Friday. June 10, 2016.
Just another old-style pol: Hillary Clinton on the night she became the first woman to clinch one of the two major political parties’ presidential nomination, June 7, 2016.
Like I would know, but I suspect that a lot of Bernie-voting young women who claimed they didn’t care if we elect the first woman president this time out are finding out that they do.
Also like I would know, but I’ve believed all along that the majority of Bernie’s voters are good liberal Democrats who voted for Bernie because they wanted a more liberal nominee or at least a more outspokenly and less defensively liberal nominee than they perceived Hillary to be. Now that it’s over, I expect that they’ll be just fine with voting for her and not just against Trump. It may take time, until the convention if not all the way to November, but they’ll come around. Most of them. Some never will. That’s the way it goes every election.
A twitter acquaintance who tweets under the handle of Seedsdown sent me this link to a post by Laffy who blogs over at Radio or Not. Laffy’s a stalwart Bernie supporter and is of course feeling mightily disappointed these days. But it sounds like Laffy’s working her way there. Her friend, radio broadcaster Angie Coiro, whom Laffy quotes in her post, hasn’t started yet and may never get there.
Yes, like it or not, Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee; a woman can finally claim that victory and that’s a ‘uuuuge deal. While I’ve never been an identity voter or even a single issue voter, I fully and enthusiastically acknowledge that this is a biggie, it’s historic, and a long overdue accomplishment.
It’s a bit of a stunner to be a feminist of so many years, then sit with distress and disappointment at the country’s first woman major-party presidential nominee.
That’s where I’m sitting – not sure how to process this long wished-for benchmark, when the mark has been made by an old-style politician. Old style in her questionable sincerity and her lack of transparency. Old style in her connections to the monied and the power mongers.
Different set of genitals – which yes, does have historical significance – but mostly the same old shit.
I can tell you this: if you told 20-year-old me that one day I’d be disappointed that the old, established white guy couldn’t overturn the powerful woman who bore the black president’s stamp of approval, I’d have laughed you out of the room.
Before I get to the idea of HRC as an old-style pol, about Bernie as a new-style one…
I like a lot of Bernie’s politics. Of course I do. It’s the kind of liberal politics I learned at the knee of that great old-style Democrat Pop Mannion. That’s why Bernie’s never stuck me as particularly new-style. As far as I’ve ever been able to tell, he’s a throwback. Much of his “socialist” rhetoric was old-hat when he came of age politically in the 1960s. As far as what he’s actually stood for, he’s not much to the left of Walter Mondale, Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, or, for that matter, Lyndon Johnson. I’m not criticizing. That he’s in their company is high praise and I’m glad he’s there helping to renew the spirit of their old-style politics.
But he didn’t start this. The renewal has been going on for the last seven and a half years, led by the most successfully progressive president since LBJ.
The only thing that puts Bernie to the left of Barack Obama is that the president has had to actually get things done while all Bernie’s ever had to do is vote the right way.
Scott Lemieux ranks Obama's along with Lincoln's, FDR's, and LBJ's as one of the "handful of American presidencies under which there were major shifts in American policy in a clearly progressive direction". Democrats experiencing “Buyer’s Remorse” are imagining the President could have governed as liberally as FDR and LBJ did without having their overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress. Some of them think he had that. They’re forgetting---or ignoring---that during the very short time between July 2009 (Cf. Al Franken) and February 2010 (cf. Scott Brown) when Democrats held both houses of Congress with a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate those 60 seats included those of Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor, Kent Conrad, and Byron Dorgan.
Not a single one of them is in the Senate anymore. And I’d say good riddance, except that only Lieberman's and Conrad's seats have been taken over by Democrats and only Lieberman's by a true liberal. The rest have been replaced by Republicans, and that’s cost the party the majority. Still, I think it’s made the caucus more liberal and it’s likely to get more liberal after the election. And I think it’s freed up President Obama not to have worry about being undermined by members of his own party.
But back to Bernie. With Hillary now the presumptive nominee, the last four Democratic nominees have been her, Barack Obama, John Kerry, and Al Gore. Squinting in from far off to the left, they may look center right to you. To most Democrats they look like what they are, good old-fashioned liberal Democrats. And recapping the lists, Clinton, Obama, Kerry, Gore, Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy, and Lyndon Johnson, and throwing in Franklin Roosevelt for good measure, the only way Bernie doesn’t fit right in is he’s made a point of not being the kind of party man and woman all of them, with the possible exception of McCarthy, are and were. Which has limited his effectiveness as a legislator and turns out to have hurt him badly in the primary. What makes him sound more liberal is he’s been promising to spend more than they did and has put items from their wish lists on his to-do list with no solid or sound plans to pay for any of it, a rather too familiar form of old-style liberalism.
“Soak the rich!” is a stirring battle cry but it’s hardly newer than “Remember the Maine!”
In short, when I’m feeling kindly towards him, I see him as a nostalgia act. When I’m in a meaner mood, I see him as a self-promoting grandstander trying to claim credit for ideas and programs countless Democrats have put forward and fought for for over a century. Most of the time, though, I see him as something else old-fashioned, a tax and spend liberal of the most egregious and stereotypical sort. Nothing new-style in that.
On top of which, it’s hard for me to see what’s new-style about a canny old pol who’s managed to stay in Congress for twenty-five years by making opportunistic alliances with the kind of old-style Democrats Coiro disdains.
As far as it goes, Bernie himself has come late to his own revolution.
Meanwhile, it baffles me how the first woman nominated for president by either one of the two major parties can be said to represent old-style politics. The very fact of her is revolutionary in itself.
It appears that it’s the money that marks Clinton as old-style in Coiro’s mind. That and her connection to the “power-mongers” whoever they are. I don’t know how they expected Bernie to run a competitive campaign in the fall without his making his own connections to the monied and the power-mongers. Same way he was going to get his Social Democratic agenda through a Republican-controlled Congress, I guess, but never mind. Bernie people fixated on the money are right that all that dough coming in does give the rich access and influence that the rest of us can’t hope to have except by relying on the good-hearts and commitment to democratic and Democratic principles of individual politicians. And Bernie’s supporters, encouraged by Bernie himself, have talked themselves into believing they can’t rely at all on either Hillary’s good heart or her commitment.
I believe I can, because I have. For the eight years she was my senator. She disappointed me a number of times. I expect she will again from time to time as President. Name a great liberal politician who doesn’t have black marks next to their name. But never mind me and whatever I may represent among her supporters. Among many others, millions of women and children here in the U.S. and around the world have relied on her good heart and commitment to help make their lives better...to help give them lives.
In their assessments---dismissive assessments---of her credentials as a “progressive”, Bernie supporters, again taking their cue from Bernie himself, have tended to ignore the work she has done since law school on behalf of women and children. (Their ignoring it, by the way, is another reason Bernie has lost. Women have noticed.) But of course women’s issues---family issues---are progressive issues and her feminism goes hand in hand with her progressivism. When that’s added to the equation, there are significant ways Hillary is to the left of Bernie.
Another thing old-style about Bernie is he seems to share the old-style Left’s indifference to women’s issues or, at any rate, the old-style’s Left’s habit of thinking that everything will taken care of by their economic agenda whether specifically addressed or not. Not just women have had some problems with that notion and that’s led to Bernie having problems getting their votes.
There is a way in which Hillary is undeniably an old-style politician. She’s been in politics for a long time and has been a party loyalist doing the kind of old-fashioned field work that helps win Democrats elections and that has meant dealing with some very old-style politicians . Here’s a story about a type of old-style politician she had to deal with back in 1976 when she and Bill went to work for Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign:
Upon [Bill’s and my] return to Fayetteville, Carter’s staff asked Bill to head the campaign in Arkansas and me to be the field coordinator in Indiana. Indiana was a heavily Republican state, but Carter thought his Southern roots and farming background might appeal even to Republican voters. I thought it was a long shot, but I was game to try. My job was to set up a campaign in every county, which meant finding local people to work under the direction of regional coordinators, mostly brought in from around the country. The Indianapolis campaign office was in a building that housed an appliance store and a bail-bonding firm. We were right across the street from the city jail, and the neon sign flashing “Bail Bondsman” still hung above the Carter-Mondale posters in the front windows.
I learned a lot in Indiana. One night I had dinner with a group of older men who were in charge of the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote efforts for Election Day. I was the only woman at the table. They wouldn’t give me any specifics, and I kept pressing for details about how many phone calls, cars and door hangers they planned to put out on Election Day. All of a sudden, one of the men reached across the table and grabbed me by my turtleneck. “Just shut up, will you. We said we’d do it, we will, and we don’t have to tell you how!” I was scared. I knew he’d been drinking, and I also knew all eyes were on me. My heart was beating fast as I looked him in the eye, removed his hands from my neck and said, “First, don’t ever touch me again. Second, if you were as fast with the answers to my questions as you are with your hands, I’d have the information I need to do my job. Then I could leave you alone---which is what I’m going to do know.” My knees were shaking, but I got up and walked out.
That’s from her memoir Living History and anyone who wants to talk knowledgeably about her heart, her commitment, her politics and political education needs to read it.
That story is forty years old. The sexist Hoosier bully is probably gone from the earth. But you think his style of politics doesn’t live on? Never mind the sexist bully the Republicans are going to run against her. There are plenty of other people, and not Republicans and not just men, for whom the idea that a woman can have personal agency let alone be President of the United States is still so new they can’t even begin to fathom it.
Hillary Clinton’s victory speech, June 7, 2016:
Full transcript at Blue Nation Review.