If You Were Listening Closely Tonight…

I don’t know who “won” the debate. That’s more a matter of style than of substance. I thought O’Malley did, but the consensus seems to be otherwise.

But I did notice one very clear and critical difference between Clinton and Sanders in their framing of the issue of inequality. You had to listen carefully. A lot of what they said sounded the same. Their subtext, however, was radically different. 

Sanders spoke, as he always does, as a Democratic Socialist. Essentially, that means he wants to address our extreme inequality through policies that will compress — bringing the bottom up and the top (the billionaires) down.

Clinton’s framing, by contrast, was all about equality of opportunity. She may have thrown in a line here or there about “fairer” tax policy, but those were throwaways. The thrust of her message was that every one should have the chance to succeed the way she and Bill have.

Essentially, Clinton wants to create an America in which all Americans make it  into the top 1%.

But you only can fit 1% of the country into the top 1%. I’ve given that a lot of thought and I’m very confident that’s the case. Even Steve and the Captain agree with me. Which of course means that 99% can’t be in the top 1%.

The reality in America, and really any country, is that most jobs suck. It’s that way now; it was 50 years ago; and it was 100 years ago. It’s just the nature of society. The best we can do is make the sucky jobs at least pay well. At one time we did that. People who worked in auto assembly lines performing the same rote tasks repeatedly for 8 hours a day at least took home decent pay. We called them “good jobs,” but they really were just good-paying jobs.

Sanders implicitly gets this. Clinton, not so much. You had to listen carefully for this distinction, but it’s a critical one. Sanders is grounded in reality. Clinton is selling snake oil.

3 responses to “If You Were Listening Closely Tonight…

  1. I think you were “spot on”. I liked O’Malley very much, but also like Clinton and Sanders. Trying to be a “pragmatic idealist” is hell. I would like to see a woman as President, but don’t feel that it should be the reason to vote for her. Pretty much agree with Bernie about everything(and your analysis of his stance), but I do have some issues with his gun control stance. O’Malley showed himself to be reasoned, progressive, and had a very appealing manner of speaking and presenting his ideas, and the ideas were good. Haven’t seen much of him before, so he was a very pleasant surprise. Don’t think he’s likely to win but think he would be an excellent VP for either Sanders or Clinton.

  2. Michele Hermanson

    You are spot on. I noticed that too.