Hillary’s more electable than Bernie — or is she?

REUTERS/Randall Hill
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking during the Jan. 17 debate in Charleston, S.C.

If you are a Democrat, have you made your mind up whether you would rather see Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders as the Dem nominee for president?

I haven’t. Of course, I’m a mere Minnesotan, not a mighty Iowan or New Hampshirite. So what I think might not matter much. But I try to be a thoughtful voter. So I think about it often. Lately, every day.

My dilemma is the electability riddle. A lot of people apparently don’t think it’s a riddle. They think Clinton is the more electable one. And I sort of understand why they think so. But I’m troubled by the lack of hard evidence.

Right now, in the latest trial-heat polls I can find matching the top Dem contenders against the top Repubs, Sanders does a little better than Clinton. You certainly can’t take that to the bank, and the difference isn’t much.

Personally, on almost every policy issue where Clinton and Sanders disagree, I favor Sanders’ position (which, in almost every instance, is the more progressive). Single-payer health care. Robin Hood tax policies. Free tuition at public colleges and universities. I also appreciate that, on foreign and especially Mideast issues, Sanders’ approach seems to be less likely to get us into another war.

But to state the obvious: At least in the current situation in Congress, none of Sanders’ ideas that would require congressional action have much chance of being adopted. The same could be said for most of Clinton’s policy proposals.

As long as the Republicans control either house of Congress and perhaps even if they controlled only enough of the Senate to sustain a filibuster, Bernie’s $15-an-hour minimum-wage plan and Hillary’s $12-an-hour proposal are non-starters. So are most of their other ideas that would require legislation. The United States will not adopt Bernie’s single-payer health care system, nor will many of Hillary’s ideas for expanding the reach of the Affordable Care Act be enacted by a Republican-controlled Congress that is sworn to repeal Obamacare.

If there are any vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, either of the Democrats will nominate justices who will uphold the Affordable Care Act, will vote against the continuation of the Citizens United regime and will protect the basic ruling in Roe v. Wade. (The question in my mind in the future-Supremes-area is whether one or both parties will soon adopt a strategy of filibusters so that new justices with the “wrong” leanings will simply not be confirmed and we will experience some long vacancies until one party controls both the Oval Office and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.)

As you are perhaps aware, the great future-knowers of the punditocracy believe that the Dems have a chance of regaining a Senate majority this year, but no chance of taking over the House. If the Repubs still control both houses next year, the top priority for any voter with a liberal Democratic bone in his body should be to retain Democratic control of the veto pen. And that, of course, is why the electability of the Dem presidential nominee should count more heavily in one’s thinking than single-payer-versus-expanded-Obamacare and most other differences in policy preferences between Sanders and Clinton.

Conventional wisdom

So who’s the more electable candidate? The conventional wisdom is — and always has been — that Clinton is electable and Sanders is not.

But, as I mentioned above, the most recent polling points the other way. Looking at a few recent polls is in no way a reliable guide to this question. The polls have bounced around and will continue to do so. Polls do not predict the future. They don’t even always predict the present accurately. But if you are trying to figure out the electability question, how can they be ignored? And the comparisons are generally good for Sanders.

Real Clear Politics aggregates a lot of polls and then for each matchup, averages the three most recent ones. I’ll rely on that for a relatively recent comparison, but many of the head-to-head matchup polls are pretty old. I can’t find more recent ones. (Click the links embedded in the section below and you will get the most up-to-date three-poll averages.) According to RCP’s averages at the time I’m writing:

Clinton vs. Donald Trump shows Clinton ahead by 2.7 percentage points, but her lead over Trump has shrunk fairly steadily since she led by huge margins earlier.

Sanders vs. Trump shows Sanders ahead by 5.3 percentage points, but the two most recent polls show him ahead by double digits.

Clinton vs. Marco Rubio shows Rubio ahead by 2.5. Sanders vs. Rubio shows Rubio ahead by 1.0.

Real Clear Politics doesn’t have any Ted Cruz vs. Sanders matchups. For Clinton vs. Cruz, they show Clinton slightly ahead in the most recent poll but Cruz slightly ahead in the three-poll average.

And yet, on the Jan. 24 edition of “Face the Nation,” CBS Elections Director Anthony Salvanto, describing their latest polling, said Democrats see Sanders as the guy who will “shake up the system” and “get progressive things done,” but “when you look at the people who want, most of all, to win in November, they are overwhelmingly with her [Clinton]. Like 75 percent, OK?”

Safer choice

That reflects the belief among pragmatic “electability” minded Democrats that they believe Clinton is the safer choice, which is slightly different from proving that their assumption is correct. But it’s widely shared.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who shares my admiration for Sanders’ position on the issues, recently wrote:

I adore Bernie Sanders. I agree with his message of fairness, and I share his outrage over inequality and corporate abuses. I think his righteous populism has captured the moment perfectly. I respect the uplifting campaign he has run. I admire his authenticity. And I am convinced Democrats would be insane to nominate him.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, is a dreary candidate. She has, again, failed to connect with voters. Her policy positions are cautious and uninspiring. Her reflexive secrecy causes a whiff of scandal to follow her everywhere. She seems calculating and phony. And yet if Democrats hope to hold the presidency in November, they’ll need to hold their noses and nominate Clinton.

In his New York Times column, Charles M. Blow wrote:

Sanders likes to tout that he doesn’t have a “super PAC” and doesn’t want one. That is a principled position. But the Republican candidate will have the support of many super PACs, awash in hundreds of millions of dollars in dark money, and the Republican nominee himself might even be a billionaire. They are going to beat Sanders like he is a nail with the “socialist” label and his proposal on new taxation. Middle of the spectrum Middle America is likely to be very susceptible to this negative messaging.

But wherefrom comes this certainty that Sanders is unelectable?

Part of it is from people who, as soon as they realized that Sanders, who has long called himself a Democratic Socialist, was going to seek the presidency without repudiating the S-word just assumed that no one who embraced that term could be elected in America. Maybe they’re right. I thought the same when Sanders’ campaign started, and I still believe it might be so. But as the weeks have gone by and Sanders has maintained a poll lead over Clinton in New Hampshire and about caught up with her Iowa, I have wondered whether the word is so toxic. Still, the label will be a barrier when it’s time to recruit moderate independents or even Republicans in the fall.

Blow, in the excerpt above, suggests that the Sanders-is-a-socialist attack line will be effective once the Repubs start hammering on it. He doesn’t say, but perhaps implies, that the Repubs (who trash Clinton constantly) haven’t started “negative messaging” on Sanders because they really hope to face him in the fall because they, too, believe he is unelectable.

I do not dismiss this argument at all. Most of the country had barely heard of Sanders before this year. Since his emergence as a serious presidential contender, his exchanges with Clinton have been models of civility by the standards of modern American politics. How his appeal would survive the kind of attack that would be directed at him by the Republicans is unknown, and perhaps unknowable, unless and until we see it play out.

Unrelenting attack

Clinton, by contrast, has been under permanent, unrelenting attack by Republicans since she became a candidate, and really for years before that. A great deal of “negative messaging” by Republicans is built into her current standing with the wider electorate.

On the third hand, or whatever hand I’m up to by now, just this past weekend the news brought a reminder that there may be ticking time bombs ready to explode Clinton’s electability quotient, like the sudden announcement of “top secret” information in her emails, coming this time not from a Republican committee of Clinton haters, but from the Obama State Department’s investigation.

Sanders is also old, Jewish, speaks with a Brooklyn accent and it’s better if we don’t try to describe his hairdo. He connects really well with young liberal Democrats, but Clinton does better among older voters, whom the experts believe are much more reliable in terms of turning out.

In Vermont, after a much more mixed record in elections before 1990, Sanders has won 10 consecutive statewide races for congressman (which, in Vermont, is a statewide race) and senator. His most recent Senate reelection, in 2012, was by an impressive 65-32 percent. But, c’mon. We’re talking about a very small, very liberal state. How his appeal will play out nationally is at best an open question. In general, Clinton crushes Sanders among voters of color, who will become especially key members of the Dem electorate after the two mostly white states of Iowa and New Hampshire are out of the way.

Even in his remarkable surge this year to a top contender for the Dem presidential nomination, Sanders has always trailed Clinton badly in national polls. (In the most recent RCP three-poll average, it’s Clinton 52; Sanders 38.) As much as I admire his policy positions and his straight talk, I have little more than hunches about how he will play in Peoria, and especially in Ohio and Florida, the two states that really matter in November. (Sorry, Minnesota.)

The Sanders argument

The Sanders campaign has an electability argument that purports to deal with these possible weaknesses. It’s this: Bernie is motivating young people (there’s little doubt about that), a group that doesn’t always vote, and will make up for some of his electability weaknesses if they do.

Sanders takes that argument one step further, and even disputes the idea that his tax-the-rich-and-give-everyone-else-a-raise cannot be adopted. He says that his movement represents a potential “political revolution.” The first time I heard him call for “revolution,” I thought this would turn into another politically suicidal word choice. And maybe if the Republican attack machine gets hold of it, it will turn Sanders into Lenin.

But as I’ve heard Sanders go back to “democratic socialism” and “political revolution” —  and explain both terms — it seems that he has a vision that extends well beyond the 2016 presidential election. It envisions an enduring belief that an enduring majority coalesces around an enduring conviction that the government should be used to help the people, “not just the 1 percent.” (I stole that from a line he delivered in Dubuque, Iowa: “Are you ready for a radical idea? Together we are going to create an economy that works for working families, not just the 1 percent.”)

So now he’s embracing a third politically hazardous two-word phrase: “radical idea.”

For fear that I’ve been too hard on Clinton and too dewy-eyed about Sanders, I’ll close with the news from the Sunday New York Times that the editorial board, a bastion of liberalism, has decided to endorse Clinton for the Dem nomination.

Read the editorial for a lot of kind words about Clinton’s readiness for the job. The Times summarized Sanders thus:

Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.

Good luck deciding whom to support, if the race goes as far as the Minnesota caucuses on March 1.

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Comments (111)

  1. Submitted by joe smith on 02/01/2016 - 08:58 am.

    Emails will decide

    What comes out of the emails will decide if Hillary is electable. At best right now her claims of nothing was labeled “top secret” is being questioned by many. The fact the FBI keeps pushing says something. Hard for Hillary to claim “vast right wing FBI investigation” although to her credit she is trying to sell that and I’m sure some liberals will buy it.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/01/2016 - 10:32 am.

      While you may have been led to think this is the big “gotcha!”, it ain’t.

      But it is exactly the sort of issue that has led us to this point of dismal Republican candidates.

      Puffed-up accusation, hype-ventilating conservative commentators.

      The candidates are those who are willing to pretend that these issues are big deals.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 02/01/2016 - 01:52 pm.


        If it is found out Hillary repeatedly lied to the public about her email, it will be a huge story, if not it won’t hurt her in a national election.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/01/2016 - 03:01 pm.


          Of course, the Clinton-haters have already made up their collective mind. THere is nothing that could possibly exonerate her.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/01/2016 - 11:12 am.

      What did Rush say then?

      “Even for a Republican White House that was badly stumbling through George W. Bush’s sixth year in office, the revelation on April 12, 2007 was shocking. Responding to congressional demands for emails in connection with its investigation into the partisan firing of eight U.S. attorneys, the White House announced that as many as five million emails, covering a two-year span, had been lost.

      “The emails had been run through private accounts controlled by the Republican National Committee. . .”


      Fortunately there were only something like 30,000 Hillary emails in question instead of 5,000,000 and she was at least able to not “lose” them.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 09:08 am.

    Logic is not practical

    Democrats frequently talk themselves out of supporting progressive candidates… and then they lose elections. Most party faithful MN democrats didn’t want Franken or Dayton, I can’t remember who they thought would’ve been better candidates but they would’ve lost. It’s kind of a self fulfilling thing, democrats refuse to get behind progressive populists and then when the progressive populist loses they say they told us so. Is someone electable? Yeah… if enough people vote them.

    How do reasonable people look at Sanders, who’s won what? Ten times as many elections as H. Clinton? AND who is very nearly defeating Clinton right now… and wonder if he’s electable? How does one assume that H. Clinton, who’s spent a fraction of the Sanders time as an elected office holder and who’s campaign has been one stumble after another and is clearly having difficulty beating Sanders… is more electable?

    As for all this stuff about republicans being in control and how difficult it could all be… listen: Here’s the difference: Bernie will try and face resistance while Hillary won’t even try. There’s no reason to assume that Hillary would be more successful and accomplish more, she’s just a lower bar to begin with. It’s not about who’s gonna be more successful. If you think republicans who have been hounding Hillary over Benghazi and e-mails for years will go easier on Hillary than Bernie your an idiot frankly. Hatred for Hillary Clinton is almost built into republican DNA, I don’t know how anyone could assume that she’d be MORE effective with republicans than Sanders. If Hillary is effective, it will only be to the extent that she promotes republican initiatives… which she WILL do. Is that what you want from a democratic president?

    • Submitted by Solly Johnson on 02/02/2016 - 10:00 pm.


      Paul, I agree entirely. Hilary is attacking Bernie from the right on health care and some other issues. If she is so willing to take these positions in the primary season, you know that she will “compromise” on major issues with the GOP when she is in the White House. Then we will see the chained CPI for social security, reductions in Medicare, and other reductions or “reforms” in social service programs.
      If I remember correctly, it was Anderson Kelliher who was the choice of the state DFL, but Dayton won in the primary and then defeated Emmer narrowly in the general election. It was a very close election and, in my opinion, Dayton’s name recognition helped him. If we would have had a Governor Emmer with a GOP state house and senate, we would be very similar to Wisconsin now.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/01/2016 - 09:15 am.

    The overwhelming fact of the next presidency is the likelihood of a Republican house and good chance of a Republican Senate.

    The mystery is which of the Republican candidates will be the nominee and if any third party candidate gain traction.

    The final decision would then be who is likely to capture the spectrum of voters not swooning over the Republican choice.

    Would that be Sanders or Clinton?

    Both have their issues in appeal to a spectrum of voters.

    Somehow, I don’t think the choice between Sanders and Clinton really makes that much of a difference because the Republican controlled house will continue their role of obstruction.

    Like other elections, concerned people will line up, hold their nose and vote.

  4. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/01/2016 - 09:24 am.

    Excellent Photo

    Of all that might have been selected, this one supports the text quite well.

  5. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/01/2016 - 09:33 am.


    For me, a principal risk is that the email issue might blow up, resulting in an indictment. Now I actually don’t think that will happen. I think it will continue to be just another low level background source of noise that’s always present with the Clintons. But the risk is there, and it’s probability of turning into something is somewhere above zero.

    One of the most irritating things about the Clintons is that because they have been so good at handling the quasi scandals of the past, that they are less risk averse than they should be. They do things that are simply inexplicable. As defensible as it might be, Hillary should never ever have used her private email server for government business. She shouldn’t have taken exorbitant speaking fees from Wall Street, and if she did, she shouldn’t have have kept the money personally. The Clintons shouldn’t have solicited money from their charity from people within the political community. It’s not that all of these things can’t be defended. It’s just a question of why they do stuff that they know will be needed to be defended?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 11:18 am.

      Less risk averse?

      I think the Clinton’s are outright scandal magnets, and if I imagine another Clinton Presidency I see nothing but parade of scandals real and manufactured. Benghazi!!! This is why if floors me that some people think that given a republican dominated congress Hillary would get more cooperation from republicans. I have no crystal ball but I just don’t see how people can assume that Hillary would be a more effective president facing less republican obstructionism.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/01/2016 - 05:52 pm.

        But this is the way

        the Republicans operate.
        Since their real agenda won’t benefit the majority of voters, they concentrate on badmouthing their opponents. So we had ‘birther’ nonsense, inexperience and implied racism directed at Obama as a candidate, and no cooperation after he was elected (‘our main goal is to make Obama a one term President’).
        The only difference between a President Sanders and a President Clinton is that the mud thrown at Clinton is more predictable. Rest assured that Sanders would get just as much. That’s what Republicans do.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/01/2016 - 09:45 pm.

        Grid lock

        Playing for a draw (no deal) not a victory! Win-win is not in the cards, a draw is better than a lose win or lose lose! Effective president? Not sure an effective president that makes things better for the 1% and worse for everyone else is what I am after, starts making us look more like a Russian satellite.

  6. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 09:34 am.

    By the way…

    I’m not campaigning for Bernie, I’m just sayin…

  7. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/01/2016 - 09:47 am.


    With the rare exception (thanks, SCOTUS), the most electable person is the one that gets the most votes. I don’t think, at this point, Sanders is any more or less electable than Clinton. I do know that it won’t matter what the opinion polls say if the voters don’t show up voting polls.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/01/2016 - 10:22 am.

      And this is the key

      to both Sanders’ and Trump’s chances.
      Their greatest strengths are among voters who are least likely to turn out.
      Sanders will have to duplicate Obama’s get out the vote results without Obama’s built in appeal to non-white voters.

  8. Submitted by Colin Brownlow on 02/01/2016 - 10:05 am.

    Why Democratic Socialist

    I just don’t get why Sanders doesn’t use the term Social Democrat – since that’s really what he is. All of his policy stands are mainstream European social democrat policies. He must know that as soon as you use the socialist label with a big chunk of the electorate, they just shut down, no matter how worthwhile the idea. I’ve seen it discussing issues with well educated colleagues. We’re having a great discussion, but as soon as someone says “that’s socialism” that’s the end of the discussion.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 10:18 am.

      Social Democrat…

      That’s actually a party in some other counties, he may not want to connect to that. Besides, it doesn’t seem to matter, his “socialism” isn’t really hurting him.

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/01/2016 - 10:23 am.


    I just don’t get why Sanders doesn’t use the term Social Democrat – since that’s really what he is.

    I think he has enough of a problem with labeling as it. None of these terms has a very clear meaning, and in any event, I think maybe the biggest problem in our discount is that we focus on labels at the expense of substance. In terms of English politics, I think Bernie would find himself on the very outer fringes of the left wing of the Conservative Party.

    My own thought is that the fact that Socialism is now an acceptable term in our politics is an indication of the failures of capitalism.

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/01/2016 - 10:27 am.

    Imagine Mrs. Clinton

    On a national stage debating Donald Trump as he accuses her of “putting American lives at risk” with her mishandling of the emails that are so classified they can’t be released.


    Or facing the debate champion and former solicitor general Ted Cruz as he asks her embarrassing questions about Benghazi or the Clinton Foundation or her attacks on her husband’s sexual assault victims.

    Fun and games await.

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/01/2016 - 11:11 am.

      “On a national stage debating Donald Trump as he accuses her of “putting American lives at risk” with her mishandling of the emails that are so classified they can’t be released.”

      The email issue isn’t very well understood. The problem is that email is inherently insecure, and that’s just as true for government emails as it is for private emails. Frankly, I think the only public official I have ever heard of who fully understands this is Lindsay Graham, and his choice is not to use email.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/01/2016 - 12:09 pm.

      You really think those will be big “gotcha!” moments ?

      Are you basing that on the facts that Trump and Cruz (and virtually every other Republicans candidate) have been proven to be unprepared for even minor pushback from friendly media ?

      Will they even go to a debate with a “moderate” moderator ?

      Ohhh scary questions ahead–must hide.

      I think that your thinking is kind of along the same line Rove’s during that last election—Romney didn’t win, even though it was a lock that he would—Rove tantrum ensues.

      Keep believing in those big “gotchas!”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/01/2016 - 03:04 pm.


      Do you think Donald Trump really wants a debate like that?

      Or do you think Ms. Clinton really would agree to a debate format in which she sits mute while sundry right-wing attacks on her and her family are reiterated? Or that Ted Cruz will be any position to debate at all?

    • Submitted by Phil Dech on 02/01/2016 - 03:31 pm.

      She was pretty agile in front of the Benghazi Committee for 11 hours or so. Trump wouldn’t even submit to a few questions in the latest Republican debate because he thought the moderator was “biased.” I’ll bet Hillary spit coffee out her nose laughing when she heard that. And even college debates don’t go that long.

      I really don’t have concerns about how Hillary would do, but I’m not sure how Bernie would hold up to that kind of pressure if he were the frontrunner, or eventually the nominee.

    • Submitted by Cornel Culp on 02/01/2016 - 06:18 pm.

      They’ll be about as effective as…

      They’ll be about as effective as Bill Ayers & Rev. Wright were in 2008. I don’t know! Ask President McCain or VP Palin.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/01/2016 - 09:38 pm.


      Ronnie & gang, set up Iran-contra: let’s see missiles vs e-mails, tough decision when you think about “security” don’t you think? That Iran, yep, that’s the same Iran the Republicans deem the evil empire of the world and Ronnie and gang made deals with them, the devil!

  11. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 02/01/2016 - 10:45 am.

    Still riding the fence

    Noting the relevance of Hiram Foster’s comment – I have no idea why Secretary Clinton chose to use her own email server, but it was not a smart choice – as well as that of Ms. Kahler, and even with an albatross husband, and ties to Wall Street that have me holding my nose (She and Bill have simply been good Republicans since leaving the White House, but I’m not sympathetic to the 1%, no matter how they got there), I’d pick Hillary over Bernie.

    My head says she has experience (not all of it exemplary) and qualifications that no 20th or 21st-century candidate can match, even with Sanders’ record of election victories in what Eric correctly identifies as a small, liberal state. She’s been under attack by the right wing for decades, and can punch back as well as anyone. Hillary does not strike me as a shrinking violet, and I’d guess – without claiming to know anything at all about it – that Bill has paid dearly for his foolish indiscretions. My heart, frankly, is with Bernie, but I think the massive and well-funded GOP propaganda machine will portray him as Putin’s elder brother, or the Devil Incarnate, or something equally frightening to the mass of voters. Colin Brownlow’s comment is relevant in that context. More than anything else, I want to avoid an election result that puts either Trump or Cruz in the White House a year from now.

    Rubio and Cruz are in their mid-40s, Fiorina in her early 60s, but of the current party leaders, Trump, Clinton & Sanders are all past Medicare age. I’m long past that myself, and I can remember when age was more of a factor to be considered than it appears to be in this particular go-round. Whoever the nominee might be, and especially because of the age of the current leaders in both parties, I’ll be more-than-usually-interested in their choice for VP candidate. It’s so far undeniable that we start to physically deteriorate past a certain age (I certainly am), and nothing I’ve seen so far suggests that Trump, Clinton or Sanders have somehow found a way to cancel the aging process, though they all might be in excellent health at the moment. As Obama’s rapidly-graying hair suggests, the job these people are seeking has a tendency to wear heavily on those who actually get the position. Well, unless you make a point of scheduling naps during the normal work day, as one of their predecessors did…

    • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/01/2016 - 11:26 am.


      I don’t want to get too far off topic, but I don’t think many people fully understand the implications of how email works and how fundamentally insecure it is. As I understand it, and believe me sifting through the murky news reports from this weekend, the problem this time is with email threads. Now anyone who deals with email a lot knows how this can be a problem. You can send a private comment to one individual, and suddenly it becomes part of a chain over which you have no control, sometimes with embarrassing consequences.

      In terms of sensitive information, I don’t know what we expected Hillary to do. Should she have been constantly going over past emails to verify that none of them or information in them had been subsequently classified? Should she have been expected to monitor cc’s or bc’s of emails sent to her, something certainly not within her power?

      Hillary’s email practices were certainly insecure. But it is indisputably true that all email, no matter how or to whom it is sent, is always insecure. The most fundamental thing to understand about the world wide web is that once you put data on it, you lose control of it.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 11:32 am.

      If all of these assumptions about republicans…

      If all of these assumptions about republicans controlling congress etc. turn out to be true, Hillary will be a lame duck the day she steps into the oval office. She’s actually promising to NOT do anything in particular, we already HAVE financial reform, we already HAVE health care reform, etc. etc.

      The fact that H. Clinton has been a magnet for controversy and attack isn’t really an asset. That quality derailed most of her husbands agenda’s and there’s no reason to suppose it won’t derail her.

      Bernie on the other hand is basically an unknown, and he’s been fighting and winning uphill battles and campaigns for decades. That could give him a tactical advantage. I don’t see why anyone would assume that Hillary would fair better against the republican propaganda machine than Bernie, and anyways, that machine is coming apart at the wheels, look at the republican debates.

      Actually, I think either Bernie or Hillary will win against any of the republican candidates. None of those clowns can get the votes they need to get into the white house even if Bloomberg jumps in.

      Democrats and American liberals always to this, instead of figuring out who they want in office they start pretending they’re some kind of experts on “electibility”. If democrats won the vast majority of election they might be able to make that claim. Instead they lose time after time to the like of Bush and Pawlenty, and Walker etc. etc.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/01/2016 - 12:11 pm.

        the future.

        I personally don’t think we have any chance at all for a functioning government until after the 2020 sentence and subsequent reapportionment. If Hillary wins, I don’t think there is any point in Congress holding session until the year 2023, if then.

  12. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/01/2016 - 10:51 am.

    An Alternate Rationale for a Sanders Presidency

    If Sen. Sanders were in the White House, would his presence stimulate internally disparate positions among both Democrat and Republican House and Senate members? Might we experience various coalitions formed within each party group, as well as between groups?

    A Sanders Presidency might improve the legislative process by producing numerous new coalitions rather than perpetuating the existing fortresses of political feudalism. Perhaps we should also start electing both Democrats and Republicans of various strains in order to digest the pond scum to get things flowing freshly again.

    This means diluting the DNC/RNC special interest agendas that cause much of what many voters dislike. We might cause important national issues to be properly addressed, perhaps even solved.
    This is not argument for a parliamentary system, to be sure. But, have we not become a system of two bodies of Lords with little of the Commons remaining?

    Our Founders refused to be a nation of kings and queens, but are we not now a nation of Barons and Baronesses? Have we also become a nation of educated serfs, left only to grumble about injustice of wealth, power and concentrated control?

    Would a Sanders Presidency benefit the entire legislative process?

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/01/2016 - 11:09 am.


      Good thought. It might be nice to see Congress acting like they can actually cooperate. Although I’m not so naive as to believe it will be in Bernie’s favor, a cooperative Congress with a stubborn, but negotiable President might actually be a decent balance.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/03/2016 - 09:07 am.


      I don’t see it happening. Senator Cruz is riding high because of his failure to cooperate, his enthusiasm for confrontation for its own sake, and his abject unwillingness to “get things done” if that involves any sort of compromise on his part. He differs from the plurality of Republicans in Congress only in his tone.

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/04/2016 - 08:53 pm.

        How Right You Are

        Cruz is absolutely the most nasal Republican in memory. Most irritating to those without the secret filter.

        The absolutism I read in these pages is often “inciteful.”

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/06/2016 - 10:31 am.

        Cruz Trajectory et al

        Ted Cruz seems to now be riding high mainly because he markets himself as exception to “the rules.” Cruz has also targeted the Evangelical segment of society, a segment long diminished by others. They must decide if he will make a difference for them. That’s very open to analysis and discussion at this time. Will he make a social difference as a President who cannot get along with Congress? Of course not. He will ultimately not move Washington markedly Right.

        Nor will Bernie Sanders ultimately move Washington markedly Left. He will pretty much have the same Congress faced by Cruz. So, which of them might improve the process?

        As suggested, Sanders, probably. He’s been part of the assembly a very long time, working around the edges if not at the encumbered core of the party. Bernie will be faced with mostly establishment Democrats, not many truly of his mindset. He is after all, “Independent,” caucusing with the Dems and running under a label of his own design, and only as Democrat since last year, for campaign purposes.

        The Old Red and Blue Brigades of Congress can only perpetuate their widely despised intractability at risk of ultimate populist dismemberment. They just might finally realize they must get along for sake of their personal agendas going longer.

        Or not…

  13. Submitted by Bill Willy on 02/01/2016 - 10:51 am.

    An honest president Americans can trust

    Came across this. . . It fits and is worth the read because it brings out a strong fundamental aspect of Bernie Sanders’ character and candidacy none of the other candidates have that we don’t hear much about (because, as usual, there’s so much emphasis on the “horse race” and professional tea leaf reading). Excerpts from a piece by a guy by the name of Cody Gough:

    “I’d like to briefly dispel a misconception about people who support Bernie Sanders as the next president of the United States:

    “We’re not stupid.

    “I’ve got a college education and a good job, and I’m guessing I’m not the only Sanders supporter who does. Now, this doesn’t necessarily make me smart, but it is at least an indicator of having achieved some level of learning that would indicate I’m capable of coherent and independent thought.

    “Neither many of the Bernie Sanders supporters I’ve encountered nor I expect any of Bernie Sanders’ major proposals to take effect in the next 2, 3 or possibly even 4 years. I don’t support Bernie Sanders simply because I think he’ll magically overturn Citizens United, fix our indisputably broken campaign finance system, legalize marijuana, eliminate privately owned prisons, institute a single-payer healthcare system, crack down on Wall Street, or pass most of his other proposals within his first year of office.

    “Allow me to let you in on a little secret: I, like presumably most Americans who support Bernie Sanders, do not expect miracles.”

    [The following is, to me, the key, mostly overlooked point. In a perfect USA world this “quality of character” would be an absolute prerequisite for “being electable” and, as mentioned, it’s unfortunate but Sanders is the only candidate that has it]

    “What I do expect, by electing Bernie Sanders, is to have an honest president whom Americans can trust at all times to be completely sincere, and who will work as hard as he can to represent the interests of the American people. By electing Bernie Sanders, I expect that the leader of our country will actually represent me and not just major corporations who are cutting him big checks. And no, I don’t get the sense that Hillary Clinton possesses any of those qualities. Decidedly.

    “And you know what? Maybe the ‘political revolution’ Bernie Sanders keeps talking about won’t happen. Maybe electing Bernie Sanders will put him in office for 4 years, nothing productive will happen, and once his term is over, we’ll be back to ‘politics as usual’ and huge corporations like Comcast and pharmaceutical and insurance companies and huge financial institutions will go right back to doing whatever they want because hey, they run things and they have money, so who’s going to stop them, right?

    “But if Bernie Sanders is elected president, then maybe, just maybe, things will change. And that’s worth a vote. That’s worth trying.

    “And if Bernie Sanders is elected president and this whole ‘political revolution’ thing we all keep talking about actually does happen, then think of the possibilities. We are at a point in our history when we, as citizens of this country, can legitimately make the United States of America the indisputable greatest country on earth. We have the rare opportunity to lead the world by example in showing what a government can do when it isn’t corrupt and solely focused on making a handful of individuals disproportionately wealthy.

    “THAT is what I’m voting for. I’m voting for the hope, the possibility, that things will change–realistically, over time. And electing Bernie Sanders will send a clear message–to corporations, to the media, to our current elected officials, and to anyone progressive who’s thinking about running for office but doesn’t believe in getting support–that enough is enough, and that it’s time to start listening to the public and not just to a board room full of campaign donors.

    “Electing Bernie Sanders is pushing a snowball off the top of a mountain and seeing how far it will roll.”


    • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/01/2016 - 01:44 pm.

      The quoted voter speaks for many more of us than…

      …the commentariat can imagine.

      Do you see this voter showing any fear whatever of “throwing his vote away”, the common suggestion made for purpose of marginalizing a candidate? I think he expresses his plain and simple intention to vote for the kind of government he wants, regardless of any disparagement by professional handicappers in the political class.

      The professional political class actually has a deep fear that the voters might actually take over the process they have held in their firm grip for so long.

      I am hoping – and it may be a vain hope – that this is what this election is about, I.e., who is going to control our elections going forward.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/01/2016 - 05:31 pm.

      I would respect Bernie’s character more

      if he didn’t use the ‘Republican asterisk’ to support his proposals.
      In this case, his argument that beefing up the social contract could be financed by modest tax increases rests on the assumption that the economy will expand spectacularly while he is president.
      It’s the same argument that Republicans make to justify their tax cuts (on the wealthy) by saying that those cuts will cause a rapid expansion of the economy that will allow them to simultaneously cut taxes and increase revenue.
      To quote another early social reformer — it’s pie in the sky.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2016 - 08:27 am.

        Start Respecting Bernie

        Bernie does not claim that he’ll fix the economy with modest tax increases. Go look at his website. He wants to raise taxes to whatever level is necessary to finance programs, he doesn’t claim those tax hikes will be “modest”. He does claim that the taxes most Americans would pay for Medicare for All would be modest, but that about single payer health care, that’s not a claim about the over-all economy.

        Comparing Bernie’s proposals to republican magical thinking is simply off the mark.

    • Submitted by Everett Flynn on 02/05/2016 - 03:17 pm.

      So, you’re voting for the nice guy

      … the decent guy, the principled guy. The good guy.

      Bully for you.

      I want to vote for the junkyard dog in the tasteful pantsuit who can win more voters in the middle of the American electorate than whatever disaster-in-waiting the Republicans nominate. I’m voting for Hilary, because she’s what we need — a centrist, well-schooled in battling Repubs and with all the scars to prove it.

      This election ain’t about principles and ethics and all that very noble stuff. It’s about a bloody fight for our future; it’s about three and possibly FOUR seats on the US Supreme Court — each of which will be filled by someone who will serve for 25-30 years; it’s about sustaining the progress we’ve made, not about fantasizing about free college tuition and single-payer healthcare and political revolutions. This election, like all presidential elections in the US, will be won on the margins of the middle, not on the extremes of the right or left.

      Progress in this country is a long-game, not a revolution. The next step in this long-game is to keep the White House and vote for the junkyard dog in the tasteful pantsuit.

  14. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 02/01/2016 - 11:30 am.

    Another great

    article, Eric. Thank you.

  15. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 02/01/2016 - 11:34 am.

    #1 polling weakness

    It should be remembered that Sanders could well poll better nationally vs. Clinton but for the simple fact that polling does not reach cell phone users. Who do you know under the age of 30 who owns a landline?

    • Submitted by Wolfram Ruhmann on 02/01/2016 - 12:06 pm.

      Apparently they compensate for that

      According to electoral-vote.com:

      “Since cell-only people tend to be mostly young people, the pollsters intentionally overweight the 18-30 year olds to compensate for this effect.”

      • Submitted by Steve Titterud on 02/01/2016 - 01:30 pm.

        “overweight the 18-30 year olds”

        Yeah, the ones WITH LANDLINES!!

        Can anyone else see how this could lead to polling errors – I.e., imputing preferences to people who have NOT been interviewed?? And then incorporating those inferences into your results, even going so far as to assign a margin of error??

        Political polling has turned into nothing more than a manipulative tool.

      • Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 02/01/2016 - 02:05 pm.

        re: Apparently they compensate for that

        What Steve T. said.

        Extrapolating anything does not result in an accurate measure of reality. It is one reason why commercial radio has failed to ignite the excitement of Gen Y imaginations; why a focus group can slowly marginalize all other ice cream flavors except chocolate and vanilla.

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 11:43 am.

    Predictions depend on assumptions

    You can’t just look at current circumstances and assume they will not change. IF Bernie were to emerge with the Democratic nomination, we would necessarily be looking at a very different political landscape. We would be in an unprecedented situation. Many republicans have been alarmed by the fact that a Trump nomination would probably be a disaster for republicans in congress and in the states. The problem they assume that Trump and Trump alone presents this risk when in fact any of the republican candidates would trigger a negative electoral reaction.

    The point is, if you assume that Sanders or Clinton will faced a weakened republican party the game starts to look very different. In THAT eventuality who represents the best chance at moving the ball forward and resolving the main issues? Clinton is basically promising to act as a firewall against progressive agendas, she’s literally promising to not-to-much. Sanders is promising to push the envelope.

    My money would be on Sanders because my whole adult life I’ve seen democrats blow opportunity after opportunity with meet-minimum-requirement results instead of running the table when they get into power. H. Clinton is literally promising to be THAT kind of president…. as a nation we desperately need to reach beyond mediocrity.

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/01/2016 - 12:25 pm.

      Yes, a weakened national Republican party, but it has been clear that the House, which is the beginning of the process to get things done, has long diverted from the national party. This is where the Republican counter-reformation is–it should be a separate party now. And if they don’t cooperate with Clinton, they WILL NOT do so for Sanders.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 12:44 pm.

        A fractured republican party isn’t stronger

        “This is where the Republican counter-reformation is–it should be a separate party now.”

        You mean the Tea Party? They, like the previous Know Nothings have no legs, they, like Trump, will be an historical footnote. Let em break away, that just sends them to oblivion all the faster and crashes the republican establishment in process. Either way, you’re looking a dramatically weakened republican party that will start loosing elections.

        At any rate, if they won’t cooperate with Sander they won’t cooperate with Clinton so it’s wash on that front. The question is which president motivates American liberals to overcome republican obstruction? The candidate that promising not to even try, or the guy that’s drawing 20,000 crowds promising to try?

        • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 02/01/2016 - 08:49 pm.

          It really doesn’t matter what liberals want if they don’t control the House and Senate and President.

          I see the probability of all three as zero.

          Barring some uniting national/international uniting most Americans (if that possible unity hasn’t been destroyed), the best probable outcome I see is a Democratic President with us circling the drain of inaction for at least the next 4 years.

          Bernie or Hillary ?

          I’d vote for Bernie simply because I want new phony scandals–no more Whitewater, Lewinski, Benghazi, emails etc.

          I’m sure the Wurlitzer still works, time for some new tunes.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2016 - 08:30 am.

            Who said anything about what liberals want?

            The point is a fractured republican party cannot hold Congress, so if it fractures, which it’s already doing, liberals will take congress.

  17. Submitted by colin kline on 02/01/2016 - 12:16 pm.


    The Republicans will try to impeach Hilary day one.

  18. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 02/01/2016 - 12:55 pm.


    …a self described “moderated deficit hawk” may vote for a “socialist!”

    The truth is – they are both socialist -and also – old and white.

  19. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 02/01/2016 - 01:10 pm.

    Hilary’s Electibility

    I for one would never vote for Hilary. She’s completely dishonest. Her explanation of why she set up her own e-mail server is complete BS. The only reason she did this is because she thought that she could then control what was potentially exposable thru the Freedom of Information Act.

    Personally, I would vote for Bernie Sanders, even if I disagreed with 90% of his policy proposals. The one thing that I do agree on is his fundamental prescription of what is destroying the country: unrestrained greed / income inequality, an economic system that is rigged for established corporations and insiders, a lack of opportunity for social mobility, and a complete lack of accountability for illegal acts by anyone who has the right political connections.

    Hilary is just more of the same rot that’s been going on for the last 20+ years. It’s time for someone with integrity to be leading the country. Then we can have a discussion on what the right prescriptions are to help turn around our current situation.

  20. Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/01/2016 - 01:14 pm.

    Voters will decide electability

    Bernie Sanders has won re-election as mayor of Burlington, re-election several times to the US House of Representatives, and re-election to the US Senate. He’s got a pretty good record seeking electoral office.

    By my recall, Hillary is 1 for 2 in her election attempts – won a US Senate seat, failed to become the party nominee for the presidency.

    Hillary brags of her experience in public life, but truth is, Bernie Sanders has a much longer stronger record for service in high public elected office.

    And Bernie continues to push the conversation toward public policy. Hillary’s surrogates have unleashed a slime-fest against Bernie that is full of falsehoods, and is unbecoming of someone who shares the same general political views. Just about everything Hillary or her surrogates have said about Bernie – he’s unelectable (false), his health plans are impossibly expensive (false, France has what Bernie proposes, and they spend roughly 1/2 per person on health care than the US), he’s wrong on guns – (like 85% of us, he favors strong background checks) – he’s too old (but in good health) … he doesn’t know American politics (Jonathan Chait dished up that laugher) … he’s a SOCIALIST (but he isn’t really, he’s more an FDR Democrat), he can’t work with Congress (see John McCain’s praise of Bernie on that) …. everything Hillary and her surrogates slime Bernie with are flat out false. Bernie pushes policy, Hillary’s gone negative.

    Feel the BERN! Vote for Bernie Sanders, 2016

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 02/02/2016 - 09:30 pm.

      The population

      of Burlington, VT is 42,284.
      That’s about the size of Mankato/N.Mankato where I live;
      about half the size of Duluth or Rochester.
      Do you really think the Mayor’s of these cities are ready to be president?
      Being in Congress is not administrative experience. So Bernie may have held office for 30+ years; that hardly prepares him for running the country.
      If he brings in the right cabinet people he might have a chance.
      The truth is that being Secretary of State involves a much higher level of administration. Then there’s 8 years as first spouse.
      There are reasons to vote for Bernie, but executive experience isn’t one of them.

      • Submitted by Howard Miller on 02/06/2016 - 09:31 pm.

        yes ….

        I believe that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been around national level governance long enough to know how to proceed as president. I’d hope that Hillary Clinton and her many institutional supporters would still be available to help govern in all sorts of key roles. These two are not political enemies. But the need for a president who will break up “too big to fail” financial institutions is paramount. Mr. Sanders will, Ms Clinton won’t.

  21. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 02/01/2016 - 01:49 pm.

    Leadership, Electability and Polls

    Polls are like daily temps. Hard to determine what the climate is by taking one reading. Electability is not the same as finding a great leader. Compare Harry Truman, who stumbled into office, vs. Obama. Obama was highly electable, but not a great leader. Truman followed one of our greatest Presidents, who was a very tough act to follow, but did a far greater job than probably anyone, including himself, expected. He combined intelligence, persistence and common sense.

    When the New York Times picked Clinton and Kasich, I think they picked people who are like Truman – underestimated, but who will do well in the pinch. Sanders and Trump stand out as candidates that excite the passion for easy change, much like Obama, but frankly that doesn’t exist in the real world – unless you are an admirer of “strong men” who imposed their will on others. We have a democracy and have gone through many positive changes, but it has always been easy and there have been mistake along the way.

    If a person doesn’t have persistence and the understand standing that “common sense” reflects what everyone can live with, one will never be a great leader in a great democracy. Whether it be Trump or Sanders, neither has the ability to get all the people on board, which requires negotiating skills and the ability to understand opposing points of view, not simply mock them.

  22. Submitted by Ellen Hoerle on 02/01/2016 - 01:50 pm.

    Two points

    First point: Eric, you say you’re worried about Sander’s electability but admit you favor more of Sander’s positions. But if you are in more favor of Sander’s positions over H. Clinton’s positions now, what do you think is going to happen once she is elected? The same thing that happened to her husband. If you look at the legislation that Bill Clinton signed into law–Welfare Reform, Defense of Marriage Act, repeal of Glass-Steagall, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, all in reaction to Newt Gingrich revolution that initiated the philosophy of intransigence of the Republican Party, you could characterize Bill Clinton as a someone who started out as a progressive, but morphed into a president “who got things done”, just as Hillary is trying to define herself now. “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive who likes to get things done.” Which part of her personality will win out? The progressive part or the compulsion to ‘get things done’? I’m afraid this ‘get things done’ mentality is too easily converted into a ‘we need to do something’ mentality, which might partially explain why she voted to support the use of military force in Iraq.

    Bernie Sanders has remained steadfastly a progressive throughout his career. He has given voice consistently to progressive ideas. Thus, there is much less risk of him moving to the right, which for some reason, the Democrats find more acceptable than trying to stand firm for progressive ideas. You need look no further than Klobuchar’s and Franken’s support for the medical–device–tax repeal to see this. Would Paul Wellstone have supported its repeal?

    This is what we’re sick of. Watching Democratic candidates tell us they are progressives, asking us for money and our vote, and then once they’re elected, in the name of ‘compromise’ and ‘getting things done’ and ‘bipartisanship’, capitulate to corporate interests rather than address real problems—income inequality, racial health, wealth, education, voting disparities, a health care system that has rationed access for the poor, working poor, and self-employed for decades–with progressive, inclusive, fairer policies.

    Second point: We only get this opportunity to change the political course of our country at the presidential level every four years (because without a national conversation centered on the presidential election, we disengage and stay home for the mid-term elections). If you want to continue on the same trajectory we’re on now, with a Democratic president’s agenda being thwarted at every turn by a Republican Congress, then vote for Hillary. If you want to entertain the possibility that things could change for the better, then there is really only one choice. (A vote for Trump is a sure fire way to vote for change, but it won’t be for the better.)

    Then there’s always the third way. I hope that if Bernie doesn’t win the Democratic nomination, he runs as an independent. That will really stir things up.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/01/2016 - 02:28 pm.

      This is an American malady

      ” Eric, you say you’re worried about Sander’s electability but admit you favor more of Sander’s positions.”

      Yeah, this is typical US liberal whateveryouwannacallit. I’ve seen it my whole adult life. They talk themselves out of voting for the best candidate in order to vote the one they think “can” win… and then they lose. It’s a weird kind of liberal anxiety trait. In recent years it’s started to loose it’s grip a little. Remember these are the same people who didn’t think Obama, Franken, or Dayton were electable, yet all these guys got elected.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/01/2016 - 09:26 pm.

        Gee Whiz!

        Voted for Tim Penny and ended up with TPAw, I get the consequences of my actions! So much for idealism.

  23. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/01/2016 - 02:17 pm.


    To everyone but partisan hacks, the emails & benghazi hearings are irrelevant.

  24. Submitted by Brian Simon on 02/01/2016 - 02:22 pm.

    What is electability?

    In a state that elected Paul Wellstone, Rod Grams & Jesse Ventura within a fairly short timespan, it seems that electability is perhaps not directly tied to ideology.

  25. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 02/01/2016 - 02:35 pm.

    Let’s not forget, too, that Bernie Sanders has a great history as a person who can work with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress: he can negotiate, without ruinous compromises. He’s capable of actually sitting down with members of the opposition, or members of the Democratic party who might disagree with his proposals, and come up with steps that move the project forward. So there’s more possibility of a Sanders presidency achieving more than a H. Clinton presidency.

  26. Submitted by richard owens on 02/01/2016 - 05:35 pm.

    No candidate for President,

    in modern times, has ever been better prepared experientially to serve as POTUS than Secretary Clinton. She has seen the machinery of government, the issues the country faces and the people who comprise the world leaders of the new century. She has practiced the skills of leadership and organization in the face of passive-aggressive obstinance,unrelenting political harassment and hostile personal opposition. She’s got the resume.

    But she is a woman. She could be forgiven for being angry but better not show it. She could be understandably brash and in-your-face defensive with the voluminous hate aimed her way, but she can’t. She has to do it all “backwards in high heels.”, while apologizing for the behavior of one the best-loved (Republican-style) Presidents America has had- ‘Slick Willy”.

    As Richard Trumka said at a National Press Club breakfast, “I can’t endorse anyone, that’s for our members; but everybody knows she has to do A+ work to get a C-.”

    It ain’t a fair fight.

    But Bernie is the best backup QB in this league.

  27. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/01/2016 - 10:03 pm.


    I always wonder how “more progressive” is defined by liberals. If Sanders is more progressive than Clinton, than clearly communists are more progressive than Sanders because they offer total equality, government medical care in a form of government hospitals and clinics, a year of paid stay for mothers after childbirth, tuition free education all the way up to Ph.D., etc. Otherwise, what is “progress?”

    I also wonder why Mr. Black lists Sanders’ being Jewish as his disadvantage along with being old or being Socialist… Being black helped Obama a lot, didn’t it? So if being Jewish is bad for liberal voters, shouldn’t they stop accusing Republicans of racism?

    In fact, isn’t it sad that for Democrats the choice is between an untruthful, self-centered candidate with zero accomplishments and multiple failures, whose main advantage seems to be being a female and for who people vote just to avoid giving another party the White House and a self-proclaimed socialist who can’t see the difference between America and Denmark and thinks that money grows on trees?

    As for Clinton, I wonder if anyone can answer a question how it was possible for a Secretary of State to never receive or send classified information through the e-mail? Not only that, but how was it possible for her to be SURE that this would never happen when she set her private server? Isn’t this job by default dealing with classified materials? Or do they still hand deliver everything?

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2016 - 09:05 am.

      How do liberals define “progressive”

      Progressive differ from liberals in that they are generally more aggressive about promoting liberal agendas and policies. For example health care as a human right has been a basic liberal principle since WWII, and it’s something that most liberal democracies have established in various ways, the US is the exception. Obamacare for instance extends and expands the existing for profit health care regime, but does not establish universal healthcare for everyone. Liberals like H. Clinton are satisfied with Obamacare, but progressives want a true universal system that covers everyone. You can see these basic differences when you look any issue or policy argument between liberals and progressives be it financial reform or energy policy.

      Communism is not a liberal ideology, therefore communists are not progressive extensions of liberalism. The primary basis of liberal philosophy and ideology is the well being and security of the individual and individual rights. Communism, promotes the state above the individual under the theory that individuals can only thrive as members of a proletariat collective. Neither liberals or progressives believe in state enforced proletariat collectives.

      The United States is a liberal democracy, our constitution is product of principles derived from the liberal enlightenment. Liberal democracies, unlike communist collectives, build limits to government authority over individuals into their constitutions, checks and balances, bills of rights, etc. The only way a communist state or a totalitarian state could emerge in the US is if the constitution were torn up, such governments simply cannot emerge from our constitution.

      Liberals and progressives believe in liberal democracy, and emerge from the existence of liberal democracies. When progressives like Bernie talks about “revolution”, they’re not actually promoting the destruction of our existing government and tearing up the constitution; they’re simply advocating a more aggressive pursuit of liberal principles. This cannot be honestly construed as move towards Communism because liberals don’t believe in communism and liberal democracies cannot be communist states.

      • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/03/2016 - 08:01 am.


        There simply is no plausible hard line between socialism and communism. Of fascism for that matter. The driving philosophies are the same it is just the comfort level people have and the degree of control given to the state and a few small technical differences. That same type of scale happens across the political spectrum including on the side most often referred to as the “Right”. Liberals and Progressives may not want to force people in to collectives directly but there are hundreds of programs and restrictions that look to restrict how housing is built and provide it for certain groups. The housing projects of the ’60s looked a lot like the collectives built in Eastern Europe after WW2.

        The terms Liberal and liberal and Progressive and progressive seem to get interchanged quite a lot. To the detriment of the conversations in which they are used. A liberal democracy has nothing to do with being Liberal in the way it is used in the U.S. The term liberal indicates a willingness to eschew traditional values and more openness to diverse ideas and actions i.e. less restrictive. The term Liberal in this country tends to align with that philosophy only in small parts but is mainly focused on increasing the power of the state and using that power to control society and shape it to a certain socioeconomic political point of view. Because we have a democratic (small “D”) aspect in how state power is determined and allocated much of the power gained is used to reward the constituencies which assist in maintaining control. Big “P” Progressives are really the same as Liberals only more aggressive in their desire to grow and use state authority. A little “P” progressive could technically spring from any political philosophy. Just being a facet which is more aggressive than others.

        The constitution isn’t a impenetrable physical barrier and has lost the majority of its influence since its inception. Its initial intent was to describe very strict limitations on federal power. An aspect that has virtually no functional meaning any longer. For instance the commerce clause has been interpreted to mean that any economic activity (all activity has economic impact) can be regulated by the federal government even if it happens within a single individuals property because it may have some impact on interstate commerce. Once that idea is sold there really isn’t much left for the constitution as far as legal standing goes. The constitution’s only power is as a symbol and that symbol is manipulated by people from all political stripes as they parse it and shuffle in to their propaganda and rah-rah speeches. The only real restriction on state power is what mob will tolerate (based in part to how those spinning it reference the constitution). If one political group is able to benefit enough people or special interests they will get elected despite abuses against those outside of that group. Those who wield state authority at various levels are primarily looking to keep people fairly calm and skim as much for themselves and their supporters as they possible can get away with. Authoritarian governments and not necessarily led by a junta or strong-man it can also be controlled by a strong popular majority. An authoritarian democracy is very real possibilities. The fact that there is a democratic element to our system provides is no inherent wisdom or morality.

        The phrase “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was made famous by Marx but it was used earlier by socialist Louis Blanc and the sentiment and philosophy behind both communism and socialism are the same. To use state power primarily to redistribute resources according to political influence. A set of ideals which are embraced by many, including to at least some degree Liberals and Progressives. Not necessarily by those with liberal or progressive ideas.

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/03/2016 - 09:09 am.

          Try again

          “There simply is no plausible hard line between socialism and communism. ”

          I don’t know where you get this conclusion but you didn’t get it from me. The Hard line between socialism and communism is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the belief Historical Dielectism. Communists believe that they are manifesting an historical evolution by creating a communist state which establishes a ruling proletariat. Socialists simply do not subscribe to that ideology. If you think the difference between the Soviet Union and Denmark is blurry… then I don’t think I can help you.

          • Submitted by Ellen Hoerle on 02/03/2016 - 02:43 pm.


            “If you think the difference between the Soviet Union and Denmark is blurry… then I don’t think I can help you.”
            Classic. And Classy.
            Thanks Paul.

          • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/03/2016 - 07:26 pm.

            Lost in translation

            There are many varieties of state structures within the larger definitions of socialism or communism. My point was that wishing the multitude of varieties there are many areas of gray. The old Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Viet Nam, Venezuela, Spain, Greece, Finland, Mexico, France and the United States all have their own flavor but of socialist policies. Are those I just listed which claim to be communist actually communist? Are they socialist? Sure, there is at some point elements which allow us to distinguish between communism and socialism but that doesn’t make them completely different either. It is possible to tell define the difference between identical twins as well but they are still fairly similar for all intents and purposes.

            Socialism and communism are broad terms and they share the same basic intent though they do have some mechanical differences. They share a historical and philosophical path as well. The evolution you speak of is one where socialism is simply a step along the way. Simply using cliched terminology to describe communism and shifting terms for socialism represents a distinction without a difference. One specific example is the idea of the state owning the means of production. Does it matter in the end if the state hold title to the facilities and all the the workers are state employees or if the the state simply writes rules that enforce that a different title holder acts in the way the state wishes? Sure, there is a technical difference but not one that matters.

            In the end it isn’t the title that matters, especially ones like broad political movements. It is the degree to which the state is allowed authority over individuals and in who’s interest that authority is used. I never claimed that the Soviet Union and Finland are the same, only that between the two there is a continuum without a hard line. If you aren’t able to see subtlety and shades of gray I am afraid you can’t be helped.

            • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/04/2016 - 09:13 am.

              Try again again

              “Socialism and communism are broad terms and they share the same basic intent though they do have some mechanical differences. They share a historical and philosophical path as well.”

              I can see that your desperately trying to manufacture a slippery slope argument Dan but its a doomed mission it’s based on mumbo jumbo. A continuum that makes it “difficult” to tell the difference between Nazi Germany and Canada, or the Soviet Union and Finland, is a product of mental gymnastics pretending to be political analysis.

              Socialism is a liberal ideology and Communism is not. That’s not cliche terminology it’s simply a fact. There is not a single example in human history of a liberal democracy converting into a
              socialist state and then evolving into a Communist state. That’s because socialism is a liberal antidote to communism, not a and extension of communism. These two ideologies do NOT share the same intent, nor do they share an historical origin. Communism emerges from the writings of Marx and Engels, and Socialism emerges from the likes of Max Weber. There are clear and distinct differences in focus, economics, political agendas. Historically Socialists and Communists have been bitter enemies and rivals, not allies sharing the same goals. Communist hate Socialist as much as they hate liberals because they see them as apologists for Capitalism. Socialist want to work within capitalist economies while Communist want to dismantle capitalist economies altogether. There is no slippery slope from Socialism into Communism because socialism will always preserve capitalism as the basic economic structure. We can talk about liberal democracies that have larger or smaller public sectors but there simply is no way you can compare Denmark to the Soviet Union in any coherent way.

              • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/04/2016 - 02:40 pm.

                Tenor, scale and history.

                First, what strikes me is how your comments seem to constantly include passive-aggressive, snarky and ad hominem statements on other posters rather than keeping things directly to the topic. For me that both weakens your position (good arguments don’t need that type of juvenile structure) and illustrate why so many regard politics in general and ideologues specifically in such low regard. If you are advocating for a system that truly represents the people poisoning the water in such a way likely isn’t productive. It might also help if you addressed my actual comments and not what you imagine my position to be or assign to me motivations which I haven’t claimed. These aren’t things you can possibly now so using they as a point in your argument reduces your credibility. For the on actual points you seemed to be making I will repeat my self a bit because I failed to explain it in a way that was clear, unless you ignored it in order to go back to win points using snark alone.

                Again, of course there are distinctions between communism and socialism. You are the one stating that I believe there isn’t a separation between Canada and the Soviet Union. I suppose it is a way to avoid the real discussion. However, in the real world there is never any pure example of anything much less such broad political terms (again the variations of states which have called themselves communist and some that don’t use the term but have many similarities). So while there may be some academic distinction in practice there are many variations which blend the various ideas and thoughts and hence provide a continuum between and beyond those two example types. Communism and Socialism do however share a core philosophy despite the fact that various sects and sub groups have argued about the ideas genesis, how much force should be used in implementing that philosophy, what those might and/or by what mechanisms they are applied and how it is determined controls that mechanism.

                It is analogous to Christianity as a whole having both major and minor sub-sects that all have complicated relationships with each other as well stop their own history. While many of the arguments are vitriolic (and sometimes historically very violent) they still have a core belief which holds them together philosophically. They all worship an at least semi-fictional cosmic Jewish zombie with a father (who is also him) that can make you live forever if you symbolically (or in some cases, actually) eat his flesh and drink his blood. The fact that these sects each have their own technical interpretations and have a wide range of practices and traditions doesn’t mean they are’t part of a continuum of sorts. The argument you seem to be stating, that communism and socialism aren’t meaningfully related seems to be like a Baptist claiming that their sect is nothing like that of Catholicism. While I appreciate the importance of the distinctions for the ideologues involved they aren’t in the end of great consequence to somebody with a larger perspective.

                It also seems like you have cherry picked your historic references to be recent enough that they omit any mention of the sources from which both socialism and communism draw ideas and their core philosophy. Instead you are refocusing on small snippets of their histories where they were arguing like charters form Life of Brian (Splinter!) If you are truly focused on semantics rather than impact would it not also be important to correctly utilize the terms Liberal vs. liberal? You continue to use them interchangeably and incorrectly as I noted in, and was actually the focus of, my first post. Socialism and liberalism are not synonymous in any way. Big “L” Liberal and socialism do have a strong relationship. As far as no slippery slope goes I don’t have any fear of it and don’t present it as any sort of immediate threat. Again, that was you stating things you are guessing I believe instead of responding to what you actually know. However my statement on how regulation can be used to effectively be the same as state ownership seems and obvious counter your idea of no way a socialist-light state like the U.S. or Canada could shift to one like France or Greece, or those two countries in to even more restrictive states.

                That doesn’t even cover the variations and ideas of what is meant by Capitalism. Something that would need to have a meaningful set definition to use it as some unbreathable barrier between socialism and communism. There is a strong argument to be made that there is no Capitalist state in the world right now.

                • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/04/2016 - 03:31 pm.


                  Dan, this is a public forum and people can actually read what you write, to wit:

                  “I never claimed that the Soviet Union and Finland are the same, only that between the two there is a continuum without a hard line. ”

                  YOU are in fact saying that the distinction between Finland and the Soviet union or the Soviet Union and Canada etc. is fuzzy, i.e. “no hard line”. I think most people find that to be curious proposition at best.

                  ” It also seems like you have cherry picked your historic references to be recent enough that they omit any mention of the sources from which both socialism and communism draw ideas and their core philosophy. ”

                  I’ve explained at length that Communism and Socialism do NOT draw ideas from a common core philosophy and I’ve discussed their sources, Marx vs. Weber. You just keep repeating the false claim that they do share some kind of common ancestry but have you not identified these ancestors or their philosophy. You seem to think that you can just put them in the same room and declare them inseparable. Whatever.

                  I guess it comes down to this: Just because someone doesn’t understand, doesn’t mean NO ONE understands something.

                  • Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/04/2016 - 07:01 pm.

                    Careful what you wish for

                    If you don’t understand that socialism and communism share a philosophy that dates back much further than Marx and Webber maybe you aren’t actually equipped to have the conversation. One common socialist ancestor was mentioned in my earlier post along with one of the most famous lines associated with Marx. It of course goes further back than that with many more interesting and dynamic branches. Marx and Weber were not originators, simply ideologues arguing over their interpretation of passages in an evolving political religion.

                    Your only argument against my statements on the varied nature of socialist type states, including communism, and how those manifest seems to be “I think most people find that to be a curious prospect.” So your strongest point is one for which you have no actual knowledge, what other people are thinking. Of course that seems in line with the structure of the argument you are making which is based primarily on conflating terms or arguing against straw men of your own creation.

                    Arbitrarily mixing common and proper noun versions of communism, socialism, and liberal shows you may not actually understand what those terms mean. The work socialism is not capitalized unless it is referencing a specific organization. Same with communism. If you are actually thinking of specific varieties of these broad terms you need to name them. The distinction between these terms as common or proper nouns is a critical one. I will repeat the example of Liberal and liberal. They are not synonymous. Big “L” Liberal and socialism are closely related while socialism and small “L” liberal are actually mostly in conflict or tension with one another. My original post had more detail on this. Maybe you missed it.

                    If you are speaking of socialism and communism in general (which it seems you are since you have named no specific organizations) you are simply incorrect about them having no meaningful historic connection. Again, I named one key figure in an earlier statement which you ignored so I moved on. You kept repeating your claim of no connection despite this earlier riposte that showed otherwise. If this is the path you would like to discuss I am happy to do so. It seems obvious to me that an argument which is based on any two things in an infinity interconnected world not being connected despite their many similarities is destined to fail. But if it is all you have I guess you need to use it.

                    Your response to my statements about a continuum and no hard between socialism and communism was to suggest I stated there was no distinction between the Soviet Union and Finland. Again, this is not something I said or suggested. You stated that there was in fact hard line and referenced Marx. Then you claimed that if I thought there was no hard line there was no way I could distinguishing between Finland and the Soviet union. Not having a hard line between things does not mean they are indistinguishable from one another. Basing your argument against me on knocking down something I didn’t say is a perfect example of a straw man argument. Repeating it over and over just smacks of laziness or desperation. As does ignoring the multiple examples of the actual places which have their own varieties of these systems and others mixed up together.

                    Maybe you should take a longer look at who understands what.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/02/2016 - 02:52 pm.

      Sad Choices, Indeed

      “In fact, isn’t it sad that for Democrats the choice is between ]yada, yada, yada, typical Republican labeling]?”

      Is the choice any better for the Republicans? It looks like the race is now between a much-loathed dominionist, an egotist of epochal proportions, and a Senator who has more positions than a yoga instructor and who can’t manage his own money but is running for President because he doesn’t LIKE being a Senator anymore.

      Quite the impressive field you have there, O, Party of Lincoln.

  28. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/02/2016 - 08:25 am.


    I always wonder how “more progressive” is defined by liberals.

    I like to think we don’t worry about definitions which can be arbitrary and often support pejorative forms of labeling.

    “why Mr. Black lists Sanders’ being Jewish as his disadvantage along with being old or being Socialist…”

    Because Anti Semitism is still a factor in American life.

    ” isn’t it sad that for Democrats the choice is between an untruthful, self-centered candidate with zero accomplishments and multiple failures, whose main advantage seems to be being a female and for who people vote just to avoid giving another party the White House and a self-proclaimed socialist who can’t see the difference between America and Denmark and thinks that money grows on trees?”

    In some ways I am saddened by the choices we have. But all of us have to take the candidates as they are, not as we might wish them to be.

  29. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/02/2016 - 08:36 am.


    As for Clinton, I wonder if anyone can answer a question how it was possible for a Secretary of State to never receive or send classified information through the e-mail?

    It is literally impossible for anyone, Secretary of State or not, to prevent the receiving of classified information through email. And it should be noted that’s equally true whether the server on which that information belonged to the government, or was a private server belonging to an individual.

    “how was it possible for her to be SURE that [the sending of classified information] would never happen when she set her private server?

    One problem with this type of question is that it calls for an answer that might reveal certain practices and procedures which if known, might jeopardize security. But basically, I would assume that there are some filters in place that would help with the problem. But bear in mind, there is no possible way to prevent the sending of classified information, or information that might later be classified, through email. And this undeniable fact is just as true whether the ultimate destination of such email is public or private.

    Email and the world wide web are inherently insecure. The only way to prevent with certainty a breach of internet security is not to put the information on the web to begin with.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2016 - 09:30 am.

      Poorly framed question

      “As for Clinton, I wonder if anyone can answer a question how it was possible for a Secretary of State to never receive or send classified information through the e-mail?”

      This issue isn’t the use of e-mail, it’s the use of an unsecure (private) e-mail server. Like any government employee Clinton was given an e-mail account i.e. “HClinton001@usstate.gov” or some such thing. Why not just use that? Specially if you’re “new” to e-mail? By not using the government server Clinton not choose less security, she choose to take responsibility for that security. Then you send classified or sensitive e-mails through your private server, and tell people you didn’t do that, but then it turns out you did, and now you have a scandal.

      I’m not worried about the e-mails, my problem is after all these years of scandal after scandal when will the Clinton’s learn how to not create scandals?

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/06/2016 - 06:18 pm.

        Do we really want to Know?

        Many folks use my Business E-mail for personal stuff, and some times use my personal for business. Got a Skype account at home and work, so I can communicate with my Asia partners virtually 24/7, they do the same on their end. Do the same with phones, get personal texts at work and work texts at home. etc. etc. etc. Guess my boss should fire me for lack of trust worthiness! Although he expects that I am checking my business e-mail and texts 24-7!

  30. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/02/2016 - 10:32 am.


    Why not just use that?

    We don’t really know that. Clinton herself has said that it’s because she didn’t want to use multiple devices, but that answer has plausibility problems. It’s more likely that she chose a private server because she wanted to maintain more control over her email.

    “Specially if you’re “new” to e-mail? ”

    It’s pretty clear that Hillary, like a lot of old people, doesn’t understand much about technology. In my view the problem here and a problem Hillary has generally is that she doesn’t get a lot of independent advice, that she is surrounded by yes people. In this case, Hillary should have had a tech expert making these decisions for her.

    “I’m not worried about the e-mails, my problem is after all these years of scandal after scandal when will the Clinton’s learn how to not create scandals?”

    I have asked that myself, and I wonder whether it’s a chicken or egg issue. The media has been trained to look at the Clintons in terms of scandal, and it’s the first rule of looking stuff that you tend to find it. That said, I wish Hillary had done the obvious thing and maintained a government email account. But then I wish she didn’t take huge speaking frees from Wall Street banks, or that her charitable foundation didn’t solicit or receive contributions from entities that do business with the government. These are obvious and unforced errors, and yet the Clintons freely commit them.

    I don’t think we know that the government server would be less secure. My sense generally is that government internet systems aren’t very secure. And for the reasons I have stated, all email systems are inherently secure. It would be just as wrong to send classified information to a government server as a private server.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/02/2016 - 09:01 pm.


      “It’s more likely that she chose a private server because she wanted to maintain more control over her email.”

      Clearly she decided or was recommended a private server for that reason. The thing is if you make that choice you take responsibility for the security of that system, you either make it secure enough to handle sensitive communications or you don’t use it.

      I don’t buy the old person excuse. She was using multiple devices and e-mail accounts. You get a job, a staffer tells you you have a State Dept. email account. If you don’t know how to use it they’ll show you, it’s that simple and it’s a lot easier than setting up your own server and learning how to use that.

      Again, no one but hacks actually cares about this ( I know I don’t) but it is what it is and it blew up in her face. For whatever reason this is a Clinton thing and I’m not looking forward to 4 – 8 years of it. The Obama presidency was refreshing respite from the usual parade of scandals.

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/03/2016 - 05:32 am.

        Clearly she decided or was recommended a private server for that reason.

        One would like to think so, but the problem with that rationale is that clearly at some point, her private server would be subpoenaed by Congress which would have access to the private emails she wanted to protect. That’s the nature of the Clinton scandal industry. There is literally nothing about this whole mess that suggests that anyone was thinking clearly.

        “The thing is if you make that choice you take responsibility for the security of that system, you either make it secure enough to handle sensitive communications or you don’t use it. ”

        Again one would like to think so, but there is no reason to think the government system is particularly secure, and surely Hillary would have been blamed if it had been hacked. That goes to the problem of being Hillary. Anything she does will be treated as a scandal, so she just has to move on, secure in the knowledge that anyone who is moved by the scandal narratives is already voting for someone else.

        “I don’t buy the old person excuse.”

        It’s not an excuse, its an explanation, or at least an attempt at one. The problem here is that what Hillary did was irrational, and it’s always very difficult to come up with rational explanations or excuses for the irrational. Obviously, she should have relied on some expert, a staffer as is suggested, someone who understood this stuff. That goes, by the way, to a real concern I have with Clinton, one that emerges from the emails, which is that she is surrounded by sycophants and yes people, whose principal job description is to tell her how wonderful she is.

        ” If you don’t know how to use it they’ll show you, it’s that simple and it’s a lot easier than setting up your own server and learning how to use that.”

        The problem isn’t that Hillary didn’t know how to use her iPad. She worked that just fine. The problem is that conceptually, she didn’t understand how email works, and more disturbingly didn’t have the curiosity to learn. If she is elected president, what other important stuff will she be incurious about?

        • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/03/2016 - 09:00 am.

          Thank you

          “One would like to think so, but the problem with that rationale is that clearly at some point, her private server would be subpoenaed by Congress which would have access to the private emails she wanted to protect. That’s the nature of the Clinton scandal industry. There is literally nothing about this whole mess that suggests that anyone was thinking clearly.”

          That’s it in a nutshell. That’s what bothers me, of all people in these United States of America… these people should’ve been thinking. So what kind of White House are we going to get from these people?

  31. Submitted by Jim Million on 02/02/2016 - 02:40 pm.

    Groundhog Update

    Sanders backers are enjoying this day. Clintonians not so much. Phil saw his shadow.

    Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow….

  32. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/02/2016 - 11:03 pm.


    Mr. Udstrand, it is interesting that you used a word “aggressive” in describing Progressives; it is undeniably true but I highly doubt that it is a good quality (and usually this word has a negative connotation). Of course, communism is not a liberal ideology but if you ask communists, they would tell you that communism is all about freedom and liberty and communist countries were freer than all liberal democracies combined. You said that “The primary basis of liberal philosophy and ideology is the well being and security of the individual and individual rights,” but, again, communists would say exactly the same and would add that it may be done only through collective approach. Obviously, every ideologue thinks that his ideology is the best, and this includes liberals and progressives. On the other hand, if one listens to progressives’ ideas about individual rights, the conclusion may be that libertarians are more progressive than progressives… Which takes me back to my point that no one actually gave progressives the right to call themselves progressives since no one can define what “progress” is.

    You are correct, the question is not about e-mails but about the server… and that is why I asked how can one (Clinton in this case) set up an unsecure server when it is impossible to imagine that a Secretary of State would not get secret e-mails… and then claim innocence.

    Mr. Holbrook, first, pointing to Republican field does not negate my point about poor Democratic choice. Second, don’t you use typical liberal labeling? And third, what about Rubio, and Dr. Carson, and Kasich – what’s wrong with them? Democratic Party does not have anyone beyond Clinton and Sanders (and the latter is there by accident).

    Mr. Foster, if you don’t want to worry about definitions (in politics, I mean), then let’s stop using labels like liberals and conservatives – I am all for that. Unfortunately, the entire political science is about definitions, so I was wondering who makes them up. You said that “Anti Semitism is still a factor in American life.” First you have to emphasize in this case that it is a factor for the Left since Sanders is a Democratic candidate. And second you should admit in this case that Democrats are also racists and should not label Republicans as such.

    When I asked my question about “knowing for SURE,” I didn’t expect a technical answer since Clinton could not have it when she started using her private server (and someone gave her that guarantee, she would have named that person by now) but rather wanted to emphasize that she could not and therefore her decision was wrong and jeopardized our security.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/03/2016 - 09:16 am.

      Well as long we’re all saying the same thing…

      “You said that “The primary basis of liberal philosophy and ideology is the well being and security of the individual and individual rights,” but, again, communists would say exactly the same and would add that it may be done only through collective approach.”

      Communist and (most) republicans would also say the world is round… I guess that makes republicans communists?

      • Submitted by Jim Million on 02/07/2016 - 01:55 pm.

        Well, OK

        Communists and Republicans accept the world as round. Then why do Democrats always want to reshape it?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/03/2016 - 09:57 am.

      “And third . . .”

      “. . . what about Rubio, and Dr. Carson, and Kasich – what’s wrong with them?”

      Senator Rubio is the gentleman I described as the “Senator who has more positions than a yoga instructor and who can’t manage his own money but is running for President because he doesn’t LIKE being a Senator anymore.” A bit of a run on sentence, and I apologize for the deficient prose, but that is what is wrong wrong with Senator Rubio. Well, there is also the fact that his currently-enunciated ideology is virtually indistinguishable from that of Senator Cruz, minus the messianic world view.

      What is wrong with Dr. Carson? Seriously? No one who asks that question without irony should say anything about Hilary Clinton’s untruths.

      Governor Kasich is just another generic corporate-oriented conservative. His only distinguishing feature is that he acknowledges that anthropogenic global warming is real. Right, the Republican orthodoxy is going to overlook that, I’m sure.

      “[P]ointing to Republican field does not negate my point about poor Democratic choice. ” No, but it puts it in context.

  33. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/03/2016 - 05:35 am.


    Hillary is like the teenager who know enough about computers to be able to put a compromising picture on facebook but doesn’t know enough about computers to know she shouldn’t do it.

  34. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/03/2016 - 07:50 am.

    Mr. Foster, if you don’t want to worry about definitions (in politics, I mean), then let’s stop using labels like liberals and conservatives

    I use those as words, not as labels. If politics is as dependent on definitions as you claim, what did the political world do before it had them. Politics, after all, is a lot older than dictionaries.

    “First you have to emphasize in this case that it is a factor for the Left since Sanders is a Democratic candidate. And second you should admit in this case that Democrats are also racists and should not label Republicans as such.”

    What I talk about and choose to emphasize is my choice, just as what you choose to talk about and emphasize is your choice. I am reminded of a comment Rumpole once made to a judge to the effect, “If your honor is going to argue my case for me, please have the courtesy not to lose it.”

    “And second you should admit in this case that Democrats are also racists and should not label Republicans as such.”

    Do you think this is a difficult admission to make? Do you think any Democrats would dispute that race and racism plays a role in Democratic politics just as it does in Republican politics?

  35. Submitted by charles thompson on 02/03/2016 - 05:27 pm.


    She is, to my mind, the obvious person for the job, based on her resume. On the other hand a lot of people seem to hate her guts. Enlighten me.

  36. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/03/2016 - 09:57 pm.


    Mr. Udstrand, Republicans are not communists and neither are the Democrats. I was pointing that one way or the other, someone else is more progressive than Progressives so they should not brag about that – it is meaningless.

    Mr. Holbrook, I don’t know about Rubio and his money (I always thought it is impolite to count money in someone’s pocket), but I remember that Clinton said they were broke (or was she lying about that – I can’t remember now). Governor Kasich is maybe “another generic corporate-oriented conservative” but he hasn’t screwed up the entire country and jeopardized our country’s security while we all know a “generic corporate-oriented” liberal who did. And one more time, what is wrong with Dr. Carson? Sure, everything should be taken in context but Democrats should at least stop bragging about being better than Republicans.

    Mr. Foster, Progressives like using this word as a badge of honor and I was showing that they can’t – that is it. Sure, you can talk about what you want to but we all have to acknowledge when our arguments are weak or when they point to a different direction, even if we missed that direction in our argument… and I am glad you did. Unfortunately, most Democrats would never admit that Democratic Party is as racist as Republicans or even more so…

    Mr. Thompson, will you please give examples of what makes Hillary “the obvious person for the job?”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/04/2016 - 09:37 am.

      Where to Begin?

      True, Governor Kasich has not “screwed up the entire country and jeopardized our country’s security.” Why do we want to give him that chance?

      “And one more time, what is wrong with Dr. Carson?” Do you mean, apart from his difficulties telling the truth about his record, his untrustworthiness in general (before his now-legendary prayer breakfast speech, he explicitly agreed he would not say anything political), and his profound ignorance of politics and policy, I can’t think of a thing.

      “Sure, everything should be taken in context but Democrats should at least stop bragging about being better than Republicans.” Are you unfamiliar with the way political campaigns work? And do you have a parallel objection to Republican bragging?

  37. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/04/2016 - 07:01 am.

    Progressives like using this word as a badge of honor and I was showing that they can’t – that is it.

    I think it’s ok to use words as badges, but when we do, it’s important to understand they are often drained of substantive meaning.

    “Unfortunately, most Democrats would never admit that Democratic Party is as racist as Republicans or even more so…”

    Do you know any Democrats? I am not into equivalence arguments generally, equivalence being one of the unlikelier qualities to befound in either nature or politics, but I do think racism is a challenge for all Americans.

  38. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 02/04/2016 - 07:45 pm.


    Progressivism is a broad philosophy based on the Idea of Progress, which asserts that advancement in science, technology, economic development, and social organization are vital to improve the human condition.
    (Its a state of mind and action)

    You are 100% correct: Many of us wear the tag as a “Badge of Honor”, bragging? Its who we are! What are you jealous of the philosophy? Something wrong with, enlightenment and living through the art’s and science’s? Beats reading entrails.

  39. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/05/2016 - 05:15 am.

    Honor badges

    Progressives like using this word as a badge of honor and I was showing that they can’t – that is it.

    Well, I can pretty much decide for myself what I use as a badge of honor. The other party wears labels as badges of honor too, something they have every right to do, for whatever that’s worth. My party might be the party of Robert Byrd, but it’s also the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Certainly we aren’t perfect, but perfection is a rare quality in our politics.

    Some of my arguments are weaker than others. I have always argued that the economy performs better under Democrats than Republicans. The fact is, that isn’t the strongest argument and the world, and there are exceptions, but the fact is there aren’t many arguments in this world that are totally and completely convincing. Lots of stuff goes multiple ways.

    I am not sure you can quantify racism. They don’t hand out points for it.

  40. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/05/2016 - 07:24 am.

    Mr. Holbrook, I would rather trust someone who hasn’t ruined anything than someone who did many times. Don’t you think it is a logical position? And I am not even mentioning that Obama was first elected on the premises that he had not ruined anything up by that time.

    Taking your point, I am familiar with political campaign process so we should all accept that all politicians try to make themselves look better than in real life; if it is limited like with Carson, it should be OK but if it is unlimited like with Clinton it should not, to Democrats as much as to Republicans. As for his “ignorance,” who is to decide what it is and what it is not. I don’t know about armed Jews preventing Holocaust, but I am sure armed Jews could have prevented Russian pogroms. And yes, I do not like anyone bragging about anything that is untrue, regardless of the party affiliation, but I do not see many things Republicans say about Democrats that are totally incorrect (that they want to confiscate all guns comes to mind but not much more).

    Mr. Foster, I wish everyone understood that so many terms and words in politics are “drained of substantive meaning” to use your description and would not fall for them. Yes, I know plenty of Democrats and I, too, do not like equivalence argument unless I am forced into that. On the other hand, unlike you, I actually do not think America now has any problem with racism except accepting that we are past that which does create many problems… but that is another topic.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/07/2016 - 01:51 pm.


      “And I am not even mentioning that Obama was first elected on the premises that he had not ruined anything up by that time.”

      First, by using that sentence, you just did.

      Second, please point me to the person or persons who said that. I try to pay close attention to these things, and I like to think that I have a tolerably good memory for one my age, but I have no recollection of anyone saying that (I am not discounting the possibility that a Republican said it while trying to be funny. It’s like the “Obama is the chosen one” meme one heard only from bitterly sarcastic Republicans).

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/08/2016 - 12:56 pm.

        Sorry, I should have said “I don’t want to mention…”. Anyway, Obama was elected just because everyone voted against Bush and, by extension, Republicans, who presumably had ruined everything… right?

  41. Submitted by Dan Berg on 02/05/2016 - 09:40 am.


    In general those who have any need to wear a badge of any type, physical or philosophical, are least worth of being listened to much less given any authority. It just puts in to mind images of old military men with a chest full of medals sitting in the review stands as they send young men to die for nothing other than to justify their own authority.

    In politics in particular labels and badges are stand ins for real ideas or value. They are the equivalent of gang colors in that their primary use is to designate territory and hierarchy within the mob. Politics has no more depth than sports or reality television. It is simply dramatic entertainment for the majority of those interested in it. The difference bing the consequences involved are somewhat more impactful. The thing is that most of the positive and negative results political ideologues associate with one group or another are driven by a larger and very complex system. One that can’t be managed predictably through the constraints of politics. The degree to which people of certain of specific total net outcomes from various policy positions is a good indication of the degree to which their ideology is based on a that sort of delusion.

    Of course the mechanisms of politics run on delusion. Politicians nurturing the belief that they have power to protect their constituents against threats that they themselves have for the most part invented or inflated. They use these badges both as insults and points of pride to work both sides of the fear and protection racket. A racket is all that it is, just like any crime organization working the protection game.

    When looking across history around the globe all the variations in policies currently being argued in their country don’t seem to have significant impact on results. If anything there seem to be correlation between the rule of law being the most important element leading to stability and stability to success and standard of living. All of the social programs or other policy differences between places such as the U.S., Spain, Japan or Sweden have minimal effects. Our overall progress is more driven by the degree to which individuals can freely develop their own ideas and know that the results aren’t potentially subject to arbitrary changes in the rules due to individual, special interest or even generally popular demands. The further a state gets from that basic idea the worse of its citizens. Be it because of a strong government that tries to be an active manager (and can be manipulated by individuals, special interests or popular whim) or because of a weak government that can’t defend individual rights and the rule of law.

    All the political maneuvering that captivates so much attention is really little more than each participant elbowing their way to the front of the stage looking for a show or to be closer to their idols in the play. In hopes that many they can be a part of the group enjoy the rewards they are promised. All the while arguing over their interpretations of the story presented and the meaning of their actions. Titles and badges are just part of the costumes of the play.

  42. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 02/05/2016 - 09:55 pm.

    Terms and definitions

    Mr. Wagner, in science and technology progress is relatively easy to define but even there some “progress” may not be progressive (is nuclear weapon progressive?) But when it comes to social organization, all bets are off. As I pointed, many may say that communism is more progressive than socialism which is more progressive than “democratic socialism” and there is no way to define true “progress” in this case.

    Mr. Udstrand, I just want to explain some things about communism. Communism never actually existed in reality but ultimately is supposed to be classless society with no real government: everyone owns everything and behaves responsibly so it is a free society. Lenin once said that “freedom is the recognition of necessity,” meaning that if everyone does what is necessary, they are still free. Socialism is just a stage on the way to communism and while socialism is not totally free (mostly because of the bourgeoisie), communism will be.

  43. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/06/2016 - 08:27 am.

    Communism never actually existed in reality

    Reminds me of an old joke. One day, Leonid Brezhnev took is mom to the garage in his dacha. He showed her all his great cars, the Cadillac, the Mercedes, the Ferrari. Well, he notices that his mother is getting quieter and quieter, so he he asks her, “Mama, what do you think of your little Leonid now?” His mother whispers back to him, “They are all so beautiful, but what’s going to happen if the Communists come back?”

  44. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/07/2016 - 08:06 pm.

    Never been a communist country…

    This is the excuse Marxists ave been making for decades; sure the Soviet Union was a totalitarian disaster… but THAT wasn’t REAL communism. Whatever you want to call it what we know now that we didn’t know in 1917 is that you tend to get these governments whenever you to try to build a communist state.

    For what it’s worth Marx himself wasn’t a big supporter of violent revolution, he predicted that a proletariat revolution would emerge organically. As for whether a communist state has ever existed, it depend on who’s communism you’re talking about. The Russian Revolution didn’t produce Marx’s communist country, but it did produce Lenin and Trotsky’s communist country… until Stalin took over.

    The other thing to remember is that Marx didn’t actually talk a lot about government per se, his focus was always on economic and class struggle. The primary feature of a communist society for Marx was complete elimination of class structure, resolved into a classless society. He assumed that such a society wouldn’t need much in the way of state apparatus, but he didn’t spend a lot of time trying to describe what a communist government would look like, he figured that would work itself out when the time came.

    Lenin on the other hand believed he was creating a communist society as if he was leading an organic proletariat revolution (surely a delusion). Lenin had to create a government precisely because no organic proletariat revolution had taken place. So Marxists and Communists argue about whether or not Lenin was “real” communist, and so it goes.

    Of course none of this has anything whatsoever to do with American liberals, progressives, or democratic socialism. I’m not sure the Cuban’s are even still arguing about any of this stuff.

  45. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 02/08/2016 - 05:47 am.


    My own view is that the power of Marxism is in it’s critique of capitalism, as opposed to being a positive economic philosophy presenting an alternate system to capitalism. For one thing, Marx lived mostly before the rise of the welfare state which is one form of capitalism’s response to the problems Marx raised.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2016 - 10:39 am.


      Marx’s Critique of Capitalism has never been surpassed. In fact most the contemporary critiques, are essentially Marx; people just recognize it because they haven’t read Marx. I’m not accusing anyone of plagiarism, I’m just saying they’ve gotten to the place that Marx got to 100 years ago.

      Instead of having students read the Communist Manifesto Americans should read: “The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts” or the: “Critique on Capitalism”.

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 02/08/2016 - 12:48 pm.


      Not having read any appreciable amount of Marx, I nevertheless would guess that he did not deeply consider the role of propaganda (iron control of the range and content of common discourse by concentrated wealth) in forestalling the evolution of consciousness. Though the welfare state has been a very effective temporizing strategy, it seems that propaganda has been more consequential. And the two join most consequentially where incorporation of welfare-state redistribution into an undemocratic economic structure is presented as a satisfactory and permanent solution to the inequitable outcomes that this structure produces. Liberalism is defined as redistributionalism, and this sets the left casing of the Overton window. This is the edge against which Mr Sanders is pushing (against 80 years of encrusted paint) and near which Ms Clinton will not go.

      Hiram or Paul, do you know Marx sufficiently to report if he anticipated the role of propaganda?

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 02/08/2016 - 02:30 pm.


        “I nevertheless would guess that he did not deeply consider the role of propaganda (iron control of the range and content of common discourse by concentrated wealth) in forestalling the evolution of consciousness.”

        Actually Marx spent a lot of time talking about this issue, remember that remark about religion being the opium of the masses? I just got rid of all my Marx books so I can’t remember where exactly, but he and Engels spend a lot of time talking about class consciousness and how it’s created and manipulated by the various bourgeoisie controlled mechanisms of the era. That Marxist critique actually survives for decades among Western Liberals who end up writing about manufactured consent within the context of liberal democracies in late 1960s and early 70s. (i.e. Chomsky et al.) Marx would turn over in his grave at the thought of his ideas ending up in the hands of liberals whom he despised, but thems the brakes.

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