Monday, June 20, 2016

It's not the Democratic Party of 1964: be careful of the grumpy old white man's proposals

But this is more than about the ideas of a grumpy old white man, far more.

In 1964 the Democratic Party became the party of those groups of Americans who regularly find themselves economically and socially the target of systematic discrimination based on prejudice.

Newsflash - white old, middle-aged, or young middle-class or richer liberal activists and college students are not among those groups. And most certainly when they choose not to be a part of the Democratic Party membership but do chose to be uncommitted kibbitzers, they are not relevant to that Democratic Party goal to create inclusiveness

It must have come as a surprise to Bernie Sanders and his supporters when they received a June 18, 2016 letter from the the Congressional Black Caucus expressing its resolute opposition to two key reforms demanded by Sanders. The letter states:
The Democratic Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently voted unanimously to oppose any suggestion or idea to eliminate the category of Unpledged Delegate to the Democratic National Convention (aka Super Delegates) and the creation of uniform open primaries in all states.
"The black caucus is immovable on this subject because our number one concern is going to be an always be the highest level of minority participation as possible at the convention," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver who currently represents Missouri's 5th congressional district which has a population larger than that of Bernie Sander's State of Vermont. "You're going to see the same thing with the Hispanic Congressional Caucus. Mr. Sanders, if he had met with either or what's called the tri-caucus, he would have found out there is no flexibility." (Note: the Congressional Tri-Caucus iscomprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).)

The thing is, a political party is a private organization created to achieve specific political, social, and economic goals desired by its members. It's not there for outsiders who wake up once every four years to start restructuring to make sure that when they come back four years later they can undercut the goals of its members. You want to change the goals, join, attend meetings, work in off-year and non-Presidential election years to elect party candidates to state offices and Congress. Or form your own party.

And let's get one thing straight.  Missouri's 5th congressional district not only has more people than Vermont, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is a registered Democrat while Senator Bernie Sanders is not. Here's what you probably don't know....

In his home state of Vermont, there is no party registration allowing Sanders to accurately claim to be unaffiliated with a political party while still running for the Democratic nomination and sometimes calling himself a Democrat. In 2008, TIME told us about Vermont:
There are swing states. There are bellwether states. And then there is Vermont.

That makes sense. Vermont has only 625,000 residents, and they aren't wrestling with most of the problems that are dominating the campaign. Vermont doesn't have many immigrants; it ranks last in the nation in foreclosures; it's consistently rated the healthiest state. But if the politics of Vermont doesn't tell us much about the politics of America, it is still quirky and intriguing.

There is no party registration in Vermont, but it was once the most staunchly Republican state in the Union, supporting the G.O.P. in 28 straight presidential elections and enjoying a 108-year gap between Democratic governors...

Now Vermont is blue heaven, home of Ben and Jerry and Phish, the first state with civil unions for gays, the last state with a Wal-Mart and the only state that President Bush has somehow neglected to visit....

Nowadays, Vermont once again has a Republican governor, Massachusetts-born Jim Douglas, who's favored to win his fourth term in November. And it is a rural state, so its politicians tend to support guns and farms. It's even got some black-helicopter types in its rugged Northeast Kingdom. But thinking of Vermont as a northeastern version of Idaho or Nebraska because it's got rifles and cows is sort of like thinking of the Village People as tough guys because they had a cop and a construction worker. It's a land of teddy bears, organic cheese, planning charrettes, Buddhist converts and the Vermont Progressive Party, whose members include six state legislators, Burlington's mayor, and the only announced challenger to Governor Douglas. Most telling is the fact that it's the only state where self-identified liberals outnumber self-identified Democrats.

Which brings us to March 4. Vermont has the nation's second-whitest and second-oldest electorate....
"Sanders did a lot of things right in this campaign, he did a lot better than expected. At the same time he seemed to have a lack of understanding or lack of relationships with black leaders that you saw ultimately hurt him in South Carolina and other states with big black electorates,"  Doug Thornell, formerly the group’s communications director, said. "And this is something that the CBC is going to be very passionate and push back against. This is a way that African-American officials can represent their district and have a say in the process. They're not going to go along with this at all."

If I seem less than enamored with the Sanders movement and their foolish ideas for the Democratic Party, it is because Bernie was reelected to the U.S. Senate by 207,848 voters in 2012 while in that same year California's Dianne Feinstein was reelected to the U.S. Senate by 7,864,624 voters. In fact, Feinstein received more votes in 11 California counties than Sanders did in the whole state of Vermont.

There are no communities of people in Vermont that depend on the Democratic Party to fight for their residents like residents of Compton, Oakland, or East Los Angeles. Bernie and most of his supporters have no real sense what it's like to have extensive political involvement with a diverse population as does Dianne Feinstein. Let's look at an enlightening parallel in their experience holding public office.

Bernie Sanders in 1981 was first elected mayor of the largest city in Vermont, Burlington, then with a population of 37,712 with 218 black persons and 285 persons who identified as Hispanic.

Diane Feinstein was thrust into the position of Mayor of San Francisco, California, in 1978 following the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor and Gay Activist Harvey Milk. After identifying both bodies at the scene, Feinstein was shaking so badly she required support from the police chief.  It was she who announced to the press, "Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As President of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed."

At the time, San Francisco had a population of 678,974 with 149,269 identified as Asian, 86,190 as Black, and 84,194 as Hispanic and with an estimated LGBT population of 105,000±.

In 1994,  Feinstein introduced the Federal Assault Weapons Ban which became law but expired in 2004. Bernie Sanders defended his pro-NRA record  stating with regard to his support for the 2005 federal  Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act  in an October 2015 debate that “if somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer.”

Diane Feinstein is well aware that Harvey Milk and George Moscone likely would not have been killed if the weapon had been a hammer.

The difference between Sanders and Feinstein is personal and professional experience with things like shootings and dealing with the criminal justice system in a diverse, complex City; and providing financial aid to the poor in a diverse, complex City; and educating people in a diverse, complex City; and creating a positive environment for economic growth in a diverse, complex City....

The fact is, while Feinstein was serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, between 1972 and 1976 Sanders was the nominee of the anti-capitalist, anti-war Liberty Union Party of Vermont in two Senate and two gubernatorial elections in Vermont. He lost all four races and resigned from the party in 1977.

Bernie supporters seem to want to have Feinstein, a long-time Democrat who was elected to her position by 7,864,624 diverse voters, to be subject to the same requirements to be a delegate as a 20-year-old college student from Washington state who decided to register to vote as a Democrat for the first time while entering the door of a March 2016 Precinct Caucus. Sorry, but no. That's not the way political parties work.

Curiously Bernie supporters seem to have no performance standards. Bernie has lived in Vermont since 1968 - 48 years. Bernie spouts buzz words about the issues but what has he done about them in his tiny state where his influence should be great since he leads a state full of "independent" voters? Here are a few examples compared to California where Democrats lead:
  • Free college - Vermont state colleges have higher tuition than California state colleges including fees in California;
  • Minimum wage - if you work in Burlington, Vermont, for minimum wage you earn $9.60 per hour, in San Francisco $12.25, 28% more;
  • Health insurance - through Vermont Health Connect for a 35 year old single person making $45,000 a year in Burlington, Vermont, the least premium cost after any rebates $8,576 a year, while through Covered California for the same person in San Francisco, California, the cost would be $2,952 a year. 66% less.
Bernie has no credibility on any of these issues. But it is the age of the internet, as Donald Trump has demonstrated. There are just millions of uninformed Americans who think anything can be explained in 140 character tweets, as opposed to learning from extensive reading and studying, and from years of direct involvement.

Thanks for your recommendations on Democratic Party procedures and policy Bernie supporters, but as a lifelong Democrat who first attended a California Democratic Council Convention in 1964, I don't want independents deciding policy for Californian's.

If it means you want to elect Donald Trump President in November, well that's the way it is. And if you think not voting, or voting for some third party candidate, is not the same as voting for Donald, you don't understand the American political system which you probably don't.

In a swing state, if Trump gets 34% of the vote, Clinton gets 33.9% of the vote, and the Green Party candidate you voted for gets 8% of the vote, you and all your ilk elected Trump President - live with it for four years and see what you can accomplish by being truly uninformed about your government and politics.

As California's other U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer tweeted in February:  "Bernie is a Democrat ‘some days'." The fact that he has not conceded the nomination to Clinton is indicative that "some days" aren't these days.

Regarding the sexist nature of a grumpy old white man loser making demands on America's first woman major party presumption nominee, I agree with Barbra Streisand, the California resident who tweeted the facts at the beginning of this post.

Of course I too am a grumpy old white man but one whose state has two Democratic women United States Senators and includes in its overwhelmingly Democratic Congressional Delegation, House Minority Leader and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

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