Democracy is Broken: Why 51% of Sanders Supporters are Considering a 3rd Party

by Russell Dobular

A new Emerson poll has found that 51% of Bernie Sanders supporters are considering casting their vote for an independent or 3rd Party candidate in November. In my previous piece on the movement to #DemExit, I explored the reasons why so many were planning on leaving the party in response to the way both the 2016 and 2020 primaries were conducted.  In this article I’ll explore how ill-equipped Democratic voters are to understand this phenomena, how they got that way, and why their fury at those voters couldn’t be more misdirected or counterproductive.

The core premise of democracy is that people will tend to vote in their own best interests, and that the candidates best aligned with those interests will rise to the top.  This means that in order to secure people’s votes you need to persuade them that voting for you is in their best interests. Given that different factions in society have different interests, and sometimes are at outright cross purposes, in theory the candidate who represents the largest number of voters’ interests should win. Seen in this light, a country where 63% of people said they couldn’t afford a $1,000 emergency before it was hit by a global pandemic, should be fertile ground for populist candidates offering bold redistributive policies that will ease the economic burdens of the majority of voters.  Candidates who defend the status quo and promise more of the same, shouldn’t even be able to make it out of the primaries. That is, unless all of the available options are being circumscribed by two political parties with a vested interest in the status quo. That being the case, elections will quickly degenerate into a competition between which candidates can best fake an alignment with the public good, and who can also best affect a cultural signaling that a majority of voters find appealing. But what happens when a large share of the electorate begins to see through the ruse?  That, in a nutshell, is what has happened over the past four years and as a result, Joe Biden has an excellent chance of losing in 2020, in spite of the ever more obvious horrors of the Trump administration.

Nothing could emblemize how few fucks the power brokers in the Democratic Party have to give about actually persuading voters, than their alignment with a cognitively impaired candidate with the kind of record that’s bound to turn off huge swaths of their base. Trump won the Midwest largely by attacking NAFTA, and other trade deals that have proved to be a disaster for the working class. So why would you line up behind one of the people most associated with pushing those policies in Washington? When low black turn-out in 2016 was a decisive factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat, why pick someone who collaborated with segregationists on anti-crime legislation? When a lot of your base is deeply invested in the #MeToo movement, why promote a candidate who has a long history of creepy behavior towards women in public forums, even before you get to the allegations of sexual assault that have recently emerged? A party focused on winning elections and delivering for its voters wouldn’t come anywhere near a candidate like Biden. The fact that its leaders have done so is making it so painfully clear that their voters are a mere afterthought in their selection process, that its taking a herculean effort of willful blindness for even the most VBNW Democrats to miss it. And if those folks can’t get excited about Biden, how are people who only joined the party to vote for Sanders going to feel? That’s how you get to a place where a large portion of your theoretical base is looking for a 3rd Party candidate to get behind, even in the face of Donald Trump. You get there by defying every common sense rule of democracy, in the belief that pointing out the truly loathsome nature of the other side will be enough to pull you through, lessons of 2016 be damned.

So how do you keep voters from kicking out the fence and stampeding away from the two parties, while at the same time ignoring their interests and policy preferences? You turn their focus away from policy and towards brand loyalty. You teach them to understand politics in terms of personalities, and opposing teams, rather than as a matter of civic engagement and personal responsibility.  You flatter them according to what your party’s particular demographic niche is prone to be flattered by. For Republicans, that manifests as various iterations of the idea that their voters are “the real Americans.”  For Democrats, it’s a matter of telling them that they’re the smartest and most enlightened members of society. This is a mental trap that’s surprisingly sticky. Once you’ve bought into it, it becomes part of your personal identity, and provides the enticing reward of endless ego stroking. Tuning in to your preferred propaganda outlet to hear about how all those other people who aren’t you, have committed yet another offense to the flag, or have once again shown their bottomless stupidity, is addictive. It gives the consumer the constant reassurance that they’re among the elect. And as the continued existence of organized religion in a largely secular world will tell you, that’s a powerful drug. Once you’ve gotten hooked on it, it isn’t easy to give up. Because giving it up means no longer being one of the chosen. Now you’re just a schmuck who’s been regurgitating propaganda fed to you by liars and con artists in order to keep themselves in power. That’s a hard journey, and most people who find themselves jonesing for a shot of slanted framing at least once a day will never make it.  But the mostly younger voters who are taking a hard look at Howie Hawkins and Jesse Ventura, have rejected the whole premise, because they were never given any reason to accept it in the first place. War, surveillance, a gig economy, climate catastrophe, spiraling inequality, and now a global pandemic, is all they’ve ever known. They aren’t intrinsically better than previous generations, but they’ve had a very different experience than any that came before them. As a result, the gulf between the ESPN-style political discourse that their elders have been conditioned to and their lived reality is so great that a lot of them are ready to burn it all down in order to get to something better.  If you got a ticket to the show back when there were still good seats to be had, that can be hard to wrap your head around. But for people who never even had the opportunity to get into the nose-bleed section, it makes perfect sense.

In the face of this reality, mainline Democrats react in the only way they know how – they attack, they malign, they shame, and they rage. They continue to use the term “Bernie Bros,” in spite of the fact that Sanders’ coalition was the most diverse of all 2020 candidates.  They accuse Sanders’ supporters of being in a cult, even as those supporters once again reject his endorsement of the establishment favorite.  They label them “far left,” even though their policy preferences are squarely in line with public opinion.  Asking why so many would choose to reject their nominee, even if it means re-electing Donald Trump, is a question their own political assumptions render them incapable of asking. To even consider the idea, you have to put a little bit of daylight between yourself and the notion that the party represents virtue, decency, and all that is right in the world. You also have to overcome a decades long process of media conditioning that’s trained its consumers to think in terms of WWE-style absolutes. There are good wrestlers and there are bad wrestlers. There’s never been a “Master of Disastrous Moral Ambiguity,” in the ring. As Marshall McLuhan observed, “The medium is the message.” And the cable news medium of political coverage is built around conflict, because conflict gets eyeballs.  We’re monkeys in the end, and monkeys have a vested survival interest in paying close attention to a fight. In the process we become invested a “side,” even when neither side really represents our interests.

It is for all these reasons that Democrats can only react to those who reject their party with furious condescension and never with careful consideration.  The fury is a result of the simplistic understanding of politics that they’ve absorbed, and the condescension is part and parcel of the brand they’ve embraced. They will call for “unity” even as the party openly conspires against progressive candidates for office. They will continue to think of the left as “our voters” even as the party drifts ever further rightward. And they will completely misunderstand the decades-long drop in Democratic Party membership as the result of poor education, right-wing propaganda, voter suppression, and Russian conspiracy, never once considering the idea that the base for a Wall Street owned “left” party is extremely limited.

In spite of all this, it is possible that Joe Biden will win the election, purely on the “not Trump” vote.  Trump’s handling of the pandemic is so life-threatening and so economy-destroying, that pure fear of what another four years of mismanaged oligarchy will mean, may drive enough people to vote for relatively well-managed oligarchy, to tip the scales. But with mass defections from the base, virtually guaranteed low voter turn-out among young and African-American voters, weak support from Latinos, and the tragicomic awfulness of the Democratic candidate, that outcome is far from assured.  Whether Biden wins or loses, the party’s war against the left will continue unabated, with their own dwindling pool of voters who haven’t yet figured out that they’re being played, acting as their most loyal foot soldiers. The aristocrats are never the most credulous members of society.  Seeing how the system works close up, they know how rotten it is at its core. It’s always the serfs who are the most emotionally invested in defending the prerogatives of their masters.

*Photo: Charles Krupa, AP

Podcast Ep. 67 – Free Birds: Why Bernie Supporters are Weighing a 3rd Party Vote

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The Democrats Are Having a Hypocrite-Off.  Who’s the Big Winner?

by Russell Dobular

I keep thinking of the movie Network lately, as I watch the Democratic Party’s current demonstration of its ability to absorb every well-intentioned social movement in our society and spit it back out in a corrupted and meaningless form.  In the film it was television that had the power to turn activists into performers and idealists into ratings-obsessed monsters.  And indeed, Paddy Cheyefsky’s prophetic vision holds true today in that medium, as demonstrated nightly by formerly progressive radio host turned corporate shill, Rachael Maddow. But the idiot box has nothing on the Democratic Party for its capacity to taint everyone and everything it comes in contact with, including its own voters. That’s how people who are ostensibly anti-war, have ended up lionizing a figure like Obama, who inherited two wars, and left us with seven. That’s how people who are in theory fiercely protective of civil liberties, have ended up touting the CIA and the FBI as defenders of the nation’s freedom.  And that’s how people who have been drawing public attention to the issue of sexual assault for several years can resort to using the same smear tactics against Tara Reade that they’ve been rightly calling out as disgraceful when deployed by others. In some ways it isn’t their fault really. A fish rots from the head, and once again the party’s leadership is forcing its voters to make a choice between their convictions and their candidate. It’s a lot harder to choose the candidate if you don’t first find a way around your convictions. Denying Tara Reade’s allegations is the shortest path to that goal, so they’re cranking the denialism up to 11, with a big assist from the parade of sociopaths and narcissists that have come out to run cover for Biden this week. So, without further ado, here are this week’s contestants in the Big Democratic Party Hypocrite-Off:

1. Nancy Pelosi

Special Skills: Passing Trump’s military budgets, Marie Antoinette cosplay

Net Worth: $120M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “Yesterday, the American people were heartbroken and deeply moved by the courageous testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.  Dr. Ford told her story with extraordinary dignity, bravery and unimpeachable credibility.  I applaud her courage for coming forward to share her story, and I believe her.”

Statement on Biden: “I am very much involved in this issue. I always want to give the opportunity that women deserve to be heard. I am satisfied with his answer, yes.” 

As those of you who follow my column know, I’m a betting man.  I’m offering 3-2 odds that Pelosi pulls the Blasey Ford page from her website in the next 30 days.  Any takers?

To top it off, Pelosi went on to publicly endorse Biden, even after a Larry King interview with Reade’s mother surfaced, which at least in part, corroborated her story. Nancy is setting the bar pretty high here for her fellow contestants.

2. Stacey Abrams

Special Skills: Self-promotion, foreign policy independent study

Net Worth: $500,000

Statement on Kavanaugh: “After the courageous and compelling testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford yesterday, it is shameful that Kavanaugh’s nomination is being rushed forward.  I believe women, and I believe survivors of violence always deserve to be supported and to have their voices heard.  A Supreme Court hearing is a job interview for one of the most critical roles in our democracy.  If there is even a hint of impropriety, let alone the credible allegations bravely brought forward by Dr. Ford, we should pause and thoroughly investigate them, rather than rush forward.”

Statement on Biden: “I believe Joe Biden.  I know Joe Biden, and I think that he is telling the truth and that this did not happen.”

As the person most willing and eager to be used as a prop by the Biden campaign in order to cover for his appalling record on issues of importance to POC, Abrams has emerged as perhaps the most unabashed self-promoter in the field.  Other than becoming understandably active in the effort to ensure election integrity after being cheated out of the Governorship of Georgia, Abrams isn’t associated with any particular policies, positions, or principles, which makes her an ideal figure for a party that prefers symbolic diversity over the enacting of legislation that might offer some actual relief to the diverse. She’s also shown her willingness to cover for old white men accused of sexual improprieties already, by refusing to condemn Michael Bloomberg during his brief and disastrous presidential run. She did, however, stray from her tabula rasa style of politics in the Kavanaugh affair. And more than any other surrogate, she stuck closely to the Biden campaign’s talking points, by repeatedly referring incorrectly to the NYT investigation of Reade’s claims as proof of Biden’s innocence, prompting the Times itself to refute her mischaracterization. She also ignored the fact that the article was altered to be less damning under pressure from the Biden campaign. Abrams may be a relative newcomer to national politics, but she’s already giving old hypocrisy pros like Pelosi a run for their money.

3. Kirsten Gillibrand

Special Skills: Virtue-signaling, self-reinvention

Net Worth: $200K

Statement on Kavanaugh: “This process is sending the worst possible message to girls and boys everywhere.  It’s telling American women that your voice doesn’t matter. It’s telling survivors everywhere that your experiences don’t count, they’re not important and they are not to be believed. We are saying that women are worth less than a man’s promotion.”

Statement on Biden: “So when we say believe women, it’s for this explicit intention of making sure there’s space for all women to come forward to speak their truth, to be heard.  And in this allegation, that is what Tara Reade has done. She has come forward, she has spoken, and they have done an investigation in several outlets. Those investigations, Vice President Biden has called for himself. Vice President Biden has vehemently denied these allegations, and I support Vice President Biden.”

Senator. Kirsten. Gillibrand. OMG, and holy shit. How on earth can you build your entire brand around advocacy for victims of sexual assault and then turn right around and throw Tara Reade under the bus? I mean, just, how do you do that? Is it congenital? Is the shame gene missing? Just. Fucking. Amazing. No need to delve too deeply into Senator Gillibrand’s well-known record on these issues, but some of the highlights include introducing legislation to combat sexual assault in the military,  driving Al Franken out of DC on a rail, and publicly stating that Bill Clinton should have resigned over Monica Lewinsky.

4. Bernie Sanders

Special Skills: Small-dollar fundraising, sheepdogging progressives into the Democratic party, revolutionary cosplay

Net Worth: $2M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “The revelations today confirm what we already knew: during his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable.”

Statement on Biden: “We need you in the White House. I will do all that I can to see that that happens, Joe.”

While Sanders has not directly addressed the allegations, his endorsement of Joe Biden well after those revelations were made public is a pretty clear statement in and of itself.  I know some will be unhappy with the inclusion of Sanders on this list, but in a piece about hypocrisy, it’s best not to be a hypocrite.

5. Joe Biden

Special Skills: Pathological lying, groping children

Net Worth: $9M

Statement on Kavanaugh: “For a woman to come forward in the glaring lights of focus, nationally, you’ve got to start off with the presumption that at least the essence of what she’s talking about is real, whether or not she forgets facts, whether or not it’s been made worse or better over time.  But nobody fails to understand that this is like jumping into a cauldron.”

Statement on Biden: “What I said during the Kavanaugh hearings was that she had the right to be heard. The fact that (Ford) came forward, the presumption would be she’s telling the truth unless it’s proved she wasn’t telling the truth or not proved, but unless it’s clear from the facts surrounding it, it’s not the truth.”

Predictably, Joe Biden’s views on how society should evaluate claims of sexual assault have changed dramatically now that he finds himself accused of it. What’s really interesting in Biden’s case is that he was a principal proponent in the Obama White House of creating new standards for evaluating sexual assault allegations on college campuses that eliminated the rights of the accused to any form of due process, extending even to knowing exactly what the specific charges were. Hundreds of lawsuits against colleges have been the result. Even more interesting, those new standards broadened the definition of sexual assault to include unwanted touching, and commenting on someone’s attractiveness, if that behavior made the person feel uncomfortable. So, by the standards that Biden helped to impose on college students with the same kind of zeal with which he once advocated for draconian prison sentences for drug abusers, Biden is guilty as sin of a multitude of crimes, many of them caught on video.  But just as there’s one rule for addicts without political connections, and another for his son, there’s one rule for students not named Biden, and another for the man himself.

Winner: This is some fierce competition, but by simple virtue of being inarguably the most out front on the problem of sexual violence of any elected official in Washington, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, takes home the big prize for most disgusting hypocrite of the week. And what does she win? A complete loss of credibility on her core issue. And what do survivors get? The consequent loss of their most high-profile advocate in Washington, now that she can never speak on these subjects again without being asked, “So, what about Biden?” Way to go Kirsten! Maybe they’ll give you an ambassadorship or something, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Honorable mentions:

James Clyburn: “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us.  I didn’t get there without long, extensive background with Joe Biden, without a long experience with Joe Biden. My late wife to whom I was married for 58 years loved Joe Biden. And more importantly, she respected Joe Biden.”

Alyssa Milano: “I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man that I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos without there being a thorough investigation.”

Hillary Clinton: Okay, she doesn’t really belong on this list.  You can’t be called a hypocrite on sexual violence when you’ve been covering for Bill Clinton’s one-man crusade to assault every woman in spitting distance for several decades.  But endorsing Biden on the day Reade’s story was confirmed by a friend, and during what was billed as a “women’s issues town hall,” was a special kind of evil, even if it wasn’t particularly hypocritical coming from Hill.

*Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Apocalypse Now: The End Is Nigh & I Don’t Even Know How to Make Orange Juice From Concentrate

by Russell Dobular

I was down in New Orleans back in May, and I took a swamp tour with a fella who was right out of central casting for a Cajun character, and he knew it, and he played it up pretty good. Tall, mustached, sun tanned, jovial, and full of stories about the friendly alligators who visit his back porch, and deep knowledge of all the plants in his domain that could heal, kill, or feed. He knew how to soften up crab shells by keeping them submerged for awhile, and he even grabbed a baby alligator right out of the water with his bare hands. And I thought, This motherfucker will survive anything. I’ve been thinking about that guy a lot lately. I should have gotten his number.

The signs that the long awaited end of times are finally upon us have been multiplying lately, and our politics have taken on a distinctly fighting over the last helicopter out of Saigon kind of a feel. Beneath the visible battles over health care, wages, and inequality, is a deeper fight playing out between people who are terrified of what’s coming, and people who figure it couldn’t be much worse than what we already have. They’re wrong about that, by the way. It can be much, much worse. The power goes out, food deliveries stop coming, anarchy in the streets, kind of worse. One more shock to the system and we’re there. And what are the odds that going forward from where we are, we get through the next five years without any more shocks? When you think about it that way, the irrational need to believe that electing a man who was on the TV a lot when we were further away from the brink than we are now will magically fix everything, is understandable. The only way out is through. But the more you have to lose in the through part, the more likely you are to convince yourself that the nation’s troubles are mostly cosmetic; nothing the removal of Trump and a few more starring roles for transgender actors couldn’t fix. Maybe throw in a couple of policy tweaks for those unreasonable leftists; free college for people making less than $10,000 a year and such. What do they want, the moon?

I had my car break down once about two hours outside the city and the only person who would stop to help was a Mexican immigrant who spent an hour trying to get it started. What I saw when he opened up the hood of his van to give me a jump has always stayed with me. The patchwork of fixes, strip downs and spit and bubble gum repairs he had done to keep it running were worthy of any robot design competition at MIT. I’m sure he’s been deemed an essential worker, and he’s probably out there somewhere repairing cars, or gutting chickens right about now, provided ICE didn’t get their grubby hands on him first. The truth is, most of the jobs that pay the most money don’t impart much in the way of real-world skill sets. You can’t consult your way out of a broken transmission, and you can’t use public relations on an empty larder. Its those backwoods Duck Dynasty types who know how to eat a nutria and like it, and 3rd world immigrants who are used to making do with whatever the Lord sees fit to provide, who will have all the advantages if the machines stop running. Is it any wonder that the impulse to burn it all down is radiating so strongly from the aisles of Walmart and the fulfillment centers of Amazon? And is it also any wonder that suburban professionals are so united in their determination to stop that from happening? The first shall be last, and the last shall be first, doesn’t sound so hot when you’re first.

And so, we find ourselves in a three-sided battle for the future, even though we usually acknowledge only two. There are the right-wingers who want a strongman to restore an imagined past of national glory (a pretty sure sign that your empire is crumbling – these folks always bubble up in the midst of imperial collapse), neoliberals who really want nothing more than to retreat into a fantasy world where a president who doesn’t say crazy shit every ten minutes will be enough to keep the whole thing from going sideways, and a hidden, but increasingly visible majority who want to push Humpty Dumpty off the wall, to see if they can put the pieces back together again in a more equitable manner. The first two stand in opposition to the third, although the Trumpists are the most likely to defect to the Apocalypse Now ticket in the clutch.

All three paths probably lead to the same place. There are just too many spinning plates in the air for none of them to hit the floor. Its not even clear that any of the available options will get us there any slower than the others. It will be for future generations, if they are any, to place blame for our failings as a people. But there’s plenty of blame to go around. In the end, we all let it get to this point together, from the boomers who sold our government to the highest corporate bidders, to Xers like me who remained silent while it was happening, to the millennials and Gen Zers who can’t be bothered to vote in a primary even though they have the most to lose. If there’s any comfort to be had, its in the fact that we are simply following a well-trod road, travelled by every great nation that’s preceded us. The particulars vary (except where they don’t-resource overrun, military overreach, the financialization of the economy), but no one has ever outrun the rise/level off/fall trajectory, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to be the first. At least our “Mad Emperor” phase is coming in a form so difficult to miss that its giving people time to prepare. When the most powerful country on Earth produces a contest between a cognitively impaired old corporatist and a Vegas-style wanna-be fascist for its leadership, you’ve gotta be blind, deaf and congenitally dumb to not see the writing on the wall.

So, what should you do in the face of impending societal collapse? Well, its probably best to pick up some useful skills if you don’t have them already. Planting, fishing, canning, first aid, water purification, that kind of thing. Cultivating some ability with a firearm couldn’t hurt. For all its failings, we’ve lived in the most prosperous, equitable, civilized times the world has ever known. The baseline of human history is quite different. There’s a lot more war, plague, famine, and general stabbing than what we’re used to. Because of our relative prosperity, we are the least prepared population in history for a reversion to the historical mean. So, get prepared. As for me, I’m gonna look up that alligator guy. Maybe he’ll take a Yankee Jew assistant willing to work for swamp survival skills and the occasional soft-shell crab.

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Eight Reasons Why I’m Declaring My Independence From the Democratic Party.

by Russell Dobular

I’ve been a registered Democrat for my entire adult life, like my parents before me, and their parents before them (although my grandfather was of the “Nixon is just the one who got caught,” school of thought on Watergate. In his defense, it was a pretty common take back then). But in this election cycle, I’ve reached a breaking point with the party and there’s just no turning back. To riff on Groucho Marx’s famous formulation, “I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member,” I personally can’t belong to any club that would have someone like Neera Tanden as a member. Are the Republicans worse? I guess it kind of depends on what your definition of ‘worse’ is.

I’ve always had a hard time with hypocrisy and elitism. And if those are the kinds of things that really put a bug up your ass, being a Democrat is going to feel kind of like taking a bath in ground glass. Its just a constant series of small cuts and big wounds that ultimately add up to unending psychic torment. What follows are a few specific examples of the kinds of things that have made me decide to join the plurality of voters who identify themselves as Independents.

1. What Do You Mean We’re Responsible for Mass Incarceration? We Have Black Friends.

There was a time when Democrats were true allies to communities of color. That was a long time ago. Like, LBJ kinda long time ago. From the day that Bill Clinton chose to announce his candidacy at the Stone Mountain Correctional Facility, the actual birthplace of the KKK, with a group of black prisoners posed behind him, lest anyone miss the message,  the Democrats have been even more destructive to POC than the Republicans, in deed if not in rhetoric. This isn’t because the GOP is more well-disposed to those communities; its because when the GOP proposes draconian anti-crime measures, the left organizes against them. But when those same policies originate with Democrats…crickets. It wasn’t the Republicans who wrote a crime bill that incarcerated a generation of black men; it was soon to be nominee Joe Biden. And it wasn’t a Republican President who signed it. It was Bill Clinton. Nor was it the Democrats who spearheaded the first major piece of legislation aimed at undoing its insane sentencing guidelines. Jared Kushner did that. And the President who signed it? One Donald J. Trump. On race, the Democrats are kind of like the secretly gay preacher who runs a conversion therapy center. All that rainbow rhetoric is the perfect cover for a party that never hesitates to throw black and brown people under the bus, any time they think it can win them a few more white votes in the suburbs.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 3.59.55 PM
See that guy on the left? Cooter. From Dukes of Hazzard. ‘Cause the phalanx of black prisoners was just too subtle.

2. We Hate You and Everyone You’ve Ever Cared About. Now Vote Blue!

From Hillary’s “deplorables” comments, to Taylor Swift’s portrayal of rural voters as half-human, toothless mutants in this video (set in some kind of non-binary trailer park no less),  to this disgusting monologue from Bill Maher about how what red staters really want deep down is to be just like their more refined, coastal countrymen, the way Democrats think about pretty much everyone who isn’t a white collar professional, is just gross. The genesis of this contempt is a battle that most modern Democrats don’t even know occurred. Beginning in the 70’s, the New Left, comprised mostly of college educated ex-hippies who couldn’t find a factory floor if you dropped it in the middle of Woodstock, fought the traditional union base of the party for control, and ultimately triumphed with the election of Bill Clinton. The death blow was soon delivered by Clinton himself in the form of NAFTA, which broke the power of unions in America down to the present day, but its real strategic purpose was to break the power of unions within the party. An unintended consequence was that most of those union voters, who were the party’s bread and butter, either fled to the Republicans, or stopped voting. That history, combined with the obvious contempt that Democrats have for most of their fellow citizens, are the real reason why they can’t win an election for dog catcher in most places. And the condescending, smug, elitist cultural style that’s accompanied that shift, is a huge part of the reason why a scion of the working class like myself, would rather put a spike through his forehead than spend another minute in a political party with these people.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 4.00.12 PM
Thanks, Taylor. Because nothing says “class solidarity,” like Ellen DeGeneres shrinking away from a dude with a mullet in a trailer park.

3. Believe Women. When It’s Convenient.

The supposedly pro-woman party covered for accused rapist Bill Clinton for twenty-five years, with one feminist writer even offering to break out the Presidential kneepads in appreciation for his service to the movement. This is just one example of how up is down, black is white, and outrage is always highly selective in the topsy-turvy world of Democrats and their virtue signaling. But never has that been more apparent than in the combination of shameless hypocrisy and ugly creativity that they’re bringing to the task of dismissing Tara Reade’s claims against Joe Biden. Scrolling through the Twitter threads of those who, a few short months ago, were demanding the head of Brett Kavanaugh on less evidence, is like reading the ecclesiastical treatise of a Medieval monk, dedicated to the question of whether or not an all-powerful God can make a stone that He himself cannot lift. The parsing, the equivocating, and most of all, the complete lack of self-awareness, are stunning to behold. Here’s just one thread that pretty much catches the drift of it:

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 8.17.34 AMScreen Shot 2020-04-17 at 8.17.08 AM

That these same people have spent years rightly convincing society that attacking women when they come forward with these stories is the absolute wrong thing to do, seems not to trouble them in the slightest as they blithely accuse Reade of being a liar, a flake, and (of course) an agent of Moscow. Which brings us to . . .

4. So How Long Have You Been Working With Putin?

One of the most bizarre spectacles of the past several years, and there’s some stiff competition for that title, has been the complete embrace by the so-called left of a neo-McCarthyism every bit as all-encompassing as anything you might have experienced at the height of the cold war. The real irony here is the fact that the figure of the Russophobic right-wing fanatic has been an object of both satire and fear for the left since the 50’s. You would think if any people would understand the dangers of labelling everyone with whom they disagree as agents of Moscow, it would be the people who crowded into theaters to take in Good Night and Good Luck during the Bush years. But that hasn’t prevented them from going full-on Doctor Strangelove, stopping just short of ranting about fluoride in the water. To add to the general strangeness of the thing, the intelligence agencies that have been long regarded with a deep and wholly justified suspicion on the left, have now been embraced as protectors and defenders of the nation’s freedom. Criminal miscreants like John Brennan, best known for lying to Congress about the NSA’s bulk data collection program, and for also having overseen the CIA’s hacking into Senate computers in order to cover up their torture programs, are being held up as heroic patriots. By the left! I mean, you just can’t make this shit up.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 4.00.34 PM
“Bernie Sanders is impurifying our natural bodily fluids.”

 

5. I Heard It On the TV, So It Must Be True.

There’s one institution in society that ranks even lower in public opinion polls than Congress, and only one: the media. It didn’t used to be that way. In 1976, 72% of people expressed trust in the media. By 2019 that number had fallen to 41%. For Republicans it’s 15%. For Independents it’s 36%. But there’s one group that’s been completely unmoved by the shift in the corporate media’s business model over the past several decades from the neutral reporting of facts, to the providing of partisan fan service for their particular demographic niche. That group would be the Democrats, who continue to give the media a 69% approval rating. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times the perfect storm of elite reporters practicing access journalism, corporate owners deeply invested in the status quo, and the overriding concern with ad revenue, leads to news coverage that ends up being disastrously wrong (WMD’s, Trump’s electability, the Mueller report); Democrats remain the most blindly loyal of corporate news consumers. And this is really the lynchpin of everything else we’re discussing here-none of the other demonstrably false beliefs that Democrats hold near and dear to their hearts would survive one day of honest reporting. But that reporting never comes, and so they go on, year after year, adopting whatever opinions are presented to them as the “right” ones to have. As we saw in these primaries, this reality makes it quite impossible to develop any kind of meaningful left agenda within the party. No matter what you try to build with the Democrats, the media will always have a veto.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 4.00.47 PM
“You’re getting sleepy. Sleeeppppyyyyy . . .”

6. It’s Not Personal. It’s Strictly Business.

Wow. Just wow. What did we just witness? I mean, we always knew the party leadership cared more about beating Bernie Sanders than they ever cared about defeating Donald Trump, but at least Debbie Wasserman Schmuck had the courtesy to feign neutrality. But faced with the real prospect of a Sanders nomination, Barack Obama and the rest of the party hacks decided that the time for playing coy had passed.  This wasn’t just a threat to the nation a la Donald Trump, this was something far, far worse: a threat to their sinecures. That simply could not stand, even if their Godfather baptism scene approach to the problem was bound to so utterly alienate the 70% of voters under 45 who had supported Sanders in the primaries, that it would virtually guarantee Trump’s reelection. Fuck it. Gotta keep those checks rolling in, and the people who write them don’t dig universal health care.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 4.01.08 PM
“I want them dead! I want their families dead! I want their houses burned to the ground! What, what the . . . Republicans? Fuck the Republicans, them we can work with. Its those Sanders screwballs we need to take out.”

7. It’s Not Dementia, It’s Just A Stutter With Racist Leanings.

And this is where all these other threads come together in one big, Orwellian mindfuck. It’s one thing for party elites to throw all pretense to the wind and straight out order their voters to line up behind someone who’s about two years away from an all applesauce diet. It’s quite another for those voters to acquiesce. And it’s another still for those same voters to find their way clear to doing so, by internalizing whatever narratives the party offers them, however absurd, that will allow them to reconcile their support for Joe Biden with the reality of Joe Biden. That dementia that everyone from Corey Booker to Andrea Mitchell was discussing openly as of five minutes ago? It’s just a stutter, and anyone who tells you otherwise is an ableist monster. Campaign trail chestnuts like, “Poor kids are just as smart as white kids,” and suggesting that black parents want help, but simply, “don’t know what to do?” All gaffes. Kind of lovable, really, ol’ Joe, and his offhandedly racist verbal diarrhea. His record? “Donald Trump.” Lying constantly about that record? “Donald Trump.” Sexual assault? “Lies. And also, Donald Trump.” I ask you, has there ever been a more mindless group of voters in the history of this, or any other Republic, going all the way back to ancient Greece? I know, I know, the FOX folks. But you know what? Those people nominated Donald Trump against all council from their media figures and the leadership of their party. Is that because the GOP base had more points of agreement with Donald Trump than Democrats did with Bernie Sanders? Not at all; on every major issue, from climate, to health care, to the economy, Sanders was the most trusted candidate in the field. And yet when the same people who told them that Hillary had a lock on the presidency, signaled that the best way to win in 2020 would be to walk into a voting booth and nominate a sundowning old warmonger with whom they didn’t particularly agree on any subject, that’s exactly what they did. The Democrats have thus managed to outshine the right wing in their unequalled capacity to swallow bullshit, if not in their ability to win elections.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 4.01.21 PM
“I thought Joe Biden had dementia, but now the party has shown me the nature of my crimes.”

And finally . . .

8. Whoopi Goldberg

I just can’t even . . . It’s one thing for someone who’s never seen the inside of a housing project to grow up to be this much of an asshole, but seriously, WTF, Whoopi? I can’t even watch TNG anymore because of you. But it’s not the ravings of one now that I got this money, I’m gonna pretend I don’t know what’s up, actress that matters. It’s the fact that for the most part, Democrats find those ravings sensible.

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“Justice Democrats??!!! Are you saying I’m not a f@!&ing justice Democrat?!”

Needless to say, eight is an arbitrary number, picked more for brevity than lack of material. I could write a book about the Lucy and the Football experience that trying to reform the Democratic Party from within has turned out to be for so many.

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Nice delegate lead you got there, Charlie Brown.

I’ve deliberately chosen not to argue one way or the other on the question of how to vote in November. My only suggestion would be that if you don’t live in a swing state, there’s absolutely no reason to endorse this farce with your vote. If you do live in one, that’s a tough moral conundrum, and as a New Yorker, I don’t envy you the choice you’re going to have to make. Take some comfort in the fact that the air is crackling right now with more energy for a Third Party than there’s been since the Gilded Age, so with any luck this will be the last election in which, to borrow a phrase from Krystal Ball, “shoot me/stab me,” are your only choices.

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#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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