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Friday, August 2, 2019

A MUST READ

This splendid piece in THE NATION by my old comrade from anti-apartheid days, Adam Hochschild.

16 comments:

David Palmeter said...

It's important to keep this history in mind, but at least during WWI Germany was an enemy. Mexico and Guatemala and Honduras aren't aren't enemies. It's interesting how fast things change: after the anti-German hysteria of WWI days, the US picked, as its military leader in WWII against Germany, a general of German descent--Eisenhower--and put American citizens of Japanese descent in camps. We were more humane then, however; we didn't split up families in the camps.

David Palmeter said...

OFF TOPIC from David Leonhardt, NYTimes:


David Palmeter said...

Sorry. When I pasted Leonhard's comments into the box, they were there. When I posted, they disappeared.

LFC said...

Thank you for the Hochschild piece. It's very good. A fair amt of the terrain covered was familiar to me, but some of it not.

Chris said...

For those of you with ANY DOUBTS about Sanders chances at success, notice the two maps:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/02/us/politics/2020-democratic-fundraising.html

Anonymous said...

Upton Sinclair's 1920 novel 100%: the Story of a Patriot contains vivid descriptions of some of the subjects in Hochschild's article.

It is freely available here:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5776

Talha said...

Wow. Thanks for these Chris. Simply wow. (It will be interesting to see the gymnastic contortions folks will get into to downplay their significance.)

David Palmeter said...

That's impressive and shows the breadth of his strength among Democrats. It doesn't reflect all voters in those states, many of which Trump won in 2016 and likely will win in 2020. Bernie's blue map resembles Trump's red map.

Here's the David Leonhardt newsletter item I've tried to post. Let's see if it works this time:

From David Leonhardt's Newsletter:

On many big policy issues, all of those candidates have the same basic positions as most Americans, because Democrats generally are more in tune with Americans’ policy views than Republicans.

Most Americans say they favor a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, expanded Medicare, tighter gun control, more financial aid for college and more spending on clean energy, among other Democratic priorities. But there are at least two big exceptions: Most Americans are opposed to both the forced elimination of private health insurance — that is, mandatory Medicare for All — and the decriminalization of illegal border crossings.

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, for example, asked what people thought of “Medicare for all — that is, a national health insurance program for all Americans that replaces private health insurance.” Only 41 percent said it was a good idea, while 54 percent called it a bad idea. More starkly, only 27 percent said “decriminalizing illegal border crossings” was a good idea, compared with 66 percent who called it a bad idea.

It’s true that self-identified Democrats were more positive about these ideas, with most favoring the elimination of private health insurance and slightly less than half favoring decriminalization of the border. But Democrats are also desperate to beat President Trump. Many say they want a nominee with the best possible chance of winning.

Talha said...

Right on cue!

First let me note, David, that you left hanging the point in the other thread that your "risk" issue still didn't--after repeated iterations and responses--amount to anything at all. Except baseless fear(-mongering). Why is that relevant to bring up here? Because it is another in a series of centrist performances masquerading as "pragmatism."

Regarding this latest attempt at giving centrism the patina of "hard-headed" credibility, three points:

(1) "On many big policy issues, all of those candidates have the same basic positions as most Americans, because Democrats generally are more in tune with Americans’ policy views than Republicans."

It is simply absurd to say that Harris or Biden or Buttigieg have "the same basic positions" as Sanders on "many big policy issues"--even excepting Medicare and Immigration, as the writer goes on to do. (Indeed, even to say that Sanders and Warren "have the same basic positions" only makes sense from a centrist point of view--from where I sit, the differences between them remain *very* significant, both in the content of their positions and, more importantly, in their commitments to them and their theories of how to achieve them.)

They do not. They may "say" they have "come around" to such positions but (a) they have only "come around" because of the Sanders effect on shifting the debate; and (b) they will only continue to "say" this so long as they feel pressure from the Sanders/progressive wing--which is enough to tell you whether they will "do" anything in that direction should they be elected. This applies to "a higher minimum wage," "higher taxes on the rich," and so forth. Has this moron (the NYT author, not DP) simply missed the Biden speech to corporate donors that "nothing fundamental will change"?

(2) Regarding polling re Medicare for All, the polling I have seen reveals that (a) when Americans are asked about M4A by itself, it polls above 60%; (b) when it is added they'll lost their private insurance without anything further, the numbers drop to below 50%; and (c) when it is further added that the private insurance will be replaced by M4A, the numbers rebound to around 60%. So it is very much a matter of how the question is framed.

"But wait," you'll say, "this poll explicitly framed it as M4A replacing private health insurance." Well, yes and no. It offered that question alongside one other option, namely "Medicare for All who want it"--i.e., "the public option." That is not an innocent framing, not by a long shot.

"Be that as it may," you'll reply, "it remains that Americans *do* prefer an opt-in rather than mandatory universal public insurance program." To which the reply is two-fold: (a) as a matter of policy, that is simply not feasible: for reasons I laid out previously, to allow private insurance to cherry-pick the cheapest individuals, only then to off-load them to the public program once they have kids, get older, contract a serious illness, etc., is simply not cost-effective or equitable; and (b) *persuading* folks--by making this case as clearly as possible, without clutter, evasion or Republican talking points--is precisely what politics is about.

Talha said...

(3) "Ah," but you'll say, "that is all well and good in the ideal world, but we live in the real world where politics is simply about winning and that means taking people as they are." Ah, okay, in that case let me point to another datum in the same poll:

When asked "Thinking about the 2020 election, do you definitely plan to vote for Donald Trump for re-election as president or do you definitely plan to vote against him?" 39% said "definitely" in favor, 53% said "definitely" against, with 8% "unsure."

Meaning, in other words, that there is simply no room for Trump to win: even if he got all the unsure on his side, he's still behind 47% to 53%. That is, the Dems have victory sewn up, so they should be free to put forward whatever candidate they (internally) most favor.

Of course now all sorts of reasons will be rolled out for this latter conclusion doesn't follow: minds can change, depends on the geographic distribution of the votes, depends on turn-out, et cetera et cetera. All of which, of course, apply equally to the M4A polling results as well. But, no, in the latter they are to be taken as hard fixed points, unmovable givens. While in the former, open to a campaign of persuasion. Hmm.

Christopher J. Mulvaney, Ph.D. said...

I think there is little doubt that Sanders can win, and his his debating skills will pay a large role. MSNBC'er O'Donnell went to great lengths the other night to talk about how debating has nothing to do with being president, which is perhaps trivially true. But,Trump relies on his controlling the situation which Bernie will not allow him to do. Leonhardt is using the 'play to the middle to win' trope when it is demonstrably false. There is no middle, nor are there independent voters.


David Palmeter said...

Christopher Mulvaney

I don't think Leonhardt is saying "play to the middle." I'm reading him as reporting on polling showing that every Dem is in line with the majority view on all important issues except mandatory Medicare for all and decriminalization of immigration laws. That's simply a report on a heretofore reliable pollster.

What's striking to me is how far the country has moved to the left in the past decade. What you call to the middle to was the unenactable left back then. I don't want to risk losing the opportunity to get affordable medical insurance for all, regardless of who the insurer is.

Debates are important, but so are issues, and mandatory Medicare and decriminalization strike me as the kinds of issues--like guns and abortion--that create single issue voters who don't want to go that far.

I admit to being one of those Leonhardt refers to as those who simply want to win. I don't think the most important thing in this election is getting any particular agenda enacted, although I have my preferences; I think it's far more important to defeat Trump. And I don't share the certitude that others seem to have that the farther left we go, the easier that will be.

David Palmeter said...

Talha. Your post is too long for me this early in the morning. I'll try to reply later today.

s. wallerstein said...

"Meaning, in other words, that there is simply no room for Trump to win: even if he got all the unsure on his side, he's still behind 47% to 53%. That is, the Dems have victory sewn up, so they should be free to put forward whatever candidate they (internally) most favor."

Remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. No doubt that any of the Democratic pre-candidates can get more votes than Trump. However, can he or she win the electoral college? That is the question.

We need state by state polling.

Talha said...

Yes SW my next sentence referred to "geographic distribution of the votes." But my point is that if we need state-by-state polling before we are confident of "Trump a 'definite' thumbs up or down?" answers, why is that never asked for *much more complicated* "M4A good or bad?" answers? And yes the question is rhetorical. The reason of course is that in the latter case, any data point will be seized upon and cherry-picked to support one's centrist priors, while in the former, no amount of data will assuage hand-wringing fears of doom that have the effect of "all rally around the center."

Chris said...

Talha,
I just want to say that I'm very grateful you wrote these replies because I lacked the resolve to do so. Moreover, you inadvertently got DP to admit that he's a nihilist and only interested in power. Congrats!

"I admit to being one of those Leonhardt refers to as those who simply want to win. I don't think the most important thing in this election is getting any particular agenda enacted, although I have my preferences; I think it's far more important to defeat Trump."

By this logic, if Mike Pence or David Duke could defeat Trump, that would be 'okay'.

And your rhetorical question is where my thoughts were developing, but had not yet crystallized. Congrats again!