“Bernard Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are from different parties but agreed on 93 percent of votes in the 115th Congress (2017-18). It is unusual for two members of different parties to agree on so many votes. Out of 583 votes in the 115th Congress, they agreed on 543 votes, including 40 major votes.”
The joke here is that both politicians belong to the same party….
The war destroys the appearance which leads us to believe in peaceful social evolution; in the omnipotence and the untouchability of bourgeois legality; in national exclusivism; in the stability of political conditions; in the conscious direction of politics by these “statesmen” or parties; in the significance capable of shaking up the world of the squabbles in bourgeois parliaments; in parliamentarism as the so-called center of social existence.
— Rosa Luxemburg
The War Party….
“My view is that given the reality of the damn plane, I’d rather it come to Vermont than to South Carolina. And that’s what the Vermont National Guard wants, and that means hundreds of jobs in my city. That’s it.”
Listening to Revolutionary Left Radio (not exactly your Trapo Chapo WaPo House, people), I got a heavy injection of “Red Rosa” this week. God bless brother Breht, who is right up there on the Mount Rushmore of American Radio with Mertz, Nader and Draitser. Luxemburg expanded on Marx’s theory of excess capital. Once the capitalists have excess profits they don’t keep reinvesting into the same markets, they expand to non-capitalist markets, which must first be broken through the force of imperialism, and then acted upon by capital. We have seen this happen one-by-one to Latin American countries, to military bases in every country in Africa, to Trump’s current “stealing the oil” in the Middle East. And in this country to Native American communities. Such analysis could be applied to every “Mom and Pop” store, basically the sabotage of all local economies by Amazon and the like. Gradually, but systematically, almost every non-capitalist market has fallen to capital through the vehicle of imperialism. Therefore, without a critique of imperialism, there is no critique of capitalism. When Brother Bernie, bless his soul, says he wants the weapons of said capture to be built in his own state, he reveals himself as a capitalist, because he is an imperialist.
Rosa had an equally relevant point in relation to the Sanders phenomenon. She inverted the process of revolution. Rather than have it come through an organization that encourages people to be revolutionary, which Sanders claims, it comes through the opposite (bottom-up). Discontented people feeling the revolution and coming to it not through ideology but through material necessity. Rosa rightly sees revolution as inevitable, not as a belief. The ruling class divides along many lines, and one of them is an ideology, which fails to account for the common condition that necessitates a variety of strategies.
As the towering intellectual Andrew Deziel notes Sanders simply cannot apply a racial or gender analysis. I would argue too that he has no socialist analysis either. Rather, he reminds me of the neoliberal writer Ta-Nehisi Coates who the radical (and tender) Cornel West accuses of fetishizing race. It is in much the same way Sanders fetishizes class at the expense of the dreaded identity politics. Some see this as a positive but this actually only reveals his inability to understand class in a material sense. Because like race and gender, class is material, not social.
In this sense a higher tax rate does not begin to deal with our problem. Andrew Yang, who is at the very least fighting the stereotype that not all Asians do math well, did have a good critique of Sanders-Warren tax plan. He notes that these plans have been torn up when applied elsewhere. It is also worth noting that most of the money is tied up in illegal ways and really can’t be taxed. Yang’s idea of giving working people a share of the pie through a percentage on purchases in these big corporations is intriguing, but only halfway there. Two solutions would be more appealing: criminalizing the billionaire class, stealing all their money (not just a tiny tax) and throwing them in jail so they couldn’t use it. This could easily be done. There are so few of these guys, after all. Or there is the appeal of creating a separate market and currency system outside of capitalism. This would mean abolishing private property, first and foremost.
The establishment is not exactly in the position it was hoping for, although with Donald Trump proving himself to be a graver and graver singular threat to human existence, their job of providing ‘anything but’ remains pretty straightforward. The establishment knew that Joe Biden smelled exactly as Hillary Clinton did last election—old news, full of baggage and too conservative. Biden also appears to be mentally deteriorating, although much of the speculation here has amounted to pure ageism. Biden was always an idiot, I am not sure if he has gotten any worse. Regardless, the establishment was hoping that a lesser-known and younger, but still neoliberal establishment could appear to organically steal the election from the unelectable Biden. Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke have all proven to not be up to the task.
The establishment anticipated a three-way battle between Biden, one of Sanders and Warren, and one of the four up and comers to “split the difference”, although remaining strictly tied to neoliberal doctrine. The establishment was always to back its way out of Biden, who would remain high in the polls no matter what they did, because he has such a big head start. But the media, now increasingly recognized as fake news, wanted to appear that it was on the woke side of things, as it denounced the out of touch Biden for more hip, but fundamentally indistinguishable young newcomer (see Obama, Barack).
Instead, the establishment finds itself in a different three way race: Biden on the right, Warren in the middle, and Sanders on the left. The media has generally kept to its strategy of supporting the middle, although it can’t be thrilled about it, given Warren’s bold platform. The media seems to be severely underestimating Warren. They must assume that she is too radical to win the nomination, and therefore are fine “backing in” to the inevitable Biden, rather than forcing it. Now that the others have flared out, Biden remains the establishment’s only hope. The media could also be assuming that Warren, who is late to the “left” side of politics, and even quite late to the liberal side of politics, does not mean what she says. This assumption should make us suspicious of Warren, but it appears that the former underestimate is closer to the truth. Warren, despite her clear limitations and inferiority to Sanders, has concrete plans that have only gotten bolder with time. If she won the nomination, it would be a headache for many important people.
Bernie people are underestimating Senator Warren too. The cult of Bernie Sanders resents her establishment backing, and smears her disingenuously as an establishment hack. The establishment reckons they can dance with her, but never will have to take it to the finish line. Both sides would be wise to stop dismissing Elizabeth Warren. The establishment could fumble into one of the better Presidents in American history, but the left may be sleeping at the wheel when the time comes for Ms. Warren. Of course, she works rather well because she is on the line between what is accepted and what is exciting, and it is possible for a variety of people from different backgrounds to be rooting for the same thing. One side of the disparate support will be wrong, one has to think. Given her history of supporting military budgets one can guess which side that will be. But no matter which side it is, underestimating Elizabeth Warren is a mistake.
The opposition to Warren from the Sandernistas comes from concrete differences but also needless ideological distinctions. For one, the distinction between saying the word socialism or not. First off, Sanders does not say the word socialism, he says “democratic socialism” which is code for support white countries of Empire who have “superior” “democratic” values but denounce, and hypocritically economically sabotage poor brown countries who commit themselves to something closer to economic nationalism under the heel of American sponsored austerity. Warren is far worse on the military, actually. She supports Trump’s military budgets. Remembering things like this makes me almost just rip up this entire piece, but just for the sake of exercise, lets continue to examine these two “left” options.
The fact that Warren says capitalism is good, or that she supports reform over revolution, that is hardly a reason to knock her points against Sanders, the ultimate reform capitalist candidate. Such differences in rhetoric do present themselves in policy at times, but in terms of what would actually happen if either candidate somehow became President, there likely is little difference. Neither, despite obvious limitations, are going to make a lot of the big money people in Washington happy.
That is another reason I find the effort to distinguish Sanders as the sole savior pretty misleading. An especially groovy edition of Jacobin came out to preview the 2020 race. It detailed exactly what having a Democratic Socialist (I’m fine using that term for Sanders, because it means nothing historically and is a politically correct, race-baiting slaying of the Communist Dragon). The preview outlined the specific policies Sanders would get done and how the country would be transformed. The whole magazine not only bored me, it was completely dishonest. Give Sanders some credit, people! He’s not going to waltz into Washington and get whatever he wants. He has the honesty to acknowledge that it is going to be a lot more than him needed to achieve a “political revolution” and that having his election as the sole goal is inverting the process.
First, we would have to assume Sanders isn’t killed by a billionaire (his old age, despite his apparent drawbacks presents an easier cover-up). Secondly, nearly everything the neocon Barack Obama did was blocked, just because he was a Democrat. In the current climate the most anyone can say for a Democrat is that they only do some of the Republican’s corporate agenda and none of their own. Needless to say, presenting the Sanders campaign as a catch-all for solving political problems is just too easy, and quite misleading. From a practical sense, Warren would likely be very similar to Sanders. She would begin to set the seed change for a popular uprising within the country, which would move the needle, far more than either of the candidates, whose hands would be tied, could ever do (or would want to do).
While I also agree that one can support Sanders over Warren and not have it be about gender, I do think the most rigid aspects of the Sanders cult gets territorial about left turf. If a candidate with a similar policy outline happens to excite the public more, what’s the problem? Why does it matter which figurehead stands in for the “movement”? Igniting the identity warfare flames by pointing to how educated and white Warren’s base isn’t very substantive either. Why does it matter if Sanders has a more diverse base? Why revert to fixed stereotypes of political ideology based on race? Is there something more pure about a multi-colored base? How is this any different from Trump pushing all his people of color to the front row during his rallies? In the endless battle to prove one’s electability, all sides revert to pathetic and disingenuous pandering to stereotyped racial groups to prove their authenticity. The question shouldn’t be who supports who? But more: what concrete policy does each candidate propose to address institutional white supremacism?
In that way the bourgeois identity questions about Warren faking her race or Sanders playing his gender expose themselves as just as reductively fascist as our increasingly branded culture. The question of Warren “appropriating” a race leads one to believe that everything in our culture is a brand and that by Warren falsely believing she was a certain “race” that she now is copping a brand. Furthermore, the questions about whether Warren is a socialist also seem to be brand-oriented, mostly. There is no talk about the means of production from any of the candidates. There is just talk about wealth distribution and the welfare state. Also, while the lack of female representation in politics says a lot about society in general, most women are just trying to figure out how to feed their children while working two jobs without daycare or health care, there isn’t a lot of time to become President.
But are there differences between Sanders and Warren? Many have tried to answer the question. The Nation’s Aiden Smith argues that the two see the Democratic Party differently: Warren is loyal, Sanders sees it as an obstacle. But here one has to ask: who cares? Both aim to push voters back into the Democratic Party, no matter what they actually believe.
There are myriad different ways to succeed but we all shed the same tears. Each of us, at our lowest moment, shares the same feeling of hopelessness, shame, terror and defeat. Life, if nothing else, is a blues song—defined not by what we have but by our failure at conquering the human condition and falling victim to fate, human error or biological constraint. The greatest tragedy in the world today—outside of the mass extinction of nearly every species known to our dearest Mother Earth—is the wealth inequality that cripples the capacity for human potential at every turn. It is the most irrational and needless flaw in human organization and incentivized by capitalism. Capitalism is good for short-term solutions for individual people and sometimes even groups but it never takes into account the distribution of its gains or the violence and suffering necessary to achieving them.
It is through common sense and basic organizing that much of the squandered potential of human life can be regained simply by a redistribution of the world’s wealth and power. In this very concrete sense that we find that nearly every single human being is on the same team. We must beware of the neoliberal goal to erase and forget hierarchy and history. But we also would do well that there is something fundamental to the fight against the 1% and that while hierarchies within the 99% should not be forgotten, there remains a common interest that when utilized, will be impossible to stop.
In their own ways, both the campaigns of Sanders and Warren represent the necessity of the working class to assert its own interest in the face of corporate rule. Hopefully whichever one emerges to take it to the brink with Uncle Joe Biden can assert some of the genuine interests and consequences that their rise represents. But to demonstrate both are figureheads and not worth losing friendships over, it is a guarantee that even in the face of corruption by the DNC, both will end up promoting Joe Biden with the said goal of bringing down Donald Trump and the unsaid goal of remaining politically relevant, and if we’re being honest about American history, physically alive. JFK was no radical, but even his naive questions about the American Empire led him to his grave.
In this sense, there is no need to see either flawed, but refreshing candidate as a savior. Rather, both could act as momentum builders for communities. Differences between Sanders and Warren are real, and the same may be true of their supporters. But hopefully, all sides recognize a common condition of slavery to capital and can unite behind a common goal of curbing the power of said capitalists and reinserting genuine, not Apple Pie freedom to the masses. Sanders supporters may be correct in pointing to a relatively privileged Warren base, and like all hierarchies, within the 99% it remains the job of the more privileged class to make the most concessions and do the most listening when it comes to community building. It is also true that there is some of the pot calling the kettle black in this Sanders critique of Warren, as both woefully neglect the role of American Empire and its colonization of the Third World (here Sanders remains closer than Warren, but not close to the truth).
Divisions within the working class will remain until the more privileged and more chosen radically confront their own condition and those of the unheard. It in this sense that the American working class may have a long way to go, but the vibrancies of both campaigns above point to a people largely unrepresented in American political life. It is here in the common condition of non-representation that unity is found and we find that at night we weep alone for the same things, even if the false positivism of permanent sunshine in the warming neoliberal era presents us with the illusion of earned, enjoyed and enviable privilege. For now, the war of ideas between these two candidates is on and lets hope Sanders and Warren continue to bring substantive, if limited, truth to a political scene filled with divisive and alienating banter.
Okay, enough with that. This is going to reveal my hand (More Warren, Less Sanders), if only to push the imagination of said Bernie supporters, who seem to have the radical imagination of compassion but like us all, risk falling victim to falling fate to the arbitrary nature of their own options. Imagination lets us create new paths, still arbitrary, but also fluid.
Let’s compare Brother (no pun intended) Bernie and Sister Elizabeth on the issues. First, on the most important issue of our time: climate change. Neither candidate will save us from extinction. Only Extinction Rebellion, growing and courageous will do that. On fracking, a favorite Obama pastime: both say ban it. Ms. Warren said she would put 15 billion into incentives for farmers to practice clean energy. Ms. Warren has a more detailed reproductive rights plan, which includes banning State TRAP laws through the passing of the Women’s Health Protection Act. She also has the EACH Woman Act to deal with the private insurance companies who would restrict abortion.
Elizabeth Warren has also been ambitious in her plans for workers. Take the Reward Work Act, which bans stock buy-backs and demands workers elect one-third of the board of directors. Bernie talks a lot about the rich but how does he plan to stop them? Or the Accountable Capitalism Act, which forces workers to be on the board of large corporations. She fought for farmers to get time and a half through an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This past April, Sister Warren introduced a bill to make corporations pay their fair share with the Real Corporate Profits Tax. She wants to increase funding for the IRS and impose a wealth tax. Sanders did one-up Warren’s wealth tax—but only after Warren proposed it first. Andrew Yang may have been the most correct when he pointed to the wealth tax not working in many other countries.
To see all of Warren’s plans, which mostly will either be abandoned by her or sabotaged by the corporate right, see her extensive website: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans. Among her merits: commitment to 100% clean energy, a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, $100 billion over ten years to countries most hurt by climate change, removing Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that allows multinational corporations to undermine environmental regulations in national markets (this is a good one!), or the quite extensive Honoring Promises to Native Nations Act (politically correct leftists whining about her Native identity should be asking Bernie to go Native too if that means he would develop a plan), relieve Puerto Rican debt, enforcement of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, two-cent wealth tax on fortunes above $50 million to fund public schools, quadrupling Title I (low income education) funding – an additional $450 billion over the next 10 years, a lead abatement grant program (lead test kits can be bought for 20-30$ if people want to test their own children’s school water), universal child care (with a cap of cost based on 7% of income), eliminate standardized testing and zero tolerance policies for kids, add social workers to schools, reduce police in them, end federal funding for expansion of charter schools, and ban for-profit schools, 500 billion investment in low-income housing, anti-trust legislation on big tech, her sophisticated real corporate tax plan that would address the loopholes rather than just raising the rates that corporations don’t pay anyways, maternal mortality, hold trade deals accountable through International Labour Organization, protection of migrant workers, eliminating fossil fuel and forcing imported food to meet safety standards, and well, much more!
Bernie’s plan: grunt. socialism. grunt. Ha!
Andrew Deziel, a brilliant, but former, leftist, also reminded me that when Warren comes out with a plan, Sanders has to come out with a bigger, badder, lefter version. I sort of love that, but it does expose the role of both candidates. Sanders has been characterized as a classic sheepdog—someone designed to bring the left-leaning sheep back into the Democratic Party. But Sanders was losing legitimacy in that role. His supporters were outpacing him to the left and making demands that he begin to seriously consider racial, gender, and market dimensions.
Hence, we bring in the anti-hero Warren. Someone to zig the zag. Just as Sanders occupies the false left space of the electoral consciousness, Warren occupies the false (fake left) space of the electoral consciousness. Now what is the distinction between false and fake here, and how can one be both at once? I don’t think it’s a double negative either, just a compounding negative.
What Warren basically is in the fetish sense is someone who claims leftism and is endorsed by the media. This is not for people to support Warren (despite her limitations, the media prefers Biden). This is more so to funnel the left back to Sanders, rather than away from him. By planting a fake leftist, the media invites us to support a slightly less fake leftist just as we were beginning to leave him. But I actually have found Warren beating Sanders “like a drum” to be more amusing than anything simply because it problematizes Sanders’ grand strategy of buddy leftism with the Democrats. Warren, in other words, exposes Sanders’ contradiction of democratic socialism by claiming to be a capitalist and proposing his same policies. This, in a word, is hilarious!
I do think there is an age divide here that is encouraging. I see Warren, Sanders, Biden and Trump as the old guard who is fading away. I see all four of them as people who endorse some past version of America. Warren and Sanders align with old school imperialism and the white middle class, Trump seems to align with both the ages of slavery and genocide, while Biden is a much more current regression of Clinton-Obama era. Young people, despite the endless pandering to them by Sanders and Warren, are frankly going crazy. Good for us! Good for big Pharma as well. But young people are so filled with irony, so militant in their compassion, so desperately anxious and depressed and so aware of the larger forces that all we need now is legitimate organization and the old guard will soon fall.
Elizabeth Warren has more plans than Bernie Sanders does. Idealism is a beautiful thing—far better than plans, but Mr. Sanders fails not because of his superior idealism, but his confused ideology. It is central that the political left replaces ideology with class. Mr. Sanders hasn’t. He continues to call himself a socialist, but only is influenced by the white supremacist capitalism of Europe. Europe’s xenophobic policies of late should be enough for Mr. Sanders to draw a line but he won’t, and neither will his supporters.
Mr. Sanders has a confused ideology. He says he believes in economic freedom but he codes his language with American Exceptionalism when he has to plop the word “democratic” in front of socialism every “damn time”, as Bernie might say. Mr. Sanders calls leaders like Nicholas Maduro tyrants and fails to give proper context to strategies within third world dependent countries. Mr. Sanders cannot see context, he only sees ideology.
This is a simplistic context, but perhaps not wholly inaccurate of why first world countries prefer capitalism, even when they call it socialism. The efforts of communist movements is to raise nations out of poverty. Are there human rights violations in the process? In some cases, worse than democracies, particularly in certain ways? Very much so. It is, however, a rational strategy, and if it weren’t for the supremacy of capital in these times, it would be, more so than not, a successful one.
On a deeply human level, communism is about taking care of each other in a political and economic way. For communist leaders, this may be more complicated. How to achieve such a goal depends on a certain level of production and organization and unity. Achieving these ends may have messy means. We could debate what is justified and what is not but the reality is that because of Empire, because of capitalism’s sabotage of fair trade through imperialist manipulations of the market, any successful resistance will only occur if the collective is put first. Now this sabotage of the third world is so severe that slowly but surely every country is being made to completely rely on austerity measures and trade giveaways or else face war, disinvestment, or both.
So communism, to work under capitalism, must have tough love. Which is not an argument for tough love! It’s an argument against capitalism and imperialism. And an argument to contextualize the steps that must be taken to achieve freedom from the United States. The hard left too often ignores the cost of such resistance, aiming to side simplistically with those who resist without considering the politics and power dynamics of such a structure. Still, the left is 99% right. Bernie and others like to blame the victim.
That is before we even look at the success stories, which are many, but as the nation-state, not to mention the community collapses to capital, we are seeing less of the communism project. And more and more privatization of everything. I don’t mean to sound like the independent nation is doomed to fail, nor that such a battle is not a necessary and good thing. I just see a grimmer picture as the wealth gap grows. Austerity measures and privatization measures are seen as the only option for the dirt poor, who can barely survive and are mostly displaced, or are fearing they will be. How else does any country stay relevant, without playing ball, so to speak?
Leaders are abandoning the ideology of nationalism—not necessarily a bad ideology, despite its reputation here. Instead, there is a global capitalist conglomerate that races to the bottom. What will need to happen is that poor people across the globe will need to unite. Not just against the awful xenophobia inflicted by states and their racist natives but also by the corporate global economy that creates largely artificial scarcity. In this way, states must begin to regain credibility again as organizing forces of community—not just individual identity of democracy at the expense of others. No one is here to defend human rights violations—but rather to argue for the positive potential and indeed the historical and present value of the communes—as organized specifically by the state. Therefore one cannot simply point to specific violations of one state or the other and be satisfied as a moral superior in democracy, freedom and liberty. We must carefully examine the reasons state power broke down enough for such social control to be necessary to maintain its credibility.
The finger, as always, points to the squeeze by the rich. In the United States, for example, as social services break down we replace them with prisons as a way of halting justified social unrest. The state is doing the jailing, sure. But that’s only because of a lack of funding for other forms of state legitimacy that could create a more healthy representation of class interest within the state. Indeed, that is what the state is designed to do: correct the market’s artificial reward of ownership whether that be business or property. No one owns anything. The earth is just what we live on. How do we live with dignity and decency if we don’t share that gift?
Ms. Warren is more straight forward than Sanders. She believes in self-determination, American exceptionalism, environment guzzling capitalist growth and all the like. She is, in most ways, worse than Sanders. But I don’t need to tell you this. Check out every Bernie coddling leftist article on the topic. But the difference between the two is that Warren does seem capable of beating Joe Biden, and even Donald Trump. And yes, Bernie Bros, this is because she plays ball more than he does. We get it.
But what exactly is the point of electoral politics in this country? To distract, to divide, and most importantly to funnel all political energy back into the Democratic Party, which is really just the enabler of the Republican Party, who runs the show as a monopoly party—which is why Noam Chomsky calls them the most dangerous organization on earth.
We must not fall for this false division between Warren and Sanders, cooked up by the corporate media. Both are figureheads, neither are radical. Their campaigns should be bringing together like-minded people interested in political organizing. Becoming bitter about the dynamics of Warren winning and Sanders slipping is pointless because it plays into the media’s neoliberal construction of personality products that both these people are. By identifying with Sanders or with Warren we turn to brand rather than love for the poor and marginalized.
Bernie Sanders is right. We need a political revolution. But he has no interest in leading it. He wants to funnel all energy back into tedious “democratic” debate, he wants to lift up America for opportunism’s sake—he cares about the American poor almost entirely because they have a vote. But perhaps more so because they have a voice, because I do think Warren and Sanders have more than political gain on their mind. There is some fulfillment of Manifest Destiny here that Americans are identifying with at the expense of the colonized.
I, for one, am leaving this article with an open mind. As much as Chomsky gets right about the false promise of elections, his dismissal of third party voters is off-putting. Even more so for Bernie obsessed leftists who say one can only support Warren because of identity politics. In fact, I have seen far more Bernie folks arguing that Warren only gets support because she is a woman than I have seen the counter-argument. Hillary trauma, even paranoia, perhaps. Bernie Bros gleefully speculate about her return, but mercifully, Bernie will lose to someone else this time. . Bernie was the only winner of 2016, but it’s unlikely he will win 2020.
Politics is not about ideology, it never has been. It is a class war. The poor use many different strategies. Some choose fascism. They are fine living in a corporate state as long as they are clearly privileged. This predictably comes mostly from people who are already privileged enough to earn the status of chosen one in the ‘end times’. Some, choose defense. Fighting against dangerous fascism many go with where the wind blows and are fine building a false corporate opposition party as long as it saves off the worst. I have grown more compassionate to this position, often held by the most desperate. I don’t believe anyone is right-wing, or even centrist. Unless they are rich. There is the only defense. Defense has costs, sometimes the worst of costs to the worst off as we have seen under the rightward surge of both corporate parties. But one can only fight defense with hope, not with judgement.
There is the strategy of revolution. I am not sure if this is the path for the bravest, it certainly isn’t the path for the smartest. Many of the bravest have no time for politics—they are fighting tooth and nail just to feed their loved ones. Many of the smartest choose opportunism, whether that be fascism that protects, liberalism that persuades, or Bernie-ism that allows one to form an identity around class while still proceeding with tremendous caution. No, revolution is for those who recognize the profound tragedy of this world. To quote Luxemburg: “I suppose I must be out of sorts to feel everything so deeply. Sometimes, however, it seems to me that I am not really a human being at all, but like a bird or a beast in human form. I feel so much more at home even in a scrap of garden like the one here, and still more in the meadows when the grass is humming with bees than – at one of the our party congresses.”
Revolution is for those so saddened by this world that there is no option but to take tremendous risk for a new one. Bernie, bless his soul, believes in this world. He does not suspect he will be shot for challenging the billionaire class, but if he did, he already would be. Bernie is a man of tremendous courage, there is no doubt about that. But his optimistic view of the establishment’s willingness to negotiate is itself deeply alienating.
This sadly leaves him out in the cold. No strategy to speak of. Elizabeth Warren has bold plans too. Not as wholistic. Worse still on the military, environment and many other things. In some ways, significantly worse and worthy of note. But she does have a plan to win the nomination. She campaigns dynamically. Bernie has between 5 and 10 sentences, depending on the day. He is good at getting the applause, of reaching the emotive pain of the youth who are so overwhelmed by work, debt, climate change, change in general, technology, isolation, anxiety and depression that Bernie connects in a nostalgic way. Safe, distant, never taking the risk of a plan and choosing instead to cash in on hopes and dreams.
Warren is detested by the class fetishizing left as the white paper candidate. The left, so compassionate, so desperate for love, and so deeply capable of it, at times can spin in circles when trying to identify “classed” behaviors which can only amount to stereotypes. The belief that only rich and educated people like plans has become the most condescending piece of garbage out of the Sanders camp of late. Bernie plays to this dynamic too. His ruffled hair, his simple speech, his repetition of class identity has fueled a poor-hating society who relates through fetishization and abstraction.
Elizabeth Warren hasn’t talked down to the American people. She took the risk of “nerding out” and guess what, it payed off. The right and the left have united in anti-poor rhetoric. They have assumed that to really connect to the broken American public there must be resentment, even idiocy baked in to populist appeals. Warren has gone the opposite direction. Despite class-based smears against “intellectual” Warren, the American people have responded to concrete, yet complex plans to change their lives.
Warren will face a challenge. The establishment sees Biden as a sinking ship. Hence, the negative coverage. They desperately want someone besides Warren and Sanders to rise from the ranks, but no one is buying any stock in Buttigieg, Harris, Booker, O’Rourke or Klobuchar. One way or the other, the Democrats will try to sabotage Warren. She, like Sanders, is taking on too many powerful people for this to be fair. She, like Sanders, will likely cave into this dynamic. The question is: how will they beat her? Biden is slipping. No one else is rising. Will a new candidate enter the race? Even so, could they even stop her?
The Democrats will be in big trouble if they can’t. The majority of the rich won’t take a side in Warren vs. Trump without serious concessions from Warren, or from Trump, ha! Warren will be asked to play ball, and more than Sanders, she will. The left will hate it, rightfully so. The establishment will be queasy, rightfully so. Warren, like Sanders, wouldn’t get most anything she wants done. Some good may come of her Presidency, but how long could it last before she is sabotaged? The corporate powers have a strong grip now, but it’s losing legitimacy.
The overall point of course is this: the Sanders campaign is deeply misleading. It claims, like Trump, to be able to transform society around a single spectacle of election. As a result, people invest a lot of energy, time and money into a force that ultimately will funnel support back into the Democratic Party, and as result, the Republican Party, and as a result, the corporate class. We should be honest about Sanders. He is not the revolution. Only organizing with like-minded folks will be. Warren people, for the most part, are like-minded folks, no matter what one thinks of Warren herself. For as much as Sanders people despise Warren people, the gap between Sanders and the left is far greater than the Sanders-Warren gap and even the Sanders-Biden gap.
But who on earth cares? Electoral politics are but just one strategy to help each other out. It is an overrated strategy because of the continuation, if not deterioration of the menu from year to year. It is however one that can help us out. Not for revolution, whatever that means. Revolution will come from the bottom, not from establishment politicians like Sanders and Warren.
Still, why scoff at the ability of an election to change things? Trump’s election did, even if Obama’s didn’t. I get what Bernie people are aiming at. We all want it. And we all can get it. Something transformational. But this election? No such candidate. Maybe not so in any election. What then, are the goals? Beat Trump? A worthy goal, but one that probably shouldn’t be the first priority, even given his historic Presidency. Build a third party outside of such a structure that forces the Democrats to negotiate? A much better goal of electoral politics, but it seems years, if not decades away. No reason not to start now, but one can see why few people have hope. Or is it to push Bernie Sanders to 25% again? Doesn’t really do it for me. Elizabeth Warren has another goal. Not one that you or I might have the patience or cynicism to pursue, but one nonetheless. Beat Biden, then beat Trump, on an agenda that works better for working people and works within the regressive framework at hand.
But let’s leave this open-ended. Warren may have the most coherent strategy. But all of us have different strategies with dealing with the billionaire class. That being said, I do like the oft-repeated phrase, vote your conscious. To me, at this point in time, Ms. Warren has the best strategy. She is juggling many different goals at once: beat Trump, beat Biden, beat billionaires.
There is not a single candidate who cares about the poor. The poor don’t make decisions in this country. The middle class make a few. The rich set the terms. The rich let us choose between which middle class candidate we like. They’re all bullshit. They all ultimately have the goal of saving the middle class. Some will sincerely help. Other will play tricks. Bernie Sanders has the best plan to save the middle class. But who cares? Warren will actually do it. Such are the limits of electoral politics. That’s why, Bernie Bro, if you really want to save the middle class, vote Warren! But I see more, not less for our dear sisters (and brothers) of the Bernie variety.
Yes, of course, one can only support Warren in a tongue-in-cheek way. But those who refuse to even do that, those who feel the world too much to even do that, these are the people who give me hope. Political revolution is inevitable as capitalism’s contradictions collide and the world can no longer sustain its expansion. No one can stop the revolution and despite the limitations of the Sanders strategy that must be called out, solidarity with the goal and thrust of the motion must be expressed. Soon there will be a revolution that won’t play nice. Any community that builds towards this, even by accident, must be applauded.