Left to Bernie: Will Sanders Answer the Call


The left, or what is left of it in the wake of its disastrous decision to throw in its lot with the Obama campaign and administration is finally waking up, it would seem.

Jeff Cohen formerly of Progressives for Obama, writes that Obama "is not CAVING to corporate interests." Rather, he is now capable of recognizing that "the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests -- not someone reluctantly doing their bidding, or serving their interests only because Republicans forced him to."

Writing in the Nation, John Nichols notes "disenchantment among Democrats who fear he is preparing to abandon the commitments made by . . . generations of Democratic leaders to not just preserve but expand Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security."

Both Nichols and Cohen enthusiastically cite Senator Bernie Sanders' remarks to Thom Hartman that a primary challenge is in order.

Unfortunately, this gets it wrong, revealing a familiar though still troubling myopia. It is not Obama the individual who needs to be targeted by the left, but rather the institutional forces which have made the catastrophe which is brand Obama and the Obama administration inevitable.

In particular, what needs to be seen as the primary obstacle is a Democratic Party which has now become a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and which has now for decades been entirely captive to the corporate agenda one which is all the more effective and sinister by virtue of its occasional responsiveness to this or that isolated progressive demand. Obama was, in fact, an entirely natural and predictable result of these malign institutional forces.

It follows then that what is needed is not a primary challenge, which only reinforces the status of the Democratic Party as the only possible vehicle for progressive energies.

Rather what is needed is a challenge in the general election from a progressive/labor/environmental party running a full slate of candidates at all levels and giving voice not only to the disenchantment on the left but also to a unified positive vision which progressives can stand behind.

And the man to head this ticket is Bernie Sanders.

It is something of a mystery Sanders why has consistently sought to downplay his party affiliation as an Independent Socialist. Most voters believe he belongs to the much abused Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.

If he chooses to return to his roots as third party insurgent devoted to overturning a corrupt, unaccountable, and fatally compromised Democratic Party machine, this could be the crowning glory of an inspiring political career.