Readers engaged and challenged ideas about Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders this week. In particular the question of Bernie Sanders’ impact on the two party system provoked a lot of thought. Strong responses came for “Freedom Rider: The Democrats Win and Black People Lose” and “Bernie Sanders Puts Forward A Program That Could Split The Democratic Party.”
Margaret Kimberly’s“Freedom Rider: The Democrats Win and Black People Lose”argues that if the Democrats were a true political party Nancy Pelosi’s failures would have taken her out of the running for any leadership position.
On Facebook Steve Pavlichenko writes:
“Framing Pelosi's very competent methods of enabling her class to ruthlessly plunder working people inside and outside Amerika as mere "failures" is a soft apologism for her fascist violence.”
Marc Salomon responds:
“When a leader of a "political party" sees an electoral collapse of 1000 elected seats on her watch, then by an objective analysis, presuming the legitimacy of that political party, that is a failure. In the eyes of Democrat Partisans, that should be viewed as the kind of failure that would de-legitimatize Pelosi and her ilk in their eyes, weakening their political position. This is why the campaign to reinstall Pelosi is playing the Wurlitzer of misogyny and conservatism to demonize and marginalize all who would contest her right to reassume the gavel.”
“Bernie Sanders Puts Forward A Program That Could Split The Democratic Party”by Glen Ford argues that the social democratic platform recently put forward by the presidential hopeful, though silent on imperial wars, has the potential to split the Democratic Party between corporatists and social democrats.
Beverly Rice writes:
“The only good thing about this plan is it would split the Demo-crook Party.
The truly bad thing about this plan is it will not be implemented if Sanders or any other alleged ‘progressive’ gets elected. Bernie uttered the good-sounding smooth talk in 2014 and even before that he was always good for a sound bite that made sense. But when running against Killary, Sanders failed to push his agenda and certainly didn't forcefully challenge Killary on these issues. Hell, the mo-fo caved in and threw his support to Killary after she and the DNC stole the primaries from him. Hell #2: the mo-fo said when the primaries started that he would support Killary if he lost. Some competitor. Shit no, you don't say from the get-go that you will support your foe if you lose; you say "I'm in it to win it!"
I turned off from Sanders long ago when he was on one of the talking head Sunday chat fests (Face the Nation, if I remember correctly). This was during Drone-bama's push to ‘overhaul’ health insurance. When asked about single payer, Sanders replied to the effect, ‘that's not going to happen’ and proceeded to talk up supporting ObamaCare scam. This was a prime opportunity for Sanders to tout Medicare for All to a national audience. Instead, he followed the party lie, er, line. So I don't pay any attention to Sanders’ rhetoric. He's the white Jesse Jackson -- talks a good game but when game is on the line he punts on fourth and one instead of going for the touchdown.”
Tom Johnson writes:
“The purpose of the Dims is to co-opt the U.S. ‘left,’ and they are quite consistently successful at this in the (s)electoral arena. It is not totally out of the question that the oligarch, plutocrat, and corporate owners of the party could ‘hold their noses’ and allow Sanders or another ‘progressive’ shill to get nominated with the 10-point program -- if it had been sufficiently watered-down and hollowed into nothingness by the end of the Dim Convention. Even AO-C of the select-committee-to-be will be silenced by then into selling a watery brand of progressive Dim snake oil -- or even an empty bottle with just the progressive label. Then there's Warren, Harris, Booker (choke up the Dim ‘progressive’ names of choice that you can stomach)...
As it is, the 10-point program is false on many levels:
* Sanders' S. 1804 ‘Medicare for All’ is not Single Payer Expanded Medicare for All HR 676, and both are subject to further gutting in the Kabuki Kongress sausage factory;
* Sanders" $15 wage is not now a livable wage and is proposed as a 5-year phase-in;
* ‘...bold action' on climate change, fixing the criminal justice system, comprehensive immigration reform, progressive tax reform, a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul and cheaper prescription drugs..." are vague enough as to be meaningless already.
* ‘Progressive taxation’ would require all income to be taxed as earned income, significant wealth taxes because the current distribution of wealth is so skewed, significant transaction taxes, repealing an array of regressive taxes, etc. Sanders, nor any other Dim, has proposed a real progressive taxation plan; they just throw out the phrase and nibble around the edges of the regressive taxation system that the capitalist empire requires.
* And then there's always the reality of the global imperial capitalist military project. Which, of course, no U.S. ‘progressive’ will ever seriously talk about. There's always that. Mathematically, the murderous, heinous global empire makes domestic austerity inevitable in terms of dollars and cents.
None of which means that any sentient candidate would necessarily fail selling a ‘progressive’ program because the peoples of the U.S. are hungry for all the things these cliche'd terms imply. But such an effort is too early to predict. There are too many factors involved. What real progressives and leftists can do is to point out the hypocrisy of all the party is and does -- not depending on the sheepdogs to do any more than snarl at their masters -- except on pay days, when they whimper.”
Glen Ford replies: “As David Swanson, one of the framers of a recent letter to Sanders by about 100 activists and intellectuals, said in an interview with BAR, “It is incoherent to have a public policy that ignores over 60 percent of the federal discretionary spending that goes into militarism.” Sanders’ relative silence on U.S. imperial wars –- with the exception of his late and wholly inadequate legislation on Yemen -- amounts to assent to the massive and multitudinous Bush-Obama aggressions of the 21stcentury, wars that have killed millions and cost over $5 trillion. His description of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as a ‘communist dictator’ marks Sanders as an unreconstructed Cold Warrior and ‘Social Imperialist.’ However, Sanders’ resistance to Democratic Party complicity in domestic austerity, albeit ‘incoherent,’ has the potential to split the Party wide open and further destabilize the corporate electoral duopoly, opening up space for a genuine left politics in the belly of the beast -- including independent Black political formations. Therefore, I am hoping for Sanders to decisively vanquish the likes of Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, et al, in the primaries. We should welcome that which further fractures the duopoly system, even if it comes in the form of a ‘sheep dog’ who will never leave the corporate plantation.”
For more on this: “Activists Demand Sanders Take Stand Against Militarism”
It was greatto have so many readers engage with the strategic questions of electoral politics in the Trump era. These questions will need more thought in the coming days and we look forward to printing the debate on this page.
Jahan Choudhryis Comments Editor for Black Agenda Report. He is an organizer with the Saturday Free School based in Philadelphia, PA.
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