It’s Clear By Now That the Second-Most Powerful Person in the Federal Government Will Be Bernie Sanders.

The Big Question Is, Who is the MOST Powerful Person: Paul Ryan or Donald Trump?

“I think my title [of head of outreach] is to be head of outreach and that’s something that I take very seriously,” he said, without explaining any more about the new role.

But Sanders did pound home his remedies for the Democratic Party.

“We need major, major reforms to the Democratic Party,” Sanders said going on to say that Trump was able to tap into discontent among Americans who felt completely ignored by the rest of the American political system.

Trump, Sanders continued, “said I hear that you are hurting and I hear and understand that you’re worried about the future, about your kids, and I alone can do something about it — and people voted for him.”

Sanders went on to tick off the promises Trump made that Democrats would hold him accountable for.

“He said we will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Now I think that we should expand Social Security,” Sanders continued. “That is what he said, and pay attention to see what he now does. The question that will be resolved pretty quickly is whether or not everything that he was saying to the working class of this country was hypocrisy, was dishonest or whether he was sincere — and we will find out soon enough.”

Sanders recalled more promises made by the president-elect: “Mr. Trump says he wants to invest a trillion dollars in our crumbling infrastructure. That is a good sum of money, that is exactly what we should be doing and we will create millions of good-paying jobs if we do that. Mr. Trump, that’s what you said on the campaign trail; that’s what we look forward to seeing from you.”

 

Sanders’ speech comes as Trump grapples with reports that his transition team is struggling to make the necessary preparations for when Trump formally becomes president, as well as a time when he has appeared to waver over some of his key campaign promises.

Sanders wasn’t arguing that it is only important to call out Trump for any hypocrisy; he also said he would work with the incoming president if and where their policy positions intersected.

“Mr. Trump said that Wall Street, dangerous, doing bad things, he wants to re-establish Glass-Steagall legislation. I look forward to working with him,” Sanders said.

The Vermont senator’s speech also added to the growing demand among Democrats that Trump drop Steve Bannon, his incoming White House chief strategist. Bannon, while serving as executive chairman of Breitbart News, pegged the news outlet as the “platform for the alt-right,” which is known for anti-Semitic politics and ties to white nationalism. Almost 170 House Democrats earlier in the day signed a letter demanding Trump fire Bannon.

“We will not be involved in the expansion of bigotry, racism, sexism,” Sanders said. “Mr. Trump, we are not going backwards in terms of bigotry. We are going forward in creating a nondiscriminatory society.”

Sanders on Trump: Hold him accountable, Daniel Strauss, Politico, last night

It may be pure coincidence that only about 36 hours after it was reported that someone “close to the transition team” publicly redefined political correctness as including criticism of appointments of Wall Street, banking, fossil fuel, and healthcare insurance insiders to the regulatory bodies charged with regulating and policing them—thus claiming that Trump was just being politically correct in promising to drain the swamp of extremely wealthy or extremely highly paid influence-peddlers-as-legislation-and-regulation-drafters—Trump ditched some of the Trump-government-by-industry-lobbyist juggernaut.  At least for the moment.

Or maybe Jared Kushner reads Angry Bear.

More likely, though, it was, well, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren speaking to the public in the last 48 hours.  And the realization that they weren’t gonna stop.

And that the news media was paying attention.

And that that could actually matter among the Rust Belt white blue-collar voters and rural voters who put him over the top in, well, the Rust Belt.

Cuz, unlike Hillary Clinton, Sanders and Warren won’t be offering contentless platitudes while flying over fly-over country.**  They, unlike Clinton, will actually talk.*

Maybe they’ll even venture into, say, coal country and discuss the fact that oil and gas billionaires fighting for pipelines and to gain control of vast acreage of federal land have financial interests in further killing the coal industry, since it is the new technology of fracking and the like that, far more than the EPA, has killed the economy in Appalachia.

In any event, they as well as Sherrod Brown, who’s also speaking out (although no one outside of Ohio knows who is, but soon they very well might), do recognize that since it’s no longer actually the ‘80s or ‘90s, there’s actually little daylight on economic-policy interests between Rust Belt white blue-collar workers and the Obama coalition.  And that therefore Paul Ryan’s agenda is effectively the diametric opposite of what they thought they were voting for.

Or at least what they wanted most to vote for.

As a reader noted to me this morning in the Comments thread to one of my recent posts, Trump received more votes in Wisconsin than Romney did.  And indeed he did.

And as I pointed out to that reader, Bernie Sanders received fully 140,000 more votes in that state’s primary than did Clinton–140,000 more votes than Clinton, in a smallish state that is very predominantly white.

I also noted that Sanders received 17,000 more votes in Michigan than Clinton.  And that he did that by keeping the African-American vote for Clinton down to 2-1–it was expected to be about 3-1–and by beating Clinton in every single county other than Wayne (Detroit) and Genesee (Flint).

And that that was an awful lot of white voters, in order to negate a 2-1 advantage for Clinton in Wayne and, probably, about that in Genesee.  And that we’re talkin’ some mega-Republican-stronghold counties here.

I read those statistics–140,000-vote margin in WI and a 17,000-vote margin in MI for Sanders—just a few days ago. And I remember being shocked at the MI counties map the day after the primary.

Also telling: Sanders won the Indiana primary, as well, notwithstanding that a very sizable part of Indiana’s Democrats are African-Americans in Indianapolis and in the Gary/Hammond area.

And that although very much was made of Clinton’s large win in the Ohio primary, that primary was on the very last day of the state-primaries/caucuses season; only the DC primary came later, by a week.  Ohio’s primary was on the same day as California’s, and the evening before, the AP reported that Clinton had just clinched the nomination with new commitments from super delegates. Meanwhile, in OH, Kasich, who was still on the ballot, won the Republican primary–although partly because the rest of the vote was split between Trump and Cruz.

In every one of these states, as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Republican and Dem primaries were held on the same day.  Iowa and New Hampshire are not only heavily white; they also are largely blue-collar.  Sanders beat Clinton by 22 points in NH and won far more votes than did Trump.  And in Iowa, while Clinton the caucus count by 0.03%, it is pretty widely believed that Sanders won the popular vote–which is why the state party committee, which had supported Clinton, refused to release the popular-vote count.

The beauty of the Sanders campaign was that it actually realized that the Reagan era’s divergence of economic interests between whites, especially blue-collar whites, and African Americans is largely now just history.

And that if Trump plays Charlie McCarthy to Paul Ryan’s Edgar Bergen, or for that matter to Mitch McConnell’s, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s, or the Heritage Foundation’s—these do mostly overlap, of course—he’s unlikely to get away with it, politically.  Past is not always prologue.

At least in the Facebook and Twitter era, which can cut in ways they and others don’t expect.

____

*I go back to August, when nothing much was happening in Clinton’s campaign, and I asked her to talk with me only about what her website said was her signature plan — a $270 billion proposal for infrastructure spending. Word came back that she wasn’t going to discuss it in any detail. To my knowledge, she never did.

It must be quite a relief, a warming feeling all over, to think you can win political campaigns without ever having to wrestle with complex subjects or talk to anyone who doesn’t already think you’re right.

–  The Democrats’ 2016 mistake, Matt Bai, Yahoo News, today.

Throughout the general election campaign, beginning shortly after the California and Ohio primaries, I had this disorienting feeling that Clinton was not actually campaigning–that she was just giving a nod to it now and then.  I don’t recall anything like that in any other presidential campaign.  I kept expecting her to begin actually campaigning.  She just never really did, until the last 10 days or so, when it was too late to matter.

In her address today she said, “I ask you to stay engaged.”  I wish she had, when it mattered most.

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**Link replaced with the right one. 11/17 at 6:44 p.m.

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