Bernie Sanders’s stump speeches are often criticized for neglecting his personal story including a hardscrabble Brooklyn upbringing and the early death of both of his parents. Sanders’s failure to “share his feelings” is sometimes contrasted to the “I feel your pain” emotionality of Bill Clinton.
What this omits is what has become increasingly obvious to the victims of Clinton’s economic policy. Clinton’s personal affinity with average citizens masked an underlying lack of concern and even contempt towards their suffering. Sanders’s reticence is the polar opposite, of a piece with a campaign based on a profound sympathy and solidarity with the victims of economic violence.
What Sanders understands is that for a fraction of the population, the experience of normal human emotions, including pain, has by now become a form of privilege.
Continue reading Bernie Sanders Does Not Feel Your Pain
Introduction: Why Do They Lie?
Those whose main experience with politics begins with Barack Obama are often unaware that Obama was unusual in at least one respect: he was honest to the left and liberals who had strongly supported him. Obama made few promises that his policies would be anything other than corporate friendly, establishment neoliberalism. And it should have surprised no one (though it did) that that is exactly what he delivered.
Obama’s honesty broke sharply with previous campaigns. Prior to Obama, Democratic candidates would typically promise much during their campaigns and deliver little in office.
A dramatic example was the Clinton campaign which was based on the slogan “putting people first.” This was understood to mean Continue reading Sanders vs. Warren: Which Side Are You On?
Those relishing a depressing journey to the past and, perhaps, but perhaps not, the future, can click here to transport themselves to Planet DCCC, the website of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. On Planet DCCC, or D-trip as it is known to insiders, it is always 1988, an epoch when, as those of us of sufficient age will recall, neoliberalism was not only not a bad word, it was enthusiastically embraced by leading Democrats. Among those doing so were Senators Paul Tsongas, Bill Bradley, Gary Hart and, most notably, then Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, all of whom proudly accepted the label and successfully based their campaigns on it. While they have (mostly) long since departed, on Planet DCCC, their spirit is alive and well. And if the term itself is now avoided, the philosophy of neoliberalism remains an article of faith, recognized as the key to the party’s electoral prospects.
The evidence for this is everywhere on the DCCC site, perhaps most conspicuously in the Red to Blue project undertaken under the DCCC’s auspices: 24 key races which it hopes to flip in the 2018 midterms. Their time honored recipe for competing contains one main ingredient: triangulation. Triangulation, as first defined by Clinton’s somewhat infamous campaign advisor Dick Morris involves locating the center wherever the Republicans choose to define it, no matter how repressively reactionary this point is, and then positioning the Democratic candidate one degree to the left of it.
Continue reading A Visit to Planet DCCC
One of the widely circulated left criticisms of the Sanders campaign claims that the hopes invested in it can be equated with those which were raised for Obama 2008 and with the disastrous outcome which this precipitated. Some of those doing so cite Noam Chomsky’s rejection of Obama in 2008 as well as his well known suspicion of electoral politics as their grounds for rejecting supporting Sanders.
In fact, Chomsky supports the Sanders campaign. In the following exchange, I asked him to discuss the basis of his support and why he feels Obama 2008 and Sanders 2016 should not be equated:
Continue reading Chomsky on Sanders 2016 vs. Obama 2008