The Partisan ‘Good’

There is something that I’m only now beginning to fully understand.

The whole lesser evilism is a distraction, but not in a way I previously thought. To many (I suspect most) partisan Democrats, someone like Hillary Clinton isn’t a lesser evil. She represents precisely what they want. Few of her supporters are fooled by her empty rhetoric.

Her political record is well known: big money cronyism, racialized tough-on-crime policies, class warfare on the poor, welfare slashing, war hawk militarism, and standard flip-flopping particularly on social issues. That is what people mean when they say she has ‘experience’, because indeed she is complicit in the corrupt system and is part of the corrupt establishment. She has experience in the day-to-day operations of the empire and experience in how to keep the masses in line. She knows the political game from decades of being an insider.

What lesser evil voting allows is plausible deniability. Partisan Democrats can vote for someone like Hillary Clinton, all the while pretending they don’t actually want everything she stands for. These kind of people want a strong ruler to maintain the status quo and protect the social order, at any and all costs. That is the only promise Hillary Clinton can make and that is why so many partisan Democrats support her. She represents the last hope for the system, beyond which lies the dangerous democratic masses demanding reform and justice.

Until recently, I took lesser evilism at face value. I assumed that most partisan Democrats would choose the more liberal and progressive candidate, if there was a viable option. That has been disproven with this campaign season.

Bernie Sanders represents everything partisan Democrats claim to believe, what they supposedly want and support. He is also the most popular candidate, both well-liked and well-trusted, unlike Hillary. In fact, in competition against Republicans, he is the most viable candidate. If all partisan Democrats cared about was winning to defeat the greater evil of the GOP, then there would be mass support of Sanders by the entire Democratic party.

Some suspect Sanders is a sheepdog to draw non-Democrats and Democratic doubters back into the fold. In that case, he would bring more votes to Hillary. But if that was the purpose, he is utterly failing at his job, considering many of his supporters aren’t partisan Democrats and have no plans in voting for Hillary. That is probably why there is such push back against him. He is making apparent the divide between the political left and partisans. The Democratic establishment and their defenders are realizing what a threat Sanders represents, as it is forcing the corruption of the system into the light.

This has put Democrats into an uncomfortable position. There is no longer any plausible deniability. They either support progressive liberalism or they oppose it.

19 thoughts on “The Partisan ‘Good’

  1. Even the Bushes may be courting her now. But make no word about it, she’ll do a lot of horrible shit in office, and will be able to get away with it. The media is going to paint so many people that question her as a woman hater or anti-feminist. And their’s going to be alot of people that buy it up. We still live in a pretty sexist society, so that’ll help Hilalrys cause. I really do wonder if HIllary will actually go through equal pay with women though. It’;ll be interesting if she does anything about that. They’ll be painint her enemies that dont’ want war in the media as sexist and that they dont back war because she’s a woman in charge. Or that she isn’t cpaable of going to war because she’s a woman. Or it was more OK when men did it. They’ll be doing this when she’s bombing the hell out of countries. My guess after her 4 to 8 year run will be getting a gay democrat who is a neocon just like her. And it’ll be the same thing all obver again.l You hate him/her because they’re gay. Despite the horrible policies they push. They got away with this with Obama for awhile because he was black, and it’ll just continue =/

    • In terms of #BernieorBust, I’d rather it be #BernieOrGreen and #BernieOrStein, not #BernieOrBust

    • Hillary is a professional politician of the standard plutocratic variety. She will always do the bidding of the wealthy and big biz. But she has a keen sense of demagoguery. She knows how to tell different crowds what they want to hear. And she constantly flip-flops.

      But, like a successful professional politician, she will eventually come around on socially liberal issues when they become majority opinion among her party base and the general public. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if her hypothetical presidency would lead to her throwing some bones for the the middle class identity politics activists.

      About Sanders, there is no singular demographic of supporters. Most of them probably aren’t partisan Democrats. They are a mix of indepenents, third partiers, typical non-voters, and some reform-minded Republicans. I suspect he is drawing a larger mix than even Nader managed to do.

      I’ve heard a fair amount of diversity in opinions among Sanders supporters. Some want him to run as a third party or independent candidate, if he doesn’t get the Democratic nomination. Or else they want to write his name in. While others plan on not voting at all, assuming that Sanders isn’t an option. Still, there are a surprising number who say they’ll vote for someone like Stein or even Trump.

      The whole Bernie or bust thing gets a lot of media attention. I just don’t think it means quite what some think it means. Most people who state this are simply declaring their intention of taking the campaign to the convention. They are also declaring their refusal to vote for the likes of Hillary. At this point, Sanders has become symbolic of the leftist reform vote. Bernie or bust, for many people, can be interpreted as leftist reform vote or bust. But, in terms of specific candidates, there isn’t much agreement about what this might mean when the election rolls around.

      BTW I added some to my post above. I had some further thoughts that I wanted to include. They aren’t a direct response to your comments here, as I was thinking about it all before you posted your comments. The additions are just general thoughts, although some of our previous discussions shaped some of my thinking, such as about the sheepdog allegation. No matter what the establishment wants, they aren’t in control of the political alignment that is happening.

    • I have two responses to it.

      On a personal level, my main interest in Sanders has just been in how his campaign could reframe public debate. So, I was never particularly concerned about who would win the election. The system is rigged and the government ruled by a corporatist bureaucracy. No matter who is president, the basic problems and corruption remain the same.

      As for the article itself, I’m of mixed opinion. The author brings up some good points. Sanders is a professional politician, even if a different variety than Clinton. No one last as long as Sanders has in mainstream politics without mostly playing the game. If he spent his time protesting everything that is wrong with the government, he’d have no time to do anything else and the powers that be would quickly eliminate him.

      That said, the author seems to have gotten some things wrong. For example, Sanders is far more critical of Israel and of US foreign aid than is acknowledged. He is neither a pacifist nor an imperialist, but he isn’t afraid of criticizing failed US foreign policies. He has voted against wars of aggression such as the Iraq War, similar to how he was against the Vietnam War. He should be given credit where he deserves it.

  2. 14 points of fascism:


    Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism

    From the prominent displays of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, was always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity were common themes in expressing this nationalism. It was usually coupled with a suspicion of things foreign that often bordered on xenophobia.

    Disdain for the importance of human rights

    The regimes themselves viewed human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population was brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted. When abuse was egregious, the tactic was to use secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

    Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause

    The most significant common thread among these regimes was the use of scapegoating as a means to divert the people’s attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice—relentless propaganda and disinformation—were usually effective. Often the regimes would incite “spontaneous” acts against the target scapegoats, usually communists, socialists, liberals, Jews, ethnic and racial minorities, traditional national enemies, members of other religions, secularists, homosexuals, and “terrorists.” Active opponents of these regimes were inevitably labeled as terrorists and dealt with accordingly.

    The supremacy of the military/avid militarism

    Ruling elites always identified closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supported it. A disproportionate share of national resources was allocated to the military, even when domestic needs were acute. The military was seen as an expression of nationalism, and was used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

    Rampant sexism

    Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture were male-dominated, these regimes inevitably viewed women as second-class citizens. They were adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes were usually codified in Draconian laws that enjoyed strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

    A controlled mass media

    Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

    Obsession with national security

    Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting “national security,” and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

    Religion and ruling elite tied together

    Unlike communist regimes, the fascist and protofascist regimes were never proclaimed as godless by their opponents. In fact, most of the regimes attached themselves to the predominant religion of the country and chose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite’s behavior was incompatible with the precepts of the religion was generally swept under the rug. Propaganda kept up the illusion that the ruling elites were defenders of the faith and opponents of the “godless.” A perception was manufactured that opposing the power elite was tantamount to an attack on religion.

    Power of corporations protected

    Although the personal life of ordinary citizens was under strict control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom was not compromised. The ruling elite saw the corporate structure as a way to not only ensure military production (in developed states), but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite were often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of “have-not” citizens.

    Power of labor suppressed or eliminated

    Since organized labor was seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the ruling elite and its corporate allies, it was inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor formed an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt. Under some regimes, being poor was considered akin to a vice.

    Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts

    Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them were anathema to these regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom were considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities were tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent were strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to exist.

    Obsession with crime and punishment

    Most of these regimes maintained Draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police were often glorified and had almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. “Normal” and political crime were often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or “traitors” was often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

    Rampant cronyism and corruption

    Those in business circles and close to the power elite often used their position to enrich themselves. This corruption worked both ways; the power elite would receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn would gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite were in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well: for example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption was largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

    Fraudulent elections

    Elections in the form of plebiscites or public opinion polls were usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates were held, they would usually be perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods included maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

    The US does all of these. =(

    • For a long time, I’ve been fascinated with fascism, authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation. Corey Robin based his theory of the reactionary mind partly on Adorno’s view of fascism, as I recall.

      There is no doubt that the fascists won in this country. The very reason they could fear-monger about commies was that the commies posed such little threat. If the commies had successfully infiltrated the government, there never would have been a Red Scare. Instead, the US government, corporations, and other big money interests have had strong, close ties with fascists for a century.

      Our government even protected Nazis from prosecution and hired them to work for the US. I was reading about Dulles and the CIA. The US turning into a fascist society was no accident. It took generations of conspiring behind the scenes. The power of fascism in the US is that it has rarely identified itself as fascism. It’s able to hide out in the open, since the propaganda system has been so effective.

      • Noam Chomsky says the Soviet Union was the lesser evil during the cold war. I been reading about some of the politics of the soviet union. They had healthcare for all, free education, and even books were free! Obviously it was totalitarian, but maybe my interest in it is because we live in such a brutal hyper competitive society here in the US. I really despise this brand of capitalism we live under.

        • Both the USSR and the US were authoritarian governments. Just of different varieties.

          Early on, the USSR was able to turn its economy around, despite having suffered massive destruction and loss of lives during WWII. It was a greater accomplishment than what was seen in the US, since Americans never suffered to the same extent nor was the American economy crippled during that time. The USSR has to be given credit where its due.

          During the early Cold War, a poor minority might have been much better off in the USSR than in the US. It’s all relative. Ultimately, it would best to not live under any authoritarian regime, not that most people ever are given such a choice.

          • Why do you think we are going in such a rightward shift in economics? (I guiess we kinda have starting with Reaganomics) Is it just extreme greed from the 1 percent?

          • No, it’s not just Reagan. Besides, so-called Reganomics began with Jimmy Carter.

            Oppressive corporatism more generally had been developing since the Gilded Age and really took off during the early rise of fascism, which was seen not just in Europe but also in how union-busting, commie-bashing big ag came to power in places like California during the 1930s and 1940s. It was in California where big biz and big religion became a singular force, where Nixon developed his Southern Strategy, and where Reagan eventually became the spokesperson for corporatism.

            So, Reagan was the end point of many changes happening in both parties becoming friendly to major corporate interests. He was made possible by those such as the Bush family, even though it was before any Bush became president. You can’t forget that George H.W. Bush, like Dulles before him, was the director of the CIA—and that was years before Reagan became president.

            The Bush family and other corporate families had close ties to fascist governments, including the Nazis before and during early WWII. The CIA via Dulles had good relations with fascists and protected Nazis from prosecution and brought them into the US government. Many American corporations made great wealth from the Nazis. That is where the Bush family wealth originated.

            In some ways, there has been a rightward shift. But in other ways, our entire political system has always been far right. It’s more that in recent decades the ruling elite have become more blatant in their power and more flaunting of their wealth. They no longer have to pretend the government isn’t a corporatocracy, even though it’s been that way for longer than most people can remember.

            The Populist Era was probably the last time the corporatocracy felt threatened. The People’s Party dissolved in 1908. And the Bonus Army protest was violently destroyed in 1932. There hasn’t been a real threat to the social order since. The ruling elite has learned how to contain and control or even eliminate protest movements. Radicalism was defanged and the corporatocracy has been able to rule without worry.

  3. It was always about keeping the idealists in line and preventing real change.

    That’s why Bernie or Bust is the only real option. The Partisans must be discredited.

    • There needs to be other major ways of socially and politically organizing. In the past, almost everyone belonged to civic organizations of one sort or another: ethnic organizations, fraternal groups, unions, etc.

      Even the KKK was a civic organization that did volunteer work in local communities, raised money for orphanages and veterans, and did grassroots organizing for politics. The original Black Panthers also operated as a civic organization by operating soup kitchens, offering educational literature, and such. Churches as well used to do a lot more civic work, from operating hospitals to orphanages.

      It used to be typical for many people to simultaneously belong to multiple civic organizations. On top of this, there were numerous third parties that often had immense power and influence at the local level. There is no way to have a functioning democracy with only two dominant parties, shrinking union membership, and few remaining traditional civic organizations.

  4. The US needs proportional representation. So does Canada. It should be the Single Transferable Vote type too.

    I believe that the current system is designed to entrench the current plutocracy, while giving the illusion of democracy.

    • That is what galls me. They’ve become so brazen. I find myself disappointed to find out how many people I know who refuse to acknowledge the corruption and fight against it. These are people who should know better, who profess nice sounding principles and who are otherwise well informed. But something about partisanship shuts down people’s brains and groupthink kicks in. I’m beginning to understand why it’s so easy for authoritarian leaders to take over countries.

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