Friday, July 03, 2015

Meeting expectations in an irrational society is the definition of insanity

By Richard Barry

I don't mean to be unkind to Jenna Johnson, a writer for the Washington Post, and there really is no need to be as she is simply following convention when she writes about Bernie Sanders and the things he advocates for on the campaign trail, most recently in Madison, Wisconsin.
Bernie Sanders stood before 10,000 screaming fans in this liberal college town on Wednesday night and promised to fulfill all of their progressive dreams: paid vacation for all, generous maternity leave, tuition-free public colleges, a minimum wage of $15, no more big banks, less youth unemployment, dramatic prison reform and an end to economic inequality.

There it is. No matter how reasonable this list of policy aspirations may appear to many of us, it is but a progressive dream, an unattainable fantasy existing only in the minds of those who don't really know how the world works. 

But Senator Sanders is undeterred:
“Please, think big, not small,” Sanders said. “Our vision should be that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world there is nothing that we cannot accomplish."

Bernie Sanders' campaign is catching fire because people are tired of being told what is possible and what is not. Why shouldn't we fight for things that make sense?

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Follow the money

By Richard Barry

First Read wonders if the Republican Party should still be considered the party of big business.
Donald Trump vs. Macy's. The battle over the Ex-Im bank. Conservatives decrying the same-sex marriage ruling, immigration reform and normalization of relations with Cuba. A lot of stories in the past week have demonstrated how the Republican Party just isn't a reliably comfortable home for big business anymore. A big part of that has to do with the fast-changing landscape on social issues. Big brands raced to find catchy ways to embrace the same-sex marriage decision last week even as the 2016 Republican candidates denounced it. As we've seen with the spectacularly quick race of businesses like Macy's and now professional golf organizations away from Donald Trump, companies had no interest in being associated with anti-Latino statements. 

The point, they admit, is that this is all about the money.
Businesses have decided that they don't want to offend customers and they don't want to be boycotted. That's a cynical way to look at, we know. But it also shows just how influential groups like Latinos and the LGBT community have become - not just politically, but when it comes to purchasing power as well.

Capitalism is indeed a very complicated thing and sometimes it actually works in the interests of good rather than evil, as long as an offer is made that can't be refused.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No path for Christie

By Richard Barry

Chuck Todd and company at NBC describe two ways to win the GOP nomination.

The first is to "sell yourself as the right candidate to win over the base on the issues -- i.e., the ideological warrior." The second is to "sell yourself as the most electable, the candidate who can beat Hillary Clinton -- i.e., the winner."

They go on to say that neither way is available to Gov. Christie who announced his candidacy today.

As for Christie's conservative ideological purity, well, no so much. And as a candidate with the broad-based support to win it all? Again, no.

So what does he think his path to victory is? Since Christie will never be the darling of the ideological right, it has to be in his belief he can sell himself as the most electable. No idea what he's basing that on.

Whatever he's thinking, he's delusional.

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton's ideal opponent

By Richard Barry

Yesterday I wrote about some reasons it was good Bernie Sanders was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. One of them was that it would push Hillary Clinton to talk about  issues important to the left that might not otherwise get a full hearing.

A somewhat more nuanced way of saying the same thing, which S.V. Date at the National Journal suggests, is that Sanders candidacy will "allow Clinton to focus on issues most primary voters in the party can agree upon, while in no way challenging her character or competence for office."

Bernie Sanders, as Date writes, can criticize big banks, Republicans who deny climate change, and the billionaire Koch brothers and Clinton can agree. Certainly she will talk about those things on her own, but Sanders' campaign allows her to amplify her stance, especially if she positions herself as having evolved to some extent because of Sanders' candidacy and the enthusiasm of his followers.

Of significance too is Sanders' statement that "I have never run a negative political ad in my life, and I don't intend to."
"If I'm a Hillary Clinton person, this is what I want. I want someone like Bernie Sanders in the race," says Mo Elleithee, a former top staffer at the Democratic National Committee who now runs Georgetown University's Institute of Politics and Public Service. "It gives her the opportunity to address the issues that he and his supporters want to hear about."

There may be a few topics where they genuinely disagree like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that could work in her favour as she can present herself as hard-headed on the economy while making it clear she is, after all, no socialist. Similarly on security issues and foreign policy, in a country revved up to expect there to be a terrorists around every corner, she can argue, with all due respect to Sen. Sanders, that she can be tough on the world stage. 

There is little reason for Mrs. Clinton to be off-side with Sen. Sanders' domestic agenda and much to recommend a friendly conversation amongst a few candidates who mostly agree on the general themes.

As someone who is very pleased with Sanders' candidacy but who will also be quite happy with a Clinton presidency, it's a cozy set up. Let's have a good chat about some of the things that really matter without doing any real damage to the eventual nominee. 

Too be clear, this means I'm with Sanders until Clinton is the nominee. On the other hand, if some world-gone-crazy scenario overtakes events making Sanders the nominee, we can take comfort in the fact that Hillary Clinton would not have been able to defeat the Republican nominee anyway. I love Bernie Sanders, but if Hillary Clinton can't dispatch a socialist from Vermont, what does that say?

But that's not going to happen. What is going to happen is an important and interesting discussion amongst Democratic hopefuls featuring elements important to the left. Hillary Clinton should be happy about that as should the Democratic Party.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Three reasons to be glad Sanders is in the race

By Richard Barry

The first thing that should be said about the Clinton-Sanders match-up is that it is a good thing that Clinton is being seriously challenged. It generates interest in the campaign and encourages discussions amongst voters that otherwise would not have happened.

The second thing is that having a candidate like Sanders raise so passionately the issue of income inequality in a presidential campaign is a really good thing. Hillary is now being forced to take this era defining issue more seriously than she is probably inclined.

The third thing is that if, against all odd and well beyind my own expectations, Sanders wins the Democratic nomination, that's a great thing because it means America is that much closer to embracing a truly progressive agenda. And I say that understanding Sanders' chances of winning the general election are virtually nil.

I know this frightens people but I think it's best to consider the long game in politics. This means that having people vote for what they believe in is always better than having them vote for what is expedient. 

Expediency rarely changes the world.

Having said that, Hillary Clinton is going to win the nomination.

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