…The hate, that is, of reigning corporate Democrats for the many tens of millions of left-leaning progressives and liberals stuck in the ranks of the Dismal Dollar Democratic (DDD) Party. Perhaps, dear CounterPunch reader, you saw my May 26 CP essay “Feel the Hate,” in which I detailed various ways in top corporate and imperial Clinton Democrats have expressed this patrician contempt from the first two Clinton administrations (1993-2000) through the Bernie Sanders campaign and the spring of this year.
I don’t have time or energy to synopsize all that history here so please peruse that essay here before continuing on. It’s not a pretty story.
Guess What? The Game Was/Is Rigged
So what’s happened since late May? It’s been ugly. Thanks to some skilled Russian hackers and WikiLeaks’ release of more than 20,000 pages of Democratic National Committee emails, we now have smoking gun proof that the Democratic Party apparatus schemed throughout the primary campaign to favor Hillary Clinton over Sanders. The e-mail exchanges show DNC officials thinking and writing disparagingly about Sanders and his supporters. They show the national organization, run by the hopelessly egocentric and right-wing Democratic Congressperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) working to rig the game in favor of the former Secretary of State. Several of the messages reveal DNC staffers collaborating with journalists at key corporate media outlets to influence press and television coverage of the primary race in Hillary’s direction. A May 5th exchange even involved the DNC’s finance chief asking a staffer to gather information on Sanders’ religious beliefs, suggesting that Bernie’s potential atheism could hurt him with southern voters.
Also in the leak: spreadsheets and emails showing that top Democratic Party officials were discussing which big money corporate donors and fundraisers to give top federal commission jobs and positions to in a Clinton45 administration. All of the donors discussed and listed gave to Hillary Clinton; none gave to Sanders. This is a reminder that top DDDs have bottomless disdain for democracy, not just progressive Democrats.
None of this is especially surprising but it’s still a bit of a shock to see the cold-blooded email evidence of DNC bias and corruption.
A Punk Progressive Platform
Then there’s the Democratic Party’s platform. Party platforms are notoriously irrelevant documents with little real world policy significance. Presidents and other elected officials routinely disregard and betray them without a second thought.
This did not stop Sanders from telling his supporters how his “fight for a progressive Democratic Party platform” meant that his “political revolution” would live on after he endorsed the right-wing fanatic Hillary Clinton.
So how did things go with the Democratic Party platform? It’s a not-so revolutionary document reflecting the party’s fear of upsetting corporate donors. The mostly corporate-centrist members of the platform committee rejected numerous proposals put forth by Sanders’ representatives. They voted down measures that would have come out against the arch-corporatist and eco-cidal Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. They defeated and disregarded proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare (Medicare for All), and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation. The committee shot down Bill McKibben’s call for a national moratorium on fracking as well as new fossil fuel drilling leases on federal lands and waters. It also defeated an amendment that would have backed granting Palestinians an end to Israeli occupation and illegal settlements and called for an international effort to rebuild Gaza.
All of this was enough to convinced the left Sanders committee member Dr. Cornel West to abstain from voting on the platform. “If we can’t say a word about TPP, if we can’t talk about Medicare-for-All explicitly, if the greatest prophetic voice dealing with pending ecologically catastrophe can hardly win a vote, and if we can’t even acknowledge [Israel’s] occupation,” West explained, “there is no way in good conscience I can say, ‘Take it to the next stage.’ I wasn’t raised like that,’ he said. “I have to abstain. I have no other moral option, it would be a violation of my own limited sense of moral integrity and spiritual conscience.’”
Corporate Citizen Kaine
Then came the Clinton campaign’s announcement that Hillary’s Vice Presidential running mate will be the conservative neoliberal corporate Democrat Tim Kaine. This was yet another big wet kiss to the party’s corporate donors. Kaine is a Wall Street-backed U.S. Senator (Virginia) who is on board as a strong supporter of the arch-authoritarian, ultra-corporatist, and eco-cidal TPP. He is an advocate of loosened regulation of the nation’s reckless and super-parasitic financial institutions.
Kaine came into national prominence by winning the Governor’s office of Virginia running a campaign straight out of the old Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC), emphasizing fiscal conservativism. As Governor of Virginia between 2006 and 2010, Kaine was a staunch supporter of his state’s right-wing and anti-union so-called right to work law. He’s also backed offshore oil drilling and fracking.
William Black, a professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, notes that “Kaine, like Clinton herself, is a quintessential ‘New Democrat’—meaning they are allies of Wall Street. They embrace a neoliberal, pro-corporate outlook that has done incredible damage to the vast majority of Americans…It’s not what you say, it’s what you do,” said Black. “Clinton can talk about caring about the U.S. public, but this choice cuts through the rhetoric.”
Deborah Burger, co-president of National Nurses United finds the Kaine pick disturbing. “Hillary Clinton,” Burger says, “could have sent a strong signal to the millions of people who voted for moving beyond decades of neo-liberal policies that have produced massive inequality in wealth, employment, health care, and education, as well as racial and gender disparities and an escalating climate crisis…selecting Tim Kaine sends the opposite message: ‘continue to accept the status quo and lower your expectations for real change or a future we can believe in.’”
Consider the Kaine pick yet another two-handed double F-bird from the reigning Robert Rubin-Bill Clinton-Rahm Emmanuel-Obama-DLC-Hamilton Project-Wall Street-Council of Foreign Relations wing of the Democratic Party to the Democrats’ progressive-liberal and increasingly democratic-socialist base.
The Same Story
The elitist contempt on display is quite extraordinary. Sanders rallied more than 13 million voters and Caucusers – 45 percent of the Democratic primary vote – to his progressive-leftish neo-New Deal cause and mounted the greatest progressive Democratic challenge to the corporate-financial Democratic Party establishment in eight decades. In a chilling statement of callous disrespect, the Clinton camp can’t even have the elementary decency or electoral common sense to give the symbolic bottom of their presidential ticket to a halfway progressive Democrat – even one who refrained from endorsing Sanders, like, say, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Mainstream reporters and commentators have been saying that the WikiLeaks DNC email story has been overshadowing the Kaine choice story in the news cycle. In reality, both news items are part of the same and old story: the sheer elitist contempt that Wall Street Democrats have for the many millions of populist and progressive, left-leaning voters in stuck in the ranks of their dismal, de-mobilizing, dollar-drenched wing of the corporate party duopoly – a contempt so great that top Democrats would rather lose presidential elections than run in accord with the wishes of the nation’s progressive working class majority.
There’s nothing all that surprising about either the content of the recently released DNC emails or the neoliberal Tim Kaine pick, but the fact that that both stories are predictable doesn’t make them any less disgusting. If anything, it makes them more revolting.
Both developments are like hanging curve balls thrown right into slugger Donald Trump’s wheelhouse. Listen to the following excerpts from the mendacious white-nationalist charlatan’s strange speech to the Republican National Convention last week:
“Big business, elite media and major donors are lining up behind the campaign of my opponent because they know she will keep our rigged system in place. They are throwing money at her because they have total control over everything single thing she does. She is their puppet, and they pull the strings. That is why Hillary Clinton’s message is that things will never change. Never ever…”
“Every day I wake up determined to deliver for the people I have met all across this nation that have been neglected, ignored, and abandoned. I have visited the laid-off factory workers, and the communities crushed by our horrible and unfair trade deals. These are the forgotten men and women of our country. People who work hard but no longer have a voice.”
“…America has lost nearly-one third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997, following the enactment of disastrous trade deals supported by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Remember, it was Bill Clinton who signed NAFTA, one of the worst economic deals ever made by our country…My opponent…has supported virtually every trade agreement that has been destroying our middle class. She supported NAFTA, and she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization – another one of her husband’s colossal mistakes.”
“She supported the job killing trade deal with South Korea. She has supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP will not only destroy our manufacturing, but it will make America subject to the rulings of foreign governments…[Enough with] these massive deals, with many countries, that are thousands of pages long – and which no one from our country even reads or understands…”
You can loathe The dangerous and preposterous Donald (I certainly do) all you want, but there’s no small measure of truth in much of what Trump says about Hillary and the Clintons. “This,” Politico’s Glenn Thrush reported after Trump’s convention address, “is the message Clinton and her allies fear most. ‘We win when Trump talks about himself. We are in trouble when he makes it about us,’ one Clinton adviser told me last month.”
I keep hearing lefties say Trump is the perfect opponent to elect Hillary. Maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe Hillary is the perfect opponent to elect Trump.
The saddest part of the story is that millions of progressive left-liberal Democrats are ready to join Bernie the Cowardly Lion Sanders in lining up again and again behind vicious corporate-neoliberal and imperialist Democrats who view their party’s progressive and populist base with sheer Hamiltonian disdain. These persistently defeated progressives are repeatedly brought to heel. Once every four years they coming running back like whipped dogs to the side of their corporate and imperial masters. The masters utter disingenuous and manipulative, populist-sounding platitudes and offer occasional symbolic “concessions” like the resignation of Wasserman-Schultz from atop the DNC (to be replaced by the equally conservative and corporate Donna Brazille and even while Wasserman Schultz has been promised a continuing top role in the Clinton campaign) and a progressive-sounding plank or two in the Democratic platform. The platitudes and “concessions” are advanced solely for the purpose of winning enough working- and middle-class votes for top Democrats to get into power to serve the elite deep state donors and investors who call the shots behind the marionette theater of electoral democracy in the American plutocracy. Many of the progressives know this to be the case, but the viciously circular, self-fulfilling “game of lesser evils” (Michelle Alexander) keeps them trotting back nonetheless like (if I might resurrect an old Chinese communist pejorative) running dog lackeys.
And this contributes to the deadly vacuum of genuinely progressive voices for the legitimate “populist rage” and alienation of the nation’s working class majority. Why should the reigning corporate and imperial Democrats irritate their elite state-capitalist sponsors by shifting left when they know that their party’s own left-leaning base is co-dependently afraid to return the abandonment and disregard heaped on them by top DDDs?
“The Barn Door Open”
Meanwhile, mass populist and working class resentment abhors a left, social-democratic vacuum. In steps a Le Pen, a Trump, and, at the historical worst, a Hitler, to take ugly right-nationalist advantage of the sad silence/silencing of the Left. Listen to the following recent Facebook rant from Jeff Upthegrove, a progressive campaign consultant:
“Well surprise, surprise, Donald Trump revealed in his acceptance speech that he’s going to pivot for the general election to those populist and working class issues around which the Democrats have dropped the ball these last 20 years. He’ll keep the belligerent nationalism and the xenophobia, but he’ll add opposition to shitty trade deals, opposition to endless wars and interventions, and opposition to blind fealty to Wall Street. It doesn’t matter if he actually believes a word of it. The neoliberal corporatist Clintonist Democrats have left the barn door wide open for too long. Now guess who’s waltzing right in? Yep, fascists that’s who. Nice work idiots.” (emphasis added)
I’d replace “20 years” with “40 years.” It’s too much to call Trump a fascist in my opinion (though his fascistic tendencies are clear enough). I’d add that Trump announced his determination to steal progressives’ populist and anti-Wall Street thunder quite some time ago. Still, that’s a helluva good rant, quite dead on regarding the wide open populist “barn door.” It’s the same with the so-called Labor and Socialist parties of England and Europe.
Hot Hope in Philly
I still don’t see Trumpenstein (a monster created and empowered the Democrats as much as by the Republicans) winning in the end but he’s got a very real shot now, something that will only lead to more “lesser evilest” pressure on progressives to play precisely the same sad running-dog game that helps give rise to the power of the white nationalist right (truly “fascist” or not) in the first place. Meanwhile the “pending ecological catastrophe” (Dr. West) proceeds apace, consistent with the extreme heat evident in the streets outside the RNC in Cleveland last week and the DNC in Philadelphia this week. These are sad and deadly days. It’s long past time to break free from the masters’ fossil-and finance-fueled leashes once and for all, before it’s too late. Let us hope that the people protesting on the scorching streets and facing the urban Democratic police state in Philly can help spark a new movement for national independence from the corporate and imperial oligarchy. Let them understand that the Cowardly Lion has betrayed them no less than the Clintons. Let them and all of us move forward without concern for the wishes and ambitions of mere politicians, be they corporate insiders like Tim Kaine or not-so “outsiders” and merely nominal socialists like Bernie Sanders.