It’s the Economy, Stupid: Some brief, and (you’d think) obvious, reflections on Election2016


Silly Bernie Bros! This is all your fault! Photo (c) NYT

By JT Haines — December 1, 2016


I’ve been a little quiet since election night, mostly because I’m angry about the result, and haven’t wanted to dump that on people during a difficult time. I’m angry, I’m intensely concerned (obviously), and, like many of us who have been paying attention, I’m not shocked. (I warned of this prospect back in 2013. Michael Moore was dead on in July of this year. Warnings like these were many, and not heeded.)

With some time having passed, I’ll say this now: Arrogant establishment Dems who got all this wrong, at our incredible expense, need to take responsibility, and, frankly, get the hell out of the way. At the very least, we must take anything they have to say right now with a mountain of salt.

Fortunately, there are some useful narrative corrections available to us, which I believe will help us get on a better path. This first hand account from three Sanders delegates is, to my mind, basically correct. Excerpt:

Against this virulent anti-establishment backdrop, the Democratic Party chose to run the most disliked establishment candidate in modern history against Trump, who criticized some of the same institutions voters disdain.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) deluded the party’s faithful into believing that this was “her time” to break the glass ceiling and that because Trump’s rhetoric was so divisive, violent and traumatizing, Clinton could simply leap over the significant hurdles of gender, her own personal image and all of the baggage that accompanies her and her husband.

We met working class voters while campaigning for Sanders. Many of us were these voters. A lot of Republican and Independent voters told us they would vote for Sanders if he were in the general election, but they would not vote for another Clinton.

The whole piece is worth a read. (Bernie on Democracy Now yesterday is excellent as well.)

The old new way isn’t working any more, if it ever did. We need to put all of that behind us, immediately, or continue down a destructive and divisive path which has mainly benefited the careerist establishment and urban elite. If there’s any silver lining here at all, it’s that there must be a reckoning. Here’s to hoping for the best. We have some serious, and scary, work ahead of us.


It’s Go Time for Sanders Supporters. Democratic Primary Update

February 21, 2016 — by JT Haines

After three states, delegate counts on the Dem side are even at 51 (non-superdelegates, that is), and Sanders is well ahead in the overall popular vote, 60%-38%. Looks pretty good for Team Sanders, all things considered, right?

Make no mistake. Steadily and per script the corporate machinery of the DNC and Clinton campaign is grinding, quietly telling insiders that this thing could be over as soon as March 1.

The next 10 days are a probably a lot bigger than they seem to many Sanders supporters. Until now, the Sanders campaign has enjoyed tremendous success on social media, at rallies, and through millions of $27 donations. It is very clear that people want an alternative to the politics of Wall Street, Wal-Mart, and Monsanto, and they want it now. So it might feel as though the campaign can simply continue and grow, that the real Sanders v Clinton moment will happen some time in the future, like at a convention or at a general election.

That may yet happen. And because of the delegates Sanders has won and will win, the demands of the campaign will be present on some level going forward, regardless of who wins the next several states. However, the reality is, a couple more primary “victories” by Clinton would allow her campaign, and the mainstream corporate media that donates to her campaign, to pivot the narrative back from one about political revolution to the preferred narrative of inevitability. It’s happening already, even with the delegate count tied, and the next couple states are tough sledding for Sanders. If enough talking heads say it’s over, people will start to believe it.

In order for conversations about the possibility of Sanders winning to continue in their fullest form (as well as conversations about superdelegates, corporate contributions, and DNC manipulations that come with them), there will need to be a new surge on the Sanders side, and probably within the next 10 days.

This means Sanders supporters, most critically those in Super Tuesday states*, going beyond social media and talking directly to friends and neighbors about voting on March 1. Only major turnouts have the chance of counteracting the incredible amount of establishment machinery leaning on the process on the other side. (Turnout was low in Nevada.)

Short of this, a few minor concessions notwithstanding, prepare yourself for what is certain to be a really, really, unpleasant summer of being told that you must vote for a candidate who does not believe it’s necessary to challenge the system nearly as much as you do.

To vote on March 1 in Minnesota:
Go to your precinct caucus location, which you can find here:  Voting will take place between 6:30 and 8:00pm. Heads up, a few things that are confusing people:
  1. Party caucus locations are NOT election polling locations. You have to look it up. [Update: I’ve been on the doors myself this weekend. I’m finding that nearly everyone thinks they’re going to their polling place (in our case, a church), when actually they’re going to the caucus location (in our case, the high school). Gotta check — Spread the word!]
  2. You do not have to stay around for all the party business to vote in the binding presidential poll. In other words, if you want to vote and leave, you can do that.
  3. Voting is from 6:30 to 8:00. If you’re in line by 8:00 you can vote.
  4. The poll is binding — meaning, the results determine how many delegates the candidates will get at the national convention from Minnesota. Think mini-primary.


*Super Tuesday Democratic states include:

Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia.

“This is politics, so get over it.” An Occupy Organizer’s Case for Bernie

By JT Haines – January 26, 2016

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 1.06.42 PMNew York-based Wildfire Project Director Yotam Marom supports Bernie Sanders for President. As a former Occupy organizer and leftist with a fairly large and national group of followers, Marom’s posts fill a space in the conversation not often reached by the MSM. This morning he directly and concisely addresses many of the questions about Sanders I often hear from those concerned the Sanders campaign isn’t left/progressive enough. If you’ve heard, or have, these questions also, I recommend this as well worth a read:

Folks, I think at this point, it’s just irresponsible for movement people not to support Bernie Sanders for president. Bianca and I watched the democratic town hall on tv last night. Millions of people got to listen to Bernie rail against Wall Street, demand that capitalists pay for social programs, preach against the war, popularize the term socialism, explain programs like single payer health care and free higher ed as common sense, and more. Bernie ain’t perfect: His foreign policy is weak, I wish he was stronger on race, and this election isn’t going to fundamentally change the system one way or the other. And still, nothing could be better at this moment – both for our movements and the hundreds of millions of working people in this country – than the continued possibility of a Sanders presidency, and the immense political education the public is undergoing with every day of this election cycle as a result of the megaphone our movements have given him. But if he loses Iowa or New Hampshire, it’s over, the megaphone goes away, and we go back to business as usual, a boring ass election between a bunch of right wingers. If you’re a cautious democrat: You have nothing to lose by gambling on this; the only thing holding Bernie back is our fear that he can’t win, but he will if you back him. And if you’re a leftist holding out for the revolution: Me too. But this is politics, so get over it. We use all the tools at our disposal that might move us forward. Your silence on this – like neutrality in the face of any imbalance of power – is actually a vote for Hillary.

Mr. Sanders and his campaign are indeed far from perfect. With that firmly in mind, this may be the healthiest conversation in many decades about the opportunities and limitations of any one campaign. For that alone we should be thanking Bernie, and giving him a fair amount of latitude on his decisions about how, where, and with what party to run.

This is not 2008. I think posts like Marom’s make that clear. And (as is no secret), I certainly share Marom’s conclusion that the tools the Sanders campaign is offering us right now are far too useful to pass up.


Time for Hillary to Withdraw

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) Universal

Clinton 2016 campaign announcement speech. Image (c) Universal

By JT Haines — June 26, 2015

Sanders is surging, and some are surprised. (Newspeak Review is not. The sentiments expressed here in 2013 are playing out as predicted.) In any case, the surge has drawn the expected consternation and in-fighting among the “left” (those willing to hope that incremental change funded by corporate contributions is going to get us there), and the left (those who believe — with some evidence — that it will not).

Which puts us in a familiar and uncomfortable place — Bush Gore Nader, Obama Romney Stein, Nolan Mills Sandman (Minnesota’s 8th 2014), even in many ways Obama Clinton ’08 — just ratcheted up yet further.

As per script, these old conversations are happening everywhere:

Is Bernie wrecking it for Hillary and the country, because Supreme Court nominees etc?
Is Jill Stein wrecking it for Bernie and the country, because Nader?
Is Bernie wrecking it for Jill Stein and the country, because inevitable folding back into establishment politics, waste of energy, etc?
Will Bernie Sanders and/or Jill Stein “cause” a rabid Republican to get elected, who will destroy the universe worse than DC Dems already have been?
Is supporting Bernie in particular for his stance on economic inequality worth it?
Is supporting Stein for her stances on basically everything worth it?
Is a chance at avoiding 9 more years of bi-partisan consensus on the taxpayer subsidized corporate takeover of the economy, the environment, and the republic, worth near term risks on some issues?

Put differently, among those who otherwise agree that a change is necessary, the question is how *big* a change is necessary, and when is it necessary, and when is it possible? If we’re being honest, supporters of each of Sanders, Stein, and Clinton all on some level have a point. But these debates are about tactics, and strategy, and individual assessments of how urgent and possible change is at this moment. They ask the question: Is addressing inequality, and climate change, and the corporate takeover of politics in a meaningful way realistic and worth the risk, not whether it is necessary. A vast majority of people seem to agree about that. So sad that individual citizens are stuck in perpetuity debating strategy and not considering together the things that would make our country better!

In any case, it can’t go on forever. A breaking point is inevitable — when you sell out the American public for 20, 30+ years, eventually the chickens are going to roost. And that’s no longer even a particularly radical suggestion; it looks like it may be happening now. The Sanders surge is just the latest sign.

For the time being, we may be stuck plodding along with many of the same conversations — on social media, in blogs, at the dinner table, at conventions — with would-be allies, until we hit the point where that’s no longer an option.

Or. Hillary could step aside now.

Maybe it’s time to add to the list the possibility that it is actually Hillary and corporate Dems that are ruining it for the country, not the other way around. Why wouldn’t we? It happens to be the truth. And wouldn’t that give us something to do for the next year? Whether Sanders, Stein, or otherwise, imagine the possibilities and the impact on the conversation. We might even stand a chance of not spending the entire year bickering with each other.

Before we blow our — oh my gosh that’ll never happen, crazy unexpected things never happen in this country (false) — lids: It goes without saying that this would be a pretty radical turn for all the reasons that are immediately running through your head right now. It would take real vision, commitment to this country, and willingness to put ones own personal interests and efforts aside.

But Hillary stepping down is the right thing to do. And, somewhere in there, I think she might even realize it. With tiny apologies to the impressive run that Hillary Clinton and her supporters have had, it’s time to add the prospect of her withdrawal to the conversation.