Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

Whither American Democracy: FDR-style reform, revolution or slide into populist dictatorship?

Three people, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, together own $248.5 billion which is as much wealth as 56% of Americans. This level of inequality is unsustainable and I often wonder when the American political system will implode. In other countries, other political parties would have arisen long ago to replace the Republicans and Democrats, but the rules of the US political system make it virtually impossible for an effective third party to come to the fore.

At this point, it is increasingly pointless to call the Republican Party a political party in the traditional sense. A party is supposed to represent the interests of a significant block of voters, but the Republican Party increasingly only represents a tiny percentage of Americans when it comes to economic issues. The new tax bill is a shameless give-away to rich donors, while raising taxes on households making under $75,000 or less over the next decade, raising the national deficit by $1.45 trillion, and taking away the health care of 13 million Americans. Basically it raises taxes by $4.5 trillion over the next decade on the lower and middle classes, in order to give $6 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthy, of which 62% of those tax cuts go to the top 1%. One analysis found that 71.6% of Americans would be worse off, while 5% would benefit from the bill. This is basically a tax bill which says let’s rob from society in general to give to those who already have too much.
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Can the US become a democracy that governs in the public interest?

At some point there is no longer any point in pretending that the US is a democracy. Yes, it has elections and institutions which take democratic forms, but for all practical purposes, the state no longer functions as a democracy, in the sense that elected officials and bureaucrats no longer create public policy which corresponds to the public interest.

Only 6% of Americans supported a bill passed by the US congress that allows internet service providers to sell people’s internet usage information to third parties without their consent. Basically, the US government ignored public opinion entirely when giving away the people’s right to internet privacy. Michael O’Rielly, Brendan Carr and Ajit Pai on the FCC just took away net neutrality, despite polls finding that 83% of Americans want to keep net neutrality. The FCC received 22 million comments from the public which were overwhelmingly against repealing net neutrality and the FCC commissioners decided to basically ignore the comments. A tax bill is currently being passed that raises taxes on households making less than $75,000 in order to give a $4.5 trillion tax cut to the wealthy and increase the national deficit by $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. 62% of the proposed tax cuts will go to the top 1%.
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Bernie Sanders can still win

I have been reading a lot of articles (1,2) in the mainstream press saying that Bernie Sanders can’t win  and I even encountered one saying that Bernie should drop out of the race for the sake of party unity, so that the Democrats can beat the Republicans in the general election. Frankly this argument is bullshit. First of all, Hillary has 1139 and Bernie has 825 pledged delegates, but they need 2838 delegates to win, so the race is hardly over. All the so-called “pundits” in the mainstream media are saying that there is no way that Bernie can win since he is 314 delegates behind Hillary.

Overcoming that difference in delegates will be very difficult, but by no means is the race already won. I calculate that Bernie has to win 55.6% of all remaining delegates to win, whereas Hillary has to win 44.4%. Looking at the remaining states in the race, it is very possible that Bernie can win 55.6% of all remaining votes. He will probably win Arizona, Idaho and Utah on March 22, Alaska, Hawaii and Washington on March 26, Wisconsin on April 5, Wyoming on April 9. If Bernie wins the next 8 primaries, he might have enough momentum at that point to convince New Yorkers on April 19 that he is a safe bet, despite its large minority population.

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Hillary Clinton “won” the Iowa Caucuses due to coin tosses

Correction: This article misunderstands how delegate selection works in Iowa, so Hillary Clinton didn’t win due to coin tosses, although they might have helped her slightly. See my comment below.

The 2016 Democratic Iowa Caucuses were so close that Hillary Clinton only managed to squeak to victory over Bernie Sanders due to lucky coin tosses. Sanders received 697 and Clinton received 701 state delegate equivalents (SDE), so Clinton tecnically won the caususes by 0.29%. However, the Des Moines Register reports that 6 of the state delegate equivalents were decided with coin tosses at precincts in Ames, in Des Moines, another precinct in Des Moinesin Newton, in West Branch  and in Davenport. All the coin tosses went in Clinton’s favor. The probability of winning 6 coin tosses in a row is 1 out of 64 (or 1.6%), so Clinton got incredibly lucky. Continue reading

The bias of the mainstream media against Bernie Sanders

The questions asked by political polls often reveal the interests of the media organizations which conduct the polls. The recent CNN/ORC International poll, which surveyed 1012 Americans about the US presidential race on September 4-8, 2015, shows the institutional bias of a mainstream news organization like CNN against Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The CNN/ORC International poll found that among Americans who intend to vote in the Democratic primary election for president, 37% support Hillary Clinton, 27% support Bernie Sanders and 20% support Joe Biden as their first choice. According to their own polling, Sanders’ support nationally has been surging in recent months, but has dropped slightly in the last month with news that Biden might enter the race.
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Legalized bribery in the US presidential race

Hillary Clinton has raised more money than any other candidate in the 2016 presidential race. Is Hillary Clinton corrupted by money? Sure. More corrupt than most of her other rivals for the presidency? I’m not sure. Her Republican rivals are even more overt in their pandering to wealthy donors than Hillary. (I am going to refer to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary” to distinguish her from her husband, which her campaign literature also does. Likewise, I will refer to Bernie Sanders as “Bernie,” because his campaign literature refers to him that way.) Hillary goes to a lot of fund raisers attended by millionaires, but hasn’t made special trips to beg funding from a single billionaire, like the Republican candidates have made pilgrimages to visit the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, etc. Nonetheless, I don’t doubt that Hillary would make such a trip if there were any billionaires willing to fund her campaign. She reportedly used to pander to Donald Trump when she was the senator from New York.

The fact of the matter is that American politics has become a form of legalized bribery. The Citizens United decision has made this bribery more overt, but that Supreme Court decision is just part of the growing venality of politics. A recent study which examined 1400 policies concluded that on the vast majority of issues, Washington passes legislation which favors the wealthy, regardless of whether it is favored by the majority of Americans or not. Continue reading

Bernie Sanders has a good shot at winning

Democratic party activists are all fired up about Bernie Sander’s campaign for the presidency, but many report that they are afraid to support him, because they believe that a ‘democratic socialist’ can’t win in a general election.

The latest CNN polls, however, show that Bernie Sanders has just as good of a shot as Hillary Clinton in beating the Republicans in 2016: Continue reading