It was more a friendly discussion than a debate.
First thing, they got rid of the issue of the Democratic National Committee cutting the Sanders campaign off from its own voter data. Sanders made his complaint, Clinton and the other candidate responded, and that was it. Like a pebble tossed into a lake, leaving a few ripples for a second and then everything returns to normal. The completely undemocratic nature of the “Democratic” Party was not even hinted at by any of the candidates nor was it raised by the moderators.
Then on to other issues, the main one of which was the threat to the “homeland” of terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists. The five co-conspirators in ensuring that nothing threatening was raised – three candidates and two moderators – ignored the fact that there have been many, many times more people killed in the US by gun fanatics turned mass murderers, white racists and similar types than by Muslim fundamentalists.
And although they did ultimately turn to the issue of the police, another issue covered up by the co-conspirators was the fact that the greatest terrorist threat in the US is the threat of murder by police, especially but not only in the communities of people of color. Just two days before the event, a video was released of two cops in Long Beach CA holding 23-year-old Noel Aguilar down, clearly planting a gun beneath him, shooting him three times, and then continuing to hold him down so that he would bleed to death. As with the corporate media, the corporate politicians choose to ignore this scandalous story, thereby helping to cover it up. The five co-conspirators last night were part of this cover-up.
They had to cover up this and similar stories, since both candidates as well as the Pretend Candidate (O’Malley, who’s just there for show) favor closer links between the police and the community. Clinton, for example, talked about the need to “involve the entire community” in watching for suspicious behavior – in other words a neighborhood snitch program. Sanders raised the same idea. But given who the police are, and given the entire role of the criminal (in)justice system, such a program would inevitably be turned into a snitch program against community and work-place activists and organizers. (On the question of gun control and gun violence, one thought that might be worth considering is calling for a publicly accessible registry of all people who have bought over a certain number of assault weapons and bullets. The idea that you might have a right to know if your neighbor or co-worker is arming himself to the teeth should be considered.)
On the policy of the US government in North Africa and Western Asia, all three candidates (Clinton, Sanders and the Other Guy – the one who’s up there to help maintain the pretense that there’s a real race for the nomination) — all three agreed that “we” need a coalition of allies. And who is ally Number One? None other than the government of Saudi Arabia, the most powerful of the Arab regimes. Are they serious? Here you have the regime that has played the central role in spreading Wahabbism – which is to say, Islamic fundamentalism – all around the world. This has provided the ideological underpinnings for Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and they’re supposed to lead this coalition against the Islamic State? And this disregards the murderous repressive nature of that regime inside Saudi
Arabia, a regime that executes one person every two days, including minors, and often for simple political dissent. Yet both Clinton and Sanders agree that they are one of “our” leading allies.
Both candidates agreed that “we” need to have allies in the region and need to build a coalition. Nice ideas, but that was exactly a central basis for Obama’s election in 2008 as well as his having been given a Nobel Peace Prize (remember that?) and we see how far he’s gotten.
They talked about ensuring that Muslims don’t feel that the United States is anti-Muslim. But there’s another issue that the five co-conspirators covered up: Not once during the entire discussion was the word “Israel” mentioned. How on earth can you talk about the crisis in that part of the world, how can you talk about the feelings of alienation that Muslim people feel, and not discuss this state that is leading the entire world in anti-Muslim racism?
Both the real candidates claimed to be standing for the “middle class families”. (When will we ever hear anybody emphasize the problem of the poor?) They both say they want to end tax breaks for the rich. The difference is that Clinton is getting millions for these exact CEO’s and Sanders isn’t and is criticizing Clinton for it. Sanders has all sorts of wonderful-sounding goals: Raise the minimum wage to $15 in “several years” (not now, though), rebuild our infrastructure, free college… Sounds great — until you realize that he’ll have to get his own party to support that, which is as likely as that the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia will be converted to leaders of democratic government and simple human decency. But does Sanders or any of his other co-conspirators ever hint at that little detail? Not once.
The closeness in the positions of Sanders and Clinton is a result of his having dragged her to the left. Now she, too, raises some populist themes. For this, she and her backers should be eternally grateful to Sanders. When she runs against the Republican candidate (and it’s overwhelmingly likely it will be her), she can thank Sanders for helping her see the light of day.
One interesting thing to consider: Both candidates and the faux candidate all talked about “we” and “us” whenever they referred to the US government. “We need to put together broad coalitions,” Sanders said. But then he talks about the “billionaire class” who control candidates by their war chests. It doesn’t take a political genius to realize that these are the same ones who run the government. So when the two candidates plus the third one talk about “we” should do something… Well, how can it be “we”? It’s the “billionaire class” that Sanders is always talking about and never drawing any conclusions from his talk. They are the ones running the government, not all of us.
The truth about Saudi Arabia, any consideration of the role of Israel, any real talk about the crime wave of the police – the absence of these issues was dwarfed by another absence: The absence of considering the independent role of the working class, including in the crisis in the Muslim world. Not a single ally of Corporate America, not the Saudi nor the Turkish regimes, not “moderate” opposition groups funded by the US regime — none of them can help solve the crisis in that part of the world. Instead, workers in the US should look to the Arab Spring, including the strike waves in Egypt and the formation of workers’ council in Syria, and be seeking a way to link up with workers there.
To walk down that road, workers here will need their own representatives and their own political party – a mass workers’ party. It is to avoid a real start along these lines that the Sanders campaign is dedicated.