HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Wednesday, June 08, 2016

 
A different kind of politics

by digby






















I wrote about Clinton's big win for Salon this morning:

Everyone said yesterday was historic. But if you tuned into the cable news networks all day and most of the early evening you would have assumed it was historic because Donald Trump had said something racist. This would be confusing if you've followed the campaign since Donald Trump says racist things virtually every day.  But he said something unusually racist recently which had the networks chasing Republican officials and operatives all day long asking them to disavow the racism.
But lo and behold despite the non-stop coverage of this exciting development, the historic moment was something else entirely. It turns out that for the first time in American history,  a woman was about to become the presumptive nominee for president. That Trump is a wily one. He managed to dominate the news cycle even on such a red-letter day.

The networks could be somewhat excused by the fact that the AP had already reported that Hillary Clinton had exceeded the number of delegates required to win the nomination the night before. They had been surveying super-delegates, the members of congress, ex-presidents and and local party officials who make up 20% of the delegates and are free to vote for whomever they choose, and found that she had gone over the top.  It was a case of premature electoral projection. But still, the real clinching number was understood to be when Clinton reached the magic number of a majority of pledged delegates, reflecting the will of the voters. And barring some very substantial polling errors, it was clear this was going to happen on the last big day of primaries when six states would cast their votes. For the most part the TV networks shrugged.

As it turns out however, after Trump gave his perfunctory teleprompter speech in which he said exactly what he always says but without the color and excitement, a strange thing began to happen. The pundits and the reporters all seemed to notice at the same time that Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination. And it seemed to dawn on them that it was an important moment worth noting. After all, it had never happened before. Ever.

For those of us of the female persuasion especially, this carries some emotional freight. Walking around in the world as a member of half the population with only 20% of the representation in government and 5% in the top jobs in business and a thousand other statistics that prove just how unequal you are in your own society feels ... strange.  Indeed, it's mind-boggling. So it means something to a lot of women that a democratic process can produce a woman president. It's bigger than just getting a job. It's getting a job by a vote of a majority of the people --- that's the kind of validation that has teeth.

But the truth is that voting women into office has a number of positive effects on our system that go beyond the symbolic.  According to this article by Matt Yglesias, when women are elected it tends to have a multiplying effect on other offices. Just the fact of having them there seems to inspire other women and perhaps more importantly, normalize the idea of it for everyone.  Apparently takes people actually seeing a woman perform a job traditionally held by men to prove they can do it.

But as important as that is, more women in high office has a direct impact on policy. According to the Washington Post:

For one, women are more likely than men to advocate for issues often associated with women’s interests — child care, women’s health, abortion, pay equity and the like. There are many studies, but see Michele Swers’s two books to start with. This shows up, for example, in in floor speeches and legislative debates, where women are more likely to discuss issues in terms of women’s interests. (Women are also more likely than men to give floor speeches, period.) [...]

Other research suggests that women may be more effective legislators than men. Craig Volden, Alan Wiseman and Dana Wittmer find that, within the minority party, women are able to get their sponsored bills further through the legislative process. Sarah Anzia and Christopher Berry have shown that women sponsor and co-sponsor more bills than men do, and deliver about 9 percent more funding to their districts.

It also happens that the more successful they are at getting their agenda passed, the more they are able to get men on board as well. Given the chance women are actually pretty good at politics.  And they are particularly effective at progressive governance. This would seem to be a good thing for the Democratic party.

And this brings us to Hillary Clinton herself. She has been a controversial figure since she first came on the national scene and offended everyone by using her maiden name and saying she could have baked cookies and had teas but decided to pursue her profession. During her stint as first lady she was considered by many, and not just Republicans, to be a far-left feminist whose radical ideas were leading poor Bubba astray.  It's must be somewhat jarring for her to now be considered a right wing hawk by many Democrats, but that's more a reflection of the pendulum swinging to the left than any change on her part. The truth is that she's always been a mainstream Democrat, little philosophically different than the dozens of mainstream male Democrats most of us have voted for for decades. 

Now she's the first woman presumptive nominee of the Democratic party and she's proved she's pretty good at politics too as this piece by Ezra Klein at Vox points out:

She has achieved something no one else in the history of American politics has even come close to doing, yet she is widely considered an inept, flawed candidate.

These two things are not unrelated.

Twice now we have thought that it should have been easy for Clinton to do what no one has ever done before. Twice now we have dismissed her as a weak candidate and a flawed leader for struggling to break a barrier that no one else has ever come near breaking.

America has hosted 56 presidential elections — 33 of them before women received the right to vote. Exactly zero of those elections featured a female nominee from one of the two major political parties.

Until Hillary Clinton.

There is something about Clinton that makes it hard to appreciate the magnitude of her achievement. Or perhaps there is something about us that makes it hard to appreciate the magnitude of her achievement.

Perhaps, in ways we still do not fully appreciate, the reason no one has ever broken the glass ceiling in American politics is because it's really fucking hard to break. Before Clinton, no one even came close.

Whether you like Clinton or hate her — and plenty of Americans hate her — it's time to admit that the reason Clinton was the one to break it is because Clinton is actually really good at politics.

She's just good at politics in a way we haven't learned to appreciate.

Klein goes on to observe that politics inherently favors male traits  because well, it's always been a man's game! And Clinton doesn't do particularly well at the big rally, strutting around, ginning up the crowd kind of politics. In fact, many people can't understand how she can possibly be winning unless she's cheating somehow. 

But she's winning too big for that. Before last night her winning margin in the popular vote was bigger than any Democratic presidential primary candidate in the last 30 years: 


And after last night that margin grew even bigger.  

So, what gives? How can someone who is supposedly so bad at all the things we think politicians have to be good at be winning like that? 

Klein proposes that she's using a different kind of politics. And she's very, very good at it:

[A]nother way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 523 governors of members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; 13 have endorsed Sanders.

This work is a grind — it's not big speeches, it doesn't come with wide applause, and it requires an emotional toughness most human beings can't summon.

But Clinton is arguably better at that than anyone in American politics today. In 2000, she won a Senate seat that meant serving amidst Republicans who had destroyed her health care bill and sought to impeach her husband. And she kept her head down, found common ground, and won them over...

And Clinton isn't just better — she's relentless. After losing to Barack Obama, she rebuilt those relationships, campaigning hard for him in the general, serving as his secretary of state, reaching out to longtime allies who had crushed her campaign by endorsing him over her.

That's not as sexy as Donald Trump landing in his gold plated 767, but it'll get 'er done. 

None of this is to say that Clinton is necessarily going to be a great president. We simply don't know that. She is, after all, a mainstream Democrat very similar to President Obama with all that that implies. She'll be under the same constraints and probably even more pressure from her left from people who were much more inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt. You never really know how someone is going to perform in that job until they do it. 

But as Klein says, it's time to show some respect for Clinton's political skills. Nobody gets where she is without them. It's just that her skills are different than the men who came before and we simply don't recognize them as skills. And maybe that's the only way a woman could have done it.

One thing is for sure, the Democrats need someone with political skill to ensure they beat Donald Trump. And maybe it's just lucky it's Clinton going up against him. He is a wild man who doesn't play by the rules but in her own way, neither does she. I'd bet on her skills over his animal instincts any day.