Over the past year and a half, the Democratic Party base has had a deluge of cold water splashing them in the face, which should have woken anyone up to the fact that there is a serious problem pervading the Democratic Party. At the center of the problem is the predominantly baby boomer neoliberal wing: closely intertwined with corporate interests and the imperial war machine. Their face has been, and efforts have been made to reestablish this face as, Hillary Clinton.
Nothing was going to stop her ascendency to the presidency, and when Bernie Sanders entered the Democratic primary in 2015, the fix was in to ensure that nothing was to stop her coronation. The media would not cover him, despite gathering massive crowds at rallies. The New York Times reported in August, 2015, the fiery words of Martin O’Malley, who accused the DNC of scheduling debates sparingly and introducing an exclusivity clause that prevented candidates from participating in debates outside of the DNC slate solely to benefit Hillary Clinton by keeping her opponents relatively nameless and unknown.
These debates were further criticized by being held at times that discouraged viewing by the public. O’Malley complained about a debate on a weekend in December, the week before Christmas, that would see potential viewers too busy with holiday shopping to view the debate; Politifact, which skewed rulings to favor Clinton, even pointed out that another was scheduled on the MLK holiday weekend and ruled that the DNC was trying to minimize viewership.
As Sanders was gaining on Clinton, Josh Uretsky, a staffer recommended by the DNC and close to the firm contracted by the DNC to handle their campaign database – the same company which suddenly had a glitch allowing access to data across campaigns – had himself, and those directly under him, view information from the Clinton campaign. The result was that the DNC cut off Sanders’ access to his own campaign’s data as punishment for their own recommendation’s actions, as Mediaite reported. Only after popular uproar was access restored to the Sanders campaign. It is not a far stretch of imagination to believe that the event was staged by the DNC to topple Sanders.
In fact, the Huffington Post reported on the DNC leaks, which showed the DNC was not by any means neutral as they said they were. Rather, the DNC discussed their disdain for Sanders, and even discussed some plots for how to make him go away, such as pointing out that he is an atheist, though we have no indication the discussed plots were ever acted upon, and none of the potential plots exist in the released emails.
Of course, in them we see a lot of talk about calling people – so their ideas were mainly fleshed out by phone or in person meetings, not via email. We do know, from WikiLeaks’ release of the Podesta emails, that actual actions were indeed taken to push Hillary over the edge, such as when Donna Brazile, later rewarded with he interim DNC chair, abused her position at CNN to give Hillary Clinton debate questions beforehand for a CNN debate on April 14, 2016, between Sanders and Clinton.
Then we have evidence that the actual primary election results appear to have been tampered with. Counterpunch published an excellent piece which lengthily went through the various allegations of electoral fraud in the primaries, declaring some nonsensical, but more importantly justifying others, such as the variation in exit polls which uncannily were wrong to Clinton’s benefit time and time again. While individual exit polls may be wrong by all means, a collection of them should vary in who ended up winning; and Clinton kept winning the elections the exit polls had called for Sanders a ridiculous amount of the time. The polls were rigged and the nomination was stolen.
As the election went on, the Bernie or Bust supporters were blown off as unnecessary – after all, as revealed by WikiLeaks, Hillary managed to get the media to pay close attention to Donald Trump, generating what he needed to win the Republican nomination. There was no possible way for Hillary Clinton to lose to Trump, even though polling showed a possibility. Those same polls showed that Bernie wouldn’t have lost.
When she did lose, those who successfully Bernie or Busted, as well as those who voted for third party candidates, as they always have, were blamed for Clinton’s loss. How dare they not vote for who they were told to vote for? Their votes mattered. It’s a standard cognitive dissonance in Democratic circles; one individual I came across bemoaned non-Democrats trying to sway the Democratic primary for Bernie, but then seamlessly moved to insisting they must then vote for Hillary after not being allowed to promote their own.
It’s a bit odd the level of hostility held toward Bernie Sanders. Sure, in the 1960s, ’70s, even ’80s, he was a democratic socialist. Despite claiming he was one in 2015 and 2016, the real democratic socialist Bernie Sanders stood for democratic socialism: the collective ownership and control of the means of production, or economic democracy. By the 1990s, he was a social democrat, wanting big social programs and a mix of corporate-owned and worker-owned enterprises. Yet, by 2015, he was just a New Deal Democrat, harkening to just protect the New Deal programs and adding a few more, and fully embracing capitalism. He wasn’t a threat to capitalism, he was a threat to unchained capitalism.
What were they trying to protect? Well, Chuck Schumer was bragging about how he, Paul Ryan, and Hillary Clinton were all on board for a permanent slash in the corporate tax rate, as reported by The Intercept. Though Hillary Clinton was formally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the election, no one really believes she wasn’t 100 percent for it. She had called it the golden standard, which she denied publicly, and Politifact illustrated how her denial was “pants on fire” false while then giving her a very generous Half True rating.
Basically, we have two major parties who are very similar on policy, but very different in rhetoric. When Americans wanted at least a Single Payer option for their healthcare in 2009, Democrats managed to find enough Democrats to rule that out – the supposed red state Democrats who would be voted out if they supported such a thing – and so we didn’t even have a public option. Later, in 2011, as the Occupy was raging on and national news focused on how Republicans took away collective bargaining rights from public workers, Massachusetts, which is almost all Democrats, silently did the exact same thing they were pretending to care that Scott Walker did, as reported by Forbes.
The Republican Party is no different; the Republican House voted hundreds of times. However, there was no chance of that ever getting passed; even if it passed the Senate, the president would veto it and they didn’t have the super majority to override a veto. When it could pass easily between the House, Senate, and a president eager to sign it, they decided it was too much to repeal it, and they were just going to tweak it poorly.
Donald Trump is a bit of a wild card in this because he is indeed an outsider, and he takes his marching orders from Steve Bannon – a Counter-Enlightenment icon. He is what the Republicans pretend to be, but actually aren’t.
In fact, both parties are doing what our economic elites want to happen, as shown in the 2014 edition of the American Political Science Association’s Perspective on Politics. Corporations get their way, the rich get their way, and the rest of us get some very entertaining political theater to occupy our time. Republicans and Democrats alike share an establishment that has a domestic policy called neoliberalism – lower taxes for the rich and corporations, fewer regulations on industry, and austerity; and a foreign policy called neoconservativism – a hawkish policy that defends the economic interests of the rich and powerful overseas, but frames it as humanitarianism and inspiring democracy. It’s a bit messy, sure – the Republicans cut tax rates and then the Democrats gives them a token raise – but that’s what you have to do to keep the plebs occupied. If they realized that it was all for show, they might actually organize.
There should be no surprise to have seen so many prominent neoconservatives, like David Frum, jumping ship from the outsider, Donald Trump, to support Hillary Clinton. Their differences were merely rhetoric.
Bernie Sanders, also an outsider, was a threat to this system of false choice. He is who the Democrats pretend to be.
In court, Democrats do not deny that the system was rigged against Bernie and other progressives. In fact, their defense against Sanders’ supporters suing the DNC for the rigged primary is to take that as a fact and claim the Sanders supporters were aware of the bias, as reported by the Observer.
Now we have the permanent DNC chair election out of the way. Bernie Sanders had pushed for Keith Ellison, a black Muslim, who is better than most Democratic representatives, but was by no means revolutionary. As the New Republic pointed out, there is no significant difference between Ellison and Tom Perez, the ultimate winner of the contest, but President Obama still felt the need to put Perez out there to combat the perception that the Sanders supporters had influence. Of course the not-so-powerful DNC Chair made up a Deputy Chair position with absolutely no power for Ellison to try to keep reformers in the party and doing the legwork for the establishment.
It should be abundantly clear that the neoliberal/neoconservative establishment of the party will not allow the Democratic Party be reformed. There is no room for progressives at the decision-making level; they love progressives doing gruntwork for them, but they are not to have a say in anything.
Putting up a fight for decades until the Baby Boomers – who primarily side with the Establishment – die off, allowing for change to happen, is a very risky strategy. First, you have activist burnout. You stop fighting after awhile, and then some will inevitably sell out giving you younger establishment leaders to carry on the fight against change. Second, this is a fight against those willing to blatantly break the rules to keep you out by any means necessary. They are ignoring the horrible policies of Donald Trump to push a false narrative about Russian ties – something I’ve written much about – simply because it’s better at distracting from their own election rigging and they aren’t so much against those horrible policies. The very purpose of the Democratic Party is to prevent you from organizing on your own, because corporations and the super rich are threatened by the idea of you doing so.
Of course there are those who will try to deter you. I cannot find the link I came across on Facebook of an article arguing that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to create a new political party or brand an existing third party so that it has a shot. But, this is exactly what Bernie Sanders disproved. He managed to get a massive following and yes, he really did win the primary, without major donations and Super PACs. If you are selling a lie that it is expensive, not truth. What takes effort is getting people to break away from the rut of the Democratic Party – something numerous third parties could attest to – but it is not impossible. In fact, it is much easier than yelling at a brick wall to fall down. Go around it.
There is a slogan that is burned in my mind, because while I may not be a part of gamer culture, I have been an obsessive gamer since the age of six. In the fourth grade, I was the only one who could draw the basic shape of the Earth’s landmasses thanks to hours upon hours of staring at it playing Aerobiz. While many games have sucked down my free time, one series has taken the most: Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I spent months – and I do not mean over a period of months but rather if you laid all the time end to end – of my life playing the eighth installment of the series and I was unwinding playing the most recent installment earlier this year.
Based upon real events at the fall of the Han Dynasty in China – and based upon the great Chinese novel by the same name – I always felt for a man cast as a villain: Zhang Jiao. Jiao was a Taoist in China, said to perform miracles and heal people by getting them to confess their sins. Confucianism was the philosophy of the later Han, it justified their rule and Taoism was out. When corruption in the empire met with natural disasters, the people were distraught and so Jiao, with his brothers, fermented the Yellow Turban Rebellion, also called the Yellow Scarf Rebellion, which set the stage for the fall of the Han empire. Han, like the Democrats, symbolized itself with the color blue, which makes Zhang Jiao’s words seem perfect for today.
“The blue sky has fallen; the yellow sky rises.”
While the phrase can be changed for different parties – yellow seems to be claimed by anarchocapitalists these days – the green sky rises, the crimson sky rises, some form of this seems ideal. Should a new progressive party come out of this, the color yellow might be ideal to steal back from the anarchocapitalists. The use of actual bandanas in marches and protests may very well set those outside the Democratic Party firmly apart from them.
In these times, where Democrats gave us Trump and are trying to claim all resistance to him as their own, this easily visible symbol can be an important and vital organizing tool. Wear a bandana in the color of the party you are supporting or at least wear a yellow one. The blue sky has fallen; let us declare that for all to see.
But waiting to organize until 2018, 2020, or god forbid 2021 is a sure way to waste time – action needs to be taken now to send the Democratic Party to the dustbins of history. Moreover, it may trigger a similar effect in the Republican Party, sending that juggernaut into the abyss as well. Republican voters are also voting for them out of fear of the Democrats. There are a significant number of those to the left of the Democratic Party, from Greens to Socialists, to those who just gave up on voting that a new party could draw into itself easily if it establishes itself beforehand as a potential challenger – or if one of those established third parties swell in their numbers.
As I noted when I last wrote, the Los Angeles Times reported that 57 percent of Trump voters supported him to stop Clinton and 54 percent of Clinton voters supported her to stop Trump. If we only count those who liked these candidates as their supporters and ignore the public that didn’t vote, you would only need 40.2 percent of those who didn’t like either – this includes third party voters – to support the same candidate to beat them both in the popular vote. If you present a real option for change and people view you as having a real shot, you can count on many more who had given up on voting – but those are people you will never get by taking over the Democratic Party even if you were magically successful.
There is opportunity to make real change, but you have to be promoting real change to make that happen. Reforming the Democratic Party is a fool’s errand and it will not inspire change – it will inspire the illusion of change. There must be a clear demarcation in American politics that the people are sick of the neoliberal/neoconservative direction that both major political parties have led us in and new parties must arise. Bernie Sanders seeks to reform the Democratic Party, not have a revolution. Revolutions are not branded. Whether Bernie was threatened into taking this position, as a tweet by his wife led some to believe, as reported by the Burlington Free Press, or if he is legitimately holding it, it is time to move past Bernie Sanders. A revolution may have leaders, but it is the voice of the people.
A revolution must seek to fundamentally change the system, as the word “radical” comes from the Latin word for root, you are pulling up the system from the root and replacing it with something else. Usually these are violent, but with discipline and a constitutional convention, once power is obtained, it is possible through the ballot box if a peaceful transition of power is allowed. That is the bare minimum for a revolution, not moving the Democratic Party to the left.
But note, I did say if a peaceful transition of power is allowed. The Democrats have rigged the primary, two if you consider the promotion of Trump in the Republican primary, and they are clearly attempting a soft coup through the Russia narrative. The establishment of both parties may not give up power peacefully, and that is something to be prepared for, but I have always favored the peaceful approach to revolution first. Even if it fails, it legitimizes any armed revolution necessitated by the refusal to transfer power peacefully. Peace begins with organizing outside of the Democratic Party. Don your turbans. #Demexit is the only way forward.
[Featured Image by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]