Notes and Links on the Democratic Primaries

A round-up of some of the best things I’ve seen on the battle so far between Clinton and Sanders:

Gerald Friedman, What Would Sanders Do.  We have posted the research report by Friedman that is the basis of his two columns for us, What Would Sanders Do?, Part 1: The Dynamic Effects of Seven Sanders Initiatives, and What Would Sanders Do?, Part 2: Wages, Poverty, and Inequality. Soon we will post Friedman’s column for our March/April issue, “Bernie Sanders’s Health Care Revolution,” with the numbers behind Sanders’s “Improved Medicare for All.” We have already posted the research report behind that: Friedman Response to Thorpe. (Meanwhile, the Times mentioned Jerry Friedman in Left-Leaning Economists Question Cost of Bernie Sanders’s Plans, but didn’t bother to interview him. They seem to have scoured the universe for left critics of Sanders; as Lambert Strether of Naked Capitalism says, “When Jared Bernstein is at the far left, you know you’re looking at establishment stenography.” And I loved Matt Taibbi’s tweets about this article: “The hysterical concern over how to pay for Bernie’s plans is hilarious. Nobody worries about how we afford the F-35. Nor do we ask how we afford non-negotiated Medicare drugs, the Littoral Combat Ship, the carried interest tax break, or other idiocies.”)  And a reminder:  the whole point is that single-payer would cost less than the current system, and provide health care to many more people.

Holly Wood, The Village VoiceFeeling the Yern: Why One Millennial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell than Vote for Hillary. A hilarious riposte to Madeleine Albright’s “there’s a special place in Hell” remark. Best parts: “Capitalism, as Vonnegut explained, is ‘what the people with all our money, drunk or sober, sane or insane, decided to do today.” And: “there’s a special place in Hell for war criminals who launch hedge funds.”

Bhaskar Sunkara, Aljazeera America: Enter the Sanders Democrat:
Whether or not he defeats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders has awakened a powerful new constituency. Excellent analysis from the founding editor of Jacobin.

Benjamin Studebaker, at his blog, Why Bernie vs Hillary Matters More Than People Think (also at HuffPo). A great blog post that has a bigger historical perspective, with some economics.

Benjamin Studebaker, at his blog, Why Bernie Sanders Is More Electable than People Think.  A follow-up, also very good.

Jeff Spross, The Week: How class could eventually remake the Democratic Party. Similar to Sunkara’s article.

Jedediah Purdy, Huffington Post: Dismissing Sanders: Democratic Condescension and the Mythic Political Grown-up.  Takes on Paul Krugman and the New Yorker‘s Alexandra Schwartz.

Thomas Piketty in the Guardian (originally in Le Monde): Thomas Piketty on the rise of Bernie Sanders: the US enters a new political era.  More recent than the others; similar points.

Greenmountainboy, Daily Kos, Crossover Appeal: Bernie Sanders Wins 2,095 Write In Votes in Republican Primary – Washington Post.  The WashPo article is Bernie Sanders won 2,095 votes in the New Hampshire Republican primary; the headline sums it up. Find the official NH results from the Secretary of State here (for the Republican side) and here (for the Democrat side).  This on top of his having gotten more NH primary votes than any candidate in either party ever, and having won by a larger margin, than in any contested NH primary in either party in history.

I agree that the votes he got in the Republican primary is a good sign for Sanders’s crossover appeal (about four times as many as Clinton got, by the way).  But as someone who lives in NH and who canvassed for Sanders here, I don’t think it is quite as good a sign as some people are making it out to be.  As most people know, NH is an “open primary” state, which means that you don’t have to be a party member to vote in a party’s primary. But I think most people don’t know the mechanics of how it works here:  you can only vote in (e.g.) the Democratic Party’s primary if, when you walk into the polls, you are registered as a Democrat or if you are unaffiliated, in which case, on the day of voting, you can switch your registration to Democrat. If you walk into the polls registered as a Republican, you can only vote in the Republican primary. (I think you can switch your affiliation up to two weeks before the primary.)  Also, many NH voters strategically switch their party affiliation (switching it back to “unaffiliated” or to the other party after they vote) depending on where they think they can have a meaningful impact. But some people forget to switch their affiliation back. Given all this, I think it’s likely that many of the people who wrote in Sanders (or Clinton) in the Republican primary may have been Democratic-leaning unaffiliated voters, or even people who are “really” Democrats (i.e., that’s where their heart is and they are usually registered as Democrats), but who had forgotten to switch their affiliation back after some previous election.  Still, I think it’s true that there’s great crossover appeal for Sanders among Republicans.  Evidence: a relative of mine, who is normally a registered Republican and went into the primary intending to vote for Chris Christie, discovered when she walked in that she was still registered as a Democrat from some previous election. So she voted for Bernie. (Don’t ask me how she can support both Christie and Bernie, but I still think it’s a good sign for Bernie that there are people like this out there.)

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 Greek referendum 2015: demonstration for voting NO at Syntagma square, Athens Greece.  Wikimedia Commons, author Ggia,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Greek referendum 2015: demonstration for voting NO at Syntagma square, Athens Greece. Wikimedia Commons, author Ggia, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.