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Meet the New Party: Just About the Same as the Old Party

Photo by AFGE | CC BY 2.0

The not-so-new Democratic Party had its claws on the People’s Summit this past weekend in Chicago. Readers might think that after so much greed and profit from war and after such loss of human resources, that someone would stand up and shout: “What’s the matter with you people… can’t you see the obvious… can’t you see the handwriting on the wall!”

Even Pharaoh could figure it out after an adept adviser pointed to the wall. But it goes on and on and there is no debate about this most important of issues. There is tinkering around the edges of policy… many good policies, but without paying attention to the elephant in the room, not much will change.

Bernie Sanders said at the summit that “The Democratic party needs fundamental change” (The Guardian, “Bernie Sanders lambasts ‘absolute failure’ of Democratic party’s strategy,” June 10, 2017). Sure, Bernie, we get it: bring working people into the equation… young people… older people… fight for “social and economic justice”… Sanders said that the Democratic Party “cannot be on the side of Wall Street, or the fossil fuel industry, or drug companies.” All of this is very accurate, but where is the pressing debate and political platform that call out the Democrats for voting and supporting nearly 16 years of endless wars and endless support of military contractors and war profiteering? Where’s the connection between this greed and profit and the gun and rifle massacres that happen with certain regularity on the streets of the U.S.?

The Guardian goes on to report that “Sanders’s [sic] speech was rapturously received at the Peoples Summit…” Well, as a former Sanders campaign worker, I’m not quite inclined to join the rapture crowd yet.

Trillions of dollars are made from war profiteering and this nation will soon be back in the Reagan debacle of the 1980s arguing whether or not ketchup counts as a vegetable in funding school lunch programs.

Reading The Real News Network report that quoted leftists and progressives as the summit got under way (“Progressive Resistance to Trump Must Also Challenge Corporate Democrats,” June 9, 2017) is quite illuminating. Again and again, all of the right arguments are made: “build power outside any political parties.”  People “don’t want to be involved with foreign countries that fund terrorism.”  And this from yet another summit attendee, “recruit people to run for school boards, city councils, Congress…”

But when does it come down to where nearly half of all tax dollars go to in the annual U.S. budget? The War Resisters League has published its federal spending pie chart for years that graphically illustrates how money is spent on war and the preparations for war in the U.S. It adds up to trillions of dollars and unmet social needs: it’s all as simple as that. Fiscal year military spending in 2015 was $598 billion. In March 2017, Trump proposed $54 billion in additional military spending.

And disappointment followed upon disappointment following the People’s Summit. In an interview on the premiere of the Nina Turner Show on The Real News Network (“Premiere of the Nina Turner Show with Bernie Sanders,” June 11, 2017), the former state senator from Ohio lets the Senator get away with letting the proverbial elephant free reign in the interview by not once discussing war or military spending or empire in a talk about Sanders’ speech before the summit.

But a commentator appended an observation to the the Real News Network’s interview with Senator Sanders that led the reader to a clip of a speech by journalist Chris Hedges during the 2016 presidential campaign for Wake Up America (“Clip of Chris Hedges Explaining The Problem of Sanders Ties to The Democratic Party,” YouTube, July 10, 2016), in which Hedges clearly and accurately describes Senator Sanders’ failure to address war and empire as part of his critique of the Democratic Party and its candidates. Hedges said in that YouTube clip, referring to Sanders’ towing the line for most Democratic Party policy positions and its candidates, that the Senator doesn’t understand the fact that “unless we destroy the war machine and empire, this country is going right down the tubes.” That behemoth of empire and war drives inequality, racism, the attack on women’s rights, Islamophobia, and environmental disaster among the other calamities of this system.

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Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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