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Bernie Sanders, Purgatory and the Third Party Candidate

Creating parties from establishments is often more complicated that generating Eve from Adam’s birth giving rib. For one, there will be dissent, viciousness and obstruction. The establishment can never demand to be shown a mirror of its rotting tendencies; all is done to prevent that occurrence. Hence blocking electoral colleges, sifting primaries, and, well, capping conventions.

US politics has always had a strong strain of populism, and, consequently, immunity to it. A Huey Long styled message about sharing the wealth in a mercenary environment of free enterprise can only go so far until it is muzzled or its progenitor shot. The moment it reaches a broader audience, dilution takes place. As Gore Vidal would have put it, when Chase Manhattan and the banking class is made flesh, alternatives vanish. The rigging of elections is a natural consequence of such a system.

Bernie Sanders, who has been for many months the presumptive thorn in the side of the now presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has the chance to sink with a trace. He began as one of the few independent Senators from his own chamber. He can go down blazing with impetuous, non-aligned fury, while doing what has been unthinkable in US politics for generations: create a third electoral force.

This project is being discouraged with rabid dedication. Oils have been poured on the Sanders waters by the party men and women concerned that his appeal will eat into Hillary’s ascendancy. The Clinton machine is doing its best to make sure resistance within the Democratic Party is minimal, and that the Sandernistas are willing to get in line. (That’s democracy for you.)

Even such figures as Sen. Elizabeth Warren have thrown in their lot with Clintonism, suggesting that progressive credentials are as much a mask as they are a touted form of ventriloquism. Certainly, when it comes to foreign policy, Warren maintains a hawkish dimension that will sit comfortably in a Clinton administration.

In that sense, the Clinton technique is typically that of wooing and deceiving, the hallmarks of a sociopathic complex made famous by husband Bill. It is troubled capitalism with a molesting face, urged on by a long association with Goldman Sachs, a reminder that the United States remains a state afflicted by the decisions of banking high priests and financial hustlers.

Desperately wishing to box Sanders, Clinton supporters, following the cue of their leader, have continued their less than illustrious efforts in denigrating the Vermont Senator. On June 19, Time published a reproachful piece that Sanders still had “expensive secret service protection” costing the taxpayer $38,000 a day.[1] (Read: He is not relevant, or significant enough a political figure to be assassinated.)

The Washington Post came up with a specious argument that the “now-vanquished Democratic presidential candidate” was being accompanied by “his constant travelling companions from the campaign trail: the Secret Service.”[2]

The Clinton supporter base decided to hit below the mother of all belts by exploiting the victims of the Orlando shootings. Debra Messing decided, via the hot air medium of Twitter, to claim that the $38,000 a day Sanders was supposedly running up was best “donated to Orlando families”. Such generosity indeed!

Sanders has every chance now of resisting this, but shows little inkling of it. Political purgatory has come home to roost. He has conceded without conceding to Clinton. There has been no formal end to his campaigning as he risks bumbling along to the blows of his main rival.

This has made him vulnerable to charges of muddle headed thinking and wobbliness. “He has virtually no chance of becoming the nominee,” chides the Post, “and he is no longer pressing his case to party leaders that he should.”

Such language is indicative of US establishment politics in its most vulgar sense. All candidates are pigeonholed by the blessing mechanism offered by either major party. Without them, aspiring candidates are regarded as irrelevant, or, at worst, spoilers who muck up the order of nature in freedom’s land.

By any other name, that would be political censorship, a form of silencing that distorts the landscape and renders it a monochrome wasteland fought over and governed by two conservative parties. The incentive to reform is thus avoided.

Hundreds of thousands of Sanders supporters, to that end, are left in the lurch, having to witness such meandering when they should be reassured that their voice can be heard in a formal presidential poll. Many refuse to vote for Clinton; some see the dangerous titillation of Trump masochistically appealing. If this doesn’t all for a third force, nothing will.

Given Sanders’ current position, supporters may well have to scout for other options in the rough hinterland. Jill Stein of the Green Party smells an opportunity, a “plan B… to continue to fight that revolution.”[3] She should take it. That is, unless Sanders spoils the show.

Notes.

[1] http://time.com/4374236/bernie-sanders-secret-service/?xid=time_socialflow_facebook

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/an-expensive-reminder-that-sanders-still-hasnt-dropped-out-his-secret-service-detail/2016/06/19/a3f717c6-3555-11e6-8ff7-7b6c1998b7a0_story.html

[3] http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/2016-campaign-election-hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-green-party-jill-stein-progressives-liberal-213972

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Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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