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Call me a spoil-sport. But if by some miracle Bernie Sanders won the Democratic nomination, became President, and attempted to make good on his promises to break up the big banks, guarantee Medicare for All, make public colleges tuition-free, pass a $15 minimum wage, reform the criminal justice system, and tax Wall Street – to list just a few of his proposed changes — the owners of our country (aka “the one percent” or “deep state”) would deliberately and rapidly wreck the American economy as “proof” that his programs were a disaster.
The corporate media, of course, would dutifully echo that “proof” and shove it down the throats of the American public. As a result, Bernie would be voted out of the White House in a landslide, after one term, and a new leader enthusiastically elected to restore “responsible government.”
That is exactly what occurred in Chile after the election of Salvador Allende. The Chilean one percent, in secret partnership with then-Secretary of State Kissinger and the CIA, coordinated wildcat strikes, transportation shut-downs, refusal of banks to lend money to small business, capital flight by big money, along with unceasing and usually false attacks against Allende’s programs by the media, which were virtually 100% owned by the same one percent. Finally, when Chile was nearly prostrate, a CIA–sponsored military coup finished the job, topped off by the (maybe) suicide of Allende.
The same tactic of deliberately destabilizing the economy was employed in 2002, by Venezuela’s one percent, to soften up the country for a military coup d’état against Hugo Chávez (also sponsored by the CIA). Here is how this overthrow of a democratically elected president — at gunpoint — was described by America’s flagship newspaper of the one percent, The New York Times:
“With yesterday’s resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader.”
When one considers that Chávez had been democratically elected by overwhelming majorities, and that the first act of his military-appointed successor was to suspend the constitution, dissolve the legislature, shut down the Supreme Court, and eliminate not only the attorney general’s office, but also the national electoral commission and all the state governorships, the Times’s topsy-turvy reporting should be given kudos for being right up there with Orwell’s “War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery,” “Ignorance is Strength” (and, I suppose, “Arbeit macht frei”).
Unsurprisingly, the Bush administration was almost as quick as the Times to approve and support the Venezuelan coup, which it characterized – not as a “coup” – but as a “change of government,” which had occurred, it told the American public, “as a result of the message of the Venezuelan people,” and that “undemocratic actions committed or encouraged by the Chávez administration provoked yesterday’s crisis in Venezuela.” So it was all Chávez’ fault, and he got what he deserved. Just as it would be all Bernie’s fault, and he too would presumably get what he deserved.
As a member of the legendary Monty Python crew acidly commented: Chávez was ousted in “a free and fair democratic coup, only to be returned to office two days later on what seems to have been little more than the whim of the people.”
I found the above quote in Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire by William Blum, which provides one of the best, and saddest, accounts of the Bush Administration’s complicity in the 2002 Venezuelan coup.
Discrediting a popular left-leaning leader by economically destabilizing his nation’s economy has been so successful that the one percent uses it over and over. It almost never fails, as it did not fail, most recently, in Honduras on June 28, 2009. After destabilizing the economy and blaming it on President Zelaya’s attempt “to bring Hugo Chávez’ socialist programs to Honduras,” a military coup overthrew him, with glowing approval from the Honduran media. Although Barack Obama publicly (and mildly) disapproved of the coup, and claimed that the U.S. had no part in it, this was shown to be untrue (surprise) by a Wikileaks document release. (As reported in Truthout.)
Of course, in the U.S. we won’t need a military coup, or the (maybe) suicide of Sanders, to bring the country back to “responsible government.” It will all be done democratically. After the one percent has wrecked the U.S. economy, Sanders will simply be voted out of office by a demoralized and resentful populace suffering from rising unemployment, inflation, threats of terrorist infiltration, and a daily barrage from the media blaming Sanders for the economic meltdown that the owners of the media had themselves deliberately engineered. Moreover, since economic power in the US is so much more centralized than it ever was in Chile, Venezuela, or Honduras, the staged wrecking of our economy will be easier to accomplish, and the subsequent return to “responsible government” much more quickly achieved.
The only hope of preventing such a scenario would be for the people to take to the streets in protest. But since the people (most of them, anyway) will believe what the media tells them about who destroyed the economy, they will not take to the streets. More likely, they will vilify and throw rocks at the few who do (as, for example, anti-Vietnam War protestors in the 60s and 70s were spat upon and attacked with baseball bats by construction workers and other “loyal Americans,” while police looked the other way).
Today, when arguably half the population has already embraced the nasty Know Nothing Fascism of Donald Trump, how hard would it be to pillory a future Sanders administration — and “the losers” who supported him – for wrecking the economy after the media get through convincing us that it was All Bernie’s Fault?