Saturday, March 05, 2016

Louisiana: The Re-Greatening

I Know How Wealthy I am

Prepare now to smell the greatness again. Collect your wares and assemble.
Protestors first gathered earlier that afternoon in the parking lot down the road from the airport, where vendors — sort of the concert tour merch reps of presidential campaigns, traveling from state to state and rally to rally, regardless of political party (some visit both Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns, with different merch for each candidate) — sold Trump wares, from bedazzled hats to Star Wars spoofs, soccer scarves, and shirts featuring a cartoon Trump holding a gun saying, "Go ahead, ISIS, make my day."
You can watch about five minutes of NBC news raw footage of the protest here.  There's a part where Trump, at the microphone, remarks that it's taking a long time to get them removed. He even says, "this is not good for your reputation, Louisiana," which, I guess, is sort of the #FixMyStreets of protest removal complaints.  Anyway, that's your Trump 2016 experience, Louisiana. If you have any complaints, please just throw them on the THANKS, OBAMA pile.

If you're laying money on today's results, here's the latest Republican poll conducted in Louisiana by Trafalgar Group. Trump has what looks like a commanding lead with 44%

His nearest competitor at 25% is the Zodiac Killer who appeared last night in Mandeville with the Duck guy. Spectators at that event were treated to some incorrect etymology and actual, literal bible-thumping.
Dressed in a dark blazer, jeans and cowboy boots, his shirt open at the neck, Cruz declared, "We love America, we love God, we love our guns and we're fed up with the lying, cheating, stealing" -- and cheers drowned out the rest.

He said, "If you look at the word 'politics,' there's two words: 'poli,' meaning men, and 'tics,' meaning blood-sucking parasites."

Though the rally north of the lake's own reality television star -- Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" -- thumped his taped-together Bible plenty, the issue that drew the loudest ovations for Cruz wasn't religion but America's other bible, the Constitution.

Attendee after attendee gave the same answer when asked why they liked Cruz.

"The main issue for me is upholding the Constitution. The Constitution is not a suggestion," said Matt Swiggum of New Orleans, 29. "I think our founding fathers were among the smartest men who ever walked the face of the earth."
 Well, they probably better understood the derivation of the word "politics," anyway.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are looking kinda boring. At least in Louisiana they are. According to PPP last month, Hillary is polling at 60%. If that holds up it would be consistent with the way she has performed throughout the south so far.  I don't think I've been especially shy about the point that Hillary Clinton is a goddamned terrible monster who will make a dismal nominee in the fall.  But she's going to be the nominee anyway.  She was always going to be, though.

Here's a pretty accurate assessment from (I know, I know, don't yell at me) Kos.
And the early state results bear it out—you do not build a liberal movement by bringing together white people, then hope that people of color come along for the ride. You start with those communities of color. And as the early state results make clear, that never happened.
More to the point, they didn't even try. I don't think this was out of negligence, though. I just think this was not a campaign designed with the objective of winning the nomination in mind. Rather, it was about calling attention to fundamental problems with the American political economy and asking why the Democratic Party and its leaders do not address these problems meaningfully.

The answer to that question, of course, is because the party and its leaders are corrupt, immoral monsters. But the Sanders campaign was too nice and ineffectual to say it quite like that. This, and the absence of a deliberate effort to listen to or organize within black communities in poor southern states tells us all we need to know about the campaign's goals. They weren't actually trying to win the nomination.

I firmly believe that the day a candidate running on a Sanders-like platform has real success, that campaign will necessarily be of and about the South first.  If your campaign is about helping poor and marginalized people you should be able to get those people on your side. If you can't do that then there is a problem with your candidate or your campaign isn't actually trying to win.

Did they make their point, though? Damn right they did. The Democratic Party is a mess and the Sanders campaign brightly and clearly demonstrated that for everyone. Whether or not the next steps build on that progress is anybody's guess. But the opportunity is there. It lies in solving a puzzle Salon's Daniel Denvir described about a week ago.
So why are some white workers tilting left while many black workers rally around the establishment? It’s certainly not because black voters are more conservative. Just take a look 28 years back, when the dynamic was reversed and Jesse Jackson struggled to win white workers over to a multi-racial economic populist platform.

”The new South challenge is an economic challenge and it transcends race,” Jackson said in 1988. ”This is the region where we have nearly half of the nation’s poor children. In the South we have the highest rate of infant mortality. There are 13 million people from the South with no health insurance.”

Jackson’s message was nearly identical to that of Sanders: an economic populist appeal to working-class voters of other races. Jackson’s populism failed, as Sanders’s has so far, to breach racial divides. That year, Jackson garnered an estimated 92-percent of the black vote but just 12-percent of the white vote, and much of the latter appeared to be concentrated amongst well-educated liberals. This was sad but unsurprising: the racial politics of white workers has been a key obstacle to transformative change since they began to abandon the New Deal coalition for Republicans en masse during the civil rights era.

The good news for the left is that the Sanders and Jackson campaigns show that both black and white people can be mobilized behind a progressive candidate. The challenge is to mobilize them behind the same one.
This is not an irreconcilable problem. The success of the Sanders and, to a degree, even the Trump campaigns this year at galvanizing working class whites against the billionaire's club in charge of each party shows it's possible.  They've solved a side of the Rubik's cube the Jackson campaign couldn't.  Now it's just a matter of getting it all solved together.  Of course, that's not easy. But it can be done. 2016 is the first time I've ever really believed that.

Anyway, I hope everyone has fun voting against whatever jerk they hate most today.  The polls close at 8 in Louisiana. I am given to understand The Lens will have precinct by precinct results maps available sometime tonight. So keep checking there.  Have a Yuuge day!

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