Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Initial Thoughts: New Hampshire

What does New Hampshire mean?  You can't ignore 60% of the vote.  

Here are a few thoughts:

1.  Can Sanders (ie a 74 year old, Jewish, self declared democratic socialist) win in November?
2.  If he did win, could he accomplish any of the things he's wants to do?
3.  Would Clinton have done better if she weren't a woman?
4.  What about Kasich?

1.  Can Sanders (ie a 74 year old, self declared democratic socialist, and a Jew) win in November?

Social reality, as opposed to physical reality, is what we decide it is.  Social reality changes over time.  Our understanding of physical reality changes.  Same sex marriage, for example, is now legal.   If enough people decide being a socialist isn't the kiss of death, then it isn't.   Republicans have been calling Obama a socialist all along and they'll do the same with Clinton.

Sanders' advantage is his self labeling.  He's not afraid of the label and he'll stand up and challenge people who use the word as a slur.  I suspect the next year Americans will get schooled in socialism and related concepts.

Can a Jew be elected?  If a black American can be elected, surely being Jewish won't be the factor that prevents someone from becoming president.

Reagan was the oldest person to be elected president in 1980 when he was 69.  You can send Sanders a 75th birthday card on September 8.  But times have changed.  Trump will be 70 on June 14,  and Clinton will be 69 on October 26.  I kind of like the idea of having a president who is older than I am again.

Can he win?  If he's running against Trump?  Only 35% of the Republican voters voted for Trump.  I'd bet that more Clinton voters would back Sanders than Trump voters would support another Republican.  

Republicans are probably smiling at Clinton's loss in New Hampshire.  They've been worrying about running against her.  They've set up all sorts of campaigns to block her - from Benghazi to Lewinsky.  Bernie Sanders would be an easy opponent as far as they're concerned.  But they dismissed Trump too.

2.  If he did win, could he accomplish any of the things he's promising done?

First, promising is not the right word.  He's promoting things like free community college and single payer health plan, but I don't think he's promising them.  Few American presidents can get all the programs they want.  Even one or two major accomplishments is a big deal these days.  

So, no, he's not going to get everything done.  But ideas take a while to germinate, grow, and bear fruit.  Electing a man who strongly champions new ideas, means those ideas will move from the 'pipe-dream' category to the possible, even probable category.  It will be out there and there will be more support.  And they're more likely to eventually take hold.

How much a President Sanders gets done will depend on how his candidacy would affect the congressional elections.  Can he pick up a bunch of Democratic senators?  Getting a majority in the House will be harder, but the size of the Republican majority can be shrunk.  Though gerrymandering after 2010 will slow things down.  While there are no district line drawing for the Senate (since every state gets two Senators), the existing state lines give red states a lot more clout than their population warrants.

3.  Would Clinton have done better if she weren't a woman?

I'm sure that there are people who either consciously or unconsciously react less positively to Clinton the candidate because she's a woman.  Maybe even five or ten percent.  Possibly more.  Women are judged differently than are men.

But I think that it's more about who this particular woman is.  She's supported the economic establishment over the years and the money people have supported her.  Despite her denials, it's hard to imagine that those ties won't impact her decisions.  Now, she could argue that her connections will make it easier to negotiate changes, but I suspect that her past positions including her husband's passing of NAFTA and her more recent support for PPT, make a lot of Democratic voters nervous.

One could just as well ask if she'd be the candidate if she weren't a woman.  Would she be running for president if she hadn't been first lady?  If she hadn't married Bill, would she have had her own political career and gotten to the point she's at?

My sense is that she's just a bit too wonky. She doesn't have the charisma that Bill has.  And charisma - a comfortableness with people, an ability to make others feel comfortable and to make them trust you - plays a big role in presidential elections.  

The heart makes the ultimate decision among candidates.

4.  What about Kasich?

For me, his second place finish among the Republicans was the big surprise.  Will he get some attention now that could move him up in future primaries?  Or will he be pulled back down in Southern states?   

Just some quick thoughts after the primary.  Interesting times.  


  1. And he has an 81-year old brother who lives in Oxford, England. Moved here back in 1968, it seems.

    1. There's lots, I'm sure we don't know about Sanders. I didn't know about his brother. This article gives a more info. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Even though Obama has accomplished a great deal as president, he still is despised by a huge portion of the population and of the political system, and I believe the root cause of that hatred is that he's black. If Hillary is elected she will be despised by lots of people (I suspect a great deal of overlap with the Obama haters) simply because she's a woman.

    In both cases, these people threaten the white patriarchy, which has never before been breached. Do not underestimate the desperation and fear and hatred that comes off these guys who have always ruled the system, and now don't. And it comes from all rungs of the ladder -- even the lowest of failures have always been able to feel superior to blacks and women, and now Obama and Hillary are rubbing their noses in it.

    So would Hillary do better if she weren't a woman? Maybe -- except that a lot of people will vote for her because of it, at the same time others will vote against her because of it. I guess we'll have to wait and see which bunch votes more.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Sounds pretty accurate to me.


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