·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics


— July 29, 2016

What will be the reaction now that millions of Americans have been Berned? For legions of Bernie Sanders supporters, the Vermont senator’s syrupy speech Tuesday night at the Democratic Party’s convention, culminating in his call for Hillary Clinton to be nominated the party’s presidential candidate by acclamation, was difficult to choke down.

What will be the reaction now that millions of Americans have been Berned? For legions of Bernie Sanders supporters, the Vermont senator’s syrupy speech Tuesday night at the Democratic Party’s convention, culminating in his call for Hillary Clinton to be nominated the party’s presidential candidate by acclamation, was difficult to choke down.

Here was Sanders, who had built a passionate following across the country with his talk of a “political revolution” and taking America back from the “billionaire class,” endorsing Clinton of all people. Clinton, whom he had lambasted in the primaries for her cozy ties to Wall Street. Clinton, who has based her campaign on the premise that what America needs is more of the same. Some revolution.

This pathetic end to Sanders’ run for the presidency may have left his followers feeling confused, betrayed and angry, but it should have come as no surprise. After all, Sanders had made clear even during the primaries that he would be endorsing Clinton once his own campaign fell short. More than that, though, he had run as a Democrat. That Sanders chose to step inside the tent of one of the two big-business, pro-war parties should have alerted those with any political memory that here was yet another dead end for a movement with radical potential. Like Democratic outliers before him—Jesse Jackson and Dennis Kucinich come to mind—Sanders has served as a lightning rod, attracting righteous working class disaffection and energy and conducting it into the safe, dead ground of the Democratic Party.

For the last hundred years and more, the Democratic Party has functioned in the political arena of America’s corporatocracy as the party of economic and social reform. As such it has been tasked with corralling the anger and energy of the working class and dissipating it in ways relatively harmless to the interests of major industry and Wall Street. In the Great Depression, for instance, the avuncular Franklin Delano Roosevelt, himself a member of America’s Brahmin caste, oversaw the salvage operation that rescued capitalism from its worst crisis to that point, conducting a one-way conversation with the working class and ushering in programs that eased their pain without allowing any real redistribution of power or wealth.

In the 1960’s, reactionary Democratic politicians John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson promoted social programs aimed at placating the restive layers of the working class even while continuing Washington’s imperialist policies abroad and viciously repressing a resurgent left at home. Perhaps Kennedy best represents the face of the Democratic Party as the party of, in Barack Obama’s slogan, hope and change, memorialized as he is for his youth and his rhetoric of optimism.

Today, though, the Democratic Party has become a parody of itself. A parody of its own con game. The Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Great Society were all initiatives that made concessions to the Civil Rights movement and the rising agitation among African Americans. Missing among these initiatives, however, was any actual empowerment of workers or the impoverished. Breaking with its racist Southern heritage, the Democratic Party now announced itself the party of racial inclusion, an inevitable adaptation for the party of social reform. The culmination of this adaptation was the election in 2008 of Barack Obama. The victory, for African Americans and the millions of working class and middle class whites who voted for Obama, would be wholly sentimental and short-lived.

Under Obama’s administration, life has only gotten worse for African Americans and for all but the richest Americans. The country has been continuously at war, making Obama the first president to oversee eight solid years of war. After the economic crisis of 2008, the too-big-to-fail banks were invited to back their armored cars up to the loading dock at the U.S. Treasury while ordinary Americans who had cheated no one were being evicted from their homes. No real changes were made to the financial and regulatory systems that made the crash possible in the first place, and it is only a matter of time before the bubble bursts again.

Under Obama, big business has held sway, with banks and corporations descending like jackals on the last great piles of money to be found in the United States, our tax dollars. Prisons are privatized. For-profit colleges and universities, like the sham Trump University, suck up federal financial aid money. The Department of Education has become the spearhead for the charter school scam that is attacking the very existence of not-for-profit public education. And in Detroit we can see the prototype for de-industrialized cities across the nation: the anti-democratic institution of “emergency managers,” a fraudulent bankruptcy, the raiding of municipal pensions, the selling off of public assets like art museums, and the simultaneous jacking up of costs for utilities like water and draconian measures for those who cannot pay.

This is the state of affairs that Obama has declared “pretty darn good.” And Hillary Clinton promises more of the same. While the Sanders movement has prized from her lips a few empty concessions to the view that some things could be better, Clinton openly represents the status quo and has little to say on economic matters. Rather, and as the Democratic convention demonstrated, she is riding the rhetoric of identity politics. Race, gender and sexual orientation are, for the Clinton campaign and our lapdog media, the most pressing issues in American life. Voters are being primed for the thrill of electing the country’s first woman president. The last glass ceiling is about to be shattered!

Of course, Hillary Clinton will do no more for women than Barack Obama has done for African Americans. Her allegiance, even more than his, lies with Wall Street. Middle and working class women raising children, holding multiple jobs, trying to pay mortgage and rent will find no more relief under Hillary Clinton than British women found under Margaret Thatcher.

Nor will a Clinton presidency put an end to our imperialist bloodshed. As Obama continues to bring us perilously close to war with nuclear powers China and Russia, the Clinton campaign has made it a point of pride to stand more committed to aggression against Russia than the fascistic Donald Trump. With her close ties to the defense and intelligence communities and her cavalier attitude toward waging war, as when she voted as a senator to authorize the invasion of Iraq and when she supervised the rape of Libya as Secretary of State, Clinton not only bears responsibility for the deaths over a million people but represents a real threat of engaging the United States in a nuclear war.

To all this Bernie Sanders lends his fawning support, and hopes to lend his supporters in November. He is a true Democrat.

Photo source:

Join the conversation!