Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Dan Kervick — Sanders Supporters: The Problem Isn’t Election Machinery – It’s Mainstream Democrats

So the questions is, how do economic progressives most effectively move forward with their egalitarian and system-transforming agenda given that a massive bloc of more conservative voters and opinion-leaders in the Democratic Party is determined to stand in their way?
Vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein if Sanders is not nominated? 

If the Green vote increases dramatically, that will send a message to the Democratic Party to reform or forget about winning the presidency any time soon.

Unless a whole lot of disgruntled GOPers vote Libertarian, too.

Both of these possibilities are being put forward now unless the nominees are able to attract the disaffected members of their respective voting blocs back into the fold.

Then the US might have the beginnings of a multiparty field like parliamentary systems.

Presently, the US can hardly be called a democracy in that the voters do not vote on issues but only on personalities. 

It's an A-B vote on which celebrity you like best. Weird.

Rugged Egalitarianism
Sanders Supporters: The Problem Isn’t Election Machinery – It’s Mainstream Democrats
Dan Kervick


Matt Franko said...

Have to see how this works out this is like the Yglesias thing form yesterday... "socialism" so-called isnt polling well...

Malmo's Ghost said...

No, the problem is Sanders and what variation of egalitarian socialism will be coming our way under his watch. Will it be Venezuelan or the Cuban variety?

Sanders has done a poor job articulating the details of where socialism will take us, except to the gullible millennials he's wooed. Maybe he needs to explicitly drop the term for good?

At any rate there will not be a socialism movement in America that succeeds politically. That term is toxic and given its record it should be.

Tom Hickey said...

Black and white thinking.

Sanders is not talking about "socialism"as it is usually understood in poli sci, that is, as the government ownership of the princip[le means of production, but rather as "anything other than economic liberalism as TINA, which is the way that economic liberals define it and the way the public generally understands it.

Sanders has said specifically that he is thinking of the Scandinavian model, which is "socialism" from the US colloquial perspective but actually a mixed economy.

Ben Johannson said...

Correct, Tom. For Sanders "socialism" means dismantling the market state and replacing it with a welfare state.

Tom Hickey said...

Correct, Tom. For Sanders "socialism" means dismantling the market state and replacing it with a welfare state.

The US is still a welfare state to a considerable degree. The aim of economic liberals is to reduce that degree to the minimum level consistent with not provoking enough social pushback to threaten the system.

The aim of the proponents of a welfare state is to increase the emphasis on welfare and decrease the emphasis on markets as the solution to all problems, which they are not.

So I think the frame is still a welfare state and will be as long as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are in place. These programs account for a significant part of government spending and of GDP. Proponents of a market state won't be satisfied as long as these "entitlements" are not privatized or eliminated entirely.

The issue really is the balance of government spending between defense and welfare in a pay-go system that both parties have agreed upon. The right wants to increase military spending and decrease welfare expenditure, while the left wishes to do the opposite.

Regarding the private sector, the issue is the ratio of capital and labor share. The right wants to increase the capital share to "grow the pie" and the left want a more even share for fairness and distributive justice, which is a more accurate label for what is usually called "equality." It's not equality as much as egality. Equality is quantitative (numerically the same distribution) and egality is qualitative (fair or just distribution).

The differences between the right and left in the US get magnified by the rhetoric, but they are really not too far apart in reality, since politically the US is pretty centrist in that to win national elections it is necessary to capture the center and if one party is too extreme in governing, they will be voted out of office.

Sanders is really arguing for a return too the status quo ante Friedman, while the right is arguing for a purer version of Friedman. so the deck is stacked much closer to economic liberalism than untying that could qualify as socialism in the sense that political scientists use the term.

Malmo's Ghost said...


I'm well aware of what Sanders is talking about regarding socialism. But right or wrong I think it's an extremely hard sell in America. The optics simply don't work here for a myriad of reasons. And the melting pot demographic doesn't help further the cause either. In other words lack of homogeneity makes the sell that much more difficult.

At the very least the term socialism must be removed from the discussion if we are to get from political point A to point B. And the phrase "welfare state" won't move the needle anymore than the term socialism.

Tom Hickey said...

Polling shows that the majority of American prefers what Sanders is proposing.

They agree with Bernie: Majority of Americans support single-payer, “Medicare-for-all” health care system
Gallup poll: 58% of U.S. adults support Sanders' health care policy, including 73% of Dems and 41% of Republicans

Tom Hickey said...

So what do Americans want? A sampling of public opinion:

Support for raising the minimum wage: 70 percent.

Support for free public college: 55 percent.

Support for addressing “now” the rich-poor gap: 65 percent.

Support for raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million per year: 68 percent.

Support for Medicare-for-all universal healthcare: 58 percent.

Support for the US-Iran diplomatic agreement: 55 percent. Support for the right to a legal abortion (including “certain circumstances”): 75 percent.

Disagreement with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing corporate money to flood the political process: 78 percent.

Despite a plurality of Americans describing themselves as “conservative,” the majority of Americans are, in reality, situated at the liberal center—what is described in the political discourse as progressive or far-left or “socialist.” As summarized in a 2011 academic paper by political scientists Christopher Ellis and James A. Stimson,

“When asked about specific government programs and specific social goals, the American public generally wants the government to do more, spend more, and redistribute more. But at the same time, citizens are considerably more likely to identify themselves as conservatives than as liberals. The American public, in other words, generally wants more government-based solutions to social problems, but overwhelmingly identifies with the ideological label that rejects those solutions….”

The Nation is Not Divided and Still Prefers Bernie Sanders

Malmo's Ghost said...

Interesting poll. I'm in agreement with most of the questions. Just leave the terms socialism and welfare state out of the discussion and it's all good.

Bob said...

Polls are always right, especially when they contradict each other.

Ben Johannson said...

I can't agree. Sanders' statements including politically charged concepts like "exploitation" indicate his goals are considerably further left than was ever acceptable among elites in post-WWII America.

Policies then were intended to maintain sufficient growth and broadly shared prosperity to create national wealth and "save" capitalism from the feared fifth column that haunted conservative dreams; Sanders is proposing a re-ordering of society and redistribution of power in line with radical principles and ethical aims.

American society is currently organized along the line of the market state (or what Galbraith calls the Predator State) with some welfare-related institutions bolted on. Sanders is proposing the end of this experiment and relegation of markets to areas which will be of social benefit while banning them from areas where they create social harm. This means using markets as tools where appropriate and abandoning decades of effort to make markets the foundational ideal for our society.