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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

In 2005, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close friend and fellow activist, Harry Belafonte, offered the following prescient words: “We must look through the ravages of the Democratic party to see if there is anything worth salvaging.” As 2017 dawns, it seems to me that Mr. Belafonte’s advice is more poignant and timely than ever. In the wake of the recent string of calamities befalling the Democratic Party (virtually all of them self-inflicted), the American left is debating whether or not to stay with the former party of FDR.

Two options, too often presented as mutually exclusive, are being considered:

Option A: Grassroots progressives, our organizations still brimming with energy from the Bernie Sanders movement, should #DemEnter the party across the country, and take it over from within, returning the Democrats to progressive/liberal values, starting at the community/local level (Bernie Sanders’ preferred course); and

Option B: Progressives and liberals should decisively and conspicuously remove ourselves from the corporatized Democratic Party, continuing the #DemExit that began when the party’s leadership and dark money donors decided to rig the 2016 Democratic Primary for a deeply flawed candidate who didn’t remotely represent the party’s traditional base or values.

Personally, I’ve been disappointed and more than a little worried by the acrimonious discourse suggesting that we’re in an “either/or” situation. Because #DemEnter vs. #DemExit doesn’t have to be a zero-sum proposition and shouldn’t be.

While I feel that the current leadership of the Democratic Party is entirely hopeless (composed of bona fide authoritarians with neo-fascist priorities and values), I strongly approve of the efforts underway to elect as many “Bernie progressives” as possible into positions in the Democratic Party — at all levels — to see what influence can be made “working from the inside.”

My guess is that we’ll find some sympathetic fellow travelers. After all, not all Democratic Party insiders, at all levels, favor slavery-permitting/regulation-nullifying “trade” pacts, Wall Street-appointed presidential cabinets, or the neocons’ endless regime-change wars, fought by Salafist, neo-Nazi, and mercenary proxies. Not all Democratic Party insiders, at all levels, condone what the party has become. (How could they?) So let’s see how many of them we can inspire with a progressive agenda not authored by plutocrats and lobbyists for the MIC, mass-incarcerators, the fossil-fuel industry, PhRMA, and the usual corporate suspects.

That said, if we fail to invest in Plan B, making the threat of #DemExit real, then we won’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of altering anything in the neoliberal party of Wall Street, war, and neo-McCarthyism. In short, we have no choice but to continue working on the third party exodus strategy — or we’ll be right back to the LOTE/abused-spouse syndrome, voting (out of fear) for an ambiguously “lesser” evil that only assures more rightward drift and outright corruption, while the planet burns.

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FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE’VE GOT TO STOP “LIBERALS” FROM ACTING LIKE BUSH-PARTISANS IN THE RUN-UP TO THE IRAQ WAR.

As we #DemEnter and work to see if the party can be saved, let’s also endeavor to bring establishment-friendly Democrats back to sanity, with regard to the warmongering hysteria centered on allegations of “Russian hacking” of the U.S. presidential election. Glenn Greenwald was excellent on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” program, last week, talking about the lack of substance behind these allegations — and the fact that his propaganda-debunking journalism has provoked more savage attacks from the establishment than at any time previous in his career (translation: not even the pro-Iraq War goons were as hostile to journalism as the folks pushing the anti-Russia narrative today… actually, they’re pretty much the same people — literally, the SAME people who lied to us the last time — only they’re more brazen today and aligned with the Democratic Party rather than the incoming Republican administration).

Here’s the Pulitzer-winning Mr. Greenwald, brilliantly illuminating, as always (where would the world be without journalists like Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman?):

https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/5/glenn_greenwald_on_dearth_of_evidence
https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/6/glenn_greenwald_democrats_eager_to_blame

And here’s David Swanson’s superb overview: http://davidswanson.org/print/5403

Frighteningly, today’s propaganda campaign makes the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq seem like an exercise in measured, rational thinking, with very little “groupthink” — that’s the kind of nightmare America’s in. This topsy-turvy political reality features the nominal Left — and virtually all of the “liberal” media, marching in lockstep — attacking an arguably neo-fascist president-elect FROM THE RIGHT, urging him TOWARD war!!! (A war Trump consistently says he doesn’t want, indicating he’d rather cooperate with Russia to roll back ISIS and al Qaeda…)

It bears repeating: today’s neoliberal Democratic Party and the corporate media are urging the greatest “wild card” president-elect in American history TOWARD WAR, on the basis of a pack of anonymous, evidence-free claims coming from the same intelligence agencies and war-hawking miscreants who’ve repeatedly lied to the American public during major propaganda campaigns of the recent past…

Another factor to consider: Didn’t President Obama sign the 2012 NDAA, which effectively repealed the venerable Smith-Mundt Act, which for over six decades prohibited the government from propagandizing the American public? Sadly, he did. That’s also a part of the present political reality in America that should be a part of today’s “Russian hacking” discussion.

We are witnessing nothing less than the collapse of mainstream American journalism and much of the American left, so the situation couldn’t be more critical. Whatever doubts I hold about the future, I desperately hope that we succeed in pulling the Democratic Party back to its historic values and back from the brink of warmongering, post-election insanity… because right now, we’re losing it.

In any case, I hope the articles I’ve linked here (and elsewhere), will help progressives and liberals sort truth from fiction in the current blitz of propaganda — and help us drag the Democratic Party to Trump’s LEFT, where it belongs. If not, we won’t have any choice but to #DemEXIT for good.

(I wrote the following words the day after the U.S. presidential election. More than a month later, I stubbornly persist in thinking it would be nice if the establishment, left and right, could focus on something more constructive than recklessly promoting a new Cold War and legalizing censorship of the media. Rather than getting sucked into the society-fracturing neo-McCarthyite hysteria du jour, maybe we should ditch these establishment hacks and take matters into our own hands, at the grassroots level.)

My fine friend, Boris Huntley, texted me this morning his response to yesterday’s election results: “I trust you have a contingency plan worked out for these circumstances.”

Actually, the plan is the same one that was in place for President Clinton II: do everything we can to keep our terrible new president from becoming completely co-opted by our even more terrible establishment.

Uniting the grassroots on the left and right remains our best strategy for influencing any new president away from the monstrous corporate agenda that threatens us all. IMO, it’s up to the OWS/BLM/Bernie-booster left (the activists) to reach out to the grassroots/Tea Party right. Rapprochement is long overdue and we need to recognize the enormous areas of common ground we share with the right, and stop with all the anti-working class bigotry, mocking so-called “deplorables” and conflating all populism, right-wing and left, with racism/sexism. (America’s problems with racism and sexism are bad enough without establishment liberals cynically exploiting them and crying “bigotry” as a tactic, whether or not there’s justification — like they did to Bernie with the manufactured “Bros” meme.)

The good news is that most Trump voters hate the GOP as much as liberals do… and Wall Street… and the neocon wars… and the corruption of our government/institutions by the .1%. Most are motivated by a healthy distrust of the establishment that’s been preying on us over the last several decades.

Honestly, this election result is very easy to explain (many of us saw it coming): most Americans simply are not so tuned-out, complacent, brainwashed, or obtuse that they don’t perceive the rampant corruption that’s all but rotted-out our system — and Sec. Clinton happens to be the perfect, self-serving emblem of that corruption and the extreme hypocrisy of our faux-liberal establishment.

A fake populist, even one as flawed as Trump, always had an excellent shot at beating Clinton, because THIS ESTABLISHMENT SUUUUUCKS.

There’s elitism in the manner that establishment liberals are trying to simply write-off Trump voters as nothing but a bunch of racist savages. The truth is that — while it is disturbing that Trump voters were able to discount or overlook his appalling sexism and demagoguery (much like Clinton voters did for their bigoted nightmare of a candidate) — racism is not what made Trump a viable candidate: neoliberalism, the MSM, and the electioneering DNC did that.

So let’s be honest in our post-mortem of this election. The percentage of racists in the Republican base/America hasn’t suddenly shot up (that’s fear-mongering horseshit from the same people who brought us Identity Politics and Divide & Conquer, in the first place). The GOP’s base has been mostly racist for a long time, just like a significant chunk of the Democratic Party’s base. America hasn’t “suddenly” turned racist, any more than America’s police have “suddenly” become minority-targeting thugs. We’re just seeing more of what’s long been under the surface… now that neoliberalism’s effects are visibly unraveling the society.

This really does represent the last call for the American left, if we want to survive: surrender your pompous claims of cultural superiority and UNITE WITH THE SENSIBLE, DECENT, GRASSROOTS RIGHT (understand that good Christians and good progressives sometimes have a great deal in common). Together we can work to push President Trump to make good on his few sensible promises (especially the ones that put him consistently to Sec. Clinton’s left): diplomacy with Russia, fighting ISIS/al Qaeda in Syria (rather than arming and backing them), scaling back Washington’s genocidal wars, protecting entitlements, rebuilding our infrastructure, putting people to work, and ending corporation-exalting/slavery-permitting “trade” pacts.

However hopeless this list may sound, we don’t have much choice but to fight for the future — and we’re talking about policies backed by overwhelming majorities of Americans. If we resist letting ourselves be divided and conquered along racial and cultural lines, we might actually stand a chance at reversing the corporate coup de tat and reclaiming our government.

Conversely, if we don’t organize, President Trump promises to do exactly what the establishment and President Clinton II were going to do to us, once he’s brought into the fold (as happened so quickly with Obama): Trump will expand the neoliberal assault on our institutions and continue the neocon wars, bankrupting the U.S. (further) while doing nothing meaningful to slow or reverse the wholesale collapse of the environment… only Trump will do it all with terrible hair and a bunch of KKK morons applauding his every move, even though the policies won’t have changed one whit.

Although every day gives us LESS reason to believe the evidence-free CIA/MSM claims of “Russian hacking,” let’s suppose it’s all true. Let’s suppose that the Kremlin DID reveal (by disseminating 100%-authentic documents) that the leaders of the Democratic Party are bigoted, corrupt, anti-democratic, primary-rigging authoritarians with the ethics, values, donor list, and policy priorities of the worst Republicans…

WOULD YOU RATHER NOT KNOW?

It should mean something to decent, principled liberals that no one has denied the authenticity or accuracy of the leaked documents (so damning, revealing so much festering rot in our nation’s corporatized political-media establishment).

My question for the Left: at what point did THE TRUTH become less important to us than mere partisanship (in the service of the failed candidacy of a blood-soaked Wall Street neocon, no less)? Don’t you feel the least bit silly — as a liberal — carrying water for warmongers, “trade” proponents, neo-McCarthyites, and our democracy-overthrowing CIA? (In short, acting like a foot-soldier of the far-right.)

Before we embarrass ourselves any further, here’s some of the best JOURNALISM I’ve encountered concerning the allegations of the “Russian hack” (including a few voices who’ve been consistently right over the years — those who’ve steadfastly refused to drink the Washington “Kool-Aid”):

1. https://theintercept.com/…/a-clinton-fan-manufactured-fake…/

2. https://theintercept.com/…/anonymous-leaks-to-the-washpost…/

3. http://www.commondreams.org/…/2016/12/12/cias-absence-convi…

4. http://www.commondreams.org/…/hypocrisy-behind-russian-elec…

5. http://www.commondreams.org/…/us-intel-vets-dispute-russia-…

Fair questions remain. Despite all the appearance of an orchestrated propaganda campaign, maybe it WILL turn out that the Kremlin did something to affect the 2016 U.S. presidential election. IT’S POSSIBLE. But even if it was a Russian hand that pulled back the curtain revealing the corruption within the Democratic Party and U.S. election systems, I’D RATHER KNOW about the rot within our system than remain ignorant of that reality.

Investigate further, by all means. And prevent further “hacks” (if any of that turns out to be factual) in order to safeguard our electoral systems — which badly need fixing — but NEVER FORGET: ALL THAT’S BEEN REVEALED FOR CERTAIN IS THAT CORPORATIONS AND THE MONEY-LAUNDERING DEMOCRATIC PARTY DID EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO RIG THE PRIMARY AGAINST THE BEST PEOPLE’S CANDIDATE IN GENERATIONS, SUPPRESSING MILLIONS OF VOTES AND MAKING A FARCE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, PAVING THE WAY FOR DONALD TRUMP.

Sad, but true. (And if we’re going to try to rebuild the Left, we need to start from a place of TRUTH. Virtually everyone at the top of the Democratic Party, CNN-NBC-WaPo-NYT, should be fired or demoted. This swamp needs draining ASAP and we need to start listening to the marginalized folks and progressives who’ve been getting it right all these years.)

The time for name-calling is over. "Divide & Conquer" is kicking all possible ass.http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/11/10/donald-trump-effigy-burning-los-angeles-bts.cnn

These kinds of protests may feel righteous and cathartic (and maybe some of them are more constructive than I’m giving them credit for), but it feels like the establishment left is playing right into the hands of the corporate media and oligarchs who want us tearing our society into pieces (while they loot it and put the last few nails into the coffin of our once-democratic republic). It is always right to stand up against racism and misogyny, but these post-election protests don’t appear to be highlighting present injustices against people of color or women. Rather they seem to be nakedly partisan expressions of rage and rejection of the election result — burning human effigies and chanting “NOT MY PRESIDENT!” How does such behavior not mirror conservatives’ worst conduct after Obama was elected? Such actions call into question the president-elect’s very legitimacy, which aside from being societally dangerous, comes across as petty and vindictive. This angry, fearful liberal reaction also consistently disdains and traduces — as “deplorables” and sexist “bros” — large swaths of Trump voters, progressives, and neoliberalism-weary independents.

Why not be civil to our anti-establishment counterparts on the grassroots right? They hate the corruption of our government by big money just as we do. Why not tell them that we respect their anti-establishment vote and hope their candidate governs well? At least the present circumstance does not resemble the aftermath — and stench of injustice — following the stolen 2000 presidential election (committed by Republicans, sanctioned by Democrats) or the rigged 2016 presidential primary (committed by Democrats). After decades of relentless, society-collapsing, bipartisan regress, why not seek reconciliation and progress, on a grassroots level, for the sake of the future? There is OPPORTUNITY in this moment (beyond just using Trump’s election as a reminder to ramp up our support for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Public Citizen, FAIR, Democracy Now!, the SPLC, EFF, WikiLeaks, Black Lives Matter, the Green Party, and a few other worthies).

There is enough common ground in America — against the agenda of our far-right establishment — that the left should SEIZE THIS DAY! Let’s stop pretending that we’re immeasurably better human beings than our right-wing contemporaries and instead latch on to the healthiest aspects of this expression of the voters’ will. There’s anti-war sentiment in this result — and anti-authoritarianism, too. And a bid for economic justice, including decent jobs and infrastructure investment. It’s not all ugliness, and to suggest that it is is mean-spirited and counterproductive — just when we need to be demonstrating better values and offering to work with the grassroots right, in order to push Trump to keep his better promises: ending the slavery-permitting/corporation exalting “trade” pacts; scaling back the neocon wars; working with Russia, where possible, rather than flirting with WWIII; protecting Social Security and Medicare; offering a student debt repayment program 12.5% more progressive than the Obama/Clinton policy; investing in our infrastructure; keeping the “Patient’s Bill of Rights” and other positive parts of the ACA.

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Election post-mortems are showing that majorities of Trump voters (within demographics) actually voted for Obama in 2008/2012 — so they’re hardly card-carrying members of the KKK. In 2016 they were mostly voting against the corrupt, pro-war, Wall Street establishment and the devastating neoliberal assault on our society. DO many of Trump’s voters have subconscious racism — and others, conscious racism? Sure, but the left is hardly innocent of that extremely American sin: the Clintons dramatically expanded the New Jim Crow, and the American left just spent the last eight years acting as if Black Lives don’t Matter, as if Identity Politics is THE WHOLE BALL GAME. Most liberals did nothing as President Obama threw African-Americans to the Wall Street wolves. OWS created awareness and highlighted inequality, but the establishment, liberal and conservative, attacked us. Where were the left’s angry protests when Wall Street’s militarized thugs beat us, burned our libraries, and tore down our encampments in an illegal, federally-coordinated 18-city crackdown? Thanks to the President Obama’s deference to Wall Street crooks, systemically racist banks plundered the post-Civil Rights Era gains of black households and hollowed out the American middle class.

Meanwhile, Obama has expanded on militarized, “broken windows” policing. And on his watch America has increasingly become a country where peaceful assembly, journalism/exposing criminality, and protesting are criminalized (OWS through Standing Rock, Assange, Snowden, Drake, Kiriakou, Sterling, and beyond). It’s worth considering the notion that only President Barack Obama could have governed in such draconian fashion, with the left silent. And Obama has all but ignored the crises in American policing and systemic/environmental racism, as in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago and Flint, MI. Any other president would have had his feet truly held to the fire to address these nightmares. Do you recall mainstream America’s outrage at the police beating of Rodney King on camera? Well, we’ve seen outright murders of blacks — on camera — during the Obama era, with very little mainstream outrage and next to no activism from the left, outside of Black Lives Matter, which has been marginalized.

Considering the American mood in 2008-09, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Barack Obama delivering so devastatingly for Wall Street, the civil rights-opposing authoritarians, and the warmongering neocons (of his own volition, having literally nothing to do with Republican opposition, in most cases). The American people would have crucified a president with a less brilliant liberal patina — a “President McCain” — if he’d tried to accomplish half the insanity that President Obama has gotten away with on behalf of the Corporatocracy. Progressives who argue that the “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” has proven more dangerous than the obvious, loathsome “wolf” are exactly right. Throwing millions of lives and American society into chaos, Obama consummated Wall Street’s $16-trillion coup — in a way no Republican could have managed, with no prosecutions or meaningful reforms, leaving TBTF worse than ever. Even more stunningly, he resuscitated and expanded the neocon agenda: normalizing assassination and torture, expanding war to SEVEN Muslim nations, putting Washington back in bed with the Saudis and al Qaeda, hellbent on regime-change in the Middle East.

In championing militarist Barack Obama and neoconservative-darling Sec. Clinton, today’s American liberals have been acting oblivious to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Syrians. But those Muslim lives matter, too, not just the ones that Trump threatens.

There’s a very good reason that prominent black leaders (Cornel West, Michelle Alexander, Ta Nehisi-Coates, Keith Ellison, Glen Ford, Killer Mike, etc.) urged African-Americans away from the Clinton ticket. Neoliberal presidents like Clinton and Obama have meant the obliteration of the left in America and the loss of freedom/citizenship for millions of Americans, mostly POC. Ranking with the worst Republican presidents, neoliberal Democrats have wrought death and destruction on countless millions of Muslims, Latinos, and indigenous peoples, the world over. The humanity-butchering, environment-destroying corporate agenda has only accelerated under Obama — dramatically. We must never forget that the cruelest mass-deporter of immigrants in American history has been President Obama, the deporter of 2.5 MILLION human beings (more than all 20th-century presidents combined). He is the president who unleashed ICE across America and escalated the for-profit incarceration of immigrants (and the immigration “reform” bill he championed would have only legalized working conditions comparable to slavery — though something akin to slavery is already the norm in American prisons, consistent with how most “American” goods are made. To which captive populations can our corporations pay the fewest pennies for their labor? That is the question… under Republicans and Democrats alike.).

In order to appease reactionaries on the right, President Obama also de-listed domestic terror groups, condemned Colin Kaepernick, and had a beer with the racist cop who treated Prof. Henry Luis Gates like a criminal in his own home. This is, after all, the same Barack Obama who threw his good reverend – and all of Black Liberation Theology — under the bus in 2008, and had the headscarf-wearing Muslim women removed from crowds standing directly behind him on camera. This is the same Barack Obama who, as president, okayed blanket police surveillance of Muslims in the U.S. and vacuum-collection of all citizens’ data. As he’s repeatedly told the foreign press, by most standards he would be considered a conservative. (He’s also recently described President-Elect Trump as merely the captain of a rival “intramural” squad — “we’re actually all on one team.” ——– Ain’t it the truth!)

If the folks who are presently so mad at Trump’s ascension cared so deeply about minorities and the oppressed, one would think they would’ve spent the last eight years fighting Barack Obama, tooth and nail, alongside CODE PINK, 350.org, OWS, BLM, and the rest of us constituting what’s left of the left. President Obama has been one of the all-time appeasers of the far-right (bailing them out needlessly, when they were completely at his mercy, insolvent and discredited… and demonstrably guilty of outrageous crimes against humanity). He’s also been one of the all-time worst oppressors of the world’s most vulnerable. He’s needlessly capitulated even on those occasions when he’s held all the cards and there was nothing the Republicans could do to oppose him. Now, that is APPEASEMENT. In his own way, President Obama has done more to embolden racism and the radical right than any number of “deplorable” presidents could, all while advancing the far-right’s policy agenda. And that’s a big part of how we arrived at this dark place.

So, it’s time to stop pretending we’re the last decent people left in America and Trump voters are a bunch of Skinhead scum. We helped build this rotten ship. It’s time to fix it — or the future will be as nightmarish as you can imagine, for people of all colors and stripes. The oceans are signaling collapse, folks, whether our establishment has noticed or not (it hasn’t). It’s long past time for a popular movement that wrests our government from the hands of corporate pirates. The time for name-calling is past.

From May 10th of this year:

Either fight for Bernie or embrace Chancellor Trump!

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

(Photo by DSK, AFP/Getty Images)

Check out what The Hill and USA Today are reporting, folks: Sec. Clinton is TIED/LOSING to Trump in critical swing states (the raw polling data has shown for months now that Clinton is particularly vulnerable to Trump).  Not only is she the furthest-right Democratic nominee imaginable, nominating Clinton is apparently the shortest path to electing Donald Trump……whereas the same polling data shows Bernie, an actual progressive, clobbering Trump by double-digit margins, including in swing states!

Consider this excerpt from Seth Abramson’s excellent recent article in The Huffington Post:

“Sanders outperforms Clinton against Donald Trump in nearly every state where head-to-head general-election polling data is available. While some of this is undoubtedly due to the fact that Sanders beats Clinton by between 30 and 40 points among Independents — itself a major warning sign for a Clinton candidacy this fall — the rest is explained by the fact that when voters come to know Bernie Sanders as well as they already know Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, they tend to prefer him to these two by clear margins.”

Trump beats Clinton. Bernie beats Trump. It really is that simple.

And the Democratic Primary is far from over: Bernie only needs 56% of the remaining pledged delegates to pass Clinton, with very favorable terrain ahead. Let’s keep working to win the nomination for Bernie — unless we want “Chancellor Trump” in office!

That’s the real choice we face.