Make no mistake. What I decidedly am not saying in this article is that all leftists should sing “Kumbaya,” become good Democrats, and stop “hating on” Hillary Clinton. The day I scrawl such indefensible bilge, somebody kindly shoot me.
Granted, I’d actually be delighted to see a huge bunch of us leftists joining hands and singing “Kumbaya.” But only because we’re all basking together in a toasty inner glow—of our common hatred for Hillary. If I have my druthers, we’ll all link arms in a common task: to deprive her of the Democratic nomination. Or failing that (should she outrace the Clown Car and become president), we’ll let her know she’s starting her administration as the most hated and distrusted president in U.S. history—a sentiment publicly confirmed by our “yuuuge” organized protest of her inauguration.
Hillary haters—especially leftist ones—can accomplish these noble goals; and Hillary’s increasingly ham-handed alienation of Sanders supporters is guaranteed to help us. But only if we all bury the hatchet—or rather, jointly plunge that hefty tool where it righty belongs: in Hillary’s corrupted skull. But the hatchet is really heavy, and wielding it to deadly effect will require an unprecedented joint effort by leftists. United by hating Hillary, we could—and should—“all just get along.”
“People of the Book” vs. the TOXIC Establishment
With so much of today’s politics having a religious, indeed cultish, feel—emotionally charged and impervious to evidence—it seems appropriate that I explain my case for Hillary hatred as the ultimate leftist uniter by using a religious metaphor. My chosen metaphor is “People of the Book”, a religious idea found in the Qur’an.
People of the Book is actually a unifying idea, encouraging tolerance and mutual respect among people of different faiths—people who could easily get (and historically have gotten) get quite mutually intolerant—based on their common reverence for a set of sacred scriptures. Specifically, it refers to Jews, Christians, and other Abrahamic religions predating Islam—people who, like Muslims, revered what we now call the Bible (though differing among themselves about the scriptural value of the New Testament) and traced their ancestry to a common patriarch, Abraham. Though a formula promoting good relations among People of the Book, it was likewise a recipe for intolerance (and increased prospects of jihad) toward those who weren’t.
It’s in both senses—as unifying “People of the Book” and opening prospects of jihad against those who aren’t—that I use the Qur’anic formula here. Specifically, I strongly urge Sanders supporters and harder leftists to unite based on common “reverence” for a set of political books (or at least the diagnosis of our political ills those books share) and to prepare for “holy war” against all unbelievers in those books’ message. For reasons I’ll soon make clear, I refer to those unbelievers as the “toxic Establishment”; what makes Hillary Clinton especially “hateworthy” is that she’s simultaneously their perfect incarnation, their de facto leader—and their foremost hope of continuing their noxious reign.
While I cite “People of the Book” as an idea for unifying leftists around a common “book” and for targeting “unbelievers” in that book, that’s where all resemblance between my concept and the Qur’anic one ends. For leftists’ reverence for the “book” in question isn’t a matter of faith at all. Rather, it’s as if our “revered scriptures” consisted of purely rational and evidence-based treatises, like Newton’s Principia or Darwin’s Origin of Species. What I strongly mean to say here is that in terms of the most essential, evidenced-based political books of our time, Hillary Clinton and her supporters are virtual (and often voluntary) illiterates—deserving sheer contempt from leftist “People of the Book.”
So let me give a small, personal sampler of Hillary-damning political books. What I mean by “personal” here is that I own the books in question and have read them either in whole or in part; where the time demands of political activism have confined me to reading in part, I’ve at least read a substantial “executive summary” (as with Paul Krugman’s review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital). But in speaking of Bernie supporters and harder leftists as “People of the Book,” I’m demanding even less reading of the “canonical” books than I’ve managed, or perhaps even none at all. (Which again seems appropriate, given how illiterate religious people often are in their own governing scriptures.) What matters, rather, is that Bernie supporters and harder leftists have arrived at a common diagnosis of our political ills with the books in question. The books simply serve as strong, corroborating evidence for the rationality of our viewpoint: why all right-thinking minds reject Clinton.
A religious agnostic myself, the last thing I intend is to impose a “canon” of scriptures on political allies. Anyone sharing my views is welcome to recommend additions; I personally would be delighted to learn of other works that make our case. But besides Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (cited by its shortened title above), I’d name five other books as combining to make a definitive case that there’s extreme danger—to both our nation and all of humanity—in allowing the toxic Establishment, as incarnated by Hillary Clinton, its stranglehold over political power. In no particular order, these are Chris Hedges’ The Death of the Liberal Class; Lawrence Lessig’s Republic, Lost; Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything; Mike Lofgren’s The Deep State; and Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein’s It’s Even Worse than It Looks. Perhaps for good measure (and for people with too little time for whole books), we should throw in Adolph Reed’s essay “Nothing Left” and (for more scholarly types) Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page’s academic paper “Testing Theories of American Politics.”
In mutually reinforcing ways, the works I’ve cited paint a picture of U.S. government captured by oligarch money and special interests, and for that reason hell-bent on policies that are disastrous for most people—and, in Klein’s case, for the very climate humans need to survive on this planet. Mann and Ornstein’s book may seem an exceptional case, since it focuses almost exclusively on today’s toxic Republican Party; but as if to prove my point about these works being mutually reinforcing, both Hedges’ book and Reed’s essay point out Democrats’ humungous complicity in letting Republicans get so dangerously dysfunctional. In all cases, the works point to the type of “toxic Establishment” Hillary Clinton embodies, and I defy anyone to grapple with their contents and still support her. One book in particular, Lofgren’s Deep State, is especially scathing virtually every time it mentions Clinton by name.
Nailing Down the Message
Especially in recent decades, the political Left has not been notable for unity. Our impotence-creating disunion has been such that Adolph Reed titled his astute, timely essay “Nothing Left.” (Again, see here.) But if leftists are smart enough to seize the opportunity, Bernie Sanders’ presidential run has created a generation of enthusiastic young leftists—many of whom do not yet identify themselves as such. Among the shrewdest things he’s done was to identify his opponents as “the Establishment”; leftists should finish Bernie’s savvy appeal to the spirit of rebellion by adding the appeal of rationality: we should always call it the “toxic Establishment.” In that way, we proclaim ourselves not only rebels, but rebels with a cause; as rational “People of the Book,” we have absorbed the lessons of the most important political books of our time and are fighting for the triumph of sweet reason. If God is on our side, that’s only because sweet reason is.
And God (or serendipity) has clearly aided our fight: by providing us Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most repulsive imaginable poster girl for the toxic Establishment. So much so, that she has prospects of achieving something I long thought inconceivable: uniting a serious political Left.
In my next essay, I’ll explain in greater detail how Bernie supporters and harder leftists can unite in a common hatred of Hillary and the toxic Establishment she enshrines. In particular, I’ll explain how Revolt Against Plutocracy’s Bernie or Bust pledge can play a vital role in reviving the Left as a united force.