What follows is some unsolicited advice for the Sanders campaign.
Politico has an important piece on the downside of the extraordinary age bias in Sanders’ support. Like a teeter totter, the large advantage Sanders enjoys among younger voters is counterbalanced by his dismal showing among the older crowd. The article reviews voting breakdowns from the 2016 campaign and current poll results, and it shows that Sanders is not just behind among seniors, but way, way behind. His political strengths guarantee he will survive the winnowing of the twenty-odd 2020 pretenders, but sheer arithmetic suggests he will need to make significant inroads among older voters, something he hasn’t done up to this point, to overtake Biden—assuming of course Biden doesn’t overtake himself.
So how can he do this? The first thing to realize is that he doesn’t need absolute majorities among retirees and near-retires, just enough support so his advantage among the non-elderly isn’t erased. The second is that direct material benefits alone are never enough. People don’t simply vote in their immediate financial interest, although of course interests play an essential role. Economic motives are like nuclei around which layers of narrative form, but it’s the narrative—the meaning—that orients people, and an economic condition can be explained in multiple ways. Not all explanations are equally valid, of course, but in politics that’s largely irrelevant. So yes, Sanders can and should talk up Social Security expansion and how universal health insurance would benefit those on Medicare too. But that’s not a sufficient political strategy; it lacks an encompassing narrative. This narrative doesn’t have to be one all older people will gravitate to, but it has to speak to a significant portion of them.
At my age of 70.6, I don’t care about Bernie’s positions on anything.
He is just too old. He is not even a Boomer, but an Oldster.
It is time for the Xers to take over.
A part of the coffee house generation, are we now? They were abundant in the sixties filled with young people as were the likes of significants such as John, Robert, and Martin. A son of a grade school educated bricklayer could rise above and many of us did.
2006, Tom Hertz had a neat little article (Understanding Mobility in America); intergenerational mobility today is dependent on the economic status of parents and short term mobility is impacted by income volatility (recessions, labor migration, automation, etc.). Come 2007 and 2008, we put it to test and the resulting recession set people back a generation. Money and wealth does count today as does the color of your skin when it comes to going up the ladder and how bad the fall can be.
There are some younger leaders out there and we are ignoring them while two seventy year old’s duke it out. I will add to this and say neither show the inclination to lead to what you are proposing. If such were so, their candidacy might become palatable.
How about this for an all encompassing narrative: rebuild labor union density overnight with mandated, regularly scheduled union certification elections? 50% of employees say they want a union — and that is in a labor union desert (American labor market) where people barely think about unions. Ask the folks at Target.
Really ask them. Poll them — a real-live-official-professional poll. If we find overwhelming majorities in favor, we know we have the perfect political issue. No need for RFK or MLK — just let people take their own economic and political power back and they will take care of all those other issues themselves.
Late dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, told a young reporter that, when he came to Washington in the 1950s, all the lobbyists were union.
Here is what the Republicans fool people with in the slightly rearranged words of Kevin Drum:
(1) Tax cuts boost the economy and are good for the working class.
(2)Light regulation of Wall Street frees up money and is good for the working class.
(3)Right-to-work laws provide job opportunities for the working class.
(4)Social Security is a scam that won’t be around by the time the working class retires.
(5)“Dangerous” chemicals are just a left-wing myth designed to strangle the economy and hurt the working class. (6)Allowing more oil drilling and more coal mining provides lots of jobs for the working class.
Etc. Every policy designed to benefit the rich has to be deliberately twisted into a fraud for public consumption.
What lie could Republicans and the laughing stock in the White House invent to escape people taking their own power back? Ask the folks who work at Walgreen’s.
If fast food can pay $15/hr with 25% labor costs, then, Target and Walgreen’s (other than econ, good places to work) can pay $20/hr and Walmart with 7% labor costs should be able to pay $25/hr ($1000/wk!).
Let the Repubs argue with that.
SO, AGAIN I ASK: WHY ARE WE NOT ALL PUSHING THE ONE ISSUE THAT CANNOT LOSE IN 2020 AND THE ONE THING THAT CAN BRING DEMOCRACY BACK? I ASK AGAIN AND AGAIN BUT I GET NO ANSWER. ??????
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Why Not Hold Union Representation Elections on a Regular Schedule? Andrew Strom — November 1st, 2017
“Republicans in Congress have already proposed a bill that would require a new election in each [private] unionized bargaining unit whenever, through turnover, expansion, or merger, a unit experiences at least 50 percent turnover. While no union would be happy about expending limited resources on regular retention elections, I think it would be hard to turn down a trade that would allow the 93% of workers who are unrepresented to have a chance to opt for unionization on a regular schedule.”
WHAT’S WRONG WITH ACTUALLY TAKING OUR WORLD BACK, FOLKS? ASK THE 40%.
nothing wrong with taking our world back. so why hasn’t it happened?
i think you may have the cart before the horse.
Dorman et al
as an older old person i might speculate a little on why they don’t want Bernie (spoiler: i am entirely wrong, but if i told you the real reason you would unfriend me).
Bernie and my own home Congressman want to “expand Social Security” just like you do. but they want someone else to pay for it. us old folks know that won’t work. FDR knew that and designed SS to be worker paid insurance for workers. My congressman got visibly angry when i suggested workers could pay for their own SS by paying a dollar more per week per year. he is so angry at “the rich” that he won’t be happy until they are made to pay. Fine, universal justice and all that. It just won’t work.
And when people call me a shill for the rich when i suggest they pay for ss themselves, i think they are just abut the same as “the rich” who go crazy over a five cent bottle deposit because “it’s a tax.”
i think there is something missing in their brains that makes them unable to understand quantitative information.
well, the old are no better at that than the young, so my theory doesn’t explain why they vote different. but i wouldn’t spend a lot of time looking for “reason” in either camp.
god knows the robocalls i get every day seem to assume i’m senile.
Dorman, part two
just guessing but two thoughts play in my mind:
first, on re-reading i can’t see where you offer Bernie any actual advice.
second, i am guessing that the progress you saw in the fifties and sixties came as a result of the depression and ww2. people didn’t want to go back there so they tried
then they got old. and the new young don’t remember the depression or ww2 or even vietnam… only THAT new young are now “the old” you refer to…pretty much back to what they were in the last century (the LAST last century).
while the NEW new young still think they can get someone else to pay their way.