by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
Bernie Sander’s near-tie with Hillary Clinton in Iowa is fanning the fantasies of those who never cease to disbelieve in transforming the Democratic Party “from below.” What is certain, is that corporate evil-doers will still rule both wings of the duopoly at the end of the quadrennial game. “Revolutionaries don’t exult over Bernie Sanders vis a vis Hillary Clinton because they know that great change comes from mass action and not the ballot box.”
Freedom Rider: The Problem of Bernie Sanders and the “Left”
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“The endless fear mongering about right wingers makes any Democrat look good by comparison despite their dubious history.”
The love that many self-described leftists have for Bernie Sanders seemingly defies logic and political sense. Or perhaps it should be said that the idol worship fits a long standing pattern that ought to die once and for all. Simply put, many people who call themselves leftists are nothing of the sort. They are merely Democrats who live in hope that their party will be a tiny bit liberalish but not actually make meaningful change. Devoid of any true political leanings they really just long for someone to love. Every four years they follow a candidate down the road to hell while declaring they are on the way to heaven.
A quick perusal of the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders policy statements shows little difference between the two. Sanders benefits from once having called himself a socialist and from not being Hillary Clinton. The former first lady, senator and secretary of state is disliked by millions of people. The antipathy becomes evident when she runs for president and is visible in all of her dissembling glory.
There has been no real debate about the Democratic Party and its role as a willing part of the political duopoly tag team. Any discussion of alternatives raises the specter of “spoilers” who are blamed for Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in 2000. The endless fear mongering about right wingers makes any Democrat look good by comparison despite their dubious history. Discussions about lesser evil only leads to Democrats who market themselves better than Republicans do. They still bail out the banksters, keep black people in jail, commit mass murder and worldwide chaos with drones or sanctions or willing puppet regimes.
“They are merely Democrats who live in hope that their party will be a tiny bit liberalish but not actually make meaningful change.”
Sanders benefits from a protection racket with Vermont’s Democratic Party. He first called himself a socialist, now an independent, when in fact he works with the Democrats to prevent primary challengers and the growth of any third party. If he were truly a leftist the Democrats would have targeted him for defeat long ago. Instead he gets the seal of approval and the campaign cash needed to keep his senate seat.
Sanders talks good game that belies his record. As a presidential candidate he suddenly sponsored legislation to raise the federal minimum wage incrementally to $15 per hour over a five-year period. Republican control of both houses of Congress means that his timid plan is dead upon arrival. More importantly, when Democrats controlled the legislative branch completely in 2009 and 2010 they made no effort to do what they now say they want so badly. Senator Sanders did not deviate from his party’s plan for inaction.
Who is really on the left? Not anyone who clings to the Democrats after being cast aside again and again while still suffering from unrequited love. Leftists are opposed to imperialism in all its forms. They don’t change their minds because a Democrat is occupying, sanctioning and assassinating around the world instead of a Republican.
Leftists demand that the federal government spend however much is necessary to restore the people of Flint, Michigan to health and safety. Leftists are anti-zionist and anti-imperialist. They oppose all neo-liberal “free trade” deals like the Trans Pacific Partnership. They want killer police to go to jail but want to free the masses from it. They want to end gentrification and displacement and they don’t like the scam of charter school privatization of public education.
“If Sanders were truly a leftist the Democrats would have targeted him for defeat long ago.”
The sad reality is that most Americans do not want to deviate from the establishment narrative of a wise and beneficent system and progressives are no different. They don’t want to struggle for true change and thus be left out of the establishment whose approval they covet. They want the gigs and the acceptance that come with declaring that the country is just fine but might be better off with a little tinkering here and there.
Leftists ought to be revolutionaries. Perhaps that word is a tall order that many will shrink from claiming but the truth shouldn’t be unspoken because useless people will be uncomfortable. A revolutionary isn’t fooled by the quadrennial circus of the Democrats and Republicans. Revolutionaries aren’t browbeaten into lesser evilism. They say without hesitation that capitalism cannot be reformed and must be jettisoned altogether. They aren’t fooled by propaganda that legitimizes intervening in foreign countries. They want an empty prison system and community control of the police. Revolutionaries don’t exult over Bernie Sanders vis a vis Hillary Clinton because they know that great change comes from mass action and not the ballot box.
Leftists see through the Democratic Party’s corruption and don’t fear being spoilers. They know that the system needs to be spoiled and aren’t afraid to say so. The word Democrat is not synonymous with leftist. Sander fans are Democrats with all of the flaws of the party they still support. The people who yearn to find a good person in a corrupt system have some choices to make, but putting the Sanders lipstick on the Democratic pig should not be among them.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.