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Old 03-06-2020, 09:22 PM
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Why is the 'safe' candidate considered more electable?


Mondale, Dukkakis, Gore, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton were all considered to be the 'safe', 'moderate' choice and all lost their elections. The only two Democrats who've actually won a presidential race were considered the unsafe choice; there was certainly a lot of talk from non-Obama fans about how risky of a candidate he was (first black president, after all), and Bill Clinton got the nomination basically because none of the big names wanted to go up an incumbent with bold military victory in his record (Bush Sr looked hard to beat). So why do people talk as though running a fairly bland, safe, establishment-friendly candidate is likely to win an election for the Democrats? It failed miserably in 2016, and also in 2004, 2000, 1988, and 1980, but people on here seem to insist that 'electability' in the form of being pretty middle of the road and liked by 'traditional backers' is the key to victory.

There doesn't seem to be any actual data supporting the claim that Biden is highly electable. Putting aside his personal flaws and vulnerabilities ('Hunter Biden' is a name I expect to hear any time Trump's corruption is mentioned), it seems like he's the kind of safe Democrat that loses elections. What victories am I overlooking, or what other data is there?
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:29 PM
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No offense, but Bernie supporters simply don't effing get it when we talk about electability.

You say there's no data about electability. You're wrong: there's tens of millions of data points. They're called elections - not polls, but elections.

Bill Clinton became "electable" because he won elections.

Barack Obama was unelectable - until he won elections.

It's winning elections that counts.

I pointed this out to you all in 2016 and I'll say it again: Barack Obama was the black guy with the funny name - until he started beating Hillary Clinton in race after race. Bernie Sanders hasn't done that. And until he does, his supporters need to start eating some humble fucking pie and shut the fuck up.

Winning elections takes care of a lot of problems. The problem for Bernie Bros is...their guy ain't winning elections. And stop blaming the DNC. They bent over backwards to accommodate his cranky old whining ass this time.
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:41 PM
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It's kinda hard to tell. Is the OP focused on Democrats only? McCain was safe, but Palin was unsafe - they lost. Romney/Ryan I think were safe - they lost. To the point, after those two losses, the Republicans figured they were running candidates that were too safe, so they went with Trump in 2016 (who won no elections before that one - even less than Sanders). An argument could be made that the Democrats should take a cue and select the unsafe candidate further from center just like the GOP did last time - it worked for them.
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Old 03-06-2020, 09:50 PM
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Dukakis was the liberal choice. He wasn't as liberal as Jesse Jackson, but he was far more liberal than Gephart and Gore. Mondale infamously ran on raising taxes! Gary Hart tore into Mondale for being an old Great Society Democrat and not a moderate new Democrat.

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Old 03-06-2020, 09:55 PM
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Being perceived as a moderate is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being elected president. We could quibble over whether this or that candidate is a moderate or not, but what is important is what people perceive.

Further, elections are won in the middle. Your side may positively HATE the Republican nominee while our side my positively HATE the Dem nominee, but our votes don't elect a president. Those in the middle do.

Those people are generally happy with their lives. They get up, eat breakfast, drive to work, eat lunch, finish work, come home, eat dinner, have three beers while watching the History Channel, go to bed and do it all again the next day. They take one or two vacations a year depending on their income level. They have kids and families and as I said, are generally happy. Like all of us they have complaints here or there.

But what they don't want is upheaval in the system. You want to raise taxes on the rich or add people to health care, sure, that's fine. Most of them probably aren't reading that much about it. You want to cut taxes and privitize part of social security. Sure. that's fine. Most of them probably aren't reading that much about it. You want legal abortion? Fine, no problem. Want to make it illegal? Fine, no problem.

Being moderate is a prerequisite because these swing voters do not want radical change. But that's not to say that any idiot so long as he or she is a moderate is guaranteed to get elected. Almost all elections have the winner as the candidate you would most like to have a beer with, or someone who is charismatic, or tall, or has some other characteristic. B. Clinton and Obama had that while Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and H. Clinton did not. Although Gore and H. Clinton did win the popular vote and Kerry was almost a tie. So you are talking about the last 5 of the Dem candidates doing very, very well and the last one who got spanked was 32 years ago. You are doing something right.

How you conclude from this that Bernie is the way to go (which I think you are saying) is beyond me.
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:27 PM
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Being perceived as a moderate is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being elected president. We could quibble over whether this or that candidate is a moderate or not, but what is important is what people perceive.

Further, elections are won in the middle. Your side may positively HATE the Republican nominee while our side my positively HATE the Dem nominee, but our votes don't elect a president. Those in the middle do.

Those people are generally happy with their lives. They get up, eat breakfast, drive to work, eat lunch, finish work, come home, eat dinner, have three beers while watching the History Channel, go to bed and do it all again the next day. They take one or two vacations a year depending on their income level. They have kids and families and as I said, are generally happy. Like all of us they have complaints here or there.

But what they don't want is upheaval in the system. You want to raise taxes on the rich or add people to health care, sure, that's fine. Most of them probably aren't reading that much about it. You want to cut taxes and privitize part of social security. Sure. that's fine. Most of them probably aren't reading that much about it. You want legal abortion? Fine, no problem. Want to make it illegal? Fine, no problem.

Being moderate is a prerequisite because these swing voters do not want radical change. But that's not to say that any idiot so long as he or she is a moderate is guaranteed to get elected. Almost all elections have the winner as the candidate you would most like to have a beer with, or someone who is charismatic, or tall, or has some other characteristic. B. Clinton and Obama had that while Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and H. Clinton did not. Although Gore and H. Clinton did win the popular vote and Kerry was almost a tie. So you are talking about the last 5 of the Dem candidates doing very, very well and the last one who got spanked was 32 years ago. You are doing something right.

How you conclude from this that Bernie is the way to go (which I think you are saying) is beyond me.
What is your cite for these middle voters being so content and unruffled? You seem to think that voters who identify as "moderate" are centrists, and then assume that as centrists, they're living the American Dream, satisfied with their lives and lot. That, in fact, is not the case.

Quote:
The average moderate in the Voter Study Group data is solidly center-left on both economic and immigration issues. ...

Consider the typical ideology survey question, which gives respondents three options: liberal, moderate or conservative. A voter who identifies as neither liberal nor conservative has only one other option: moderate. And moderate sounds like a good thing. Isn’t moderation a virtue?

As the political scientists Donald Kinder and Nathan Kalmoe put it, after looking at five decades of public opinion research, “the moderate category seems less an ideological destination than a refuge for the innocent and the confused.”8 Similarly, political scientist David Broockman has also written about the meaninglessness of the “moderate” label, particularly as a predictor of centrism.
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:30 PM
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Mondale and Dukakis were not moderate.

They were left wing.

Electable does not mean moderate.
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:44 PM
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If we accept the premise that all the losers were "safe" and the winners "not safe"--

then it's important to recognize that "safety" is not about ideology. As some have pointed out, Mondale was pretty darn liberal, and Dukakis was too--so liberal he lost a gubernatorial election as a Democrat in Massachusetts. B Clinton was not particularly far to the left. Obama may or may not have been but there wasn't a dime's worth of ideological difference between him and H Clinton.

So "moderate" is a red herring. I think it may be more accurate to say that B Clinton and Obama were "not safe" candidates because they didn't have much experience--Obama a first term senator, Clinton a small-state governor, which compared to Mondale or Gore or Kerry seems kind of picayune. OTOH, Dukakis wasn't any better qualified than Clinton--no national experience, voted out of office once. So it's not quite as simple as nominate-the-person-with-the-fewest-political-accomplishments either (in which case, if it were true, the correct answer would be to nominate Buttigieg or I guess maybe Bloomberg or Yang).

There's also the issue that both Gore and Hillary Clinton won more popular votes than their opponents--it's a pretty far cry from Dukakis or Mondale.

It's tempting to draw lines among former candidates--the more charismatic person always wins! the less moderate person always wins! the more experienced person always loses!--but it does seem to me that a lot of these are attempts to make the facts fit a narrative rather than the other way around.

(If you want a rather silly one that does hold up, try this: in the last eight presidential elections, the Democrat has won the popular vote six times--and came from Massachusetts the other two. Good thing Elizabeth Warren didn't get nominated this time around, huh? )
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:51 PM
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I pointed this out to you all in 2016 and I'll say it again: Barack Obama was the black guy with the funny name - until he started beating Hillary Clinton in race after race. Bernie Sanders hasn't done that. And until he does, his supporters need to start eating some humble fucking pie and shut the fuck up.

Winning elections takes care of a lot of problems. The problem for Bernie Bros is...their guy ain't winning elections. And stop blaming the DNC. They bent over backwards to accommodate his cranky old whining ass this time.
By definition whoever wins the primary is going to have to win a bunch of elections.

The question would be why is there a perception that the Democrats are more likley to win the general when they nominate moderates. I think moderate candidates are better with all other things being equal, but is much less important than other factors.

I do happen to agree that primary or general elections both test the main electability problem candidates have in the US, which is personality.
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Old 03-06-2020, 10:58 PM
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By definition whoever wins the primary is going to have to win a bunch of elections.

The question would be why is there a perception that the Democrats are more likley to win the general when they nominate moderates. I think moderate candidates are better with all other things being equal, but is much less important than other factors.

I do happen to agree that primary or general elections both test the main electability problem candidates have in the US, which is personality.
Voters aren't thinking "Oh, I would love Bernie-care but I want a moderate instead."

They genuinely aren't as progressive as Bernie-crats they think are.

Let that sink in.

Please.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:04 PM
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Voters aren't thinking "Oh, I would love Bernie-care but I want a moderate instead."

They genuinely aren't as progressive as Bernie-crats they think are.

Let that sink in.

Please.
No, most voters just vote over matters other than issues. Electability is about personality and perceived authenticity before anything else. The Dem primary is much more issue focused that the general, but even then issues aren't actually all that important.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:27 PM
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Trump won by first winning the primary by being the first to stumble across the fact that in the new media environment, you could get away with being a lying asshole as long as you were saying things that people wanted to hear. This allowed him to distinguish himself in a large field. Since many of the Republican primaries were winner take all, all he needed was a plurality to coast to victory.

Once he was the nominee he had a party that marched in lock step to back him up and right wing media propaganda machine to back up his lies as gospel Truth. Meanwhile he faced a disgruntled Democratic party who had held the white house for 8 years but whose progressive agenda had been blocked by unprecedented obstruction in congress. Furthermore complacency set in since everyone knew that Trump couldn't possibly win, so why protest the lack of progress by staying home*.

If Bernie is going to duplicate Trumps success, he will need to base his campaign around lies and hatred (presumably picking class war over race war), win the primary (doesn't seem to be happening) and then have a fiercely united party (nope, just ask will rogers) complete with media empire behind him and a guillable population primed to hear the lies (also not happening).

Trump's is unpopular. His approval rating is locked in at 40-45%. The key to beating him is to make sure that most people hate Trump more than they Democratic candidate, and that everyone who fits this category actually votes for their preference rather than staying home out of spite. Now although they might not admit it, I am pretty sure that pretty much everyone who prefers Bernie over Biden, deep down realizes that Biden is better than Trump. However there are those people in the middle (independents and even some moderate Republicans) who may not like Trump but are even more scared of Sanders. These are the sort of people who are going to decide the election.



*Some how there seems to be the popular idea that the best way to get your agenda enacted is to not vote, when in fact that is the best way to get people to ignore you. Just ask the homeless.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:32 PM
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Voters aren't thinking "Oh, I would love Bernie-care but I want a moderate instead."

They genuinely aren't as progressive as Bernie-crats they think are.

Let that sink in.

Please.
That's a big part of it. The whole point of something being a centrist position is that it's defined as a position held by a lot of people. A politician who expresses the beliefs held by a lot of people is going to get more votes than a politician who expresses the beliefs held by fewer people. It's a pretty simple concept.

It's not everything. Sometimes a candidate who expresses all of the most popular beliefs might lose voter support because of some personality issues. But ideology is a huge factor. If the voters were yearning for a Socialist or a Libertarian President, they would be voting for those candidates. They're not so they don't.
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Old 03-06-2020, 11:45 PM
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This would be a really interesting discussion if it weren't Sanders vs Biden.

Why is Biden considered safe and electable on his own merits, without considering the electability of his rivals? He doesn't seem particularly charismatic to me, or someone I'd want to have a beer with.

The main argument I can come up with is that he's a Washington insider, and hasn't brought disaster: sort of an anti-Trump. So "safe" in terms of "won't burn down the house if you leave him in charge," but not "safe" in the terms of "everyone will reliably vote for him."

As far as I can tell, both the pro-Biden and pro-Sanders camps are... a bit divorced from reality as far as their assessments of electability goes. I prefer Sanders's policies, but I'm under no illusion that the majority of America would.

Then again, Trump was clearly electable, so what do I know?
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Old 03-07-2020, 01:13 AM
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Setting aside Trump, radical candidates for President, going all the way back to Wm. J. Bryan, have consistently failed to get elected. Goldwater and McGovern lost in landslides. Perhaps FDR and Reagan seem like exceptions, but both of these had been Governors of large states and were first elected at a time of great economic crisis.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:39 PM
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"Biden 2020: Let's try to avoid disaster...Again!"
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Old 03-07-2020, 01:11 PM
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I think it's true in this election because Hillary lost quite a number of states by very small margins, so if you can get someone like Hillary but without her baggage, and combine it with 4 years of Trump being Trump, the chances of swinging those votes is quite high. Whereas with Sanders, you have to be making the less likely bet that there will be more people enthused by his change than will be put off by the more-accurate-than-usual-label of socialism.

It would be a different story if there were fewer very swingy states. We might need to bank on the Bernthusiasm rather than trump fatigue.
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:41 PM
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What is your cite for these middle voters being so content and unruffled? You seem to think that voters who identify as "moderate" are centrists, and then assume that as centrists, they're living the American Dream, satisfied with their lives and lot. That, in fact, is not the case.
My cite is their actions. They can call themselves Middlers for all I care, but we know that if they were conservative they would already be in the Trump camp and if they were liberals they would already be in the Biden/Bernie camp. Whatever we call the undecideds, they are not firebrand conservatives or liberals.

And we either know that they are content, can assume that they are content, or discard their unhappiness (for electoral purposes) because by their historical collective behavior in presidential elections they have shown that they consistently: 1) reject radicals on both sides, and 2) end up siding with the person who is most charismatic or relatable.

We have seen politicians of all stripes fall into the trap that there is this underlying current of resentment of the current system ready to rise up and deliver a revolutionary verdict. Newt Gingrich is an excellent example of this. Because in 1994, the GOP voters showed up because of a general unhappiness with a complacent congress, he took that to mean that Americans are mostly conservative Republicans wanting to dismantle any form of government, except the military, established since the New Deal. It was a mistaken proposition and Clinton beat him (through Dole) pretty easily.

Anyone who says that Dole lost because he wasn't a right wing firebrand is delusional. Some Republicans say that McCain and Romney lost because they were RINOs. Well, if the swing voters voted for a Democrat, then they would certainly vote for a RINO.

Each election is sui generis, but those things have been consistent since FDR. For Bernie, or any candidate, to say that this election is different and that people are looking for a radical change is swimming against history and should show some compelling data to support that. And so far, the data shows otherwise.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:18 PM
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Why is Biden considered safe and electable on his own merits, without considering the electability of his rivals? He doesn't seem particularly charismatic to me, or someone I'd want to have a beer with.
Charisma and who you want to drink beer with are not matters of political ideology.

Biden is a moderate Democrat. Sanders is a left-wing Democrats. So Biden is closer to the center of the Bell Curve of American voters. That makes him more electable and being more electable makes him safer.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:29 PM
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Perhaps FDR and Reagan seem like exceptions, but both of these had been Governors of large states and were first elected at a time of great economic crisis.
I agree with you about Roosevelt. In normal times, Hoover might have beat him but 1932 was not a normal time. The voters were looking for radical change and Hoover was offering them more of what they had.

I don't feel the same was true in 1980. There was a recession in 1980 but it wasn't a crisis like the Great Depression (and people often forget that the recession continued well into Reagan's first term). I think the key factor in Reagan's election was foreign affairs. People were scared by the situations in Iran and Afghanistan and Reagan was offering them simple solutions and reassurance.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:36 PM
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Reagans win was not just a wish of the people for a far right candidate. It was a result of a lot of groundwork of the far right dominionist forces in the US.

Notice that the win at all costs ethos transferred from nixon to Reagan. It didn't seem like an eisenhower or even a Bush thing.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:45 PM
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Mondale and Dukakis were not moderate.

They were left wing.

Electable does not mean moderate.
And yet, both Mondale and Dukakis lost.

I agree with much of what Sanders says but I'm not convinced that he's explaining his goals like he should. For instance, the most common objection to UHC seems to be that we can't afford it, and that new taxes would have to be imposed to pay for it. With a lot of people, you can shut down the debate by saying that. The truth is that the money is already there, it's just that a huge part of it isn't going to actual medical care. AFAIK Sanders doesn't point this out, which makes UHC seem like a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream.

It's hard to go into nuts-and-bolts details when (a) most people can't handle more than a 30-second soundbite, and (b) even Bernie Sanders probably has some supporters that such ideas might threaten.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:04 PM
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Another point worth mentioning is that Trump is an INCREDIBLY divisive and unpopular president. So all that is needed to beat him (the theory goes) is someone who isn't going to scare away the people in the middle. Someone who every one of the 60% of Americans who don't like Trump will be willing to, if not excited to, vote for. Which is presumably someone calm and boring. Contrast that with a situation where the Republican incumbent was incredibly charismatic, successful and popular. In that hypothetical, you can't win with a boring and uninspiring candidate, because they'll get steam rolled. So you nominate someone exciting and charismatic who brings something new to the table and gets followers pumped up, someone who takes your party in a new direction that might actually excite people, and hope for the best.

Granted, none of that represents anything other than best guesses, but they're at least vaguely reasonable guesses, imho.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:11 PM
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And yet, both Mondale and Dukakis lost.
Because they were both terrible campaigners, not because their ideas necessarily were bad.

If you don't clearly remember the 80s, you don't realize how bad Mondale and Dukakis were as candidates. They made Gore, Kerry, and Romney look charismatic.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:28 PM
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"Biden 2020: Let's try to avoid disaster...Again!"
Do you think Trump should be re-elected?

If people say the answer is no, then they should shut the fuck up and just vote against him.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:39 PM
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Do you think Trump should be re-elected?

If people say the answer is no, then they should shut the fuck up and just vote against him.
That's a good technique for avoiding authoritarianism.
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Old 03-07-2020, 11:15 PM
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Do you think Trump should be re-elected?

If people say the answer is no, then they should shut the fuck up and just vote against him.
Biden is a risk in many ways you do not see. Mentally, policy, the campaign strain, the hypocrisy/tu quoque, the loss of huge issues and avenues of attack for dems by running joe with his baggage, the idea of the incumbent worst potus ever running as the "outsider" against the dem in 2020??

I see bernie being healthy through the campaign and into a successful adm. Can you see that for Joe?
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Old 03-07-2020, 11:26 PM
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I see bernie being healthy through the campaign and into a successful adm.
You see Sanders being healthy through the campaign? Do heart attacks not count as a health problem?
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Old 03-07-2020, 11:45 PM
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Biden is a risk in many ways you do not see. Mentally, policy, the campaign strain, the hypocrisy/tu quoque, the loss of huge issues and avenues of attack for dems by running joe with his baggage, the idea of the incumbent worst potus ever running as the "outsider" against the dem in 2020??

I see bernie being healthy through the campaign and into a successful adm. Can you see that for Joe?
Is this a joke? Sanders has had a heart attack and look how skinny he is. Bernie’s never going to be a GQ model but he looks like a toddler wearing clothes he’s supposed to grow into.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:23 AM
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So "moderate" is a red herring. I think it may be more accurate to say that B Clinton and Obama were "not safe" candidates because they didn't have much experience--Obama a first term senator, Clinton a small-state governor, which compared to Mondale or Gore or Kerry seems kind of picayune. OTOH, Dukakis wasn't any better qualified than Clinton--no national experience, voted out of office once.
I'm not sure why you consider governors as being less experienced. IMO governors are more qualified than senators to be president. Even governors from small or medium sized states.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:26 AM
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My cite is their actions. They can call themselves Middlers for all I care, but we know that if they were conservative they would already be in the Trump camp and if they were liberals they would already be in the Biden/Bernie camp. Whatever we call the undecideds, they are not firebrand conservatives or liberals.

And we either know that they are content, can assume that they are content, or discard their unhappiness (for electoral purposes) because by their historical collective behavior in presidential elections they have shown that they consistently: 1) reject radicals on both sides, and 2) end up siding with the person who is most charismatic or relatable.

We have seen politicians of all stripes fall into the trap that there is this underlying current of resentment of the current system ready to rise up and deliver a revolutionary verdict. Newt Gingrich is an excellent example of this. Because in 1994, the GOP voters showed up because of a general unhappiness with a complacent congress, he took that to mean that Americans are mostly conservative Republicans wanting to dismantle any form of government, except the military, established since the New Deal. It was a mistaken proposition and Clinton beat him (through Dole) pretty easily.

Anyone who says that Dole lost because he wasn't a right wing firebrand is delusional. Some Republicans say that McCain and Romney lost because they were RINOs. Well, if the swing voters voted for a Democrat, then they would certainly vote for a RINO.

Each election is sui generis, but those things have been consistent since FDR. For Bernie, or any candidate, to say that this election is different and that people are looking for a radical change is swimming against history and should show some compelling data to support that. And so far, the data shows otherwise.
The people you're describing probably make up the majority of non-voters. I think people that vote regularly are somewhat less likely to fall into this category.
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by LoneRhino View Post
I'm not sure why you consider governors as being less experienced. IMO governors are more qualified than senators to be president. Even governors from small or medium sized states.
The American system is weird - by any objective measure, cabinet members are more qualified than either, and yet they never seem to get elected.
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Old 03-08-2020, 07:23 AM
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The American system is weird - by any objective measure, cabinet members are more qualified than either, and yet they never seem to get elected.
I don’t see it. From my perspective, a cabinet member fields one subcategory of the ‘presidenting’ job — ‘agriculture’ or ‘housing’ or whatever — and does so while serving at the pleasure of the president, so whenever you disagree with the boss you find out that he gets to make the call on this one. So if you’d get it wrong in every other subcategory, the public never much needs to notice; and, to the extent that you occasionally get overruled by the president in private, well, likewise.

But if you’re a Senator, you don’t just vote on one subcategory; you routinely show America where you stand on all sorts of issues. Should we confirm this nominee to the Supreme Court? Should we invade that country? Let’s talk for a while about student loans, and take a vote; and let’s talk for a while about federal prisons, and take a vote; yesterday I publicly weighed in on agriculture and housing; but tomorrow it’s going to be health insurance and immigration — and I don’t answer to the president on any of this; I vote ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ as I see fit.

So the question becomes: does a given Senator keep getting it right or keep getting it wrong? To my mind, they each rack up an ‘unsupervised generalist’ track record; and so, for the top ‘unsupervised generalist’ job in the land, that seems like a big plus over this or that supervised specialist.
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Old 03-08-2020, 08:38 AM
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You’ve got it backwards. The most electable candidate is considered “safe.”
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Old 03-08-2020, 08:53 AM
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I don’t see it. From my perspective, a cabinet member fields one subcategory of the ‘presidenting’ job — ‘agriculture’ or ‘housing’ or whatever — and does so while serving at the pleasure of the president, so whenever you disagree with the boss you find out that he gets to make the call on this one. So if you’d get it wrong in every other subcategory, the public never much needs to notice; and, to the extent that you occasionally get overruled by the president in private, well, likewise.

But if you’re a Senator, you don’t just vote on one subcategory; you routinely show America where you stand on all sorts of issues. Should we confirm this nominee to the Supreme Court? Should we invade that country? Let’s talk for a while about student loans, and take a vote; and let’s talk for a while about federal prisons, and take a vote; yesterday I publicly weighed in on agriculture and housing; but tomorrow it’s going to be health insurance and immigration — and I don’t answer to the president on any of this; I vote ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ as I see fit.
I see it like being a COO or CFO before being hired as CEO, or being a division commander before being appointed corps commander - you have a lot of responsibility, and you serve directly under the person whose job you'll be filling, learning what (and what not) to do. You have to learn how to navigate DC and run a huge, complex government organization. Remember, someone like the Secretary of Defense is responsible for far more employees than any state governor - possibly more than all of them put together. Running the White House is a lot more like running DoD than it is like running Maryland. Besides, cabinet members make life or death decisions far more often than governors, and definitely more often than Senators.

Appointing a cabinet member just means promoting from within rather than hiring an outsider. Lots of organizations do it. It's a perfectly legitimate management decision.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:11 AM
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But there's a crucial problem: members of the US cabinet are not politicians nor necessarily party members. I get "haha, maybe that's a good thing" but you have to win an election still.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:20 AM
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It's a vicious cycle: the cabinet is considered a political dead end, so politicians don't want to be in it. Conversely, if the cabinet were a path to the White House, then the cabinet would be comprised of politicians. Politicians go to where the power is.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:47 AM
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You see Sanders being healthy through the campaign? Do heart attacks not count as a health problem?
Oh the irony: none of Bernie's competitors made his heart attack an issue, but now here they are suggesting that Biden's in early stages of dementia, and that the guy who had the heart attack and who is older is more fit to be president. Go figure.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:55 AM
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It's a vicious cycle: the cabinet is considered a political dead end, so politicians don't want to be in it. Conversely, if the cabinet were a path to the White House, then the cabinet would be comprised of politicians.
Well, look, I like to think I get how it works in the present scenario: I see ‘politician’ types in the Senate, and like I said I see them weigh in on Supreme Court nominees, just like they weigh in on military policy, and on education policy, and on farm policy, and on housing policy, and on healthcare and immigration and anything else where they can take a deep breath and get into campaign mode and speechify.

I can imagine a Senate where, oh, say, five of the most brilliant politicians in the country each make a passionate case for their position and then vote on issue after issue after issue — in effect, constantly saying, hey, this is what my position would be if I were the president. What do you think it’d look like if those five ‘politician’ types were occupying cabinet posts? Do you envision each of them going into full politician mode and having something to say each time a Supreme Court nominee is proposed, and each time there’s a question about military policy or student loans or health care or the space program or whatever?

If you’re a hell of a politician, and you’re in the Senate, I expect you to play orator on everything from A to Z. If you’re a hell of a politician, and you’re the Secretary of A, would you publicly stake out a position on B and C and D? (And: if you’re you’re a hell of a politician, and you disagree with the President about A, what does that look like if you’re in the Senate, and what does it look like if you’re in the cabinet?)
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:08 AM
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It depends on whether you want to choose a president based on their positions, or based on their abilities.

The way I see it, senators get to show their positions, but not their abilities; cabinet members get to show their abilities, but not their positions; governors get to show both, but in a minor-league setting. None of them are perfect gauges of presidential ability. IMHO, the perfect candidate is someone who has served both in the Senate and in the cabinet. That way, we can see what they believe in, and we can also see whether they can do the job.

Last edited by Alessan; 03-08-2020 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:15 AM
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But on the other hand, you can't choose subject matter experts for cabinet positions because you're stuck picking from the handful of people elected to government.
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:35 AM
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I'm not sure why you consider governors as being less experienced. IMO governors are more qualified than senators to be president. Even governors from small or medium sized states.
It's not "governors" per se so much as "those two governors." Especially in comparison to the other three candidates I mentioned.

Mondale was a senator for about 12 years and then became VP (executive branch).

Gore was in the House and then the Senate for, what, 20 years and then served two terms as VP.

Kerry had been a senator for almost 20 years.

Compare to Clinton and Dukakis, both of whom had been elected governor, then voted out of office (Dukakis replaced by someone in his own party!), then served one more term as governor before running for the presidency. There's just an enormous difference in experience levels between these two guys and the other three. That's my main point.

(I would ideally like my candidates to have experience in both executive and legislative roles. Yes, being a governor gives you the experience of running a government, but can be very parochial and can't give you experience in, say, foreign policy. Also, states differ widely in what they allow governors to do. For what it's worth, of the three candidates who had rather little experience, I was a strong supporter of both Obama and Bill Clinton but could have done without Dukakis--so "experience" evidently isn't everything, at least in my book!)
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:40 AM
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I see bernie being healthy through the campaign and into a successful adm. Can you see that for Joe?
Let me put it this way. Joe Biden was not my first, second, or third choice among the original Democratic contenders. The thing I was most concerned about was his age. Now that it's just him and a guy who's older, incredibly repetitive in his speeches, an inflexible thinker, and a recent heart attack victim, I don't worry so much about Biden's age.

So yes, I see it more easily for Biden than for Sanders.
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:48 AM
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But on the other hand, you can't choose subject matter experts for cabinet positions because you're stuck picking from the handful of people elected to government.
You also can't choose billionaire donors.
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:48 AM
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I'm not sure why you consider governors as being less experienced. IMO governors are more qualified than senators to be president. Even governors from small or medium sized states.
Six of one, half dozen of the other, in my opinion. Governors have executive experience, which is good for being President. But Senators have Washington insider experience, which is equally good. (Despite the fact that some people believe that politics is the one occupation where having no experience somehow makes you more qualified.)
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:50 AM
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The idea that Hillary was a “safe” nominee is not the way it actually happened. She was the popular Democratic candidate to be sure, but anyone looking at electing a woman and one with such a polarizing record can hardly be viewed as a “safe” pick.

And, despite that, she won the popular vote handily, which is a big difference between Mondale, Kerry, others, and even Gore (who had a significantly smaller vote advantage).
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:10 PM
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The idea that Hillary was a “safe” nominee is not the way it actually happened. She was the popular Democratic candidate to be sure, but anyone looking at electing a woman and one with such a polarizing record can hardly be viewed as a “safe” pick.

And, despite that, she won the popular vote handily, which is a big difference between Mondale, Kerry, others, and even Gore (who had a significantly smaller vote advantage).
In binary situations the safe(st) pick must be one person. She was it.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:15 PM
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Oh the irony: none of Bernie's competitors made his heart attack an issue, but now here they are suggesting that Biden's in early stages of dementia, and that the guy who had the heart attack and who is older is more fit to be president. Go figure.
Maybe they didn't make it an issue because people of all ages have heart attacks and go on living productively.

He came back, and looks and acts with so much more vigor and focus than Joe will ever be able to give off.

You have to notice that a man who has a HA and walks it off like he did has a lot of resilience and drive.

Do you think you will ever hear him break off a sentence and say "My times up" ?

How will that sound against dt?

"Look here's the deal! Elect me. My times up"
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:19 PM
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Is this a joke? Sanders has had a heart attack and look how skinny he is. Bernie’s never going to be a GQ model but he looks like a toddler wearing clothes he’s supposed to grow into.
Are you a Dr? A nutritionist? Because you are absolutely blinding me with science.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:42 PM
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Are you a Dr? A nutritionist? Because you are absolutely blinding me with science.
You were the one who brought up his health. Don't blame the rest of us if you chose a poor position to make a stand on.
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