The fourth and last “debate” of the Democratic candidates for their party’s nomination for president was held last night.The two real candidates (Clinton and Sanders) and the faux candidate (O’Malley) all agreed on some things. Sanders bragged about his role in “bringing our country together.” Clinton the same; she will “bring our country together.” O’Malley, who was pretty much frozen out by the “moderators”, bragged “all my life, I brought people together…”
They all agreed about how we need a higher minimum wage, gun control (but not of the militias who are occupying federal land), rebuilding our inner cities, ending climate change, and reining in the big banks.
There was a lot of back and forth between Clinton and Sanders about health care. Clinton actually had the nerve to claim that all her life, she’d stood up to the industry. I suppose that’s why “Since her first bid for Senate in 2000, Clinton has accepted nearly $1 million from drug and health companies and more than $2.7 million from the insurance field and its related sectors,” and why she “has received more campaign cash from drug companies than any candidate in either party.”
So when, in the past, Sanders attacked her for he donations from Goldman Sachs, he could have included these sources. But he, too, has a little problem when it comes to health care. He, too, helped write and supported the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA, also known as Obamacare). And while he calls for “Medicare for all” – the equivalent of “single payer” – he forgets to mention the massive increases in health insurance premiums. (See graphs.) This was entirely predictable, since under ACA people are required to buy health insurance. In other words, it’s a matter of supply and demand, and demand has increased enormously.
That was inevitable since Obama & Co. brought the insurance companies “to the table” to help design ACA. It’s like asking the drug cartels to help design an anti-drug campaign.
Sanders’ solution is “Medicare for all.” This would be a good step forward, but as long as the rest of the industry is in private hands, they will milk the market for all it’s worth. What ever happened to the original demand for socialized medicine? That’s what’s really needed and what Sanders ignores.
There was a lot of talk about gun control and “standing up to the gun lobby”. But the biggest threat from that lobby today comes in the form of the right wing, racist militias, specifically right now those who are occupying the national Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. While Black Lives Matter protesters face criminal conspiracy charges for peacefully occupying a freeway for a few minutes, these thugs in Oregon are allowed to come and go as they please, receive mail there, destroy the land by building roads on the reserve, and recruit even more of their armed and dangerous thugs from around the country. Nothing was said about “controlling” those armed and dangerous thugs!
And while they couldn’t ignore the issue of the other armed and dangerous thugs – the police – the “solutions”, such as more training, were completely inadequate.
Then they got onto the issue of “breaking up the big banks”. Clinton and Sanders went at each other over it. (O’Malley was frozen out.) They both vowed to end “too big to fail”, but all that would lead to is “too many to fail”! It’s no solution whatsoever. The problem is that the rate of profit for productive use of capital (manufacturing, for example) is in decline. That’s because it’s human labor that leads to profit, but there is less and less human labor – as opposed to computers and machinery – involved in production. For more on this fundamental issue, see this article and that particular web site in general.) So, instead, the owners of capital – the capitalists – put increasing amounts into building different houses of cards — Wall St. speculation, in other words.
But the real elephant in the room is the issue of political campaigning itself. Sanders vowed to push “campaign finance reform.” Very nice. But Corporate America has always exercised a near monopoly on US politics from the very writing of the US Constitution. They do so through their control of the only two major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans. Both Clinton and the other guy (O’Malley) have never even pretended to stand for an alternative to the Democrats; Sanders has in the past, but what is his position now?
Sanders: “Did I say that (about the Democrats)?”
In order to further undercut him with the Party leadership, a quote of his was thrown up in his face. ‘You’ve been quoted as saying in a book you wrote, quote “There wasn’t a hell of a big difference between the the two major parties.’” To which Sanders replied: “Did I say that?” He later made his intention clear: “The Democratic Party needs major reform… We need to expand… the input into the Democratic Party.”
But all of US history – especially in the last 40-50 years – has proven that making the
Democratic Party represent working class people is impossible. (The effort with the greatest power was that led by Fannie Lou Hamer’s Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party back in the 1960s. It failed.)
Bernie Sanders has done the Democratic Party a great favor. He’s helped make them aware of the tremendous discontent that exists. He’s helped “expand the input” into the Democrats. That’s what was shown in the fourth and final Democratic “debate”.
Socialists and Sanders
One footnote: Some socialists who claim to support the need for working class people to have their own political party – a mass workers’ party – opportunistically now support Sanders. They do so with all sorts of excuses that Sanders has awakened a new layer of workers and youth to politics. But that’s exactly the reason why, without ignoring the serious Sanders supporters, it is a huge mistake to support Sanders, who has proven that he’s totally entrenched in the Democratic Party. He’s surrounded himself with Democratic Party operatives. Urging him to break from the Democrats is like urging a wolf to become a vegetarian.Exactly when tens maybe hundreds of thousands are paying attention to politics partly because of the role of Sanders, exactly now is the chance to further raise the profile of the need for a mass workers’ party. Sure, it’s probably very likely that the great majority of Sanders supporters won’t agree at this time, but they will remember the argument and return to it in the future. Instead, these socialists are simply going with the flow and supporting the liberal Democrat, Bernie Sanders, and his supposed “political revolution”, which as he’s made clear simply means reforming the Democrats and electing more of them into office.