Kos reminded us:
I'll be working for whoever wins the Democratic nomination. No doubt about that. Exactly what the campaign will require will depend on who we nominate. We might be aiming to bring out suburbanites who don't like Trump, but don't trust our nominee either. We might be focused on activating people who haven't voted before to do something new and a little scary. Or both. The work will be demanding in any case. Martin Longman offers a metaphorical frame that might seem glib, but I suspect is accurate.
No white male has ever gotten 63 million votes in a presidential election. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both hit 65 million.
I guess my biggest worry is that I have doubts about any strategy that depends on people doing what they have not done in the past. I have too much experience with people who suffer from addiction to believe that this is often a winning bet.
Finally, here are some reflections from the journalist Masha Gessen -- a refugee from Soviet Russia's tyrannous pseudo-socialism, a lesbian who advocates for human freedom and dignity -- on Bernie Sander's tone-deaf inability in recent remarks on Cuba and China to move beyond the "revolutionary" romanticism of the mid-twentieth century left. That left has proved itself provincial.
Bloomberg’s ... campaign isn’t a betrayal of the political and economic system we have now but its logical extension: If we are going to allow this much wealth concentration, and if the Supreme Court holds that the rich can spend as much money pursuing their political ambitions as they want, then eventually American politics will simply become a competition between billionaires of the left and billionaires of the right, and no one will be able to stop it because it’ll feel dangerous and even immoral to unilaterally disarm and let the other side spend you into oblivion.
Perhaps this seems particularly pertinent to me, because I lived some of the mid-twentieth century in circles where that revolutionary romanticism was a norm. I think I am being honest that I was never as uncritical as Bernie seems to have been once upon a time. Bernie is critical now, though the media can't seem to take notice of it. Could he listen to a wise woman?
Sanders stepped into the gap that separates the American-born left from those of us who came here from totalitarian countries. The regimes we fled did their best to discredit Marxism, socialism, and leftist ideas in general. To a large extent, they succeeded. When I was growing up, my parents believed, and taught me, that the attempt to build a state in accordance with Marxist ideals—or, really, any attempt to create a society in which everyone contributed what they could and received what they needed—was doomed to produce a totalitarian dystopia. We longed to escape to a land ruled by the blissful and, it seemed to us, natural union of capitalism and freedom.
In the U.S., some of us commenced the long journey to a more complicated view of capitalism. At the other end of this journey lay the realization that capitalism and democracy may not be a match made in heaven, and the hypothesis, supported by the example of Western social democracies, that socialist ideas may yield a freer and fairer society. These discoveries suggested that socialist ideas can and ought to be decoupled from the totalitarian nightmare of our past—indeed, that those totalitarian regimes, whatever they might have written on their banners, had very little to do with those ideas.
... imagine Sanders saying that the Nazis were terrible but they had great cancer-prevention programs. Such a statement would be factually true. It would also be unconscionable, because the nature of totalitarianism is to rob every one of its subjects of agency, dignity, and humanity.
... What Sanders could have said, and should have said, is that totalitarianism, that most horrible of inventions of the twentieth century, is one of the greatest crimes against humanity. But it should not discredit the ideas of common welfare and basic fairness that make up socialism. Totalitarianism can weaponize any ideology; socialism is no more essentially totalitarian than capitalism is essentially democratic. This would have been at once factually true and true to the politics that Sanders has espoused. ... It’s as if Sanders didn’t realize that all of these good things that he cites—literacy, public medicine, access to culture and public transportation, and being lifted out of poverty—are good because they create the conditions for human dignity, which is precisely what totalitarianism destroys.