Monthly Archives: May 2016

donald trump is stupid

Donald Trump Promotes Stupidity

Donald Trump’s rise poses many threats to America — he’s an illiberal democrat hell-bent on coming to power through a mixture of scapegoating and denouncing those who dare oppose his moronic worldview.  Both serve as dangerous precedents for American democracy; it is the latter, though, that can infect more than just a mischievous faction.

It takes but a short scroll through Trump’s outlandish Twitter feed to discover his contempt for opposition.  Oftentimes, his ire and love of elementary school insults are directed towards the free press — generally reporters who dare question his knowledge, point out his inconsistencies, and who simply share his quotes.  Luckily for Trump, he has a cult of dedicated followers who think that Trump, and Trump alone, speaks the truth.  His followers refuse to accept all the evidence that clearly says Donald Trump is stupid and dangerous for democracy; by steadfastly ignoring all critical coverage of Trump, these voters become stupid as well.

They believe that media outlets try to bring Trump down (a view they believe only because Trump has repeated it at essentially every one of his rallies).  The Cult of Trump operates in a bizarre and fallacious logical circle: Any Trump statement is true because Trump himself said it (begging the question).  This means that Trump voters are misinformed — dangerously so — and that stupidity permeates and defines a sect of voters devoted to the election of a man antithetical to American values and our Founding ideals.

A well-functioning liberal democracy relies on the Fourth Estate (the free press) to inform the electorate.  We need objective reporters to relay stories, vet information, and hold candidates accountable for previous actions and statements.  By and large, that is what the American press does.  Trump, however, has made it his mission to undermine a number of our country’s best news outlets — most notably, the New York Times and the Washington Post — because the two bother to do actual reporting.

Recently, the New York Times wrote a piece interviewing a number of women with whom Trump interacted in his pre-politician, playboy days.  They relayed quotes and stories in an objective manner.  The reader could come to any conclusion desired (and the natural conclusion is that Trump is a vile sex-hound with little regard for females).  One of the women interviewed took issue with the piece, claiming that it misrepresented her story.  But such accusations have little factual bearing: She could point out no incorrect or falsely attributed quotes and the New York Times shared her anecdote as she described it.  They did not editorialize or share their own conclusions.

That did not stop Trump from repeatedly attacking the Times on Twitter (his bully pulpit).  For days, he has hurled baseless accusations at the paper and the reporters involved with the story.  His cronies often appear on Fox News and, unchallenged, repeat the same attacks.  Fox, for its part, tweets quotes to its 9 million Twitter followers without bothering to accompany such tweets with facts or reality.  Does Fox know that Donald Trump is stupid?  Surely, but apparently for Fox, party allegiance comes before the well-being and intelligence of the nation.  Fox is complacent in myth spreading.

Trump voters, who believe every word out of Trump’s mouth, see such attacks and insults and surmise that the New York Times is “out to get” Trump and that they can therefore ignore every piece written by the Times.  In other words, operating with numerous logical fallacies (begging the question and a point of origin fallacy), Trump supporters dismiss, out of hand, the Times’ reporting.  They simply ignore facts, quotes, and stories from the outlet because the outlet bothers to actually look into Trump and his disgusting behavior.  These Trump voters become dangerously misinformed as they receive one-sided information that portrays Trump as a God among humans — we see that Donald Trump is stupid, they see that he is infallible, a man fit to be Emperor.

The New York Times is not alone.  Recently, Trump has derided the Washington Post as a tax haven for its owner, Jeff Bezos.  These accusations, of course, have no basis in reality, but that doesn’t stop Trump and it certainly does not stop his cult from ignoring all the Post has to offer.

In some ways, Trump’s dismissal of the Post as an honest news platform does more to perpetuate stupidity than do his attacks on the Times.  The Washington Post has a number of blogs dedicated to bringing academic research to the public.  Two of these blogs — The Monkey Cage and Wonkblog — offer incredible and incredibly important analyses of politics and policy.  The Monkey Cage is run by political scientists; Wonkblog, though operated by journalists, always seeks to incorporate academic findings.  Both blogs offer a wealth of information and plentiful analysis, the likes of which often find their way into collegiate syllabi.

But this fountain of knowledge is seen by only a few.  Trump’s attacks on the Post mean that blogs premised on analysis and research by the best professors in certain fields does not make its way into policy discourse.  Findings are neither vetted nor read by Trump supporters; rather, they are ignored, chastised, and laughed at.  Donald Trump is stupid for ignoring all the evidence that points to the insanity of his policy ideas.  His supporters are stupid for believing, as fact, everything Trump says and making it their mission to discredit all news sources that dare challenge that assumption.

It’s a shameful way to treat accessibility to knowledge.

Trump voters are misinformed precisely because they ignore analysis and anything that might challenge their preconceived notion of Trump as a mythical, higher being sent from the heavens to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain (I must have missed the point in time when we ceased to be a great nation).  These individuals rely on sources such as Drudge and Breitbart (in which Trump might have a financial stake) for information.

Ironically, it is these two sites that have a clear and unmistakable ideological inclination.  They are sources dedicated to ensuring Trump’s election.  An echo chamber is created wherein Trump supporters see and accept only the information that brings Trump to new heights.  All countervailing analysis — even that premised on Trump’s own words and actions — is rejected without thought or reason.

We know that Donald Trump is stupid.  But his supporters don’t.  And they never will.  It leaves voters dangerously misinformed and completely unable to vet policies.

Worst of all, it represents a major party’s candidate undermining the free press and attacking knowledge in order to maintain a Cult of Stupidity that will follow him on the dark, illiberal road to proto-fascism.

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can trump win

Can Trump Win? Yes, Very Easily

Can Trump Win the Presidency?

Democrats are convinced that Donald J. Trump will not be elected president.  And they have good reason for that belief: Trump has managed to insult many crucial demographic groups, most notably Latinos and women.  But Democratic thinking mimics that of Republican elites nearly 10 months ago.  Remember when all GOP candidates and many elected officials stated that Trump would not become the nominee?  Such cocksure statements ultimately proved to be false.  Trump wantonly attacked 2008 Republican nominee John McCain because he was captured in war, compared Ben Carson to a child molester, ceaselessly harassed Lindsey Graham, brazenly dismissed the last Republican president (George W. Bush), insinuated that Ted Cruz’s father took part in John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and assailed 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.  Yet he won.

What makes Democrats so sure that Trump won’t win the general election?  Yes, he has a foot-in-mouth habit, flip-flops constantly, and puts forth absolutely no effort in learning public policy, but none of that has mattered.  No ideological attacks have changed his poll numbers.  No debate attacks over his conservative bona fides or outlandish policy ideas diminished his chances of winning the nomination.  In fact, through it all, Trump supporters — a true cult — fell deeper and deeper for their illiberal candidate.  Why would that change for the general election?  Better yet, why, given his many missteps and poor standing among Latinos and women, can Trump win?

All it takes is one event over the next 5.5 months and all those laughing when asked “can Trump win?” will spend election night pondering where they went wrong; all it takes for Trump to become president is one event.

That event is a domestic terrorist attack.

Prior to the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, Trump’s poll numbers had started to stagnate and even dip.  However, following the terrorist strikes and his Muslim ban proposal, his numbers rocketed.  The chart below shows his poll numbers from the beginning of November through the end of 2015 (he soared almost 10 points, or 40 percent, in that time frame).

trump poll numbers
Source: RealClearPolitics

For some reason, a man with no foreign policy experience — a man who touts being the Grand Marshall of a parade as pro-Israel credentials and has cited hosting beauty pageants in foreign countries as international experience — is viewed as tough on terrorism.  That’s true beyond just Republican voters.  A domestic terrorist attack could very well provide Trump with an irreversible boost in the polls, one which would flip the current electoral standing.

Here’s the scary part: ISIS has every reason to encourage a lone-wolf terror attack in the United States before the general election.  Trump is a boon to ISIS’s recruitment: ISIS thrives on an incorrect notion that the West is at war with Islam.  But Trump almost makes that idea correct.  His want to ban Muslims from the country and register Muslims citizens here (when asked about how that idea differed from Hitler’s Jew registry, Trump responded “you tell me”) lends weight to the (incorrect) idea that Western democrats and individuals despise Islam and want to see it eliminated.  Using Trump and his policy ideas in recruitment advertisements and videos will help ISIS find new members.

ISIS leaders are not dumb.  They understand politics and surely know that a Trump presidency would strengthen their standing.  And I have to imagine they realize that the best way of electing Trump would be to launch or encourage a domestic terror attack.

As seen in Brussels, terrorist strikes are frighteningly easy.  There are many vulnerable points in American mass-transit systems.  A strike in any of those spots would result in numerous casualties and surely would succeed in terrorizing the nation, pushing undecided voters into Trump’s camp given his (horrendously flawed) image as a tough man.

One terrorist attack and an illiberal politician whose policies could well push America on a road to proto-fascism may be swept into the Oval Office.

We need to defeat Trump early — Democrats need to destroy his candidacy before he destroys them (and the country).  That means super PACs need to front-load advertisements; the Clinton campaign needs to do the same.  Bernie Sanders, if he insists on staying in the race, needs to focus his ire on Trump, not Clinton.  Rank and file Democrats need to volunteer and donate to the party and its presumptive nominee early so the party can destroy Trump’s poll numbers and standing with voters.

Trump needs to be put down right away; otherwise, the uncertainty of the next 5.5 months might be a boon to his candidacy.

So, can Trump win?  Yes, and very easily.

bad politics

We Have Bad Politics — Let’s Change That

Fixing Political Discourse

We have bad politics and we deserve — and certainly need — better.

We need discourse that doesn’t descend into ad hominem attacks.  We need to discuss politics like adults capable of rational thought and capable of accepting the merits of opposing sides and dissecting their arguments for elements of truth.

This is a call for politics of respectability.

As the political system has descended into party polarization not seen since the Civil War Era, loyal partisans (and voters loyal to certain candidates) refuse to accept the legitimacy of opposition.  Liberals ignore conservative arguments; conservatives immediately dismiss liberal thought.  And it’s easy to see why: both sides spend immense time, money, and political capital on attacking the other and portraying their viewpoints as “un-American” or otherwise illegitimate.

But when parties and politicians attempt solely to discredit opposition, compromise becomes impossible, gridlock ensues, and partisan strife makes its way through the nation.  Assuming the opposing side has a hostile motive premised on “undermining America” or serving only elite interests naturally makes unity impossible.  Why would you work with a party or leader who wanted to destroy America?  You wouldn’t.  But that only inhibits functioning government.  Two chambers of Congress and a president armed with a veto require that the two parties work together, especially in times of divided government control (as we have seen for much of the last decade).  Without compromise and the willingness to bridge party lines, we are left with gridlock and a neglect of governing duty.  Nothing happens.

Bad Politics Hurts the Country

Voters often take their cues from elites.  If they see elite political actors denouncing the other side and brazenly attacking them with vitriolic rhetoric, they will follow suit and grow to view opposition with nothing but ire.  This anger is directed at opposing elites and opposing partisans at all levels (right on down to their neighbors).  An angry base motivated by elite rhetoric stimulates a self-fulfilling cycle: Politicians incite voter anger; if same-party politicians begin to work across the aisle, voters respond by kicking them out of office and replacing the bipartisan lawmaker with an extremist.  That, of course, precludes any opportunity of compromise and increases the animosity between partisans (they view the other party as culpable for government’s inaction).  In that way, inciting the base damages elite interests because they lose agency.  No longer can they compromise to advance legislation closer to (but not at) their ideal points.  Doing so would earn a primary challenge (and ask the likes of Eric Cantor and Bob Bennett how that turned out for them).  Bad politics from our leaders encourages and directly leads to bad politics from voters.

The anger between the two sides permeates discourse.  Voters, with cues from elites, come to despise the other side and to decry bipartisan politicians.  They also refuse to accept the legitimacy of other ideas.  Liberal or conservative thought is dismissed out of hand.  Partisans refuse to consider any aspect of the arguments — refusing to analyze an argument’s merit weakens the marketplace of ideas as the only trading that takes place is in an ideological echo chamber where partisans read, discuss, and accept viewpoints put forth by like minded individuals or organizations.  A political system that requires compromise to overcome institutional hurdles needs partisan elites and voters to learn, accept, and debate the merits of ideas so we can reach consensus.  But by refusing to even consider opposing beliefs as legitimate, compromise becomes impossible.

We need to embrace a politics of understanding.  Elites need to tone done hostile rhetoric to give voters cues that opposition is legitimate and their ideas have merit and elements of truth.  Voters, in turn, need to consider opposing arguments and digest the data, analysis, and conclusions presented by other thinkers.  It opens our minds and helps a synthesis emerge from the liberal thesis and its conservative antithesis.

This isn’t a call to forego your ideology.  It’s a call to learn from the other side, to view it as legitimate, and to embrace opposition as an alternate view to the same end goal: Bettering America and enriching her citizens.

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gouverneur morris

The Fake Presidency of Gouverneur Morris

The Early Life of Governeur Morris

Gouverneur Morris joined the world on March 28, 1790 as the fifth son of a prominent Boston merchant.  His mother, Sarah Marie Morris, died but a few years later after the still-birth of her third daughter and ninth child.  Some of Gouverneur Morris’s biographers attribute Sarah Marie’s death to heartbreak from her first unsuccessful carriage; others point to diseases she might have acquired from the dirty New England hospital in which she attempted to give birth.  Regardless, Sarah Marie’s death when Gouverneur had reached the age of beginning cognizance – four years – may have affected her seventh child for years to come: Gouverneur never married, at one pointing writing to a friend that he feared “the inevitable loss and years of depression” that would follow his wife’s passing (apparently he never considered the possibility that a potential wife would outlive him).

Childhood did not treat Gouverneur Morris kindly.  By the time he reached ten years of age, he had lost three more siblings.  The eldest Morris child – John Winthrow Morris – had moved west, seeking to expand the frontier, but perished in a Native American raid.  Gouverneur’s immediate elder, Jane Morris, died in a fire that engulfed the Morris’s house in 1798.  According to Gouverneur’s later writings, he and Jane were particularly close, brought together by proximity in age and similar emotional responses to Sarah Marie’s death.  Two years later, the youngest Morris (Robert F.) died at the hands of scarlet fever.  This last death treated Gouverneur’s father poorly – the family’s patriarch fell into a deep stupor and turned to the bottle, quickly coming to terrorize the remaining children with his seething anger.  The family soon fell into disarray and in 1805, Gouverneur wrote in his journal “I wish I could escape this wretched family and move west to the frontier or at least move somewhere without pain and shadow of death looming.”

Western Adventures

Escape Gouverneur soon did.  In 1807 he stole some of his father’s money and moved west to Ohio.  But the allure of the frontier quickly wore off.  Gouverneur worked at a sawmill near Cincinnati, the recently incorporated village.  He tired of the drudgery and the hardships of the frontier.  Indian raids were common occurrences; hunger even more so.  The frontier failed to live up to expectations (or perhaps Gouverneur  simply  was not cut out for western life).  At any rate, a “fortunate” letter soon reached him: One evening, late in 1810’s summer, Gouverneur’s father, drunk as usual, mis-stepped on his walk home and tumbled into the river, quickly drowning.  With his father’s temperament consigned to another world, Gouverneur decided to return to Boston.  He decided to pursue a different life course and enrolled at Harvard College in the fall of 1811.

At Harvard, Gouverneur seemed to find himself.  He immersed himself in political studies and became an engaged member of the dying Federalist Party.  Gouverneur’s writing indicated that, during this formative period, he discovered the wonders of the Constitution and the debates surrounding its writing.  Little formal work remains from those years and his journal kept not ideas, but rather amazement and appreciation for the burgeoning republic’s Founding Fathers.

The War of 1812

After his first full year at Harvard, the War of 1812 broke out.  Gouverneur did not at first join the militia – recalling his sawmill days, he opted instead for the classroom.  But by 1813, Gouverneur felt growing anxiety about the country’s future and enlisted in the Navy where he fought under Oliver Hazard Perry.  Little is known about his time in the Navy.  Perry once mentioned Gouverneur in a formal report and did so with much enthusiasm.  Gouverneur seemed to make a shining impression on his naval compatriots.  Undoubtedly, his shining war moment occurred during the Battle of Lake Erie: He later wrote that “the thrill of flashing guns and the exploding shells could not match the excitement with which my heart beat for I knew that our actions on that day continued the principles of our Forefathers; it was for them we fought – for constitutional principle and for liberty.  To the British we would not surrender.  Each minute – each death I saw – motivated me further to ensure that America would not be collected by the dustbin of history.”

The war’s conclusion allowed Gouverneur to finish his studies at Harvard.  He graduated in 1816 at 26 and immediately began a career in politics.  His education, his last name, and his war heroics (at least what he claimed to be his war heroics) won him a seat in the Massachusetts state assembly.  But there he felt little appreciated and accomplished little.  Writing in his journal, he decried the “hostility with which the old guard treats me.  They fought in the Revolution – I in the second – but my youth precluded them from seriously taking any ideas which I presented.”  Disheartened, Gouverneur Morris forwent reelection after serving two terms and instead took to studying law.  In 1826 he opened a private practice in the city of Boston but it was clear his heart was not in law – “instead of arguing the law in front of some magistrate, I want to set the law and appoint the magistrate.  I want to create, not argue interpretation.”  Politics again beckoned.

Gouvernor Morris and his Politics

Though originally a Federalist, the party had long died by the time Gouverneur once again forayed in the political scene.  He understand the need for parties – unlike the Founders, he did not decry the “mischief of faction.”  However, in 1830, he was left without a partisan home as the nation’s dominant party – the Democrats – appalled him.  Gouverneur despised President Andrew Jackson and his “unthinking attempts to undermine the constitutional system which the Founders so wisely created.  A strong president they desired not, but a strong Congress and national tribunal they craved.  Jackson has inverted the constitutional structure and sets the country on a bad course.”  That year he ran for Congress and won.

A minority faction in Congress, Gouverneur Morris had little hopes of accomplishing anything.  Again, his inability to affect legislation saddened him and he turned his eyes elsewhere.  He ran for governor of Massachusetts – perhaps in an attempt to fulfill his name’s destiny – in 1832 and won in a landslide victory.  His support for the National Bank of the United States and ardent campaigning on behalf of Whig Henry Clay (Gouverneur joined the Whig party soon after its formation) earned him a national reputation as a rising Whig star and helped hand Massachusetts to Clay in his failed presidential bid.

Gouverneur served four successful years in the governor’s mansion.  He implemented the Whig platform at the state level, doing all he could to promote industrial growth in Massachusetts and to support new, growing industries.  A fervent embrace of the “American System” ensured that Massachusetts remained the seat of the Industrial Revolution while endearing Gouverneur to Whig elites.  At Clay’s urgining, Gouverneur ran for the Senate in 1836 and won.  In the Senate, Gouverneur fought Democratic President Martin Van Buren on a variety of economic issues.  Gouverneur is best remembered for his many long-winded speeches on the Senate’s floor in which he decried presidential overreach, the subversion of constitutional structure, and the “perverted, ignorant” economic plans of the Democrats.  He and Daniel Webster, his Senate partner from Massachusetts, often spent days giving join speeches and debating the Democratic opposition.  Together, the two consisted of the Senate’s “engine,” according to the New York Times.

Gouverneur Morris — President

Morris’s appeal – he managed to charm even those he vehemently disagreed with his politics – and eloquent oration made him the natural Whig selection for the 1840 presidential election.  With Clay as his running mate, Gouverneur successfully defeated incumbent Martin Van Buren and assumed the executive office, hoping to whittle away its power and instead return Congress to its rightful position as the center of governing legitimacy.  He largely succeeded in this task.  Though Gouverneur frequently corresponded with Whig leaders in Congress, he made no direct appeals to the tribunal and only vetoed legislation on constitutional grounds (even if he disagreed with a bill, he signed it into law).  Since Whigs controlled both chambers during Morris’s tenure, his hands-off approach to legislative stewarding still resulted in his desired outcomes.

Unfortunately, Gouverneur fell seriously ill early in 1844 and, fearing for his life, did not accept the Whig nomination for president.  Clay again headed the Whig ticket and again lost to the Democrats (who nominated James K. Polk).  Though recovered by 1848, Gouverneur’s staunch opposition to slavery and his desire to see it eliminated across the United States precluded another nomination to the presidency.  He instead returned to the Senate and spent the next 10 years there (until his death in 1858).  Those years consisted of many more long-winded speeches, disappointment in the again-expanded presidency, and an out-spoken opposition to “peculiar institution” of slavery.

Gouverneur Morris is an oft-forgotten but important figure in presidential and political history.  His disdain for expanded presidential powers and his ability to actually curtail the executive while in office represented the last administration to embrace original constitutional theory with regard to the separation of constitutional powers.  Gouverneur’s many Senate speeches are staples today in American oration and his rhetorical might still inspires speech writers for politicians at all levels.  We would do well to remember Gouverneur Morris and his political thoughts for it is they that best encapsulate our Founders’ governing intentions and which best represent our nation’s Constitution.

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why we need strong political parties

We Need Strong Political Parties

In the year of the populist, endorsing strong political parties is not a popular opinion.  But I’m convinced it’s necessary for the well-being of our democracy: through strong parties, we can diminish the appeal of demagogues like Donald Trump and potentially dangerous populist policies rooted in misinformation or in reaction to economic displacement.

Democracy, of course, is a good thing, but too much democracy, especially in candidate selection, can have unintended consequences.  As Julia Azari notes, “elections can sometimes produces…illiberal outcomes” that “oppress minorities, violate religious freedom, advocate violent ends, or neglects civil liberties.”  If that sounds familiar, it’s because at various points in this election, Trump has embraced many of these notions — from calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country to condoning violence at his rallies and a stated willingness to punish women who get abortions (which, regardless of opinion on the issue, is a civil right).  The solution to demagogues like Trump is strong political parties.

Since the Progressive Era, parties have been losing legitimacy.  Progressives endorsed an expansion of democracy, including the continued pseudo-democratization of the presidency (to borrow Robert Dahl’s phrase).  But the pseudo-democratization of the presidency and especially presidential selection leads to problems.  There’s a reason we want party officials to have a strong say in candidate selection: they have skin in the game.  Party elites and elected officials rise and fall with the party; a popular party leaders lifts their position while an unpopular candidate atop the ticket could cause them to lose their office.  As such, their decisions are premised not just on policy, but on electoral livelihood.  In other words, they will support a candidate who both matches their ideological beliefs and will give the party the best opportunity at winning the general election (and thus boosting the party’s standing).  We should want those individuals to have a strong say in primaries — they know politics best.

That’s just to defend superdelegates.  Closed primaries are also necessary for a party’s well-being.  Nominations are inherently partisan affairs — there’s a reason it’s called the “Democratic presidential nomination” or the “Republican presidential nomination.”  Parties are selecting a nominee.  And that nominee should reflect the wants of loyal partisans, those who have registered and affiliate with the party.  This disenfranchises no one.  In fact, it encourages voters to register with a party, thereby strengthening partisan loyalties and unifying a large number of voters around a single identification: a party.  We can create strong political parties by encouraging people to register and affiliate with a party in order to participate in the primaries.  (That said, barriers to joining parties and participating in these elections should be low.  No states should require partisan affiliation months before the primary election).

Superdelegates and loyal partisans will elect a candidate best for the party.  Usually, if not always, what’s best for the party will be what’s best for the country.  Strong political parties want to win the general election; they want to take the presidency and control Congress.  As such, its national representative should be an individual who appeals to swing voters and who can lead the party to a strong showing on election day.

Independent voters are not beholden to such wants.  Independents — and they are not true independents, but rather closet partisans perhaps with ideologies further to the left or to the right of the two major parties — have no affiliation to a party and thus care little about the party’s electoral viability.  They care about ideology and will infiltrate a party to back an insurgent candidate whose ideology closely aligns with their own; they don’t want strong political parties because parties would block a demagogic and altogether dangerous candidate who would hurt down-ticket races across the nation.

Take Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  Trump rode a mischievous faction of partisan and independent voters to his plurality victory in the Republican nomination.  Party elites decried his efforts and his policies — they realize he spells electoral disaster in November.  But because the GOP is in a weak state trying to balance an increasing number of factions, because the field winnowed too late to produce a credible alternative to Trump, and because independent voters flooded the Republican primaries, a dangerous demagogue — the likes of which our Founders feared — emerged.  Needless to say, a more controlled partisan process would not have resulted in Trump’s nomination.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is a far-left candidate relying on populist support.  He is not a demagogue like Trump, but his candidacy does thrive on a faction of far-left independents corrupting a partisan affair.  He trails huge with superdelegates — the party insiders who best understand politics and understand the electorate better than all but (perhaps) political scientists.  Of course, should he emerge with a pledged delegate lead, the supers will follow, but their initial support (and blue-dog Democrat fears that Sanders will hurt down-ticket races) attest to Sanders’ electoral viability (or lack thereof).  It’s also worth noting that while supers by and large backed Hillary Clinton in 2008, Barack Obama was urged to run by high-ranking Democratic senators.  He was never considered a threat to Democratic victory.  Sanders does not prove a threat to liberal democracy, but his ability to influence Democratic affairs through an independent coalition premised on ideological affiliation and not partisan loyalty (hence #BernieOrBust) shows that he and his supporters care not about the electoral and long-term viability of the Democratic Party.

Strengthening partisan structures through closed primaries and superdelegates result in candidates viable at the national scale and who boost party chances across the ballot.  Strong parties prevent demagogues and populist infiltration.  They reflect the wants, desires, and beliefs of political experts whose livelihood depends, in part, on nominating outcomes.

We should embrace strong political parties, not run from them.