Bernie Sanders Gets More Aggressive, But It’s Likely Too Little, Too Late

Bernie Sanders was more aggressive in last night's debate than he has been in the past, but it's likely too little, too late.

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton 3616 Debate

With the Democratic nomination for President becoming more elusive with each primary or caucus, even when he wins, Bernie Sanders was more aggressive than he has been in the past in last night’s Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan:

FLINT, Mich. — Senator Bernie Sanders, anxious that the Democratic nomination is slipping away from him, launched a series of cutting and sarcastic attacks against Hillary Clinton over trade, welfare reform and Wall Street in a debate Sunday night that often felt like a war over Bill Clinton’s legacy and the moderate Democratic policies of the 1990s.

Even Mrs. Clinton joined in the repudiation of her husband’s 1994 crime bill and 1996 welfare law, which both disproportionately harmed African-Americans. Both she and Mr. Sanders are aggressively courting black voters in Michigan, Ohio and other racially diverse states that hold primaries over the next nine days, but Mr. Sanders has an urgent need to cut into Mrs. Clinton’s support among African-Americans.

Mr. Sanders, who has fallen far behind Mrs. Clinton in their all-important race to accumulate delegates to clinch the party’s nomination, has rarely been so aggressive. He portrayed Mrs. Clinton as an unapologetic champion of free trade for much of her career, in hopes of hurting her with Rust Belt Democrats. He tied her aggressively to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Clinton’s signature trade policy, and to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama’s 12-nation trade pact, which she supported as secretary of state but then denounced as a presidential candidate.

Mr. Sanders also attacked Mrs. Clinton’s support of the federal Export-Import Bank, the credit agency that antigovernment populists on both sides have called an instrument of “corporate welfare,” and he feigned amazement when she expressed criticism of some trade deals.

“Secretary Clinton has discovered religion on this issue, but it’s a little bit too late,” Mr. Sanders said. “I was on a picket line in the early 1990s against Nafta, because you didn’t need a Ph.D. in economics to understand that American workers should not be forced to compete against people in Mexico making 25 cents an hour.”

For the most part, Mrs. Clinton deftly parried her rival’s arguments, deriding many of them and agreeing with a few, and at times interrupting Mr. Sanders in hopes of provoking a testy explosion.

Mr. Sanders grew visibly angry at times, though he was not as volatile as the Republican candidates have been in recent debates.

When he attacked Mrs. Clinton over what he called “the Wall Street bailout where some of your friends destroyed the economy,” she tried to cut him off.

“Excuse me, I’m talking,” he said.

After a brief dramatic pause, Mrs. Clinton said sharply, “If you’re going to talk, tell the whole story.”

“Let me tell my story and you tell yours,” Mr. Sanders shot back.

Mrs. Clinton, who is focused on protecting her delegate lead, sought to stay positive, pointing to more salutary achievements from her husband’s two terms.

“If we’re going to talk about the 1990s, let’s talk about 23 million new jobs — incomes went up for everybody, median African-American income went up 33 percent at the end of the ’90s, and we lifted more people out of poverty than at any other time in recent history,” she said.

The focus on the economic fortunes of African-Americans had a powerful setting in Sunday’s debate: Flint, a city in the midst of a public health emergency over lead-tainted water, and a symbol of a middle class that rose to prosperity with the auto industry, but where 42 percent of the majority African-American population now lives below the poverty line. Mrs. Clinton came armed with a resonant retort to Mr. Sanders over his Wall Street attacks, reminding the Michigan audience that Mr. Sanders voted against the auto industry bailout and again calling him a “single issue” candidate too narrowly focused on Wall Street.

“If everybody had voted the way he did, I believe the auto industry would have collapsed, taking four million jobs with it,” she said.

Mr. Sanders allowed that perhaps he was a single-issue candidate. “My one issue is trying to rebuild a disappearing middle class,” he said.

The candidates also grew testy on gun control. When the father of a young girl injured in a recent shooting in nearby Kalamazoo asked what the candidates would do about gun control, Mrs. Clinton criticized Mr. Sanders. “Giving immunity to gun makers and sellers was a terrible mistake because it removed any accountability from the makers and the sellers,” she said, referring to Mr. Sanders’s position.

“Maybe I’m wrong, but what you’re really talking about is people saying, let’s end gun manufacturing in America,” Mr. Sanders said of the immunity issue. “That’s the implication of that and I don’t agree with that.”

When Mrs. Clinton pounced again, Mr. Sanders was terse: “Can I finish please? All right?”

More than she has in past debates, Mrs. Clinton sought to reach out to Mr. Sanders’s supporters in hopes of uniting the factions of the Democratic Party in anticipation of a general election campaign.

Instead of looking away as Mr. Sanders spoke, as she often did in past debates, Mrs. Clinton watched him and nodded frequently as he talked about Flint. She colorfully agreed with him in the debate’s opening moments when, after Mr. Sanders decried the water crisis, she said, “Amen to that.” For the first time she echoed his call for the resignation of Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan (or, alternatively, she said he should be recalled).

“I know the state of Michigan has a rainy-day fund for emergencies,” Mrs. Clinton said. “It is raining lead in Flint.”

But at Sunday’s debate, Mr. Sanders struck some more aggressive notes on Flint than he had in the past, embracing Mrs. Clinton’s call to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluate the health of every adult and child in the city. “Federal government comes in, federal government acts,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mrs. Clinton then sounded some tougher notes, saying that she would “have a full investigation to determine who knew what when” in the Environmental Protection Agency, and that “people should be fired.” Mr. Sanders followed with an even sharper statement, saying, “President Sanders would fire anybody who knew about what was happening and did not act accordingly.”

Sanders’ new-found aggressiveness is interesting, because it is a marked contrast to the Bernie Sanders we saw when this race began. At the start, Sanders said that he was not going to attack his opponents, and prided himself on the fact that he had never run a “negative ad” during his political career, although it’s admittedly easy to get away with being able to get away with a strategy like that when you’re campaigning in a state like Vermont and you’re already very well-known and popular. Instead of attacking his opponents, in the beginning Sanders concentrated his campaign on spreading his messages about income inequality and controlling Wall Street rather than taking on his principal opponent Hillary Clinton. Most famously, Sanders said during the very first Democratic debate that he was sick of hearing about Clinton’s emails, and generally refused to attack her directly in any significant respect. While many observers suggested that refusing to attack Clinton was a mistake on Sanders part, for the most part it appeared to pay off as he rose in the polls, took the lead in New Hampshire prior to the state’s primary, and closed the gap significantly in Iowa.

Since then, though, Sanders has not done well at all. While he did win in states such as New Hampshire, and has scored victories in several caucus states over the past month, Sanders has found himself blocked by Clinton’s strong support among African-Americans to the point where he has been absolutely crushed in the majority of Democratic contests that have taken place so far and stands to be similarly crushed in upcoming primaries in Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, FloridaNorth Carolina, and Illinois. As I noted yesterday, he is already so far behind in the delegate count that winning the nomination, or forcing a contested convention, would be difficult if not impossible, and either option is likely to become mathematically impossible in the very near future.

Given all of that, it is perhaps not surprising that Sanders has become more aggressive now, because his campaign is at the point where he’s really got nothing left to lose. As I’ve said in the past, I think it was obvious that, in the beginning Sanders was running more to spread a message than to actually contest the nomination. At some point, though, that seems to have changed. Perhaps it was when he started to rise in the polls, perhaps it was the massively successful fundraising, or perhaps it was a combination of the two plus his campaign advisers whispering in his ear that winning wasn’t as far out of the question as it appeared to be at first. In reality, of course, Sanders’ chances of winning the nomination have never been very good. Notwithstanding the fact that he was doing well in states like Iowa and New Hampshire, the fact that Sanders completely failed to connect with traditional Democratic voting blocs meant that his chances were never as good as they seemed.

In any case, based on that belief, and likely combined with the realization that time is running out, Sanders has become more aggressive over the past month or so. He’s become more eager to hit Clinton over her ties to Wall Street, for example, and has even seemingly shifted tone somewhat on the issue of Clinton’s private email server. He regularly blasts Clinton for her Senate vote in favor of TARP, and continues to demand that she release the text of her speeches to various Wall Street firms in the years after he left the State Department. Clinton, for her part, has deflected these attacks, seemingly successfully given the fact that she is racking up win after win in the important Democratic primaries as opposed to the small caucuses that Sanders seems to be adept at winning. As a result, it seems as though Sanders’ new aggressiveness is much too little, and far too late to stave off what now seems inevitable.

As for Clinton, she has already started shifting the message and focus of her campaign toward General Election themes, a sign that her campaign is not very worried about the threat posed by Sanders at this point. Given the numbers, this seems like a wise decision and, unless Sanders’ new-found aggresiveness actually ends up hurting Clinton at the polls, it’s unlikely that Clinton will give Sanders the battle that he wants, especially since it won’t be long now before she won’t have to worry about Bernie Sanders at all.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. John says:

    Bernie’s impending loss I attribute to two things, and oddly enough, being an open socialist doesn’t factor in like I thought it would:

    1) An inability to win minority, specifically black, voters.
    2) A refusal to seriously go for Hillary Clinton’s jugular, early, hard, and often, when he started to catch fire.

    I suspect that Sanders underestimated his potential and originally aimed to shift Hillary to the economic left rather than to win. He’s starting to figure out #2, but it’s too late now, and it still doesn’t solve #1.

  2. SKI says:

    I think Jamelle Bouie got it right last night: Clinton and Sanders are running for two different jobs. As a result, there is a sizable percentage of Dems that Sanders’ pitch will never reach – those, typically but not exclusively, older who are turned off by the demands/calls for “revolution”. Who prefer steady progress because the status quo, while not perfect, is much better than it had been in the past. Who recognize and remember how much exists to lose.

    Also, last night’s debate really hammered home, to Sanders’ detriment, how much a single issue candidate he is. How everything is the result of Wall Street. Clinton’s specifics contrast sharply with his high-minded abstractions – and in a way that won’t benefit him in Michigan or similar states.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Saturday I had three nice young men catch me in my driveway to ask me to vote for Bernie in the upcoming primary. They were very polite when I said I’ve always voted for the most electable Democrat, and unless Bernie showed an increase in turnout, that was Hillary.

    I’ve commented before that the #2 issue confronting us is income inequality as we automate everything. #1 is AGW. I could easily say that they are actually 2 and 3 with campaign finance and lobbying as #1. AGW wouldn’t be a problem if the energy companies weren’t paying people to ignore it. And Bernie’s the best on money in politics. I still regard Hillary as more electable. It looks like the EMAAAIL! scandal is about to fizzle the way of BENGHAAAZI!! and Hillary’s had 25 years practice against the GOP character assassination machine. Did you know that Bernie is OLD!!. Yes he’s OLD!! And he’s a COMMIE!! They aren’t going to take it easy on a woman, and they wouldn’t take it easy on Bernie, god love him.
    I voted for Hillary in ’08 out of fear of the schiesse sturm I expect the GOPs to throw at a black guy. They didn’t hit as hard as I expected. I don’t know whether to credit some level of decency on McCain’s part or just that they expected Hillary to win and were slow figuring out how to dog whistle it.

  4. al-Ameda says:

    All of this seems really simple to me.
    (1) Hillary can win a general election, Bernie cannot.
    (2) EVEN IF Bernie somehow won the general election, Republicans probably maintain control of Congress, and Bernie – despite the purity and the promises – gets absolutely nothing done.
    (3) Do Bernie’s supporters sit out the general election and very possibly enable Republicans to win the presidency?

  5. Peacewood says:

    It had always mystified me why Sanders couldn’t catch on with minority voters (specifically African-Americans). Last night’s debate, unfortunately, clarified that in my mind; when he spoke about race, he always seemed a little uncomfortable and flat-footed.

    More’s the pity, because I happen to think his policies would greatly benefit a number of minorities. But it’s easier to go with the Democrat you know, and that’s clearly Hillary in this case.

  6. John says:


    I really, really wouldn’t put money on the email scandal flaming out any time soon. Just trust me here. The Lynch run DOJ will never indict her, but the FBI and IC know how to leak and leak well, while taking ample to time to make sure said leaks underscore the political collusion between Lynch and State. They don’t care about blowjobs or petty corruption. They do care about mishandling SAP level info and putting their guys at risk.

    Even the GOP’s Spanish Inquisition instincts with the Clintosn that has caused them to overplay their hand on everything from 1994 onwards, while undoubtedly Hillary’s best bet in the long term for keeping this contained, are going to take some time to succeed in halting this scandal even in the most optimal realistic scenario for Ms. Clinton. And the MSM doesn’t have the power to pull a Broaddrick anymore in the age of social media.

  7. Jeron says:

    Yesterday I caught a nice quote about Trump:

    Given his lack of a strong ideological core and his celebration of “the art of the deal”, Trump might even prove to be a pragmatic president, despite his narcissism. But good leaders help us define who we are. On that score, Trump has already failed.

    I feel that Bernie Sanders has also lacked in the department of defining who we are. He has sided with interests just like Trump has, that are holding us back. If Bernie had found a way to adopt a message for the 21st century, we would have been much better off with him perhaps leading the way…

    I think most of us agree that reforms are needed. The difference is in the priorities.

    People criticized Obama when he gave his speeches on the big picture of things. But those speeches, if they did not win him votes, at least helped to define who we are as a people. Hillary may not have given so many speeches herself, but I have seen some people referring to some of the speeches that she has given. And yes, she has adopted some ideals that may have run counter to the “thin blue line”, for example. It may have lost her some votes. Then again, it may have calmed down her more loyal supporters as well.

    I watched her celebratory speech in Michigan the other day, and she came across as interested in what has been going on, getting personal with the details of the election. Notice that her campaign was the one that chose Flint for the debate. That’s a level of preparation that may not match Bernie’s grassroots movement, but it could be a match to it all the same. 🙂

  8. John says:


    Because black voters are not fools and understand who is more likely to prevent a Republican candidate from taking the White House. Even Obama had to prove he could win first. On top of all that, Hillary is going full-on identity politics for them, which is every bit as potent as Trump’s reverse identity politics are. Human beings are human beings, no matter the color.


    Don’t confuse “historic” with “good”. Bush Senior and Clinton overall were good leaders, IMO, but they didn’t define us in the manner of an FDR or a Reagan. Nor does one have to necessarily be good to be historic and define who we are.

  9. Modulo Myself says:


    Well, he’s an old white guy with a sense of ethics. He should be uncomfortable. Hillary Clinton sounds like she’s been at the forefront of every struggle in America rather than being shameless enough to pretend that she had an inkling or a degree of interest in police shootings prior to it being a possible election issue. At a certain level, that’s her skill at middlebrow politics shining through.

    I’ am curious about what’s going to happen when/if she’s president. Contrary to popular opinion, the interests of working poor black people in not being screwed with daily do not follow the same trajectory as upper middle class whites having the ability to live their lives surrounded by other upper middle class people. Racial inequality partially exists because people with wealth are terrified of being stuck with poor people in their worlds, especially in school systems. They are also terrified of competition, because it’s competitive enough for the average above-average upper middle class person. You can chart the differences in household wealth by race pretty easily in this country. White people have some, a smaller amount have more, and a slight percentage have an insane amount. Black people basically have nothing. The main idea with being upper middle class is to keep this as is, and the main idea with being white is to hold out the possibility that an average person can end up above-average and upper middle class. Keeping black people out of the game is sort of like redlining. Banks exploited the opportunity because racism permitted it. So it goes with being white. For a person who works their ass off in South Carolina and is black there are hundreds of very undeserving white morons who have a nicer house, job, and car simply because they are white. Sooner or later, the demand will be simple: target the white idiots and leave them in the dust regardless of how unfair it is.

  10. SKI says:

    @Peacewood: Another thought to ponder:

    While policies that combat income inequality would absolutely help many minorities, they don’t have the luxury, or privilege if you prefer, to ignore the other issues that Sanders can’t/won’t offer specifics on.

    As one example: Moving to single payor doesn’t address access points the way that funding more FQHCs does (a under-reported component of PPACA was the $11 Billion in additional funding for expansion). Nor does he offer a credible way to transition 18% of GDP to a single payor system.

  11. John says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Yep. It’s this sort of thing that makes me think that expanding the pie in a socially conscious fashion is a better idea than debating how to divvy it up, but 1) I don’t know if that’s possible and 2) we aren’t doing the investing in research and government structures necessary to make an attempt.

    But I don’t see said morons (or is it class? Class movement is becoming more ossified all over the board for native working and lower middle class citizens, not helped by the fact that the WWC is undergoing the same societal disintegration that the urban BWC did in the 60s and 70s) giving it up without a fight, perhaps a violent one. There’s simply no precedent in human history for someone being conscious of their identity and then happily sacrificing the interests of said identity. Least of all if they note that more affluent whites, who they despise more than any minority, aren’t so eager to give up the fruits of their ancestors.

    And then, of course, we can expand this case on a global scale.

  12. Modulo Myself says:


    I think there are huge differences between the situation of the white working class and poor black people. Regardless of class, black people were the targets of insane racism. Go back and read the Moynihan report, which is supposed to be all about black ‘dysfunction’. In fact, it’s all about how white racism was as an assault on black men and women, thus creating a matriarchy rather than a patriarchy.

    Whatever that actually means in the real world, it’s hard to find anything similar in the lives of white people. Look at the coverage of the studies talking about increased white mortality due to alcohol, suicide, and drug use. It treats it as a health problem caused by the economy and maybe cultural liberalism. Compare that to the hysteria about race, or the AIDS crisis–the response to that was basically gross gay people are dying haha.

    The last thirty to forty years is basically going to be a history of people who had some sort of electoral power–middle and working class whites–squandering it in a flurry of social conservatism, sucking up to the rich, and hating the poor.

  13. Tyrell says:

    I think Bernie has some good ideas. He should be giving more details about them and how he would get things done with Congress. He has not said much at all about foreign policy.

  14. John says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I don’t, or at least not the same extent. The Moynihan Report was right-and Daniel Patrick Moynihan was no racist. While it stressed the role of hundreds of years of racism, it was written in a year where everybody was enthusiastic about the role of statist solutions to solving structural racism and few would have predicted the backlash that would come. This was before deindustrialization hit and made things far worse. And we can’t say this is *all* because of white racism: if it was, than Baltimore, a city where black people are represented in every way possible in power, wouldn’t have so utterly failed at everything 50 years after the introduction of the Great Society, the War on Poverty, and desegregation. We’re seeing the same thing in the WWC right now. It just took longer due to a confluence of factors, one of which is historical racism.

    Not… exactly. There’s also the basic fact that for all the stagnation of the 70s, many people who would have been the forgotten man of the New Deal a generation earlier had gotten richer. Not everybody from the New Deal coalition is a member of the WWC today. The basic dynamics of the New Deal coalition were gone. While I do think that it could have been handled far better than it was and we are seeing the ugly side of that now, particularly when it came to dynamics within the Republican Party following Watergate, economic changes and deregulazation was on the way no matter what happened. The problem is that we missed a critical period in the 70s to build a net.

  15. Modulo Myself says:


    Also, I think instead of expanding the pie what is needed is the concept that there are public goods. Health, happiness, and fairness are all things that transcend private property. The Republican philosophy since Nixon has to been to tear apart the commons in the name of freedom. Ironically, they’ve ended up with a horde of dumb drones, unable to do anything except make crap money, repeat propaganda, and act irate at the freedom of others. Trump is basically the end of this–his target audience hates PC and can’t stand being disagreed with. They jeer at people with degrees in literature who can’t find jobs but are livid that their hard work isn’t paying off.

    What we need are actual advocates for something better and more interesting than selfishness. No one is going to fix distribution and growth without other changes occuring.

  16. al-Ameda says:


    He should be giving more details about them and how he would get things done with Congress


  17. Modulo Myself says:


    IIRC, the Moynihan report places the black family as a thing incapable of survival without severe remedies, and he blames this on racism.

    Without excusing the political failure of individual black political leaders, it’s hard for me to think that the deck wasn’t stacked against cities like Baltimore and Detroit. I know a lot about the latter, and basically, the entire white tax base left after the sixties and the riots. And you know what? The riots were completely justified. White people ran that city and they persecuted black people relentlessly. At no point after WWII were black people given the chance to compete with whites for work or housing.

    So the deck was stacked, completely, against black people, and I’m guessing Baltimore was not much different than Detroit.

  18. John says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Yes. But we need something that actually works with human nature as well. Who is going to volunteer not to be selfish, especially if we demand it of some but not of others at a time of socioeconomic and state financial trouble? How will the government get people not to be without infringing on rights? That’s why we need to expand the pie, but do it in a long-term view of society, and also emphasize that human society should aspire to something greater than cold blooded rationality.

    Post-1992 Republicanism, actually. Nixon and Ford didn’t neglect pocketbook issues, and if Watergate didn’t occur, we could have ended up with more of a Gaullist version of conservatism (my kind of thing) rather than Reaganism, something actually “conservative” in my view. Reagan/Bush style conservatism I am more ideologically at odds with, but I don’t see Trump as a logical outcome of Reaganism or Gingrichism taken to absurd measures. That’s Cruz. Trump is a revolt against Walker and Snyder every bit as much as Lynch or Hillary Clinton. I’ve noticed that outsiders to the Trump phenomenon, whether they are GOP Establishment or Democrat, don’t understand this well.

  19. John says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Except that Baltimore 2015 had 50 years of vast amounts of spending on inner city programs and failed social engineering attempts (busing) in a very traditionally liberal state, black political leadership, and no Jim Crow. It also had 50 years of the War on Drugs(to quote the good John McWhorter, the TV show “The Wire” explains this economic dynamic better than any academic paper will), deindustrialization taking away the jobs that an honest high school dropout could have to support a family, governmental corruption, and hopeless rates of school graduation and broken families.

    We have a toxic cocktail at work in the inner city. Racism, particularly the historical legacy of 300 years of it, is a *very* important ingredient-I’m totally with you on that. Segregation is alive and well, just not legally encoded and it benefits white liberals instead of rednecks these days. But it’s not the whole drink.

    Also, to add to my first post, I think you need a nice ying and yang between conservatism and liberalism in any society. The problem is that increasingly, both our parties have abandoned their respective ideology in the true sense of the word. Nothing conservative about trying to engineer Arab society to look like the US, nothing liberal about suppressing freedom of speech to the point where demagogues like Trump appeal.

  20. gVOR08 says:

    I think we should look to the traditional elite of the Republican Party for inspiration.They don’t care if you’re black or white or brown, they only care if you have money or not. Race is just a tool they use to keep the rubes voting for them. (And the Dem elites aren’t all that much better, except that they need to hold a coalition together.) The working poor and lower middle class should recognize that it’s the .01% who are ripping them off, not other poor and LMC, black or white or brown. Recognize common interest with others. If they/we, the 99.99% had any sense, they/we would all band together and vote for Bernie. Ain’t gonna happen, is it?


    statist solutions to solving structural racism

    What other solutions are politically actionable? (Not the legal sense of actionable, the project management sense. i.e. we can act on them. ) Maybe better “statist solutions” is what we should look for.

  21. Modulo Myself says:


    I’m not advocating the end of selfishness in anyone, let alone selfish me. What I’m talking about is the idea that intolerance against others is a necessary component of rational self-interest.

  22. Modulo Myself says:


    I don’t think I would call anything welfare-related vast, at least as it affected individuals. It wasn’t like the government gave fortunes to people and yet it was all blown away because of endemic dysfunction. Rather, being poor–regardless of race–is hard, and overcoming that it in a society where it was becoming more difficult to do so had the predictable results of not working.

    Overall, it’s insane to believe that at any moment after the sixties, there was this huge desire by America to rectify racial wrongs by spending money. There just wasn’t.

  23. gVOR08 says:

    @John: People keep talking about how modern conservatives aren’t “conservative”. No, they aren’t. They never have been. The dictionary definition of “conservative’ is meaningless in politics. Politically, “conservative” means two things. On matters of policy it means nothing but preserving the wealth and power of the wealthy and powerful. As a matter of psychology, attitude, framing, whatever you want to call it, it means something else. I happened this morning to stumble across a perfect expression of conservatism,

    I believed myself to belong to a superior class, and that the principle that the ignorant and the poor should have the same right to make laws and govern as the educated and refined was an absurdity.
    – T. Jefferson Coolidge (great grandson of Thomas Jefferson)

    Burke said something similar about IIRC hairdressers and candle makers. And the white male accountant at the Tea Party rally feels the same way. The Republican Party may not be conservative by dictionary definition, but they’re the conservative party we’ve got, and have to deal with.

    FYI, IMHO T. Jeff is right. Except that he’d ignore the interests of the “ignorant and the poor”. They are the majority of the country, they are the country. Their interests need to be respected. And they will not be unless they have power, real power, hence the advantage of democracy.

  24. Moosebreath says:

    OT, but I thought this was a very interesting take on the dilemma Trump’s success causes libertarians:

    “The libertarian CPAC attendees I spoke to did not mince words about Trump — calling him a “fascist” and a “would-be dictator.” Some characterized Trump’s campaign as the “libertarian moment” in reverse: If it had a mirror image, it would be Trump’s authoritarianism. They listed Trump’s bellicose foreign policy, his calls for dramatically increasing border security, and his combative rhetoric on free trade as all antithetical to the libertarian worldview.”

    In the short run, libertarians have a third party alternative to vote for. But if they want to actually influence policy, they may need to give up their dream that Republicans are by and large sympathetic to their goals.

  25. John says:

    @gVOR08: It’s part of the solution, don’t get me wrong. But i t’s not everything, otherwise, the GS would have had better results. It has to be coupled with bottom up reform. As per RFK, improving the ghetto rather than trying to move people out of it under the aegis of Beltway types.

    It’s psychological to me. To be conservative is to want to opt for gradual, institutional changes rather than wholesale impulsive changes, to be skeptical, scientific, pessimistic, a believer in order. Ideally, that does not mean being so arrogant to stop Nietzsche’s dancing star, but insisting on keeping it check, and reaching a happy symbiosis with the emotion, passion, optimism and belief in virtue of the liberal. Disraeli and Gladstone, Bismarck and the SPD, Roosevelt and Gompers. Of course, it’s also in the name-“to conserve”, or “to liberate”-and I’ll be the first to admit that there is little I see worth conserving in much of the current political system, so maybe it wouldn’t sum me up after all.

    @Modulo Myself:

    It did work to a limited extent, the Great Society, mind. The black middle class reasonably grew throughout the 60s and 70s-but they left the neighbourhood, leaving the working class behind. It also benefited a corrupt government class within the inner city, an army of social workers and bureaucrats, we could say. But the vision shriveled and the top down effort wasn’t coupled with an equal bottom up reform effort, and then was hit by a combination of woes-deindustrialization, the War on Drugs, etc.


  26. John says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Human beings are not and never will be rational creatures, barring biological engineering. And that’s OK: some of the best of humanity stems from the irrationality of our species. But there you go.

    But you *are* quite right. It doesn’t have to be. And that’s the beautiful thing about politics. You can’t break the Laws of Thermodynamics or bring back the dead. But no matter how hard it is, economic and political laws are malleable. 🙂

  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Moosebreath: Thanks for the link. I always appreciate a little humor in my day.

    “This election was supposed to be about Rand Paul’s rise and the rise of libertarian ideas,” said Will Nardi, 18.

    “The libertarian message has been lost right now. But it’s still the future of the Republican Party.” said a 20 something volunteer.

  28. Tony W says:


    It had always mystified me why Sanders couldn’t catch on with minority voters (specifically African-Americans).

    The man literally marched with Dr. King. This floors me.

  29. Guarneri says:

    “Health, happiness, and fairness are all things that transcend…….”

    How far we’ve come from food, clothing and shelter. This is a prescription to vote yourself someone else’s treasure without bound.

    “They jeer at people with degrees in literature who can’t find jobs….”

    Jeer? You mean they observe that you made a really bad degree choice if your goal was financial remuneration.

  30. Guarneri says:

    Degree choice if their goal was financial remuneration.

  31. Andre Kenji says:


    Except that Baltimore 2015 had 50 years of vast amounts of spending on inner city programs and failed social engineering attempts (busing) in a very traditionally liberal state, black political leadership, and no Jim Crow.

    The problem of Baltimore(And Gary, East Saint Louis or any Poor Black neighborhood) is similar to the problem of the favelas in Brazil. Someone that´s born there that manages to climb the social ladder is going to leave(In fact, it´s the first thing that they are going to do). So, you basically have the losers of the society living in the same ZIP code.

    Living surrounded by poor people is the best way to stay poor, and most Blacks that have low incomes are going to be surrounded by other Blacks with Low income.

    Separated but Equal is not a good solution for racism and in some sense that was precisely what they tried to do in Baltimore. Just blaming Blacks when you don´t have efforts to create integration is not going to solve anything.

    By the way, that´s precisely the problem that many Europeans countries have with their immigrant community.

  32. MBunge says:

    Sanders didn’t catch on with African-Americans because they are probably the single most partisan voters in our entire political system and it would have taken something extraordinary to move them from their first choice, Hillary.

    And I don’t mean partisan as an insult or to de-legitimize their support. I mean African-Americans believe they’re getting nothing from the Republicans so the only political option they have is to support Democrats as hard as they can, part of which means not dividing up their support among multiple candidates in nomination contests.

    I mean, that’s the only explanation I can come up with for why we haven’t seen more African-American candidates running for President over the last 30 years. Given their importance as a voting block, the only reason I can imagine for why there hasn’t been a steady stream of black Dennis Kuciniches running for the White House to get attention for certain issues is that there is a general discouragement of that in black political culture.


  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    I’m a native of Baltimore, and I can tell you pretty much without hesitation that Baltimore was worse. Restrictive covenants. Blockbusting. Redlining. They all came into being in Baltimore. White flight was intense in Baltimore, to the extent that the racial makeup of entire neighborhoods flipped from all white to all black within the space of less than a year. Baltimore also drew the same line for Jews. Baltimore realtors just wouldn’t even list a house in a “Jewish” area. Baltimore City had three separate MLS services (black, white and Jewish) well into the 1980s / early 1990s.

    An example: at the height of WW2, over 6,000 white shipyard workers who were building Liberty ships walked off of the job at Bethlehem Shipyard, in the middle of a war over just the suggestion that the yard would start teaching blacks to be welders. Racism in Baltimore is something that you have to have seen up close to understand just how virulent it was (and in certain ways still is).

  34. John says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Actually, I was nowhere *near* as scared when I was walking through a favela (albeit a pacified one in Zona Sul-Zona Norte is a different story, and it’s no accident that Rio’s government focused on the South side where the tourists come) in Rio at night than I was walking through inner city Baltimore during the day. Initiatives as varied as Bolsa Familia to BOPE military pacification have done their work: many of the more established favelas in Rio actually don’t look all that different from your typical lower-middle/working class Brazilian neighborhood, just on a hillside instead.

    Some of Baltimore’s wards have a lesser life expectancy than NORTH KOREA, folks.

  35. John says:

    @Tony W:

    Lyndon Johnson greased through Civil Rights legislation on a level that nobody since Grant had: but the affections of many in the black community lay with the Kennedy family, specifically Bobby, instead. Something often forgotten was that RFK’s constituencies were working class Northern Catholics and minorities, not college students-they went to Gene McCarthy instead.

    So part of it is indeed a “connection” thing, although Hillary has openly embraced corporate greed in a way RFK never would have did.

  36. Andre Kenji says:

    @John: These favelas in Rio de Janeiro are relatively affluent when compared to other favelas in Rio(Specially in Baixada Fluminense) and in other cities. There is still a large stigma against them and they have considerably worse social indicators than even low income neighborhoods.

    In this sense that they have similarities with Baltimore. Like Baltimore, São Paulo can be extremely safe if you are in right side of they city.

  37. Modulo Myself says:


    How far we’ve come from food, clothing and shelter.

    Yes, we have come a long way. It’s called modernity. You know, things like lead poisoning and cellular biology. Meanwhile, you think the basics of human life should correspond to what it was when Thomas Hobbes was alive.

  38. John says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I know. I didn’t dare wander about the northern part of the city on my own, but had to transit through there a couple of times. You wouldn’t know you were in the same city-everything from the people to the color of the buildings.

    The big difference between the US and Brazil, in my estimation, apart from the “sharpness” (and we are getting more like Brazil with that) was that in Brazil you’re less able to go about your life as though slums don’t exist. You can’t really miss it, even in the “right” parts of town: the crackland in São Paulo isn’t far from Luz Station and the Market, for example. Everybody who is well to do lives in a guarded high rise. The US, however, you can live in a quiet suburb of Baltimore and never have to wander into the actual city.

    On the other hand, Rio and São Paulo are way more fun than Baltimore and Detroit, but that’s a different debate for a different day.

  39. the Q says:

    Its funny how every Hillary kool aid drinker here thinks she is more electable than Bernie in the GE when she is LOSING to Cruz and Rubio and beats only Trump in just released polls.

    Bernie beats ALL OF THEM, so by your logic, HRC should stop her losing campaign and support the only “real” Democrat (yes there is irony there) on the ticket.

    The DLC, even more than Reagan, is responsible for the demise of the Dem party in every category save the presidency.

    We have lost the Congress, state legislatures and state governorships the last 10 years to the insanity of the GOP because of the Obama/Clinton/Summers/Goldman/Pentagon spending Dems who only take a stand if it includes a lesbian, an illegal or abortion seeker.

    Signed, a true socialist liberal New Dealer who has watched the boomers destroy the party with their RINO lite policies.

  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Like Baltimore, São Paulo can be extremely safe if you are in right side of they city.

    In reality, there are many Baltimores. Sandtown-Winchester, for example, has absolutely nothing in common with Homewood, which in turn has little, if anything, in common with Guilford, Roland Park & Bellona-Gittings. More tellingly, there might as well be walls around those latter neighborhoods (full disclosure: I grew up in Guilford) from the perspective of the near total absence of interaction between them and the poor sections of East Baltimore.

    Guilford and Sandtown-Winchester, as an example, might as well be on separate planets. Average annual household income in S-W runs about $24,000. In Guilford, it’s closer to $300k, and even that figure is artificially depressed by a pocket of rental units in an area where the average home otherwise sells well above $1 million.

    And they’re literally just 2.5 miles, but a world, apart from each other.

  41. HarvardLaw92 says:

    For a sense of perspective:

    This house in Guilford


    This street in Sandtown

    are three miles away from each other.

  42. SKI says:


    And they’re literally just 2.5 miles, but a world, apart from each other.

    This. I grew up in NW Baltimore, one of those Jewish enclaves mentioned earlier (where time seemed to have stopped in the 1950s and who your grandparents were was what mattered), about the same time as Ta-Nehisi Coates grew up in West Baltimore a few miles south. Our experience of Baltimore was incredibly different. Reading his recent exceptional book and contrasting the experience is disorienting.

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:


    We probably had the same sort of childhood. I can’t recall ever having been in those areas of Baltimore, even though they were within walking distance, much less driving distance, of our home. It just didn’t happen. It was something you didn’t do.

    I particularly enjoyed “Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City” by Antero Pietila. He used to be a reporter for the Sun. I thought I knew Baltimore backward and forward, because I’m a native and all that. This book really taught me the reality of the city I called home for a good portion of my life.

  44. SKI says:

    I was a little more aware as my grandfather was a real estate appraiser (and then my mother was as well) and I helped out in the business. But there is a world of difference between knowing that poverty exists and realizing, decades later, what that kind of existence does to the human soul.

    When my now-wife moved to Baltimore from NJ to join me, she worked as a 4th grade teacher in ODonnell Heights as I finished up law school at MD. That wasn’t the worst of the neighborhoods by a really long shot but the stories her kids would tell would break your heart and enrage your conscience.

  45. An Interested Party says:

    Actually, I was nowhere *near* as scared when I was walking through a favela…in Rio at night than I was walking through inner city Baltimore during the day.

    Oh really? Exactly which neighborhoods in Baltimore are you afraid to walk through during the day?

    The DLC, even more than Reagan, is responsible for the demise of the Dem party in every category save the presidency.

    Interesting you should write that, as the DLC came about because certain Dems got tired of losing one presidential election after another…

    We have lost the Congress, state legislatures and state governorships the last 10 years to the insanity of the GOP because of the Obama/Clinton/Summers/Goldman/Pentagon spending Dems who only take a stand if it includes a lesbian, an illegal or abortion seeker.

    Actually, this seems like a more plausible reason for so many Democratic losses…

    There are many reasons for (Democratic losses), but one is Obama’s decision to bypass the Democratic Party apparatus in favor of his own, parallel network, now known as Organizing for Action. Under the theory that Obama could directly rally supporters (and therefore didn’t need to rely as much on party operatives or on congressional Democrats), this outgrowth of Obama’s 2008 campaign apparatus competed with the party and wound up starving the party of funds.

  46. Tyrell says:

    The Michigan water conundrum (or anywhere in the country):
    Water is a precious resource, especially if you live in a desert area. Even there, water can be found if a person knows where to look. Some people have water recycling systems in their homes, but those can be expensive. The amount of water on the earth is much the same as it has always been. It is in different places. It Is not like we have been shipped tons of the stuff to another planet. Most people take clean water for granted.
    One solution for the Flinit water problem is to put the Army Corps of Engineers to fast track a pipeline to the nearest Great Lake. The other solution is to clean up the river there.
    Another source would be to build reservoirs to dump snow and ice in. There should be an abundance of that each winter. While this may not supply a lot of water to people, it should help some.
    This would be a good idea for a government “stimulus” project: upgrading and modernizing water plants of cities and towns. The goal should be that even rivers would have water clean enough to drink out of ! This would be a far better use of tax money instead of those ridiculous government grants such as that infamous study of why kids fall off of tricycles, and a university study of video games. They could also replace the lead pipes in peoples’ homes.
    Lead pipes: this is somewhat confusing to me. Lead pipes have been out for decades. It could be that some people are thinking that galvanized pipes have lead. They don’t. I haven’t seen one in years. The routine sales inspection would have required lead pipes to be replaced before the house was sold. I would doubt that few of the residents of Filnt have been in the same house for that long of a time.
    Copper pipes: very good, they contain a trace amount of lead in the solder joints, which is not in direct contact with the water. The solder today has no lead.
    Galvanized: the steel breaks down over time, leaching some metals into the water.
    Plastic (pvd and pex): this can break down over time also, I am not sure of the chemicals involved and I have not heard of any problems.
    Drain pipes are either plastic or cast iron. Some still have the old lead joints, but again there is no direct contact with drain water.
    So there is no completely, 100% safe water delivery piping system. If you want that, you will need to make pipes out of wood. Bamboo ? Or drink glacier water with a gourd.
    Water treatment plants are supposed to test for all kinds of contaminants and treat with chlorine: what happened in Fnlit ?

    “A lead pipe cinch !”

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Oh really? Exactly which neighborhoods in Baltimore are you afraid to walk through during the day?

    I’ll give him some latitude there. Anywhere on North Avenue comes to mind, along with Greenmount, Waverly, Cedonia, 4×4, North Broadway, etc. There legitimately are areas of Baltimore you just shouldn’t visit.

  48. An Interested Party says:

    I’ll give him some latitude there.

    Hmm…some, I suppose…I’ve been on North Avenue, North Broadway, and Greenmount Avenue during the day and I wasn’t particularly fearful…of course, YMMV…

  49. PJ says:


    (3) Do Bernie’s supporters sit out the general election and very possibly enable Republicans to win the presidency?

    There seems to be quite a few of them who are either too young or haven’t learned the lesson of voting for Nader in 2000.
    Though I’m going to assume that most of them have.

  50. gVOR08 says:
  51. Tyrell says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Now that is what gets you. All those empty structures could be turned in-to upscale town homes. This would attract new people in and would renew the neighborhood, transforming it completely . This type of building project would provide jobs for the citizens
    around there, would lead to some good retail businesses and restaurants coming in.With that, the criminal elements and gang members would leave – no more drug houses ! The law abiding citizens would have control. This has happened in other cities.