Bernie Sanders’ decision to run in the 2020 presidential election has once again heightened the anxieties of the corporate Democrats that control the party. The corporate Democrats have cleverly coded their criticism of Bernie Sanders to hide their true intentions. Bernie is “too old,” “too white,” “too male,” and a host of other characterizations. Of course, none of these criticisms apply to Joe Biden. Biden is just as old, white, and male as Bernie Sanders. The fear of Bernie Sanders that all corporate Democrats share is thus political in character. Sanders is (still) too far to the “left” for the Democratic Party and the ruling class wants nothing more than to ensure that his campaign has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination.
That Sanders raised six million dollars in small donations in the first 24 hours after he announced his campaign did little to assuage the fears of the ruling class. The sheer volume of donations that Sanders received only verified what the data has shown all along. Sanders remains the most popular politician in the United States. Large majorities of Democrats want Medicare for All, free public college education, a federal increase in the minimum wage, and a Green New Deal. The U.S. capitalist economy continues to provide nothing for most U.S. workers and everything for the three billionaires that own just as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. Thus, popular desire for the Sanders’ agenda only strengthens by the day.
This has placed the Democratic Party wing of the ruling class in a difficult position. Corporations such as Comcast, which owns MSNBC, or billionaires such as Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, understand that the Sanders agenda is incompatible with the current stage of capitalism.Unlike the days of the New Deal, U.S. imperialism is no longer able to expand without imposing brutal wars and austerity measures on the workers and the oppressed. This inevitable conclusion was reached during the mid to latter half of the 20thcentury when automation, monopoly, and dependency on finance capital sent the worldwide capitalist system into a state of general stagnation. The collapse of the Soviet Union only provided a brief respite for the underconsumption and economic collapse that awaited a system designed to maximize profit at the expense of anyone or anything, including the planet, that stood in its way.
Capitalist stagnation has brought mass misery, especially for Black America. That is why it is laughable that the corporate Democrats continue to peddle the notion that Bernie Sanders is “too white” for Black voters. The corporate Democrats, especially Joe Biden and the Black misleadership class, have peddled the “super predator” ideology that presumes Black Americans as sub-human criminals to facilitate the incarceration of 2.3 million people and nearly 900,000 Black men. The corporate Democrats have imposed ruthless austerity measures, decimating the standard of living for poor, disproportionately Black urban centers across the country. Black wealth is nearly non-existent in the United States thanks to the gracious treatment in the form of massive bailouts that the Obama Administration gave to Wall Street during the 2007-2008 economic crash—treatment that has continued during the Trump Administration with not a word from the DNC. And the corporate Democrats have done all of this while claiming to be the party of “diversity” and the only political organ that Black America can rely upon to defend the community from the White Man’s Republicans.
Sanders has changed this equation by offering a New Deal political orientation within a corporate entity that is hostile to the very utterance of his agenda. The corporate Democrats truly “fear the Bern” because Sanders represents a dangerous political path that may lead large portions of the working and unemployed population to demand an improvement in their condition. Sanders is not set up to be a hero in this situation. The Vermont Senator, as the Black Agenda Report has noted again and again, is an imperialist pig who is running within a corporate political party. Sanders is no socialist and he is no revolutionary. He is a product of a political moment where the domination of corporate and military power in the political life of the United States reigns supreme.
This moment requires a strategy, especially for those who are further to the “left” of Bernie Sanders. Anti-imperialism, internationalism, and socialism are critical components of a truly left agenda. On these counts, Sanders fails miserably. Thus, Sanders must be condemned every time that he follows the lead of the military-industrial complex in its assault on nations such as Venezuela. That is one aspect of a strategy and orientation toward Sanders, but it cannot be the only one. Sanders is and will continue to be attacked by the corporate Democrats. While the Sandernistas can certainly fend for themselves, it is up to a revolutionary left to seize the moment when the corporate Democrats inevitably crush the Sanders campaign. Such a crushing defeat may serve as a lesson in political education of the Sandernistas and a critical blow to the Democratic Party establishment should their actions lead to a mass exodus from the party.
The fact that Sanders is too left for the Democratic Party should not be taken lightly. With no clear candidate able to challenge Sanders’ popularity there is a real fear on the part of the Democratic Party elite that Sanders could secure the nomination. However, the elite controls the game and has already begun to plot how it will sever the head of the Sandernista movement before it can challenge the doctrine of austerity. The Democratic Party would much rather Trump secure another term than Sanders face off against the orange billionaire in the general election. Trump allows the Democratic Party to remain wholly unaccountable to its captive Black and working-class constituents. A Sanders Administration, however, would by necessity force the Democratic Party to consider delivering real policy change to the people in the form of Medicare for All, a $15-dollar federal minimum wage, and free public higher education.
We must be truthful about Sanders while recognizing that his presence in the primaries is an existential threat to the corporate Democrats. Sanders is not a socialist, he is a social democrat in a ruling class party. Socialists would neither condemn a socialist country like Venezuela nor leave the system of capitalism intact through a “political revolution.” However, none of this matters to the corporate elite in control of the Democratic machinery. The corporate elite is sick and tired of hearing Sanders talk about New Deal reform within an election system that is supposed to be bought and paid for by the corporate elite themselves. This is their game, not ours. It is entirely possible that the second-crushing of the Sanders campaign will create the conditions for a mass exodus from the Democratic Party. Independent left political thought and action can only benefit from the further disenchantment with the Democratic Party among Sanders’ large base. The job of a revolutionary is not to support Sanders or any political functionary within the capitalist ruling system. It is to seize the moment when the capitalist and imperialist ruling system in the U.S reaches a point of crisis from which it cannot return. Sanders’ 2020 campaign is another step toward that point of no return for the lords of war and austerity. The ruling class doesn’t ignore this fact for one second and neither should we.
Top Photo | Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., smiles as he kicks off his 2020 presidential campaign at Navy Pier in Chicago, March 3, 2019. Over the next several weeks, Sanders will travel to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, and California. He will then return to Burlington, Vt., for the official launch of his campaign. Nam Y. Huh | AP
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the forthcoming book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News- From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing, Release Date: April 2nd, 2019). He can be reached at email@example.com.
Source | Black Agenda Report
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