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Will Hillary Be a Weak Nominee?

My latest piece in Salon warns that Hillary Clinton, despite her impressive resume, has shown herself to be a weak politician. Strong credentials don’t make a strong candidate. Will this be a problem for Democrats in November? Full article here.

The Symptoms of a Society Coming Unhinged

My latest Psychology Today article is called “Beware America’s Shocking Loss of Empathy: The Symptoms of a Society Coming Unhinged.” It considers whether dwindling empathy might be responsible for the dysfunction that is plaguing the country, particularly in the political realm. I hope you enjoy it.

The Establishment and the Rich Took Down Bernie in Massachusetts

While the Sanders campaign is expressing satisfaction at Super Tuesday’s results, there was one major disappointment in the mixed bag of returns: Bernie lost Massachusetts, a state that was considered within grasp, in a squeaker. A breakdown of the results shows that there were two main factors contributing to the Sanders loss: the Democratic establishment and the state’s richest communities. If either one of these two factors had not worked against him, there’s little doubt that the Bay State would have been solidly in the Sanders column.

The map of election results (available here at the Boston Globe) tells the whole grim story. Geographically, Sanders carried most of the state, but the areas that Clinton did carry–Boston and its most affluent suburbs–reveal the two big factors at work.

Clinton won Boston by a wide margin with big help from the party establishment. She had the vital support of Mayor Marty Walsh, who rallied with Clinton on the eve of the election and helped deliver a 20,000 vote victory in the city. Given that Clinton only won the entire state by 17,000 votes, the mayor’s support was obviously critical. Sanders, of course, had no support from major party leaders in the state.

Beyond Boston, the geography is the narrative. The aforementioned map shows that Clinton’s dominance outside of Boston was limited to the state’s most affluent towns. In fact, of the state’s 25 wealthiest communities–Weston, Dover, Carlisle, Sherborn, Sudbury, Wellesley, Winchester, Manchester, Lexington, Boxford, Wayland, Concord, Brookline, Newton, Needham, Westwood, Southborough, Medfield, Lincoln, Boxborough, Cohasset, Hingham, Marblehead, Hopkinton, and Belmont–Clinton carried 24 of them, and most by wide margins of at least 10 to 15 points or greater. (Only Boxford went to Sanders.)

Simply put, Clinton won Massachusetts because rich Democrats pulled it into her column. The vast majority of the state’s 351 municipalities went to Sanders, but if you want to find Clinton strongholds just follow the money. And in a race that was decided by less than 1.5 percent of the vote, the richest towns going heavily for Clinton were enough to put her over the top. These folks may call themselves liberals, but please spare them all that Bernie rhetoric of wealth disparity, corporate power, and money in politics. Can’t the poor just get jobs at Whole Foods?

As Clinton was sweeping the South and racking up wins on Super Tuesday, the Bay State was understandably considered important to Sanders for reasons of momentum if nothing else. A victory in the bluest of blue states would have been a big prize, and one less victory for the Hillary juggernaut.

If Sanders is taken down, it’s only appropriate that the One Percent and their close cousins, wearing the label of liberal Democrats, would do it. That’s what Bernie gets for trying to play nice with a party that is probably too far gone to be saved.

 

Hillary Clinton and the Limits of Acceptable Opinion

In a piece today for Truthout, I discuss the underlying dynamics of the Clinton-Sanders contest. Despite her recent rhetoric of economic populism, Hillary Clinton is not seen as a threat by the corporate establishment that actually owns and runs the country. I use a concept known as “the limits of acceptable opinion” in discussing how power brokers maintain control over a population. That phenomenon is on display in this election. Full story at this link.

On Religion, Lots of Contrast

My latest Psychology Today article is entitled “On Religion, Sanders and Clinton Differ Sharply.” The two Democratic candidates present starkly different religious views and, unlike most GOP candidates, neither Clinton nor Sanders really cares to talk about their personal religious beliefs in much depth. Bernie doesn’t call himself an atheist, but his view of God  and religion is far from that of a tradition theist. Hillary, on the other hand, actually seems to have some religious views and practices that are downright conservative. As the Iowa campaign approached the finish, she was starting to wear those religious credentials on her sleeve a bit more. No surprise there. The Psychology Today piece is here.

Hillary’s Secular Credentials Are Less Than Perfect

Blogger Debbie Goddard has posted an interesting piece about her interactions with then-senator Hillary Clinton in 2002, shortly after an appeals court in California had declared the “under God” wording of the Pledge of Allegiance to be unconstitutional. American lawmakers are quick to pander to constituents with outward displays of God-fearing patriotism, so it’s no surprise that many responded with outrage at the court’s decision. Unfortunately, as Goddard shows, Clinton not only did nothing to rise above the fray, but used the opportunity to assert her troubling views on the Pledge.

A Senate resolution was soon introduced to “support the Pledge of Allegiance,” and Senator Clinton decided to co-sponsor it. Goddard, a secular New York resident, wrote a letter to Clinton about the resolution, and she received a response that was hardly reassuring. Clinton told Goddard that “we should never forget the blessings of Divine Providence” and insisted that “we are indeed on nation under God.” Clinton even took the opportunity to connect theistic patriotism to militarism, saying it was especially important to support the Pledge wording “[w]hile our men and women in uniform are battling overseas.”

Source: www.debgod.com

Source: www.debgod.com

The entire Goddard post, which also includes some of Clinton’s floor speech in support of the Pledge resolution, can be seen here. (Historical note: the 2002 appeals court ruling was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court on a technicality.)

Another detail about Clinton that gives pause to seculars is her connection to The Family, a secretive conservative religious group that includes many powerful Washington politicians as members. Clinton’s relationship with The Family has been known for years (see this NPR piece from 2009), but has been given little attention as her presidential campaign has moved forward.

Maybe it’s time for secular Americans to start asking more questions of candidate Clinton?

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