Bernie Sanders

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Republicans, Democrats Make Grand Bargains

Convention ballonons
The balloon drop is a staple of both Republican and Democratic conventions. /Hillary Clinton-Facebook

The Republican and Democratic conventions have wrapped up. Delegates have returned home, balloons have been burst, the convention centers have returned to normal. Where do we go from here?

That was a question that Dr. Martin Luther King asked in a 1967 speech about the state of black America, and it is apropos for the nation’s major political parties and the presidential elections.

What do we make of an election in which the candidates Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are the most disliked presidential candidates in modern American history?

Here’s what it means: The political parties have entered into a grand bargain based on different calculations about each candidate.

Republicans

For the Republicans the grand bargain is to accept Trump, who after all is the last man standing of 17 primary candidates, in order to gain back the White House after eight years. Ethics, conservative principles and downright decency be damned.

And there has been a lot of indecency lately, as Trump refuses to become presidential. Republicans know that Trump is a big risk: He is the least qualified presidential candidate –and certainly least qualified Republican presidential candidate – in recent times. He makes people long for the days of Mitt Romney. There is no papering over Trump’s lack of political or governing experience. His authoritarianism. His lack of ideas. His flirting with white supremacy to draw the aggrieved nonHispanic white vote.

But Republicans – at least until this week – thought the risk can be contained. Once in the White House, Trump would be surrounded by advisors, expert staff and others in the administration to, at the very least, limit – and likely suppress – any damaging news, or so the thinking goes. The continuing drumbeat of Trump inanities is putting that bargain to a severe test.

One of the least reported bits of the GOP convention was Trump’s camp reported talk with Ohio Gov. John Kasich about the vice presidential post, including full control of domestic and foreign policy. What would that leave Trump? According to reports, Trump would “make America great again.”

The Republicans did a better job than Democrats of squelching dissent on the convention floor, only to have Ted Cruz diss Trump before a primetime audience, momentarily snatching the headlines away from Trump on the eve of his acceptance speech. “Vote your conscience,” he said. Strong words that are beginning to haunt the GOP.

Because, of course, Trump cannot be muffled. He must be the center of attention. He must unload what’s on his mind. His comments about Khizr Khan, the (truly aggrieved) father of Humayun, an Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, who gave one of the best speeches of the Democratic convention, is a very low bar. Trump is the risk that keeps on giving.

Democrats

And what of the Democrats?

They have a grand bargain of their own going on. Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats allowed Bernie Sanders‘ followers to vent (sort of) following the dump of Democratic National Committee emails involving chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s apparent favoring of Hillary Clinton.

(This is no great secret. Political parties do this behind the scenes all the time while maintaining their public “neutrality.” Think of the Florida Democratic Party’s “favoring” of Charlie Crist over Nan Rich in the 2014 gubernatorial elections, although Rich – unlike Crist – was a lifelong Democrat. It’s just as likely that the Republican National Committee was all in for Jeb Bush. And who knows what they’re cooking up now, after Trump’s septimana horribilis.)

But unlike the Republicans, the Democrats ended with a grand finale after a raucous first night. Clinton glowed in the moment.

She may possess a lifetime of political experience, be well prepared, be much more knowledgeable about the issues, be a major player on the world stage and the first female presidential candidate of a major political party, but she presents a risk of her own. There is something about Hillary that is unknowable.

Will a Hillary presidency mean a return to the scandals of the Clinton years? Has Hillary learned lessons from Whitewater, Bill Clinton‘s impeachment, the email server? Is the past prologue? Hard to tell.

Democrats tried mightily to round out Hillary’s square corners by nearly presenting her as candidate for Mother in Chief. But questions still remain. That’s the Democratic grand bargain: They get another “first” – this time a woman – after the election of the nation’s first black president. They are betting on Hillary in the hope she has learned from her past mistakes. And they get to keep the White House four more years. But will it be only four years?

As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his speech, “This is where we are. Where do we go from here?”

Wrapping Up the Democratic National Convention

Clinton and Kaine
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on the last night of the Democratic National Convention. /photo courtesy Hillary Clinton-Facebook

Here, in order, are  my comments about the Democratic National Convention published in the Orlando Sentinel‘s online Daily Convention Edition. Each day the writers who comprise the Central Florida 100 answered the questions who won, who lost and added a quote or tweet of the day.

In another post I’ll analyze more closely the Democratic National Convention.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Day One

Who won? Bernie Sanders won the night followed closely by Michelle Obama.

One moment Sanders can come off as a sap and another moment a superhero. “The revolution will continue” past Election Day, he said to great applause, a reflection of the affection his supporters have for him. But Sanders continued his speech as if he were at a campaign rally, as if he hadn’t lost the primary campaign — which is exactly what his supporters wanted to hear. He eventually and sporadically pivoted to Hillary Clinton.

Sanders was clearly glorying in his moment, talking of future generations, as did Michelle Obama, who mentioned by name only Hillary Clinton and took several swipes at Donald Trump, including the Republican’s penchant for reducing policy and politics to 142 characters. Michelle Obama rarely disappoints, delivering good speeches during previous conventions and Democrats clearly love her.

Who lost? Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was booed and booted in a spectacular loss of power and prestige that was a long time coming. Wasserman-Schultz is a bulldog, and attack dogs make enemies. Lots of them. Attorney John Morgan, with whom she had a run-in over medical marijuana, did a happy dance on Twitter at her fall. It is surprising Wasserman-Schultz lasted as long as she did as Democratic National Committee chair. The Demos should have taken seriously Bernie Sanders’ earlier advice to ditch her, which would have avoided the pre-convention mess. For a split second, the convention threatened to become unglued, but miraculously quieted down as the night progressed.

Quote of the day “@DWStweets are you still against #MedicalMarijuana? Clinton and Trump aren’t. Nor is your opponent @Tim_Canova! #YesOn2″ — Attorney John Morgan.

Read what others had to say: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/central-florida-100/os-a-big-hunk-of-bernie-love-as-dnc-chair-booed-booted-cf100-convention-watch-20160725-htmlstory.html

Day Two

Who won? Hillary Clinton won the night as the first woman to be the presidential nominee of a major political party. The moment harked back to 1984, when Minnesota Democrat Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro — also representing New York, by the way — as his VP on the ticket. It was a big deal then as now, except the silliness of 1984 — will Mondale and Ferraro hold hands? Yes, that was a real concern, believe it or not — has been replaced with gravitas.

The nomination process also got a boost as each state voted during the roll call, making it clear to Bernie Sanders’ supporters that Clinton won not only the popular vote but also the delegate vote. Sanders was classy in defeat. The Mothers of the Movement were powerful in their testimony, reminding all that it’s not about politics it’s about pain. The Man from Hope, Bill Clinton, spoke of a lifetime of memories, a former president supporting a potential future president and they happen to be spouses. Historic.

Who lost? Bill Clinton’s health. His hands trembled throughout his speech, raising questions about whether he’s OK. And time was a loser, because Bill Clinton’s speech ran a tad longer — about 43 minutes total — than it should have, a perennial problem. At one point, he even glanced down at his watch.

Read what others had to say: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-bernie-goes-all-in-spouse-in-chief-bill-laudss-his-change-agent-20160726-htmlstory.html

Day Three

Who won? Face it: President Barack Obama was the star of the night. Democrats love him. Everybody else was just a warm-up act, except maybe Vice President Biden, whose regular Joe persona had just the right touch of anger and exasperation. Obama was generous in his praise, stating there has never been anybody more qualified for president than Hillary Clinton. He said of Donald Trump, “The choice isn’t even close.” Obama is still seeking “a more perfect union,” which is what got him elected president. He didn’t have to say much else. Meanwhile, it seemed to take a while for vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine to warm up. Then he hit his stride with “believe me” and “not one word.” Artists with celebrity power provided a kumbaya moment, singing “What the world needs now.”

Who lost? In a spectacular stumble, Donald Trump, always eager to grab a headline, asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails, probably the first time a presidential candidate has invited a foreign power to commit a crime against the U.S. and interfere in a domestic election. It doesn’t get any worse than that. On another note, not sure if Tim Kaine is Hispandering by speaking Spanish — unless he speaks Spanish on a regular basis. Felt bad for former CIA chief Leon Panetta who was hit with the chant, “No more war!” But that’s the way it goes.

Quote of the day: How about word of the day? That would be “malarkey.”

Read what others had to say: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/central-florida-100/os-pride-passion-and-party-no-malarkey-prose-cons-and-dems-in-philadelphia-20160728-htmlstory.html

Final Night

Who won? Hillary Clinton, of course, is the first woman to be the presidential candidate of a major political party. It was her night. Period. I must add that the eloquence of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, is a hard act to follow. Hillary campaigns and, if elected, will govern in prose. But hand it to the woman, she’s got plans — lots of them! — and appeared to be having fun.

In an attempt to round out Hillary’s edges, it appeared she also might be running for Mother in Chief.

The Democratic Party won because it would have nominated a black man and a woman in succession for the presidency. Yes, these things matter. It’s 2016, after all. And because Donald Trump’s and the Republican Party’s vision is so dark, the Democratic Party has become the party of “morning in America” versus “midnight in America.”

America won because it is one of the few industrialized nations that has never had a woman nominated or elected to the highest office of the land. Cultural diversity won because America in all its varied hues was present in Philadelphia, a refreshing counter to the disproportionately white delegation of the Republican convention.

Celebrities won because the A-list was out in full force at the convention. It was fun but, seriously, people shouldn’t base their vote on celebrityhood.

Who lost? Chaos lost because, after it threatened to upend the convention on its very first day, it slinked away after it was allowed to vent. Its presence and absence made the convention stronger. The Republican Party because the Democrats put on a better convention with ideas.

In some ways political conventions lose because they really are long, carefully calibrated infomercials, not always short on substance but focused on glossed-over substance. Daily life lost out to our attachment to convention viewing. And now back to reality.

Quote of the day: “We are called upon by our democracy to be the moral defibrillators of our time.” Rev. William Barber, president, NAACP of North Carolina

Read what others had to say: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/os-hillary-for-mom-in-chief-smoothing-her-rough-edges-20160728-htmlstory.html

Sanders Opens Puerto Rico Campaign

Franceschini - PR - Sanders
Betsy Franceschini, regional Hispanic outreach director for Bernie Sanders, makes a TV appearance in Puerto Rico. / Franceschini Facebook photo

When Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stumped for votes in Florida ahead of the March 15 presidential primary, he knew he could not – would not – possibly win the Sunshine State.

Sanders was significantly behind in the polls. But he particularly went after the Puerto Rican vote, a constituency that’s beginning to make a decisive difference at the polls. A week before the primary, Sanders named local community organizer Betsy Franceschini as his regional director for Hispanic outreach. Franceschini, well known among Orlando-area Puerto Rican, at the time was the Florida regional director for the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) office in Kissimmee.

Why would Sanders make such a mad play for Central Florida’s Puerto Rican vote so late in the game?  He couldn’t catch up to Clinton, ultimately losing 33.3 percent to 64.4 percent in a Clinton landslide.

But Sanders wasn’t making a last-minute appeal to Puerto Rican primary voters here. He was tentatively approaching Puerto Rican voters there – on the island, where the Democratic primary isn’t scheduled until June 5.

Islanders cannot vote in the November presidential election but they do play a key role in the primaries, in which the island’s 67 Democratic delegates, including seven super delegates, are up for grabs – more than in Iowa (44), New Hampshire (24), South Carolina (53), Nevada (35) and Colorado (66), to name a few.  That’s a rich cache for the Democratic underdog.

This week Franceschini is unrolling Sanders media campaign, visiting island TV and radio stations two months in advance of the Puerto Rico vote in an open primary. According to Puerto Rico’s Noticel, about 250 people turned out for a Sanders meeting in Old San Juan.

“There hasn’t been a presidential candidate who has presented such a comprehensive and profound [commitment] to Puerto Rico,” Franceschini is quoted as saying in the story, referring to Sanders’ opposition to a proposed financial control board as part of a congressional debt relief package. Franceschini called for volunteers to create Sanders’ committees in every island precinct.

Puerto Rico is facing an economic crisis, on the hook for $72 billion in debt.

Clinton, meanwhile, is popular among island Democrats. In the 2008 Democratic primary, Clinton won 68 percent to Barack Obama’s 32 percent. She’s substantially ahead in the delegate count with a total of 1,712 (including super delegates), compared with Sanders’ 1,011.

In Puerto Rico, Clinton has earned soft pledges from three of seven super delegates, according to the political website Greenpapers.com

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor