Democratic Failure of the Democratic Party

“Many political actors around the world, similarly, think that epistocrats should rule and try to gain the emotional support of the population. Consider the slogan of the Democratic Party in the 2016 US election: ‘I’m with her.’ The Democrats were telling their own version of Plato’s salutary myth, or simple story meant to induce people to identify with a political cause.
“Democracy, instead, requires treating people as citizens – that is, as adults capable of thoughtful decisions and moral actions, rather than as children who need to be manipulated. One way to treat people as citizens is to entrust them with meaningful opportunities to participate in the political process, rather than just as beings who might show up to vote for leaders every few years.”
~Sam Haselby, Treat people as citizens

“The point of the Brazile story isn’t that the people who “rigged” the primary were afraid of losing an election. It’s that they weren’t afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn’t believe in them anymore.
“If you’re not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.”
~Matt Taibbi, Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters

Donna Brazile, acting Chair of the DNC, wrote that, “The funding arrangement with HFA and the victory fund agreement was not illegal, but it sure looked unethical. If the fight had been fair, one campaign would not have control of the party before the voters had decided which one they wanted to lead. This was not a criminal act, but as I saw it, it compromised the party’s integrity.” She is stating the obvious here and, if anything, understating it to an extreme degree.

That isn’t just unethical behavior and compromised integrity. That is blatantly undemocratic and anti-democratic, a direct attack on democracy itself. And this happened within a party leadership that hypocritically still calls themselves the Democrats, a party leadership that is still in power and still trying to eliminate the last traces of democracy. Those involved realized how damaging this could be, if it ever became fully known to the public. Even though “[t]he questionable nature of the Hillary Victory Fund was no secret during the Democratic primary,” the limited info that was revealed drew negative attention (as told by Abigail Tracy in Vanity Fair):

“As details of the arrangement emerged in the spring of 2016, the joint fund-raising effort drew a great deal of scrutiny from the Sanders camp, the Vermont senator’s supporters, and the state party committees that signed on. In July, hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks revealed that party officials and the Clinton campaign sought to bury the particulars of the deal and tamp down criticism directed at the fund.”

After discovering the full documentation of what went on, there is no way someone then in good conscience and with moral courage could have done the following as Brazile describes her own actions:

“I urged Bernie to work as hard as he could to bring his supporters into the fold with Hillary, and to campaign with all the heart and hope he could muster. He might find some of her positions too centrist, and her coziness with the financial elites distasteful, but he knew and I knew that the alternative was a person who would put the very future of the country in peril. I knew he heard me. I knew he agreed with me, but I never in my life had felt so tiny and powerless as I did making that call.”

She felt so tiny because she had betrayed the public’s trust. And she felt powerless because she had given her power away. Are we supposed to feel sorry for her in her pitiful complaints? And why would any of us now believe anything she claims, especially about Sanders? This is the same woman who cheated for Hillary Clinton. Working for CNN, she had slipped questions to the Clinton campaign for a CNN town hall debate. Intriguingly, the Wikileaks dump showed that the email she wrote for this purpose was sent to John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri. I had forgotten about the details and, reading it again, it now stood out to me.

Podesta, along with his brother, is a high level DNC operative and powerful lobbyist. To show how much of an insider he is, consider the email (released by Wikileaks) he sent to George Soros and other plutocrats about a meeting they had on Democratic strategy to “Control the political discourse,” in which he wrote: “Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.” More recently, Podesta has been in the news because of his connection to the fiasco of Donald Trump’s cronies and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, by way of Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Vin Weber. Podesta became a focus of the investigation because of his direct involvement in meddling with Ukranian politics, the reason Manafort and Gates are being charged for acting as unregistered foreign agents. In this activity, Podesta had meetings with Weber who is a former GOP congressman and also a powerful lobbyist.

The corruption connects corporate media to the party establishment and it crosses party lines. These kinds of well-connected figures, powerful and influential, are mercenaries deep within the party establishment and political structure. That is shown by how the two main party nominees, Clinton and Trump, were old family friends and political allies. But in politics as spectacle, all that matters is that they put on a good show so that the big biz media could play it 24/7 to increase their profits. Meanwhile, the real action happens behind the scene, which in this case was Clintonites controlling the DNC and sabotaging Sanders’ campaign.

It went beyond Hillary Clinton controlling the DNC financing by redirecting state funds into her own campaign. Brazile went on to say that, “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.” This seems to have included Clinton controlling, influencing, or having veto power over the party messaging, debate schedule, choice of superdelegates, and various major DNC decisions.

Brazile considered Podesta a close ally and trusted intermediary. She sent these debate questions to him, knowing he would get them to Hillary Clinton. That indicates how deep she was in this swamp of corruption. And in finding the inexcusable financial fuckery of Hillary Clinton’s control of the DNC a year before the nomination, Brazile’s immediate response was to hide this ugly truth from other Democrats and to manipulate Bernie Sanders to back the very person, Clinton, who was actively destroying the Democratic party. Now that the whole scheme is falling apart, the rats are fleeing the sinking ship.

Here is the most important part. Brazile admitted that, through Clinton’s control of the DNC, the primary was rigged or stacked in favor of Clinton and this began long before the primary. It’s not entirely new info — it’s just finally being acknowledged by an insider who knew it was true all along. And it’s not just one person saying this. A number of Democratic figures have come forward in agreement, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren but also including Gary Gensler who was the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign — speaking of a phone conversation Brazile had with Gensler, she explained that, “He described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the [Vermont Sen.] Bernie [Sanders] camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse.”

At Law Newz, Elura Nanos writes:

“Let’s not forget—there’s a class action lawsuit proceeding against the DNC for defrauding campaign contributors who’d sent funds to support Bernie Sanders and expected him to get a fair chance at the nomination. At the heart of that lawsuit is a brazen contention by the DNC that seems even worse in light of Brazile’s statements: any assumption that the presidential nominating process was fair couldn’tbe the basis for a lawsuit, because any indications of fairness are nothing more than “purported political promises.” In other words, the DNC isn’t interested in even pretending it gave Bernie a chance.

“Perhaps the worst thing about Brazile’s revelation is its origin. This story isn’t coming from Fox or Drudge, but from someone deeply committed to furthering the interests of the Democratic party. A not-so-secret contract between Hillary and the DNC may not make Russiagate look any better, but it sure makes our democracy look a lot worse.”

For a long time now, critics on the left have been making such complaints and allegations while pointing out the facts and suspicious activity. Yet the Democratic establishment and their partisan lackeys kept lying to voters and gaslighting and trolling the political left. It’s nice that the truth has finally come out. But I’m not expecting too many apologies from the lesser evil bullshitters. I hope these chuckleheads finally understand how they were played like fools.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t the lesser evil. She was simply one of two greater evil choices. The real lesser evil was Bernie Sanders. The thing about Sanders is he is a moderate, not a radical. He is a lifelong professional politician who is willing to work with anyone in either main party to get things done. As far as public opinion goes, he is a centrist. He represents what most Americans agree about, what most Americans want. But as recent events demonstrate, he has limited capacity for fighting the hard fight. He caved into the Democratic establishment. That is what makes him a lesser evil. He is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt, not even close. Sanders, by force of personality and strength of leadership, isn’t going to be the one to usher in a new era of progressivism. But he could make for a useful ally to move us in the right direction.

The point is that I don’t see Sanders as a populist savior nor an inspiring visionary. He is the kind of politician who will only do the right thing if we the public force him to do so, which is more than Clinton would ever do since she is in the pocket of big money. Although not much of a fighter, Sanders at least is honest and actually represents the American people, in giving voice to the silent majority. We need people like him to hold the center in Washington, which would allow the actual left to maintain pressure to keep the political system from shifting right.

This is what faux democratic “lesser evil” voters were utterly clueless about. They misjudged to an extreme what Clinton and Trump symbolized in relation to what the public was demanding. The Democratic establishment and partisans have lost all credibility, their political failure having become a national shame that they will never live down. The only respectable option left for them is to admit their failure and, as the losers that they are, to get the fuck out of the way. Change is coming, like it or not, be it reform or revolution. As John F. Kennedy put it, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

For context, consider this. Polling has shown that most Americans distrust major institutions: big government, big business, and big media — the trinity of power in our society. This lack of trust doesn’t even follow an expected partisan pattern, as seen even seven years ago in an AP-NCC poll: “Only 10 percent of Republicans expressed strong confidence in state governments, despite frequent GOP demands that Washington cede more power to the states. Just 10 percent of Democrats voiced strong trust in Congress, even though their party controls it.” Public trust and confidence certainly hasn’t increased over time.

Also seen in the data is that most Americans don’t think the US is a functioning democracy nor has an actual free market and fair economy. Generally speaking, very few see the system as working well as compared to those who see it as outright broken. To emphasize this point, here is further context (APA Stress in America Survey): “More than half of Americans (59 percent) said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history that they can remember — a figure spanning every generation, including those who lived through World War II and Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” The citizenry isn’t happy right now. And for good reason, as both main parties have failed them and betrayed them.

* * *

Four Viral Claims Spread by Journalists on Twitter in the Last Week Alone That Are False
by Glenn Greenwald

Viral Falsehood #1
The Clinton/DNC agreement cited by Brazile only applied to the general election, not the primary.

Viral Falsehood #2
Sanders signed the same agreement with the DNC that Clinton did.

Viral Falsehood #3
Brazile stupidly thought she could unilaterally remove Clinton as the nominee.

Viral Falsehood #4
Evidence has emerged proving that the content of WikiLeaks documents and emails was doctored.

Donna Brazile, the DNC, and Democratizing the Democrats
by Richard Eskow

The weekend was filled with claims and counter-claims, revelations and counter-revelations. Here’s what’s known as of this writing: The Clinton campaign organization, Hillary For America (HFA) ,signed a Joint Fundraising Agreement and at least one other agreement giving it significant influence over the DNC’s hiring, budget, and strategy.

Claims that the Clinton team’s authority was limited to the general election appear to be false. While the document carried a legal disclaimer to that effect, attorney Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center commented that this clause is “contradicted by the rest of the agreement.” Fischer also pointed to a provision in the agreement that, in his words, meant “Clinton controlled every communication mentioning a primary candidate.”

Clinton’s defenders argued that the Sanders team was also offered a joint fundraising deal, but it was quickly revealed that the Clinton campaign executed a separate side agreement with DNC granting it oversight powers. As NPR points out, that agreement was executed while Joe Biden was still considering a run.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver denies it was offered the same veto power over staff. An email from an attorney representing the DNC, Graham Wilson of Perkins Coie, states only that “DNC staff would be happy to chat with the Sanders team and come to an understanding about the best way to use … funds to prepare for the general election at the DNC.”

The September 2015 email says that “the DNC has had similar conversations with the Clinton campaign and is of course willing to do so with all.” In fact, the Clinton deal had already been signed.

Perkins Coie represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC when that email was written.

Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clinton-DNC Deal
by Alex Seitz-Wald

The August 26, 2015, memorandum of understanding from Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey, which supplemented a standard Joint Fundraising Agreement, more fully explains the relationship between Clinton and the DNC long before she won her party’s nomination.

In exchange for Hillary for America’s (HFA) helping the cash-strapped DNC raise money, the committee agreed “that HFA personnel will be consulted and have joint authority over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Specifically, the DNC agreed to hire a communications director from “one of two candidates previously identified as acceptable to HFA.” And while the DNC maintained “the authority to make the final decision” on senior staff it the communications, technology, and research departments, it said would it choose “between candidates acceptable to HFA.”

Read: The full memo here

Book Reveals Clinton Campaign Effectively Controlled DNC As Early As 2015
by Scott Neuman

Hillary Clinton’s campaign gained significant control over the Democratic National Committee’s finances and strategy more than a year before the election in exchange for helping the party retire lingering debt from the 2012 presidential campaign, according to a new book by a former party chairwoman. […]

Brazile’s account appears to contradict the DNC’s repeated assertions that it wasn’t favoring Clinton over Sanders and it bolsters charges from the Sanders camp that the primary itself was “rigged.”

During the campaign, Sanders had repeatedly charged that the DNC was working in league with the Clinton campaign to ensure her victory in the primary.

“The idea that the DNC was willing to take a position that helped a candidate in the midst of a primary is outrageous, and there is no justification for it,” Mark Longabaugh, a senior adviser to the Sanders campaign, was quoted in the Post as saying.

The party is over: Time for Democrats to clean house
by Douglas E. Schoen

The recent revelations by Donna Brazile that Hillary Clinton rigged the 2016 Democratic primaries through corrupt financing come as no surprise to me, especially as someone who before the election said he could not, despite longstanding ties to the Clintons, support Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.

In October 2016, I said that there would be a constitutional crisis if she were to be elected. Given the news from Brazile about rigging the primaries, the report from John Solomon of The Hill that U.S. uranium tied to an Obama era deal may actually have reached Europe, and ongoing questions about who paid for the infamous Steele dossier, there may well be a constitutional crisis even without Clinton in the Oval Office. […]

Though it is certainly important that Brazile offered these revelations about Hillary Clinton, she herself is no pillar of honesty, as previously leaked Clinton emails revealed that Brazile provided Hillary’s campaign with debate questions prior to the Democratic primary debates, which Brazile subsequently lied about when asked on television.

Above all and unequivocally so, this comportment is obscene, dishonest, and represents a level of malfeasance we have not seen before. […] There needs to be a complete and total housecleaning of the infrastructure of the Democratic Party. Ultimately, Hillary Clinton needs to go away, Bernie Sanders needs to go away, Donna Brazile needs to go away. They are all complicit. We desperately need a renewed understanding of ethics in politics. I am truly sickened by what I see today, but not just because of individual behavior, though the behavior of former Secretary of State Clinton is becoming increasingly egregious.

I am sickened by the behavior of the entire party establishment led by a former chairman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who uses dismissive ignorance as a defense of everything: “I know nothing, I know nothing, I know nothing.” Well, I know something. The body stinks from the head down, and the core itself is rotten too.

Democrats in Denial Over Brazile Allegations that Further Confirm Primary was Rigged
by Kevin Gosztola

However, what those in denial refuse to confront is that Clinton may have received more votes because citizens believed it was impossible for Sanders to win, since the news media kept reporting Clinton had so many more superdelegates than him. Plus, whether Sanders was able to overcome the impact of an unethical fundraising agreement does not change the reality that it made the primary unfair.

Hillary Rosen, a prominent Democratic Party strategist who regularly appears on CNN, insisted Democrats could not reckon with Brazile’s allegations when attention must be paid to the GOP’s tax proposals. She also misleadingly argued Brazile could not find any evidence that the system was rigged against Sanders, which is not what Brazile wrote. Brazile said she could not find any evidence to support widespread claims until she came across the joint fundraising agreement.

“The voters chose Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders, and it had nothing to do with any staff person at the DNC,” Rosen asserted.

In May 2016, Rosen said, “Bernie Sanders is losing this race, and instead of taking it like a man, he’s working the ref. He’s encouraging his people to think that the system is rigged. The system he signed up for as an independent to run in a Democratic primary. This constant sort of whining and complaining about the process is just really the most harmful thing, in some ways, he could do because he’s encouraging his supporters to think that the process actually is cheating them, and they’re not.” So, Rosen has an interest in maintaining her denial of reality.

The reality is hundreds of superdelegates pledged their allegiance to Clinton before votes were cast in Iowa, a limited number of debates were scheduled to ensure voters had the least amount of exposure to Clinton opponents, the DNC and Clinton campaign falsely accused the Sanders campaign of “stealing” voter file data, and Democratic women supporting Sanders faced forms of retaliation for not supporting Clinton.

New Documents Suggest Clinton and DNC Conspired to Block Sanders from Key Voter Database
by Brian Hanley

In December 2015, just weeks before Sanders and Clinton faced off for the first caucuses in Iowa, something curious happened. The DNC cut off Sanders’ access to a critical voter database.

A software vendor, hired by the DNC, had incidentally exposed confidential voter information collected by the Clinton campaign to the Sanders campaign. The glitch and complications it caused were entirely the vendor’s fault, an independent investigation would later find.

Nevertheless, the DNC penalized Sanders for the error. The DNC leadership went as far as suspending Sanders’ access to the voter database, even though it was the DNC that had hired the company responsible for the mistake. NGP VAN, the software vendor in question, is the same vendor Guccifer 2.0 allegedly hacked to breach the DNC’s network. There were clearly vulnerabilities in the software, which Sanders had nothing to do with.

A campaign cannot function, let alone compete, without access to essential voter data. In suspending Sanders’ access, the DNC effectively crippled his campaign and deprived it of its lifeblood. Then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (“DWS”) alleged that such a suspension was necessary to ensure the security of the committee’s voter files. But if that were the case, if security were the concern, DWS should have cut off data access to all campaigns until the issue was resolved. Instead, she let one candidate suffer and helped another prosper.

Later, she would resign from her role as DNC chair amid growing allegations that she had rigged the primary. It should be noted that DWS also happened to serve as Clinton’s campaign co-chair in 2008.

It should also be noted that in 2008, when DWS served as Clinton’s co-chair, the two women found themselves in an eerily similar position as Senator Sanders. NGP VAN, the same software vendor that would mishandle voter data in 2015, accidentally exposed Obama’s voter data to the Clinton campaign. But the DNC didn’t take any action in ‘08. It certainly didn’t suspend anyone’s data access.

Sanders, meanwhile, had to sue the DNC before his own data access was restored. All the while, Clinton’s campaign marched ahead at full throttle while Sanders’ camp scrambled. Keep in mind, this was mere weeks before the first caucuses in Iowa. Every minute without that voter data was a minute the Sanders campaign couldn’t afford to lose.

In emails released by WikiLeaks, we later discovered that the DNC’s communications official and communications director actively conspired to undermine the Sanders campaign. Mark Paustenbach and Luis Miranda, who, as DNC leaders, were expected to be neutral, discussed exploiting the software vendor’s slip up to make Sanders look sloppy. “Wondering if there’s a good Bernie narrative for a story, which is that Bernie never ever had his act together, that his campaign was a mess,” Paustenbach wrote in an email to his communications director.

“Hurr, Durr, It’s A Conspiracy Theory!”
by Caitlin Johnstone

Brazile’s melodramatic “oh I was so grief stricken” admission that Clinton had taken over DNC operations long before becoming the party nominee is just the latest in a long series of revelations confirming things Berners have been saying for over a year now while being dismissed as conspiracy theorists by Democratic party loyalists.

This is coming straight off the back of Twitter’s admission that it hid half of all #DNCLeaks mentions in the leadup to the general election despite the fact that only two percent were considered to have come from suspicious accounts. As The Young Turks’ Michael Tracey rightly notes, people who pointed out at the time that tweets with this hashtag seemed to be hidden from view by Twitter admin “were called conspiracy freaks”. The American people were trying to communicate with each other about a very real thing that had been revealed about their democratic process, and Twitter actively worked to prevent them from doing so.

This thread goes all the way back. The thing Twitter was keeping people from discussing was the undeniable revelation in the DNC emails that the Democratic National Committee had violated the Impartiality Clause of their Charter when the DNC Chairwoman permitted a clear us-vs-them culture in the Committee, as revealed by the content of their communications. Berners were called conspiracy theorists again and again for claiming that this bias was happening, and then it was proven to have happened.

After that came the Podesta emails, proving that then-Vice Chair Brazile had served as a mole against the Sanders campaign and passed multiple debate questions in advance to Hillary Clinton, showing Clinton campaign staffers conspiring with the DNC to schedule debates and primaries in a way that benefitted Clinton, and showing blatant collusion between the Clinton campaign and the supposedly neutral news media to get Hillary into the White House. Again, any suggestion that Hillary hadn’t won the nomination fair and square got you dismissed by Clintonists as a daffy conspiracy theorist, but it was proven to be a true and legitimate grievance.

Dem Pundits Spent Yesterday Lying About DNC Primary Rigging Document
by Caitlin Johnstone

We’ve seen no indication that any similar agreement was entered into with any other candidate besides Hillary Clinton. Not from Sanders, nor from Brazile, nor from the DNC, nor from any former Clinton campaign staffers, nor from WikiLeaks. Nor could the same agreement have been made with any other candidate, since the Clinton campaign was giving itself authorities over DNC functioning which would be nonsensical if two parties had them, like that it would share authority with the DNC “over strategic decisions over the staffing, budget, expenditures, and general election related communications, data, technology, analytics, and research.”

Regarding the claim by plutocracy teat sucklings like Howard Dean that that the agreement applied only to the general election (which would make the Clinton campaign’s added control of DNC operations standard practice) and not to the primary (which would make it a violation of the DNC’s Impartiality Clause), this is pure hogwash. Firstly, the dates on the document plainly contradict this assertion, as they were set during the primary contest and scheduled to end long before Clinton became the nominee, beginning September 1, 2015 and ending March 31, 2016. The DNC convention in which Clinton became the nominee wasn’t until July 2016.

Secondly, as the Campaign Legal Center’s FEC reform specialist Brendan Fischer notes, the claim that the document is intended to focus on the general election and not the primary is directly contradicted by the rest of the document, which explicitly gave Hillary For America control of every communication which mentioned a primary candidate. The agreement was very clearly and specifically geared toward giving Clinton an advantage in the primary elections.

Journalist Mike Sainato points out that with the agreement the Hillary campaign gave itself the authority to pre-approve DNC hires, an authority it then used to wave through the hiring of DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda. Miranda, one of only two candidates Hillary For America allowed the DNC to choose from per the agreement, would later resign from his position in disgrace after the DNC leaks revealed he’d participated in a discussion about how to construct a narrative against Sanders.

Perhaps far more impactful, Tim Tagaris, former Digital Fundraising Director for the Sanders campaign, said after Brazile’s admission that without the joint fundraising agreement Clinton would have been “majorly out-raised by Bernie Sanders in the primary”.

This joint fundraising scheme was why we saw things like Clinton inviting her donor class friends to dine with her and George Clooney for a whopping $353,400 a couple in April of 2016. Such large individual donations were permitted by campaign finance law via a loophole because the money was meant to be distributed throughout state party races across the country, but according to Donna Brazile virtually all of it got funneled to the Clinton campaign.

This was all happening long before Clinton became Democratic presidential nominee in July of 2016.

Clintonites Still Denying The Primary Was Rigged Proves They’ve Never Cared About Facts
by Caitlin Johnstone

On November 2, 2007, John Podesta wrote an email to billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis, Herb and Marion Sandler, John Sperling, and high-level millionaire Steve Bing with a detailed and structured overview of material the group had covered during a meeting they’d had in September. And if seeing the names John Podesta and George Soros in an article about a conspiracy of elites makes you roll your eyes a little, hang in there, because this one is legit.

On page two of the attachment:

“Control the political discourse. So much effort over the past few years has been focused on better coordinating, strengthening, and developing progressive institutions and leaders. Now that this enhanced infrastructure is in place — grassroots organizing; multi-issue advocacy groups; think tanks; youth outreach; faith communities; micro-targeting outfits; the netroots and blogosphere — we need to better utilize these networks to drive the content of politics through a strong “echo chamber” and message delivery system”

And on page four:

“Create a robust echo chamber with progressive messaging that spans from the opposition campaigns to outside groups, academic experts, and bloggers.”

So to recap, an elite insider of the Democratic party met with a group of powerful plutocrats to discuss how they would use their footholds in the media, the internet, academia, faith-based groups and think tanks to create “a group situation where information, ideas, and beliefs are uncritically bounced from insider to insider and amplified, while dissenting views are censored and/or ignored,” exactly like the idiocy-generating manipulation machine that conservative think tanks were inflicting upon Americans of the political right.

A Message to Democrats Who Still Support Hillary Clinton
by Rob Cotton

To the people who still support Hillary Clinton despite all of this, all I can say is that you must have a secret fondness for Donald Trump and far-right Republican governance. Unless you begin to realize that Hillary Clinton and the corrupt neoliberalism she represents are cancer and the Democratic Party needs a complete overhaul, you will keep losing to Republicans and those Republicans, down the road, will make Donald Trump seem like a pleasant memory of the past.

The damage done by Clinton and her cronies to the Democratic Party cannot be overstated. In fact, it’s quite possible that the damage is irreversible. Until and unless the Democratic Party as a whole admits its fatal error in 2016, it will see its support wane. While virtually no one on the left and center-left is happy with Trump and the direction his Republican Party are heading, the “lesser-evilism” offered by the Democratic Party is not seen as lesser enough by a critical mass of people who also happen to be the most active and energetic members of any potential Democratic Party base in future elections.

It’s time to wake up, Clinton Democrats. Your glass castle has shattered.

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and all Dems an apology
by Brent Budowsky

The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and his supporters an apology if it signed a secret deal in 2015 that sought to fix the 2016 nominating process.

The DNC owes every Democrat and party candidates in every state an apology for failing to mobilize Democrats and better support Democratic candidates during an epic political struggle that will have gigantic impact on the nation after the 2018 midterm elections. […]

In other words, regarding the Democratic National Committee that should represent all Democrats equally and treat all candidates equally throughout presidential primaries, the fix was in before the 2016 primaries had even begun.

Two points are key:

First, the DNC has for some time been so incompetent and ineffective that any DNC-Clinton deal probably did not make much difference in the 2016 primaries.

Second, and more importantly, this DNC-Clinton deal, if it happened as Brazile suggests, was a disgraceful and unethical venture that violated a core principle of the DNC: that it should be neutral in presidential primaries between competing candidates. […]

For this, the DNC owes every Democrat across the nation a sweeping, comprehensive and humble apology.

Sanders would’ve beat Trump in 2016 — just ask Trump pollsters
by Brent Budowsky

As Democratic leaders and strategists consider how they should campaign in the crucial midterm elections of 2018, they would be wise to consider why so many polls throughout 2016 showed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would have decisively defeated Donald Trump in a general election contest.

My view, stated throughout the 2016 campaign, was that whether one supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the presidential primaries, it was vital that all Democrats fully understand why Sanders ran so far ahead of Trump in polling — usually by double digits — and markedly stronger than Clinton in match-up polling against Trump.

As reported recently in The Hill, Trump’s own pollster, Tony Fabrizio, stated flatly at a recent Harvard University Institute of Politics event that Sanders would have beaten Trump. He said Sanders would have run stronger than Clinton with lower-educated and lower-income white voters. I could not agree more, on both counts.

The real working-class hero candidate was always Sanders, not Trump, who has always been a crony capitalist pretending to be a populist. […]

America is a far more progressive nation than most pundits understand. They are waiting for the next great progressive Democratic president, whoever he or she may be. That person will lift the nation after the Trump nightmare ends and the post-Trump America begins in earnest in 2018 and 2020.

Poll: Democrats Want To Ditch Their Leaders And Move To The Left. They’re Right.
by Richard Eskow

Poll: A majority of Democrats want the party to move left and oppose its leadership
by Andrew Joyce

As Tensions Simmer, Poll Shows Majority of Democrats Want Bold Leftward Shift
by Jake Johnson

As Donald Trump’s Popularity Dwindles, Bernie Sanders’ Surges
by Michael Sainato

Universal Mobilization
by Ralph Nader

…there has long been a broad convergence of agreement between Left and Right on many issues, especially when you deal with where people live, work, spend, and raise their families.

Binary politics thrives from the few real divisions between people. The drumbeats about “our polarized society” serve the agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties as well as the plutocracy. Divide-and-rule has been the tactic of ruling groups for thousands of years. Consider instead some areas of concurrence by the Left and Right that enjoy widespread public support, some as high as 70% or more—often a decisive eyebrow raiser for members of Congress. They include opposition to crony capitalism or corporate welfare, support for excision of anti-civil liberties portions of the Patriot Act, criminal justice reform, cracking down on corporate crime against consumers, clean elections, programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, worker rights and privacy, break-up of the big New York banks that are too big to fail, a higher minimum wage, not being the world’s policeman, ridding the Defense budget of its enormous waste, revision of trade agreements, access to the courts, a Wall Street speculation tax directed to investments in public works and upgrades in communities throughout the country, shareholder power, clean air and water, stopping commercialization of childhood that undermines parental authority, and many more. In the past, despite strong corporate opposition with campaign cash, Congress handily passed the auto safety law (1966), the Freedom of Information Act amendments of 1974, the False Claims Act of 1986 and the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2013. Why? Left–Right support from back home.

US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Claims of US Becoming Pro-Life
Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich
Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)
The Court of Public Opinion: Part 1 & Part 2
Non-Identifying Environmentalists And Liberals
Environmentalist Majority
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Gun Violence & Regulation (Data, Analysis, Rhetoric)
Warmongering Politicians & Progressive Public
Who Supported the Vietnam War?
Vietnam War Myths: Memory, Narrative, Rhetoric & Lies
Hillary and Honduras
The War Party Always Wins

Political Elites Disconnected From General Public
Wirthlin Effect & Symbolic Conservatism
Polarizing Effect of Perceived Polarization
Is there a balance point in a society of extremes?
Inequality Means No Center to Moderate Toward
What is the Moderate Center of a Banana Republic?
A Manifesto of Meaninglessness
What Liberalism Has Become
Confused Liberalism
Liberalism: Label vs Reality (analysis of data)
Sea Change of Public Opinion: Libertarianism, Progressivism & Socialism
Poll Answers, Stated Beliefs, Ideological Labels
Authoritarians in Authoritarianism
But Then It Was Too Late
Then What?
A Sense of Urgency

Partisanship vs Democracy
Obama’s Lack of a Legacy
The Partisan ‘Good’
Moral Failure of Partisanship and the Political Machine
Racial Polarization of Partisans
Of Dreamers and Sleepwalkers
Very Serious, Important Thoughts
Politics On My Mind: March 1-8, 2016
More Metaphors of Madness
American Populism, From Frustration to Hope
Class Divide and Communication Failure

Presidential Candidates and Voter Demographics
Data and More Data
Class Breakdown of the Campaigns
Right-Wing Politics of the Middle Class
The Comfortable Classes Remain Comfortable
Which Candidate Do the Poor Support?
MSMsplaining Poor Whites.
On Rural America: Understanding Is The Problem
It’s Time to End the Myth That Black Voters Don’t Like Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders and Civil Rights
Endless Nonsense of the Misinformed Mind
Note to Cynical Liberals and Useful Idiots
A Generation to End All Generations
Old School Progressivism
On Infrastructure and Injustice
Trump’s Populism, Something For Everyone
It’s All About Timing
“That party could find itself out of power for a generation.”
A Perfect Storm
All is Lost

American Democracy?
Democracy?
Protecting Elections From Democracy
Failed Democracy and the Demand for Justice
We’ve Been Here Before
From Progressivism to Neoconservatism
The Sting of the Scorpion
Investigation Hullabaloo
Democrats, Russians, and Uranium
The Complicity of Mainstream Politics and Media
Corporate Bias of ‘Mainstream’ Media

Advertisements

The Dying Donkey

“The top three House Democratic leaders are 76 (Pelosi), 77 (Steny Hoyer) and 76 (Jim Clyburn). The average age of the Democratic House leadership is 76. That’s even older than the 70-year old average of Soviet Politburo members in the age of Brezhnev, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
~Miles Mogulescu, Democratic Leadership Looks Like Old Soviet Politburo

“A party that is that detached from the wishes and demands of the electorate, and of its own discouraged and angry base, is not a party that’s going to be around much longer.
“At least one can hope.”
~Dave Lindorff, Democratic Leaders are a Craven Bunch of Idiots Bent on Self-Destruction

Even as the establishment maintains control of the DNC, the recent loss of power by Democrats has turned out to be unprecedented.

It wasn’t only that Hillary Clinton lost to the most unpopular candidate in recent US politics. She lost even many of the majority white areas that supported the first black president and who once voted for FDR. She also lost what was the most Democratic county in US history, a county that has been loyal Democrats for a century and a half. In addition, Democrats have lost control of Kentucky state government, the last Southern state where Democrats retained power.

But its worse than that. And it can’t be all blamed on her. Some of the biggest losses came during the Obama administration. Since then, the decline of power continues. The donkey is bleeding out, barely with enough energy to temporarily fend off the circling predators.

Some of this comes from voter suppression, gerrymandering, and other anti-democratic tactics. Even so, Clinton didn’t actually win the popular vote, not in any fundamental and meaningful sense. She won the most votes from those who voted, but that ignores that the majority of eligible voters don’t vote in most elections and haven’t for a long time. The reason she lost was because so many Americans don’t trust the Democrats any more than they do the Republicans.

Democrats have given up on fighting for the American public. They betrayed and abandoned Southerners, rural residents, poor whites, immigrants, and organized labor. Everything has become identity politics that has splintered the Democratic Party. Identity politics has simply become a cover for the neocon and neoliberal politics that now rule the DNC, what basically is Republican Lite. The American public have come to understand that and it isn’t what they want nor is it what they will tolerate.

Bernie Sanders may have been the last chance the Democrats had not just for victory but for survival. The DNC’s miscalculation might be a mortal wound. Political parties have come to an end before in American politics. It would be naive to think it can’t happen again. Waiting for Republicans to destroy themselves may not be a wise strategy, as both political parties could be taken down in the aftermath.

* * *

The Great God Trump and the White Working Class
by Mike Davis, Jacobin

But we should be cautious about dumping all the blame on Clinton and her troubled inner circle. If she had been the principal problem, then local Democrats should have consistently outperformed her. In fact, that seldom happened and in several states her vote was significantly higher than the hometown Democrats. The malaise of the Democrats, it should be clear, permeates every level of the party, including the hopelessly inept Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the Midwest, in particular, the Democrats have largely been running on retreads, nominating failed veterans such as former Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett (who lost to Scott Walker in 2012) and ex-Ohio governor Ted Strickland (slaughtered by Rob Portman in the Senate race).

Meanwhile, for the gifted team around Obama, holding on to the White House, not strengthening the state parties, has been the relentless and at times exclusive priority. East of the Rockies, as a result, Republicans have surpassed their 1920 benchmark in state legislative seats. Twenty-six states are now Republican “trifectas” (control of both chambers and the governorship) versus a mere six for the Democrats. Progressive initiatives by Democratic cities such as Minneapolis (paid leave) and Austin (sanctuary) face the veto of reactionary legislatures. […]

It is no secret that the inadvertent ally of the Republicans in the Rust Belt has been Obama himself, whose lofty conception of the presidency does not include being the leader of the party, at least not in the old-fashioned, out-in-the-hustings style of an LBJ or even Clinton. In 2010, 2012, and again in 2014, Democratic candidates bitterly complained about their lack of support from the White House, especially in the upper South, Louisiana, and Texas.

Obama ended his presidency with the Democrats having lost nearly one thousand legislative seats across the country. Republicans legislatures are now targeting Missouri and Kentucky — possibly Ohio again, as well as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — as the next right-to-work states. (In Missouri and New Hampshire right-to-work amendments recently had been passed by the legislatures but were vetoed by Democratic governors. Both states now have Republican governors.) You might call it the Southernization or Dixiefication of the Midwest.

Republicans Now Control Record Number of State Legislative Chambers
by Barbara Hollingsworth, CNS News

Republicans added to their historic 2014 gains in the nation’s state legislatures with the addition of five state House chambers and two state Senate chambers in last week’s election, while Democratic control was reduced to levels not seen since the Civil War.

Republicans are now in control of a record 67 (68 percent) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers in the nation, more than twice the number (31) in which Democrats have a majority, according to the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

“That’s more than at any other time in the history of the Republican Party,” according to NCSL. “They also hold more total seats, well over 4,100 of the 7,383, than they have since 1920.” […]

“Republicans grabbed more of America’s statehouses and governors’ mansions during the Obama administration than at any time in the modern era,” the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips reported.

Last week’s historic flip of the Kentucky House – the last Democrat-controlled legislative chamber in the South – to Republican hands for the first time in nearly 100 years underscores the point.

In 2010, Democrats in the Kentucky House held a solid 65-35 majority. Six years later, the GOP now has a supermajority, and will control 62 of the chamber’s 100 seats.

“Democrats are now basically extinct in the South,” Phillips noted.

“Republicans bested expectations,” said Dan Diorio, a policy expert at NCSL. “Having already reached the peak of control in party history, Republicans will maintain a similar level of control in a year when many expected Democrats to net seats and chambers.”

 

Democrats Flip Zero Seats in Four Blue State Special Elections
by Andrew Kugle, The Washington Free Beacon

Democrats have failed since Election Day in November to take any Republican-controlled seats in four special elections in blue states, despite hefty investment from the Democratic Party.

Since President Trump’s election, there have been several state-level special elections across the country. The Republican State Leadership Committee, or RSLC, published a memo this week showing Republicans have won every district they previously held across multiple states that Democrats have won in the last three or more presidential elections.

Republicans kept their seats despite “hefty financial investments and high profile Democrats lending star power to state-level candidates,” RSLC noted. […]

In recent years Republicans have made significant gains at the state-level. The Democrat party lost a net total of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts–including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships, and the presidency–while Barack Obama was president.

All is Lost

This election, for many Democrats, wasn’t only about a candidate.

Hillary Clinton was not just a candidate but their candidate. Not just a Democratic candidate but the Democratic Party itself. The Clinton New Democrats have defined and controlled the party for decades. And Hillary Clinton has become the face and voice of the party establishment, of the Democratic worldview. Many Democrats, especially women, have looked to her as a leader long before she ran for the presidency.

What ended was an era. It felt like a stake to the heart of what was left of the progressive vision. It was a loss of a promise, a loss of the guarantee that no matter how bad it could feel at times the United States was fundamentally good and getting better. Democrats didn’t just lose an election. Their entire sense of reality was demolished and their vision torn out by the roots.

How could someone like Donald Trump win? It is incomprehensible to these good liberals. Trump stands for everything they fear and hate, the type of old school bigotry-spewing demagogue and misogynist that this country supposedly left behind when we entered this new century. These Democrats see themselves on the side of good. How could they lose? It was supposed to be impossible for someone like Trump to come to power. All the mainstream media, all the experts, all the polling said it couldn’t happen.

Now, having put all their faith in Hillary Clinton, they’ve been profoundly demoralized and publicly shamed. Their entire sense of the world has been shaken. They are asking themselves, what country is this that I live in? Simply put, they are shocked, maybe traumatized even, and they find themselves in a state of mourning. Nothing will ever be the same again. In their anguish and despair, they’ve gathered in public places to comfort one another, to protest, to have the opportunity to speak and be heard. They want to be reassured that they are not alone, that there are others who understand and share their sadness, their fears, a jumble of emotions and doubts.

Those on the outside see it as a strange response. It’s an election, like many elections before. There are always losing candidates and bad feelings among those who supported those candidates. Also, this isn’t the first time a party has been so severely challenged. In fact, this country has faced many periods of worse conditions than this. Objectively, the stolen election of 2000 was a far more important failure, and yet most partisan Democrats were oblivious of its significance at the time (and most remain oblivious). Nor is this as bad as the Whig Party losing power in being replaced by the Republican Party, Republicans losing to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for three elections in a row, Richard Nixon’s presidency ending with the Watergate scandal, etc.

We haven’t experienced an assassination, civil war, revolution, coup d’etat, or societal collapse. It was just another election, nothing particularly shocking about that. Elections happen on a regular basis. That misses the point, though. It’s easy to be dismissive. This wasn’t a normal election, in so many ways.

It’s slowly dawned on me how this has impacted partisan Democrats and why that impact has been so powerful. When they look upon someone like Trump and his ‘deplorables’, the good liberals feel disgust, an unmoderated and overwhelming disgust. To be fair, Pew found that 55% of voters in general state that they feel disgust about the campaign. But Pew also found a clear difference in Democrats taking it more personally: “Clinton backers – particularly highly educated ones – have more difficulty respecting Trump supporters than the other way around.”

This disgust response is not a rational assessment of the problems we face but a visceral reaction that knocks their legs out from under them, hits them in the gut, hurts their heart, etc. For many of them, it makes them physically ill, in the way that smelling puke can make you puke. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many Clinton supporters took a sick day after the election.

Why is that?

J. Scott Wagner, in his new book The Liberal’s Guide to Conservatives, offers an explanation that seems to fit. In differentiating the two main ideological predispositions, he explains the disgust response (Kindle Locations 4767-4778):

“I think conservative disgust ties in with the strange, strong evidence of conservative strength in the sense of smell, where the disgust response long ago originated in humans. They seem to have a way of “sniffing out” situations, and then use appropriate, mild levels of disgust to set a boundary that doesn’t just max out all at once, like liberal disgust. The emotional reaction is muted. Some research has shown conservatives with broadly higher levels of specific types of brain activity than liberals when disgusted, yet reporting the same perceived level of disgust: this may mean that they’re used to interpreting and dealing with greater impacts from disgusting events without being as emotionally affected.[ 145] It feels to me as if mild levels of disgust are so common for them that they learn to live with it, so that it doesn’t overwhelm them unless there’s a strong reason to be disgusted.

“When I’m around liberals who are disgusted, it’s hard to miss. With conservatives, in situations like business or casual social situations, it can be hard to detect, yet the effects can be dramatic, at least over time. Their politeness often takes the form of being reserved, after all, so what they’re thinking and feeling doesn’t spill out as readily or clearly, even if they’re experiencing disgust.”

Wagner is right about his assessment. And he is right that this fits into the issue of boundaries and boundary types, a topic I’ve discussed with him before in this blog. Liberals can’t simply shut off disgust or compartmentalize it, at least not to the extent that conservatives are so easily able to do. About emotional unpleasantness, liberals “can leave the experience with a much worse feeling than the conservative does; more emotionally affected” (Kindle Locations 3267-3268).

This is because liberals tend toward being thin boundary types. There is less division and distance between aspects of a liberal’s life and experience. This applies as well to perception of time, as the past is never entirely past for the thin boundary type. As such, an election doesn’t just end. Also, the results aren’t limited to the boundaries of politics. Thin boundaried liberals take it personally. I could hear this in the words that liberals spoke after Trump’s election. They immediately jumped to the personal effect they imagined this would have on people they personally know and care about. The potential harm that could follow from bigotry let loose is real to them, as if it has already happened to them personally.

So, it wasn’t a mere lost election. The world they know, feel, and experience is threatened. And the worldview they held no longer makes sense, no longer applies to what this election has shown the world to be. It may not be the literal end of the world, but it is the end of their world, that is to say the world that they have become personally invested in and fought for. It doesn’t matter that, as someone like myself might argue, that the good liberal dream has never been a reality. Nor does it matter that Hillary Clinton was never actually the person they believed her to be. What has been destroyed is a hope and a promise, the sense that the world was moving toward something better.

Naive as it may seem, good liberals genuinely believed in the good liberal vision, no matter how many inconvenient facts critics and doubters pointed out. It wasn’t that the good liberal vision always succeeded and perfectly matched reality. The point was they had good intentions and that, however slow it took, real progress was being made. They saw themselves on the right side of history, a moral arc that bent toward justice. But now they feel as if they’ve been abandoned and all is lost.

The War Party Always Wins

Since the War Party dominates both branches of the Two-Party-System, the recent track record suggests that the Republicans will nominate a candidate bad enough to make Hillary look good.

This was written by Diana Johnstone, from Queen of Chaos. The book was published in October 12, 2015. I’m not sure when the writing of it began or was finished, but nowhere in the book does she directly speak of an ongoing campaign season for the presidential election. It seems she is speaking of a purely hypothetical scenario, which is to say a prediction.

She had no way of knowing someone like Trump was going to take over the Republican Party and win the nomination. Her prediction turned out to be more true than even she could have imagined. Trump is about as bad of a candidate as could be found, in making Hillary look good. Apparently, the War Party’s strategy has so far been a major success.

* * *

Queen of Chaos: The Misadventures of Hillary Clinton
By Diana Johnstone
Kindle Locations 3629-3671

Hillary Clinton’s performance as Secretary of State was a great success in one respect: it has made her the favorite candidate of the War Party. This appears to have been her primary objective.

But Hillary Clinton is far from being the whole problem. The fundamental problem is the War Party and its tight grip on U.S. policy.

One reason there is so little public resistance is that the wars started by the War Party hardly feel like real wars to the American people. Americans are not seeing their homes blown up. The drone armada is removing the inconvenience of “boots on the ground” veterans coming home with post-traumatic stress syndrome. War from the air is increasingly safe, distant, invisible. For most Americans, U.S. wars are simply a branch of the entertainment industry, something to hear about on television but rarely seen. These wars give you a bit of serious entertainment in return for your tax dollars. But they are not really a matter of life and death…

In fact, it hardly seems to matter what happens in these wars. The United States no longer even makes war in order to win, but rather to make sure that the other side loses. Hillary Clinton accused Vladimir Putin, quite falsely, of adhering to a “zero-sum game in which, if someone is winning, then someone else has to be losing”. The United States is playing something even worse: a “no win”, or a “lose-lose”, game in which the other side may lose, yet the United States cannot be called the winner. These are essentially spoiler wars, fought to get rid of real or imagined rivals; everyone is poorer as a result. Americans are being taught to grow accustomed to these negative wars, whose declared purpose is to get rid of something – a dictator, or terrorism, or human rights violations.

The United States is out to dominate the world by knocking out the other players.

“Our ideals” are part of the collateral damage. With its wartime crackdown on internal enemies and its Homeland Security and Patriot Acts, the United States is not only sacrificing its own freedom, it is undermining the very belief in progressive values: in democracy, in progress, in science and technology, in reason itself. By loudly identifying itself with these values, the United States is actually promoting their rejection. Such ideals increasingly resemble a mere camouflage for aggression. What is the use of democratic and liberal ideals when they are reduced to serving as pretexts for war?

And yet, opposition to the War Party is certainly shared by countless Americans. It is probably much greater than the pro-war establishment realizes. But those who are increasingly alarmed by the danger feel helpless to do anything about it. This is because the War Party is firmly in control of the two-party political system.

In February 2015, Paul Craig Roberts wrote:

Jobs offshoring destroyed the American industrial and manufacturing unions. Their demise and the current attack on the public employee unions has left the Democratic Party financially dependent on the same organized private interest groups as the Republicans. Both parties now report to the same interest groups. Wall Street, the military/ security complex, the Israel Lobby, agribusiness, and the extractive industries (oil, mining, timber) control the government regardless of the party in power. These powerful interests all have a stake in American hegemony. The message is that the constellation of forces precludes internal political change.

And he concluded that: “Hegemony’s Achilles’ heel is the US economy.”

If Roberts is right, and it is hard to see where he is wrong, the only thing that can liberate Americans from their warlike fiction would be economic collapse. This is not a cheerful prospect. It is hard to hope for an economic catastrophe as the only way to avoid nuclear annihilation. Whatever the odds, one cannot help wishing that the American people would come to their senses and figure out a way to end this policy of war and thus find a constructive way of dealing with the world. This happy ending is theoretically possible, but looks extremely unlikely because of the American political system.

The U.S. Presidential election is essentially a popular entertainment event. Billionaire sponsors send two carefully-vetted contenders into the arena, sure to win either way. The intellectual level of Republican-Democrat confrontation increasingly recalls that of the parties that divided the early Byzantine Empire, based on blue and green chariot racing teams. In the 2016 presidential election, the Good Cop party and the Bad Cop party will disagree about domestic policy issues before everything gets stalled in Congress. But the most significant issue of all is the choice of war.

Since the War Party dominates both branches of the Two-Party-System, the recent track record suggests that the Republicans will nominate a candidate bad enough to make Hillary look good.

 

 

Irreparable Damage, Voting Subjects, & Direct Action

I get the feeling that Barack Obama has done irreparable damage to the political left. So many Americans genuinely believed in and were excited by his message of hope and change. I bet even many people from the political right voted for him.

There was such a profound sense of disappointment and betrayal once he had been in office for a while. It turned out he was just another professional politician and that the hype had meant very little. He continued many of the same policies from the Bush administration. Worse still, he passed healthcare reform that was originally a Republican idea which favored insurance and drug companies, rather than the leftist single payer reform most Americans wanted.

Obama’s presidency has made many Americans far more cynical than they’ve been in a long time. No one expects Republicans to genuinely care about the poor and needy, to fight for the rights and opportunities of the lower classes. But many do expect this from Democrats, however naïve that might be.

I know of those who supported Obama in 2008. Some of them now support Clinton, Obama’s nemesis back then. The heir of hope and change is Bernie Sanders. Yet many have lost faith that hope and change is possible. It’s not just fear of Trump. These Clinton supporters, in many cases, have simply resigned themselves to the notion that Clinton is the best that the Democratic party will ever offer. It’s either take that pathetic choice or get nothing at all, so it seems from this jaded mindset.

Older voters, in particular, feel wary about trusting that genuine progress and reform is possible. They don’t want to be betrayed again. They’d rather go for the cynical choice because at least that way they’ll know what they’re getting. When cynicism overtakes the citizenry, that is the most dangerous moment for a democracy.

That is what Sanders is fighting against.

* * *

For US citizens, voting is a right. But it is also a privilege.

For one thing, not all US citizens have the right to vote, besides the young. Convicts and many ex-cons don’t have the right to vote. Many others who technically have the right to vote are politically disenfranchised and demoralized in various ways, by both parties in elections and in the presidential nomination process.

Another issue is that, for all intents and purposes, the US is an empire. Most of the people directly and indirectly effected by US policy aren’t voting US citizens. Who and what you support with your vote impacts not only non-voting Americans but also billions of people around the world.

This includes millions harmed, millions made homeless refugees, millions starving, and millions killed. Those impacted, mostly innocent victims, come from wars, including wars of aggression, proxy wars, and drug wars; CIA covert operations, such as inciting of governments coups, propped-up puppet dictators, US-backed authoritarian regimes, arming of paramilitaries, and School of the Americas military training; post-colonial resource exploitation, unfree trade agreements, US-aligned IMF-enforced austerity policies, and harmful sanctions; et cetera.

As a subject of the empire, you benefit greatly from US policies. It is other people, mostly poor and brown people, mostly in other countries that have to pay the full costs of these imperial benefits.

You are never making merely a personal decision when you vote. You are part of a privileged class of people on this planet. Your vote matters and the results are powerful. This is true, even as the system is rigged against American voters. The last thing you should ever do is support a candidate who supports the corrupt status quo of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

We Americans should take all of this much more seriously. For those who have personally experienced US power, this isn’t idle campaign rhetoric. What is at stake is their lives, their families, and their communities. This isn’t about your party or candidate winning. It’s about morality and justice. Be sure you’re on the right side of history. You are complicit in what you support. Choose wisely.

* * *

When I was a child, I played soccer. My main talents were that I could run fast and take pain. I often played defense because I was good at stopping things. I demonstrated this talent during one game when in elementary school. I was probably playing halfback that day, as it requires a lot of running around. A halfback’s purpose is to be a go-between, to go where and do what is needed. It requires adaptability to the situation, whether defense or offense is required.

Anyway, in whatever position I was in, it was further up the field. The game had just begun. The other team had the ball. One of their players dropped it back and got out of the way. A giant girl came forward and kicked the ball all the way down the field. She was their one great weapon. It forced everyone on my team to immediately run back down the field. After a second time of this, many on my team were already running before the ball went flying. After observing this predictable situation, a brilliant idea popped into my mind. Why not simply stop the ball before it goes flying? So, at the next opportunity, I ran full speed right at that girl and took a body blow. Every time they did it again, I took another body blow. It stopped the ball and allowed my teammates to push the play forward, instead of backwards.

It was a proud moment of my childhood. But I’ve always wondered what the life lesson was from this incident. Well, besides the willingness to take a hit for the team. A few things come to mind. A basic lesson is to look for the obvious. Another is that direct action can be a good thing. Also, it’s much easier to prevent something than to react to it once it has already happened.

I’d apply these lessons to the entire society I live in. Politics most of all. I’ve come to realize how rare it is for people to see the obvious. Partisan politics shows the power of groupthink. Everyone sees the situation as inevitable and then reacts to it. This feels justified, as every0ne else is reacting as well. Strategy usually consists of trying to react more effectively. It doesn’t occur to many people that, if there is an obvious problem, maybe we should do the obvious thing to stop the problem.

Our society is full of obvious problems. The solution or prevention to these problems is often just as obvious. Yet we seem stuck in a mentality of endless reaction, always chasing the ball down the field. But what if we simply threw ourselves in front of that ball. Would it hurt? Yes. Would it stop the problem and make life easier for all involved? Yes, a thousand times over.

If we want to reform our society and make the world a better place, then we should do it. In the simplest, most direct way possible. We’ve already wasted enough time tiring ourselves out by running the wrong direction down the field, again and again and again. One would think that we as a society would finally grasp the obvious.

Let’s stop the problem first. Then we can act as a team to move forward.

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.

True Blue Democrats

Hey Democrats! I want to talk to you for a moment. Just you real Democrats, though.

Ya know, the ones who are solid supporters of the Democratic party. The kind of True Blue Democrats who would never betray the party by giving their votes away in supporting a spoiler third party candidate or any other radical. Between you and I, we understand. It’s about the long game. We can’t always get what we want, just as long as we move the country in the right direction.

I have a question for you. What would you think about a Republican who did the following?

Someone who has regularly been dismissive of the deaths, struggles, and suffering of others. Has voted for wars of aggression, got on line with Bush’s fear-mongering policies of War on Terror and security state, supported the overthrow of democratic governments, thought torture should be allowed, and supports Israel’s oppressive apartheid government.

Someone who has used dog-whistle rhetoric and pushed class war against the lower classes. Has promoted tough-on-crime policies and mass incarceration and privatized prisons, helped to successfully cut welfare and disparaged the poor, and shows no real concern for poverty and growing inequality. Has been a constant strong supporter of big biz and big banks, advocates for job-killing ‘free’ trade agreements, accepts large amounts of money not just from corporations but also foreign countries, and in the past was against a 15$ minimum wage.

Someone who has stood in opposition to transparency and accountability. Has repeatedly undermined the democratic process, obviously not comprehending or else not caring about what democracy means. And is unconcerned about and uninterested in all those who have been demoralized and disenfranchised because of all these kinds of policies. Was against gay marriage, having been on the wrong side of many social issues and civil rights issues.

Basically, someone who has upheld a consistent worldview. Of neoliberalism based on crony capitalism, corporatism, and plutocracy. Of neoconservatism based on tough-on-crime, war hawk, and neo-imperialist policies. And all the positions that go with this worldview. Although flip-flopping whenever it is politically convenient, depending on the audience being spoken to and the interests being served at the moment, also depending if it is campaign season or not.

Your response might be:

“So? Those are Republican positions. It’s hardly surprising a Republican would support them. Why should I care? I’m not a Republican and I don’t vote for Republicans.”

Yeah, I know. Those ignorant, heartless Republicans. They make me angry. We need to defeat them at any costs. The stakes are high in elections like this. We can’t risk letting a Republican win.

Well, what if I told you there is a Democrat who can be described the exact same way? God forbid! What if I told you that this person is a major Democratic candidate running for president right now? Say it ain’t so! And what if I told you that there is another Democratic candidate who is against all of what I just described? I bet I had you worried there for a moment.

Without knowing anything else about these two Democratic candidates, which one would you want as your president? Which one sounds repulsive, sounds like a Republican in Democratic clothing? And which one sounds like a genuine democrat, liberal, and progressive?

Democrats would never vote for Republicans, right? Not even if a Republican called themselves a Democrat, right? It’s not possible that more Democrats would have voted for a reactionary like Bush in 2000 than voted for a progressive like Nader, right? Democrats this time around also won’t vote for a candidate who supports Republican positions, right?

Unlike Republicans, Democrats never vote against their own interests, right? No Democrat voter would ever be deceived by empty rhetoric and false promises, right?

Partisanship vs Democracy

Here is a major problem of parties in the US political system.

We have a winner take all system. It creates a mindset of win at any costs and dominate by any means. Other (better functioning, one might argue) democratic governments allow greater multiple party competition while simultaneously encouraging cooperation and alliance-forming among the parties. One would hope that this could lessen the tendency of American-style territorial partisanship with its Social Darwinism and groupthink, and so it might give democracy a fighting chance to achieve democratic results.

The US system has come to operate with parties winning by excluding rather than including the most voters. Republicans dismiss minorities and non-Christians. Democrats dismiss lower class whites and leftist reformers. Both parties, in a bipartisan stranglehold, dismiss independents, third partiers, discouraged non-voters, and the disenfranchised.

Neither party fights for the rights, values, and interests of most of the American population. Instead, the two parties defend their turf and seek only to represent their respective small band of loyal followers. But in the end, the parties take their own partisans for granted, as the opinions of partisans is irrelevant since they’ll vote party line no matter what. This leaves both parties to do the bidding of big money, as research shows they do.

There is no incentive for either of the two main parties to act more democratically, to promote democracy, and to democratically represent the American people. Because of this, elections become empty spectacles to create an illusion of democratic process and consent of the governed.

We should and need to do better than this. But in order for that to happen, we have to demand better and put the force of conviction behind it. Otherwise, the force of desperation might lead us in directions we’d rather not go. Reform is the only way to prevent revolution. And, once revolution begins, it can’t be controlled.

My thoughts here aren’t particularly radical. They go back the American founding generation. It’s part of the original intent of the Constitution. George Washington, in particular, warned against the dangers of political parties. Washington may have been too idealistic in his criticisms, as factionalism may be an inevitable part of any large diverse society. Even if that is the case, his warnings about political parties remain and have proven true.

Fortunately, we don’t have to speculate about alternatives. The world is full of countries with different systems that can be studied and compared. Not all factionalism leads to American-style dysfunction and corruption. There is no reason we should remain attached to our dysfunction and corruption simply because it is our own. Think of it as a cancer needing to be removed so that the rest of the body may live.

If we don’t like the results we are getting and obviously most Americans are dissatisfied to an extreme degree with the status quo, then why not try something different in seeking different results? We Americans owe no loyalty to the two-party establishment. Our primary loyalty belongs to our country and and our fellow citizens, which is to say “We the People.” Democracy doesn’t mean power of parties and politicians; rather, it literally is power of the people.

A Liberalism That Dominates

Why do people think they can vote for a politician to represent them and then not be morally responsible for what that politician does in their name?

I’m specifically thinking of politicians with known political records. In such cases, voters can’t reasonably plead ignorance. One has to assume that they approve of the choices made by their preferred political representative. If that is the case and it is hard to interpret it otherwise, this speaks badly for most voters across the political spectrum.

Do these people honestly wonder why politicians do bad things when they vote for politicians known for doing bad things? Or are these people simply disconnected from reality, disconnected from the larger world of consequences where real people are harmed?

That last question points to a real possibility. Those who are most harmed by our government are those who don’t or can’t vote: the poor who are shut out of the political system, minorities who experience voter suppression, felons who are disfranchised, undocumented immigrants who never had voting rights, and foreigners who have no influence over our government. But those aren’t the people I’m focused on here. It remains to explain those who can and do vote.

I’m unconvinced that the voting public doesn’t know they are supporting politicians who harm so many other humans, large numbers of them being their neighbors and fellow citizens. I know ignorance is rampant. But with internet and social media, knowledge of government actions and political records is hard to avoid. To not know this kind of thing at this point requires a particularly virulent form of willful ignorance. Even then, in order for that ignorance to be willful what is being ignored has to be acknowledged at some level of awareness, even if subconsciously.

Another explanation is lesser evilism. I have considered that in great detail as of late. It is the rationalization often given for why people vote the way they do. I don’t doubt that people are easily manipulated by fear-mongering. And I don’t doubt that political campaigns and PR companies are highly advanced in the techniques they use to manipulate voters. Still, that isn’t a fully satisfying explanation.

What if we take at face value how people vote? Maybe they aren’t voting for a lesser evil. Maybe it is no mere unintended side effect the harm done by the politicians who represent them. Maybe, just maybe voters really do get exactly what they want. I’ve resisted that conclusion for a long long time. It is the most demoralizing possibility that I can imagine. But it is starting to seem compelling.

My thoughts here have been largely elicited by listening to supporters of Hillary Clinton. Her political record is well known and widely discussed. It is easy to find out all the details of her political career. What bothers me is that much of what she has supported over the years and decades has led to horrific results, both in terms of decisions she has made in official political positions she has held and what she helped promote in working with her husband in his political career.

Clinton has been extremely active in promoting a particular worldview and social order. And to be honest one has to admit that it isn’t entirely inspiring: cutting welfare, mass incarceration, tough-on-crime policies, war hawk policies, promoting the overthrow of governments, etc. All of this corresponds to the money she gets from speaking fees and donations to campaigns and to the Clinton Foundation—from: prison industry, corporations, particular foreign governments, etc. She does the bidding of those who pay for her services. All of this is out in the open.

Maybe people who support her (and politicians like her) know fully well what she stands for. Maybe these voters completely understand what they are buying with their vote. Maybe they are intentionally aligning themselves with certain powerful interests. Maybe they want politicians who, from their perspective, will do what needs to be done.

It might seem like hypocrisy. Supporters of Hillary Clinton often claim to be liberals and progressives. So, how can they support her illiberal and reactionary policies? Yet maybe this misses the point.

The purpose of politicians in a democracy is to represent voters. If we take this as being genuinely true, then it indicates politicians are doing what voters want them to do. The confusion comes from there being a difference between what people say they want and what they actually want. That is what politicians are for, as they will do what voters want them to do, even though voters can’t admit that is what they want them to do. Politicians allow for plausible deniability, a disconnect between the voting public and government action.

We live in a liberal age. But we rarely think about what this means. What really is liberalism? Why do conservatives speak the rhetoric of liberalism and invoke liberal values? And why do liberals so often act like conservatives? Considering this, what exactly is this liberal order that dominates our minds and lives?

Moral Failure of Partisanship and the Political Machine

The policies that Hillary Clinton has supported and promoted have led to millions of people, in the US and other countries, to be pushed into poverty, imprisoned, and killed. Bernie Sanders is no dove on foreign affairs, but Clinton makes him seem like a pacifist in comparison.

That isn’t an exaggeration. It is simply looking at Clinton’s record on tough-on-crime bills, welfare reform, and wars of aggression—along with much else that could be detailed. The data shows all this to be true, the real world results of it. It can’t be rationally or morally denied.

So, how do her supporters rationalize this away? Just because it only hurts the poor and powerless it doesn’t matter… just because the disenfranchised and silenced masses can’t be heard we can ignore them with a clear conscience… out of sight, out of mind… really? Is this what goes for ‘lesser evil’? That is depressing and demoralizing. If this is the best that American ‘democracy’ can offer, we are in far more trouble than I thought.

I ask this not simply in the context of campaign season. It is a question about all of democracy or the hope and possibility of democracy. It isn’t just about supporting a candidate. More importantly, it’s about supporting the public good, of putting the people before politics and partisanship.

The cynicism of realpolitik in America is no doubt depressing but also quite pointless. It doesn’t really achieve anything, besides the same old problems endlessly continuing, status quo for the sake of status quo, a grim political determinism of learned helplessness. Don’t Americans ever take seriously the dreams of a better country? If not now, then when? A dream deferred is a dream denied. What are people afraid of?

I honestly would like an answer to these questions. They aren’t hypothetical or idle. But I know few people would have the moral courage to answer them.

Why don’t those millions of lives harmed matter to Hillary supporters? That is a deadly serious question. If she is elected president, how many more millions will be harmed by her policies? It is guaranteed to be a high number. Doesn’t that bother anyone besides those who are already concerned? Is this status quo of machine politics acceptable? Why should we tolerate such inhumanity and immorality? Do we really want more of this corporatist neoliberalism and neo-imperialist neoconservatism? Why? How does that make the world better for anyone?

My criticisms here are the same criticisms I’ve directed at Republicans. Why would I hold Democrats to a different standard? If I did hold two different standards, that would be both cynical and hypocritical.

Does anyone honestly believe that voting for lesser evil will ever lead anywhere besides evil? This isn’t speculation or hyperbole. Those are real lives of people impacted, many dead because of specific policies that get bipartisan support from professional politicians, both those like Bush jr and those like Hillary Clinton.

Is this really the best of all possible worlds that Americans can envision?

I honestly find Clinton more depressing than Trump. Clinton support shows that people are still willing to tolerate all of these vast problems, no matter how bad it gets. Many people would rather deal with known problems than to have the moral courage to face new possibilities.

This is particularly true of the party establishment who would rather lose the election than lose control of the political machine. That is why Trump has the GOP insiders so scared. But the Clintonian New Democrats realize that even though Hillary is unlikely to beat Donald they can at least put on a show that will convince the Democratic base that the Democrats lost honorably and that we just need to try harder next time, commit to partisan loyalty even further.

In that case, Sanders like Nader would get blamed for the failure inherent to the Democratic Party. The party officials will never be held accountable by Democratic partisans. Nothing will change and the same mistakes will be repeated. It’s a failure of imagination to an extreme degree. It’s a vision of fear, with both parties arguing that the other is the lesser evil, when in reality both parties are two sides of the same political evil.

I just don’t understand the type of ‘liberal’ who will vote for a warmonger like Hillary and think that somehow absolves them of all guilt until the next election cycle. That is more demented and horrific than most silly satements made by authoritarians. At least, authoritarians are being honest.

These fake liberals aren’t really indifferent. They are willfully ignorant. A person can’t be accused of indifference when they simply refuse to be aware. It’s plausible deniability. They can go on pretending to be good liberals and lying to themselves. That is the nature of evil. No mass atrocity could ever happen without the complicity of self-identified good liberals. It goes so far beyond mere indifference.

This is what happened after 9/11. Many liberal Democrats became strong supporters of Bush policy. It is so easy to make the average liberal into a fearful war hawk. Research has shown how easy this is to accomplish. This is why the lesser evil rhetoric is so effective. It is the Achilles’ heel of the liberal, and the only psychological defense would begin with awareness, but that first step is the hardest. People resist self-awareness because then plausible deniability loses its force. It is easier to just not think about it too deeply or for too long. Just hold one’s nose and vote, and once again forgetting about it all until the next election.

I’m a dreamer. I see the immense potential in humanity. It is amazing what we humans are capable of, when the conditions are right and we are challenged to be our best. What an awesome society we could create. And I don’t think it would even be that hard. Just the willingness to imagine it.

I don’t just want to blame others. This is about all of us. It’s not just a failure to understand but also a failure to communicate.

I struggle with that. It’s hard enough just trying to grasp the potential that is within us and what it might mean, in what we envision and in how we live our lives. I’m far from perfect in this regard. Still, I don’t want to make excuses for myself or for others. If we are failing our own stated principles, let’s use that as a starting point. Failure doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s merely the awareness that we could and should do better.

That is why voting matters so much, even as the electoral system is rigged. It isn’t just the person we vote for. More importantly, it is the vision we vote for. When we unconsciously vote for a disempowering vision, we give away our power. I don’t think even people who vote for Hillary feel inspired by their choice. They know it isn’t a good thing, but they’re afraid and that is all they can feel or see.

I totally sympathize with feeling overwhelmed. That is why I don’t even feel like demonizing Trump supporters. People are frustrated. I get it. I just don’t want Americans or any other people in the world to simply give into that frustration and give up hope. We really are capable of so much more.