Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bernie vs. Hillary

The time is on us again, dear reader! It is election time. Nothing makes me more tumescent than a closely fought, knock down, drag out presidential election. Let's dig in no the Democratic side!

As always, If you are too lazy to read this whole rant, check out TL;DR.

Tommy Carcetti

Tommy Carcetti got knocked out in the early going. I guess that hole in the school budget was too much for the voters to overlook. I realize that I lost have of you guys with that reference, so let me explain. (Skip ahead of you got it.) The Wire was the best show in the history of television. If you haven't seen it, shame on you. Tommy Carcetti gets elected mayor of the majority black city of Baltimore on a in Season 4. His platform is cleaning up the crime in that filthy shithole of a city. Carcetti was based largely on Martin O'Malley who went on to become governor of Maryland and ran a slightly successful campaign. "Slightly" in that his campaign was more successful than those of Lincoln Chafee, Lawrence Lessig, or Jim Webb. Speaking of Jim Webb, wasn't it bizarre when he talked about killing a man on national TV?

I liked Carcetti ... I mean O'Malley. Why? Well he had the best climate policy. His plan would have the US build a zero carbon emission grid by 2050. He kept bringing climate change up during the debates ... even when he wasn't asked. As we all know, climate change is the biggest threat to humanity, so it's kind of an important issue. Bernie and Hillary both have climate change policies that sound pretty good, but they talk more about financial regulation, healthcare, and jobs for the middle class. Don't get me wrong, those things are important, but climate change will cause flooding, droughts, storms, fires, mass extinctions, wars, and disease. Yes, that's right. The four horsemen of the apocalypse are coming riding a wave of coal-fired exhaust. Bernie's climate plan is better than Hillary's in that he advocates putting a price on carbon (maybe a carbon tax even), but he also wants to do away with nuclear power. Decommissioning carbon neutral power plants is crazy. Neither Bernie nor Hillary has talked about climate change as much as other issues. Reducing carbon emissions would have to wait in line behind other plans.


Bernie's vision of single payer healthcare is fantastic. He says it would say American families between $3K and $5K. Do his numbers add up? According to Politifact, maybe. He's likely overestimating cost savings and underestimating the necessary payroll taxes. His accounting neglects to consider that payroll taxes are paid by workers NOT by corporations (even if corporations write the checks, the money comes out of paychecks). I have a plan that would address a lot of these issues, but I don't get to be president.

There's another problem with Bernie's plan: implementation. We can't go 0-60 on healthcare. We have too many people working in insurance (approximately 600K). More importantly, there aren't enough doctors and nurses out there. Implementing a single payer plan overnight would be too disruptive. How about we phase it in?

Bernie also wants to let anyone in the US go to a public University for free. That's just a bad idea. Last I checked, public Universities offered art history and Latin and Dance. Taxpayers don't need to be paying for that kind of thing. How about a plan for subsidizing nursing and environmental engineering degrees-degrees in fields with under-supplied labor markets or which contribute positively to social well-being?

Bernie has a bunch of other grand plans. He wants to turn the U.S. into a democratic socialist paradise. Broadly, I support that. I've often advocated that the U.S. ought to see what other countries do well and follow suit.

Bernie wants to break up the biggest banks, but he won't give us details how.


She's boring. She's basically the same as any other politician (aside from being wicked smart with an incredible resume for the job of president). She takes money from the rich, from the finance industry, from other nasty people. She got paid LOTS of money to give speeches on Wall Street.

Hillary voted for the Iraq War in 2002. (Bernie voted against it.) This was disastrous. As we all know, Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction and the U.S. case for war was built on bad information, bad intentions, and outright lies. On the other hand, lots of people believed the case for war. 77 out of 100 Senators voted for it. 29 out of 50 Democratic Senators voted for it. The Bush Administration's case for war was fairly convincing. I wasn't convinced, but then I've never believed anything those lying pieces of shit have said.

Hillary's health care plan isn't single payer (which would eliminate a lot of overhead). Bernie's is broadly single payer (although he unwisely would allow states to administer much of the plan). Hillary would offer a few more tax incentives to help people to join the government health insurance exchanges-a pittance really. On balance, Bernie's health care plan is much better.

Despite what your liberal pundits tell you, raising the minimum wage will cause job losses. We still need to raise the minimum wage, but it would help lower skilled workers more to give them benefits aside from their pay so that their pay will stretch farther. For example, if a minimum wage worker doesn't have to pay for health insurance or childcare, that $7.25/hour might be able to cover rent and food. Bernie supports a $15 minimum wage nationwide. Hillary supports a $15 minimum wage with caveats-that it should be phased in gradually and not apply to areas of the country with lower costs of living. Hillary's plan would certainly cause fewer job losses.

The 2020 Election

But wait? Aren't I skipping ahead? What about the 2016 election? Sure. The 2016 election is happening right now, but the choices we make have implications for 2020 and to really understand those implications, we have to go back to the 2010 election.

The 2010 Election

The 2010 election came on the heels of the passage of the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare. Obama had swept change into office in 2008 and the democrats held majorities in the House and Senate allowing him to pass this landmark piece of legislation. Republicans and conservatives were raging pissed. Democrats and liberals were fat and happy. Republicans demolished Democrats in those elections. Republicans gained 63 seats in the House of Representatives and flipped that chamber. This was the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest midterm seat change since 1938. They also gained six seats in the Senate (seven if you include Scott Brown's victory in the special election to replace Ted Kennedy who had died earlier that year), nearly flipping that chamber. Twenty state house chambers flipped from Democratic to Republican control leaving Republicans in full control of 26 state legislatures.

Because of that strong performance in the 2010 state legislature races, Republicans controlled redistricting in 17 states and 173 congressional districts whereas Democrats controlled redistricting in only six states and 44 congressional districts. The Republicans pressed their advantage by gerrymandering those districts thus securing a huge electoral advantage. This gerrymandering has effectively disenfranchised the American electorate. Nor was this outcome happenstance or merely the end result of many different political efforts. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group founder in 2002 dedicated to electing Republicans to state offices put together a two stage plan: take over as many state-houses as possible, and redraw districts to favor Republicans. Because most states allow state legislatures to redraw their own districts, this is a self-perpetuating phenomenon. Republican state legislators have redrawn their own districts to their own benefit so that the next time districts are redrawn, they will have an even tighter control on the process. Of course, a huge prize, control of the House of Representatives hangs in the balance. In 2012, Democrat house contestants collected 1.4 million MORE votes than Republicans. Yet Republicans won 234 seats to Democrats' 201.

Needless to say, gerrymandering is a huge threat to fair and reasonable government.

The 2020 Election

Redistricting will occur again in 2021 following the 2020 election. This election is hugely important. Of course, we can't predict what will happen in the next four years. Most of us have little control of our state legislative races. Some may live in swing districts. But what about the Presidential race? Certainly, strong presidential candidates provide support for down ballot candidates of the same party (the Coattail Effect). There also exists a "negative coattail effect" whereby a weak candidate exerts negative influence on his party's other candidates.

We must elect state legislators in 2020 that will de-gerrymander the U.S. House districts and their own state legislative districts. No fuck that. Let's gerrymander the fuck out of them. Let's gerrymander them in favor of Democratic candidates. It may not be fair, but we know that Republicans will gerrymander those states where they have the advantage and the only way to combat that is for Democrats to gerrymander those states where they control the statehouses.

So Hillary or Bernie?

Barrack Obama ran on ambitious platform of "Hope and Change". He actually delivered A LOT including health care reform, multiple treaties on nuclear weapons and nuclear material, and oversaw the distribution of a huge federal stimulus that helped the U.S. recover from the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Still, he got remarkably little credit for it. During the election year of 2012, his approval ratings average below 50%. American voters were simply not satisfied.

Bernie promises a Kuhnian shift in politics. He says that he will break up big banks, enact single payer healthcare, raise minimum wage to $15 an hour, and provide a free college education to all who want it. A rainbow in every garage and a unicorn on every plate. Whatever you think of his platform, it ain't gonna happen. Congress won't pass all of it. They probably won't pass much. Bernie will probably generate more enthusiasm and turnout than Hillary and may end up working with a smaller Republican majority than she would, but the country is too far gerrymandered to win the house and the Democrats' chances at picking up the Senate are middling.

Fair or not, voters have refused to accept an obstructionist Congress as an excuse from Obama (not that he needs one) and they are unlikely to accept it from Bernie either. In 2020, Bernie will have to run on that excuse. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he can accomplish some meaningful yet incremental reforms, but that will be the limit. The revolution will not be televised because it won't happen.

Meanwhile, Hillary is running on a platform of pragmatism, incrementalism, and good government. It isn't clear to me whether she will be able to accomplish more or less than Bernie, but she has promised only incremental reform. Bernie is destined to fall short. Hillary might meet expectations.

Therefore, I endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States of America. I also think she is extremely intelligent, hardworking, personable, and incredibly experienced. I don't want to sell short her virtues, but I am endorsing Hillary because of Bernie's weakness: unrealistic promises and expectations.

But Hillary is such a ________

I have heard a lot of bad things said about Hillary. I chalk a lot of it up to sexism. For instance, she has been criticized for shouting or frowning even though Bernie shouts and frowns more than she does. I'll refer you to the Daily Kos for an interesting breakdown of Hillary criticisms, but I'll steal one infographic from the article. Both Hillary and Bernie are remarkably honest by political standards:

TL;DR Summary

  1. Republicans are evil and must be stopped
  2. Republicans maintain power through gerrymandering (unfair drawing of legislative districts)
  3. The next redistricting occurs in 2020
  4. The 2020 election is of outsized importance
  5. A strong Democratic candidate can help elect state legislators through the coattail effect
  6. Bernie Sanders makes unrealistic promises and has outlandish proposals
  7. Republicans will continue to control congress, so Bernie won't be able to deliver
  8. Hillary supports incrementalism. She might be able to deliver.
  9. Support Hillary!!!

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