Friday, January 22, 2016

A presidential choice, and presidential mocking

Happy Friday evening, all. Figured I'd end on somewhat thoughtful and fun notes for you on the 2016 presidential race.

First of all, I want to lead you to an excellent analysis by a rare DC journalist that isn't clueless about life west of I-95- the Washington Post's Greg Sargent. He gets to the heart of the choice that Democratic voters will make between their two candidates, and starts by taking a look at Bernie Sanders' new "America" ad.
The Sanders argument, to put it simply, has essentially been that America is in deep, deep trouble — it faces structural challenges so pressing and urgent, from climate change to soaring inequality, that the failure to meet them with proportionately outsize solutions risks a slow motion slide into disaster that could prove irreversible. Sanders’ message has been that the version of progressive change that we’ve seen during the Obama years — from Dodd Frank to Obamacare to the global climate deal — is basically small beer compared to the epic problems we face. That’s what makes this new ad so striking: it doesn’t detail these challenges, instead suggesting vaguely that inspiration and mobilization can secure America’s future....

Sanders has also said: “The major political, strategic difference I have with Obama, is it’s too late to do anything inside the Beltway. You gotta take your case to the American people, mobilize them, and organize them at the grassroots level in a way that we have never done before.”...

This theory of change is perhaps unrealistic, given the structural realities of how our political system works and of the GOP grip on the House of Representatives. It may not be sufficiently nuanced to do justice to the lessons of our history: major change has arguably been won both from the outside and the inside. It has sometimes been the product, in part, of very ugly exercises of inside manipulation, dealmaking, logrolling, bullying, and ethical corner-cutting, and has required not just inspiration, but fighting, bloodshed, and death.

To be clear, it’s indisputably a good thing that Sanders is setting the policy bar very high. That’s great for the debate, and has made the Democratic primary deeply substantive and has forced Clinton to be a better candidate and offer more ambitious proposals than she otherwise might have if she had followed only her own instincts. And Sanders’ success in energizing young people and, hopefully, engaging them more deeply in the process is a big positive and should alarm Clinton and get her to take notice.

Still, it’s worth noting that the differences between Sanders and Clinton go beyond policy, to the very core of how change can be secured. Clinton has come to see politics as essentially a form of trench warfare. Clinton’s closing ad in Iowa vows to “stop the Republicans from ripping all our progress away,” an implicit acknowledgment that a new Democratic president (whoever it might be) would be deeply constrained from realizing his or her agenda, meaning the 2016 election is mostly about whether Dems can prevent total Republican rule from rolling back the gains of the Obama years. Clinton acknowledges the true nature of the structural impediments to change; that the country is deeply divided ideologically; and that we will probably remain stuck in a grueling holding pattern for years — meaning legislative advances will be ground out on the margins, thorough difficult, painstaking efforts to peel off Republicans and forge compromises that will look dirty and will really, really suck.
That sums it up quite well, and it goes to the deeper question of "Is the status quo in 2015 acceptable, and should we work within that to improve things, or do we think things are unacceptable, and that a large amount of change is necessary to return the country to greatness?"

If you're a Dem, and you think things are going well and want to "stay the course," and that there's only so much that can be changed within the current system anyway, you're probably more likely to vote for Clinton. If you think things in America are messed up and that President Obama hasn't gone far enough in making the change from 30 years of trickle-down failure and increasing corporate influence over all segments of society, you're probably more likely to Feel the Bern. You can guess which direction I take.

But it could be a lot worse than to choose between Clinton and Sanders. And Stephen Colbert illustrated why in this awesome segment from this week, discussing the "Original Material Girl." Colbert's "impersonation" starting around 4:20 is absolutely epic.

Time for more beer to drink, although even if I had a dozen of these high-quality beers, I'm guessing I still wouldn't sound that incoherent....or high.

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