Paul Street pulls few punches as he describes the US Democrats using Sheldon Wolin’s terminology as ‘the inauthentic opposition’.   It must be hard for the Democrats to be in opposition to the republicans when you represent the same set of business interests…

 

“Wolin called it. A nominal Democrat was elected president along with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress in 2008. What followed under Barack Obama (as under his Democratic presidential predecessor Bill Clinton) was the standard “elite” neoliberal manipulation of campaign populism and identity politics in service to the reigning big-money bankrollers and their global empire. Wall Street’s control of Washington and the related imperial agenda of the Pentagon System were advanced more effectively by the nation’s first Black president than they could have been by stiff and wealthy white Republicans like John McCain or Mitt Romney. The reigning U.S. system of corporate and imperial “inverted totalitarianism” (Wolin) was given a deadly, fake-democratic re-branding.  The underlying “drift rightwards” sharpened, fed by a widespread and easily Republican-exploited sense of popular abandonment and betrayal, as the hypocritical and inauthentic dollar Democrats depressed and demobilized their own purported popular base.

Hillary Clinton did nothing to correct that problem in 2016.  Quite the opposite. With a colossal campaign finance war-chest fed not just by the usual Wall Street and Silicon Valley suspects but also by many traditionally Republican big money donors who were repelled by Trump’s faux “populism,” the transparently corporate establishmentarian candidate Clinton could barely deign to pretend to be a progressive.  She ran almost completely on the argument that Trump was too terrible and unqualified to be president. Making candidate character and qualities her sole selling point was a critical and historic mistake given the angry and anti-establishment mood of the electorate and her own epic unpopularity. So was calling Trump’s flyover county supporters a “basket of” racist and sexist “deplorables” in a sneering comment (one that accurately reflected her aristocratic “progressive”-neoliberal world view) to rich Manhattan campaign donors.

The Democrats would have won the 2016 election and overcome some of their authenticity problem by running Bernie Sanders, “the one guy that didn’t run to Wall Street for money” (Hersh). In something of a tantalizing anomaly for professor Stanley’s rule, Sanders “raise[d] huge sums” but did so from working- and middle-class small-donors (see the remarkable work of Thomas Ferguson and his colleagues on this) and didn’t “represent the interests of…large donors” or “pretend that the bests interests of the multinational corporations” were “also the common interest.” Quite the opposite.

Sanders would have authentically tapped authentic popular anger from the center-left, advancing a policy agenda and anti-plutocratic sentiments consistent with longstanding majority-progressive public opinion in the U.S.

It would have been a winning formula in an anti-establishment election. But so what? The Democratic nomination process was rigged against Sanders for some very good ruling-class reasons. As William Kaufman told Barbara Ehrenreich on Facebook two years ago, “The Democrats aren’t feckless, inept, or stupid, unable to ‘learn’ what it takes to win. They are corrupt. They do not want to win with an authentically progressive program because it would threaten the economic interests of their main corporate donor base… The Democrats know exactly what they’re doing.  They have a business model: sub-serving the interests of the corporate elite.”

The reigning corporate Democrats would rather lose to the right, even to a proto-fascistic white nationalist and eco-exterminist right, than lose to the left, even to a mildly progressive social democratic and environmentalist left within their own party.

How else explain their insistence on promoting the ridiculous, right-wing arch-corporatist, imperialist, and dementia-plagued right-wing gaffe machine Joke Biden in the long march to the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries? Again and again, the Democrats’ main cable news networks CNN and MSDNC falsely and insidiously describe Sanders’ highly popular, majority-backed Single Payer health insurance policy plank as an authoritarian big government assault on people’s existing coverage instead of a great democratic human rights demand. The “liberal” media perversely portrays the fiscally viable and existentially necessary Green New Deal as a far-out and dreamy radical scheme from another galaxy. When they’re not just completely ignoring him and his large rallies (probably the main way they undermine Sanders), the corporate media even stoops to painting out Sanders as another version of Trump: old, authoritarian, stubborn, male, and boorish.

But this is timeworn standard operating procedure in the Democratic Party and its allied media, leading agents in what the prolific leading left scholar Henry Giroux calls “neoliberal fascism.” It’s a richly bipartisan disease. In Giroux’s book American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018), one sees none of Stanley’s hesitation or reluctance when it comes to forthrightly acknowledging and exposing the central roles of the Democrats and the capitalist order in the creation of the neofascist menace that haunts the United States today.”

Voting is just a small part of the answer.  Active, conscious political engagement is the only solution to this political problem.  We in Canada share a similar trajectory.