They Rule: No Easter Bernie

Photograph Source: Mike Mozart – CC BY 2.0

A Witch Out of Dickens

Former MSNBC (MSDNC) talk show host Chris Matthews’ execution by the Bernie Sanders campaign today was quick and painless. A guillotine was set up near Central Park’s Pond & Gapstow Bridge. A crowd of 15,000 applauded politely after Matthews’ head was held up and placed inside a model Cold War era television. Ticket fees (ranging from $27 to $200) were dedicated to the Sanders campaign. Sanders addressed the crowd, calmly explaining why Matthews had been condemned. Sanders asked attendees to go to to contribute further to his campaign and to nominate other broadcast journalists for execution in Central Park “or in any other major metropolitan park across our great country.”

That story is obviously made-up, though richly deserved given Matthews’ career-ending (finally!) comments trying to link Sanders to “Castro and the Reds” and “executions in Central Park.”

This is not made up: last Tuesday morning, as Super Tuesday voting was just underway, MSDN’C’s self-caricaturing and Bernie Sanders’-hating morning host Stephanie Class-Ruhle had on (I am not joking) daytime television’s vicious small-claims court Judge Judy to denounce Sanders and promote Mike Bloomberg. I remember watching Judge Judy while home with the flu years ago. She is a loathsome bourgeois witch, a miserable shaming villain straight out of Charles Dickens. She hands down mean-spirited judgments against poor people of color, coupling her verdicts with noxious lectures on their personal and cultural responsibility for their positions at the bottom of the nation’s deep wells of social injustice.

Stephanie Class Ruhle is a global derivatives trader who calls Wall Street her “favorite place” and lives in luxury in East Central Park. She smiled so hard her cheekbones seemed at risk while Judge Judy proclaimed that “This is the greatest country in the world. Nobody wants to leave it. It could use some tweaking, some incremental change.” Judge Judy said that “Bernie’s revolution is a joke” because “it is fiscally irresponsible” and it’s been tried and failed “in Venezuela.” Judge Judy said that people might want “a revolution” in their youth but then “young people grow up.” Judge Judy said that Sanders’ call for “revolution” is “unfair” and “unjust.”

Bloomberg, Judge Judy said, “is the reason I am out from behind the cloak.”

Wall Street Steph said it “was an honor and a privilege” to give Judge Judy a platform for her vile views.

You can’t make shit like this up.

As would never cross Steph and Judy’s bourgeois minds, Sanders is advocating for incremental change. Single Payer, an increase in the minimum wage, free public college, and green jobs programs are not the nationalization of the means of production and the dismantlement of the American Empire. They are reforms under capitalism. I know plenty of people, including lots of middle-aged and senior folks, who would love to see an actual democratic people’s and socialist revolution in the United States. I also know many who would like to leave this country. They are sick of in a nation so pathetically corporate-dominated and reactionary that something as simple, decent, and cost-saving as taking corporate profit out of health insurance and making health care a human right – Medicare for All – is considered unaffordable and dangerously “radical.”

Next up in Central Park: Stephanie Ruhle and the virulent center-right pretend liberal Joy Reid, who has been inserted into the now “retired” Matthews’ old 7 pm MSDNC slot to knife Sanders and his backers in a far more sophisticated and identity-correct fashion.

A Sick Society

Speaking of corporate health insurance and sick societies, here was an interesting news item from the day after Ms. Class-Ruhle and her fellow fake-progressive talking heads at MSDNC and CNN helped Sanders lose to the right-wing buffoon Joe Biden:

“UnitedHealth’s Stock Soars After Biden’s Strong Showing…Shares of UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, -2.93% soared 10.4% in premarket trading Wednesday, as Joe Biden’s strong showing on Super Tuesday assuaged fears over the potential negative impact from “Medicare for All” being proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders. The stock’s implied price gain would add about 185 points to the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s DJIA, -3.73% price, while Dow futures YMH20, -3.11% surged 643 points. Among others in the managed care business, shares of Anthem Inc. ANTM, -4.51% hiked up 9.6% ahead of the open, Humana Inc. HUM, +0.24% jumped 7.8%, Centene Corp. CNC, -3.54% ran up 8.3% and Cigna Corp. C, -5.34% surged 10.9%.”

Do we live in an evil country or what? A presidential candidate whose dream is to make health care a human right got beat up and a leading mafia outfit’s share price went up 180 points! I am reminded of something two exiled German communists wrote in 1848:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”

“An Orwellian Masterpiece”

Speaking of CNN, MSDNC, and Biden’s big bourgeois Super Tuesday adventure, I hope I am not the only one who noticed that both of the cable networks’ expert panels were chock full of former Obama staffers and current Obama pals like Van Jones, Robert Gibbs, David Ploufe, and David Axelrod. It is, as Terry Thomas says, “an Orwellian masterpiece” for the corporate media to pretend to dispassionately report and comment on the very same political history that it is itself endeavoring to make. The capitalist print and broadcast media, with MSDNC in the vanguard, has been leading a full-frontal ideological offensive on “radical” Sanders, replete with neo-McCarthyite fearmongering, red-baiting, and serial fabrication and distortion. CNN even allowed one of its more subhuman chattering skulls (the reactionary cretin Michael Smerconish) to liken Sanders and his supporters to the coronavirus. (Historically astute readers may be aware that the Nazis described Jews and socialists as viral infections.)

Speaking of the bourgeois darling Obama – himself a noted Wall Street agent and Single Payer-killer who has been reaping the financial rewards of dedicated service to the nation’s corporate oligarchy ever since handing the White House to Trump: who you do think made he calls that commanded Alfred E. Wine Cave (Buttigieg) and Amy Klobuchar to shut down their campaigns and endorse the dollar-drenched dotard from Delaware, soon to be the next squealing centrist seal to be devoured by the Great Orange Shark? (It was amusing to watch Obama’s former campaign chief and top political advisor Axelrod report that Obama may have reached out to Buttigieg and Klobuchar when Axelrod might well have been in on the calls himself.)

Turn[ab]out Fear is Fair Play

Turnabout, the old saying goes, is fair play. One of the key tools the corporate media and the “moderate” (right-wing) Democratic presidential candidates have used against Sanders is fear – fear of the supposed socialist Bernie menace (absurd since Bernie’s a social democrat at leftmost, not a socialist)and real socialism is the best thing that could happen to us) and fear of Sanders’ alleged un-electability. Are progressives not supposed to reply by warning people about the real menace of the billionaire-backed Biden’s right-wing corporatism and his intimately related un-electability?

The gaffe machine Biden’s brains have been coming out of his ears for years and it’s only going to get worse in coming weeks, months, and years. His lack of impulse control is a telling sign of his dementia. His body men struggle to prevent him from rubbing women’s’ backs and sniffing their hair. He told a Warren supporter in Iowa that he was “too old to vote,” calling the gentleman “fat” along the way. He called a young woman a “lying dog-faced pony-soldier.’ He accused the centrist Joy Reid of wanting a leftist “physical revolution.”

He loses his train of thought in mid-sentence. He forgets what state he’s in and what day it is. He idiotically defends his past alliance with a racial-terrorist segregationist senator by saying that “he never called me boy.” He boasts that he would have beaten up Trump behind the gym in high school. He tells outlandish stories about past swimming pool confrontations with angry young Black men named “Corn Pop.” He babbles idiotically about young Black children who like to watch the hair curl up his legs. He calls for the use of “record players” as a solution to inner-city poverty. He has to rescind a preposterous claim to have gotten arrested trying to visit Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa.

Seriously? Joe Biden? The man is way past his bedtime. And he was a terrible lying candidate and a serial plagiarist long before his mind stared fading. (Besides being morally and ideologically offensive, the promotion of Biden speaks to our abject ignorance about mental health in the USA: if people can’t see that Biden is suffering from dementia and it’s only going to get worse and worse, it’s hard to know what to say. Imagine the 2020 debates between Trump and Biden. In one corner a full-on level-one malignant narcissist who is practically illiterate and innumerate, besides being an at least instinctual fascist: Trump. In the other corner, a right-wing Dem corporatist who doesn’t know what state he’s in or how to tie his shoelaces: Biden.)

On top of which, Biden’s corporate-funded record stands well to the right of the majority-progressive values of the Democratic base on issue after issue: public health insurance, the protection of Social Security, bankruptcy law, credit card interest rates, racist mass incarceration, the arch-criminal invasion of Iraq, student debt, tuition, the minimum wage, climate, and more.

Evil Trump will squash “Sleepy Joe” like a bug. Be afraid, very afraid, of a Joe Biden nomination. As Conor Lynch notes, “Joe Biden Be Trump’s Dream Opponent.” Understand that millions and millions of Democratic voters who were inspired by Sanders’ progressive populism will simply not turnout to vote for Joe Biden no matter how much Bernie will (sadly) plead for them to do so. Michael Tracy (asking “What Could Divide the Democrats More Than Conspiring to Stop Sanders?”) is dead-on here:

“The moderate 11th-hour dropouts [Buttigieg and Klobuchar] are craven, not courageous…The logic set forth by Klobuchar in her endorsement speech, which is no doubt shared across vast stretches of the Democratic professional/media class, is that Bernie would ‘divide the party’ and therefore hand Trump an easy win in November [same for Buttigieg’s nauseating endorsement oration, which absurdly hailed Biden as a progressive – P.S.]. Oddly, it doesn’t seem to occur to them that this coordinated establishment intervention done for the purposes of blocking Bernie will also inevitably ‘divide the party’, and probably more gravely so. Bernie’s most ardent backers are already absolutely incensed. They will not fall in line behind…Joe Biden. They just won’t…. If you enrage and alienate them by appearing to rig the process against their candidate (for the second time) then you are inescapably ‘dividing the party’ and in all likelihood assuring a Trump victory.” (emphasis added)

A Biden nomination will amount to the Corporate-Neoliberal Inauthentic Opposition Party of Fake Resistance mounting a Campaign to Re-Elect “the Most Dangerous Criminal in Human History” (Noam Chomsky’s accurate and recent description of Trump).

They Don’t Care

And here’s something to reflect on: The Democratic establishment won’t care. They don’t care. Please let that sink in, dear progressives: THEY DO NOT CARE. Put this on your record player: the Dem establishment will gladly enable a second fascistic and ecocidal Trump term before it will get behind a progressive Dem/Sanders nomination. They would rather to lose to the rightmost party, even an ever-more fascistic and apocalyptic GOP, than to the moderately social-democratic left wing of their own party.

Never forget that Trump has been very, very good for ratings and commercial revenues at MSDNC and CNN. Steph, Joy, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo. Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough, Nicolle Wallace, Lawrence O’Donnell, and the rest (and here I need to sadly add the clever Catholic comedian Stephen Colbert) and their corporate cable employers have some very good reasons to look forward to four (how about eight or nine or more?) more years of “the most dangerous criminal in human history” in the world’s most powerful (and dangerous) office.

The Party’s Over: Sanders “Fighting on two Fronts”

The party’s over, folks. Sorry. This right-wing Joe Corn Pop-a-bin Biden, champion of the Vinyl New Deal, is the “opposition” candidate. Biden is going to the Democratic National Convention with a plurality of delegates and will of course have all or nearly all the openly authoritarian corporate-Democratic super-delegates if he needs them on the convention’s second ballot. Biden also has the corporate media, which is reporting history it helped make, “an Orwellian masterpiece.” (Biden got Maine and Massachusetts without even opening offices there —- that’s the power of name recognition and corporate media. Process that.)

“Sanders,” Takashi Shimura writes from Iowa City, “the most popular candidate in the race, is fighting on two fronts, on the one hand his own party, and on the other the party’s corporate media. There are so many attacks on Sanders, more than even in 2016, that voters have to be diligent in finding real news and be belligerent against the noise of negativity. I’m seeing stuff in the corporate media that I have never seen before” [like likening a major party presidential candidate to a deadly virus? – P.S.]

“[MSDNC talking head] Nicole Wallace,” Ted Sirota writes from Chicago, “said ‘the establishment didn’t have anything to do with Biden’s comeback. It was African-American voters, and Jim Clyburn.’ And nobody said that ‘Jim Clyburn IS the Democratic establishment.’ Just nodded.” (Wallace is a former top George W. Bush campaign staffer, for what that’s worth).

Keen observations!

Bracing for the Best

“Your call for revolution seems to be becoming the only way,” a friend wrote me from Ohio two nights ago, adding this: “We will lose with Joe just like we lost with Hillary just like we lost with John Kerry.” Well, yes: The institutions are captive to the ruling class. It’s not complicated. Nothing new here. Please read my book They Rule: The1% v. Democracy. It’s a decent historical analysis of how the ruling class rules. Which is a good thing to study if and when we ever decide to take it on in a serious way – in the streets, on the shop-floors, in the offices, on the runways, in the pipeline construction sites, around the Pentagon, at the corporate headquarters, in the face of repression. Voting for Bernie isn’t really taking it on all that much I’m afraid.

“I’m bracing for the worst,” a friend from Madison, Wisconsin (an old research and drinking haunt of mine) writes. Not me: the big bourgeois Biden counterattack could have revolutionary implications. It could help us finally knock left politics and activism off the vicious death circle of the endless major party candidate-centered election cycle. One by one the total un- and anti-democratic inadequacy of the reigning bourgeois institutions and processes are being exposed as social and political democracy fails as the insane Trump administration pushes the deadly authority and stupidity envelope ever closer to true disaster:

+ The 2016 electoral process, rigged against Sanders and then even against horrible Hillary.

+ “Adults in the room” in the Cabinet and executive branch agencies.

+ The Justice Department’s and corporate media’s absurd and diversionary three-year Russia Gate investigation.

+ The federal courts.

+ The centrist House Dems’ impeachment, which avoided and diverted from Trump’s worst crimes and had no chance of leading to removal in the Senate.

+ The deeply conservative U.S. Constitution itself.

+ The 2020 presidential candidate selection process.

The “normal” constitutional and electoral paths of “resistance” are a complete fail. The system is a ruling class-imposed travesty, delivering us to tragedy on a mass scale.

Actual leftists need to take advantage of this. This is what we have been saying. The major party ballot box is the coffin of class consciousness. The Sanders thing and indeed social democratic politics in the U.S. are over: trade in your ballot for a yellow vest.

The bourgeoisie will not be unseated – as it needs to be for humanity to survive – through the existing constitutional and electoral channels. It just won’t. The U.S. party and elections system broadly understood (to include the media, among other things) is owned and managed by and for the capitalist elite — and that elite doesn’t want anything to do with even mild social democracy or environmental sanity, even if both are required for human survival.

We will not get rid of that elite at the ballot box. I wish we could, but we can’t, and we won’t. Sorry. There’s no electoral politics Santa Claus, not even an Easter Bunny/Bernie.

How much longer are we going to let them rule? As Istvan Meszaros wrote nineteen years ago, in an age of clear capitalogenic Ecocide, “it’s socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky.”

This kind of commentary comes with costs. Please helps Street keep writing here.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).