AK-46: The Case Against Amy Klobuchar

Photograph Source: Bjoertvedt – CC BY-SA 3.0

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” —Martin Luther King

“Then, there’s how Mr. Sanders approaches politics. He boasts that compromise is anathema to him. Only his prescriptions can be the right ones, even though most are overly rigid, untested and divisive. He promises that once in office, a groundswell of support will emerge to push through his agenda. Three years into the Trump administration, we see little advantage to exchanging one over-promising, divisive figure in Washington for another.” —New York Times

“American capitalism is responsible for its share of sins. But Ms. Warren often casts the net far too wide, placing the blame for a host of maladies from climate change to gun violence at the feet of the business community when the onus is on society as a whole. The country needs a more unifying path”.—The New York Times

“Any hope of restoring unity in the country will require modesty, a willingness to compromise and the support of the many demographics that make up the Democratic coalition — young and old, in red states and blue, black and brown and white.” —The New York Times

“It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared,”—Bernie Sanders

“If he gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him?” —Hollywood Reporter

“I’m not going to go there yet.” —Hillary Clinton

Jacobin is back at it with their Warren-Bernie obsession. There is a false premise here. The left is not competing against itself. Rather than be bogged down by specific manufactured divisiveness of the corporate media, supporters of Sanders should be attempting to convince people who believe in Warren’s platform that we need a more radical confrontation with the ruling class and that Warren simply has the wrong strategic approach to the class struggle.

As endearing as Bernie is when he tells The New York Times that he doesn’t do birthday cards, we should avoid the temptation to fetishize electoral politics and instead find our solidarity in the programs themselves. None of Bernie or Elizabeth’s platforms would be politically possible without the political will of the working class. Warren should be held accountable, but the back-stabbing she did of Bernie is only unfortunate because it reveals her true allegiance to political centrism and the reforms within corporate capitalism.

As for Bernie, this is a candidate who does have flaws and should be subject to criticism. I have no problem with Warren addressing these flaws, but if she believed in her own platform she would be more focused on attacking the frontrunner Joe Biden or other centrists in the race. The left falls into this same trap when it becomes overly preoccupied with Ms. Warren. Rather than safeguard shrinking ideological leftism that is strongest when it is weakest, we should expand our approach to universal class warfare.

The way power works is to give everyone a role. Biden can compromise with Trump. Warren can compromise with Biden. Sanders can compromise with Warren. The working class can compromise with Sanders. Because Sanders is the best available option, I support him. Unfortunately, he is not particularly dangerous. He too will eventually betray the working class just as Warren betrayed him. We should recognize the Sanders campaign as one strategy and form a positive organization around this.

What we should avoid is the opposite. Just because Sanders is one tool doesn’t mean we must form all our criticisms as if he is the standard-bearer. We should not, for example, become obsessed with Warren just because she criticizes Sanders, or even get too surprised or outraged about the mainstream media’s response to Sanders. This is Sanders’ struggle for political power, and it is his battle to fight. The extent of any support for his fight should revolve around how well he represents us, which ultimately the point of democracy. Likewise, when Sanders again folds into the Democratic Party apparatus, we may thank him but we must move on to an organization that challenges both corporate parties.

In such a spirit, comparing the electability of Sanders and Warren is misleading and unhelpful. Yes, Bernie may have more working-class appeal but that is not just because he is “better” or whatever. It is because humans have rights and we deserve to have them. We must remember that politics is not about opinions or plans, it is about the struggle for power. This is ultimately why the ruling class fears Sanders more than Warren. His language is about power. Hers is about plans. The ruling class can always have a plan to fix us, as long as they have the power to dictate who we are. The liberating spirit says we have the power and we won’t be controlled.

We get into trouble when this thrust becomes purely ideological. Trump acts as a liberator but never had a structural plan beyond white supremacist ideology. Bernie has some of the right political plans but his failure is his ideological believe in American values—which assumes a fair election for him and a fair deal for the world with us as an imperialist power. It is here where Bernie will eventually be swallowed up by his own ideology and the working class must persist in its own material goals.

In other words, for the working class, this isn’t the game of politics, this is life. The press is so alienated from the working class these days. The press chooses to spend more time deep in the halls of Washington or in the heads of billionaire innovators, choosing to create individual stories of grit and triumph rather than addressing the universal class warfare right in front of them.

Unable to recognize the deep divide within the Democratic Party as anything more than political disagreement, The New York Times endorsed both of its favorite technocrats despite clear differences in policy. By reducing the real violence of class warfare to heady politics, we find that the press is in deep denial about the present damage and future danger of the class war upon our planet and the working class broadly. The political future will not be won in the boardroom but on the streets.

The New York Times editorial board’s endorsed both Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The left has rightly turned on Elizabeth Warren, whose differences with her counterpart, the social democrat Bernie Sanders, are not small. But let’s not forget the danger of taking up Warren’s punches to the left, insofar as punching her back also ignores an absolutely chilling future in the hands of a President Klobuchar.

The first thing that is dangerous about Klobuchar is that she gets things done. She has co-sponsored 111 pieces of legislation as of 2018. She has voted for 56% of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, despite explicit efforts by the President to abolish the rule of the courts themselves. She also sided with Mr. Trump on the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. She was a non-vote on Trump’s highly dangerous repeal of EPA rules on emissions, and a no-show on Trump’s arm sales to Saudi Arabia and U.A.E. and humanitarian aid to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In 2014, Klobuchar sided with Obama’s farm bill that cut 8.7 billion in food stamps. Klobuchar supports copper mining in Minnesota’s greatest treasure—The Boundary Waters. Klobuchar co-sponsored the bill to give 6,650 acres to PolyMet. Klobuchar co-sponsored a bill that among other things delisted gray wolves from the endangered species list. The last time wolves were kicked off the list they were hunted right back onto it by Klobuchar’s rural base. Klobuchar has also been criticized for going around the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to build the St. Croix Crossing bridge. Most significantly, Klobuchar has not had a clear stand on the Line 3 pipeline which would violate the rights, land and water of Native American communities specifically. Embridge, who runs the pipeline, gave the maximum donation amount to Klobuchar’s campaign, and only after this was revealed publicly did she give the money back.

On the economy, Klobuchar has the standard Republican rhetoric: cut debt, simplify the tax code and reduce middle-class taxes. Klobuchar feels the need to specify that she supports both mining and iron range mining on her website. She wants to wait until 2050 for net-zero emissions, which demonstrates King’s ‘timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”’ Klobuchar also won’t ban fracking and believes the Green New Deal can’t be taken at its face value.

Klobuchar plans to expand the National Guard. The technocrat Klobuchar wants to further expand military technology and cyber warfare techniques. She wants to keep fighting wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and “support our allies” (Saudi Arabia) in Yemen. She supports the Iron Dome missile defense system for Israel and the Memorandum of Understanding which sends 38 billion in military aid to Israel over ten years. She supports sanctions on North Korea, and somehow wants to strengthen the vetting process for refugees. She cites Syria specifically for stronger vetting. How is this not racial profiling? Klobuchar, directly from her website: “Increasing security at our borders, ports, airports and critical infrastructure sites.”

Klobuchar also supported the recommendations of the 9/11 commission. Some recommendations of the commission: “To Muslim parents, terrorists like Bin Ladin have nothing to offer their children but visions of violence and death…Where Muslim governments, even those who are friends, do not offer opportunity, respect the rule of law, or tolerate differences, then the United States needs to stand for a better future….Communicate and defend American ideals in the Islamic world,..Address problems of screening people with biometric identifiers …Quickly complete a biometric entry-exit screening system, one that also speeds qualified travelers.”

Klobuchar is some sort of leader, as she ran the 2014 pilot program in Minnesota to address extremism. She expanded this to the federal level where 50 million in funds were dedicated to these anti-extremist programs. Despite Klobuchar’s keenness to save brown people from their natural fate of violent extremism, she has not addressed her own state’s racial inequality which ranks 47th in the nation according to government research. This includes a ranking of 44th in standardized testing disparity, which is one of the more slick ways to keep poor children of color down. This is a system of testing that is destroying the incentive to learn and reinforcing the unimaginative of white supremacism. Klobuchar’s response: kids, go to school or court.

Despite Klobuchar’s tough on crime stance for black parents and their children, she didn’t address police officers killing black people. In fact, Klobuchar did not bring charges against police officers in more than 25 murders in her 8-year tenure as a prosecutor in Minneapolis. The Washington Post also notes that Klobuchar was harsher on small crimes. Vandalism is an especially risky business around here. Indeed, Klobuchar was elected during a time where Minneapolis, like its Midwest counterpart Chicago, was in a frenzy over race-bait, Klobuchar said: “When I first came into the office, the major thing I heard from the African American community, bar none, was that there were a bunch of their kids that were killed by gangsters.” Joe Biden was among the leader for the 1994 crime bill, perhaps the most devastating legislation in American history, so when choosing centrists, choose none.

Klobuchar credited Rudy Guliani’s broken window policy. The ruling class likes trickle-down economic policy, and trickle-up crime policy. The black to white ratio of incarcerated folks was four to one the national average in Klobuchar’s Minnesota. One of the more egregious cases during her tenure was when a police officer handcuffed Christopher Burns and then strangled him to death in front of his four-year-old daughter. Klobuchar did not prosecute a single cop.

Adoption is a complicated issue, often laced with its own white supremacist implications, but it perhaps says the most about Ms. Klobuchar that her immigration and adoption policies are grouped in one place on her website. Klobuchar also groups drug and violent crimes in one sentence.

Klobuchar has always been both sides of white, corny and vindictive. Amy being Amy: “When I was prosecutor we had truancy and curfew issues and we made a refrigerator magnet, and that was hot with parents. They loved putting it up on the wall and saying, you know, if you don’t follow these rules, you could get prosecuted. Whether or not it actually happens, it changes culture, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do here.” and “Every so often you might have an outburst in the gallery. That’s one of the most exciting things that happen because then you can say, ‘Unless there’s order we will call the Sergeant at Arms.’”

The truth is that Klobuchar stands no chance. She simply has no charisma. Her character is corny. Her lone emotion is anger. Her polls beyond the politically correct Midwest will remain no higher than 5%. That doesn’t mean she isn’t a threat. The Democratic Party has a moderate amount of interest in beating Donald Trump, but their main objective will be to beat Bernie Sanders, and more importantly, the spirit of those looking for something more than the status quo. Folks like Michael Bloomberg are getting into the race to deliberately make for a contested convention. Mainstream media is backing Elizabeth Warren, despite proposals they clearly don’t agree with (but then again, neither does Warren).

The goal is a contested convention. This would open the door for the Democrats to nominate Klobuchar themselves, throwing democracy to the wind. Donald Trump would coast to at least four more years and he wouldn’t even need to call on his militia to take out the liberals. The obscure Klobuchar would get her book deal and we would hear a sob story about the meanness of American politics and the danger of rising leftism. But Amy would not be the one suffering. The working people of the world, the precious earth we call home and the disposable minority would feel the wrath of Trump once more. The ruling class will continue to use fascists as punishment until the working people of the world stand down from even their most reasonable demands.

In short, the danger of Amy Klobuchar is not her own dismal record that endangers people, planet and peace across the world. It is the fact that this record is so damn dismal that she will never get a chance to enact it. Continue to push Ms. Klobuchar down the people’s throats and the winner of 2020 will be cynicism, disengagement and alienation from the political games of the ruling class. This is of course exactly what the mainstream media wants. If they didn’t have a working class to blame, they’d have nothing to write about.

The sad thing is that our political class only has one radical: Donald Trump. At a time when we claim to celebrate Martin Luther King, let us remember that change only happens when the power structure is confronted. History is a series of clashes, divisions and struggles for power. The Democratic Party refuses to engage in this class struggle, and therefore the divide within the party continues to grow. We cannot wait for this party to wake up, for it ultimately believes only in the preservation of the destructive institutions that got us here.

The Democratic Party would rather let its base burn to a crisp than engage in a serious struggle against the corporate class. Loyalty to this treacherous party is a cruel thing to ask for. Many, out of desperation, fear and material dependence will stay to the bitter end. But it is a sinking ship, with waning support. The days for America’s class-blind liberalism are numbered. What will come in its place? Unified fascism, a new normal of relative peace for a few on the backs of the many? Or will it be a unified class war that has a war on the few for the cause of the many?

The Democrats want us to be unified, they just don’t want to give us what we want. Even in times of racial cleansing, the Democrats urge us to compromise, aim to woo fascists, and ignore and slander progressives. The Democrats are right on one thing: ultimately Trump’s white supremacy is not something outside the realm of accepted political ideology. Ultimately there is no grand fissure under Trump’s escalation. In many ways, his racial politics are not the most radical we’ve seen out of white supremacist office in years: Clinton’s mass incarceration and welfare cuts, Bush’s Middle East catastrophe and surveillance state, Obama’s AFRICOM, police militarization and deportations.

The Democrats run on a sort of tautology. They claim, when politically convenient, that Donald Trump is a grave danger. But when it comes to defeating him, they are only willing to do so if the candidate is not too far away from him on the political spectrum. The conclusion of these people must be that Donald Trump is not a radical threat to life on earth, but merely another President who should only be challenged through incremental steps.

Such is not the sort of resistance we need for a President who inspires and endorses white supremacist violence, erodes democratic institutions, deregulates the nation state while polluting all the land inside it, and balloons the military budget. The President is not aiming for democratic support, in the majority sense. He is making life uninhabitable for the majority of Americans. What he aims for is a violent minority rule that relies on a militant armed base, a police state to violently punish and incarcerate his peaceful opposition, an obliteration of checks and balances upon his office, an erosion of democratic institutions and electoral law, and enough tax breaks for the corporate elites for them to continue to fund his tyranny.

The Democrats continue to wear kid gloves against Trump, and at first glance, it appears that is just the way this “nicer” party is. But then a progressive comes along and the civility held in the company of white supremacists soon turns into Trump-like fury. This contradiction is most evident through the lovely Ms. Klobuchar, who has the wonderful contradiction of passing the most bills with Republicans, while having the highest turnover of her own staff—who she abuses and demeans behind close doors. That may as well be the Democrat’s slogan: you work for us, so we won’t work for you.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com