I get one of these every day. Sometimes twice. They’re the appeals from Bernie Sanders to help elect liberal Democrats and give the Democratic Party a majority in congress. Let’s take a look at some of these candidates:
Morgan Carroll is running for congress from Colorado. She says she “love(s) our public lands, open spaces… Our natural beauty also brings significant dollars into the economy.” How very nice. What’s not so nice is her talk about how “clean technology and energy sector has created good jobs and boosted Colorado’s economy.” Could she be talking about fracking?
Ellen P. Belef
Belef brags that she’s “a champion of victim’s rights.” This is the code word for the campaigns for the “lock them up and throw away the key” crowd.
Barragan says she believes in “fiscal common sense” – code for balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Meanwhile, war hawk president-to-be Hillary Clinton will have an ally in Barragan who says she believes in “uphold(ing) America’s presence internationally” and supporting “our democratic allies in key regions, such as Israel.”
Feingold also says he believes in “fiscal responsibility”. One of his major donors is the corporate law firm Foley & Lardner LLP, which helps companies bust unions, and avoid taxes, among other things.
One of the more interesting candidates Sanders is supporting is Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal, who’s running for the US House of Representatives. Here is what independent socialist Doug Nielson, who lives in Seattle, has to
say about Jayapal: “Jayapal took a total of $1,900 from the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs in her run for the state senate while claiming to be a supporter of Black Lives Matter. During her primary run for the state senate she promised to introduce a rent control bill in the state legislature. She never did. As soon as rent control champion Jess Spear was defeated by (mainstream Democrat) Frank Chopp in the primary, Jayapal contributed $150 to Chopp’s campaign, and shortly thereafter she received $250 from the Washington State Realtors PAC. She got $500 from Mary Ryan, the director of The Community Center for Education Results (CCER), which created the”Road Map Project” funded by the Gates foundation. Schools get Road Map grants in exchange for letting Microsoft collect student test scores along with tons of other personal data for a massive national data base on students.
“She’s better than somebody else. Yippee!”
So this is what it’s come to. After all the sound and fury, the “political revolution” has evolved into one more campaign to get more run-of-the-mill corporate liberals elected to congress. It is entirely understandable that millions of “millennials”, new to political activity, would have been excited by the Sanders campaign. It’s entirely understandable that they supported it. After all, few of them knew much if anything about the history of this sort of thing – Gene McCarthy (1968), George McGovern (1972), Jesse Jackson (1980s), Dennis Kucinich (2012).
What is unforgivable is for experienced socialists to have failed to warn, and to have failed to put forward an alternative. It is unforgivable that they failed to use the increased attention to politics to explain that the Democratic Party (not the Democratic “establishment” but the party itself) is a party of big business, of the capitalist class, and that workers need their own party, a working class party (not a “party of the 99%” or a “left party” but a party of working class people), and that the Democratic Party can never become a workers’ party.
Instead, in order to cover their tracks, the one somewhat influential socialist group that supported Sanders – Socialist Alternative – simply called on Sanders to run as an independent. Lacking the explanation of the class role of the Democratic Party, this argument made no sense and got no support from Sanders’ supporters. They correctly argued that had he done so, his campaign never would have gotten as far as it did. (Now, many of these “Berners” have switched to supporting Jill Stein, but that’s only after Clinton won the nomination.)
What an opportunity was lost. Certainly the great majority of the “Berners” would have continued to support Sanders, but some would have remembered that argument and would be coming around to it now. Instead, for popularity and short term recruitment gain, Socialist Alternative dropped the ball.
After all the noise, after the excitement, after the curtain has dropped on Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination, this is where his “revolution against the billionaire class” has ended up. Another diversion into the bowels of the Democratic Party.
Update (1/9/2017): Tulsi Gabbard
Another liberal Democrat that played a prominent role in Sanders’ campaign and whom Sanders is supporting is Tulsi Gabbard (D. HI). For more on Gabbard, see this article.