Category Archives: Bernie Sanders

Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends

At the risk of counting chickens before they hatch, what would the return of Team Blue portend?

As is patently obvious, the US is in trouble. Climate driven heat waves and fires grip the nation. An already faltering economy with deep contradictions could only tank given the shock of the pandemic that has necessitated varying degrees of sequestering. In fact, the downturn had already started before COVID-19 hit. An already largely privatized healthcare system run for profit and a social ethic that rejects “socialized” public health measures could only have proven inadequate. Added to this mix, an historically racist nation was ripe for the righteous protests against overt injustices. These conditions pre-dated Trump’s presidency and predetermined the current calamity.

The designated chump is Trump

Trump is screwing up royally, but the root causes were unavoidable. Rather than owning up to the inherent nature of capitalism, which puts profits before people as its operating principle, elite opinion needs to point a finger at an offending scapegoat. Someone must take a fall and the designated chump is Trump. Witness Republican establishment figures defecting to the Biden camp.

Trump, under normal circumstances, would have a formidable advantage as the incumbent president. Of the thirteen US presidents since 1933, all ran for re-election except JFK who tragically did not have that choice. All but three won. These exceptions prove the rule that bad economic times doom the incumbent: Ford and Bush the Elder were defeated by recessions and Carter by “stagflation.”

Today’s circumstances are not normal. Trump’s incumbency may be a fatal flaw with conditions worse in many respects than the Great Depression.

Added to a collapsing economy and a nation aflame with racial justice protests, Mr. Trump has not improved his prospects by his mishandling of the COVID-19 contagion. A US passport was once the most accepted in the world. Now that the US leads the world in total pandemic deaths and ranks a high eleventh in deaths/population, only eight countries in the world are fully open to US tourists: Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Mexico, Serbia, Turkey, Zambia, and that most sought after destination of North Macedonia, whose national flower is the opium poppy.

The delusional fear that Trump will stage a coup to stay in power begs the question of what army and security apparatus would back him. Not the US military, nor the security state agencies – FBI, NSA, CIA and other spooks. Those institutions of the permanent state are no more in favor of Mr. Trump than most of the active US electorate, who will likely give him a boot this fall.

The next act comes with perils

In the midst of the pandemic, when health insurance claims would be expected to be out of control, health insurers have been garnering obscene profits benefiting from the public health emergency. Amongst the superrich, Jeff Bezos of Amazon added $87.1 billion to his net worth since the beginning of the year and Elon Musk of Tesla accrued another $73.6 billion.

Thanks in large part to the habitual intervention by the Federal Reserve for the owners of finance capital, Market Insider predicts “2021 could be a boom year for stocks,” while prospects for working people look grim and ever grimmer. Yes, Bernie Sanders was right that the “system is rigged” for the capitalist class.

Will a Democratic victory in November change any of this? Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the current highest ranking Democrat, said it all: “we’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.” Her net worth is $120 million.

Even major “liberal” Democrats, such as Elizabeth Warren, are doctrinaire “capitalist to the bone.” When asked to explain herself, the senator said: “I believe in markets and the benefits they can produce…for people.” True enough. The “people” who benefit from capitalism are the capitalists.

How about Democratic Party progressives like the “The Squad,” you ask? In the “graveyard of social movements” that is the Democratic Party, they are relegated to diversity window dressing with AOC getting only 90 seconds of fame at the Democratic National Convention.

Nominal independent Bernie Sanders tried an end-run for the presidential nomination but ran into the DNC’s “no progressives rule.” And if Biden wins in 2020 and Harris in 2024 and 2028, 2032 would be the first chance for a progressive Democrat to even try to run.

Speaking of the Democratic National Convention, Bernie Sanders praised Uncle Joe for – of all things – his health care policies. Michelle Obama carried chutzpah to new heights, criticizing Trump for immigration practices inherited from her husband. Can’t the best speech writers that money can buy come up with more convincing mendacities?

The enduring neoliberal project will continue with a likely change of guard from one party of capital to the other in January, though with a kinder face. We won’t have to contend with Prince of Darkness Pence and his buddy anymore.

The new feel-good Democratic couple will be spreading the love. And no one is feeling the “good” more than the capitalist class, rewarding the Democrats with donations of $48 million in the 48 hours after the announcement of Kamala Harris as the vice-presidential candidate. Just about every mainstream media article gushed about her amazing “qualifications,” the foremost being fund-raising. In plain English, her biggest asset is she is understood as serving the capitalist class.

The record of Democratic presidencies

It may be too soon to exhale with a Biden White House. If past performance is any indicator of future outcomes, a brief look at recently past Democratic presidencies is advised.

Under the watch of New Democrat Bill Clinton, the Glass-Steagall Act was repealed, which was a factor leading to the Great Recession. NAFTA exported US union jobs while destroying small-scale Mexican agriculture. He dismantled Yugoslavia and bombed Iraq, contributing to the now perpetual destabilization of that part of the world. “Welfare as we know it” was abolished and mass incarceration instituted. Clinton was on a roll, with Social Security next on the chopping block, only to be stopped by the Monica Lewinski scandal.

While these were pet projects of the Republican wing of the US two-party duopoly, it took a Democrat to foist it on the populace. Notably, no major progressive legislation came out of Mr. Clinton’s watch. He adroitly felt “your pain” while inflicting it on the Democrat’s captured working class and minority constituencies, much to the pleasure of the class he served.

The next Democratic president, Barack Obama, had not even completed a term in the Senate before his meteoric rise to the Oval Office. Mr. Obama had the wiring, but part of his remarkable upward mobility came from being groomed and vetted by the ruling class to carry their water. He came out of the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project, which successfully sought to make the Democrats the favored party of Wall Street.

After promising peace, Obama led the US into wars in at least seven countries. Although no major progressive legislation came out of the Obama presidency, his many handouts to the ruling elites include bailing out the banks with no one prosecuted for wrongdoing. He gifted Obamacare to the insurance industry while killing single-payer. He more than doubled fossil fuel production for which he proudly took credit.

The lesson is that it is often more difficult to mount an organized resistance to regressive policies when promoted by Democrats than Republicans. Recall the massive resistance to Bush’s war in Iraq that instantly vanished the moment Obama inherited that war and brazenly took Bush’s Secretary of Defense Robert Gates into his cabinet. Similarly, we have seen Democrats sabotaging Medicare for All, with Biden already pledging to veto it if it came before him.

Campaign promises Biden will keep

The only thing preventing Trump from self-destructing come November 3 is none other than the Democratic Party. Of all the potential candidates that could have walked over Trump – particularly Sanders with universal healthcare in a time of pandemic or even Warren with taxing corporations in a time of  record profits amidst a recession – they chose the one candidate who could lose.

The former senator from Mastercard has already assured Wall Street that their privileged position will be protected on his watch. The war mongers have been assuaged with the promise that the military budget can only go up. The insurance parasites know that government imposed private health policies are set in stone. The Zionists needn’t fret about the US recognizing Palestinian rights or of reversing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Worse than the climate deniers, Biden believes in the science of global warming and knows its catastrophic consequences. Yet he will do little about it and has already opposed a fracking ban. Fossil fuel subsidies will continue under the Democrats.

Note that these dubious promises were made on the campaign trail, while trying to attract votes.

A Biden presidency – austerity at home and imperialism abroad

Pelosi set the stage for a Biden presidency. The first thing the Democrats pushed through after “taking back” the House in 2018 was the “pay-go rule,” a fiscally conservative measure virtually guaranteeing that no progressive legislation can be funded. Then in March of this year the Democrats unanimously and without any debate helped pass the CARES Act, the largest single transfer of wealth from the workers to the wealthy in the history of the world.

Democrats, with the Obama/Biden administration and since, have leap-frogged the Republicans to the right on foreign policy issues in important respects regarding Afghanistan, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, etc. Democrats even oppose drawing down US troops abroad.

Trump has been all over the map, ineptly and inconsistently pursuing détente with Putin and while threatening Xi Jinping. With a Democratic administration, we can be assured of a more consistent, skillful, and lethal US imperialism, pursuing “full spectrum dominance” over the rest of the world.

Those who complain about Trump’s bungling should understand that the Biden alternative will be a more deadly and efficient rule of capital. We should be careful about what we wish for.

The post Changing the Washington Guard: What a Democratic Sweep in November Portends first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Now is the Time for a Second Party

Third Party Blues

Today, who is a Democrat? Who is a Republican? Is there really a difference?

It is no secret that the current electoral system in the United States is rigged. The two hegemonic capitalist parties have made it nearly impossible for other parties to participate in elections. The first hurdle is simply to gather sufficient signatures to get on the ballot. A national candidate is obliged to go through this daunting procedure in each state. Furthermore, each state has its own rules for ballot access.

During the 2016 electoral cycle, for example, the third largest party in the United States, the Green Party, spent $800,000 to get on the ballot in nearly all the states. Their electoral success was sufficient to gain a ballot position for the 2020 cycle in twenty-one states. They are currently pushing their Sisyphean rock up in the remaining states with a guarantee that they will have to do it again in 2024.

After all of this effort, the Greens garnered about 1% of the vote and the furor of ignorant Democrats, who blamed them for Hillary Clinton’s loss. The Greens are not why she lost, but they are a convenient target for those not gullible enough to swallow the Russian interference excuse.

Not only have the capitalist parties stymied attempts by other parties to get on the ballot, but they, or at least the Democrats (it’s not clear how Trump became the Republican candidate) strictly control who can become their presidential candidate. Bernie Sanders decided to make two presidential bids through the Democratic Party apparatus. It was a good choice for one major reason: under current circumstances had he run as an independent or on, say, the Green Party ticket, nobody would have heard what he had to say. He would never have filled auditoria and stadia to overflowing. He would never have made social democratic policies the focus of the Democratic Party primaries and given hope to tens of millions of citizens. But he never had a chance of becoming the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

I realized from May 2015 that Sanders hadn’t a chance of winning the nomination, not because he couldn’t win enough delegates, but because the Democratic Party would make sure, by whatever means necessary, that he couldn’t win enough delegates. The reason for my assessment was that the capitalist class in the United States, and the rest of the world, was in no mood to accept improved living standards for the American working class. In a climate where NAFTA had been in effect since the Clinton administration, millions of industrial jobs were being moved to cheap-labor countries, the New Deal had been under capitalist attack since its inception, and there had already been two major recessions in the 21st Century, what could possibly motivate the capitalist class to offer concessions to the working class?

So, what is to be done? There is no room for a third party to seriously contest the capitalist monopoly. There is not even room for a third party to join the Big Two. We live with a system that excludes by its very nature and by subterfuge a viable third party. However, there is a way out.

First party split—From Whigs to Republicans

Did you know that in the early years of the Republic the two parties were the Democrats and the Whigs? Then, within a very short period the Whig Party disappeared and was replaced by the GOP. Presto! Party A dies and is rapidly replaced by brand new Party B. That seems to be the only way that a new party can become a contender in the American system.

Here, in brief, is what happened. In 1852, when the question of slavery and the creation of new slave states was a heated issue, the Whig Party split. The pro-slavery faction migrated to the Democratic Party, which represented the slave owners. In 1854 the anti-slavery faction and others went on to form the GOP. During the remainder of the 50s the GOP won elections, and in 1860 it captured the presidency under Abraham Lincoln.

The essential thing to understand is that before 1852 there were two hegemonic capitalist parties. The United States was in the early stages of becoming an industrial power, having been essentially agrarian since its beginnings. The Democratic Party, founded by southern planter Thomas Jefferson, by and large protected the planters’ interests. The Whigs, on the other hand, were a mixed bag, based largely in the northern states, which were not as wealthy as the South. However, that is where the Industrial Revolution was making inroads, much to the consternation of the planters.

The planters’ capital was tied up in slaves, who produced their wealth, and land that the slaves worked. The emerging northern industrial capitalists, however, needed free wage labor – free in the sense of being available to work when there were orders and unemployed when there weren’t. The industrialists had no intention of feeding and housing the working-class year in and year out whether there was work or not. Furthermore, the North had a labor shortage. The last thing the northern industrialists wanted was for additional states entering the Union to be allowed to use slave labor.

Under the pressure of the slavery issue, the Whig Party split essentially along regional lines: southern Whigs found a comfortable new home in the Democratic Party. Northern Whigs were left with a rump party, with no ability to contest an election against the Democrats. That is where the brand-new GOP came on the scene.

Prospects for a New Second Party: Can History Repeat Itself?

Let’s return, now, to the current situation. Sanders’ 2016 primary campaign made it apparent that a significant segment of the electorate was delighted to vote for progressive candidates, who were winning elections up and down the ballot. These candidates were often running as Democrats and gaining seats in everything from city councils to Congress. The group-think was that the progressives would take over the Democratic Party and make it into a party of the people. I realized that the Democratic Party would not allow a takeover or even a significant change of course. The Democratic Party, just like the Republican Party, belongs to capitalists, just as does almost everything else in the country.

The DNC had already settled interloper Sanders’ hash, and long before that had turned the wave of progressives that entered the party in the 60s and 70s into tame cattle. I refer to the Black and Progressive Caucuses. Here’s the deal: if you want to have influence, such as important chairmanships, you have to toe the party line. If you don’t want a DNC-approved candidate to primary you and you do want support for your re-election campaigns, you toe the party line. Buckle under or disappear.

My hypothesis was that the upsurge of interest in progressive policy would split the Democratic Party like the Whigs in 1852. It made no sense to create a third party – the American political system isn’t big enough to contain it and the hegemonic capitalist parties. However, it might be possible to kill the Democratic Party by drawing the viable elements into a new party with a progressive program. The remaining rump Democratic establishment would have nowhere to go but the Republican Party.

Currently, a new organization, the Movement for a People’s Party, was attempting to build a broad coalition to form the organic base for a third party. It still exists but doesn’t seem to be very successful. Trump has frightened so many otherwise well-meaning people that they can’t think about anything else but getting rid of him. They would gladly vote for Lucifer to replace Satan in Hell and voting for a third party feels too risky.

So, my hypothesis had the migration going in the wrong direction. In recent weeks we have seen lots of “Republicans for Biden” activity with the support of establishment Republicans and their donors. Wall Street is pitching Biden and abandoning support for Trump. But the icing on the cake is that four Republicans were featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention, and that the progressives were frozen out. AOC got 60 seconds. Sanders got a sadly capitulatory keynote address.

How do we get there from here?

The GOP and Democratic establishments have always agreed on the big issues of empire and wealth distribution. They have lost their party to Trump, but all he inherits is the lunatic fringe base, which has no money to maintain the party’s infrastructure. This base will disintegrate when Trump leaves office.

So, it looks like the GOP establishment is migrating to the Democratic Party and bringing their big donors with them. Progressives can no longer pretend that they have any power within the Democratic Party. By the same token, if Trump is re-elected, his second term will be hemmed in by the massed might of the capitalists, who can stymie every move he makes.

The US will soon have an official one-party regime, the Democratic-Republican Party. That leaves us the opening we need in which to create our own party, a real opponent to the capitalists who have, up until now, held a monopoly on power. Our party won’t just be an electoral vehicle. As long as the capitalists control the country, there is little that working-class people can win through elections. In this conjuncture, where the third major economic collapse of the century coincides with a major pandemic, people are angry and ready to move at the least spark. The George Floyd uprising won’t be the last, and every uprising that follows it will provide larger and larger populations experienced in mass non-violent civil disobedience. That will be the environment for creating a mass party of the people and for ridding ourselves of an oligarchy whose time has passed.

Our party’s leadership will rise from among the leaders of converging movements of mass civil disobedience. In particular, movements for rent relief, debt relief and $15 an hour, BLM, and workers and teachers refusing to sacrifice their lives to COVID-19 will spark action from other sectors of the working-class. These movements will shut down the capitalists’ drive to return to “normal”. The new party’s program will be the demands that arise from these movements. It will achieve its ends the way successful revolutions achieve theirs: replacing the current rulers with our own selves, eliminating the middlemen, and reducing the capitalist class to working for us.

Today, the capitalist parties have no mass memberships. They only have employees who work for private corporations like the DNC. The citizenry can choose a fictitious affiliation with one of those parties at voter registration, but ordinary citizens have no say in how the parties function or who the candidates will be. Candidates used to be chosen in smoke-filled rooms; today they are chosen in smoke-and-mirrors primaries.

A people’s party should differentiate itself clearly from the phony parties. Party membership should be based on formal agreement with the party’s goals and a decision from a membership committee. Card carrying is an honorable party tradition that demonstrates the member’s commitment to the party. Dues cement the commitment and provide the essential money to maintain and grow the machine.

The time is ripe to form a party of the people. In the meantime, watch for a purge of progressive Democrats in the near future.

First published in Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Now is the Time for a Second Party first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The “Lesser-Evil” Syndrome: Noam Chomsky’s Fall Into Self-Contradiction

In a recent interview Noam Chomsky declared that there “was a big difference” between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential elections, a difference “you could count in several million corpses in Indochina.” But, Chomsky added, “a lot of the young people on the left said, “I’m not going to vote for Humphrey. He’s a corporate Democrat. I can’t sully my hands on that. So I won’t vote.” In effect, said Chomsky, this meant that they “help[ed] Nixon win,” and more specifically, they “help[ed] kill a couple million people in Indochina, plus a lot of other (bad) things.”1

In other words, Humphrey was the lesser evil in 1968.

Twenty years ago, speaking with David Barsamian of Alternative Radio about the very same elections, Chomsky said the opposite:

I could not bring myself to vote for Humphrey. I did not vote for Nixon. But my feeling at the time, and in retrospect I think it’s probably correct, was that a Nixon victory was probably marginally beneficial in winding down the Indochina wars, probably faster than the Democrats would have. It was horrendous, but maybe less horrible than it would have been.2

In short, Nixon was the lesser evil in 1968.

Houston, we’ve got a problem.

In the 1960s Chomsky occasionally voted for Republican candidates if they opposed the Vietnam War, but as the GOP turned increasingly reactionary he voted more and more for Democrats, which habit he considers morally obligatory for anyone on the political left. This has proven to be a tough sell, however, since the Democrats are not so much the lesser evil as they are the more effective evil.3 Precisely because of their (false) reputation for being more humane than Republicans, they can act more viciously than the GOP (Clinton ending welfare “as we know it,” for example) at times, and this is, in fact, their assigned role. Furthermore, as an opposition party the GOP is formidable, while the Democrats are pussycats, rolling over for everything a Republican president wants, often conceding even more than is asked for (Pentagon spending, for example). The focus of “opposition” since 2017 (laughably referred to as “the resistance”) has been Trump’s insulting tweets and boundless vulgarity, not his right-wing policies, which are allowed to advance unimpeded.

In short, no matter whether or how we cast our ballots, policy is insulated from voter preferences and keeps moving to the right. Nevertheless, Chomsky takes leftists who abstain or vote third party (in swing states) to task for failing to carry out what he considers to be a straightforward exercise in damage mitigation.

“It’s very frustrating,” he says, that “this is constantly happening,”4; i.e., that some on the left refuse to vote according to a simple lesser evil formula. Unfortunately, Chomsky doesn’t even recognize that he has been unable to keep his story straight as to which side actually is the lesser evil, in spite of the allegedly “big difference” between the two corporate parties. In fact, this year he goes even further and says – try not to laugh – the difference (between Biden and Trump) is not merely big, but colossal.

Though he’s mentally absent much of the time, even Biden has more sense of political reality than that, promising rich donors just last year that “nothing would fundamentally change” in a Biden administration. But Chomsky wants us to be impressed by a slate of disingenuous Sanders-Biden position papers crafted for vote-harvesting purposes, rather than Biden’s devastating dedication to “more effective evil” politics extending back over forty years.

Chomsky well knows the emptiness of electoral politics under capitalism. Through the years he has advanced a scathing indictment of U.S. elections, saying that they are really more “public relations extravaganzas” than ideological contests, that they therefore mean very little, especially at the national level; that he himself votes “less and less” at that level; that the system is not generating issues that resonate with the public; that there really can’t be said to be any political parties, but only “candidate-producing organizations” driven by marketing concerns; that the quadrennial farce that plays out at the presidential level is worth no more than “five minutes time,” and that only to determine which candidate represents the greater threat, in order to vote against him; and that, in view of all this, we should reserve our main political energy for vastly more important work, such as popular education, union organizing, and cultural resistance/transformation.

Nevertheless, in recent years, the significance of voting has loomed large in Chomsky’s mind: he warned that failure to vote for Hillary Clinton was a “big mistake,” that allowing Trump to win could be “the death knell of the species,” and that the 2020 elections are the “most important in human history.” This represents an escalation of election year hype, which in previous cycles has modestly urged us to “vote or die” in “the most important elections in our lifetimes.” By 2024, we may have to resort to the “most important elections in the history of the universe.” In any case, what’s noteworthy is Chomsky’s juxtaposition: voting is both trivial and urgent, likely to determine the fate of the earth and not worth more than a few minutes of our attention. Are these assumptions really reconcilable?

Probably not. If it is really true that we are at a “tipping point” vis-à-vis global warming, then it does not make sense to spend the vast majority of our political energy working for the long-term goal of transforming the U.S. into a country where a decent person could live without shame. Far better to throw ourselves unreservedly into the circus campaign to elect Biden now, in order to insure ourselves the time to deal with longer term matters later. But many Bernie Sanders voters will not do this, to say nothing of those farther left, and even Chomsky is not recommending it (though a Chomsky lesser-evil editorial IS being used as a campaign ad for Biden).5

Chomsky favors an independent political party in principle. “I think it is important the building of a political party which could enter the political arena and represent the population, and not just business interests.”6  However, he favors a “safe states” strategy in determining how to cast ballots whenever an independent left candidate faces off against the capitalist duopoly, which virtually guarantees failure. The reasons why are captured well by journalist Matt Taibbi, who offered an evaluation of the safe states approach back in 2004 when David Cobb of the Greens ran “against” George W. Bush and John Kerry:

For those of you who didn’t follow this story Cobb snatched the Green Party nomination away from (Ralph) Nader last week largely through his embrace of the so-called safe states strategy, known affectionately in political circles as the ‘crack suicide squad’ approach to campaigning. In this scenario Mr. Cobb agrees in advance to refrain from campaigning in any state where the Greens might have a chance to affect the outcome of the Bush-Kerry race. Bravely, however, he condescends to campaign balls-out in any state where a vote for the Greens doesn’t matter. 7

In other words, all the left’s energy was directed towards not influencing the outcome. Though he hardly needed to, Taibbi explained the absurdity:

…This is the kind of politics you get when you raise a generation of people who don’t understand the difference between brand identification and ideological conviction. Much the same way that Burger King and McDonald’s are scrambling to figure out a way that you can be on the Atkins diet and still spend your money at their vile, ass-inflating restaurants, Cobb and his party basically figured out a way that Nation subscribers can wear Green this fall and still keep their friends. They have turned politics into a shoe and a handbag, a conquered market demographic.8

The last part is key to all the rest. In a fake democracy voting means lining up with your assigned market demographic, not electing leaders, much less determining policies. As Taibbi jokes:

Vote Green – elect Kerry! Lose weight – drink Low-Carb Coca Cola! It’s the same thing, on many different levels. Because both decisions really boil down to the same compromise: trying to fit an instinct to reject corporate consumer culture into the ruling paradigm of corporate consumer culture.”9

Rejection by affirmation – touché. Taibbi rubbed the point in for effect:

Logic dictates: if you want to lose weight, the way to do that is not to drink the right kind of Coca Cola. The way to do it is to not drink Coca Cola. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out, but it is apparently beyond the grasp of most Greens.9

And, as always, there was a lot more to reject:

Similarly, if you don’t believe in things like corporate personhood, if you are against the war in Iraq, if you are against the scourge of corporate money in politics, if you are in favor of a reduction in military spending, if you want to abolish the WTO and NAFTA, if you want to end the export of arms, if you want to break up media monopolies, if you want to get Channel 1 out of public schools, if you want to end the targeting of children by corporate advertisers – if you believe any of these things, or more to the point, if they are embedded in your party platform, then you can’t vote for either the Republicans or the Democrats, because they’re united against you all the way down the line.10

Updating to 2020, we can say that if you are against funneling trillions of dollars to banks and other mega-corporations, while tens of millions of Americans face homelessness and coronavirus with little or no income and no health insurance, then you can’t vote for either Republicans or Democrats, because they are united behind such policies all the way down the line. (For the record, the GOP was initially less stingy on direct cash payments than the Democrats, and the lone vote against the CARES Act, a multi-trillion dollar give-away to the rich, was Republican Thomas Massie’s. But the differences are slight).

Nonetheless, Taibbi concedes there is a logic to the “anybody but ________” idea (Bush, Trump, etc.):

I understand the logic . . . it is a rationally defensible position, one that makes sense on some primitive level. What does not make sense here is why the burden of ‘anybody but _________’ should fall on the Green Party. The burden really rests with the Democrats. If they want to end the Green Party problem, then those votes are there for the taking. All the Democrats have to do is renounce the WTO and NAFTA, create a universal health care system, and slash the defense budget, putting the proceeds into education and health care. Among other things.10

Sixteen years later, the Democrats have still done none of those things, and Taibbi’s main point is more valid than ever: the burden of anybody but Trump (i.e., any blue will do) should not fall on the Green Party or Bernie Sanders supporters, to say nothing of those farther left. (Or, more accurately, those farther down the wealth pyramid.) Over forty percent of the electorate – the poorest part of the wealth pyramid – never vote for president, because it’s a foregone conclusion that they will continue to be brutally exploited no matter which wing of the duopoly wins a given election. What possible sense does it make to tell them that they should care more about electing Biden than the Democratic Party itself does? The Democrats know perfectly well they are widely detested by the working class, but they get to share power even when they lose; the poor get nothing either way. That’s why they don’t turn out. The job of the rest of us is to define and deliver on a politics that alleviates their plight and makes it worth their while to vote, not tell them they have a moral duty to kiss the boot crushing their neck.

Why do the Democrats refuse to adopt policies that induce their base to vote? Taibbi stresses the obvious:

They’re too addicted to corporate money. They’re money junkies. And as anyone who’s had any experience with junkies will tell you, junkies cannot be trusted. They’ll say anything you want them to say about going straight, but at the critical moment, they’ll still steal your television and shoot it right into their arms.10

Obviously, offering to help a junkie desperate for a fix is sheer folly:

The only way to deal with a junkie is to change your phone number or, if you ever find him in your house, chain him to a radiator. . . . the one thing you can’t do is keep giving him that one last chance. That only guarantees that he will come back again very soon, covered with mysterious bruises and needing 200 bucks to pay for – tchya, right – a hepatitis shot.11

The political version of this story is even uglier, notes Taibbi:

Shit, just look at what’s happened since the last election. The junkies got kicked out of office, which ought to have been a wake-up call, and what did they do? They went out and almost unanimously voted for the Patriot Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and two wars. . . .  And now here they come four years later, and they say: ‘We need all your votes right now or we’re fucked.’ Am I the only one laughing?12

Two economic collapses, five more wars, and a pandemic later, and everyone’s well beyond laughing, but there’s still a lot of puking over what the Obama/HRC junkies have been up to since they left office: establishing an entire propaganda industry blaming the village idiot for everything from bad breath to jock itch, relentlessly pushing slimy, red-baiting charges about (imaginary) Russian collusion with Trump, squandering impeachment on an equally worthless Ukrainegate diversion, and preventing desperately needed change by successfully rigging elections against their own democratic base, which is what produced president Trump in the first place.

In short: we can vote for Trump, or for what produced Trump, guaranteeing a president worse than Trump in short order.

Taibbi concedes there’s a method to this Democratic madness:

I also understand the Democrats’ point of view. I used to take a lot of drugs, too. And when you take a lot of drugs, absolutely nothing matters except getting off. In the quest for drugs, any kind of behavior is excusable. . . . .That’s junkie morality. That’s why from the Democrats’ point of view it makes perfect sense to nominate a gazillionaire, missile-humping aristocrat who’ll have more corporate logos pasted on him than a NASCAR driver when he gets into office (John Kerry). What’s the difference? We got off! Why is everybody complaining?12

Right, and in 2020 it makes perfect sense for the Democrats to nominate a senile, prison-humping pimp for billionaires, who tortures the poor with fees and penalties while exporting the job base and railroading a generation of desperate black and brown people into jail on petty or trumped-up charges, not to mention drowns the Middle East in an ocean of blood on ludicrous WMD pretexts. And that’s just for starters.

But the any-blue-will-do rationale makes no sense for the Green Party (or any independent workers party), says Taibbi, because “If you’re going to suck a cock in a train-station lavatory, you ought to at least get something for it.” True, but the logic of “safe states” doesn’t allow for this, so in 2004 “the Greens [were] going to roll over for John Kerry, and in the best-case-scenario all they [were] going to get for it [was] another insane trade agreement, more troops in Iraq, more corporate handouts, and another my-dog-ate-my-homework health care fiasco.”12

As it turned out, they actually got a worst-case scenario: the Greens rolled over for Kerry, Kerry bent over for Bush, and the American people were left bleeding badly from the anus, the usual outcome of “democratic” elections administered by capital. At the moment, everyone seems certain that Dementia Joe has the 2020 race locked up, but whether he does or not is far less important than our will to fight the crackpot logic that says we have “no choice” but to keep submitting to this abuse.

It simply doesn’t matter that lesser evil logic makes a crude kind of sense, because it just aggravates the damage it is intended to mitigate. Taibbi reminds us that it’s the system that requires bad candidates that should be our real concern:

Yes, ________ is a moron and a monster (Bush, Trump, etc.) and it would be better if he were not around. But America’s political problems are bigger than ________. The real problem in American politics is the rule of calculation and money over principle, and until this problem is fixed, the _________s of the world will always be with us. The Greens used to offer a solution. They’ve now become part of the problem.13

Exactly. In a fake democracy voting for corporate candidates just legitimizes our servitude. That’s the problem. Of course, Chomsky has always advocated committing our major political energy outside electoral politics, forming and expanding social movements that can bring pressure to bear on the elite political system to make democratic concessions. And on this basis he rates the two Bernie Sanders runs for the presidency a success, because the Sanders-Biden task forces have now, Chomsky says, crafted the most democratic policy positions since FDR (not coincidentally, the last president before the creation of the National Security State). In other words, Sanders is moving Biden to the left.

This is nonsense, of course, as there is nothing binding in position papers, and the Sanders campaign has already surrendered whatever leverage it had by giving unqualified endorsement to Biden in advance.  Obviously, the DNC loathes the New Deal policy positions favored by Sanders, which is why they torpedoed his campaign – twice. And now we’re to believe they’re going to make concessions to the agenda they just defeated? Why would they do that? In the midst of a pandemic, they refuse even to concede on Medicare For All, much to the amazement of the rest of the developed world, which implemented one or another version of single payer national health insurance decades ago.

As Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC (former senior advisor to Senator Daniel Moynihan) points out, pressure from the left is irrelevant to Democrats:

If you want to pull the major party that is closest to the way you’re thinking to what you’re thinking, you must, you must show them that you’re capable of not voting for them. If you don’t show them you’re capable of not voting for them, they don’t have to listen to you. I promise you that. I worked within the Democratic Party. I didn’t listen, or have to listen, to anything on the left while I was working with the Democratic Party, because the left had nowhere to go.”14

That’s the voice of experience, not advocacy.

Unfortunately, the advocates of so-called damage mitigation voting show a marked tendency to insult those who recognize that reflexively voting Democrat just aggravates the “nowhere to go” problem. For example, Chomsky dismisses the efforts of Bernie Sanders supporters who refuse to vote for Biden as “go[ing] off and sulk[ing] somewhere,”15 when, in fact, they have formed the Movement For a People’s Party, and are currently engaged in a host of popular actions to extend the $600 a week federal subsidy to the unemployed and help tens of millions of working people avoid being thrown into the street in the middle of a pandemic. That would seem to qualify as an example of popular grassroots organizing for positive change, which Chomsky ordinarily favors, but apparently not in this case.

In any event, those who feel moved to support “Lunchbox Joe” and the Biden/J. P. Morgan/Bain Capital/Noam Chomsky National Liberation Front should certainly feel free to do so. Our corporate-administered electoral choices are truly awful, and voting is a deeply personal matter.

As for Joe Biden, what can one say? Following the highly rational strategy of keeping his mental disintegration out of public view, he emerges only rarely from his basement, usually to take his Corvette for a spin, or confirm that he hasn’t the faintest clue as to his own whereabouts or what day of the week it might be.

But on the burning issue of coronavirus, at least, which has sent Donald Trump’s poll numbers plummeting into the dirt, he has the best thought out plan his keen presidential mind is capable of:

“Get things into place where there are shortages of.”16

Truer words were never spoken: any blue will do.

  1. WowFEST: Lockdown Presents Noam Chomsky “A Letter From America,” You Tube, July 14, 2020.
  2. Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian, “Propaganda and the Public Mind,” (South End, 2001) p. 136.
  3. This term is borrowed from Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report. See his debate with Michael Eric Dyson on Democracy Now, September 7, 2012.
  4. Chomksy, WowFEST, “A Letter From America.”
  5. A Message to the Swing States from Noam Chomsky: “VoteTrumpOut“.
  6. Noam Chomsky, “Understanding Power,” (New Press, 2002) p. 194. For fuller discussion, see pps. 333-7.
  7. Matt Taibbi, “Spanking The Elephant – Dispatches From The Dumb Season,” (Three Rivers Press, 2005) p. 202.
  8. Taibbi, Ibnid, p. 202.
  9. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 202.
  10. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 203.
  11. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 203-4.
  12. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 204.
  13. Taibbi, Ibid, p. 204-5.
  14. O’Donnell video clip, Jimmy Dore Show, August, 8, 2020.
  15. Chomsky, WowFEST interview July 14, 2020.
  16. Saagar Enjeti, “Rising,” April 10, 2020.

Liberal Hypnosis and Graveyard of Protest

Spellbound. Hypnotized. Entranced. Narcotized. Captivated. Anesthetized. Mesmerized. Fascinated. Mystified. Stupefied. From literature to film, our culture is rife with stories of men and women coming under the mental sway of diabolic schemers. Wielding the conditional clauses like a wand, Iago spellbinds Othello to a state of jealous rage, which leads him to kill Desdemona, his innocent wife. In the German series Perfume, a master of scent-making conjures fragrances unique to a particular person, and which makes him or her completely irresistible. In the film Inception, ingenious thieves implant formidable ideas in the subconscious of unwitting targets. Anywhere we look along the cultural horizon, we see myriad forms of mental control enacted by hypnotists, enchanters, occultists, witches and wizards. Of course, none of these appellations carry anything but contempt in the public realm. Except that the idea of mentally hijacking the consciousness of another person, or many persons, is no myth. It is real, and it happens daily, typically through the various apparatuses we’ve liberally scattered through our homes. Televisions, mobile apps, podcasts, magazines, books, even Amazon echoes, which are being made to recognize emotional states (in order to monetize them). We are eminently suggestible. We are prey to the charisma of the sociopath, susceptible to the pressure of peers, tender-minded before the majestic visions of religious seers.

And one needn’t turn to Othello to read of a man held under the sway of a deviant marplot, though it is perhaps our best embodiment of the phenomenon. French Marxists and sociologists have left a shelf of helpful tomes to apprise us of how we have ourselves been bamboozled. Louis Althusser proposed Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) that condition populations to accept the ruling ideas of society (ruling ideas courtesy of the rulers, of course). Jacques Ellul described a kind of “current events man” whose entire attitude and mood is determined by the streams of news media he or she consumes. When we move into the literature of propaganda and social control, we may swap the more pedestrian term ‘social conditioning’ for the titillating one, ‘wizardry’, but they really do amount to the same.

The Friendly Liberal

I’d like to look at one particular form of brainwashing that we have fallen for. This brand of brainwashing is important to spotlight because without seeing through it, without unmasking it, the full-throated cries for justice issuing from the streets will come to naught.

Though it is easy to disagree with conservatives, with their stridency and purblind allegiance to transparent frauds like Donald Trump, they often see across the aisle better than the liberal left sees itself. There is absolutely something akin to Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) in this country, a special kind of trance that has overwhelmed an outsized share of the American mind. It is a capacity to attribute nearly all wrongs in society to a singular figure, the president. Into that cipher of spray tan and hairpiece we deposit blame for all perceived injustices. Against that visual figment on the screen we aim all of our aimless fury at the state of the nation. So much so that the majority of us, it seems quite plausible to suggest, have narrowed our political purpose to a single act: Get Trump. As a result, many of us will likely vote Democrat in the fall, gently shepherded into the booth by gatekeepers like Bernie Sanders, hectored by a fiendish alarmist media, until we pull the proverbial lever for Joe Biden, the more effective evil marketed as the lesser. Given this likelihood, what can we expect in terms of positive progress from the mass uprisings across America, having now encompassed 500 cities and towns?

Uprising and Upshot

Here we are, weeks into the George Floyd protests, and what has been accomplished? The demand to defund the police is a powerful and intelligent one. It has exposed the budgets that have sandbagged municipal and state policy. One hundred billion dollars annually goes to police departments around the country. Nearly six billion alone goes to the NYPD. Education, healthcare, and other services are happily cut even as police funding either advances unscathed or is improved upon. Budget increases in PDs have outpaced population growth. The Pentagon’s 1033 program has facilitated the transformation of police from beat cops with billy clubs to mercenary urban soldiers with body armor, chemical agents, tasers, and machine guns on their bodies. Federal spending on police, prison, and courts of law have grown significantly since the 1970s, even as presidents Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama slashed welfare, from temporary assistance to food stamps.

On the heels of the widespread call for defunding, residents of Capitol Hill have created the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, that is free of police, or the enforcement arm of state fascism. CHAZ was established after the police were chased off the Hill and abandoned their precinct there, something not even the WTO protests of 1999 could achieve. If the CHAZ plays its cards right, they could be an incubator for a new kind of community policing, or at least something akin to what’s been done in Camden, New Jersey. It only strengthens the call for defunding if there is a model for community-based security ready to receive reallocated funds from the draconian city PDs. Yet this concept represents an existential crisis for PDs across the country, which suggests they will push back hard. Already we’ve seen an unhinged, half-comic, half-swinish piece of theater from the NYPD union boss insisting people “stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with respect.” Tit for tat, one might reply.

Crumbs for the Craven

It also goes largely unremarked that the police forces in LA, NY, and Boston are presided over by biddable Democratic liberals. In Manhattan, Bill De Blasio’s administration spends more on policing than health, homeless services, job development put together. At the same time, he has gone out of his way to lavish sycophantic praise on the precinct after precinct, even as his daughter is assaulted. Like all neoliberal handmaidens, he responds to calls for justice with promises to listen, provide answers, and deliver inclusive dialogue. None of which will amount to anything more than mounting frustration as more people realize the carceral state is the brainchild of the Clinton administration and a longtime segregationist and punitive enthusiast who happens to be our lesser evil candidate for November.

Given the lay of the land, what has the duopoly given us in response? A tepid reform bill that renders illegal a police action that has long been banned. An array of Congressional Democrats delivered a contemptible show of unity with the protestors, donning multicolored Ghanaian kente stoles and kneeling (unsteadily) on the hard marble floor of Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, having survived a likely loss to Bernie Sanders thanks to backroom DNC chicanery, has littered the cultural landscape with garbage of a particularly repulsive kind. One day he tells an audience if they are black and don’t vote Democrat, they aren’t black. Then he announces that he opposes defunding police departments and declares that they actually need more money to do their job.

Has ‘radical’ democratic ‘socialist’ Bernie Sanders rallied his once-formidable movement in support of the protests? No, Sanders has endorsed Biden, the man who supposedly represented all that he opposed. He has joined Biden in calling for more money for police. He scolded his followers for being “irresponsible” when many declared they wouldn’t support Biden. He allowed his staff to create a Super PAC to funnel money into the duplicitous DNC. He warned his delegates they needed to back Biden or risk being removed. His empty calls for police reform mirror those of the establishment. He is precisely the “sheepherder” that the late Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report said he was five years ago.

The New York Times declares a reckoning has hit “boardrooms, classrooms, streets, and stadium”, but its lead evidence is that Merriam-Webster is changing its definition of racism; a university dance coach was fired; NASCAR banned the Confederate battle flag; and Nike made Juneteenth a paid holiday; “The Bachelor” finally picked a black bachelor to lead the next edition of the show after 18 years of wonderful whites. Forgive us for being underwhelmed.

Aside from this token reform and tepid theater, the only other things protesters have received from the liberal establishment — the side of the establishment that is supposed to be on their side — are calls to vote Democrat in November. Even veteran critics like Noam Chomsky are insisting we must vote for Biden this fall or the planet will be extinguished by climate change. As if rejoining the non-binding but lavishly hyped Paris Accords will fix things, and as though the Democratic Party is not beholden to the energy industry. Lesser evilism is tantamount to treading water in the sea. Sooner or later, you either swim for shore, or you drown.

Meanwhile, paid-up liberal apologists at places like The Atlantic trot out their timeless quadrennial refrain: our candidate has changed, he has evolved over time to embrace the better angels of our nature. This tawdry platitude can be dismissed as easily as it is proffered. As the late Christopher Hitchens pithily remarked (probably while on his barnstorming anti-Yahweh tour), “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” True and necessary in a time of wanton fabrication. As one poster on social media remarked, these ‘changes of heart’ in our candidates are merely signals that our jejune political lifers have spied the political weathervane moving in a different direction. They are amoral at core, bereft of conviction in a business that demands the most pliable moral posturing.

Yet the “he’s evolved” argument, trotted out every four years, is really a psychological salve for the cognitive dissonance of liberals, if they feel any. When the “evolved” candidate wins office and promptly betrays his progressive promises, they can simply say they had been naive. They had had too much faith in human nature. What can I say, I took the man at his word. In other words, they’re exempt from blame for his odious backtracking. But this ignores the history of lies that Democrats have fed liberals for decades. Only by deliberately eviscerating that history from their memories could liberals claim any sort of legitimate naivete. Otherwise, they are consciously facilitating a gross imposture. They move safely within the establishment realm while maintaining a patina of progressivism and a facade of ignorance about the near universal likelihood that Democrats will govern well to the right of their campaigns.

Shouting into the Void

Prediction: It is unlikely anything of significance will emerge from these weeks of protests. As noted, both parties have quickly refused to defund, with Biden calling to increase funding, either a brazen act of elite defiance, or the tone-deaf ignorance of a political hack. The CHAZ will likely be overrun like Obama coordinated with states to violently uproot Occupy, before co-opting their message for his re-election campaign. This is not to mention his blasé disinterest in Standing Rock, another sign that the man simply did not identify with minorities or, crucially, the working class. His was a tribe of rulers.

Until a critical mass of citizen-consumers recognizes outright that neither party supports them, episodic uprisings will change nothing. Just tepid critiques, token reform, and facades of institutional progress. As veteran activist Angela Davis points out, that aside from the woeful inadequacy of reformism, “…reforms have often rendered the institution itself more permanent.” Was not Obamacare a move to forestall demands for Medicare for All, and an attempt to help shift the burden of healthcare from the shoulders of corporate America onto those of ordinary taxpayers, who already pay a higher percentage of their incomes to the IRS than do most corporations?

Given the Democrats’ slavish servitude to corporate money, there is no evidence they have the moral fortitude to unhitch themselves from the coffers of the global oil and gas industry, meaning they will never effectively address climate change. Given the Democrats’ subjection to the patronage of Wall Street, there is no evidence they will meaningfully restrain financialization and the crushing meltdowns that confirm the moral hazard of ceaseless bailouts, meaning the next collapse will only further immiserate workers in order to enrich hedge fund barons who have never known indigence but are happy to inflict it on others and reproach them for their lack of industry. Given the Democrats’ fealty to the garrison state, there is no evidence they will willingly take on the Pentagon budget, let alone shrink the metastasizing scope of our foreign wars, meaning they will continue to clandestine slaughter of poor people of color in points abroad.

It was Biden, after all, who was point man for the unseating of Victor Yanukovych in Ukraine, implanting U.S.-friendly puppets in Kiev, as a stepping stone into Russia in the ongoing energy war for control of European pipelines. In other words, Biden is the right man to ensure the continuation of the hegemonic strategy that Donald Trump unwittingly threatened, when he speculated about friendlier relations with Moscow. The entire Russiagate fiasco was a steady state action to control the Executive. A majority of bourgeois liberals have fallen for the ruse, even as their beloved Democrats have wedded themselves to the intelligence community in a cynical alignment that should have, once and for all, established the party as the servants and hirelings of imperialism. But it didn’t. For reasons of consciousness.

Class Unconscious

Effecting real change will require the facade of bourgeois liberalism to be unmasked. Liberals are not truly on the side of the working class. Liberals, the bourgeoisie professional class who gain the most from elitism, have loudly proclaimed their solidarity with minorities. They’ve waved flags, blown horns, leaned out of windowsills and chanted their support. But we know how far these virtue signals go. They go all the way to the threshold of the voting booth, where they are gently set aside while professional whites vote their class interest. They then console themselves with the baseless belief that whistle-stop rhetoric can be believed and tell themselves that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice, however incrementally. So, liberals are not real friends of the African-American. They will vote for the system, not against it.

For them, everything flows back to the figure of Donald Trump. Blind to the symptomatic nature of his presidency, they cannot temper their bloodlust. They will back any steady state program to unseat the orange beast. Spying on a presidential campaign and assembling fake kompromat? Done. Treason investigation? Done. Impeachment trial? Done. Color revolution? Done. Nothing has yet ejected the scourge from the White House. That will likely happen in November. But the result will be a forfeiture of outrage. A celebration of the return to the quietude of the continuous manufacture of inequality. Beneath a banner of multiculturalism, the gap between rich and poor will widen exponentially, while efforts at bridging the gap will happen in small increments. The gap will grow, incremental ‘progress’ notwithstanding. This is the hypnotic facade that needs shattering before a popular front, built on class, themed by diversity, and empowered by numbers, can deconstruct and reconstruct the state in its own image. It’s time to break the spell.

Why the Left’s Case for Lesser Evil Sounds Hollow

We are entering the final stages of the election to decide who will head the most powerful nation on Earth. That inevitably means the progressive and dissident left in the US are again being deluged with arguments to vote for the lesser evil candidate.

It has become such a standard left argument at election time that lesser evil voting even has its own acronym: LEV. Anyone who opposes Donald Trump’s re-election come November must set aside their concerns about – and if necessary their principles against – voting for the other main candidate on offer for US president.

According to LEV, it is profoundly irresponsible and unethical for anyone on the left either to refuse to vote in November or to vote for a third, no-hope candidate because it risks aiding a Trump victory. Instead the left must cast a ballot – however uncomfortably – for the lesser evil candidate, which means Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic challenger.

This column is not going to make an argument for or against lesser evil voting, either in general or in the coming election. Everyone on the left must dig deep into their conscience and make a decision based on their assessment of how relatively evil Biden and Trump are, and whether that evil will be minimised by voting for Biden.

What I want to do instead is address why lesser evil arguments are sounding increasingly shrill and hollow to many on the left who fought so hard to earn Bernie Sanders the Democratic nomination rather than Biden, but were once again stymied by the fervent opposition of the Democratic party leadership. These are the people chiefly targeted in the current round of lesser evil arguments.

If the proponents of LEV are going to succeed in persuading the Bernie left to turn out for Biden, in order to stop Trump, they are going to need to address the concerns of the Sanders’ camp much more clearly and articulately than they have done so far.

Don’t wrestle with pigs

One thing that is clear already is that the appeal of lesser evil voting is becoming increasingly generational. Older leftists think it is self-evident that within an evil system you vote for the lesser evil candidate because small political differences can have big impacts, whether on domestic issues like social security, or on wars abroad, or on the future of the planet.

Their approach towards younger voters on the left who are not immediately impressed by this logic has often been to shame and insult them, labelling them as selfish, ideological purists or exemplars of white privilege. They have also indulged in what looks to many younger voters suspiciously like emotional blackmail, comparing Trump to Mussolini or Hitler.

To the younger left, things look a little more complex and paradoxical. They tend to see lesser evil voting as an example of the chicken-and-egg problem. After all, given that the older left has been trotting out the lesser evil argument for decades, it looks suspiciously like LEV may have actually contributed to the entrenchment of an evil political system that made Trump’s election possible. Are the proponents of lesser evil voting not creating the very conditions for political alienation that they then tout as a way to address the product – Trump – of that very political alienation?

If the US has a cynical political system, deeply corrupted by money, younger voters wonder whether adding to that cynicism – with the left always voting for one of two evil candidates – can actually ever change the system or simply reinforces it. The older left has failed politically. But might one of the reasons be that for decades it has acted so cynically? Younger voters want to break with cynical politics. If the left is ever going to start looking more attractive, they argue, it needs to stop engaging cynically with a cynical system.

George Bernard Shaw’s maxim comes to mind: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Walmart or Costco?

Very much related to this is the concern that decades of voting for evil Democratic candidates mean the progressive left has not just failed to hold the line politically, election by election, but has actively lost ground, especially relative to the biggest problem facing humanity – the imminent end of most life on the planet. The clock is ticking fast, and it is evident that neither candidate is actually going to do anything substantive to save us from ecological catastrophe. The system is entirely owned and controlled by a plutocratic class, addicted to the expansion of its own wealth, even at the cost of our species’ survival.

Lesser evilism focuses on the candidates’ relative merits and depravities. But younger voters increasingly see that as misdirection. The two evil candidates reflect the depravities of the same evil plutocratic system. On this view, the candidates’ marginal differences are nothing more than exercises in marketing. Debating their merits in relation to the fundamental, existential questions facing us at the moment makes as much sense to younger voters as arguing whether Walmart or Costco offer a more ethical model of consumption.

Meanwhile, the two candidates on offer in this election are probably the most deficient and incompetent in US history: one is a fire-breathing, posturing, delusional narcissist; the other the dried-out husk of a once smooth-talking, delusional narcissist. Each is proof that the evil system they are there to obscure has grown so sclerotic, so debased, that it can no longer produce credible salesmen.

Echoing the establishment

The candidates’ qualities aside, the system sinks into ever greater depravity for reasons that seem obvious to the younger left: because the power-establishment knows that, however evil the two candidates on offer are, as long as one is ever so slightly less evil than the other it will be able to adduce mock-ethical arguments to strong-arm the left into legitimising its evil system. To younger voters, when the left’s veterans make the lesser evil argument, they repeat precisely the arguments the evil system wants echoing. It is not a great look.

The power-establishment knows that it can drag the system towards greater evil – towards more corporate greed, towards more horrifying global wars, towards more planetary destruction – and still the left will be expected to consent to the system as long as one candidate is slightly less evil. All the system has to do is offer a candidate who can market him or herself as less evil than the other candidate.

What the lesser evil argument has achieved over the past 40 years – entirely predictably – is the gradual shift in the centre of political gravity ever further rightwards, towards unconcealed rule by the corporate class, towards Donald Trump.

Left defeatism

The credibility of the older left’s lesser evil voting strategy is being severely tested right at this moment – and is being found disastrously wanting. With Biden the presumptive Democratic candidate, now is the time when the progressive left ought to be leveraging its electoral clout to get Sanders and his political allies positions inside a future Biden administration. This is the moment when the Sanders camp ought to be able to parlay their substantial voting bloc into influence over who is chosen as Biden’s vice-president and his senior cabinet ministers, as well as over the main planks of Biden’s platform.

But rather than seize this historic moment, the older left – including, tragically, Sanders himself – are using this period primarily to undermine the progressive left, by bullying them into submission to the Biden campaign whatever it decides to do.

This is a major reason the LEV strategy looks so discredited to the younger left. They know Biden has little chance of winning without their support. This should be the moment to play their hand with a poker-face, extracting as much as they can from Biden. But the older left is already throwing the left’s hand down, demanding at this critical juncture that the left get behind Biden, when Biden has offered nothing at all to the progressive left.

In these circumstances, lesser evil voting looks a lot like simple defeatism. It actually makes the older left, not the younger left, look like the selfish, privileged ones. They backed Sanders, and when he lost the nomination campaign they simply gave up mid-fight, as they have done decade after decade, putting the struggle off to another day. They behave as if there is all the time in the world (which may seem true to those who are in their twilight years). But the urgency of the deadline for radical change – maybe only a few years away – is hard for the younger left to ignore.

Is Trump the new Hitler?

Lesser evil proponents have traditionally made their case based on an assumption of modest differences between the two candidates – typically, one is marginally better on inequality and welfare issues. But with Trump, the stakes, it is said, have been raised considerably. Some supporters of LEV argue that Trump is a new Hitler. As a result, everything – including abandoning one’s political principles – must be done to stop him.

There is, as already noted, the problem that, if Trump really is Hitler, then it looks very much like decades of lesser evil voting may have contributed to the entrenchment of an evil system that produced this new Hitler. But there is a further difficulty.

If everything must be done to stop Trump, the progressive left finds itself vulnerable to exactly the same kind of bogus “resistance” politics that so discredited the liberal-left and has actually strengthened Trump rather than undermined him. If progressives and dissidents need to join the effort to do anything and everything to stop Trump, then why not also get on board with the next entirely evidence-free scandal against him, the next “Russiagate”?

In fact, if Trump is Hitler and must be stopped at all costs, how is the progressive left supposed to distinguish itself from the ridiculous, political energy-sapping, self-sabotaging posturing of the liberal-left? The danger is the progressive left gets subsumed within the phoney, Democratic-loyalist left rather than leading the left by example into a more effective politics of real resistance.

Refining the struggle

There is a final, consciousness-raising issue for younger leftists to consider when deciding whether to reject entirely the evil US system, even if it risks allowing Trump another four years. Many younger leftists wonder exactly what kind of evil system they live under and how they should best respond to it. Refusing to vote for one of the two evil candidates may be the only way they can decide for sure.

One possibility is that the US is a deeply flawed democratic system but still accountable to voters. If that is right, then withholding their consent from an evil Democratic candidate may finally serve as a corrective to the endless rightward shift of the political system towards greater evil.

If Sanders’ supporters reject voting for Biden, Biden is unlikely to win the election. The deeply corrupt Democratic Party leadership will then be forced into crisis. If it really wishes to win, it will have to accommodate the left meaningfully to win back its support.

Had the left chosen this course 30 years ago, rather than listening to calls to vote for the lesser evil candidate, they wonder, might the Democratic party have ever reached the nadir of foisting a cognitively challenged and morally compromised candidate like Biden on the party’s supporters?

If US democracy still functions, might the Democratic leadership faced with a real rebellion by the left be forced gradually to concede ground to a leftist political agenda, creating a genuine ideological contest between the two parties?

Labour threw an election

The other possibility is that the US system lost its democratic features in all but name some time ago and is instead a straightforward plutocracy serving a wealth-elite. The two parties pretend to compete for votes only to make the electorate think it is still in charge.

If the US is a plutocracy, the political system will be largely indifferent as to whether the left is prepared to vote for Biden or not. Because in a two-party plutocracy, both parties represent the same interests – the corporate elite’s. They are simply branded differently to delude voters into thinking the system is democratic.

Younger voters have increasing reasons to suspect that the latter assessment is right. They can, for instance, look across the Atlantic to the recent experience of the UK, which has a similar two-party system.

An internal report leaked last month revealed that Labour party bosses – Britain’s version of the Democratic National Committee – intentionally threw the 2017 general election to stop the party’s then leader, Jeremy Corbyn, winning power against an increasingly far-right Conservative party. The party bureaucrats felt compelled to sabotage their own candidate after they had failed two years earlier to prevent Labour members electing Corbyn – the UK’s version of Sanders – as leader.

In other words, the permanent bureaucracy of the supposedly left-wing Labour party felt it had more in common with the ultra right-wing Conservatives than with its own democratic socialist leader.

Is the Democratic party machine, which has now twice done everything in its power to stop Sanders, a democratic socialist, becoming the party’s presidential candidate, really so different from the UK Labour party machine?

Bogus political fights

If the US is really a two-party plutocracy, the Democratic party leadership will do everything it can to stop a candidate (Sanders) who might threaten plutocratic rule, even if that means installing a weak and incompetent candidate (Biden) who risks losing to an ostensible opponent (Trump). In this kind of system, voters’ attention must be channeled into bogus political fights over barely distinguishable candidates rather than a real struggle over ideology.

Does that not sum up rather precisely what we have watched unfold over the last six months in the US.

So for young leftists, not voting for Biden may help to resolve their own uncertainty about whether the US system is redeemable or not. It is the step they feel they need to take to educate themselves and their peers on whether their energies should be directed chiefly at fighting the Democratic establishment or abandoning the system entirely and taking to the streets.

The problem with lesser evil voting for them is that rather than clarify the next course of action it simply obfuscates. It leaves it unclear whether the political pendulum can be made to swing back towards the left or whether the system needs to be destroyed entirely.

UPDATE:

As I was about to hit the send button, a friend forwarded me this very interesting hour-long interview of Paul Jay, the leftist journalist and broadcaster. Jay makes a good case for lesser evil voting, though inevitably he cannot resist indulging in a little gaslighting, suggesting that the only reason the progressive left would refuse to vote for Biden is to feel ideologically pure or superior. That, he argues, simply isn’t an option when faced with the apparently ultimate evil of Trump. Four more years of this incumbent president, he says, risks unleashing the very darkest forces of capital in the US, echoing the situation of Europe in the 1930s. He draws an analogy with Italy under Mussolini.

Jay rightly observes that the US is a plutocracy (though I don’t think he uses that word). The choice at election time is between two parties representing different sections of capital, both with fairly fascistic leanings and both capable of destroying the planet. But, he adds, the section of capital represented by Biden is more willing to make political compromises – if only in an attempt to win legitimacy a little longer for the system from the American middle and working classes – than the more authoritarian, more aggressive section of capital represented by Trump. That is an analysis I can readily agree with.

The most interesting section of the interview begins at around the 30-minute mark. The interviewer asks Jay how he envisions the exit strategy from lesser evil voting. In other words, at what point does Jay imagine progressives can stop colluding with a system he readily acknowledges is evil? It is the one time Jay is clearly flummoxed. He has no obvious exit strategy.

His eventual response is revealing. At about 35 mins he says this: “We are in a new situation now. We may see the coming together of progressive sections of society into a broader, more unifying popular front that’s independent of the Democratic Party.”

Hold up a second. Why are we in a new situation where progressives can unify and may be ready to seek political solutions independent of the Democratic Party? Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic is leading to the collapse of the US economy, as Jay notes. But is the galvanising of the left, of the working and middle classes, of the unions, not happening precisely because Trump patently has no ability to handle the health and economic crises caused by the virus, or even to create the illusion that he can handle these crises? Is it not his very oafishness, his arrogance, his narcissism, his authoritarian instincts, his misreading of the situation, his detachment from the concerns of ordinary Americans at this pivotal moment that is creating the forces necessary to unify the left?

And equally is it not Biden’s very clear deficiencies as an alternative, as well as the patent ideological and bureaucratic sclerosis of the Democratic party, that is reinforcing the first signs in the US of a trend towards organising politically outside of the formal party system?

At the very moment when the US two-party political system may be beginning to break down, when it has no answers to the first wave of major global crises to hit western “civilisation”, Jay and many others on the progressive left continue to argue that it is imperative to engage with the system, for gradualism, for assisting with those who try to make the system seem better, look more humane.

Jay looks uncomfortable making what sounds like a contradictory case for containing, rather than releasing or accentuating, the forces for revolutionary change he elsewhere concedes are urgently necessary.

No one – least of all me – is denying that any form of political struggle at the moment is going to be very high stakes indeed. Political revolutions always have victims. They can fail. And those who rise to the top can be as bad as, or worse than, those that preceded them.

But the lesser evil argument rests on the false assumption that we are not already in a time of revolution – if not a political revolution, certainly an ecological one. The planet is about to throw up our house of cards, our civilisation, and violently reorder it for us.

In these circumstances, the left faces a very difficult choice indeed: between risking a delayed response by putting a better face on humanity’s plight by installing the slightly less evil candidate, and facing the present and the future directly, in all its terrifying, enervating depravity, in an almost-certainly violent struggle to take back into our own hands our fate as a species.

Which is the better course? There are no easy answers. To argue otherwise, as too many proponents of lesser evil voting do, may ultimately prove to be the more foolish option.

Baby Boomers for Biden Recant Left Legacy

Former members of the leading Vietnam War-era peace organization in the US, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), recently circulated an open letter warning today’s young activists to – as the adage goes – do as I say and not as I did. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, these former leaders led the way in opposing the ravages of US imperialism and exposing what they called the “death culture.” Today, they are admonishing the new generation not to follow in their footsteps, but to go all out for what they call the “capitalist democrat” Joe Biden.

The big chill

When I was first becoming politically aware, these SDS folks were my heroes and mentors. They helped me break from the illusion that the USA was fighting for democracy and freedom, rather than imposing an empire where the US controlled 50% of the world’s wealth for only 6.3% of its population.

They were the ones – chanting, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” – who pulled no punches, criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike for genocidal injustices. And they especially warned about “selling out to the establishment.” That was then.

Today, they are variously tenured professors, attorneys, or working at comfortable NGOs. Who would have known that they would change to raising money for multi-billion-dollar Democratic Party PACs? While I don’t for a moment begrudge them financial or social achievement, the shift from independent direct action to boosterism within the Democratic Party is unfortunate.

It should be noted that SDS originated as the student branch of the League for Industrial Democracy (LID), a nominally socialist but more accurately liberal anti-communist organization. In 1965, the LID elders told their youth counterparts to include an anti-communist clause in their manifesto. Those rising SDS youth told their seniors to take a hike back then.

In bed with the Democratic Party

Bernardine Dorn, herself an SDS leader and subsequently with the Weather Underground, comments that the open letter “has all the wrong content and tone of the elders lecturing young activists…[I]t is finally too pompous and pretentious, too in-bed with the Democratic Party.” And that is a sympathetic comment to “comrades I love and respect.”

The Democratic Party is not like a labor union, or like what a labor union is supposed to be with dues paying members democratically electing a leadership that serves their interests. Rather the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which is the governing body of the US Democratic Party, is, in fact, a private corporation. The DNC has more in common with a for-profit sports team. You are free to wear their paraphernalia and attend their games, but the team owners are the ones that make the decisions and reap the profits.

When the DNC was taken to court for violating its own rules treating voters unfairly, the DNC brazenly argued that they are a private corporation with no obligation to be fair, and won. As the court transcript shows, the DNC’s attorney said that cheating Bernie Sanders in 2016 out of the nomination was “the business of the party, and it’s not justiciable.”

This same DNC again undermined Bernie Sanders’ candidacy in 2020, preferring to run a corporate Democrat favorable to their super rich donors and risk losing again to Trump. Now the authors of the open letter are preaching to the young activists that they have no choice but to fall in with those who screwed them. Or as the open letter states, to join with “solemn determination” their “high moral and political responsibility.”

Wrong historical lessons 

Peter Drucker, another former member of SDS, points out in his critique of the open letter that the letter’s favorable reference to early nineteenth century German sociologist Wax Weber is at best odd, but telling, for a letter addressing people who consider themselves socialists. Weber’s view was that revolutionary socialists were engaged in “dirt, muck, dung, and horse-play—nothing else.”

A favorite trope of anti-leftists, reflected in the open letter, is to blame the rise of Hitler on the failure of communists to unite with the socialists against a common enemy. In fact, what happened was that the socialists likewise would not unite with the communists against the fascists and instead chose to support the “lesser evil” of Paul von Hindenburg. In the 1932 German presidential race, Hindenburg ran against Hitler, won, and then turned around to appoint Hitler as chancellor in 1933. The rest, as they say, is history.

If we were to accept the open letter’s hyperbolic meme of Trump as a stand-in for Hitler, the historical analogy would be that today’s Democratic Party is not the socialists and certainly not the communists but would be Hindenburg’s party as the lesser evil to the Nazis. Once elected, Hindenburg dissolved the German parliament twice, approved the Reichstag Fire Decree suspending civil liberties, and signed the Enablg Act giving Hitler arbitrary powers.

For those worried about fascism being enabled in the US, recall that the Democrats militantly support the national security apparatus (e.g., CIA, FBI) and the Patriot Act. Even so-called progressive Elizabeth Warren calls of government censorship of social media.

Citing the lessons of Germany, the open letter summons an “all-hands-on-deck” effort to elect Joe Biden to prevent the “protofascist” Trump from winning. The situation, they exclaim, is dire for we may all end up in jail if Trump were to win.

In a follow-up to publishing the April 16 open letter, The Nation again plays the fear of fascism card if one strays from the confines of the Democratic Party. An April 28 article – “WTF Is Jacobin’s Editor Thinking in Voting Green?” – cries, “in a second term, Trump will double down on his fascist instincts.”

The Nation lectures the youth that you are “old enough to know better” than disregard the wisdom of your elders because, under a Republican, “progressives will spend the next four years fighting defensive battles.” The youth in their naiveite might ask, how would it be any different if the former Senator from MBNA wins?

In the real world, as Stan Smith notes, Trump “can’t even shut down Saturday Night Live.  Trump is a billionaire racist, sexist war-monger out to salvage the US corporate empire, nothing more, nothing less.” Joe Biden diverges mainly in having a smaller bank account and better table manners.

Politics for the pandemic

A more fitting lesson from the historical example of the rise of German fascism suggests the opposite of what the open letter advocates. The best strategy to combat the rightward trajectory of the two corporate parties is not to go all out and vote for the lesser evil. Especially with the COVID-19 crisis and the mechanisms of disaster capitalism, Naomi Klein warns their shared course to the right might well accelerate.

In 2016, the corporate Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton advocated lowering the Medicare qualifying age to 50 or 55. Yet Biden is to the right of Clinton’s position of four years ago, only conceding to lower the eligibility age to 60.

We are now in the midst of a pandemic, which demonstrates as never before the need for Medicare for All (M4A). The latest polls indicate a 69% overall approval rating with 88% of the Democrats supporting M4A. This support is despite the millions of “dark money” spent by the insurance industry against M4A. Biden, who had campaigned to cut Medicare and Social Security, vows he would veto M4A were it to come before him as president.

Voting for the lesser evil is encouraging a march to the right by making a step in the wrong direction. At a time when an independent progressive movement is needed more than ever, the sheepdogs of the open letter are trying to herd the new generation of activists into the Democratic Party.

2020 Election Year Is An Opportunity For Transformational Change If We Embrace Our Power

Although we do not tie our organizing to the election cycle, the 2020 election is an opportunity for the people to set the agenda for the 2020s. We need to show that whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden are elected, the people will rule from below. We need to build our power to demand the transformational we need.

We are living in an opportune time, as has existed previously in the United States when many of the issues people have fought for have come to the forefront, but the two parties disregarded the people. Similar to the abolition movement in the 19th century and the progressive/socialist movement in the early 20th century, this is our moment in the 21st century for systemic changes that fundamentally alter our healthcare system, economy, foreign policy, environmental policy and more.

As Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson said in our recent Clearing the FOG interview (available Monday), the right-wing is using this time to push through their agenda of corporate bailouts, deregulation, and worker exploitation. If the left doesn’t organize and counter this, the country will continue on its current destructive path. The changes we want won’t come from the top. Both corporate duopoly candidate’s priorities are the wealthy investor class and big business. We are going to have to organize and mobilize for the necessities of the people from below.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

Don’t Fall For The Illusion Of Democracy, Create Change

The reality that democracy is an illusion in the United States has been made much clearer in the 2020 election cycle. While Democratic voters supported the Sanders reformist agenda, Democratic elites, including the DNC and the Obama and Clinton teams, and members of the Progressive Caucus organized to stop Sanders and make Biden the likely nominee despite his terrible nearly 50-year political history of corporatism and militarism and his current incompetence.

Many people still feel trapped in the endless cycle of “lesser evil” voting that has driven a race to the bottom in the United States. Voting for either of the corporate parties reinforces their corporate-militaristic agendas and takes away the people’s power to force changes. Voters are taken for granted by both major parties who know their scare tactics work.

If there was any question, the handling of the current health and economic crises clearly demonstrates the duopoly does not work for us. As trillion dollars lifelines are thrown to big business and finance, people lack health care, protection of their homes from eviction, food, worker rights, and financial support. All of these could be provided easily and are being provided to people in other countries, many of which are poorer than the US.

Taiwan, China, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, to name a few, are responding to the pandemic effectively while the US is failing. They have public health systems with health workers and doctors embedded in communities. They are able to go door-to-door to check on people and provide advice, testing, and treatment. In the US, COVID-19 has become a top killer, killing more people each week than cancer, and nearly as many as heart disease, the two highest causes of deaths. These mass deaths are occurring at a time when the economy is virtually closed. If it were open, there would be hundreds of thousands, if not more than a million deaths.

The contradiction has never been clearer. The government does not serve the people, especially the working class, it serves the wealth-class. We will not vote our way out of these crises. However, we can learn from previous movements that had significant impacts on power holders.

Huey Long threatened a third party challenge against FDR in the 1936 presidential race. This helped pushed the enactment of the New Deal.

Lessons From History

This is not the first time in history where the two dominant parties have been out-of-touch with the necessities of the people. In those times, political movements organized and led from below by doing two things: (1) building mass social movements, and (2) putting the movement’s issues on the political agenda through third party campaigns.

Although third party campaigns cannot win in the manipulated presidential election, even without winning, third parties combined with movements have transformed the nation. Understanding how social transformation occurs is critical for those who feel trapped in the duopoly system. We discuss this in more depth in the sixth class of the Popular Resistance School. In our mirage democracy, voting doesn’t have much impact because the outcome of the election is predetermined in most states due to the Electoral College.

From the colonial era to the Civil War one of the most extreme forms of capitalism – owning people as property – dominated US politics. The founders of the country, slaveholders and businessmen, protected their valuable slave property by drafting a property rights constitution. This was reinforced by the two parties, the Whigs and Democrats, who prohibited discussion of the abolition of slavery in Congress. Chattel slavery was the most valuable business of the era — more than railroads, banking, and industry combined.

Throughout that time, there was a movement to end slavery. By the time the country was formed, Vermont had abolished slavery. Abolitionists kept struggling through protests, slave revolts, writing, and speeches. With Westward expansion, the contradiction of slavery escalated as the debate became whether new states would be slave states or free.

Abolitionists decided to enter electoral politics. They formed new anti-slavery parties and ran a series of candidates including former president Martin Van Buren, with the Free Soil Party in 1848, and former President Millard Fillmore, with the American Party in 1856. Like third party candidates today, abolitionists were called “spoilers,” but they persisted. The Whigs weakened to virtually disappearing and the Democrats divided. As a result, Abraham Lincoln won a four-way race with 38 percent of the vote and ‘ended slavery’, the first third-party president elected in US history

In other cases, third parties won without winning the presidential election by putting the issues of social movements into the national debate. This is how we achieved the 8-hour work-day, ending child labor, women’s voting rights, breaking up monopolies, gaining union rights, the minimum wage, unemployment, worker’s compensation, and massive public works projects as well as retirement security and more. The entire New Deal was built on the platforms of  the Progressive Party and Socialist Party in 1912 and 1928.

FDR did not come into office advocating the New Deal. It was political movements like the Bonus March of 1932  and 1936 that led to people receiving federal support. There were also protests by farmers and strikes by workers during his presidency. And, there was the threat of a third-party challenge by Huey Long on the Share Our Wealth ticket, which had thousands of chapters across the country. All of this pushed FDR away from his concern about deficits to massive spending on the New Deal before the 1936 election.

In the 1940s, as the union movement continued and the civil rights movement grew, the Progressive Party with Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice president, urged the end of Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, the advancement of women’s rights, the continuation of many New Deal policies including national health insurance and unemployment benefits, the expansion of the welfare system, and the nationalization of the energy industry, among others.

In this century, it was Ralph Nader in 2000 who first advocated single-payer, Medicare for all. Jill Stein ran on the Green New Deal in both her Green Party campaigns, after Howie Hawkins, the current leading candidate in the Green Party in 2020, advocated for a Green New Deal in a gubernatorial run in 2010. Every Green since Nader has criticized corporatism, the wealth divide, and Wall Street corruption as well as never-ending wars and US imperialism. All of these issues are advocated for by social movements and now have majority support. They are on the national agenda.

General Strike protests in Oakland (From CNN)

Building Popular Power in 2020

The quadruple threats of the pandemic, economic collapse, climate crisis, and nuclear war have changed the national dialogue.  Institutionalized racism is being acknowledged as black and brown people are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and dying from it. Worker exploitation is starkly visible as essential workers are underpaid, lack paid sick leave and are mistreated with inadequate job safety. The fragile debt-riddled economy is evident as food lines grow with a record 22 million newly unemployed in the last month.

Many groups, including Popular Resistance, are urging a campaign of general strikes. A coalition has called for a general strike beginning on May 1 and has made specific demands. People are sharing information about how to conduct a general strike so people know what it takes and how a general strike would look.  Even before COVID-19, in the last two years, there were record numbers of strikes and now a wave of wildcat strikes is evolving.

Organizers of the general strike campaign are using the hashtags #GeneralStrike2020, #Coronastrike, #MayDay2020, and #StrikeForOurLives. There are many ways people can participate whether they are currently employed or not. If people refuse to pay their debts or rent, the financial system will collapse. And there are ways people can connect to the strike from home through social media.

Join our May Day General Strike Call on Wednesday, April 29 at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific to learn how to participate in the general strike from home. Click here to register.

People have power. We need to make the General Strike a campaign that continues throughout the 2020s. It needs to become the US version of the Yellow Vest movement. And, the strike can evolve with new disruptive tactics that force whoever is elected president to address the people’s issues.

This election, there is only one left-progressive candidate who will be on most ballots across the country, the leading Green candidate Howie Hawkins. If his campaign is heard, the agenda of the movement will be elevated. He is making progress to achieving federal matching funds, which would greatly amplify him and his strategy to unite the left will strengthen the challenge against the two parties.  Gloria La Riva is another left candidate running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Jeff Mackler is running with Socialist Action. Both will be on the ballot in some states. All three of these candidates are putting forward the agenda of the popular movement. We need to build a left party from the grassroots up. The two Wall Street-funded parties need to be challenged by a party that puts the planet and people first.

The Democrats have insulted progressives for years with corporate candidates because they think progressive-left voters have nowhere else to go. They need to see that voters have an alternative and are withholding their votes. They also need to see us building an alternative that is aligned with popular movements for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace.

There are more thought leaders standing up to the Democrats in 2020. This includes Krystal Ball of Hill TV’s Rising who has repeatedly criticized Biden and has not endorsed him, as has Sander’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. and the executive director of Justice Democrats, Alexandra Rojas. Multiple new media outlets including the host of the largest podcast in the nation, Joe Rogan, and podcasts with hundreds of thousands of listeners like Chapo Trap HouseKyle Kulinski and Jimmy Dore have all criticized Biden and said that they are unlikely to support him. The new media reaches millions of people and is challenging the old media narrative of pushing voters to ‘hold their nose’ and vote for unacceptable candidates.

Saying we ‘will not go along with your charade’ tells the political elites that people have minds of their own and will not be manipulated into voting for candidates who they know will sell out the people on behalf of the wealthy. Combining that with an ongoing campaign of general strikes in 2020 and beyond will show the political and economic elites that the people are taking power. The only path to victory is for people to organize and show we are not afraid to take action. It is time to embrace our power, not fear it.

A Victory for the Fogeys: Bernie Sanders Drops Out

Champagne corks will be popping in the Trump Empire for good reason.  Whatever happens come November, the exit of Senator Bernie Sanders from the US presidential race will be a relief.  The fractured republic can be reassured that the Democrats have not moved on, stuck, as it were, in the glades of vengeful melancholia and supposedly safe bets.  Divisions will not be healed; suspicions will continue to foster.  A bitter society, ravished by pandemic, will cast an eye to incumbency.

On Wednesday, Sanders delivered the news to his supporters.  “If I believed we had a feasible path to the nomination, I would certainly continue.”  The decision to end his campaign had been “very difficult and painful” but it had “transformed American consciousness as to what kind of nation we can become and have taken this country a major step in the never-ending struggle for economic justice, social justice, racial justice and environmental justice.”  It was the appeal to ideas that mattered, and the continuation of the movement he had inspired.

With each Democratic candidate being culled from the initial smorgasbord, and the machinery of the Democratic National Committee doing its usual bit of mischief, the chances for Sanders netting the nomination were always slim.  He started well in New Hampshire; roared to victory in Nevada.  Then came defeat in South Carolina, where the black vote eluded him.  Joe Biden’s victories on Super Tuesday in 10 of 14 states was crushing.  A week after, and failing to convince Michigan Democrats, he had a sobering admission to make.  While he consistently did well in claiming the votes of the young and making inroads among Latinos, he was “losing the debate over electability”.  The restrictions placed on the campaign by COVID-19 sealed matters.

The honours for the Democratic presidential nomination, however that will be finalised, fall to Joe Biden, who has distinguished himself in crisis by largely absenting himself.  The enfeebled Biden is already weighed down by a resume thickened by allegations of wandering hands (dismissed by Biden supporters as “politically motivated” or “pro-Putin”), patchy choices on matters touching on race and foreign policy, and an evident slide into cognitive decline.  The campaign strategy, one seriously chewed over since mid-last year, is simple: manufactured silence and minimised presence.  Doing so minimises room for imbecilic error and any needless expenditure of energy.  So far, and with stunning effect, it has worked, aided by that trusty steed, circumstance.

As the likely opponent to Donald Trump, a certain degree of presidential air, faux or otherwise, might have been conveyed.  But that would have made him more vulnerable than he already is.  Exposure for Biden could be electoral death.  Even with his barely visible electoral footprint, he did not disappoint.  He held a delayed press conference on March 12, when COVID-19 had started to bite as a crisis.  A virtual town hall was staged the next day, one plagued by technical difficulties and a rather loose reading of history. Towards the end of the muddle, a caller asked Biden where he stood on the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and whether he would support legislation prohibiting hunting sports.  Affirmative to both, responded Biden.

But that was not all.  Brandishing pinched green credentials, he claimed sponsorship for the Endangered Species Act, one of his first acts as US Senator.  Unfortunately for him, the Congressional record shows that Senator Harrison Williams (D-NJ) was the sponsor, with the Delaware co-sponsor being Republican Senator William Roth.  It was yet another Hillary Clinton “I misspoke” moment, though in all fairness, Biden has outdone her in those stakes.

As the health crisis began to escalate – lockdowns, death tolls, social distancing directives all featuring – Biden’s campaign, through such advisors as Symone D. Sanders, encouraged voters to vote in person, pouring water on any health concerns.  Such instances of congregation provided rich wells of infection.  The former Vice-President then disappeared, though always claiming a degree of desperation to be in “daily or at least, you know, significant contact with the American people and communicate what I should be doing”.  Which has been, for campaign directors, mercifully little.

Invitations have been made to Sanders supporters from across the political spectrum.  Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins wasted little time. “I invite his supporters to join my campaign to continue to fight for socialist solutions through the Nov election & beyond.” This will bring the usual uproar from jaded Democrats that a vote for the Greens or any third party candidate is a vote for Trump.

Trump did not waste much time either in the courtship ritual, thanking Senator Elizabeth Warren for her putative sabotage of Sanders on Super Tuesday.  “This ended just like the Democrats and the DNC wanted” somewhat similar, he argued, to “the Crooked Hillary Fiasco.  The Bernie people should come to the Republican Party”.

Biden, just as with Hillary Clinton in 2016, is doing his own bit to woo the Sanders voters.  As with Clinton, the effort seems much of an afterthought, a meek attempt to consolidate a fractured group.  On Thursday, he put out a plan “to ease the economic burden on working people” by lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60 and implement student debt forgiveness schemes for low-income and middle class families.  Such mild overtures actually convinced a few, such as Economic Policy Institute director of research Josh Bivens, that the Sanders effect was authentic enough.

Progressive groups, notionally aligned with the youth bloc that backed Sanders, are also attempting to make their voices felt in the Biden universe.  A letter to the presidential hopeful signed by an array of such organisations as the Alliance for Youth Action, Student Action and the Sunrise Movement, to name but a few, is filled with progressive hope.  One was wishing Biden to promise “to appoint zero current or former Wall Street executives or corporate lobbyists, or people affiliated with the fossil fuel, health insurance or private prison corporations, to your transition team, advisor roles, or cabinet.”  A quaintly naïve sentiment.

In another 2016-redux moment, the departure of Sanders leaves his followers talking about a movement beyond the man.  Feel the Bern was more than just an emotional binge, cresting on a body of ideas packed with social justice and equality. “It’s common now to say the Sanders campaign failed,” observed Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now Radio.  “I think that’s a mistake.  I think it was an extraordinary success, completely shifting the arena of debate and discussion.”  True, to a point. But as with 2016, that discussion is something that has passed the Establishment fogeys by.  “In the end,” as Andrew Marantz penned in the New Yorker, “he did change the culture of America, but not quickly enough.”

Open Letter to the “Sandernistas”: Bernie Caves Again 2020

History Repeats Itself, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

I wrote this article almost four years ago right after the Democratic primaries in 2016. I am reposting it because it demonstrates how, while history changes, the machinations of the Democratic Party are the same, or in this case, worse. What is not relevant in this article is that there are no gender identity politics as there were with Hillary. What is new about Bernie dropping out today is that:

  1. Bernie has conceded four months before the Democratic convention;
  2. Capitalism has gotten worse in the U.S. because of a combination of the trade wars with China, more bad debt pile-ups and now the coronavirus.
  3. In spite of these worsening conditions the Democratic Party has chosen a far weaker candidate than Hillary to run – Joe Biden.

These conditions must make it even more exasperating for the Sandernistas when Bernie does not step up to the plate and disappoints his followers by again caving into the DNC.

Read below what I wrote in June, 2016

*****

Even more power to ya, Sandernistas!

As someone who has been a radical socialist for 45 years, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see so many people under 30 in my college classes and on the streets who declare themselves socialists.

Secondly, I respect how critical your presence has been during this political campaign by showing up at Trump rallies, despite being in the vast minority: arguing, screaming and in some cases fighting with his supporters.

Thirdly, I respect you for fighting at the Democratic primaries in Nevada, causing a ruckus. I am delighted you saw through the mass media’s attempt to keep you away from the polls on the day of the California primary and came out to vote anyway. I admire your willingness to stand in lines and vote and deal with both real official incompetence and planned “irregularities” in vote counting, voting machines that don’t work, as well as many obstacles put in your path. About a month ago I read a political report from the United Nations comparing democratic processes across nations. It stated that the US voting process was ranked 29th in the world in democratic processes. Not so hot for a declining empire that fancies itself the home of democracy. By world democratic standards, future elections in the US should be monitored by representatives of countries that have proven themselves to be ranked in the top ten.

Lastly I am so proud of you for co-creating a political revolution. I have rarely voted in my life because electoral politics is part of a capitalist machine. The two or three times I have voted I’ve been embarrassed about it. During most election cycles I cannot wait for them to end because the air waves are filled with professional windbags, embalmed, hair-dyed, Botox-injected, toupee-wearing mummies and stuffed pheasants jingling with the trappings of Divine Honors. But these last six months have been more exciting for me because of all the rotten centrist candidates: the nobles, the barons, the dukes, the earls and the duchesses have had their royal ball ruined by you and by the Trumpsters. You may not like the Trumpsters and you might not like their motives, but because of their rallies they have driven even worse plutocrats to the margins.  Jeb Bush, fancying himself as being installed as Bush III to the presidency, must have been quite insulted when the Trumpsters blew him, Ted Cruz and the rest of the Republican lizards to the political periphery.

But now you are at a crossroads. After six months of a political revolution the Democratic power elite has heaved its harried, painted, disheveled, roughed-up Queen in a buckboard to the top of a small mountain with its media mafioso, lobbyists, police and military escorts declaring herself to be Queen. Now comes the heavy-duty propaganda.

Here comes Hyper-Identity Politics

– Identity politics softball

The Democratic plutocrats are not worried about winning over the upper middle class women who will take any woman who had been crowned and claim her as a feminist. My partner was invited to appear on a panel today on a supposedly “radical” radio station titled “Feminism is Not a Dirty Word”. On this station they had a rabid supporter of Hillary Clinton and I thought we would share the words from her website. This is only the beginning of what you’re going to be listening to for the next 5 months:

I guess you could call me a sentimental sap. My eyes welled as I sat riveted by the television image of Hillary Clinton claiming the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday night as the primary contests results rolled in—the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party in the United States of America. OK, so maybe even a sob happened.

Call me a sentimental sap, but forgive my tears. A woman has just won the presidential nomination of one of our two major political parties. An accomplished woman. A woman who can throw a rhetorical punch. A woman who’s made tough choices. And for the sake of all of the women who come after her, that’s a righteously good thing. We’ve been waiting a long time.

— Adele M. Stan, The American Prospect

This is a warmed over version of what was trotted out as a victory for African Americans in 2004 when Obama was elected. Obama went on to be the most intelligent sounding Republican in many year – a surveillance-crazed, drone-flying, protectionist, war-mongering monster. But he did it with more grace, charm and optimism than any of the usual bible thumping conservatives. And – after all – he is good at basketball.

Let’s face our nightmares. Hillary on stage being crowned and kissed by the first African American president and the First African American Lady, Michelle Obama. Together they stand waving to adoring crowds. We get to watch racial identity politics standing together with gender identity politics. The fact that both have been selected by the one percent in the Council of Foreign Relations doesn’t matter. Class dismissed. The audience goes wild, tears in their eyes. Diversity wins again. We don’t need the Trumpsters to tell us “Make America Great Again”. We have it right here in our beloved Democratic Party. Except the gender and identify political elites do it in a civilized way. They don’t threaten to build walls and kick ass.

What does Bernie Do?

But the worst is yet to come. Bernie Sanders, your hero, is trotted onto the stage. Obama, Michelle and even Hillary embrace him politely. All praise his fire, his bringing “important issues to the table”. They thank him for attracting so many young people like y’all to the Democratic Party. Then it is Bernie’s turn. What will he say? He will thank everyone, and especially you. You fought the good fight. But now it is time to fold up your little tents and join the bigger tent of Hillary and fight against the evil Trump. Some of you will buy this propaganda and believe that the Democratic Party can “find its soul” and be reborn with a born-again Bernie along with all your youthful energy. Many of you will be intimated by hardball identity politics, which I’ll discuss shortly, and give in. If you think this might be the case for you, you can stop reading.

– Identity politics hardball

This is also a delicate political moment since most of you are white, you are in the audiences everywhere and on the stage will be the kings and queens of identity politics: rich, trim, well-spoken and in control of the microphone with the mass media at its beck and call.  As white, male Sandernistas you will be hammered with insinuations that you are a sexist for not voting for Hillary and a racist for not listening to the wise African American heads of state who are much older and smarter than you. White Sandernista women will be told they have betrayed feminism by not supporting Hillary. Black men for Bernie will be chastised for not listening to Obama and other black leaders who have made their nests in the middle rungs of the Democratic Party. For black women it will be insinuated that you don’t know enough not to have the nerve to hesitate, or even turn your back and walk away when such a well-spoken, fit African American lady like Michelle invites you into the Democratic tent. For those of you who are Mexican immigrants you will be ordered to get into Hillary’s tent quickly, because she is the only one standing between you, Trump, the howling Trumpsters and the wall.

Dire straits for radical Sandernistas

For those of you who will not come into Hillary’s tent, you will be in great pain. Bernie is telling you, “you have lost fair and square and you should shake hands and be friends with the illustrious Democratic notables, especially Barbara Boxer, who graciously gave you the finger in Nevada.” And since you are so good at waiting in line at polling booths, if you get into a neat line and be quiet, the great feminist leader Gloria Steinem might sign autographs for you. Many of you will feel angry and betrayed and not know where to turn. You are at a crossroads.

The red (and black) flag is still flying

Since the heyday of the 1960’s, before most of you were born, the real socialist left in the United States has been torn apart by factions. Social Democrats, various types of Marxist Leninists, council communists and anarchists have fought bitterly against each other before, during and after revolutions, in some cases for over 150 years, over the kind of socialism we wanted to bring to the world.  All these groups have also been infiltrated and almost destroyed by the Secret Service.  Since the 1970’s, many of us hung on, isolated, dispirited, and in some cases broken. Some got religion, some became New Age junkies, some were reduced to paranoid conspiracy addicts and others simply gave up. Many of us, however, have never given up. We have hung on as writers, artists, and theatre producers. Others joined unions and stayed in them, continuing to believe that the unions were still the best breeding grounds for socialism. Some, like me, have worked as college teachers, smuggling in socialist ideas under the radar of official course syllabi, and sometimes in private conversations or even open discussions.

Almost five years ago the anarchist inspired Occupy movement gave hope to many of us. At its high point in 2011 the Occupy movement blockaded downtown public space in 150 cities and shut down some of the busiest ports on the West Coast. This, combined with the economic crash of 2008, made things suddenly uncomfortable for the increasingly maniacally, speculating and very nervous capitalist class.

Many of us were amazed to discover, thanks to the catalyst of Bernie Sanders, that more than half of the people your age have declared themselves interested in socialism. But Bernie has taken you as far as he wants to go. You can either find your way yourselves or you can join us.

Many of us have been around long enough politically to understand how the Democratic Party works and have anticipated how they want to use you and trick you into following them. At the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party will show its true capitalist colors. We have other hopes and plans for you. We also know that you represent the possibility of a real socialist movement, which can only happen outside the Democratic Party. As socialists we haven’t seen this opportunity in the United States in 45 years. We are going to insist you deal with us.

In June and July of this year there will be socialist conferences. There is one happening at the same time as the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The day will be a traumatic ride for you: demonstrating in the streets, fighting on the floor of the Democratic Convention and then losing. Yet alongside this bitter disappointment, we long-term socialists are hoping to win you over. We are not easy to get along with. Many of us are angry just from the wear-and-tear of putting up with a declining capitalist system for 45 years. Others do not have good social skills. In fact, I can say I’ve never met so many unsociable socialists as exist in this country. Yet some of us have a great deal of organizational skills. We think strategically and tactically. We are largely self-educated, sometimes fanatical, but we have a great deal of heart, though many are too crabby to show it. We have a great deal of persistence and don’t give up easily. Like you, many of us will come to this convention, paying for it with money out of our own pockets because we have hope that together we can form a national political movement

If you join with us, expect the meetings to be chaotic, slow moving, accusatory and long. Social Democrats, Leninists, council communists and anarchists are like brothers and sisters in a family. We have so much in common but the differences are real and bitter. As your parents, you will see we are not afraid to fight in front of you. Be patient. We are trying. Come make history with us in the next six months. Not the history of queens. But real history, socialist history, 21st century socialism. We are waiting for you.

Billionaire “Job Creators” and the Keyboard Revolutionaries Who Enable Their Candidates

Capitalism’s “invisible hand” gives us the middle finger with ever more contempt these days.

With the national unemployment rate soaring to Depression-era levels and beyond, the self-proclaimed “job creators” of our glorious free-market paradise are now drowning in gluttonous excess from sucking the tit of the “Nanny State” they allegedly abhor. While workers are prohibited from working by shelter-in-place orders, the private owners of what should be public assets get trillions of taxpayer dollars through the Federal Reserve, which they will use to buy up everything they don’t already own at depressed, pandemic era prices. Then when foreclosures begin to soar they’ll buy up the distressed properties for a song. In other words, we’re paying them with our own money to kick us out of our homes.

Meanwhile, the great dissident intellectual Noam Chomsky and friends (Mike Albert, Norman Solomon, Barbara Ehrenreich etc.) urge us not to vote for the Green Party this November, except in places where the vote won’t have any effect on the outcome (the states where either Trump or Biden are sure to win). These keyboard revolutionaries regard themselves as the vanguard of popular rebellion, but a key fact seems to have escaped their attention: Trump is a threat to elites; Biden isn’t. Which is why so many Rust Belt workers took a chance on Trump in 2016. In other words, American workers are much more fed up with the system than Chomsky and his political friends are. Change will come from them, not keyboard revolutionaries.

Though Chomsky regularly reminds his audiences that trying to predict the future is hopeless, that we can’t even predict tomorrow’s weather, let alone complex political trends, he nevertheless regards his judgment as infallible in determining how we should vote! But as John Dewey used to say, individuals know better than experts “where the shoe pinches, the troubles they suffer from,” a quote Chomsky is well aware of, as he cites it himself. Who the hell are we to tell people how they should vote? Or run their political campaigns?

Of course, Chomsky counters that the Greens have themselves stated that they want to see Trump defeated “as much as anyone,” and on that basis he counsels a “safe states” strategy; i.e., voting Green in the 40 states where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, but not in the 10 states that are “in play,” that is, where it can’t be safely predicted whether Trump or Biden will win. Here Chomsky is correct that the Greens are not as eager as he is to see Trump defeated, but there is no reason they should be. Again, Biden poses no threat to the establishment, and is so out of it mentally that he frequently lapses into outright gibberish. It took him six days to come out with a video in response to the corona virus crisis, one in which he appeared in a darkened basement with a confused look in his eyes mumbling incoherently to the effect that the government should do something about medical shortages. Duh.

On other occasions he has said that poor kids are just as capable as white kids of high achievement, and that parents should turn on the record player at night so that they can learn new words. His record is so appalling and his gaffes so prolific that his handlers carefully shield him from all but the most limited public contact, and even then can’t prevent him from snapping at voters or mangling his syntax to the point of random babbling. Even Barack Obama was reluctant to support him.

In short, it is not at all obvious that Trump is the greater evil. On the issues, Trump is slightly worse than Biden, but also more prone to sparking massive popular resistance, while Biden is clearly suffering cognitive disintegration whereas Trump is not.  Furthermore, the Democrats in opposition are a fake resistance, while the Republicans (during a Democratic presidency) are an actual resistance. So the choice between Biden and Trump is all too much like “Sophie’s Choice” in the movie starring Meryl Streep, in which Nazi guards force a terrified Polish mother to choose which of her two children shall live and which shall die. She makes the choice – perhaps “rationally” – and ends up committing suicide. We as a nation will, too, if we continue to take such choices seriously.

In 2016, the Republican base recognized Trump was a threat to the establishment and voted him into office, in spite of a tsunami of articulate opinion saying it couldn’t be done. In 2020, elite fear-mongering divided the Democratic base, insuring that it failed to nominate Bernie Sanders, a different and better kind of threat to the establishment. Polls show that Sanders’ signature issue – Medicare For All  – captures a substantial majority even among Biden voters, and in fact his New Deal politics are very popular across the American population. A successful elite campaign to falsely convince everyone that “other people don’t think like me” is the only reason he won’t be the party nominee.

To an electorate already drowning in manipulative fear, Chomsky and friends recommend we adopt a “rational” fear – terror actually – of Trump, on the pretext that he is destroying the world with his indifference to climate change. Though this is a possible outcome, it is far from a certain one, and it cannot plausibly be blamed on a single person in any case.  Simply put, the claim that a vote for Trump invites “global catastrophe” is alarmism, not analysis.

We are in the midst of a global catastrophe right now with COVID 19, but Chomsky himself properly credits four decades of bi-partisan profiteering, not just Donald Trump. And if the profit system is the problem, it is difficult to see how voting Democrat helps, as not one of them voted against the recent multi-trillion dollar give-away to Wall Street – not AOC, not Bernie Sanders, not Rashida Tlaib, not Ilhan Omar, not Tulsi Gabbard. And those are the best Democrats, far superior to Joe Biden. The lone opponent of the greatest financial heist in history was Republican Thomas Massie, who called for a quorom and a formal vote on the package that passed by voice vote.

Clearly there are no “safe states”: all the states are always “in play,” and are currently bleeding badly from the anus.

Chomsky’s fear-mongering contrasts sharply with what he advised vis-a-vis nuclear weapons in the 1980s, another issue that portends massive and possibly terminal self-destruction. Back then he correctly pointed out that the Nuclear Freeze’s obsession with giving detailed descriptions of the massively destructive consequences of dropping nuclear bombs on human cities was intellectually insulting and politically paralyzing, preventing the change it hoped to foster. The correctness of this view has been confirmed by events, as the Nuclear Freeze was ultimately absorbed into official arms control efforts, and forty years later the world is closer to nuclear war than ever.

So why should we repeat the mistake today, spreading apocalyptic visions of total destruction via climate change? No reason that a sensible person should embrace. After all, the only prediction we can safely make about climate change is that electing either Biden or Trump will make our current bad situation considerably worse. The only electoral result that could make it better would be one that put the Green Party platform in power, an outcome that will never be achieved if Green voters feel compelled to vote for candidates bought by the fossil fuel industry.

We need to stop the incantations of “existential threat” and “special danger” about Trump. He isn’t Hitler. He doesn’t believe in the genetic superiority of white people. And he at least hasn’t started any new wars during his 38 months in office, which is unlikely to have been the case with Hillary Clinton. What’s different about him is his eagerness to insult rather than utter focus-group tested banalities, but this carries no policy implications. So where is the argument that Trump has dramatically deviated from the plutocratic policies embraced by both establishment parties?

“Real solutions require Trump out of office,” chorus Chomsky and friends, just as they did about Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, John McCain and Ronald Reagan. No. Real solutions require a society committed to real solutions. As long as profiteers run the government, this is impossible.

Apparently, Chomsky and friends are for radical change every day except election day.