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deletedNov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023
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“Ensorcelling”. Now there’s a word I have never encountered. So I looked it up.

Re the depth of the D’s bench, there’s a handful of highly competent governors out there who, I think, would be good alternatives to Biden, who is fading fast into his dotage. But no, instead we get Biden/Trump the sequel. Sigh.

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I think you're misreading Yglesias a little but HRC's candidacy should have disgusted feminists because she garnered her spot via nepotism. Like either Bush son. Unearned.

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I just can't take post-motems of 2016 that don't refer to Hillary's popularity. I can't take it.

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I posted a sharp piece about her during the primaries by Camille Paglia. It included a bit of snark but was overall spot on about HRCs weaknesses. An old college friend called me a misogynist over it. He kept revisiting the issue, even in 2020, by way of going after me on Facebook. So that was the beginning of the end of my sparkling social media presence, and the world and I are better off for it.

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I got some of the same. I must be a misogynist for supporting Sanders because issues don't matter or some such.

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You still see people speculating, in all seriousness, on what Hillary might have become if not for Bill. (Answer: A successful lawyer who finally gets elected to the school board on the third try.)

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Yeah, say what you will about Harris, Warren, Klobuchar, AoC, etc. know one knows or cares who their partners are.

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Kamala Harris was dating the speaker of the California Assembly when she was appointed to her first state-wide offices.

I don't think that was the main factor for her political success, but her detractors sure do. If she has a national campaign again, there'll be accusations of nepotism or "sleeping her way" to her position.

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I think you’re dead right about Hillary, which is why me and my friends all thought she was the wrong candidate. Kamala is exactly like her which is why Biden doesn’t dare step down.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Thst is precisely why Kamala was chosen. As an insurance policy that also checks the idPol boxes.

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Kamala definitely has the same sense of "It's my turn, I'm making history, bow down for me" entitlement. That NYT profile was infuriating.

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KHive/the Krassensteins were the ones who spiked the Tara Reade story all March 2020, then interviewed every horse-rescue admin, landlady, and 90s Capitol Hill staffer to discredit it; if the DNC went with Klobuchar Reade would've been on The View every night for half a year before November 2020

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Did sexism hurt Hillary? Probably. But also... did women who might have voted against her had she been a man with more or less the same political profile vote for her, simply because she was a woman? No women did that? Their numbers weren't significant? Hard to believe. Hard to measure too, at this late date.

But as Freddie says, what hurt Hillary most, what hurt her fatally, is that too many people of both sexes really don't like or trust her. And it wasn't a secret. Somebody needs to write one of those alternate-history novels, one where the Democratic party isn't run by morons.

It reminds me of the great joke about the dog food. Board meeting of a dog food company: the CEO says, "Gentlemen, we make the finest dog food money can buy. We use the best ingredients, we have the most innovative marketing, we have the most attractive packaging. And yet we're still losing market share. Why?" Silence... until, from down at the end of the conference table, a squeaky, junior executive voice says, "Dogs don't like it."

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When you dig into Yglesias-core politics Moneyball stuff about elections, it's pretty clear that female candidates, if anything, have an advantage over male ones, and that Hillary Clinton's whole career shows her to be one of the most dramatic underperformers of any gender.

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Look, I’m with both Matt and Freddie in wishing that we had nominated someone else in 2016 but let’s not go overboard on the pile on. Hillary is a better politician than a lot of people want to acknowledge. Look what she did in New York - she ecked out a win in 2000 but worked hard over the next 6 years and dramatically improved- she increased her vote share by more than 10 points and (more importantly if you are thinking electoral college math) she flipped a lot of counties from red to blue, making her win much more broad based. She demonstrated a desire to actually work and try to be better that I haven’t seen in a lot of high level Democrats (stares at Kamala Harris).

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

That Hillary made an effort to take her unpopularity seriously and work on improving it (unlike the fuzzy thinking of some of her supporters and Dem successors) is true.

But partially because of flaws in the whole DLC centrist theory of politics, those efforts weren't very effective.

Both of her Democratic Presidential Primary campaigns showed a persistent inability to win voters who broadly agreed with her.

2000 Senate, 2006 Senate, 2008 Primary, 2016 Primary, 2016 General is the whole record. 4/5 dramatic underperformances of the underlying fundamentals, and ever clearer in retrospect that her opponents were more on the Rick Lazio side of the scale than the Barack Obama side.

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Nov 12, 2023·edited Nov 12, 2023

To add to what Rick is saying, we can see in the popularity graphics Freddie provided that HRC is OK with the public most of the time...except when she runs for office. Then her favorables decline, only to rebound when she stops running. Between 2009 and 2014, she was in the 60s--she was even a meme of ultra-coolness, with the Blackberry and the shades!

I think one of the main reasons HRC is unpopular is indeed her sex. She's not particularly corrupt, although the media often see and present her that way. She's not a notably worse speaker than Mitt Romney or John Kerry. She's been investigated a zillion times and has never so much as been censured as a result. She raked in a bunch of cash over the years on speaking gigs, sure, but wealthy candidates like John Cain or Mitt Romney never got scorched that way over it. Her scandals were no worse than Trump's--for crying out loud, the guy was caught, on tape, bragging about getting grabby with women! I have a really, *really* hard time thinking this is completely unrelated to HRC lacking a Y chromosome.

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The more you see a person trying to be likeable the less you like them.

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That’s the incumbency advantage. Don’t credit her for that please.

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The moneyballers acknowledge that women are more likely to win races, but attribute that to men being more likely to enter into races they have low chance to win. This selection bias leads to female candidates being stronger (on average) than male candidates. I think Nate Silver wrote about it in his book, which is about as Yglesias-core as you can get. (This isn't about any candidate specifically, including Hillary, just the idea the female candidates have an advantage)

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True. There's also some more speculative stuff around executive vs legislative positions or some idea that as media attention becomes more saturated in higher profile races that sexism dynamic comes more into play. Hard to deal with small sample sizes in either case.

Nonetheless, it's plain to see that for the same office Elizabeth Warren performs well below the partisan and ideological fundamentals and Tammy Baldwin performs well above them. Gender per se is not some all-encompassing factor. Which is a point worth belaboring, because many have accurately noted how perverse and self-defeating the incentives become when you really believe "the rubes will never vote for a woman".

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As goes the joke about fishing lures ... you sell fishing lures to fishermen, not fish.

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I mean, I voted for her, because the alternative was Trump! I truly would have voted for almost anybody who wasn't Trump. Now if you had put her up against a more sane, traditional Republican, maybe there'd be a discussion. But I wonder how many "women who would have voted against her had she been a man" there are out there, given that the alternative was 45.

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Nov 13, 2023·edited Nov 13, 2023

Agree. I think the sexism part was waaaay overblown.

The reason most non-conservatives didn't like Hillary had nothing to do with her being female, and everything to do with four things: she was a party candidate (DNC insider), her track record (going back to the 90's), her terrible personality (the whole evil-grandma thing), and the simple fact that she was married to Bill. It wouldn't really have mattered if their sexes were reversed, time was really not good to Bill's legacy and tons of people simply didn't want him involved in anything to do with government anymore...however tangential it may be.

Saying all of that I still thought her a better candidate than Trump, and that was almost entirely due to his lack of any integrity or character whatsoever. Which says how incredibly bad a human being I thought he was, that an incredibly lousy candidate like Hillary was better. Had someone like Kasich been on the ballet instead of Trump, that probably would have been the easiest vote to cast in all my life.

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If Cruz, DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Hawley, or some other member of the club of Men Whose Personalities Beg to Be Hit by a Pie ever actually get elected president, Hillary and the sexism question may need to be revisited.

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As someone that's probably slightly older than FdB's audience, I believe that people that came of political age when HRC was a Senator fail to understand that it was a consensus view that HRC engaged in multiple criminal acts. An actual consensus. Almost everyone sentient - even Jimmy-fucking-Carter admitted it - believed that she literally sold pardons. Better read people were keenly aware that she - not Bill Clinton - concocted a scheme to smear a dozen members of the White House Travel Office as corrupt, have them federally investigated, all in order to install her friends and benefactors as the new White House Travel Office staff. Younger people don't realize that HRC was so concerned that Bill Clinton's sex scandals would result in them not making the kind of speaker-fee money that ex-Presidents can usually rely on that she engaged in a crime spree on the way out the door.

While I am a country club Republican, the kind of Republican that thinks Mitt Romney or Mike Bloomberg would have made fine presidents, I think I can be objective and honest in assessing political corruption. While no president in my adult lifetime stands out as uniquely politically honest, most of them struck me as having personal integrity while engaging in dishonest and - if we're being blunt - illegal behavior in furtherance of ideological or political ends (e.g., Reagan/Iran Contra or Obama corruption of DoJ/FBI/IRS for political purposes). The ones that did so to literally put money in their pockets stand out. HRC and Biden stand out more than any other. It is a testament to the residual power of the legacy media that HRC is not spoken of in the same terms as Spiro Agnew, because there certainly wasn't any difference in their personal behavior.

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I've never thought that sexism and being disliked were separate issues. The people that focus on sexism think that she was disliked and divisive because of sexism. Whether that's coming off as nagging while speaking or having to field questions about her cookie recipe, her gender could have influenced her reputation.

Either way, that was all known in 2016. Even if she was unfairly disliked, she was known to be unpopular.

(Yes, I've heard about the play where they have actors do a gender-swapped version of the 2016 debates. But even if that does prove something, she had built up a reputation for ~30 years prior to that)

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The Acela Corridor Punditocracy is every bit as willfully clueless about all this as Clinton herself. "We're the best and brightest, and it's our turn! It wasn't our fault! It was the voters! The Russians! TeH SeXiSm!" etc. etc. Trump didn't win because of MuH RaCiSm or Vladimir Putin or any of that nonsense, it was Hillary's negatives, and the fact that only Trump and Bernie even put issues that resonated with working class voters into their platforms in the first place.

I highly recommend "Shattered" by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes for the fascinating story of just how bad the Clinton campaign actually was, and how the interests of the party's elite have erased even the pretense of pretending to care about actual issues.

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The way you describe the entitlement at play among Clinton's supporters, I thought of Gene Hackman at the end of "Unforgiven," saying in stunned disbelief, "I don't deserve this... I was building a house."

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

I dunno, man. I feel like I read a different Yglesias piece than you did. The whole point of his article is that H. Clinton lost because her unique personal characteristics made her unpopular to the electorate and the Democrats ignored that to their (and the country's) peril. You get pretty hung up on his cheeky comment about O'Malley, but my reading of his piece is that he actually thinks Bernie would have won because H. Clinton was a poor candidate across multiple dimensions. I think you have legitimate gripes with "the media" and how they covered H. Clinton as a candidate, but Yglesias is a strange target at which to direct those legitimate gripes. Really, the only dispute between the two of you on this issue--you BOTH think the democrats chose the wrong nominee in '16--is that your preferred counterfactual involves a socialist getting elected president and his involves a centrist democrat. Either could have happened. You have no dispute with Yglesisas here other than that you like socialism and he doesn't. But you and Yglesias (and the rest of us who know how to read) are right that Dave Roberts is a buffoon whose writing is embarrassing when it strays away from climate issues.

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Ygelsias actually endorsed Bernie early and often in 2020, so he’s even less neoliberal than FDB is making him out to be here. I was surprised that no one’s mentioned that yet.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Well said, especially the part about trust issues. I remember watching Inside the NBA one night after Trump won, and one of the hosts (Ernie Johnson) said he had both "trust issues" with Hillary and also found Trump reprehensible. So he wrote in John Kasich.

My best friend, who had voted mostly Republican until that point, did the exact same thing with a Kasich write-in. This friend registered as a Democrat in 2018 and hasn't looked back.

So yeah, the "ugh, Giant Meteor 2016" effect was very real among many, many normal people who aren't hyperpartisans. Hillary was very polarizing among them, and they hated both choices available.

And her "If we break up the banks, will that end racism and sexism?" moment might still, even today, be the most cynical ploy of identity politics I've ever seen in my life.

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I saw an ad for a real estate brokerage showing HRC and Trump. "Leaving the country? Call...."

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And her "If we break up the banks, will that end racism and sexism?" moment might still, even today, be the most cynical ploy of identity politics I've ever seen in my life.

1000 times this. It wasn’t the reason I abandoned the Democrats but it is certainly the clearest, most succinct example.

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That sealed me not voting for her in the general election.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

HRC had pretty much all the institutional advantages that it is possible to have in an election not conducted in a full-on banana republic.

Still, she lost. To Donald Trump, a twice divorced glorified carnival barker.

I have read that in Michigan, enough voters voted a straight Team D ticket but either.voted Trump as president or left president blank as to be greater than Trump’s margin of victory.

People went out of their way not to vote for her, she is that unlikeable.

Of course, like most politicians, HRC exhibits behaviors indistinguishable from those of a sociopath. However, unlike most politicians, her detestable husband for instance, HRC either isn't good at hiding this, or can't be bothered to try.

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I grew up in Oakland County where there has been a big R-to-D shift over the last few decades. At first it was generational, with younger voters going for Obama while their parents still voted for Rs, but after Trump’s rise even many of the older voters began voting for Whitmer in 2018 (as well as downballot Ds in other races), and then Biden in 2020.

HRC may have been the worst possible candidate for these older R to D voters. She was a demon figure to them from the 1990s. And it isn’t just sexism—many of these older R to D voters are women, and they all voted for Gretchen Whitmer, Dana Nessel, and Jocelyn Benson in 2018 and 2022.

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I went out of my way to do a vote swap with some libertarian in Florida because of how much I dislike her, and I am a far left voter.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

Well, she might have won in the end in 2016, if she had troubled herself to campaign with the flyover rubes in WI, MI and PA.

Far more pleasant to hole up in sunny CA and yukk it up with campaign bundlers.

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Nov 13, 2023·edited Nov 13, 2023

When she was neglecting those states, it wasn't California that she was investing her time and money in. It was Arizona, Texas, and IIRC Georgia. She and her team were convinced that she couldn't lose the 'Blue Wall' (and basically all the poll analysts except 538 agreed), and so they tried to run up the score.

It wasn't a failure of values or ethics - it was a failure of strategy and above all a failure of *statistics*.

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Unless I am mistaken, HRC spent the last days of the 2016 campaign basically divvying up the anticipated spoils.

That said, yes, had she run a more focused campaign, she might well have won in spite of herself.

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She was trying to build a mandate. If polls had been right, she would have succeeded.

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Not sure how divvying spoils before the election is "building a mandate" (whatever that means).

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That last point rings true for me: That she can't be bothered to try to be likeable. Or human. The populace, in her mind, needs to come up to her level and appreciate her.

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To be fair, every single republican lost to Trump in the primary. Its not like she lost to some softball candidate. On paper and IRL, Trump is a terrible candidate, but he sure did do something right in terms of campaigning and popularity to get himself elected.

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Trump won the Team R nomination for two reasons:

1. After Jeb! imploded, the RNC was unable to agree on a single never-Trump candidate and thus dissipated its efforts. Was it Rubio? Kasich? Cruz? Someone else? In winner-takes all states, that proved especially fatal. The DNC did a much more coordinated job of ensuring Sanders was denied the nomination in 2020.

2. Unlike the DNC, the RNC could not count on the MSM to carry its water. This made it unfeasible for the RNC to simply rig the process the way Team D did.

You may recall that the leaked DNC emails approved the promotion of Trump as the Team R candidate, as he was seen as the most vulnerable. Of course, had Trump run against just about anyone other than HRC, he might well have lost.

For that matter, yes, Trump is a wretched candidate, as well as a wretched president, wretched person, wretched client, etc.. However, the voting public is seething white hot mad and thus a significant portion of the public is willing to take a (second) chance on a demonstrated huckster and snake oil salesman.

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I write more because its interesting, not to really fight or anything, but ... sure all those things happened to help Trump become president, but IMHO, he's an absolute genius at capitalizing on that kind of stuff. He ran a campaign for the social media age, all virality and outrage, while everyone else was running a more typical campaign.

I know this is a very pro-Sanders group of people, but I don't agree that with Sanders we would have won. I have the unpopular opinion that short of a JFK type celebrity candidate, there was no one that would stop Trump.

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I am not a Sanders cultist. I think that, even if he won, he would have been another Jimmy Carter, without a power base in Washington and abandoned by his own party. The same kooky conspiracy theories that were used to hamstring Trump would be applied to a President Sanders, and Sanders is even more spineless than Trump (although less amenable to flattery).

That said, I'm not here to fight. I avoid ad hominid, cheap shots, etc.. at least I try. I also write (and discuss) in order to organize my own thoughts.

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Nah, its cool. The whole HRC / Sanders debate really gets some people going.

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I think this is an uncharitable read of Yglesias's piece, which by the way was published a couple of years ago -- he republished it for no particular reason, I surmise.

I think he could agree with you about most things you say here, particularly how Clinton ran a bad campaign and how flawed she was as a candidate, but the piece was not about that. Insofar it was about alternative candidates, he very clearly points out that his bit about O'Malley is more about a what-if for Biden running in 2016. You could say one of the reasons Biden didn't run was the notion it was Clinton's turn, and I would agree with that, but again, he is clearly not saying O'Malley was a better candidate than Bernie Sanders!

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After Obama, I *knew* the Dems were going to nominate Hilary Clinton and it felt like a gut-punch. I struggled with my immediate reaction for a while. I thought I was probably just being a little sexist or something. I couldn't explain why I just didn't like here. I re-read the apologias -- she was accomplished, smart, all that good stuff. I thought maybe I was over-weighing her campaign vs Barack. I thought maybe I was over-weighing her "my turn" stuff. Would I say similarly about a guy?

I asked my mom about her. "Ugh. Hate her". I gave her the same speeches. "Yeah, I still hate her." I was unsurprised. I cast my ballot for Clinton in 2016, but whether it was people not turning out to vote for her, or voting for someone else, or simply voting for Trump -- I was not nearly surprised in the aftermath.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

People simply don’t weigh up their choice of president or political party based on academics / stats / accomplishments. It might play into it, but not much and not for most people. People will not on the whole vote for someone they dislike no matter how capable or qualified they seem.

Paul Graham wrote a piece ages ago arguing that charisma is a much better predictor / explainer of who becomes president. It might seem loathsome to describe Trump as charismatic but he undoubtedly has more of whatever charisma-adjacent quality is relevant here than HRC does or did.

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It always rings hollow when people explain what is in someone else’s head, and what their motivations are. Freddie cannot read Yglesia’s mind, and it’s lazy writing to pretend that he does.

Other than that, I agree about HRC

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(Mr. Peanutbutter voice) “What is this, a crossover episode?” The fact that these are my two Substack subscribees might mean I’m an out of touch weirdo. Being absolutely shell shocked HRC lost in 2016 confirms it. Can’t wait for me and my friends to augur 2024.

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If Trump wins in 2024 is anybody really going to be surprised?

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Seeing a post by Freddie followed by the Slow Boring logo at the top of the post definitely threw me off

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I remember John Kerry saying something to the effect of nominating Bernie Sanders in 2020 would be a disaster for Democrats and guarantee a Trump reelection. I've never understood the angst of Bernie vs Trump. Sanders neutralizes Trump's appeal in the rust belt where elections are decided.

I used to think older Democratic leaders were simply stuck in the past and feared a return of the bad old politics of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Maybe it's true and those leaders are simply too dense to look at rising voter attitudes towards neoliberalism, and this really is a problem of being out of touch. But I can't shake the thought that Democratic leadership don't like Bernie because they don't want the neoliberal consensus that benefits them to end.

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The 2016 election is significant because it settled the question of who would be the populist working class party in America.

The answer has been Trump and the Republicans and the country is going to be living with that for decades.

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I interviewed Obama-Trump voters ahead of 2020. Every single one of them voted for Trump because they despised Clinton. Also fuck Matt Y, the most important election of our lifetimes was 2000. We wouldn't have Trump without W. Literally W admin caused all of the refugee crises that put fascists in office in the US and Europe.

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I 100% agree with you that Hillary lost primarily because of Hillary, but I think you're handwaving away the clear issues with a Bernie general election campaign. Just as there's years and years to demonstrate that Hillary is unpopular, there's years and years of evidence that socialism is still an unpopular word to the median voter, that persuasion works a lot better than turning out the base, and that spoiler candidates that poll well in a primary generally see their poll numbers drop once they become the main target of the opposition.

Something that I think is not brought up nearly enough is that 2016 voters thought Trump was more moderate than Hillary. I think that goes a long ways towards explaining part of his win over her. The idea that Bernie would be seen as more moderate than Trump is to me unlikely. None of this is to shit on Bernie (who I generally like even if he's to my left on a lot of issues) or to excuse Hillary (who ran an incompetent campaign, which would be obvious to anyone who'd ever seen her do anything for about 30 years). I think the Martin O'Mally argument is basically what you said above- Obama is popular, the economy wasn't in recession, things seemed mildly normal. All democrats needed to do was nominate someone who wouldn't give voters an excuse to vote for Trump.

Again, you don't have to like it you just have to play the game as it is and I'm not convinced Bernie would have resulted in anything different than Hillary.

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I am deeply, deeply skeptical that Bernie would have won. People deploy those Trump-Bernie matchup polls but the Republicans hadn’t deployed any of their oppo on Bernie (why would they? You save that for the general, which Bernie never got to). The other thing I hear, which I also discount, is “cancer elected Trump” - in that were it not for Beau Biden’s tragic death, Biden would have run in 2016. Maybe? But I’m quite confident that Hillary would still have run anyway, and she would have crushed him in the primary. So ultimately the same outcome.

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Yeah, that's fair. Everyone wants to blame the liberal elites for nominating Hillary, and I understand why because they're cheerleading for her was disgusting and (obvious, especially so with hindsight) extremely stupid. But she pretty soundly won the primary. Right or wrong, as unpopular as she was with the median American she was still pretty popular with the democrat base. Kind of like where republicans are now with Trump.

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People forget how flawed as a candidate Biden would be in 2016 as well. Let's not forget that a lack of moderate options in the Dem primaries plus a stunted general campaign due to COVID-19 really did a lot of work for him to win in 2020. His previous attempts weren't that great.

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Nov 11, 2023·edited Nov 11, 2023

I am absolutely certain that the kind of big name, well funded independent campaign that many always pine for would have quickly emerged in response to a sudden dual Trump/Bernie nomination in 2016. Probably Romney.

Romney wouldn't stand a chance against Trump and Bernie today, but 2016 was a different environment, the media cheerleading would have been overwhelming.

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Anyone who thinks this country would have elected a self-described socialist as president in 2016 is completely delusional. Clinton roundly won the primaries (Bernie’s voters couldn’t even be bothered to show up for those - probably too busy screaming at people on Facebook), and earned the second highest number of raw votes of any democratic candidate ever, just not in the right places. I agree her campaign wasn’t great, and she foolishly took her win for granted. But Jesus, the Bernie Bros will never let this die. Someone whose only response to policy questions was, “There will be a revolution!” isn’t a serious person.

Even if he had somehow won he would have accomplished exactly nothing. I hate Trump, and I’m not a fan of Clinton, but Trump getting elected is probably the best thing that has happened to the Democratic Party in 50 years. Bernie getting elected in 2016 would have been the worst. (And as a bitter side note, I also think Clinton would have won the upper Midwest swing states if Bernie hadn’t gone so far out of his way to intentionally poison that particular well, even after his primary losses.)

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I've made this point several times before, but this is a 50-50 country. The parties are that good about jibing and tacking. So get used to losing half of the time. It's not the end of the world. But...there have been two blow-out elections of my lifetime. Actual blow outs where one party is left defending whether it has a purpose. Both of them were when the Dems nominated a left of left presidential candidate.

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