Class Conflict is Stronger than Clan Conflict

Photograph Source: torbackhopper – CC BY 2.0

The Democratic party elites have shown that they prefer Trump to Sanders. That is, they prefer the real risk of a second Trump mandate to the real risk of a Sanders presidency.

How else can we explain the sudden coordinated rally around Biden, whose weakness and liabilities are obvious to all? No need to recount the list of his gaffes, incoherencies, gropings, scandals and dementia-induced blunders; it’s clear he is not fit to lead. The Democratic party decision-makers have watched his performance with their eyes open. Neither Obama nor the New York Times endorsed him. And suddenly, the day before Sanders was expected to gain a possibly “insurmountable lead,” they put all their money on Biden. The choreographed dropout of the other “moderate” candidates had its intended effect: raising a senile, volatile, scandal-ridden candidate to front runner status.

It is obvious to all that Trump will trounce Biden in the debates and will hurl Biden’s own dirt at him mercilessly. And yet, the Democratic leadership considers this extremely risky candidate to be preferable to Sanders.

This amounts to a decision that they would prefer to remain in the opposition for at least four more years, a situation that they are used to now, rather than allow a progressive to take power. They can handle losing temporarily in the clan conflict with Republicans. But they can’t let themselves lose in the class conflict – they can’t permit their class interests to be threatened by a president who geniunely represents the working class. The stakes are much higher.

Look at the kind of donors Buttigieg was attracting, now backing Biden: extremely wealthy corporate and banking elites. These backers have a lot to lose from Sanders’ corporate and wealth taxes, his regulations and worker-friendly programs. They have much less to lose from the Republican administration’s status quo. For these people, the goal of defeating Trump is secondary to defeating Sanders.

The DNC was never intending to allow a Sanders nomination. The recent coordinated dropping out of rival moderate candidates is only the latest of their roadblock tactics. After changing the convention rules to bring in the superdelegates in a second round of voting, a concession won by Sanders, they seem to have encouraged a wide field of candidates in order to water down the Sanders vote and to force the convention to go to a second round. A head to head battle between Sanders and Biden from the start would likely have favored Sanders. Multiple establishment candidates in the first round are no problem to them, as long as Sanders didn’t pull ahead too far; in the second round their delegates would consolidate behind one of them and the 771 superdelegates would clinch it.

But in February it looked like Sanders was on track to win a significant plurality, making it hard for the DNC to nominate someone else without a riot (though according to their rules, this would have been legal). So the panicking party elites changed tactics and suddenly cut the field back in order to funnel all the “moderate” votes toward Biden. It was a desperate bet to stall Sanders.

Warren played her part by staying in the race through Super Tuesday, absorbing some of what would otherwise have been Sanders’ delegates. She will probably hand them to Biden at the convention, given her continued attacks against Sanders.

Even if Sanders doesn’t take the nomination, his message is resonating and his movement is strong. His delegates will be in a position to fight to renegotiate the rules and the party platform at the convention, which is essential for the future of progressive politics within the Democratic party.

Some Sanders supporters feel that he has not been aggressive enough and that somehow he is to blame for his results these past two Tuesdays. This is unfair: Sanders is extraordinarily courageous, taking on the US establishment machine. The idea that Sanders is averse to attacking is ludicrous given the historic attack he has mounted, daring to speak plainly about class issues and building a movement that will outlive him.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the party is doing everything it can to undermine him. They’re just relieved that they don’t have to do it in a dirtier way, now. The US establishment elites in both parties don’t allow leaders like Sanders to take power in other countries – they stage coups d’état, assassinations, jail them for phony charges, slap their countries with sanctions and blockades, send in troops, and any number of other dirty and criminal imperialist tactics. We shouldn’t be naïve about what they are prepared to do when their class interests are threatened.

The Republican and Democratic parties are two different clans that squabble and feud, but like rival mafia clans they ultimately represent similar interests. Sanders represents the interests of the working class, and therefore necessarily enters into conflict with the establishment elite. And class conflict is stronger than clan conflict. The Democratic party elites knew what they were betting on when they got behind Biden: four more years of Trump. For them, it’s the safest bet.

Michèle Brand is an independent journalist based in Paris. She can be reached at michbrand [at]