Dem Notes

* “I’m here to report–we’re very much alive.” That was a rejuvenated Joe Biden at a Los Angeles rally the night of Super Tuesday, after he had won two handfuls of primary states and turned survival into massive momentum. It also turned the Democratic nomination process into a de facto two-candidate–Biden-Sanders–race.

It was also a reminder of what Congressman Jim Clyburn and the South Carolina primary– notably the African-American vote–had done for Biden. It revived a campaign that looked moribund a fortnight ago. Now Biden’s at least a co-front runner.

BTW, while Biden impressively carried Texas and a string of Southern states, his win in Massachusetts might have been the most impressive of all. He spent no money or time in the state that is home to Elizabeth Warren and a next-door neighbor of Bernie Sanders.

* Several suggestions for Bernie Sanders and his campaign:

First, register as a Democrat. Don’t just caucus with them. What the hell, you want to be that party’s presidential nominee and you want that party’s support, join that party.

Second, rather than socialist-framed references to Cuba or Nicaragua or the Soviet Union and what they got right despite a context of societal oppression and command economies, why not work in some liberal-friendly quotes from John Stuart Mill and Franklin D. Roosevelt? You can progressively preach the social gospel without morphing into a 2020 iteration of Gus Hall.  

Third, while having a message, a movement and money can maintain momentum, keep in mind that 21st century intimations of an American “revolution” will likely not play well enough–either at the Democratic Convention in Milwaukee or in the general election. America, however imperfect and unequal, is a pluralistic, complex society–not zero-sum, oligarchic capitalism at its worst. So, ratchet down “revolutionary” rhetoric, unless you want to risk a “Che” Sanders moniker.

* I agree with those who were put off by some of the knee-jerk, political reactions to Bernie Sanders’ interview on “60 Minutes.” Sanders wasn’t cheerleading for post-revolution Cuba when he complimented the country on its commitment to education, notably literacy. But he also underscored his unequivocal opposition to authoritarianism and human rights abuses. That part didn’t make any headlines, but his context was clear. Among those overreacting for political self-interest was South Florida Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala, 79, the HHS secretary under Bill Clinton and the long-term (2001-15) president of the University of Miami. Her hope, she said, is that Sanders will come to “realize that the Cuba regime–and other similar authoritarian regimes across Latin America–are instruments of evil and are not worthy of his praise.” At this point in her career, which includes a lot more than Cuban politics as usual, she should be above this sort of pathetic pandering.

* “No campaign out there has a stronger grassroots movement than we do. That’s how you beat Trump.”–Bernie Sanders.

* “The people aren’t looking for revolution. They’re looking for results.”–Joe Biden.

* South Carolina’s open primary allowed Republicans to vote for a Democrat. As it turned out, it was no difference maker for those Project Chaos GOPsters who preferred Sanders as Trump’s November opponent. Biden still won big and gained momentum. But it could have been a factor.

It’s also a reminder of why open primaries are inherently problematic. When a state, such as South Carolina, allows such party cross-overs, it can–ironically–beget scenarios of (legal) meddling in an election. No bots about it.

Fundamentally, it makes sense that only members of a given party should weigh in on that party’s candidate choices. There is, presumably, a reason why people belong to a certain party–or choose NPA. The point is why should those who, for whatever principled reason, cannot bring themselves to join a party, then be able to weigh in on that party’s candidate selection?

* “I’m going to be introducing a plan to take every dime that the president is now taking to spend on his racist wall at the southern border and divert it to the coronavirus.”–Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

* A candidate pitching health care for all during the coronavirus outbreak: Timing is everything.

* “I vote for the person I think should be president.” That’s the take of former Vice President Walter  Mondale, who is one of those 771 superdelegates who can weigh in on a second ballot.

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