Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Not Feeling the Bern

“Only Bernie Sanders can break the power of capitalism in the U.S.” So read a bizarre headline in an online edition of the Guardian. It is just one example of the drivel, magical thinking, misplaced concerns and out and out lies produced by liberal love for Bernie Sanders.

How would Bernie Sanders, or any other presidential candidate, break the power of capitalism? The answer is simple. He can’t. It is difficult to imagine capitalists quaking in their boots because a liberal darling was in the oval office. Then again Sanders has never made a claim to want anything of the kind so the headline is doubly foolish.

The Sanders fans do not let any opportunity pass to make much ado about very little. Sanders’ much vaunted trip to the Vatican was nothing but a public relations gimmick carried out by Jeffrey Sachs, one of his foreign policy advisers. Sachs was at the center of every neo-liberal heist which took place in the last twenty years.  He coined the term “shock therapy” which means privatization of publicly owned assets, elimination of price controls, withdrawal of state subsidies, job cuts and a litany of measures which create suffering for millions of people. People in Russia, Poland and Bolivia all endured the Sachs punishment.

So while Sachs wangled an invite for Sanders to attend a Vatican academic conference, the episode was used by the starry eyed to further their trip down the rabbit hole. Well paid pseudo-progressive Democratic functionaries like David Sirota waxed poetic about something that didn’t amount to much. Sirota tweeted a photo of Sanders at the Vatican with Bolivian president Evo Morales. “In scope of history, this image is epic: US Jewish POTUS candidate at Vatican with indigenous Latin American leader.” There is nothing epic about a senator meeting a foreign head of state nor is it miraculous that a Jewish and indigenous American man sat next to each other. This nonsense substitutes for politics and serious thought. But then again liberals aren’t very serious about politics or thought.

The Sanders phenomenon is a repeat of the Obama 2008 marketing extravaganza. Sanders is the flavor of the month for people who are disenchanted with the front runner, Hillary Clinton. Her presence creates mass revulsion and first Obama and now Sanders moved up in voter preference when given an opportunity to make a case before the public.

But there is something particularly disconcerting about the Sanders phenomenon. Like Obama he allows liberals to be proud of uttering mealy-mouthed words instead of acting to make the change they say they want. In a recent debate in New York City Sanders famously declared that “we have to treat the Palestinians with respect and dignity.” He added that Israel has a “right to exist” and said only that the Israel massacre in Gaza was “a disproportionate response.”

His words regarding the Palestinians are rarely heard from the mouth of an American politician, certainly not a presidential candidate. However, kudos showered on Sanders give the impression that Palestinians weren’t worthy of respect and dignity until he said they were. The reaction from Sanders acolytes is in fact an indictment of U.S. foreign policy and Americans acquiescence to decades of pro-Israel propaganda. He doesn’t challenge the Zionist project, in fact he constantly mentions that he once lived in Israel and has family there.

The Palestinians get nothing but pats on the head from Bernie Sanders. They need an end to occupation and a right to return to the land and the homes stolen from them. The Sanders paternalistic feint may impress liberals looking for a politician to love but it does nothing to address a grave injustice.

The injustices that Democrats don’t want to fight were much closer to home on primary voting day in New York. Voting in New York state is very restrictive, with long periods needed to change party affiliations or to request absentee ballots. The board of elections is an ineffective patronage mill that doesn’t serve voters’ needs.

The state has one of the lowest rates of voter participation because of these obstacles but no one cared very much until masses of white people were prevented from voting for their new idol. New York has always had closed primaries and no one can vote without a party affiliation. Open primaries allow for mischief such as against left candidates like Cynthia McKinney. The former congresswoman lost her last election in 2006 because Republicans were allowed to vote for her opponent.

A good case can be made for restricting primaries to party members. Suddenly that defensible position is cast aside because people who aren’t politically involved didn’t pay attention and then couldn’t get their way.

The Sanders people are conspicuous in their absence from other disenfranchisement issues. Convicted felons can’t cast a ballot at all but that is less interesting than tales of Bernie supporters who found out they can’t vote. If they want a revolution they can start by helping others get the right to vote too.

There is a long slog ahead until the Democratic party convention in July. Hillary Clinton will continue to repulse and Bernie Sanders will claim the Pope or a king or a queen wanted to meet him. The Sanders people need to do as the Black Agenda Report advised and plan for his eventual exit. Despite all the nonsensical hype, they still don’t have their Plan B.

More articles by:

Margaret Kimberley writes the Freedom Rider column for Black Agenda Report, where this essay originally appeared. 

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail