okay, I guess you’re kinda locked into this conceit now, but Jesus. And, Trump, bad. Got it. So, why exactly do you feel Biden would be the best person to undo the Trump era? Do you have any policy positions of Biden’s that you particularly favor, or any past accomplishments of Biden’s that you can point to as evidence of his exceptional gifts? I’ll wait.

“So how is it that everywhere I go, I meet Biden supporters who don’t know they’re settling? And how is it that only we nonexistent Joe enthusiasts seem to be able to see each other?”

Well, since you’re asking, Biden polls around 28/29%. That means about two-thirds of Democratic voters don’t want him. The ones who do want him, tend, like yourself, to be over 60. So, it’s probably just that you don’t really speak to anyone outside your older, wealthy, white demographic, and that ends up giving you a warped impression of his level of support. Glad I could help.

“At a wedding in New York, changing planes in Washington, over coffee in Boston and on my porch in Kansas City, what I hear from pro-Joe Democrats is hardly resignation. Nor is it some complicated, defeatist calculus about how appealing non-Trump-loving Republicans might find him.”

Sigh. Okay, Mel, breaking down this article is kind of like watching someone shooting arrows all around the target, hitting every spot but the bullseye. You keep on answering your own question. Most people are lucky if they get to take a vacation once in a year. They aren’t gallivanting all around the nation attending weddings and grabbing coffee. Honestly, it sounds nice. But maybe having that lifestyle and surrounding yourself with people who also enjoy that lifestyle has made you completely useless as a political journalist, if the measure of usefulness is to actually understand things.

“Don’t underestimate Biden: He knows what America needs and how to get it done.

A childhood friend in Illinois talks about how blessedly comfortable Biden makes her feel — and if you think “comfortable” means meh, you must have slept through the past three fun-filled years.

His authenticity and experience are exactly what the country needs now, says a former colleague in Florida.”

We get it. You know at least one well-connected rich person in every state, and you’ve polled all of them. I know this is an opinion piece Mel, but even by op-ed standards this is pretty lazy writing. You again offer no explanation as to why Biden is the best choice for the current moment, and your sources are a childhood friend and a former colleague, who themselves have nothing meaningful to say about Biden. He makes one feel “blessedly comfortable,” and another admires his “authenticity and experience.” Might I ask if these friends of yours already have high quality health insurance coverage? If the answer is “no,” I promise to meet you for coffee in whatever East Coast city you happen to be gathering the opinions of upper-class professionals in at the time, and offer you a face to face apology for this entire misunderstanding.

“And best of all, he would have no learning curve, so he could get right to work undoing the damage caused by what’s-his-name, says a therapist in North Carolina.

“He’s a good, honorable, smart, decent, civil man who has dedicated his entire life to public service,” says Morna Murray, executive director of the Rhode Island Disability Law Center and former senior counsel to Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “He was a great senator and vice president, and I’m pretty sure it does not get much better than that!”

More state-name dropping, more professional class friends who also like Joe Biden, and more vacuous quotes. BTW, Morna, speaking of vacuous quotes, are we talking about the same “great Senator” who made it impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy, voted for the Iraq War, and whose crime bill was instrumental in incarcerating a generation of black men? Lemme guess; you have no outstanding student loans, no one close to you had to serve in that war, and you have no experience of the criminal justice system except through your work as an attorney (GW Law, Class of ’86). IM me if I’m right.

Joe Biden isn’t the boringly reassuring candidate Democrats were hoping for.

It’s early in the campaign, and I’m not even trying to win converts; love who you love, and I will, too. But pundits, please stop insisting that nobody is excited about Biden’s candidacy, or that he’s the head-over-heart guy who appeals only to those making a bloodless, Vulcan and strictly strategic choice.”

No, Mel, you’re right. If nothing else you’ve convinced me that he’s the passionate first choice of elderly elites. Point taken.

An empathizer with a giant heart.

Really, have you met Joe Biden, people? I ask because if you’ve glimpsed him at any point over the past 40 years, you may have noticed that his biggest selling point is his giant heart, and the way that after multiple tragedies, he walks through the world as the compassionate consoler and messy, highly emotional and ever-ready empathizer we do need most right now. It’s strange for those of us who appreciate these qualities in him most of all to then be told that we shouldn’t be so passionless and practical in choosing a candidate.”

Privilege is . . . having the luxury of prioritizing personal demeanor over actual policy. Here we are coming to the end of this article and your “big pitch” for Biden. You still haven’t mentioned one way that Joe Biden has made the country better in the course of his decades-long political career, or one policy he’s put forth that will make it better going forward. Your idea of a qualification seems to be, “He’s a nice guy.” I’m sure he is a nice guy one-on-one. He’s also made it harder for families to declare bankruptcy and made it easier to send people to jail for drug crimes. The performance of empathy and the practice of empathy are two different things, Mel. Where the latter is concerned, Biden has used his power in a way that’s downright sociopathic. Why would we want to give him more of it?

“It’s so painful to watch Biden being Al Gored, with every utterance shorn of context in service to the narrative. Then, it was that Gore exaggerated. And he did, but the planet is considerably worse off today because we were saved from that nightmare. Today, of course, it’s that Biden is gaffe-prone. And he is, but by getting stuck on Biden gaffes as we did on Gore exaggerations, the planet will be worse off.”

Gaffes are when you mean to say, “I love it here in New Hampshire” and you say, “There’s a pink elephant in my boat.” In other words, if it’s a gaffe, it doesn’t actually reflect your worldview – its just a random slip of the tongue. Biden classics like this description of Barack Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man,” and the more recent suggestion that black parents don’t know how to raise their children, “Social workers help parents deal with how to raise their children. It’s not like they don’t want to help, they don’t know what to do,” are not “gaffes.” They’re the views of an old, white dude whose idea of what it means to be “liberal” was formed in union halls circa 1975. If you’re comfortable electing someone with those views, you do you, but to suggest these are simple misstatements that don’t reflect Biden’s true feelings is a stretch.

“Now, maybe this is not completely unlike that day in fourth grade when our teacher Miss Wiswall said, “No one in here still believes in Santa Claus, do they?” and I put my hand up and said, “I do.”

Not because I didn’t know the other kids would laugh, and not even because I believed in Santa Claus, but because I wished I did, and wanted to stand up for innocence, or maybe just contrarianism, and against being told what to think. What if some other 9-year-old was sitting there crushed at the news? But back to Joe Biden … Him I do believe in.”

Well, what can I tell ya Mel: one person’s idyllic vision of a simpler, more innocent world, is another person’s crushing lifetime student loan debt, Iraq War induced PTSD, and/or draconian prison sentence. Like Joe Biden, I’m sure you’re a very nice person one-on- one. If we ever do have that coffee, I bet you’ll pick up the tab. But, also like Joe Biden, I don’t think you really give a meaningful, flying fuck about the real problems that real people are facing. I think you like to think you care. But you don’t want to do the work that caring would involve. Like, for example, spending five minutes considering Joe Biden’s record before writing something like this. Or spending an additional five minutes considering the impact those policies have had on people outside the coffee in Boston/wedding in New York set. I mean, you’ve been a professional journalist since the late 80’s Mel. You certainly have the training and resources to figure all this stuff out if you really wanted to. The fact that you haven’t suggests that you don’t. So, listen, the next time you see Walter, tell him I said, “Proletarier aller Länder vereinigt Euch!” It’ll probably scare the shit out him, especially coming from you, but I’m sure its nothing a few cocktails at Bullfeathers won’t resolve. Oh, and also, please for the love of God, and for the sake of the nation, stop cranking out this dreck. I promise you, as I sit here at the writing desk that I rescued from the trash some ten years ago, and which now resides in the bedroom of my fifth floor Harlem walk-up, it ain’t helping the situation. Not even a little bit.

Sincerely Yours,

The Unwashed Masses

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