Recognize this article’s title? Then you’re probably a rabid Elvis Costello fan. The title’s a line from one of my favorite obscure Costello songs, his quirky apocalyptic vision “Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over).” But Costello’s line couldn’t be more politically pertinent, not just for his fans, but for climate activists and progressives and—dangerously unbeknownst to itself—for all of humanity.
Just as the average, blissfully unaware “zombie” of Costello’s song must awake to the fact of a “giant insect mutation” that threatens human extinction, so climate activists—and progressives generally—must awake to the dangers of a bullying, anti-democratic Clinton machine that, by imposing on us Clinton’s lethal “all of the above” energy policy heavy on fracking and her militaristic foreign policy that makes peace and global climate cooperation unthinkable, ultimately may threaten that same extinction.
Given the bullying nature of Clinton’s electoral machine, perhaps we should retitle Costello’s song “Hurry Down Doomsday (The THUGS Are Taking Over).” In Part 2 of this series, I framed that political thuggery as the appearance of a new, far more sinister Tammany Hall, with both Clintons, Hillary and Bill, combining to play the backstage role of a vastly more powerful Boss Tweed—a Boss Tweed with global political and donor connections. In that Part 2 article, by emphasizing the hiddenness of that new Tammany Hall—a hiddenness due to the irresponsibility of deeply corrupt mainstream media that has made itself part of the Clinton political machine—I probably shortchanged my actual case for the climate-threatening thuggery of the Clintons’ new Tammany Hall.
The Clinton machine’s thuggery consists of two parts: (1) shoving down our throats a candidate (Hillary Clinton) with demonstrably bad character and policy and (2) shoving her down our throats, like all other political machines, by radically assaulting, informed consent of the governed—in other words, trampling democracy itself. The Clinton machine—in reality, a conspiracy of Big Money interests, mainstream media conglomerates, the Democratic Party leadership, and Democratic politicians, union leaders, and environmental organizations bought off or intimidated by the Clintons and their Big Money interests—works incessantly to paint a deceptively rosy picture of Hillary Clinton and to censor from voters the many damning things they need to know about her to make an informed presidential choice. For, without the Clinton machine’s vast efforts at censorship and propaganda—and backroom intimidation of progressive opinion leaders with no rational grounds for supporting her—Democratic primary voters would almost certainly choose Bernie Sanders for president. The Clinton machine’s political thuggery amounts to an overthrow of democracy when, in the face of imminent climate catastrophe, humanity needs democratic governance most.
Consider, for example, the cases of unions and environmental organizations that—contrary to rational evidence and the wishes of their members or supporters—have endorsed Hillary Clinton. John Atcheson’s splendid Common Dreams article makes that case far better than I have space to here. But in citing Atcheson’s article as my evidence for the anti-democratic, pro-Clinton behavior of unions and environmental groups, I wish to note two important things.
First is Atcheson’s statement about those two sorts of organizations: “Now they’ve joined the press, the political parties, and government as tools of the oligarchy.” This point is important, since these players are precisely the ones I identify as parts of the conspiracy I call “the Clinton machine.”
Second is his detailed spelling out of how, from the viewpoints of both union members and environmental organization supporters, endorsement of Hillary Clinton is simply irrational: the influence of Big Money has simply overruled the rational reflection based on member interests and the common good that should—and used to—motive such organizations. Such endorsements are based on paper-thin rationales fabricated by propagandists—or, what amounts to the same thing—by bought-off organizational leaders seeking to rationalize their own unjustifiable support for Clinton. It shouldn’t surprise us that Atcheson blows always such flimsy, transparent rationalizations like so much chaff in a tornado. This flimsy rationalization—this shoddy reasoning to cover corrupt, irrational action—will play a crucial role in my castigation of supposedly “progressive” Democratic politicians for endorsing Clinton rather than Sanders. As it will in publicly shaming and challenging those “progressives” for their irrational, unmerited endorsements—a crucial part of the revolt strategy I outline here.
Quite clearly, it’s the backroom power of the Clintons, with their enormous support from global Big Money interests, that lets them (by threatening use of that money to harm electoral prospects) intimidate any progressives who might follow rational progressive principle and endorse Bernie Sanders. In the circumstances, Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison’s endorsements of Bernie look like moral heroism, though perhaps they’re partially explained by a popularity with constituents that debars the Clinton money machine from “getting” them. Perhaps the best progressives can generally hope for is the cowardly political fence-sitting of Elizabeth Warren or Alan Grayson—itself vastly preferable to Al Franken’s, Sherrod Brown’s, or Bill De Blasio’s lickspittle endorsements of Clinton.
Because, for a rational progressive politician seeking the best interests of progressive constituents, there is no defensible reason under the sun for endorsing flip-flopping “convenience progressive” Hillary Clinton rather than staunch, principled progressive Bernie Sanders. Since this is my chief argument for a revolt against Democrats that gets up in spineless progressives’ faces, let’s examine briefly it in detail.
Hillary Treats Progressives as “Fucking Retarded”
For a brief, compelling summary of the virtually irrefutable case why Hillary Clinton is no progressive, read here, here, and here. But besides offering a solid repository of evidence supporting the claim that no progressive can rationally endorse Clinton, I’d like to dramatize my appeal by making my own case on a “What have you done for me lately?” basis. That way, no one can conceivably conclude—at least not on rational grounds—that political snake Clinton has recently molted, replacing her repulsive opportunist skin with a shiny progressive one.
The key word here is opportunist, a term that insightfully pinpoints the nature of the Clintons—and indeed, the whole approach of the “Third Way” Democrats who now dominate the party and whom the Clintons played a central role in bringing into being. Whatever pols like the Clintons say to progressives, the underlying “prime directive” is to keep the geyser of money from Wall Street and other well-heeled interests flowing; needless to say, this agenda is accompanied by more than a dash of cynicism and contempt toward the progressives whom one must appease with lip service—a contempt brutally expressed by former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he called progressives “fucking retarded.” Now that Clinton seems confident her machine has strong-armed enough endorsements and superdelegates to assure her the election, her every action seems vivid proof of how strongly she agrees with Emanuel.
Remember now, this is a woman who recently declared, in the October 16 presidential debate, “I don’t take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment.” Evidently, she thinks we as progressives are so “fucking retarded” that we won’t remember—or that we simply don’t have a clue what progressive policies are. We should have seen the progressive mask dropping when Clinton shortly thereafter refused to lobby against TPP. Beyond being objectionable to progressives of every stripe, this treaty is disastrous for effective climate action, allowing fossil fuel corporations to sue all governments whose responsible efforts to curtail carbon emissions negatively impact their profits. Real progressives like Sanders and Warren treat defeating TPP as a matter of life and death; isn’t Clinton, in showing no progressive commitment to this battle, definitely “taking a backseat”?
After that nonchalant betrayal of progressives’ most vital interests, Clinton only added insult to injury. Consider this superb article by Steven Rosenfeld, mainly about her open return to being the hawk she’s always been, but also cataloguing her overall turn to the right since her progressive-suckering remarks at the first Democratic debate. As Rosenfeld rightly notes, Clinton since then has (1) defended her corrupting Wall Street donations and speaking fees (shamelessly invoking the sacred tragedy of 9/11 in her defense), (2) bashed Bernie Sanders’ progressive-beloved proposal for single-payer health care, (3) called for more aggressive military interventions in Syria, and (4) proposed new middle-class tax cuts (presumably tied to cuts in domestic programs benefitting the middle-class and poor).
And as the cherry on Clinton’s right-wing sundae (that’s how it must have tasted to her after the castor oil of having to claim she was progressive), Rosenfeld discusses Clinton’s overtly hawkish speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, contrasting it with Sanders’ express desire not to inject our nation into wars “over the soul of Islam.” While Rosenfeld is correct in stressing that Clinton has always been an interventionist, he simply doesn’t go far enough in stressing the danger she poses our nation. For that purpose I prefer Andrew Levine’s CounterPunch article “The Real Trouble with Bernie,” which, based on the assumption that Sanders is certain to lose, rebukes his irresponsibility in not emphatically calling out Clinton on what a peril to our nation her hawkishness is. As Levine puts it, “as President, Hillary will be a modern day Annie Oakley, but with nuclear weapons, not six shooters. It is a frightening prospect.”
I agree that it’s a very frightening prospect, worsened by a factor Levine doesn’t note: how crucial global peace, as opposed to endless war, is as a precondition for addressing climate change. Beyond the Lusaka Declaration I cited early in his article, Naomi Klein makes global peace an essential part of her climate justice agenda, for how can a world endlessly at war command the gargantuan resources and unprecedented cooperation humanity needs to defeat the climate enemy? It simply can’t, which makes Clinton a double “epic fail” in terms of Klein’s climate justice agenda: for her corrupting ties to fossil fuel interests and for an inveterate militarism that itself wastes fossil fuels and annihilates any hope of climate cooperation rooted in global peace. It’s with superb reason that I’ve branded Clinton “Naomi Klein’s anti-matter.”
How We “Kick Up a Big Stink”
What the reams of evidence just presented mean to show is that, with Hillary Clinton such a clear and present danger to humanity, and with progressive politicians having no rational grounds for supporting Clinton—no defensible justification rooted in the common good—their endorsement of her is not merely cowardly but villainous. Every so-called “progressive” pol who endorses Clinton becomes a willing tool of the Clinton machine and its assault on democracy—spreading the lying message that “Madam President” is hunky-dory in progressive terms when in fact our backstabbing enemy.
Acknowledging the cowardly treachery of endorsers who’ve joined the Clinton machine dictates a simple strategy to climate activists and progressives: we must wake up from being zombies (about progressives having any real voice in Clinton’s Democratic Party) and “kick up a big stink” (by publicly rebuking Clinton-endorsing progressives for driving us out of the party). Specifically, we must warn them that we, as conscience-driven climate activists and progressives, reject their craven endorsement of Clinton rather than Sanders and will categorically refuse our votes to her if she’s the Democratic nominee. Indeed, we should warn them that their indefensible endorsement of Clinton is driving progressives in droves from the Democratic Party—a warning we should affirm by pledging to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein if Clinton’s nominated.
So essentially, our “kicking up a big stink” has two parts: (1) signing Revolt Against Plutocracy’s (RAP’s) Bernie or Bust pledge and (2) joining in a public shaming campaign against so-called “progressives” who’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton, upbraiding them for an irrational choice that tells climate activists and progressives that we’re utterly unwelcome in a Democratic Party clearly owned by Hillary Clinton.
Why the Bernie or Bust pledge? Because, with limited precious time left before the primaries, it already has 25,000+ signers—far more than any similar pledge, created from scratch, is likely to generate. What’s more, it already has a dedicated staff—Revolt Against Plutocracy’s leadership and volunteers—tirelessly promoting it. As an effective tool of revolt against the Clintons’ undemocratic de facto purging of progressive voices from the “Democratic” Party, nothing better is anywhere in sight.
But what about the wording of the pledge, which mentions writing in Sanders and not voting Green if Clinton’s nominated? Well, RAP’s pledge did start out that way (citing voting Green as the best option in states that don’t allow write-ins, but lately, in light of Democrats’ hard-heartedness in not endorsing Sanders, we’ve been opening up toward a more radical “Greener” interpretation of the pledge. As a co-founder of RAP, I fully intend to vote for Jill Stein if Bernie’s not nominated, and also to lobby for a “Greener” wording of the Bernie or Bust pledge. But it’s perfectly fine if pledge signers “agree to disagree” on how they’ll vote if Clinton’s nominated; the point is to make a powerful, united protest against her tyrannical exclusion of progressives from representation in the U.S. government. I simply think that voting Green—voting for a splendidly progressive party unjustly excluded by Democrats’ dirty tricks from ready ballot access—is the most forceful protest against Clinton’s purging of progressives. If Third Way Democrats fear anything more than Bernie, it’s the rapid growth of a Green Party alternative.
Clearly, the logic of Naomi Klein’s climate justice vision dictates that we elect a progressive president and Congress ASAP—humanity’s very survival may depend on it. Bernie Sanders has already declared what he would do as a progressive president faced with a Republican Congress: he would use his bully pulpit to rally his supporters and denounce Republican in terms of his wildly popular progressive agenda—an agenda that already has him beating front-running Republicans by wider margins than Clinton. Seeing how much a Republican Congress would favor Clinton’s militarist, fossil-fuel-friendly, pro-Wall Street agenda, can anyone picture Hillary Clinton doing that? She’d almost certainly excuse her “reach across the aisle” by a “spirit of bipartisanship” and a “pragmatism that gets things done.” When the things getting done are endless war and warming of the climate beyond recognition, climate activists and progressives must revolt against Clinton’s tyrannical domination of the Democratic Party. If it doesn’t soon become Bernie Sanders’ party, we must leave it. Please sign the Bernie or Bust pledge—our most forceful tool for sending that message.