Thursday, January 21, 2016
Even The WSJ Now Takes Bernie Seriously
The Wall Street Journal editorial 'Taking Sanders Seriously' (Jan. 20, p. A12) broached what more and more of the centrist and right pundits have tried to avoid: that Bernie Sanders isn't merely some hackneyed joke but a serious contender for the Presidential nomination. As the editorial notes:
"It's fashionable to describe Mr. Sanders as the progressive version of Donald Trump, but that is true only in that they both tap into public dissatisfaction with the status quo. Mr. Trump has populist instincts but few fixed ideological principles. Mr. Sanders is a true blue, man of the Left."
This is important to note because it is the difference between schmaltz, PR and posturing (Trump) and genuine dedication to an ideology. This was also something many of us expected from Obama way back in 2008, but only too late realized he was adeptly using the words of left ideology but didn't really stand behind them. As soon as he came out with his "Debt commission" to make cuts to Social Security - we finally saw the Neoliberal hiding underneath.
I'm not even sure that Trump, aka 'the Donna' (short for primadonna) is even a Neoliberal. Truth be told, I don't know what the hell he is. He likes to talk two parts bombast to one part warmonger and another part bully boy - but none of that is ideology.
By contrast, every word from Sanders' mouth echoes sincerity and commitment. Integrity rings firmly from his speeches, there is no pretense. And this is precisely what terrifies many in the corporate media establishment. They can't handle ideology, or for that matter an actual political revolution - by which we mean the conversion of consciousness to finally see where one's interests inhere and what stands against them.
It is ideology that gives one’s world and perceptions context and color. If you lack an ideology, as an old logic teacher once put it to me, then you will find yourself cast adrift and swayed by any and every meme, blabber or media blowhard that might try to influence you. Of course, one always checks his ideology against reality, this is important! But one needs a central POV to make any sense of the world.
Sanders' ideology although self--described as "socialism" or "democratic socialism" is actually more an educated humanism. In this respect he sees which forces are arrayed against the general welfare and human condition in these United States - including powerful banks, the media and corporations (especially their money infused into our politics). As a humanist Sanders has definite proposals to limit these agents antithetical to citizen welfare in the U.S..
By contrast, Hillary - like Trump and the rest of the candidate field -lacks an ideology. You can hear it instantly in her speeches which lack passion and energy and basically drone on in a kind of monotone. The words are there, but there is no real feeling behind them. But this is to be expected of a person lacking a compass of ideological conviction or defined principles, who ends up everywhere and nowhere. On all sides of every issue and no sides. Thus, we beheld Hillary change her positions on the TPP as well as Keystone pipeline - not out of sincere conviction - but because she wanted to cynically protect her left flank from Sanders. Just as she now has tilted back to "pragmatic" centrism in strategic counterpoint to Sanders' "idealism" (also described by one of her supporters, David Brock, as 'whackdoodle'. Note: As Sanders' campaign pointed out in response, Brock is a former right wing hack - so 'who you gonna trust?')
But it won't work and it isn't working, especially after Bernie showed in the latest debate (from "TV Siberia" to use Rachel Maddow's parlance) that he isn't the least intimidated by the "front runner" or her claims to experience. As Bernie aptly put it, "experience is not the same as good judgment". Then noting Dick Cheney's vast experience, but woeful lack of judgment - which led us into the Iraq quagmire.
Of course, the media - including liberal, e.g. salon.com's Elias Isquith - saw this as a dog whistle to go after Bernie and implore him to "holster the attacks" - lest those nasty repukes use them. Well, too bad if they do, but if Hillary launches an attack it is up to Bernie to respond. Nice guys finish last as John Kerry learned back in 2004 when he kept mute while a bunch of right wing Vietnam vets pilloried his war record.
As the WSJ observed (ibid.):
"The Clinton campaign feels the threat because the media Left has done a hairpin turn on Bernie. He was fine as the lovable, old left wing uncle, but Hillary's acolytes now find him well, too socialist. Bernie has the courage of their convictions and his appeal is he's more honest about it."
Which brings us to the next point: you can't feign ideology if it's not really in your political DNA, and so you are more inclined to attempt to mimic it or soft soap it. But serious ideologues can smell this insincerity from a mile away.
As for the Repukes welcoming a Sanders nomination, on the theory he'd "be easy to beat", the WSJ offers this warning:
"Don't be so sure. At least not this year. As the question response from the latest WSJ/NBC News poll shows, Republican front runner Donald Trump loses to Mr. Sanders by 15 percentage points among registered voters."
Assuming any independent candidate effects are negligible, that would translate into a 58% to 43% rout, or a landslide by anyone's count - with Sanders likely picking up at least as many states as Obama did back in 2008.
As for the specious claim that, because he's a socialist (at least professed) so he couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because "Congress would reject them", Robert Reich offers this retort:
"If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged."
But make no mistake that Sanders is correct when he avers that any real change must be stoked by the people. THEY must incite their reps to act on their behalf and do the right thing to make the system work for them and not against them. In this sense, it is true that Sanders (as he himself admits) is "no magician". At the top of the list we have to override the mainstream media in its lies about Sanders' proposals - making them appear as if they're mere flights of fancy - say like constructing a gigantic space ship to go to Proxima Centauri.
Typical is the Denver Post's whacked out editorial yesterday, 'Sanders' Reckless Spending Dreams', as if he is putting out pie in the sky. But expanding Social Security is not pie in the sky, nor is having a single payer healthcare system like most of the advanced nations. It is just a matter of political will and that has to start from the bottom - us -and percolate up.
We have to get others to grasp that, in contrast to the Post's twaddle that "higher taxes or additional debt" would be required - say to fund Sanders' 'Medicare for all' - in fact, all we need is to cut the military budget back to where it used to be at around 2 percent of GDP. So, instead of spending more than the next 25 nations, we spend more than the next eight or nine.
Those, especially middle or working class, who believe the military needs all that dough to blow on new weapons systems, like the F-35, are merely acting against their own interests and welfare. They will then be the ones to scream loudest when their Social Security, VA benefits or Medicare are cut, because after all that bloated military machine just has to be fed!
"Someone should have warned Hillary Clinton and the goon squad at the Democratic National Committee that old-fashioned red-baiting isn't going to cut it in today's United States. It's not the 1950s anymore and the Soviet Union and Comintern are ancient history."
"I’m sure I speak for millions when I express the exasperation I feel about a party that will not proselytize, will not educate, will not argue what it believes, will not fearlessly state its case, will not truly fight the battle that begs to be fought. There is little doubt in my mind that Bernie Sanders could be sold to mainstream Americans, especially once he had the full force of Democratic Party money behind him that would allow a true battle of ideas against the GOP, a political party that only has, so far as I can tell, one primary idea, and that idea is “more for the few, less for everyone else.”