Podcast: From Iowa FTW to Iowa WTF – Caucus Recap (62% Edition)

On this episode, we break down the current state of affairs in Iowa and plot the path forward after a horrific Democratic (and small ‘d’ democratic) debacle.

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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Podcast: No Sleep ‘Til Iowa – What’s at Stake and How to Volunteer

Our last show before the crucial Iowa Caucus! We lay out the extremely high stakes of Monday’s caucus, and give some info and advice on how to volunteer to get out the vote!

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Podcast: Chalkin’ & Talkin’ Bernie in Iowa, and How to Rep Bernie on Caucus Night – w/Kristoffer Hellén

Guerrilla artist and activist Kristoffer Hellén talks his #ChalkBernieToMe project, his journey from California to Iowa, and how to Caucus for Bernie on February 3.

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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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The Establishment’s Stop Sanders Strategy is to Troll the Race and Invoke the Ugliness of 2016.

by Keaton Weiss

A few weeks ago, as we entered the year 2020, Bernie Sanders’ campaign was surging. Endorsements were pouring in, poll numbers were rising, and the betting markets were starting to respond accordingly, placing Sanders’ chances just 0.6 percentage points behind Joe Biden’s to win the Democratic nomination, as of January 12.

But then, things started happening. That evening, video surfaced of Elizabeth Warren accusing Bernie of “sending his volunteers out to trash [her],” in reference to a phone banking script that mentioned her potential vulnerabilities in a general election. The next day, CNN broke a story that Bernie had allegedly told Warren in a private 2018 meeting that he didn’t think a woman could win the presidency. The following evening, that very network hosted the final Democratic debate before the Iowa Caucuses. We all know how that went. And just this week, Hillary Clinton added her contribution to the Stop Sanders onslaught by doubling down in a Hollywood Reporter interview on comments she had made in an upcoming documentary about herself in which she said, in reference to Sanders:

“Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.”

Bernie supporters aren’t known to take these things particularly well, and we didn’t. Hashtags such as #NeverWarren and #CNNistrash flooded the Twitterverse immediately following the debate, and, of course, backlash against Hillary’s comments was as harsh and swift as you’d come to expect from us.

Many progressives are taking these developments as a win for the movement, pointing out that voters by and large didn’t buy Warren’s smears, saw through CNN’s shameful debate performance, and are wishing that Hillary Clinton would just stay out of this primary season altogether. And while those individual claims all seem to be more true than not, the sum total doesn’t seem to me like a “win” for the Sanders campaign, or the progressive movement as a whole.

In the past few days, polling data has shown Biden overtake Bernie for the lead in Iowa, and we’ve seen the betting markets shift rather dramatically in Biden’s favor. How could this be, you ask? I mean, the attacks against Bernie were egregious at best, slanderous at worst, and most people seem to agree with that assessment. So why are we worse off now than we were before?

The answer is that the establishment’s Stop Sanders strategy was never to actually convince a majority of Democratic primary voters that Bernie himself is some closet misogynist who’s out to undermine female candidates and destroy the party from within. They know this is too difficult a task to accomplish, because, contrary to what the corporate media would have you believe, Bernie is actually the most liked of all the candidates in the running. Rather, their approach now is to simply troll the race and create a toxic climate that invokes the memory of the 2016 primary, in the hopes that this alone will scare people off who might now be leaning towards supporting Sanders. The plan is to deter even those who like Bernie from supporting him by simply making them ask themselves if they actually have the stomach to endure a repeat of the Bernie vs. Hillary bloodbath.

In this scheme, Elizabeth Warren’s failing campaign is a perfect proxy for the Clinton campaign of 2016. When Warren played the victim card against Bernie, of course his supporters would react with anger and disgust. When she followed that up with a malicious, slanderous smear about his having made sexist comments to her over a year ago that she all of the sudden decided to bring up out of the blue, we were apoplectic. The fury of the online Bernie supporters then allowed the media to recycle the Orwellian “Bernie Bro” narrative from 2016, which again, only compounds the ire of the Sanders base, which is, of course, the most diverse of any candidate’s in the field.

And we were right to be angry at what had transpired between Sanders, Warren, and CNN, just as we’re right to be angry with Hillary Clinton over her latest injection of venom into our political discourse. The problem, though, is that the Stop Sanders establishment knows we’re right, and they know that most people know we’re right, but they don’t care, because they know most people don’t care either. Because unlike in 2016, when, however ugly it got, voters were stuck with the binary choice of Clinton vs. Sanders, and therefore had to stick it out til the end of that fight and choose one side over the other no matter how turned off they became by the nastiness of it all, this time, they have an out.

That “out” is Joe Biden. And so, by trolling the primary and pouring gasoline on the Sanders vs. Warren fire, and the Sanders vs. The Media fire, and even the Sanders vs. Clinton fire, they hope people will choose to just stay away from Sanders altogether, because his presence alone will be responsible for conjuring up tension and hostility, no matter his opponent, and no matter who’s actually at fault. In other words, fostering a toxic environment around the Sanders campaign, regardless of whether or not people actually blame Bernie for it, could be enough to get people to throw their hands up and say “I don’t have the energy for this, I’m just gonna vote for Biden.”

This puts us in a tough spot. On the one hand, we can’t just let these smears against us and our candidate go unanswered. We have to respond forcefully. On the other hand, the more forcefully we respond, the easier it is for the establishment Democrats and their corporate media allies to scare people away from what they’ll fear could be too bitter and divisive a fight before the all-important general election. So what do we do?

Well, if you agree that the Stop Sanders strategy is to foment hostility between Sanders and all of his opponents, including, of course, the mainstream media, then the best thing you can do is explain this to undecided voters you encounter when phone banking, canvassing, or even just chatting online, or in person with friends or family. Point out to people that these smears against Bernie are first of all, dishonest and absurd on their face, second, have nothing to do with his democratic socialist platform, which, according to the same people lobbing these attacks, is his biggest vulnerability, and, third and perhaps most importantly, are completely unprovoked. The Sanders campaign has been laser-focused on their progressive agenda that speaks to the material needs of ordinary people, which is why they were surging in the first place. None of that has changed on their end. They’re still, in the midst of all of this insidious gossip mongering, trying to take the fight to Joe Biden over Social Security. In other words, those trying to convince you that Bernie Sanders is too toxic and divisive are themselves the purveyors of the very toxicity and divisiveness which they speak. Reassure these well-meaning voters that they have nothing to fear about our campaign. All we’re trying to do is get them healthcare, housing, education, a livable planet, and a secure retirement. Those who oppose us – who oppose those ideals, and therefore smear Bernie and his supporters with slanderous bullshit – they’re the toxic ones.

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Podcast: The Sunrise Movement Fights for Bernie 2020 and a Green New Deal – w/Melissa Hoffmann

Melissa Hoffmann of the Sunrise Movement discusses their plans for declaring a climate emergency, electing Bernie Sanders, and Winning a Green New Deal.