On Sheep, Shepherds, Wolves and Other Political Creatures
The spin that goes around now is that somehow, through the efforts of the failed Sanders campaign, the political conversation has changed and to such an extent, that all those progressive ideas and platforms, international reconciliation, social care and welfare, sensible environmental stewardship and a further democratization of real politics will be received and celebrated, respected and promoted, legislated and observed by the Biden democrats should they win. Progressive voters may be waiting for a signal of compromise from the Biden democrats but the names of Gretchen Whitmer who has been described as the “quintessential insider”, and Amy Klobuchar, if known for anything it might be the great distance she keeps between herself and progressives, who have been floated as possible running mates for Biden which, if one of them sticks, sends a very strong message out to any actual progressives who might have been hoping for someone more along the lines of say Stacy Abrams or Nina Turner or maybe even Elizabeth Warren who at least has made some concessions to and has some experience in promoting one or two popular progressive ideas and policies.
What has actually happened, especially when compared to some other paths that might have been explored, is that Progressivism, in the popular sense, has been co-opted and beaten down so horribly it now hangs by its last few breaths. The progressive movement again fails the people with the collapse of yet another Sanders campaign for the presidential nomination in the 2020 primary. Sanders, not finding it within his own or his campaigns abilities to go the distance sheepishly exit the stage in humiliation and then immediately join in the chorus of endorsements of the Democrats most embarrassing candidate possible. The reputation of the progressive movement has been so tainted by its almost constant losing that it has become associated with that losing and with compromising with Democrats to the point of being of a trifling significance and it now has become, not the strong voice of the people but the hopeless movement of lukewarm expectations.
Strangely enough as the policies behind the progressive movement gained favor in the public eye, every blue candidate from the ones least committed to those policies to the ones most committed to the policies has at one time or another tried to wave the progressive flag or somehow tack that label onto their profile, as the progressive policies themselves are quite popular. This progressive posturing helps candidates look better in the public eye, which they quite understand but it’s muddied the water and it’s hard for some to clearly see who is and who isn’t a real heart-strong progressive. Many politicians now will posture close to the label and some have even come out of the gate swinging or at times aspire towards the true progressive cause, it’s just that politicians, once enthroned, often fail to match their once brave rhetoric and actually legislate those policies into public programs and law as that would upset the old-time party loyalists and most importantly, their old-time party financiers and donors. This posturing of puppets has so challenged the meaning of the word progressive that it now doesn’t really mean much of anything. The progressive movement needs to be resurrected under a new name, a new party and with a focus on including those other forgotten Americans who are sick and tired of watching their country fall to the wolves of capitalism and the politicians who do their dirty work for them. I am and have been thoroughly disappointed in Bernie Sanders as a leading figure in the progressive movement. I can understand how some might have thought that there could have been some small chance of moving a progressive candidate through the Democratic Party but there wasn’t. For Sanders to turn around and do it twice, to do the sheepherding all over again I think was downright negligent, maybe even sinister. Sanders had managed to pull all the air out of the Jill Steins campaign and the chance of any other progressive candidate, certainly not someone from the smeared and disgraced Green Party so the floor was all his but then, even owning the platform, he failed to build on it by not gaining the support of even one endorsement from his rivals as they rushed to drop-out and endorse Joe Biden. Tulsi Gabbard for instance, looked like she was in real pain when asked about her relationship with Sanders saying that he had never reached out to her even after she had stood so strong for him in 2016. As it turned out many millions of dollars were wasted on the Sanders campaign along with an immeasurable amount of political energy, tossed aside with hardly as much as an, “I’m sorry” from Sanders. Sanders I believe, could/should/would have made much more of a political impact if he had rallied round and joined in with the Green Party as Jill Stein invited him to do giving the Greens, who are true progressives, some teeth to chew with rather than endorsing the failed candidate Hillary Clinton, which as it turned out, was a wasted endorsement and his energy would have been better spent moving quickly to the left of Clinton, to a position that could truly reflected the will of so many of his original supporters. Sanders had enough of a following that he could have started an entirely new Party. Then we might have had some time over the last three years to build some political power outside the confines of the already established and apparently unmovable Democratic Party. We might have invested in a party that could honestly challenge both Republicans and Democrats to becoming better representatives of the people but instead here we are again, the two major parties holding hands in the front seat of a car that roars closer, faster, closer, faster to the edge of the thousand foot cliff leaving progressives in horror with no ride home at all.
We have been bouncing back and forth between the terror of the Republican Party and the failures of the Democratic Party long enough and there is no better remedy for ending this ping-pong game with the American people souls than the introduction of a strong third party and Sanders, of all people, should have known that.
2020-06-01 | articles 2015 | English | CounterPunch