I’ll be happy to provide them in the following, albeit at the end. You’re welcomed to skip to them but I hope that you will consider engaging in what I regard as a more important conversation than who we pull the lever for on June 26: how one should negotiate this and other biennial and quadrennial “electoral extravaganzas”, as Chomsky refers to them.
Of today’s two big news stories, one of them, excerpts from Michael Wolff’s new book will be obsessively consumed as political junk food always is.
But it won’t tell us anything we didn’t know before.
We already knew Donald Trump is the worst person in the world.
If it tells us anything at all, it is something slightly different. That is that even those we already knew to be the worst people in the world can be even worse than we thought they were.
While some might find the academic style of Nancy Fraser’s recent piece slightly offputting, I recommend that everyone make the effort to read through what is one of the more perceptive and useful guides to where we are, how we have gotten there, and where we need to go.
As is required of any informed and rational discussion of these topics, Fraser recognizes the major force which is responsible for our current plight, namely, the set of political and economic assumptions categorized by the term neoliberalism.
The bombshell revelations in the excerpts from Donna Brazile’s soon to be published book are, of course, important and should be given wide circulation, But these should not obscure what was, as I have previously noted, the major, albeit universally unrecognized factor in Sanders’ defeat. That is, in the words of Hamilton Nolan, one of the few journalists to get it right, “labor fucked up.”
This is the same conclusion reached by Bill Curry in an excellent Real News interview with Aaron Maté:
An Intercept piece from last year by Zaid Jilani contains the useful observation that now disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein was not only one of the chief bankrollers of the Clinton campaign, he was an informal campaign advisor. In frequent contact with Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, Weinstein was particularly concerned with Sanders’ inroads into Clinton’s support among women and African American voters.
One component of the strategy to head this off involved tarring Sanders male supporters as “Bernie Bros“. Those on the receiving end of the smear will recall that it consisted of raising doubts about Sanders supporters’ commitment to civil rights while accusing them of opposing Clinton based on their inability to accept female leadership. Some of them, it was claimed, went farther in directing obscene misogynist attacks on Clinton’s supporters on social media platforms.
Those of us who grew up in activist households a half century ago will remember those who were referred to as “movement candidates.” These materialized when activists, those involved in leafletting, sit ins, phonebanking, and the other retail aspects of anti-war and civil rights protest were either chosen or decided on their own to run for office. While they were not necessarily reliable once elected, it was reasonable for the protest movement to assume that they would be more accountable and likely to advance their agenda than those who were nowhere to be found on the streets but were asking for their support.
It is with them in mind that the various candidates now being promoted by Democratic Party leadership should be assessed: Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand and Deval Patrick are in no way movement candidates. Rather they are longtime party insiders being sold to the left with the expectation they will be able to mollify and demobilize what has become an increasingly effective insurgency centered around the successor organizations to the Sanders campaign.
Seven things Noam Chomsky believes (on electoral politics) that much of the “left” do not.
1) Chomsky believes that it is likely that the Bernie or Bust contingent played a role in throwing the election to Trump.
2) Chomsky does not believe that the Democratic Party is “self destructing”. Rather he believes a) that the neoliberal wing of the party is self-destructing and b) that this is a good thing.
3) Chomsky believes that a takeover of the DP by the Sanders wing is possible, desirable (obviously) and very much worth the investment of activist energies.
Berniebots are not going to want to hear it, but the fact of the matter, is that Hillary did “win” the debate in the only way that matters: as polls have clearly indicated, she was perceived as having won not just by media pundits but by the overwhelming majority of those who saw it.
Rather than deal with this reality, the left has responded, typically and depressingly, by claiming a conspiracy involving CNN’s corporate ties to the Clinton campaign, allegations of deleted comments from Sanders supporters, pundits
For a decade and half, the spoiler factor has been a third rail of progressive politics.
Some of those who have raised the issue are genuinely concerned with the prospect of a third party candidate enabling a far right victory.
But others are Democratic Party operatives who, in Matt Taibbi’s phrase, “would triangulate their own mothers” to maintain their lock on power. Spoiling for them is a bad faith exercise in maintaining electoral politics as a bipartisan gated community from which left, populist candidates are excluded.