By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.
This is not about the Nevada caucus or its outcome. It’s about Harry Reid, the mask he’s been wearing, and why he took it off. This election is a Great Unmasking. To see what I mean by that, read on.
I’ve seen this story now in several locations, but I’ll give Andrea Mitchell the scoop, pride of place:
— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) February 20, 2016
The supposedly neutral Harry Reid engineered, or helped engineer, Hillary Clinton’s narrow victory in Nevada. Recall that the Clinton victory was made possible by the large turnout in Clark County, and in particular, in the Strip casino caucus sites. That turnout was, in turn, made possible by a combination of two actions — the supposedly neutral Culinary Workers union chief actively encouraging workers to caucus, and casino employers keeping their workers “on the clock” — i.e., making sure they were paid — when they went to the caucus sites.Both are Harry Reid’s doing.
Clark County is a mainstream Democratic stronghold. As you’ll read below, and as Harry Reid well knows, it’s very difficult win in Nevada if you’re way behind in Clark County. Here’s the report by Nevada reporter Jon Ralston via USA Today (my emphasis throughout):
Harry Reid delivers for Hillary Clinton: Jon Ralston
I’d like to congratulate the winner of the Nevada Democratic caucuses: Harry Reid.
What’s that, you say? The Senate Democratic leader wasn’t running? What am I talking about? …
[T]he caucuses, which Clinton won by about 5 percentage points, also cemented Prince Harry as a man Machiavelli would have bowed to, a man with one eye who still sees the field better and is still more dangerous, effective and cunning than any pol the state (the country?) has ever seen. Clinton might not have won Nevada if Reid had not interceded last week, when the man feigning neutrality saw what everyone in the Democratic elite saw: Sanders erasing a once mountainous lead and on the verge of perhaps winning Nevada and rendering inoperative the “Hillary is more electable” argument.
The story of the Nevada caucuses is that a lame-duck senator and a self-neutered union conspired to revive the Clinton campaign in a remarkable bit of backroom maneuvering that helped Madame Secretary crush Sanders in Clark County, the key to winning almost any statewide election. …
First, regarding the union and casino worker turnout:
Ultimately, what turned this race was Reid, who clearly came home to find that Clinton’s insurmountable lead was being surmounted. Despite being furious with Team Clinton for its panic-stricken spin that Nevada was as white as Iowa and New Hampshire, undermining Reid’s argument about why the state was given early-state status (and, you know, being false, too), the senator decided he would single-handedly save the state for Clinton.
In the middle of last week, Reid made a phone call, first reported by The New York Times’ Amy Chozick, to D. Taylor, the head of the parent of the Culinary Workers Union local in Las Vegas. Before that call, the union, facing difficult contract negotiations and seeing no advantage in enmeshing itself in a bloody internecine fight, had declared it was more Swiss than Hispanic. With the culinary union not endorsing and unwilling to even engage in the caucuses, employee turnout at six casino sites on the Las Vegas Strip was forecast at a combined 100 or so. That is, insignificant.
Taylor has “been extremely cooperative,” Reid told Chozick. “Probably 100 organizers will be at the caucus sites and in hotels to make sure people know what they’re doing.”
Turnout, of course, is not the complaint. We want everyone to vote, regardless of outcome. It’s Reid’s intervention, and also, sad to say, D. Taylor’s, which came only after it seemed intervention was needed to steer the vote in an unacknowledged (by either) but preferred direction.
Reid had a hand in making sure casino workers were paid for their caucusing as well:
But Reid did not stop there. He also called casino executives, Democratic insiders confirm, with a simple message: “Let your people go.”
That is, he wanted to ensure the workers would be allowed time off from work to caucus. No one said no to Prince Harry.
Clinton owes Reid a thank-you. (Maybe she really will kill TPP, which Reid appears not to favor.) And thanks to Sanders, Reid has been unmasked. Because (same article)…
Despite their common public neutrality, Taylor and Reid surely believe, as do most Democratic power brokers, that a Sanders nomination would be a disaster….
… a disaster for the Democratic Party? Or for themselves and the insider game? It looks to me like Reid has been unmasked as a company man after all. Nice insight, Mr. Ralston. And thanks for declaring yourself, Senator.
I mentioned this earlier, but it bears repeating. This primary election is the “Emperor’s New Clothes” election. Bernie Sanders is telling the truth, finally, and ordinary people are saying, yes, I agree. Then they’re watching their leaders, their progressive and “progressive” leaders, sort themselves into two camps — Sanders’ camp and the emperor’s camp.
Those leaders can say, “No, the emperor is perfectly well dressed. Now let’s just get on with business as usual. ‘Cause Republicans….” Or they can say, with Sanders, “Yes, I see that too.” The election is not calling out the left electorate. It’s calling out the left electorate’s professed leaders, sorting them into groups for us. In that sense, this election is performing quite a service.
It’s as though one day the whole town assembled in the square, and all the nobles and officials took the stage and threw off their masks. What a sight for the people. Masks rising high into the air, like a flock of birds rising from a tree.
And another sight, the sudden revelation of who’s really who. On the one hand, those for whom the mask is identical to the face — the Keith Ellisons of the world — those who’ve been working for the town, in other words. On the other hand, those for whom the mask is very different from the face — the Chad Griffins of the world, if Michelangelo Signorile is to be believed — those who’ve been pretending, but really working for themselves, their careers, their own enrichment all along. And finally, those who’ve been trying to straddle both worlds — like Senator Reid perhaps — with only a mask to hide their failure to do so.
This is turning into an amazing election, the most interesting in my lifetime. Also the most consequential, as I tried to indicate here. Isaiah Poole and I discussed this election and more on a recent Virtually Speaking Sundays discussion. Tune in and listen if you like.
However this ends, the country and the Party will never be the same again.
(Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you’d like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you’d like to “phone-bank for Bernie,” go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!)