I find Jon Chait extremely interesting and stimulating. I often check his blog and regret the rareness of his posts (look who’s typing). He usually overstates his case and has an even the liberal New Republic hippy punching background.
This subtitle is pure click bait
In the post Chait argues that the (surprisingly useful) concepts of Left and Right can’t capture the diversity of political views. In particular he notes the NBC-Survey Monkey result that a majority of people who support Sanders but not Clinton over Trump describe their orientation as “Moderate” placing themselves to the right of the median Clinton supporter.
It is clearly true that many people supported Sanders’s nomination for reasons other than his leftism — Chait notes that he keeps noting this. He puts it well
As I argued a month ago, Sanders has tapped into a good-government tradition that has run through a century of progressive politics, and animated campaigns by figures like Adlai Stevenson, Eugene McCarthy, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Jerry Brown, Howard Dean, and Barack Obama. Sanders has the image of an authentic, independent, non-corporate conviction candidate that contrasts perfectly against Clinton’s scandal-tainted persona.
If this is completely true, it provides no support for Chait’s subtitle. The claim that politics can’t be reduced to left and right is combined with the assumption that politics can be reduced to left and right, so if Clinton shouldn’t move left, she should move right. The subtitle is mere contrarian provocation, that is, click bait. So is mine.
According to Chait’s actual logic, to win Sanders supporters who don’t support her, Clinton shoult convince them that she is more honest than Trump. Since he is a con man and pathological liar, this should be possible.
The interesting question is whether strong support for Sanders suggests that Democrats should move left. Chait argues against this noting that not all Sanders supporters are leftists. This doesn’t follow at all. The general assumption (certainly Chait’s and mine) was that the label “socialist” was electoral poison. It clearly isn’t. Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist and leads all recent general election polls . He leads general election polls in North Carolina ! This isn’t your father’s electorate.
On issue after issue, the main stream Democratic position is to the right of the median adult’s (although elected Democrats are shifting their positions quickly).
This is true on Social Security, Medicare (click and search for “increase spending”), marijuana, taxes on the wealthy and corporations, , Medicare, and Medicaid, and Medicare-for-all (click and search).
The surprising support for Sanders is not all due to surprising leftism. However, it is additional evidence (as if any were needed) that the views of ordinary people in the USA on bread and butter issues are well to the left of those which members of the elite imagine ordinary people have.
update: Clearly Hillary Clinton isn’t following Chait’s advice as Dara Lind notes “Think Hillary Clinton is pivoting to the center? Her new video sure isn’t.
It’s a celebration of protests and difficult women.” What does the savvy disciplined (ok calculating) Clinton up to ?
Here the original point of my original post (which I forgot to type) is that Clinton absolutely does have to worry about Sanders supporters who *tell pollsters* they will vote for her. People who don’t end up voting don’t admit they won’t. In fact, people who didn’t vote don’t all admit it when asked. The key question for Clinton (and for Democrats always) is “will young people vote ?”.
This means that the problem is to get people who definitely will not vote for Trump but may not vote at all enthusiastic. I think this means that a lefty tone is optimal. In any case, it sure seems that Clinton thinks this.