Home > Uncategorized > Bernie Slanders: How the Democratic Party establishment in the US suffocates progressive change

Bernie Slanders: How the Democratic Party establishment in the US suffocates progressive change

from Thomas Palley

The Democratic Party establishment has recently found itself discomforted by Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign to return the party to its modern roots of New Deal social democracy. The establishment’s response has included a complex coupling of elite media and elite economics opinion aimed at promoting an image of Sanders as an unelectable extremist with unrealistic economic policies.

The response provides a case study showing how the Party suffocates progressive change. Every progressive knows about the opposition and tactics of the Republican Party. Less understood are the opposition and tactics of the Democratic Party establishment. Speaking metaphorically, that establishment is a far lesser evil, but it may also be a far greater obstacle to progressive change.

The elite media’s response was captured in a snapshot report by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) showing that the Washington Post ran 16 major negative stories on Sanders in 16 hours, prior to the Michigan primary. The headlines were particularly hostile, and since only 40 percent of the public reads past the headline, that is as important as the substance of the story.

Economic policy has been the fulcrum of Sanders’ campaign, and the response of elite opinion has been exemplified by Paul Krugman of The New York Times

For years, Krugman has mockingly used the term “very serious people” to attack Republicans opposed to President Obama’s policies. Now, he unironically revokes the credentials of all who do not support Clinton  by declaring: “every serious progressive policy expert on either health care or financial reform who has weighed in on the primary seems to lean Hillary.”

Regarding Sanders’ opposition to neoliberal trade agreements, Krugman writes “In this, as in many other things, Sanders currently benefits from the luxury of irresponsibility: he’s never been anywhere close to the levers of power, so he could take principled-sounding but arguably feckless stances in a way that Clinton couldn’t and can’t.”

The slamming of Sanders has also been joined by a gang of past Democratic appointee Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers. In an open letter co-addressed to Senator Sanders, Messrs. Kruger, Goolsbee, Romer and Tyson mauled a favorable empirical assessment of Sander’s economic program conducted by Professor Gerald Friedman.  Without any detailed independent assessment, they simply declared the assessment unsupported by the “economic evidence”.

 

Messrs. Kruger et al. were then joined by Justin Wolfers, via one of his regular New York Times opinion pieces. His accusation was the beneficial effects of fiscal stimulus would disappear once full employment was reached and the stimulus withdrawn.

Wolfers is co-editor of the prestigious Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Ironically, a recent issue contained an article by elite Democratic economists Larry Summers and Brad DeLong invoking a similar mechanism as Professor Friedman. Summers and DeLong argued a large negative temporary demand shock can permanently lower output: Friedman simply reversed that and argued a large positive temporary stimulus can permanently raise output and growth.

There is legitimate room for intellectual difference. What is so stunning is the tone of the critique and the fact it sought to diminish an important policy (fiscal stimulus) just because Sanders was using it to his political advantage.

Given their elite professional standing and easy access to elite media, these attacks quickly ramified throughout the mainstream media, illustrating how the elite media – elite opinion nexus works.

The slamming of Sanders reflects an enduring status quo defense mechanism which usually begins with insinuations of extremism, then mixes in charges of lack of qualification and realism, and ends with assertions of un-electability. It is applied in both political and public intellectual life.

The extremism gambit explains the persistent linking of Sanders and Trump. Whereas Trump is an egotistical demagogue and businessman with a disreputable business history, Sanders is a thoughtful social democrat with a long history of public service through high electoral office.

The un-electability charge pivots off the extremism insinuation as follows. Americans will not elect extremists; Sanders is an extremist; ergo, Sanders is unelectable.

As with the extremism insinuation, the un-electability charge lacks foundation. Polls show Sanders beating all the potential Republican nominees, and beating Trump handily.

The third charge is lack of qualification. The reality is Sanders has a fifty year history of political involvement, worked his way through the political ranks serving people, was Mayor of Vermont’s largest city, then Vermont’s representative in Congress where he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and after that became a Senator for Vermont. That seems to be exactly the career and CV a President should have.

Lastly, Sanders has been dismissed as selling unrealistic pipe dreams. Social Security would be a pipe dream if we did not already have it; so would Medicare and public education too. There is a lesson in that. Pipe dreams are the stuff of change.

Rather than an excess of pipe dreams, our current dismal condition is the product of fear of dreaming. The Democratic Party establishment persistently strives to downsize economic and political expectations. Senator Sanders aims to upsize them, which is why he has been viewed as such a threat.

November will be a time for Democratic voters to come together to stop whoever the Republicans nominate. In the meantime, there is a big lesson to be learned.

Today, the status quo defense mechanism has been used to tarnish Bernie Sanders: tomorrow it will, once again, be used to rule out progressive policy personnel and options.

Progressives must surface the obstruction posed by the Democratic Party establishment. Primaries are prime time to do that, which means there is good reason for Sanders’ campaign to continue.

  1. graccibros
    March 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    It’s good to hear from Thomas Palley. Those who follow economics got a preview of the dynamics he is talking about here, the professional attack on non-economists, when Paul Krugman trashed William Greider’s book on globalization and the beginnings of the rise of China, “One World Ready or Not.” Greider’s views have held up better than Krugman’s.

    The public is also suffering from the retirement of Kevin Phillips, who was very upsetting to professional economists because he kept talking about the decline of great economic powers – Spain, Holland, England – who turned away from basic structural industries and towards “financialization” – and never regained their standing. Phillips had migrated along the political spectrum from Right to moderately left of center by the end of his writing career, and interestingly enough Greider originally was a Republican too.

    One thing that has greatly troubled me in this campaign is the inability of the Democratic Party to talk candidly about the rise of China and the role of US multinationals in facilitating that rise. And they’re certainly getting no prodding from the shallow reporters asking the questions. I’ve criticized Professor Ken Rogoff for his article about 18 months ago, urging the West to get over their economic disappointments because after all, they had helped lift tens of millions of Asian peasants out of poverty. I gently advised Mr. Rogoff not to run for high office in the US with that as his leading plank.

    The United States deserves a deeper debate than Trump’s ramblings on this issue, and Sanders is keeping the discussion at too high a level of abstraction; yes it’s the trade agreements, but how did the Democratic leadership, especially Bill Clinton, ignore labor, Greider and Phillips warnings – and Thomas Palley’s as well?

    This is encouragement Tom, to address that dynamic more specifically. I’ll finish with my polemical historical question: has any great power ever taken such direct measures to pave the way for the rise of their chief economic rival as the U.S. has with China? And then been treated to a massive hacking-espionage campaign against all their major military and economic installations, with the repercussions kept out of the public limelight? A little China bashing from the left, for balance, of course.

    • Stefanos
      March 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Do I sense you are advocating the well-known “kicking away the ladder” technique
      that all super powers have been using and that so eloquently Ha-Joon Chang has described in his books?

      • graccibros
        March 21, 2016 at 5:41 pm

        Thanks very much, Stefanos, for introducing me to Ha-Joon Chang’s work, I’ve just returned from an overview at Wikipedia. Obviously I can’t respond in depth to his work, but I get the drift. Who could argue that the World Bank, IMF were not trying to impose neoliberalism with strict prescriptions for conduct upon developing nations and that the Asian Tigers and China were right to come up with their own models of development. And who can be against people rising up out of poverty? Let me concede all the points I sense Mr. Chang has been raising.

        It avoids, however, the domestic implications for Americans, please pardon my sense of obligation for those of us who live in the USA: one, how will China behave towards us after their rise (I have hinted at one major ingratitude or worse), and second, were the American people ever given the voting option to oppose a) corporate flight and industrial jobs leaving for China b) the certain undermining of the American wage structure working class descent implied in this and c) the undermining of what little workplace democracy and wage defense we had under “unions,” with our fleeing or threatening to flee corporations brandishing this weapon quite successfully overhead and the general population here resigned under “TINA” to this cycle…

        I’m leaving out for now the complex and controversial discussion about US trade deficits and trade policy via China, summarized in shorthand as the points of conflict even on the left between James Galbraith and Dean Baker, with Galbraith answering most of my points by saying it “didn’t have to be that way,” the US could have designed policies to mitigate every point I’ve raised (except perhaps China’s future response as they climbed to No. 1 – also disputed) and Baker insisting we’re paying a substantial price for the nature of our trade deficits.

        I think American democracy has not been well served by the alliance – however informal it might have been – between free-trade infatuated professional economists and American multinationals – the whole NAFTA preview of mutual benefits…where the crucial policy decisions and their implications, which Bill Greider clearly named in his 1997 book I mentioned above – but never got the democratic dignity to be raised to a voting choice for the citizens…proving that the most profound factors influencing our lives will never be placed on the ballot…thank you Yanis Varoufakis and Bill Greider for making this clear…

        It is a contributing factor to the deepest causes of anger in the present primary, and the evasions continue. Do you think Mrs. Clinton will be citing Mr. Chang in a future defense? Or would he be in Senator Sanders’ camp? I have my hunches based on what you have hinted at….

        And finally, the thrust of Mr. Chang’s – shall we call it egalitarian economic internationalism stretches even what I thought were my once large reservoirs of compassion and idealism…and I have this bitter taste in my mouth at contemplating the evolution of Political Economy and the facts on the ground inside of America as our trade policy with China has evolved in a very dispiriting context where this egalitarian universalism I see as totally having evaporated inside my own country? How do you reconcile that to the presentation of Mr. Changs policies and idealism with these ugly facts on the ground ala Thomas Piketty’s summary? A shell game for the suckers here in the USA, as Matt Taibii might put it?

      • graccibros
        March 21, 2016 at 6:35 pm

        I should also add the rather strange symmetry – or is it asymmetry – of the relationships involved here, with China carry the flag of international egalitarianism in the minds of professional economists – Mr. Chang here forgive me – with American workers happy to sacrifice for their proletarian brothers, – who in truth live still in a totalitarian society where genuine labor dissenters are made to kneel upon broken glass if not worse in prisons – and the leadership of this society is then to be trusted with not pushing their newly one advantages in world trade – when all the evidence of their complex operations in securing raw materials and future markets indicates they are more than willing to clean our economic clocks while we peddle democracy to the Middle East at the cost of how many trillions? Am I supposed to ignore also the glaring contradictions of the structure of US free trade arrangements which are anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic in the extreme, with the contents of the TPP long withheld from even elected representatives, and labor and environmentalists keep by design in lesser distant orbits from actual seats at the table, struggle for little stolen glimpses of what might be taking place or being written, which is reserved for corporate reps and their legal teams? And then the crowning hypocrisy of pushing the TPP and claiming simultaneously that its the way to “contain China?” I can’t swallow it any more I’m gagging. Is this what left internationalism has become, professional economists urging one branch of domestic workers to sacrifice for the “bros” in China where independent unions are forbidden and a party elite directs it all without formal dissent? And this is a social democrat protesting this hogwash of contradictions and hypocrisies…it’s mind boggling what we’re being asked to “consume” under these proposed ideals built upon illusions in China and the US. Please come back to earth Mr. Stefanos. What do you imagine the trade arrangements would look like if workers in both countries were a powerful independent voice for their own interests which is about as far from the current situation as the Bill of Rights is as effective protection inside American workplaces.

    • Stefanos
      March 22, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      graccibros, I will respond to you as an American and not as a
      citizen of another country, let alone other planet as you
      ironically stating in your response. I don’t mind irony as I think
      it is an essential part of conveying sentiments.

      You are raising a number of issues that I mostly agree with,
      especially the role of international trade (more generally, the
      internationalization of economy from the 70’s onward) and the
      effect it has in the working class of the core capitalist
      countries. So, let’s take this out of the picture and imagine, as
      you suggest in the last paragraph of your second response “What do
      you imagine the trade arrangements would look like if workers in
      both countries were a powerful independent voice for their own
      interests…”.

      I would like to hear your answer to this rhetorical question. From
      what I see in your argumentation, you would probably advocate
      policies that would ensure the standard of living in the USA for
      the working class, if not increasing it. In some sense I suppose
      (since you call yourself a social democrat) you roughly advocate
      for a world like the one you probably grew up in the 50’s and 60’s in USA.

      Now, the last time I checked, the chinese GDP per capita is ~7K,
      the world GDP per capita is ~13K while the USA GDP per capita is
      ~55K. So it is a fact (I suppose with all the caveats that we do
      not need to analyze in this blog) that the working class in USA
      (even if they could achieve a perfectly equal redistribution of GDP
      by fighting against the capitalists) they would still be much
      better off from the workers of the rest of the world (even assuming
      that these have achieved a similar goal) and even better off from
      chinese workers. Moreover, since we are now consuming roughly 1.6
      earth equivalents, that would mean that if all of the poor bastards
      out there wanted to have our way of life (on the average) we would
      have to consume 6.7 earths. So any increase in the quality of life
      of the third world is unequivocally implying a decrease in our
      consumption levels for a sustainable planet. We are not talking
      about parting with our second car or our favorite tablet or even
      living in a 700sqf apartment; we are talking about a 6-fold
      decrease of our consumption level.

      This does not mean of course that every day we wake up we have to
      pray for forgiveness that we were born privileged as citizens of
      the USA. But there is a big difference between me being neurotic
      about my place in the world and me being comfortably ignorant about
      it and dreaming of a better (social democratic) way of life. You
      see China as your–and the US working class–enemy (“One thing that
      has greatly troubled me in this campaign is the inability of the
      Democratic Party to talk candidly about the rise of China and the
      role of US multinationals in facilitating that rise”) and I applaud
      you for being so candid. But please let’s leave aside all the
      niceties about your “large reservoirs of compassion and idealism”.

      The reality is that no working class in the West (certainly note
      their sold out union leaders) is ready to
      concede their place in the pyramid: if it comes to having to choose
      they will (liberally/socially/democratically) press the button to
      get rid of the competition–as they are currently doing by voting
      this or that candidate for the Republican/Democratic party in the
      charade called democratic elections.

      A true workers’ movement fights for injustice at the workplace and
      in their society, fights for real democracy (not the one you are
      voting for every 4 years with a pin on you lapel) and to the extend
      that the Nation State still exists as a political entity, fights in this arena.
      But a true workers’ movement does not perceive other human beings as enemies
      to their own consumption privileges.
      This is the real bankruptcy of
      the West: it’s inability to give any meaning to peoples’ lives
      other than consumption and privateering. And this is not just the
      1%; it is the entire population.

      So let me ask you my friend: what is the definition of hypocrisy?

      • March 22, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        “We human beings are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason, it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.” – Dalai Lama XIV

        “Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.” – Atul Gawande

        from http://arxiv.org/pdf/1603.06034.pdf

        China has been a garden of human culture since the last Ice age melted and left wide open spaces for growing human families.

        There have been ups and downs since then, naturally. There also was a time when Genghis Khan maintained order from China to the Mediterranean and set up most of the surrounding countries that exist to this day. Economists know that Genghis understood management of paper money across nations.

        Now the US wants to surround and then control the vast inner continent of eurasia. East of the minor states along the Atlantic.

        Oceanic wealth spawns many smaller countries along the coast. The vast inner continent still maintains relations from sea to sea. It is on the lookout for folly. Computer victory at the game of Go is not preparation to meet Genghis Khan armed with tactical nukes on the battlefields of Europe.

      • graccibros
        March 23, 2016 at 4:35 pm

        I was hoping to get the initiating author Tom Palley to hop in here about the rise of China, the role of American multinationals in facilitating it, and the missing discussion in the American presidential primary, but no such luck, despite the essays he’s written approaching those issues in the past. And our dialogue here Stefanos has veered off on its own course. But you deserve a reply, sorry for the delay, I’m working on a long essay about how Neoliberalism has destroyed “Equal Justice Under Law” in the U.S.

        When I was a younger man, in my late twenties and early 30’s, I was a follower of the late Michael Harrington, America’s leading democratic Socialist. He far better than anyone today, including Bernie Sanders, who did not refer to him in his Georgetown speech, was a true “internationalist” who attempted to address the shape of the “good” society here in America but also in the Third World before we called them the “emerging markets (a revealing term, is it not?)” or the BRICS…

        Despite having written more than a dozen books, and having pushed the Democratic Party as far as he could in their now dropped Policy bi-annual conventions, where Hillary R. Clinton was a floor manager for Jimmy Carter opposing Harrington’s reforms, Michael Harrington has nearly disappeared from American consciousness. What is more, FDR’s New Deal, especially his Second Bill of Rights, became verboten too inside the Democratic Party as Carter and Bill Clinton took it corporate right, not worker left.

        And after more than a decade as a social worker and supervisor in the “Welfare system” I started my environmental career and my socialism became irrelevant, almost needless to say and I realize that there was almost no difference in the policies an American socialist could deploy and what a New Deal social democrat stood for – most of which could not pass, and still cannot – so why carry the burden of making the important distinction between schools of thought on the left that the Right merges into their favorite epithets, Trump now repeating them in references to Sanders?

        There are two great streams of the American left today: the economic and the ecological, and as the reception at this site shows, very few economists can mesh the two, the work of Richard Smith – “Green Capitalism: The God that Failed” being the best alongside Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything.” And neither are professional economists…Smith coming closer but not quite. Smith’s work is still being ignored; his analysis is the best; that we cannot continue the type of GDP growth capitalism we have and keep the planet we need…yet professional economists won’t touch him and I too veer away from his remedies because the American people are not ready to accept that level of change and austerity.

        I worry, as it sounds like you do too, because there is no easy recommendation from the West to the developing nations about the consequences of their desire and right to follow our own destructive path for the environment; the context is different, however, because the science is pretty clear…but American workers are more likely to support Trump and the R. Right than the Sanders left, a legacy of the upper middle class bias in the history of the environmental movement.

        If there is an international movement of workers and environmentalists that can bridge these gaps, I’m unaware of it having a major influence on policy. The head of the UN global warming project still says that “where capital goes over the next fifteen years” will determine the fate of the planet. Notice she didn’t say “where the alliance of workers and greens goes” will determine it….

        There is no worker-enviro alliance with the depth, power and standing to work out of vision of improving standards of living both in the third world and for workers who have been left out or stagnated in the industrialized world via a different type of growth model – or a “steady state one.” I’ve cited the work of a young woman at Yale, Allysa Battistoni for her two very excellent essays grappling with the work of Klein and these issues. But even with Sanders in the race, the synthesis in the US of the economic left and the ecological left has not merged into a dominant political force. And the bridges to Third world, especially India and China and Brazil, are hardly there.

        Could it be done in China if workers have no independent voice or standing from a totalitarian government, which US multis are only too happy to collude with? And in the US Richard Trumka, from the old miners union, can’t even deliver an independent Labor Day address when the situation in 2015 called for it…labor leadership has with very few exceptions, sided with Mrs. Clinton…and in addition to not addressing China rise in the election, I don’t believe I’ve heard a word about Labor Law reform either.

        As good a moral and legal case that the Third world might make that they have the right to destroy the planet in their pursuit of a better standard of living via the means the West has previously pursued – and still wants to in many respects, and the issue of kicking away the ladder, the better moral case rests with the ecological left: that no group of people, race, class, caste, nation, however historically abused, has the right to destroy the planet in order to redress their past grievances. We have to find a better way; Michael Harrington’s voice was closest in content and tone to getting there, and he’s dead and forgotten. I worry a great deal about the young who embrace Sanders without breathing a word about Harrington, because Michael supplied the historical meanings and policy depth that Sanders hasn’t – at least in public recitations, which are too straight-jacketed for my taste.

        I struggle to get the forgotten blue collar workers a hearing – I’ve called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission – inside the Democratic Party. Why? Because I fear their alienation is the factor most likely to elect a Donald Trump, a disaster for everyone, not just in the US.

        But the Dems are not listening unless you accept Mrs. Clinton’s very cautious shuffling to the left at face value. As John Kenneth Galbraith warned us on his deathbed, “America does not need two parties that represent business interests.”

        I could declare the same about the economics profession and its professions of scientific neutrality. To which I say if the results of following the consensus advice of the profession over the past 30 years is what we look at today via Piketty’s conclusions, let’s then have some bias in the profession towards the bottom 80%. Here and abroad. And let’s color it green – but not with envy.

      • graccibros
        March 24, 2016 at 2:04 pm

        At the risk of adding to what looks to be two very distinct conversations in response to Tom Palley’s posting, I am compelled to add two points which I overlooked.

        First, there is a lot of fairness in the “kick the ladder away” charge against the already industrialized West, especially the hypocrisy on trade and tariffs, which were extensively used to shield and nurture young industries in the Britain, the U.S. and Germany, in order of convening, which Karl Polanyi considers to be part of the “double movement” in reaction to the brutal, unlivable world first set up by the classical economists and their political allies in Britain.

        However, and this speaks to the lack of social democratic or socialist internationalism, or any worthy body, to regulate how much manufacturing any one nation ought to be allowed to capture. If it is true, a neoliberal given, that the path to improving the lives of peasants is to move them to cities and make them work in factories, then China’s admirable ability to do it better, faster and a greater scale has hurt all the other striving nations who want this first leg up on the GDP chart. South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean…Eastern Europe…and on and on…have suffered because China has cornered such a high percentage of manufacturing. True, some is now moving out to even more brutal low wage areas…but if we’re going to make these huge scale fairness judgements, then why shouldn’t it apply among the rising competitors themselves…and let’s not forget, amidst all the pompous high road rhetoric among professional economists, this path upward among developing nations creates a race to the bottom for labor rights…with governments more than happy to wield the batons or worse to make sure their nation captures its share of the – let’s be frank – the lowest rungs of this brutal ladder.

        And of course, from the ecological left, a globalized “Wendell Berry,” comes the challenge: No other way to improve the lives of Chinese peasants than the one outlined here? Hasn’t the development of decentralized alternative energy sources – esp. wind and solar – made this more rather than less possible? This is the note that Richard Smith strikes in his scorned book: “Green Capitalism: The God that Failed,” although his focus is on disassembling the worst polluting industries in the advanced world as incompatible with ecological survival. Applied to the third world, though, as a completely different path to a “higher standard of living,” would it still be seen as Western hypocrisy and condescension? I think it would…

        Second major point: one of the great weaknesses of economics as practiced today is the avoidance of the consideration of power, how it accumulates in economic actors in the private sector, captures the political system, or in regards to China, presumes that the anti-democratic elite running that country won’t use the power they have won at home and around the globe in cornering raw materials and enmeshing nations in their globally organized supply networks won’t be used to apply a giant squeeze? Come on economists, you think and write as if the Britain-Germany rivalry of the late 19th century had a happy ending, or the Great Depression too for that matter. You can’t read Polanyi and maintain those illusions.

        A footnote, and maybe more than just that. I’ve repeatedly asserted that no major industrializing power in history has been able to avoid a major panic, depression…China has been the first, but I doubt even with all their advantages (almost totalitarian control of the double movement), being able to consult with all that has gone wrong before, they can avoid “the crisis.” And they don’t seem to be able despite their CP powers and pretensions, to keep their wealthy newly risen economic elites from fleeing to the West…perhaps that’s cultural, but English and German elites didn’t flee in the late 19th century…either in the falling or rising power…it’s not a good sign anyway one looks at this.

  2. March 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Hillary lacks the credentials to claim she is the lesser of two evils, if she wins the nomination. She helped spawn the war on women in Honduras and the terrorized fleeing of their children across Mexico to the US. Cold-hearted Clinton wants to send the children back to “send a clear message.” (Whatever that message may be).

    Here is assassinated Berta Cáceres naming Clinton as an aggressor in Honduras
    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/11/before_her_assassination_berta_caceres_singled

    and here is her daughter and friend describing the terrorist war on women in Honduras
    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/3/18/slain_activist_berta_caceras_daughter_us

    • Political Economist
      March 21, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      The Goldwater Girl is the happy marriage of neo-con and neo-lib. Not above advocating a policy that not only violates international law but also might lead to WW 3: a no-fly zone over Syria. And, glad to keep good ideas from driving out bad ones that benefit her benefactors. She and her puppets are as Palley shows quite willing to lie and exaggerate to keep the majority from getting their way. As Gilens and Page have noted: nothing new there, the rich and their lackeys almost always get their way, the majority rarely do.

  3. Dave Raithel
    March 22, 2016 at 11:53 am

    “Hillary lacks the credentials to claim she is the lesser of two evils, if she wins the nomination.” Yep, and lacking that, is there any good reason to vote for her should she get it?

    • March 22, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      That’s how Nixon got elected in 1968.

      • March 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        These things are complex. I was a farmer in Lassen County, California, when Nixon was elected. We were the only county in California that went for McGovern, yet throughout the state we were known as rednecks. People say Ralph Nader ushered in Bush by damaging Gore. That was the election that my retired school teacher became so angry she voted republican for the first time in her life. She was mad because the dems kept hounding her not to vote for Ralph. “Nobody owns me,” she muttered.

        Now Bernie has come along and has agreed to say. “Not me, us. He is a candidate willing to take his watch at the helm of rapidly accelerating evolution. Bernie is evolving rapidly as a person as well. If the people are disenfranchised by party intrigue. Millions of the youngest and smartest intellect in the US will finish up the details for plan b.

      • March 22, 2016 at 10:31 pm

        You are correct, Vic. My excited response was about 1972.

        !968 was a great year. San Fransisco was all consuming for me. A freshly minted corporate junior exec also immersed in peace. Travel showed me it was the same in France. Excuse me for being so excitable. You all get me thinking. Thanks. This is fun.

  4. March 22, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    The Democratic Party establishment is “a far greater obstacle to progressive change” because every time they beat down a challenge from the left, that same left then cedes all the gains they’ve made right back to that establishment via the broken strategy of lesser evilism. Lesser evilism is a formula for perpetual defeat. You simply do not defeat an enemy by voting for that enemy on every other ballot.

    • blocke
      March 23, 2016 at 11:48 am

      There is something wrong as strategy in these attacks on Clinton. The French call it la politique du pire — meaning attack those who are politically close to you in order to provoke a counterrevolution that would bring down the system. It almost never works; au contraire it brings about the triumph of those you hate, who then destroy the extreme and moderate left.

      • March 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm

        Who is politically close to Clinton? Then ask if anyone politically close to Clinton is rejecting her.

        There appears to be an irreconcilable rift in the democratic party. Perpetual war and austerity is the Clintonite position.

      • blocke
        March 23, 2016 at 3:59 pm

        Bernie Sanders is politically closer to Clinton than to Cruz. To attack Clinton to help Cruz is la politique du pire. It is a simple idea, not hard to understand, like when the communists attacked the social democrats in Weimar Germany, thereby splitting the vote in 1925 that allowed Hindenburg to win the Presidency, which enabled Hitler to do the deal with the Hindenburg crowd that made him chancellor, leading to the destruction of both the social democrats and the communists.

        “Perpetual war and austerity is the Clintonite position.”

        You certainly do not like the lady, but if you remember, when Clinton left office in 2000 the US had just finished a decade of rapid economic growth and change that was spawned by the digital revolution. I spent six months in Silicon Valley in 2000 interviewing people, mostly Frenchmen and Germans, who were enamored with the dynamism and entrepreneurial prowess of the American economy. I wrote a book about that, i.e., The Entrepreneurial Shift, Cambridge UP, 2004. The Clintons sponsored this dynamic. You have a short historical memory.

        Leave a Reply

      • March 23, 2016 at 9:24 pm

        Hello Block,

        Yes, I remember that the internet digital boom occurred during the Clinton presidency. I tend to view this as culminating coincidentally rather than as a result of his administration’s vision or policies.

        Re Hillary; what she has already done bothers me as much as what Trump might do (that vision bothers me, too). It is difficult for me to understand how people can ignore the atrocities that the US has dealt out to the world in the last eight years. Were more recent atrocities worse than those of the preceding administration? That’s a debate for historians, real ones.

        Linking Hillary to all the US atrocities and the chaos of a pentagon running rogue with no purpose other than spreading failed state chaos and growing its budget annually is also beyond reason. I only know what I read, which is limited to one person’s energy. Hillary is part of the war party, not all of it.

        Even so, I learned to read and write Portuguese with computer assistance so I could follow her coup support in Honduras, which she is proud of. I also watched her on my computer actually say Hosni Mubarak was like family and saw her chuckle after saying, “We came, we saw, he died,” in reference to Gaddafi. Did I like Gaddafi? No. Could I clearly see the result of destroying Libya? Yes. Anyone who could not predict what would happen when the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria were destroyed along with the abortions of democracy during the arab spring does not want to admit the US has gone rogue and is killing innocents by the million as it destroys any democracy it can.

        Can anyone say the US didn’t help destroy the democracies of Honduras, the Maldives, Paraguay, and Ukraine? Who can claim the US is not responsible for the terrorized northward stampede of innocents in both hemispheres? Hillary was active in these things and speaks with upper class condescension about the US not being able to afford free education, a living wage and universal health care.

        How can it be that the US cannot afford the health care and education policies of Cuba? Even as Cuba struggles under the pressure of the US blockade. Do we wish the Cubans didn’t live longer than US citizens and enjoy a healthier old age while doing it? How do the Cubans afford free education for anybody that wants it. Simple. Free education and medicare for all is a money maker, especially for a country under blockade. Hillary says we cannot afford what Cubans can. Her policy for US citizens is the same austerity she helps force on weaker countries.

        Okay. Here is the difficult aspect; Bernie has been part of the interventionist US government that represents immortal beings and keeps eternal war going as just another corporate profit center. How can any person logically support anyone who has been close to the atrocities of Washington DC?

        1) Bernie voted no on war and was the only candidate to skip AIPAC’s meeting. He obviously doesn’t hate Jews. Though I can’t say what he was thinking, I’m glad he maintains a modicum of independence from a foreign PAC.

        2) Bernie is not taking money in private meetings with billionaires. He is running a campaign paid for by the population at large. The people who don’t get their vision of the world from corporate propaganda want him at the helm and they are paying for it.

        Point number two puts Bernie in close touch with people and what he is saying shows that. He is evolving along with humanity, from which Hillary has cut herself off except as a ruler supportive of existing war policies. This is not a simple left or right corporate news story. The war mongers are going for containment of China, Iran and Russia. Containment means war. And that particular war will be a conflagration starting with tactical nukes lobbed back and forth in Europe. Such a war will quickly expand and turn to nuclear winter.

        Hillary is for war just like the republican candidates are for war. People who are keen on peace, health, education and the environment have no where to go if the duopoly fields Trump and Hillary. I have heard two versions of plan b should Bernie loose the already corporate distorted election process; write in Bernie or write in None of the Above. Although neither one will be counted, the general population has information-age tools that can be mobilized so the people at large can know how they did.

        What happens if the people know they won? Evolution of democracy did not stop with representative government that was established at the beginning of the age of print and a long horse ride to the capitol. Plan b won’t really start until after a presidential election that does not include Bernie. My impression is many life-long republicans are going to go for Bernie and they will probably want to be part of whatever plan b the people devise if Bernie is defeated by the duopoly party machines.

        It is a good idea to keep in mind that the Kurds are promoting the most advanced democracy the world has ever seen as they rack up gains in a war for survival. The Kurds and the Zapatistas are telling us to be aware that the idea of democracy is separate from the idea of a nation. Both Kurds and Zapatistas are democratic and have learned to be so without a nation. The corporate government of the US is pushing the people into developing a more modern form of democracy and government than currently exists. Human evolution including advance to a more perfect union can only be stopped by eliminating humans. That’s what the war party does.

        As far as I can tell, Bernie is modern and seeks to cooperate with people.

      • blocke
        March 23, 2016 at 11:25 pm

        I am not enamored with Clinton’s economic policies, but I have not run across a semblance of a new idea in Sanders. Socialism is a failed system; it was booted out by the people on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Don’t try to sell it to the American people. What they want is social justice in a privately owned free market economy. I’ve got a lot of ideas about how that might be fostered, but Sanders has none. That’s my problem with him. In fact I don’t see anybody in the US political spectrum who has an agenda that would promote social justice in a free market economy. Do you?

      • March 24, 2016 at 12:41 am

        “Promote social justice in a free market economy”? Promote the impossible? Free markets and free borders have allowed native Americans to be wiped out by European diseases, rabbits to run wild in Australia and imports of infected timber to decimate woodland in Europe (with Britain’s native ash being the current environmental victim). Though I’m with you, blocke, on the inadequacy of verbal appeals to people with no personal memories or historical awareness of alternatives, here’s an answer to you from Scots with their own tradition of socialism, who can see what is happening now in England.

        http://derekbateman.scot/2016/03/17/come-on-england/

        It seems not only ignorance and lies are being exported by and to crooks who are enemies of us folk in the US and UK. In light of John Locke’s doctrines and Ch.3 in Philip Mirowski’s “More Heat than Light”, reflect on ownership and marketing rights being conventions not applicable to absent landlords.

      • blocke
        March 24, 2016 at 8:15 am

        The Scotman’s lament is understandable, like complaining about the weather. Socialism had its great opportunity postWWII and the communist system proved so impressive that nobody I’ve talked to and I live on the Polish-German border wants it back, and what about the strikes and terrible services that fueled Maggie’s support in Britain. The world is full of swine, Dave, it’s called original sin in your balliwick. But hope springs eternal.

      • March 24, 2016 at 10:03 am

        Having tried to answer your question, “do you have an agenda for promoting social justice?”, this response is a disappointing diversion from my suggestion about the need to reconsider the conventionality of law: in particular the laws of foreign ownership of a nation’s inheritance.

        Your “Scotsman’s lament”, Bob, had you read it more carefully, is not a lament but a blunt warning about theft going on under our noses, and a reminder that socialism as we developed it in Britain (i.e. not communism but much more nearly an attempt to realise what you are asking for) was, on the evidence, if not perfect and in any case despite being continually driven into the arms of the IMF by American anti-socialists, at least a great deal more socially just than economically naive and dishonest Thatcherites. The world may now be full of swine, but they have proliferated dramatically since she changed our constitution to convey the idea that that is a good rather than a bad idea. “Original sin” does not mean we are all swine. “Sin” means going off-course, usually affecting the lives of innocent passengers’ more than the drivers. Persuading the innocent that bad is good, or blaming the innocent for their resultant misfortunes, is positively evil.

      • blocke
        March 24, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        Sorry to disappoint, Dave. I agree with what you say and have spent many years writing about the evils of foreign ownership as expressed in the vehicles used in world financialization. I, as a young man, was enthusiastic about the Labour Party’s cradle to the grave socialism. But we do have to ask ourselves what went wrong? Why did Labour lose power to such a bunch of Conservatives. British socialism couldn’t have been all wine and roses. I am actually very angry with socialists and communist because their failures have ruined our chances to build a much better alternative to the capitalist running our world right now.

      • March 26, 2016 at 8:52 am

        Thanks for the acknowledgement, Bob. As it happens, I have never voted for the Labour Party, being more inspired by the ideals of J S Mill’s “On Liberty” and “Utilitarianism” seeking “the greatest good of the greatest number” as against the obedient serving of an ambitious elite. The problem of the Labour Party was its early Ruskinite form being hijacked by elitist Fabians in much the same way as Blair hijacked it after Attlee had restored some reality to the Christian “ministerial” understanding of Government. Much the same thing seems to have happened in the US with the Democrats, with Sanders representing US anti-elitism as Corbyn represents it here. But that takes us back to your point at the start of this sub-discussion:

        “There is something wrong as strategy in these attacks on Clinton”.

        I agree with you, but why? and what’s the alternative? Family life drives home the fact that people differ, not only in phases of development but temperamentally and instinctive sexually. What makes a family work is not dominance of one party (remembering Thatcher and the fury of a woman scorned), but good communication and making allowances. Which takes us back to J S Mill on competition between ideas in Parliamentary rather than secretive Cabinet government, perhaps with honoured Queen Hillary its dutiful figurehead!
        I joke; but to enjoy the joke in all is rich context of conflict of personalities read Chesterton’s “The Napoleon of Notting Hill”. The serious alternative we are seeking to escape is to be found not in Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” but in Belloc’s original, “The Servile State”.

        On Good Friday, the paradox of Christ the King washing the feet of his friends and even dying “that we might live” spoke strongly to me of my seeking to make Money the servant rather than the master of mankind in a credit card economy:

        “When I survey the wondrous cross
        On which the Prince of Glory died,
        My richest gain I count but loss,
        And pour contempt on all my pride”.

  5. Nancy Sutton
    March 23, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    I believe that Joseph Stiglitz wrote a piece about how Clinton’s economic dynamism was mostly fueled by the IT revolution… and then it popped.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s