Monday, April 18, 2016

Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders

Once in a lifetime, the longed for
tidal wave of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

For quite some time now I've been vocal in my support for Bernie Sanders and his presidential campaign. This is because I strongly believe he is a personification of that "longed for tidal wave of justice" of which poet Seamus Heaney speaks.

Of course, no one's perfect, including Bernie Sanders. Michael Arria, for example, documents what he calls Sanders' "troubling" support of U.S. military intervention in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and his support of Israel's "assault on Gaza."

Yet I maintain that, overall, of all the candidates, Bernie Sanders offers what the U.S. (and the world) needs most: a leader refreshingly unbeholden to corporate interests and committed to justice for all.

Why Bernie Sanders and not Hillary Clinton?

The most obvious way that Sanders demonstrates his commitment to justice is through his career-long challenging of crony capitalism and its detrimental impact on U.S. society.

Filmmaker Charles Ferguson provides a helpful historical context to all of this when he notes that the financial elites of the U.S. "are now so corrupt, arrogant and predatory that political leaders [such as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton] who are beholden to them can no longer reliably deliver economic or political security, much less fairness or progress for the American people."

Continues Ferguson:

American politics is now truly, fundamentally up for grabs for the first time in decades – a hugely exciting but also terrifying prospect [as] American reaction against corruption and decline could bring out our best [as expressed in Sander's democratic socialist ideals, the goals of which are to create a nation of economic and social justice] or our worst [as demonstrated in Republican presidential candidate Donald Tramp's fascist tendencies and authoritarian rhetoric]. The Democratic establishment [maintains that] only a pragmatic, moderate insider [such as Clinton] can get anywhere now. Actually the truth is the opposite. American insider politics is now so corrupt and dysfunctional that nobody within it can get anything done.

Historical perspectives

In responding to the question, "Does the Hillary, Bernie battle matter that much?," Les Leopold, like Charles Ferguson, provides a helpful historical perspective and, in doing so, cites the crucial factor of neoliberalism.

We are witnessing the first campaign since 1933 that directly challenges the essential features of our economy. We are now living through a 40-year neoliberal dystopia. Finally it is under assault. Any objective observer would note that Hillary operates within that neoliberal order while Bernie is its attacker.

Yet what exactly does Leopold mean by "neoliberal"? What actually is "neoliberalism"?

I first became aware of the term neoliberalism when I was involved in various protests against corporate-led globalization in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Thanks to the writings of people such as Susan George, Vandana Shiva, David Korten, and Naomi Klein, I not only began to understand that neoliberalism was the name given to the ideology that underpins corporate-led globalization, but that such an ideology must be resisted if environmental sustainability is to be achieved and humanity is to have a future marked by justice and compassion.

As Susan George explains in her invaluable little book, Another World Is Possible, If . . .:

Neoliberalism is an economic doctrine . . . based on open competitive markets and the ‘price mechanism,’ meaning that prices must be determined by supply and demand, not by government intervention or subsidies. Neoliberals are against most state interventions in the economy, they are pro-free trade and anti-trade unions. They see the array of social protections afforded by the welfare state as nothing but state-organized theft and consequently they want to reduce taxes.

One of their number in the U.S. is Grover Norquist. He heads the organization Americans for Tax Reform and says, “We want to get government down to the size where you can drown it in the bathtub.” Except, of course, for the military . . .

Whatever the qualifiers used – corporate-led, finance-driven, or neoliberal – they all describe world capitalism’s most recent phase which it entered roughly around 1980. From the onset, say about 500 years ago, capitalism existed as a global phenomenon. The difference today lies in its scope and the nature of its major actors: giant corporations and mega-financial institutions now have remarkable latitude to set rules that govern everyone, especially because they also frequently control the media. They seek ever greater power to bend national and international policies to fit their needs. . . . Fortunately, both anger and revolt are on the rise.

Yes, and we're seeing this rising anger and revolt in the surging popularity of "outsider" candidates in the current U.S. presidency race, be these candidates from the right (Donald Trump) or the left (Bernie Sanders).

Neoliberalism: "The God that failed"

As you're reading this post, you're probably recognizing that, as an economic ideology, neoliberalism is most famously associated with the policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States. Some academics see the implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s as the root of financialization and of one of this form of capitalism's most destabilizing consequences, the financial crisis of 2007–08.

Writing after this and a string of other crises, George Monbiot reminds us that "neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that 'the market' delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning."

Because of its devastating economic and political impact on people, culture, and the environment, Monbiot refers to neoliberalism as "the God that failed" and as "the zombie doctrine at the root of all our problems."

Les Leopold also provides a succinct definition of neoliberalism, along with a helpful overview of its emergence and ongoing impact, especially in the U.S.

Neoliberalism refers to the set of theories and practices that swept through our political system (and many others) in the late 1970s. Put in its most simplified terms, it argues that prosperity for all will occur only if we 1) cut taxes (especially on the higher income brackets); 2) cut government regulations on the private sector, and; 3) cut/privatize government social programs. This combination of policies, it is argued, maximizes economic efficiency and increases economic incentives which together continually improve and expand our economy.

By the time Reagan came into office, both political parties had adopted this model. In short, order trucking, airlines, telecommunications and finance were deregulated. Taxes on the highest income earners were slashed. Cuts in welfare became the order of the day. Both parties tripped over themselves to “unleash” the private sector.

Both parties also oversaw cuts in government employment and the privatization of government services. Corporate taxes as a percent of state and local revenues fell by half. Both parties acted as if any and all jobs in the private sector, by definition, were more wholesome than those in the public sector. And both parties competed strenuously for Wall Street campaign funds by eviscerating New Deal controls on speculative activity and the size of financial institutions. Goodbye Glass Steagall — Hello too-big-to-fail banks.

That set in motion a generation of runaway inequality as the incomes of the wealthy skyrocketed while the wages of the average worker stagnated.

So how does Bernie Sanders fit into all this talk about neoliberalism? Well, Sanders is unique among the presidential candidates as he is consistently talking about the "runaway inequality" set in motion by the ideology of neoliberalism. Accordingly, he is well-versed in highlighting and discussing two crucially important and related realities: the destructive undermining of the social fabric, of democracy, and of the environment by neoliberalism and the reality of neoliberalism itself as the cause of this destructive undermining. The Republican candidates sure aren't identifying neoliberalism as the underlying problem. They're all for it! And Hillary Clinton is far too beholden to corporate interests to offer a viable and credible way out of the "neoliberal dystopia" we've been in for the last 40 years.

Bernie Sanders, however, has "walked the (anti-neoliberalism) talk" throughout his 30+ political career. That's why those who recognize and understand the neoliberal ideology at the root of our many problems are so excited about his candidacy. They see hope in him and in his campaign.

Furthermore, what Bernie Sanders has to say and how he understands the real issues, problems, and solutions inspires and unites people across generational, cultural and racial lines – more so than any other candidate. I find that, in itself, hopeful.

"A chance to rewrite history"

It continues to both astound and disappoint me that anyone who considers themselves progressive would choose the hawkish and Wall Street-beholden Hillary Clinton over the consistently progressive Bernie Sanders.

I often hear statements like: "I agree with Bernie but I’m going to vote for Hillary because she can get things done." I'm sorry, but there is nothing in Hillary Clinton's record that demonstrates an ability to make the kind of fundamental changes so desperately needed for the economic, political, and environmental flourishing of the U.S. I hear these types of arguments from Clinton supporters and am reminded of how terribly sad it is when people convince themselves to vote against their own hopes, principles, and ethics. In doing so they are supporting a system they admit is rigged and a candidate they know is "flawed," "not particularly inspiring" and who will enact a "terrifying foreign policy" (all descriptions I've heard in relation to Hillary Clinton).

In short, those who support Clinton over Sanders are, in the words of author John Atcheson, "missing the point and the moment."

"At this moment, in this time," writes Atcheson, "we have a chance to rewrite history . . . to restore government to a role in which it assures an equitable economy and society; a role that isn’t one of a scapegoat, a punch line, or a tool of the Oligarchy; a role where once again, government is the vehicle we use to accomplish great things together."

Scholar and activist Cornel West makes a similar point when he writes that "the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders is unique in American history. Never before has there been such a popular upsurge within the two-party system, led by a democratic socialist rooted in the best of the prophetic Jewish culture. This historic campaign is more than a monumental battle over the soul of the Democratic Party. It is, more significantly, a moral and spiritual awakening of fellow citizens for the rebirth of American democracy."

"A new symbol . . ." At a rally at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. on Friday, March 25, 2016, a small bird alighted on Bernie Sanders' podium. According to birders it was a female finch. The finch is said to be an animal totem unafraid to express what makes its heart sing. Outwardly jovial and upbeat, it has many lessons to teach about joy, appreciation, optimism, and simplicity. It is said that its appearance portents to exciting and joyful times ahead. One writer at The Daily Kos shared Caleb Cruse's image above, and expressed the belief that the appearance of the finch at Bernie's rally was "a new symbol for a new age."


I close with a selection of excerpts from recent articles and commentaries about both Bernie's campaign and the Democratic presidential race in general.

Here’s the reality: Sanders is shooting up in the polls, and Hillary is trending down. The gap between the two has all but disappeared at the halfway point of the primary season. Sanders main opponent isn’t Hillary Clinton, however, it's the combination of time and an Establishment media that steadfastly refuses to cover the movement that is feeding his ascendency.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "How Can Sanders Win It All?
It's The Passion, Stupid

Common Dreams
April 5, 2016

Bernie represents a special phenomenon in progressive politics. He singularly has made inequality and poverty the focal point of the presidential election – that is his contribution to progressive politics and he’s energizing young people to an extent never seen before. Whether you are supporting him or opposing him there is no denying the impact that he’s had on progressive politics.

– Ritchie Torres
Quoted in Gloria Pazmino's article, "After Public Anguish,
Bronx Councilman Endorses Sanders on Eve of Primary

Politico New York
April 18, 2016

For once in a very long time, we have the opportunity to elect a New Deal Democrat with a clean record, who is calling out the system for what it is, who is changing the conversation, who has been on the right side of history time and time again, who refuses to rely on Super PACs, who is powered by contributions from everyday people, who continues to set unprecedented fundraising milestones ($44 million in March) - and who beats Trump by double digits in almost all of the national polls (at a greater margin than Clinton).

Let that all sink in.

A Sanders presidency would be revolutionary – a yuuge break from the stranglehold corporations have on our government. Those are but a few reasons why I #FeeltheBern.

. . . Right now, despite what the mainstream media would have you believe, we still have a real choice. And instead of having to vote for the lesser of two evils, we have the opportunity to vote for the greater good.

– Kris Seto
Excerpted from "27 Honest Questions for Hillary Supporters
HuffPost Politics
April 7, 2016

In this election, we have an alternative. In Senator Bernie Sanders, we have a truly progressive candidate who has spent 25 years in Congress passing substantive legislation, never wavering from his ethics and principles for the sake of money or power. Unlike past progressive candidates, Senator Sanders has built a strong following, has more than adequate funding, and can handily beat any Republican candidate in the general election. Yet the DNC is supporting – again! – Hillary Clinton, a weak, flawed candidate who constantly flip-flops on crucial issues, has a record of hawkish foreign policy, may be indicted for violations of national security, is in bed with corporate interests, has a consistently unfavorable rating with voters, and will be hard-pressed to beat even the weakest Republican in the general election.

– Nikki Lambert
Excerpted from "The Moral Relativity Principle
No Longer Applies to Progressives
OpEd News
March 18, 2016

The Sanders campaign rejects the neoliberal order. It argues that Wall Street and our campaign finance system are “rigged” and must be radically restructured. Each of his proposals is designed to redistribute wealth from the billionaire class to the rest of society and re-establish robust social services.

The emblematic proposal is the financial speculation tax to fund free higher education. It hits neoliberalism where it lives. It moves hundreds of billions of dollars from Wall Street into the expansion of higher education. Just like the GI Bill of Rights after WWII, it would produce millions of new jobs to construct, teach and administer at expanded colleges and universities. And none of these jobs could be exported.

Sanders knows that these proposals, along with campaign finance reform, massive infrastructure investments, single payer health care, and public banks will crash into a mighty neoliberal wall of resistance. Nearly every Republican congressperson, along with corporate Democrats, will defend their system and undermine Sanders proposals. Hence, the pie-in-the-sky critique.

And Sanders knows what he’s up against — what we’re up against. Nothing changes unless we mobilize en masse to take on the neoliberal machine. An election here or there won’t change it. It requires following the path of civil rights activists and labor organizers who in the past built mighty movements in the streets, in the courts and in the political arena.

– Les Leopold
Excerpted from "Does the Hillary, Bernie Battle Matter That Much?
Common Dreams
April 16, 2016

The most significant fact about the [Sanders] movement is the disproportionate youth of its supporters. As such, it has the potential to go from an insurgency against the Democratic establishment to becoming the future of the Democratic Party. I think that young Democratic leaders with ambition are realizing that, which explains why some of them have chosen to come out in support of Sanders. However, Sanders is less a savior than a harbinger – more John than Jesus. If the potential of his movement is to be realized fully, it will be at the hands of others - perhaps an Elizabeth Warren or Cory Booker – who will put in the blood, toil, sweat and tears to take it from vision to reality. And, above all, it will require a institutionalization of the ideals into something at once more mundane and more durable – an establishment. In this, it can follow the example of the conservative movement of the 1960s, which led ultimately to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and a conservative vise-grip on American politics for a quarter century. To achieve similar success on the liberal side, the Sanders movement will need to go from attacking the Democratic establishment to becoming the Democratic establishment.

– Ali Minai
Excerpted from "The Promise and Peril of Bernie Sanders
April 17, 2016

The irony of [economist Paul] Krugman's [and others' attacks on Bernie Sanders' proposed economic programs] is that [these] proposals represent what were once Democratic party positions and programs – positions that have been abandoned by the party and its mouthpiece economists since the 1980s as it morphed into a wing of the neoliberal agenda.

Sanders' critics have been especially agitated that their own economic models are being used to show that Sanders' proposals would greatly benefit the vast majority in the U.S. But debating Krugman and his neoliberal colleagues on the grounds of their faulty economic model – a model that failed miserably under Obama to produce a sustained, real economic recovery in the U.S. – is not necessary. Their model has been broken for some time. Some straightforward historical facts and recent comparative studies are all that's needed to show that a real financial transaction tax can generate more revenue than is needed to fund a single-payer type [healthcare] program.

– Jack Rasmus
Excerpted from "Neoliberal Economists:
Against Bernie Sanders and Common Sense

TeleSUR via TruthOut
April 9, 2016

Yes, he’s still vague on details. But if Sanders doesn’t know enough about foreign policy (yet) at least he’s willing to say so. Ultimately Sanders is taking most heat because he refused to bullshit his way through places where he felt out of his depth. But as a foreign policy expert, I was heartened by his willingness to say, “I haven’t thought enough about that yet,” and his comfort in acknowledging and correcting mistakes of fact or semantics. I see this as a strength, not a weakness – in my students, in my colleagues, in people generally and certainly in a Presidential candidate. The world is a complex place and none of us are or can be experts on everything. Indeed, as someone who lived under the rule of George W. Bush – a President who also knew precious little about the world but acted as if he didn’t need guidance from experts – this foreign policy “pro” finds the humility of Sanders’ stance, coupled with the sensibility and morality of his vision, not a little reassuring.

– Charli Carpenter
Excerpted from "'Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Know "Enough"
About Foreign Policy'? Who Does, Really?
Duck of Minerva
April 10, 2016

Some might feel that it is hopeless to fight the economic juggernaut, that once market economy escaped [as a result of neoliberalism] the boundaries of morality it would be impossible to bring the economy back under the dictates of morality and the common good. I am told time and time again by the rich and powerful, and the mainstream media that represent them, that we should be "practical," that we should accept the status quo; that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism. He has opened the eyes of the world once again to the claims of mercy, justice, and the possibilities of a better world. He is inspiring the world to find a new global consensus for our common home.

– Bernie Sanders
Excerpted from his speech at the Vatican,
"The Urgency of a Moral Economy:
Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Centesimus Annus
April 15, 2016

Sanders has made no secret of his regard for Pope Franis' economic analysis. Before leaving the Vatican, he told reporters: “I have been enormously impressed with Pope Francis speaking out and his visionary views about creating a moral economy, an economy that works for all people, not just the people on top.”

Hailing Pope Francis for saying "over and over again: 'We cannot allow the market just to do what the market does, that is not acceptable,'" Sanders used his talk at the Vatican to amplify the argument that an economy that allows "unfettered capitalism" to define its direction and outcomes is "immoral and unsustainable." Sanders placed that argument in historical and contemporary context, referencing Catholic social teachings and concerns about "reckless financial deregulation" and "an unprecedented flow of money into American politics," and the senator said that in the United States, "Rather than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young, and the poor fall further and further behind."

– John Nichols
Excerpted from "Bernie Sanders Went to Rome to Discuss
the Immorality of Unfettered Capitalism
The Nation
April 17, 2016

The depth of Clinton’s contempt for Sanders has had a deeply destabilising effect, allowing a space for the full articulation of long held suspicions about the extent to which the ideological differences between leftists and progressives are reconcilable to surface. Since the 1990s, progressives have increasingly focussed their egalitarian spirit towards issues like marriage equality and the gender pay gap; the social justice concerns of the upwardly mobile. Of course in questions of identity politics these issues are as good as any other, but they do not a complete worldview, nor a presidential platform make. The contradiction that the Sanders campaign has forced into the arena is that, if you are more or less a neoliberal, you can ill afford to scrutinise too rigorously broad-based questions of economic justice. The problem is what it has always been, class. Yet instead of getting down in the trenches and grappling with it, Clintonites have gone on the offensive, levelling all manner of accusations at Sanders advocates. They are privileged, they are white, they are young, they are single issue, they are not playing the long game, they are impractical, they are irresponsible, they do not understand realpolitik and they absolutely cannot do math. This commentary has been so shot through with condescension, disregard, and a general tone (pardon the pun), that it could be construed as an attempt to filibuster a way to the start line. I mean, who needs Republicans when you have friends like that? These allegations however have not dampened the mutinous spirit. Sanders is still in the race and he is gaining momentum, stretching even longer the distance between leftists and progressives that at some point will need to be bridged or abandoned.

Clinton is a pioneer, certainly, and it does matter that she is a woman, of course it does. But it does not matter more than the fundamentals of a long and hazardous struggle for economic justice. Nothing ever has. The momentum of the Sanders campaign is a result of his open acknowledgment of the centrality of economic justice to the possibility of every other thing, and no amount of identity politicking is going to be distracting enough to obscure that. Feminist Andrea Dworkin famously noted in her critique of a left that would conflate pornography with freedom, that “the Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.” It looks as though Clintonites are fast discovering that as far as the Sanders platform is concerned, progressives cannot have Wall Street and their equality politics too. Theatrics aside, on both sides of politics, paradigm shifts look set to be negotiated in what might yet prove to be democracy's finest hour.

– Aisling O’Donnell
Excerpted from "How Sanders Exposes the
Democratic Establishment's Neoliberal Underbelly

Common Dreams
April 6, 2016

While Clinton is great at warring with Republicans, taking on powerful corporations goes against her entire worldview, against everything she’s built, and everything she stands for. The real issue, in other words, isn’t Clinton’s corporate cash, it’s her deeply pro-corporate ideology: one that makes taking money from lobbyists and accepting exorbitant speech fees from banks seem so natural that the candidate is openly struggling to see why any of this has blown up at all.

To understand this worldview, one need look no further than the foundation at which Hillary Clinton works and which bears her family name. The mission of the Clinton Foundation can be distilled as follows: There is so much private wealth sloshing around our planet (thanks in very large part to the deregulation and privatization frenzy that Bill Clinton unleashed on the world while president), that every single problem on earth, no matter how large, can be solved by convincing the ultra-rich to do the right things with their loose change. Naturally, the people to convince them to do these fine things are the Clintons, the ultimate relationship brokers and dealmakers, with the help of an entourage of A-list celebrities.

. . . The problem with Clinton World is structural. It’s the way in which these profoundly enmeshed relationships – lubricated by the exchange of money, favors, status, and media attention – shape what gets proposed as policy in the first place.

Sanders’ critique of Clinton isn’t that she is unqualified or inexperienced. It is far tougher and more substantive. His campaign is premised on the belief that she is too compromised and conservative to be the president we need. It isn’t about character or experience; it is about direction, program and independence.

Sanders argues that our economy is rigged to favor the few, and our politics is corrupted by the big money, special interests and revolving door appointments that keep fixing the game. He argues we need fundamental change, not simply piecemeal or incremental reform if we are to make this economy work for working people once more.

Sanders is running because he believes that Clinton is too compromised in her agenda. He has defined major substantive areas of disagreement: on corporate trade policies, on the need for major public investment and a sweeping initiative to take on global warming, on national health care, on breaking up the big banks and curbing Wall Street, on progressive taxation that will pay for tuition free public college, on $15.00 an hour minimum wage and empowering workers to organize, on dialing down our interventionist foreign policy and more.

– Robert Borosage
Excerpted from "Sanders on Clinton: Not Unqualified, Compromised
Common Dreams
April 11, 2016

Hillary supporters think Bernie supporters are always bashing her. I say they're exposing her. Sometimes telling the truth looks like bashing, especially when the truth is really, really ugly. The fact of the matter is, Hillary Clinton is on the corporate Wall St. payroll, Bernie Sanders is on ours. She works for them, and he works for us. Any questions?

– Mike
via Facebook

Not voting for Hillary Clinton doesn't mean you're guilty of selling out another woman. It's sadly true that many of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton – from her pantsuits to her politics – are colored by sexism. But there are numerous legitimate reasons to not vote for Hillary, too. There are feminist voters who can't forgive her spotty record on LGBT rights. There are feminist voters who don’t like how she backed an escalation of the war in Afghanistan while she was Secretary of State. There are feminist voters who like how Bernie Sanders has been a leader against mass incarceration for years.

We're beyond the political era of supporting women just because they're women – would female voters go to hell for not supporting, say, Sarah Palin? Nope. Because regardless of her gender, you can disagree with her policies. That's the sticking point here – arguing that female voters should support Hillary Clinton solely on the grounds that she is a woman does her a disservice. Women should vote for Hillary Clinton if they believe she’s a competent, intelligent, and inspirational politician who is good at sometimes delivering particularly delicious orations shutting down Republican anti-abortion extremists. The pervasiveness of sexism in the framing and discussion of Clinton means we can't judge all criticisms of her in the same way we judge criticisms of male politicians—as many writers have pointed out, her tone, looks, and word choice are all policed more harshly than Sanders'. But that doesn’t mean we can't be critical of her at all.

– Sarah Mirk
Excerpted from "You Can Be a Feminist
and Not Support Hillary Clinton
Bitch Media
February 9, 2016

I watched Hillary tonight on the CNN Town Hall and I thought she was really good. She was personable and kind. I don't feel any need to demonize her or show her any disrespect. So I asked myself, "What is it exactly that you're so passionate about, why do you feel so strongly that Bernie is the one?" And I think I know the answer. It's about the old-paradigm view of the world to which she adheres . . . one in which solutions are primarily seen as external remedies, small incremental changes, many of them good, but which never seem to really get to the heart of the problem. The reason I'm so passionate about Sanders, and the reason I think so many young people are passionate about him, is that we see a power in pure truth-telling that is not just idealistic, not just philosophical, but actual force. And the power of truly standing on principle is power in and of itself.

The United States has become like an alcoholic family system, in which the children know that all these things are wrong but no one is saying it. And Sanders says it. We've all just been dying to hear someone come out and say it, really spell it out, because only when there is that level of recognition of the depth of the problem can we summon the power to change things. Hillary does know what's wrong with the system as it is, and I think her heart is in the right place about a lot of things. But there's more to it than that. What's so ironic is that she thinks we're naïve, and I think she is naïve. Her way, even in the places where we agree on issues, simply isn't what's emerging on the planet now. Something else is needed. The Corporatocracy is Goliath, Sanders is David, and she is King Saul. Saul was a brave warrior, but the kind of power he represented was no power at all against the monster giant. This is such an important time, and we are so fortunate to be part of this process. God bless her, God bless Bernie, God bless us all.

– Marianne Williamson
via Facebook
February 4, 2016

No one else in this race has earned millions of dollars from speeches to Wall Street banks and investment firms. No one else was paid $675,000 for a series of speeches to Goldman Sachs. And, no one else in the race is trying to make the case that despite their financial ties to Wall Street that they are best positioned to hold that industry accountable for its practices.

Only Clinton.

Those are the facts. Clinton isn't being held to a different standard on the release of her paid speech transcripts. She's being held to a standard commensurate with her place in the race (the front-runner), her emphasis on her resume during the campaign and her message that she is the best equipped to address the economic inequality rampant in the country today.

– Chris Cillizza
Excerpted from "The New York Times Just Perfectly Explained Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs Speech Problem
The Washington Post
February 26, 2016

We should expect Hillary to show the world that she’s tough. Her support for the Iraq War was not an aberration. She has consistently been more hawkish than Obama on Syria by asking for more support for the so-called moderate rebels, and in calling for a highly problematic no-fly zone. While she says that currently America should not send more ground troops to the Middle East, she is quite comfortable with the steady use of special ops.

More importantly, she was clearly in the General Petraeus camp by urging Obama to put 40,000 troops into Afghanistan to conduct a wider counter- insurgency war. That should give great pause to Hillary supporters, like former anti-Vietnam War leader, Tom Hayden, who should be suffering horrendous flashbacks when they hear such enthusiastic support for counter-insurgency. It seems that the interventionists learned nothing from the death and destruction wrought by counter insurgency in Vietnam. Even Tom Hayden seems to be suffering from selective amnesia.

Hillary calls her foreign policy doctrine ‘smart power’ — the projection of democratic values, human rights, and American interests through diplomacy, backed by force if necessary. Regime change is never off the table. Rather it is something that should be done smarter, rather than the way Bush and the neo-cons pursued that strategy in Iraq.

Yet when Hillary pushed for regime change in Libya, it would be hard to find any smartness in the chaos which followed and is still with us. Had Obama taken her advice in Syria, the arms she wanted to send to the “moderate” rebels would probably have flowed to ISIS. Her ill-conceived no-fly zone didn’t even have the support of the military who thought it would require the support of 70,000 U.S troops and possibly lead to a conflagration throughout the region. But all of that is part of her “smart power” doctrine.

– Les Leopold
Excerpted from "Would Hillary Overthrow a Government Run by Bernie?
Common Dreams
April 18, 2016

Passion drives turnout, and turnout determines elections. It’s that simple. Consider the 2014 mid-terms – the most disastrous election for the Democratic Party in modern history. Democrats lost the Senate and the House by near record margins. Why? Progressives were fed up, and the majority of the people in the US—on an issue-by-issue-basis—are progressive. They were fed up by politicians who took money and orders from plutocrats, while running from any positions that might require commitment, constancy, and accountability. When Republicans mounted a PR campaign against Obamacare, Democrats ran from it. They hid from global warming and the need to curtail fossil fuels; they refused to embrace government as a power for public good, allowing Republican talking points about the evils of government and regulation to stand unopposed.

The result was the lowest voter turnout since World War II. Progressives stayed home in droves, while ignoramuses jacked up on fear, hate, and blame, poured out to vote. To quote Yeats' "The Second Coming," The best lacked all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity . . .

Until Sanders forced her to take progressive positions, Hillary Clinton was pretty much indistinguishable from the Democratic candidates who so repulsed voters in 2014. In fact, she is the second least-trusted and most disliked candidate in the race. Trump is the only candidate that beats her on both counts. Sanders is the most trusted and most well-liked candidate from either party.

If the Establishment continues to attempt to declare Hillary’s coronation as inevitable, and continues to ignore Sanders, there’s some danger they may succeed in making it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

And if she is the Democrats’ standard bearer, look for real progressives to once again stay home in droves. It may be that the horror of Trump simply isn’t enough to get people to once again betray their values in voting booth. In that case, the worst, full of passionate intensity, will show up at the polls, while the best stay home.

Which brings us to one more trend . . . In head-to-head races against the remaining Republican candidates, Sanders does better than Clinton against each one of them. And not by a little bit. In fact, while Kasich gets walloped by Sanders, Clinton loses outright. People have been aching for a choice that doesn’t include candidates who are beholden to corporate money. Sanders has given them that. If he were the candidate, not only would the Democrats have more assurance of taking the White House, but they’d do better in the House, Senate, and in state governments – which at the time are overwhelmingly Republican.

So to all those in the Establishment calling for Bernie to get out of the race for the good of the Party and to the superdelegates who are supposed to be representing the interests of the Party – please consider this: the person who should bow out for the good of the party might just be Hillary Clinton.

Bottom line: The Democratic Party has a choice – they can be the Party of the Plutocrats, in which case they can continue to split the difference between a minority of those voting, or they can be the Party of the People, in which case they will win across the board.

– John Atcheson
Excerpted from "How Can Sanders Win It All?
It's The Passion, Stupid

Common Dreams
April 5, 2016

Related Off-site Links:
Democrats March Toward Cliff – Robert Parry (Consortium News, April 18, 2016).
Magical Realism, and Other Neoliberal Delusions – Corey Robin (Jacobin, April 16, 2016).
Can Bernie Sanders Upset Hillary Clinton in New York? – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, April 10, 2016).
Why Bernie Sanders is More Electable Than People Think – Benjamin Studebaker (HuffPost Politics, February 12, 2016).
Report: Sanders Earned Less in a Year Than Clinton in a Single Speech – Mark Hensch (The Hill, April 15, 2016).
Juan González: Clinton Has "Really Distorted" What Happened When New York Daily News Interviewed SandersDemocracy Now! (April 15, 2016).
Move Over, Trump: Polls Show Bernie Sanders is 2016’s Most Popular Candidate – Ariel Edwards-Levy (HuffPost Politics, April 15, 2016).
Here's Why I Totally Disagree with the Daily News Editorial Board's Hillary Clinton Endorsement – Shaun King (New York Daily News, April 13, 2016).
"She's Baldly Lying": Dana Frank Responds to Hillary Clinton's Defense of Her Role in Honduras CoupDemocracy Now! (April 13, 2016).
Hillary Clinton's Double Standards on Human Rights – Stephen Zunes (National Catholic Reporter, April 11, 2016).
Disqualifications, Not Qualifications – Hank Edson (Common Dreams, April 9, 2016).
A Short History of the Media Smugly Dismissing Bernie Sanders' Campaign at Every Step of the Way – Branko Marcetic (In These Times, April 5, 2016).
Year of the Outsider: Why Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Rebellion is so Significant – Thomas Palley (, April 5, 2016).
While Clinton Backed 2011 Trade Deal, Sanders Foresaw Panama Papers Fiasco – Lauren McCauley (Common Dreams, April 5, 2016).
 Bernie Sanders Will Make the Economy Great Again – Robert Pollin (The Nation, March 29, 2016).
Like Obama in 2008, Sanders Seeking Superdelegate Switcharoos – Deirdre Fulton (Common Dreams, March 28, 2016).
How the Democratic Party Establishment Suffocates Progressive Change – Thomas Palley (Common Dreams, March 22, 2016).
Is Democratic Socialism the American Dream? – John Bellamy Foster (The Washington Post, March 23, 2016).
I’m a Blue-collar Worker in the South and I Support Bernie Sanders — Here’s Why – Amanda Girard (U.S. Uncut, March 26, 2016).
This One Bird for Sanders: World Peace, Political Revolution, and the Sparrow – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, March 25, 2016).
Bernie Marches with Verizon Workers as Its Execs and Lobbyists Give Big to Hillary – Zaid Jilani (AlterNet, October 26, 2015).
Hurricane Katrina and Bernie Sanders: From Neoliberal Disaster to "Political Revolution" – Adolph Reed, Jr., Michael Francis and Steve Strffler (, August 29, 2015).

UPDATE: This is Our Neoliberal Nightmare: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Why the Market and the Wealthy Win Every Time – Anis Shivani (Salon, June 6, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Super Tuesday Thoughts on Bernie Sanders
Something to Think About – February 22, 2016
Quote of the Day – February 17, 2016
In a Blow to Democracy, U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Corporate Personhood

Image 1: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife Dr. Jane O'Meara Sanders wave to the crowd as they take the stage on February 2, 2016 in Claremont, New Hampshire. (Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty)
Image 2: CNN.
Images 3-5: Michael J. Bayly.
Image 6: A sign spotted in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. (Photo: kzoop/flickr/cc)
Image 7: Elizabeth Landers/CNN.
Image 8: Caleb Cruse.
Image 9: The Associated Press.

No comments: