Trillions Upon Trillions of Dollars

Trillions upon trillions of dollars. It adds up, year after year. Corporate subsidies, environmental damage, pollution-caused disease, defense spending, and on and on. An ever increasing national debt with benefits going to those getting the tax cuts. It’s socialism for the rich. A few trillion a year for subsidies to the oil industry, a few more trillion a year somewhere else, and so it goes. Throw in no-bid contracts, crony capitalism, revolving door politics, regulatory capture. Let’s start another war to defend some corporate interest or another.

It’s not a net benefit for society. We aren’t talking about an investment that somehow trickles down in benefitting Americans and the global population. It doesn’t float all boats. If anything, large numbers of boats are taking on water and sinking. A UN report found that entire industries, when environmental costs were added back in, were a net loss to society. The benefits are being privatized while the costs externalized and socialized.

Take the oil industry that receives those trillions of dollars of subsidies every year and, at the same time, causes trillions of dollars of harm to the health of people and ecosystems. And it’s not just money, as this represents suffering and lives lost. The tragedy is compounded a thousandfold as our entire military-industrial complex is built on this altar of endless human sacrifice. We send off our sons and daughters to fight and die to protect oil fields, ports, and trade routes to guarantee continuing profits for big biz.

The rich get richer, as inequality grows more vast. But how about a fraction of the wealth and resources stolen from the public instead being used for the public good? We couldn’t do that. We can’t afford it! Really? Americans should be shocked by this theft, this corruption. But lost in cynicism, they are not shocked at all. Why not? Trillions… It’s just a word. It’s incomprehensible and unimaginable. When someone says trillions of dollars, at best it feels like an abstraction and at worst it sounds like hyperbole. But it is a real number that represents actual reality.

A plutocracy doesn’t just happen. It takes immense stolen wealth to create it, to pay for it. And in America, we have the most expensive plutocracy the world has ever seen. That is  way beyond the wealth that would be required to house, feed, educate, and give medical treatment to every US citizen. And with such a generous (i.e., liberal) social democracy or even democratic socialism, there still would be hundreds of trillions of dollars left over to save for a rainy day. Why do we tolerate such waste, such cruelty?

* * *

Old School Progressivism

I’ve had a suspicion for a while and some statements by Trump’s adviser, Steve Bannon, seem to confirm it. Bannon said that he isn’t a white nationalist, rather an American nationalist and economic nationalist, and that if they do things right even minorities will support them. He talked about concrete policies like a trillion dollar infrastructure project. The Trump administration apparently is trying to revive old school progressivism. I find it interesting that liberal Democrats no longer recognize it, even as it smacks them upside the head — they viciously attacked economic populism as if it were a dangerous invader when it showed up in their own party.

Public Health, Public Good

The reality is that the US is the wealthiest country in the world. In global capitalism, the public wealth and resources regularly given away and wasted for private interests is easily in the trillions of dollars on a yearly basis. It might be trillions in just considering the direct benefits corporations have on US land and waters. The precise amount has never been calculated because the corporatist don’t want to know or rather don’t want the rest of us to know, although I’m sure they have a good sense of the approximate amount of what is being sucked out of the system. Whatever the exact amount, it’s guaranteed that it could pay for healthcare for every US citizen, along with so much else.

Get on board or get out of the way!

The intellectual elite over at Reason Magazine, the propaganda rag for the Koch Robber Barons with numerous corporate front groups as the funding sources (SourceWatch, Reason Foundation), want to help us understand the error of our ways: “Tens of trillions of dollars in new taxes are likely to prove a bit of a hurdle for Americans who want lots of new goodies from the government only if they’re entirely free” (J. D. Tuccille, More Americans Want Bigger Government—If It’s Free).

Trillions? Such a big scary number. Really, asshole? I think I’ve seen where the trillions go. We can’t afford ‘socialism’, you say. Well, I suspect most Americans would agree with me in thinking that we can’t afford kleptocracy, socialism for the rich (Americans Can’t Afford Kleptocracy). Just look at one small part of one industry over a single year, and it still would be an underestimation because most of the wealth, resources, and other benefits given away goes uncounted: “fossil fuels enjoy $5 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies” (Brian Kahn, Building All the Fossil Fuel Projects Already in the Pipeline Would Wreck the Climate). Multiply that by the other areas of big energy such as nuclear and coal. Then multiply that by the numerous other industries that suck at the government teat: big tech, big ag, etc. And finally multiply that over the many decades that have bled the American public dry. Just over the past decade alone, we could be talking about the equivalent of hundreds of trillions of dollars of public wealth being stolen and stuffed into the pockets of the already rich. Now think about the incomprehensible amount of wealth that has disappeared into the private sector over our lifetimes, most of it probably having been diverted into foreign investments and secret bank accounts or wasted in financial gambling and conspicuous consumption.

All that money stolen and wasted, not to mention externalized costs on top of that. According to a study sponsored by the United Nations, “The report found that when you took the externalized costs into effect, essentially NONE of the industries was actually making a profit. The huge profit margins being made by the world’s most profitable industries (oil, meat, tobacco, mining, electronics) is being paid for against the future: we are trading long term sustainability for the benefit of shareholders. Sometimes the environmental costs vastly outweighed revenue, meaning that these industries would be constantly losing money had they actually been paying for the ecological damage and strain they were causing” (Michael Thomas, New UN report finds almost no industry profitable if environmental costs were included; also see An Invisible Debt Made Visible). So, not only are industries like that of big energy taking trillions of dollars of corporate welfare as part of plutocratic socialism for they are simultaneously, on the other side of the equation, offloading trillions of dollars of costs onto the public. And we have no way to measure the further costs externalized through pollution and ecological destruction. It is an incomprehensibly large net loss for all of society, in the United States and across the world.

We are told that we can’t afford a few trillion to ensure most Americans don’t suffer and die from preventable and treatable health concerns, some of it caused by the very costs of pollution externalized on the public, especially the poor who are more likely to live in industrial toxic zones.

The United States of Inequality

George Lakoff, Moral Politics, pp 194-6:

Liberals like to think of Ronald Reagan as stupid. Whether he was or not, those around him certainly were not. While constantly attacking liberals as big spenders, the Reagan and Bush administrations added three trillion dollars to the national debt by drastically increasing military spending while cutting taxes for the rich. They could count; they saw the deficit increasing. They blamed the increases on liberal spending, but Reagan did not veto every spending bill. Moreover, Reagan’s own actions accounted for much of the deficit increase. Had financial responsibility and the lessening of spending been Reagan’s top priorities, he would not have allowed such an increase in the deficit, simply by not cutting taxes and not pushing for a military buildup far beyond the Pentagon’s requests. . .

Adding three trillion dollars to the deficit actually served a moral purpose for Ronald Reagan. It meant that, sooner or later, the deficit would force an elimination of social programs. He knew perfectly well that the military budget would never be seriously cut, and that a major increase in tax revenues to eliminate the deficit would never be agreed upon. In the long run, the staggering deficit would actually serve Strict Father morality – conservative morality – by forcing Congress to cut social programs. From the perspective of Strict Father morality, Ronald Reagan looks moral and smart, not immoral and dumb as many liberals believe.

National Debt, Starve the Beast, & Wealth Disparity

Increases in the National Debt Chart

Bill Clinton steadily reduced the debt increase while he was in office, thanks largely to the 1993 Debt Reduction Act* that was OPPOSED BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS, led by Newt Gingrich! The Republicans claimed that the Debt Reduction Act would result in HIGHER deficits and also result in an economic recession during President Clinton’s term. Obviously, with hindsight they were completely wrong. Republicans don’t seem to be very good at math, or economics.

Now, after 20 years of huge Republican deficits and Republican recessions, the National Debt has increased from $937 Billion — LESS than $1 Trillion — the day Ronald Reagan took office to ALMOST $10 TRILLION!!! The Debt has increased more than TEN TIMES what it was when Ronald Reagan promised to reduce the National Debt by 1983! We and our children and their children will be paying off the debt added by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush for the next 100 years and more! For what !?!? Services have been cut across America. Police and Fire Departments haven’t grown nearly as fast as our population. Even the number of troops in the military has been cut while military spending has skyrocketed!

Re: Poor investments

Poor investments
by Shay O’Reilly

. . . Even on a purely monetary scale, the money lost to Solyndra is overwhelmed by the amount spent on other failed causes. The money squandered on Solyndra is measured in hundreds of millions, but a Brown University study released earlier this year puts the total cost of our “War on Terror” at $4 trillion — nearly one-third of the national debt.

Investing in Violence and Death

US Budgetary Costs of Wars through 2016: $4.79 Trillion and Counting Summary of Costs of the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Homeland Security
by Neta C. Crawford, Watson Institute

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq,  Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next  fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in  future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion. . .

In addition, any reasonable estimate of the costs of the wars includes the fact that each war entails essentially signing rather large promissory notes to fulfill the US obligations for medical care and support for wounded veterans. These future obligations will total approximately an additional $1 trillion in medical and disability payments and additional administrative burden through 2053.

Post-9/11 Wars Have Cost Nearly $5 Trillion (and Counting)
by Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams

What’s more, a recent Inspector General audit report found a “jaw-dropping” $6.5 trillion could not be accounted for in Defense spending.

The results of Crawford’s report, released last week, follow previous estimates by prominent economists like Nobel Prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, whose 2008 book The Three Trillion Dollar War made similar claims.

Crawford’s report continues: “Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion dollars to the national debt by 2023. By 2053, interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion unless the U.S. changes the way it pays for the war.” . . .

War on Terror Could Be Costliest Yet
by Andrew Soergel, U.S. News

$4.79 trillion total exceeds spending on any single war the U.S. has ever fought.

The Congressional Research Service, for example, estimates the U.S. spent $4.4 trillion on World War II, when adjusted for inflation and converted to 2016 dollars. The Vietnam War is estimated to have cost $789.5 billion, while the Korean War cost $364.8 billion.

Even in terms of noncombat government expenditures, Crawford’s multitrillion-dollar price tag is daunting. The Interstate Highway System is believed to have cost $500 billion to construct, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Project Apollo missions that first sent men to the moon cost more than $135 billion in 2016 dollars. Digging the original Panama Canal is believed to have cost a little more than $9 billion. […]

But even if the U.S. stopped spending on war at the end of this fiscal year, interest costs alone on borrowing to pay for the wars will continue to grow apace,” she said. “Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion dollars to the national debt by 2023.”

Evil Empire

Seeing Our Wars for the First Time
by Tom Engelhardt

Who could be surprised that such a “war” has been eating American taxpayer dollars at a rate that should stagger the imagination in a country whose infrastructure is now visibly crumbling? In a separate study, released in November, the Costs of War Project estimated that the price tag on the war on terror (with some future expenses included) had already reached an astronomical $5.6 trillion. Only recently, however, President Trump, now escalating those conflicts, tweeted an even more staggering figure: “After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!” (This figure, too, seems to have come in some fashion from the Costs of War estimate that “future interest payments on borrowing for the wars will likely add more than $7.9 trillion to the national debt” by mid-century.) . . .

Horrors Wrought On The World Since 9/11
by Nicolas Davies, Popular Resistance

Since 2001, the U.S. has borrowed and spent $3.3 trillion in additional military spending to pay for the largest unilateral military build-up in history, but less than half the extra funding has been spent on current wars. (See Carl Conetta’s 2010 paper, “An Undisciplined Defense”, for more analysis of the Pentagon’s “spending surge.”) . . .

90% of All Deaths In War Are CIVILIANS
by WashingtonsBlog

U.S. military spending dwarfs all other countries:
“The United States is responsible for 41% of the world’s total military spending. The next largest in spending are China, accounting for 8.2%; Russia, 4.1%; and the United Kingdom and France, both 3.6%. . . . If all military . . . costs are included, annual [US] spending amounts to $1 trillion . . . . According to the DOD fiscal year 2012 base structure report, ‘The DOD manages global property of more than 555,000 facilities at more than 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres.’ The United States maintains 700 to 1000 military bases or sites in more than 100 countries. . . .”

Capitalism as Social Control

World’s top firms cause $2.2tn of environmental damage, report estimates
by Juliette Jowit

The cost of pollution and other damage to the natural environment caused by the world’s biggest companies would wipe out more than one-third of their profits if they were held financially accountable, a major unpublished study for the United Nations has found. […]

The study, conducted by London-based consultancy Trucost and due to be published this summer, found the estimated combined damage was worth US$2.2 trillion (£1.4tn) in 2008 – a figure bigger than the national economies of all but seven countries in the world that year.

The figure equates to 6-7% of the companies’ combined turnover, or an average of one-third of their profits, though some businesses would be much harder hit than others. […]

The biggest single impact on the $2.2tn estimate, accounting for more than half of the total, was emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for climate change. Other major “costs” were local air pollution such as particulates, and the damage caused by the over-use and pollution of freshwater.

The true figure is likely to be even higher because the $2.2tn does not include damage caused by household and government consumption of goods and services, such as energy used to power appliances or waste; the “social impacts” such as the migration of people driven out of affected areas, or the long-term effects of any damage other than that from climate change. The final report will also include a higher total estimate which includes those long-term effects of problems such as toxic waste. . .

Hitting toughest climate target will save world $30tn in damages, analysis shows
by Damian Carrington

Achieving the toughest climate change target set in the global Paris agreement will save the world about $30tn in damages, far more than the costs of cutting carbon emissions, according to a new economic analysis.

Most nations, representing 90% of global population, would benefit economically from keeping global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the research indicates. This includes almost all the world’s poorest countries, as well as the three biggest economies – the US, China and Japan – contradicting the claim of US president, Donald Trump, that climate action is too costly. […]

The research, published the journal Nature, is among the first to assess the economic impact of meeting the Paris climate goals. Data from the last 50 years shows clearly that when temperatures rise, GDP and other economic measures fall in most nations, due to impacts on factors including labour productivity, agricultural output and health.

The scientists used this relationship and 40 global climate models to estimate the future economic impact of meeting the 1.5C target – a tough goal given the world has already experienced 1C of man-made warming. They also assessed the long-standing 2C target and the impact of 3C of warming, which is the level expected unless current plans for action are increased.

“By the end of the century, we find the world will be about 3% wealthier if we actually achieve the 1.5C target relative to 2C target,” said Marshall Burke, assistant professor at Stanford University in the US, who led the new work. “In dollar terms, this represents about $30tn in cumulative benefits.”

The estimated cost of meeting the 1.5C target is about $0.5tn over the next 30 years,” he said: “So our evidence suggest the benefits of meeting the targets vastly outweigh the costs.”

“We also calculated what’s going to be the additional economic cost if we hit 3C instead of 2C. This will cost the globe an additional 5-10% of GDP, relative to 2C; that is tens of trillions of dollars. These are very large numbers,” he said.

The researchers acknowledge there are significant uncertainties in their economic modelling, but said they are confident that keeping climate change to 1.5C is very likely to benefit the vast majority of the world’s people.

Americans Can’t Afford Kleptocracy

“. . . In addition, fossil fuels enjoy $5 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies, and there’s ample infrastructure to extract and burn them. . .”

. . . What disturbs me is that the US ruling elite throw around trillions of dollars as if it were chump change. That is trillions of dollars every year (quite possibly an undercount at that, as not only is wealth given away but resources, opportunities, and access are given away before they are measured as wealth in any accounting, all of it defended and enforced by a military empire that is costly beyond imagination, costly also in terms of lives and human potential callously sacrificed). And we are talking about only one industry. They also waste trillions of dollars in selling other natural resources below market prices, in no-bid contracts for the defense industry, in all that goes into big ag, and much else. A few trillion here, a few trillion year, and on and on, in every sector of the economy every year, repeat ad nauseum for decades and generations on end. Yet we are told we don’t have enough money for basic needs of survival for Americans, that we can’t afford even to raise minimum wage for those who don’t earn enough to pay the bills, despite working multiple jobs. There are millions of Americans without affordable healthcare, sometimes without homes even, and going without food on a regular basis. But we can’t afford to ensure the public good. Well, I’m pretty sure those trillions upon trillions multiplied over a lifetime or longer could have gone a long way in investing in housing for all, universal healthcare, good schools even for the poor, clean water that is free of lead, and on and on.

Ralph Nader: . . . “These are trillions and trillions of dollars that come from people who work hard every day, but have not received what they should have received given their earned effort. . . And that’s why they’re huge polls supporting a lot of Sanders and Warren’s measures and they include quite a few conservative voters. You can’t have 65, 70, 75 percent vote for cracking down on corporate abuses, for a living wage, for universal health care unless you have quite a bit of conservative voters as well, right?”

Corporate Veganism

“This Poison Cartel of companies,” writes Vandana Shiva in reference to the corporate alliance behind EAT-Lancet, “have together contributed up to 50% Green house gases leading to climate change, and the chronic disease epidemic related to chemicals in food, loss in diversity in the diet, industrially processed junk food, and fake food.” The Lancet Journal itself, from a new report, is now warning of us the exact same thing, in that many corporate sectors (including those backing EAT-Lancet) receive $5 trillion in government subsidies: “Big Food’s obstructive power is further enhanced by governance arrangements that legitimize industry participation in public policy development” (Swinburn et al, The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change).”

Climate Change Worsening Faster Than Expected

A warming Arctic could cost the world trillions of dollars
by Stephen Leahy

Companies Expect Climate Change to Cost Them $1 Trillion in 5 Years
by Sara Harrison

The Bank of England lays bare the “very real” trillion-dollar risks of climate change
by Akshat Rathi

Arctic Warming Will Cost At Least $24 Trillion More Than We Thought, Study Finds
by Becky Ferreira

The $70-Trillion Climate Bill Coming Our Way
by Tim Radford

A 99’er Welcomes Death

A Disillusioned 99’er Shares His Disappointment With The American Dream, Welcomes Death

Since the end of 2008, when corporate America began enjoying the resumption of growth, profits have swelled from an annualized pace of $995 billion to the current $1.66 trillion as of the end of September 2010. Over the same period, the number of non-farm jobs counted by the Labor Department has slipped from 13.4 million to 13 million — there is no recovery for the unemployed and main street. We taxpayers have handed trillions of dollars to the same bank and insurance industry that started our economic disaster with its reckless gambling. We bailed out General Motors. We distributed tax cuts to businesses that were supposed to use this lubrication to expand and hire. For our dollars, we have been rewarded with starvation, homelessness and a plague of fear — a testament to post-national capitalism.

Freedom From Want, Freedom to Imagine

40 Acres and a Mule Would Be at Least $6.4 Trillion Today—What the U.S. Really Owes Black America
by Tracy Loeffelholz and DunnJeff Neumann

12 thoughts on “Trillions Upon Trillions of Dollars

  1. Bannon said that he isn’t a white nationalist, rather an American nationalist and economic nationalist, and that if they do things right even minorities will support them.

    Unfortunately, Bannon is still utterly confused about who “they” are when he says things like, “If you think ‘they’ are going to give your country back to you without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.” It’s tragic, really, that such a…um…enthusastic(?) man…can’t find it within himself to take those “left-right” blinders off for a nano-second.

    Bannon’s is the “rightest” version of populism; Bernie’s is the “leftist” version of populism; and if we don’t get past those blasted “left-right” binaries, we’re sunk. (Monbiot actually named the “line” along which all the tiresome social arguments run in his talk at the Gaia Foundation. To paraphrase: “All our arguments follow along this line. The left want more State and less market; the right want more market and less State.”)

    Yep. That’s how they run. :rollseyes:

    There actually is a lot of common ground, but it would appear the vast majority of us will never see it or, at least, not in time. In fact, the only person I hear speaking about the “teeming ocean of particulars that make up our shared world, and…the infinite variety of the lives of billions of people and the countless cultures and micro-cultures in which they live” (which is actually a quote of Ray Tallis) is yet another citizen of the world, Kenan Malik.

    We only get to bait nuance. We don’t actually get to do nuance.

    (That last is uncredited only because it pertains to something most think utterly irrelevant. It’s just a little something that happens to be floating around in the “collective unconscious.”)

    • I don’t have much opinion about Bannon as a person. But in his study of history and generations theory, he understood the situation we are in and he correctly assessed the public mood. I don’t know that he is actually a populist, any more than any authoritarian is ever a populist. Bannon sought to manipulate the public with progressive rhetoric and he was successful. That is all I can say about him.

      I only included Bannon because he did what Clinton Democrats did not think was possible or rather, in knowing its possible, what they feared. He was the architect of Trump’s campaign and got him elected on a platform that was in many ways more progressive than what Hillary Clinton was offering. The progressive promise of a trillion dollar public works project was bull shit from the start. Bannon’s brilliance wasn’t that he is a visionary who actually cares about the public good. He simply understood that the public really can be inspired and manipulated by someone who promises to commit to the public good. Such cynical demagogues are what we get precisely because populism has been denied for so long. Voting for Trump was an act of frustration, anger, and desperation. Nonetheless, the message it sent was very much genuine, even if the promises were lies.

      The Clinton Democrats, however, dismissed such possibilities as dangerous left-wing ideology. That is why the Clinton Democrats, as I argue, wanted to eliminate Sanders as a candidate in the last election, even though they knew it meant electing Trump. Sanders was a threat in that he might actually follow through on such progressive promises. As you point out, it isn’t really about left-wing vs right-wing. Then again, I’m sure the political elite understand that perfectly well. The whole left-right narrative is just rhetoric to manipulate the masses. The problem for the Clinton Democrats is that they are so wedded to that rhetoric that it has become their only strategy, to constantly punch left. Why? Just because that is what it means to be a Clinton Democrat, almost by definition. They’re simply trying to hold onto power.

      About Kenan Malik, I had a disagreement with him some years back. He came across, at the time, like a ‘good liberal’. The specific disagreement was about Islamic terrorism, whether they should be understood as savage nihilists or understood within a larger historical background. He argued for the former and I for the latter. To put it in the context of your comment, I made a moral case for not portraying terrorists as caricatures but to perceive them as one of the “billions of people” to be found in “the countless cultures and micro-cultures in which they live.” That is to say they are real people, like the rest of us. We have a moral obligation, so I believe, to understand them on their own terms. That isn’t to condone terrorism. But if all we do is project our own darkness onto others, in denying and rationalizing the state terrorism of our own governments, then we are part of the problem.
      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/good-liberals-vs-savage-nihilists/

      • That is why the Clinton Democrats, as I argue, wanted to eliminate Sanders as a candidate in the last election…. Sanders was a threat in that he might actually follow through on such progressive promises.

        Sanders would no more be able to follow through on progressive promises than anyone else making progressive promises. Corporate interests are too entrenched and the political dysfunction in Washington too pervasive. Sanders is also an old-school Social Democrat and not a Socialist as the assumption usually goes. If Clinton Democrats were afraid of anything, they were afraid Sanders would be unelectable and, furthermore, were cock-sure that Clinton was a shoo-in. In fact, you could have cut that arrogance with a knife, and the election (via the electoral college) of their hand-picked “pied piper candidate” doesn’t appear to have humbled them in the least. Quite the opposite, in fact.

        In short, Sanders is about as threatening to them and the status-quo they represent as a kitten. Fortunately, though, genuine transformation doesn’t depend on who is in the White House at any given time, which is why I tend to look for it elsewhere.

        • Sanders isn’t threatening in a direct sense. He has been a professional politician for longer than I’ve been alive. He is part of the system. But in another sense, that is what makes him threatening. Even though he wouldn’t be able to accomplish much that is progressive, the difference is that he genuinely believes what he says. That authenticity is potentially like a match in a dry field. A match typically isn’t a threatening object. It is used to light cigarettes and candles, start campfires. But when the conditions are right (or wrong) a single match can cause mass devastation, even if the person wielding that match had no such intention.

          His presence and rhetoric in recent campaigns has pushed the Overton window back left and opened the way for those far to the left of him, those who might actually fight hard for progressive reform. Trump can promise a trillion dollar public works project and it is not a threat, not even considered a threat by Republicans, because everyone knew it was bullshit and would never go anywhere. No Republican in the near future was going to take that as a precedent to push even further into progressivism with real change. But in the Democratic Party, that is a real possibility. If not Sanders in this election, then maybe a young progressive in the next election will win the presidency and take seriously all those promises.

          I still hold to the view that the Clinton Democrats preferred Trump over Sanders, not because Sanders was a radical but because he could have opened the door to radicals. Or simply, he would have caused the Clinton Democrats to lose control. It’s not really about radicalism or not, as everyone knows Sanders isn’t a radical. But the Clinton Democrats’ hold on power is weak at the moment. Even the slightest loss of influence could mean they are permanently out of the game. So, it’s not so much Sanders as what he represents — a less extreme version of what MLK meant when he said, “I a only effective as long as there is a shadow on white America of the black man standing behind me with a Molotov cocktail.” What worries the Clinton Democrats are those standing behind Sanders. Once that door is open, anyone might come through.

        • Still, I get that you maybe have come to an entirely different interpretation and conclusion. That is fine. I’m not telling you that you’re wrong. My comment was more at an angle to that point you were making. I’m not really arguing in favor of Sanders exactly. I was only interested in him last election because I hoped he would broaden the debate and, as I said, push the Overton window left. Well, he accomplished that goal. We are now having a public debate about progressivism and even the corporatist candidates are being forced to speak as if progressives. As meager as that might seem, that is one of the greatest political accomplishments in my lifetime. So, I don’t see it as something to be dismissed. Yet you are correct that so much more is needed. Now onto the next stage.

          • Oh, no. I agree the Bernie phenomenon is definitely not something to be dismissed as irrelevant. Not sure about the phrase, pushing ‘the Overton window left’ (the “window” of “politically acceptable” policies being so narrow that it apparently can’t be traversed at all…for the moment), but definitely understand where you’re coming from. No worries there.

          • It’s not as if Sanders last campaign represented some grand victory, much less a high tide in the fight against authoritarianism. It simply was a sign of changing times, indicating deeper currents. I somewhat maybe find it encouraging or, failing that, I find it interesting. Either way, it’s not about Sanders.

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