The DNC continues to promote Biden despite his not resonating with likely voters, undecideds, and swing-staters. Gabbard shone bright, but appears to have earned her place back by putting in work for Biden. The DNC must focus on fully socialized healthcare, as Trump’s foreign policy record is strong in the eyes of anti-war voters actually paying attention. But the DNC can’t, and so Trump will likely win.
It was Round Four of the Democratic debates on Tuesday, with 12 candidates squaring off in Westerville, Ohio.
Staged in the critical swing-state of Ohio, the small town of Westerville hosted Round Four of the Democratic Party primary race debates on October 15th. Democrats obviously are pinning hopes on being able to win a few of the swing states they lost to Trump.
The Democratic Party continues its strategy of maintaining a very high number of contenders in the race. In short, the party realizes that the front runner it wants to win – Biden – really lack the grass roots support, big ideas, and mobilizing capacity that interesting candidates like Sanders, Yang, and Gabbard in fact have. So they keep these more interesting candidates in the race, so that potential voters are more invested in the process for longer. The idea is to try to transfer some of that Yang and Gabbard excitement and support, onto Biden. If that seems like a Herculean task and a strategy not likely to succeed, you would be right. But bear in mind that this is the same Clinton controlled DNC that came to believe that Hillary would win by a landslide.
Gabbard was no doubt the real-winner of this debate – because a victory in 2019 is whatever meme, soundbite, or viral clip you can produce from this sort of event. And Gabbard’s slicing and dicing of Warren was absolutely the highlight of the debate.
By European standards, the Democratic Party is a center-right liberal-austerity party, engaged in an abusive tactic of working against the mandate handed to them by their own more social-democratic constituency. Their programmatic aim is to reduce and tame the real demands of most of their voters, and present ‘pragmatic’ candidates with a ‘chance to win’. In reality, they force their own voters to bargain against themselves. The much weakened and diluted program that the pragmatic candidates take with them into office, is then in turn ‘bargained down’ in their negotiations with law-makers on the other side of the aisle. The result are candidates that no one really likes, going in and beginning negotiations with the position that one ought to arrive at in the end, and absolutely not begin with.
For example, on healthcare – as we saw again in debate number four – Biden promotes only nominal tweaks to Obamacare, which is a non-starter for the activist base of the party which knows that other developed countries consider healthcare both a right and a necessary foundation that makes all other profitable and industrious parts of socio-economic life possible and significantly more robust.
This base is required to generate excitement and launch candidates to wider audiences.
This is an entirely foolish position for many reasons, for nearly 60% of the general public according to recent Gallup polling, also believe that government must provide healthcare. Assuming that every voting Democrat supports a government mandate on healthcare, then nearly 60% means that about 20% of those are Trump voters, making this something of a non-partisan issue.
Interestingly, that polling data also shows that Obamacare ruined the public’s perception of government involvement in healthcare, and support for some kind of intervention dropped from all time pre-Obama high in 2006 of 69% in 2007, all the way down to some 46% in the time period that the travesty of Obamacare was passed into law in 2010. It would take another nine years for the support number to rise to where it is now, still 12 points below its 2007 high.
No Alternative to Trump’s Dovishness
The candidates in the Ohio debate took turns posturing tough on the need to beat Trump, but the DNC seems bent on backing any candidate who seems the least likely to. The reason that Trump will win if this continues – and win ‘big league’ – is that this is not only another ‘change’ election in the eyes of progressive and independent voters, but in fact a larger change paradigm.
Trump’s biggest weakness is his generally conservative position on social programs and healthcare, which is generally unpopular, even though his nominal trade wars with Europe and China were aimed at raising the position of the American worker.
The reality is that even during the administration of Bush 43, the Republican base was growing and voters were trending Republican. The victory of Obama was made possible around three factors: the unpopularity of the wars, which he promised to end, but did not; the massive new-voter registration campaign that was done through the back-door of ostensible labor organizing campaigns by SEIU in swing-states like Colorado; the massive energy at the base created around the prospect of a paradigm-shifting president, African-American no less, that would open the door to larger social-democratic movement – this also was spelled out in new-voter registration and turn-out.
Clinton attempted to use what the Obama energy had built, despite the 2016 election also having been a change election. But this need for ‘change without hope’ was absolutely at odds with the ‘hope + change’ campaign of 2007. Clinton was in the position of not being particularly inspiring to anyone, and needing to use the Obama energy and Obama machine to win an election which in all reality was a mandate against many of Obama’s actual policies and failings.
Without new voter turn-out, and without a genuinely populist campaign from the Democrats, Trump doesn’t have a serious contender to deal with.
Democrats have no real alternative program to offer to Trump, appealing instead to Trump Derangement Syndrome and the ‘Orange-Man-Bad’ mantra. But none of their supposedly front-runner candidates have anything of substance to counterpoise to Trump, with the exception of Warren on healthcare. But Warren will never escape the tag of being Pocahontas, and like Gabbard and Sanders, her anti-war positions may resonate against some of Trump’s rhetoric – if cherry-picked – but voters really concerned about war as a priority are more or less informed that it is Trump, and none other, that has been the first U.S president since perhaps Ford that has not begun a fresh U.S military campaign abroad.
We live in times where the entire U.S Empire is being dismantled, and being dismantled much to the chagrin of vested interests who may know better, but nevertheless insist on policies that stretch out the inevitable in the most short-term profitable way, to the extreme detriment of long-term thinking along strategic and national security/sovereignty lines. These ‘neoconservatives/neoliberals/whatevers’ have been using the vehicle of the Oval Office to see their plans through since the end of the Cold War. The policies of Clinton and Obama were practically indistinguishable from their Republican ‘opponents’ from the same era. All Trump will have to do is continue to run against the past Obama administration on foreign policy, deep state and all, since they’ve been so adamant about controlling and owning the process up to and until now. The numerous times he’s been threatened with impeachment was explicitly aimed at steering him back on track on aggressiveness on Syria, despite that their strategy failed nonetheless.
That means that what differentiates progressives from Trump is not the actual foreign policy positions as such – in this sense Trump feels and acts more like a dove than a hawk – but rather domestic policy on healthcare. Given the real state of inequality, costs, employment, and so forth, healthcare costs are simply out of hand, and too many Americans who have fallen ill have had to mortgage their homes, sell whatever earthly possessions they may have, wind up homeless, or simply die in hospice care.
This is the reality that Americans are facing, and it is therefore strategically ‘insane’, also being unconscionable as an aside, that Democrats continue to push characters like Biden and Harris who oppose single payer along ‘tax increase’ lines. Warren, as was on display in the debate, continues to support some kind of Medicaid for all, and rightly points out that any tax increases will be easily off-set by the end of insurance premiums. Everyone apparently knows this but Biden and Harris, so insurance companies and HMO’s continue to bankroll significant parts of the Biden and Harris campaigns.
We live in a ‘punishment’ paradigm, not a ‘lesser of two evils’ paradigm. Democrats on the fence are not ‘centrists’ as Biden backers insist, but rather ‘to the left’ of Democrats on foreign policy and healthcare, and will simply vote against any Democrat to punish them the way they themselves have been punished by Democrats for hitherto voting for said Democrats until now. Democrats in swing states will vote against Democrats, not vote, or vote for Trump for the very teachable moment that such a move creates.
For that reason, we continue to see 12 candidates all on one stage. Most of what is being written and read this week on the subject has a relatively transparent method and goal: to give a blow by blow of the debate and focus on the ‘horse-race’ angle of it, instead of how the candidates’ positions reflect things that actually matter to voters, and to promote Biden, Warren, and Harris as ‘front-runners’ simply by promoting this idea and repeating it until it becomes a matter of fact as a result. This, despite the fact that these three are among the least likeable candidates, and are indeed very uninspiring people with very little of substance to say.
It has to be said, and must be said again, that it is Sanders, Gabbard, and Yang that motivate and inspire the base. The DNC has no intention in allowing any of them to get the nomination, but need them in the running.
Nobodies like Buttigieg, whose political experience constitutes being a homosexual mayor of a town of three-hundred thousand folks, are in this race for no apparent reason. Except as some sort of latent insult to gay voters, implying that gay voters are interested in a gay candidate for their gayness alone, despite not having any political experience in state-wide, let alone national politics. That, and attempting to keep some sort of Democratic Party interest in Indiana, a state that Obama won in 2008, lost in 2012, and that Trump won in 2016. No wonder Buttigieg, in his ‘tremendous’ political experience at 37 years old and mayor of some place no one has heard of even in Indiana, wants to abolish the electoral college. Why is Buttigieg still in this race? This campaign has to be ‘fake news’ as nobody on the ground is excited about this lad.
Gabbard was the highlight, and she’s still in it
In our simulated and scripted reality, Gabbard ‘made a come-back’ after being excluded from the third debate, and qualified for the fourth. She has shown real utility on numerous occasions for being one of the three most interesting candidates on the one hand, but showing a particular acumen for landing punches on Biden’s opponents – punches that Biden himself can’t seem to land. She’s showing herself to be a very important part of this race, because our Kshatriya warrior princess keeps grass-roots Democrats engaged. The most interesting part of this debate was Gabbard taking aim directly at Warren’s inexperience militarily, that she has no experience to serve as Commander-in-Chief. Moderators cut her off right as she landed this punch, a punch which everyone heard nonetheless, and received an audible ovation from the audience. That clip will no doubt be viral for the coming weeks.