The True Danger of the Sanders Campaign

When all is said and done, Bernie Sanders will have done tremendous damage to not just the public perception of socialism but liberalism itself. The Sandernistas and even many Sanders critics have failed to articulate, much to my horror, that his “revolution” has essentially delivered the limping remains of the Keynesian social safety net on a platter to the neoclassical economic fundamentalists, be they neoliberals or neoconservatives.

A good deal of the resistance to the New Deal and what followed it came from a certain sector of the capitalist class, huddled around the figure of Friedrich Hayek, who insisted that the economics of John Maynard Keynes were socialist. For decades, this has been the line of austerity-minded politicians on both sides of the aisle in America who wish to privatize Social Security, as Obama offered to bring us closer to during his Grand Bargain negotiations, abolish Welfare, as Clinton did, and bust labor unions, as everyone since Carter has done.

Now we have a New Deal/Great Society Keynesian running around America calling these things socialism. Granted the European Social Democrats, in a panic following the Second World War and the rise of the Communist governments, did just that seven decades ago. But that action also had a brutal reactionary period, best personified in the dreadful behavior of Margaret Thatcher. And when Chairman Bernie loses to Hillary, which he almost certainly will, she in turn will be able to use the opening he has created to enact the policy suggestions of her major backers, including the wretched Lloyd Blankfein, who has the gall to lecture we mere peons about containing what he calls “entitlements”.

Want a preview of such a disaster? Come to my happy home in Rhode Island and visit our wondrous Democratic Governor Gina Raimondo, a Clinton super delegate!

Several years ago, Raimondo, a venture capitalist of dubious merit and with all the right Wall Street connections, made up a “pension crisis” while Treasurer at the behest of her major donor, Enron trader John Arnold, who has begun a multi-year campaign to turn the public pension system into a cash cow. By making a lot of smoke and pointing to a fire in other vulnerable pensions that were made so by the 2008 crash, Raimondo convinced the voters that the pension was in trouble and the way to save it was by investing it “alternatives”.

By using her rich higher education vocabulary, she tricked people into believing that these “alternatives”, which are in actuality high-risk high-cost hedge funds, were the way of the future. What this future has wrought instead has been a huge robbery of epic proportions. Lawmakers passed the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 which forbid a cost of living adjustment (COLA) to retirees until the pension returned to 80% viability. But with all the outrageous and uncalled for fees being billed to the pension by Wall Street, there will be a colony on the Moon before that happens.

And to put icing on the cake, the Treasurer, who had put her assets in a blind trust when first entering office, was somehow able to make the pension invest in the same blind trust, meaning she is potentially profiting off a highway robbery of epic proportions that crosses state lines, as outlined by forensic auditor Ted Siedle in his two examinations of the pension, Rhode Island Public Pension Reform: Wall Street’s License to Steal and Double Trouble: Wall Street Secrecy Conceals Preventable Pension Losses in Rhode Island.

Even though this potentially violates multiple laws, including the RICO Act, and the FBI, SEC, and United States Attorney’s Office expressed great interest when Siedle wrote a letter to them on behalf of the retired public employees who retained his services, our Attorney General, Peter Kilmartin, and Treasurer, Seth Magaziner, have refused to either prosecute Raimondo or even take the pension out of these investments, continuing a multi-billion dollar bilking/bail-out of Wall Street. The reason why is hard to discern, but it could be anything from the fact they might be personally invested in Raimondo’s blind trust to fear of being blamed for turning off the money, an action which would have a profound impact on Wall Street but benefit Main Street, as Siedle told me in a recent interview.

What does this have to do with Hillary Clinton? Besides the fact that the Obama SEC has been almost totally useless these last few years, the Rhode Island pension has actual direct connections to the Clintons that Siedle pointed out in his letter to the Feds.

So when a future President Hillary Clinton goes before the masses in a few years and say we need to “tighten our belts” by cutting Social Security or “reform federal pensions as was done in Rhode Island”, you will probably hear her says that we live in a capitalist system as opposed to a socialist one. And even though Sanders is just a Keynesian whose economic policies are nowhere near seizing the means of production, let alone expropriating the expropriators, we will have him in part to blame. Rather than reviving the cause of socialism, he has actualized the dreams of the Koch brothers, the Fox News pundits, and the neoclassical economics disciples across the country. Now they can call the New Deal’s remaining legacy socialism because a Democratic presidential contender admitted it was so.

Will you feel the Bern then?

Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.