#Dems’ Crisis of Governance: Who Leads Next? | #Progressives In Crisis
I’ve grown sour on Robert Reich. I’ve noticed, over the past few months since the election, that he often floats ideas in his posts for his readers to comment on. While some of those ideas are good, some are really goofy – the kind of goofy that makes you wonder on whose behalf he’s really posting these things.
Take this one, for example… Michelle Obama has always maintained she has zero political ambitions. She also has no political experience of her own. Her professional career, in many ways, mirrors Hillary Clinton’s, though one can easily argue that, of the two, Obama is the more successful one. That said, do we really want to put up an inexperienced candidate right after Trump? Is the answer to 2016’s losses another neoliberal candidacy? Had this idea been floated by Tom Perez, it would not have seemed odd. He is a neoliberal, after all. But Reich? Then, when Reich’s readers politely pointed out that Michelle Obama has repeatedly said she isn’t interested in political office and that she would be as much of a novice as Trump, Reich took the post down. When most people remove posts, the removal goes unnoticed. That isn’t the case with public figures such as Reich. It doesn’t look right and, besides, people take screenshots, just like I did.
Oh, and just so we’re clear. I have nothing against Michelle Obama. I think she’s probably one of our best and smartest public figures. Because she has never held any kind of office, she just is not presidential material.
Reich was all for Bernie Sanders during the primary last year, but he never really went out of his way to condemn the DNC shenanigans so many of his readers complained about on his Facebook posts. Then, as soon as the primary was over, Reich admonished everyone, daily, both in his posts and broadcasts, to forget about the past year and vote Clinton. People didn’t. What’s more, many of those who gravitate toward Reich are still processing the DNC chair election. The shenanigans with those votes haven’t been lost on the public, even though the media was very (oddly) circumspect about its coverage of it.
This week, we saw reporting on Donna Brazile denying she played favorites during the primary, just ahead of the publication of her new book and Harvard University appointment. The Root reports:
“‘I’m Not Going to Allow the Lies to Stand’
Donna Brazile, the veteran Democratic political strategist who parted ways with CNN last year amid WikiLeaks revelations appearing to show that she provided the Hillary Clinton campaign with questions she would be asked in a televised CNN town hall, flatly denied Saturday that she had done so.
“At no time did I receive or participate in the drafting or dissemination of questions provided by CNN,” Brazile told Journal-isms by email.”
If you don’t recall, this is the same Donna Brazile who gave Megyn Kelly this interview:
But the mainstream media, former DNC operatives and Democrats currently in office, all are still pushing the narrative that voters were duped by Russian propaganda and interference into the electoral process, into voting for Trump. One needn’t wait for a year-long investigation of Russian involvement in the election. There is some evidence that Russians tried, unsuccessfully, to hack state elections computers. There is also plenty of Russian media reporting over the last year and a half, by outlets such as RT, on leaks from within the DNC and Clinton camp. It’s all on the internet. Then, there are the troves of emails published by WikiLeaks. I will remind readers, at this point, that neither the Clinton campaign, the officials whose emails were leaked, or the FBI, for that matter, have ever claimed any of the published emails were falsified or altered in any way. So, again, no matter how the material was published, what is important to keep in mind is that what was published was the truth. Just as important is the fact that as the emails saw the light of day, absolutely no one on the left even tried to explain or apologize for what was in them. So, merely pointing the finger at Russia for Clinton’s loss doesn’t work.
Donald J. Trump made a conscious decision to lie about what he intended to do if he won the election. He made false promises all the while knowing that he would receive help from his counterparts in Russia. That much is clear, based on what has been published about Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort’s dealings in Russia. Both men have left a trail of money that the media and our intelligence agencies are following. What of Donald J. Trump and his financial dealings? This is where getting access to his income tax returns would be helpful. This is also where appointing a special prosecutor, a la Ken Starr, is of particular import, given the suspicious nature of the way the House of Representatives’ Devin Nunes has been comporting himself on this matter.
Let us not, not for a moment, forget that it seems that few are today’s politicians who either haven’t been to Russia, don’t have any contact with Russians, or don’t do business with them. In a tweet from last August, Zachary Fedell posted a picture and video of former Green candidate, Jill Stein, Michael Flynn and Vladimir Putin at a dinner hosted by RT in Moscow.
Disgraced adviser, Michael Flynn, is now said to be offering to testify in exchange for an immunity deal. Would Flynn sell his former boss out under such circumstances or will he keep a thief’s honor?
President Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has reportedly told the FBI that he is willing to testify about the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, in exchange for immunity from prosecution, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Paul Manafort, who abruptly resigned as Trump campaign manager, is under investigation for his ties to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. But Manafort is not unique in maintaining such ties. Former Vice President Biden’s son, Hunter, does business with the same Ukrainians the Clinton Foundation received money from when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.
That corruption is rampant among U.S. politicians, especially now that Trump is in power, is clear. That corruption, however, did not begin with Trump. It is only getting far worse with Trump as president, with both houses of Congress under Republican control. It was all the more apparent when it became known that House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes went to the White House to meet with officials there and receive intelligence reports on Russian interference, and then canceled a meeting in which Andrea Yates, the former DOJ official who was fired by the Trump administration, was due to testify:
“The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.
Mr. Nunes has also been faulted by his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with President Trump before consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.
The congressman has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe coming to the committee with sensitive information. He disclosed the existence of the intelligence reports on March 22, and in his public comments he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.”
Clearly, Nunes’ handling of his committee’s business is well outside of any known congressional norm, when a president is under investigation.
Anomalies aside, polling taken immediately after the November election demonstrated, quite clearly, that neither Russian influence nor the Clinton email revelations played a decisive role in voters’ decisions. What the revelations did do, according to polls, is confirm voters’ opinion of Hillary Clinton’s true policy positions. Russian influence, which, late in the campaign became a meme, did not detract Trump voters from their choice. In a November 10, 2016 piece, I included this quote from Reuters’ “How Hillary Clinton’s white voters melted away:”
“McAndrew, who voted for Obama in the two previous races, was intrigued by Trump, but decided eventually that “all he does is insult everybody … women, black people, white people, rich, poor. He’s an idiot.” He considered Clinton, but was concerned by the scandal over her handling of classified material on a private email server as secretary of state.
“I hated both of them, so I just said, ‘the hell with it,’” McAndrew said. His wife, also a life-long Democrat, went to the polls without him – and voted Republican.
“First time ever,” he said.
Trump’s ability to flip reliably Democratic counties like Northampton helped drive his victory in the presidential election this week. It was critical to his win in Pennsylvania and other Rust Belt states, a bulwark in the Democrats’ electoral strategy for winning the White House, and it helped fuel his victories in critical swing states, such as Florida and North Carolina.”
Imagine that! These are blue collar whites in their seventies who’d voted Blue all their lives, until Hillary Clinton, not once, but twice.”
It is a fact that rival nations spy on each other and try to influence each others’ political processes. It is just as much a fact that allies also spy on each other. It is a fact that the U.S. routinely spies on other nations and has been involved in other nations’ in attempts of its own to influence elections.
But the idea of successful Russian interference in connection to such an abject defeat as Clinton’s is a cover that serves both the media and those Democrats who were left standing after election day. The media continues milking the story for all the clicks it is worth, shying away from any kind of in-depth post-mortem of an election that, by any measure, was one of the worst-run in modern American history. Democrats in the Senate, in particular, are happily deflecting attention from voters who are being distracted by the red-baiting as they quietly approve President Trump’s cabinet of oligarchs. While the New York Times and Washington Post (others too) keep our attention on the supposed opposition to Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, The Hill informs us that the Democratic leadership in the Senate is easing the pressure on certain Democrats to vote against Gorsuch. In the face of voter anger, this is how Senate Democrats are still behaving, rather than imposing strict party discipline:
Senate Democratic leaders are giving centrist colleagues space on Neil Gorsuch despite strong pressure from the liberal base to sink President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says he’s not tallying votes for the nominee, leaving it to Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) to have one-on-one conversations with undecided members of their caucus.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said Schumer is giving centrists like him room to decide how to vote, mindful that 10 members of the conference face reelection in states Trump won in November.
In case it isn’t clear enough, “giving space” is a euphemism for putting reelection over the next 20-30 years of Supreme Court decisions. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already announced he will vote for Gorsuch.
The election was decided, first and foremost, by economic issues that the mainstream media did not see fit to report on for months, and which candidate Clinton chose not to address with particular voters. The Democratic establishment leadership as a whole, continues to ignore the elephant in the room, as the progressive wing continues its attempts to assert some of the power it won during the primary, in spite of all of the obstacles that are still being placed in front of them. But these efforts are to no avail.
Tom Perez, President Obama’s candidate to chair the DNC, won his election by less than a handful of votes in the second round of voting, curiously, after a tie. Perez, when running for the position, had made some concessions in regards to the need to reform the party. But he didn’t make many and the topic is still a burning one for voters and the media alike:
Wasserman-Schultz is the DNC chair who was forced to resign when it was leaked that she was actively working to scuttle Senator Bernie Sanders’ candidacy during the 2016 Democratic primary. While she may no longer hold a DNC position, clearly, Wasserman still speaks for the establishment. Just as clear is the fact that she represents an establishment that both remains out of touch with its voters and is unwilling to change even as it faces imminent extinction.
Almost half of the Democratic party’s voters chose to veer hard left last year. Those voters have not changed their minds, nor has their anger abated over the way the primary turned out. Left-leaning independent voters, in the states where it mattered the most (including California), were unable to vote in the Democratic primary. As a bloc, independent voters outnumber the voters in either party. A break down of who voted and didn’t is included in my post-election post:
The bloc of independent voters continues to swell as voters are unhappy with both parties. A large number of progressives left the party in the Dem Exit that followed the DNC convention in Philadelphia. The outcome of the DNC Chair election has further soured many a progressive on the party and all eyes are now on Bernie Sanders and the upcoming Progressive Summit in Chicago in June. By my estimation, that summit will provide Sanders a last chance to capitalize on the incredible success of his campaign. Failure to either secure an agreement for power-sharing with the Democratic leadership or announce the departure of progressives from the DNC, will lead to another mass-exodus from the party.
With careful planning and hard work, 2018 could see the rise of a new third party, were progressives to strike it out on their own. Two core progressive constituencies are restless, with nowhere to expend their energy. As I explained in a previous post, the Democratic party leadership does not reflect its membership in any way that resembles the demographics of this nation:
“Time, measured in the mid to long term, is not on the side of America’s white population, when it comes to retaining control of power structures. This is as true for Democrats as it has been true for Republicans. The “browning of America” is a change that is real. Those we consider minority groups in America will become the majority within the next 20 years or so, no matter how white both major parties remain.
It is hypocritical to castigate conservatives for their behavior, pandering to a shrinking white majority and doing everything possible, underhanded or not, to keep minorities from exerting their rightful influence in the democratic process through the power of the vote. Democrats have been engaging in a different kind of suppression by claiming it is the home of minorities while quietly engaging in racial divide and conquer politics to keep the minorities within it divided and the leadership right of center, older, and very, very white.
Democratic voters, while they remained highly satisfied with President Obama, indicated all throughout the primary season that they wanted change.”
Another demographic, the one I call “Precariat,” continues to swell. That demographic includes, but is by no means limited to, those blue collar voters the Clinton camp spent months calling racist.
At an Our Revolution rally with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders tackled the topic of Trump voters and racism:
“Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there. Let me tell you something else some of you might not agree with, it wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election, it was that the Democratic Party lost the election”
Watch Senator Sanders, in context:
America is still a racist nation. While one party likes to think of itself as diverse and, therefore, not racist, the reality is far more nuanced, and politicians who don’t shy from playing both ends against the racial middle exist on both ends of the spectrum. Election 2016 was rife with racial divide and conquer politics emanating from both sides.
The stark realities of life as it is lived in America today are catching up to the media in various ways. This past week, we had a renewed debate on the death of the white working class in connection to economists Deaton and Case’s research. An interesting perspective piece was just published in The Root:
The reason we are gathered here is that many of you are confused about how you became a stranger in a strange land. You’ve found yourselves in unfamiliar territory since our dim-witted orange overlord took his throne. We see the befuddled looks on all of your faces every day as you lament about the state of the country since we elected an authoritarian orangutan as our leader, and how it’s affecting you.
Now that he’s bumbling around the Oval Office, you’re worried about your health care, the economy, education and even your security. Everything seems so uncertain, and the world just seems so harsh, but don’t fear—that’s why you’re here today. We wanted to settle your doubts and assure you that nothing is wrong.
Welcome to America.
This is the America that black people have seen every day for 398 years. I know for most of you, this country has always been a shiny beacon of hope and freedom, but now that our pulp-faced president has smashed all of your rose-colored glasses, we figured you might need an orientation session on how you should react and what you should expect now that you get to live in the sweaty armpits of Lady Liberty.
I know that many of our Caucasian citizens thought Trump was going to make it rain jobs as if you were onstage in the strip club making it clap. Since his inauguration, it seems like the only segment of the population that has gained employment is the sliver of people who are in the least-experienced presidential Cabinet in recent history. Trust me, you’ll get used to racist white guys giving jobs to all their underqualified white friends.
There is much to agree with in the piece. There is also much in it that, clearly, was colored by the finger-pointing of the past year’s election. There are 95 million Americans of all races and ethnicities living in or near poverty, through no fault of their own in a gig economy that does not sustain them.
Many of those voters stayed away from the polls in the election, not because they wanted Donald J. Trump as their president, but because they did not want to continue giving the neoliberal Democratic establishment a vote of confidence. Voter turnout was at an all-time low in what was the “neither election.”
Now, we are in a crisis of leadership, with the Democratic establishment continuing to do all it can to push progressives away within the party structure. Outside of the party, however, the most popular political figure in the nation is not our president, nor is it the runner up in the election, but the loser in the Democratic primary. That’s right. Bernie Sanders. The Guardian’s Trevor Timm wrote about Sanders’ rise in popularity:
“If you look at the numbers, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America – and it’s not even close. Yet bizarrely, the Democratic party – out of power across the country and increasingly irrelevant – still refuses to embrace him and his message. It’s increasingly clear they do so at their own peril.
A new Fox News poll out this week shows Sanders has a +28 net favorability rating among the US population, dwarfing all other elected politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. And he’s even more popular among the vaunted “independents”, where he is at a mind boggling +41.
This poll is not just an aberration. Look at this Huffington Post chart that has tracked Sanders’ favorability rating over time, ever since he gained national prominence in 2015 when he started running for the Democratic nomination.
As we obsess over Russia, President Trump is slowly, but surely, filling up his cabinet with oligarchs, with the help of neoliberal Democrats. It’s as if the last eight years of obstruction didn’t happen. It’s as if the bitter defeat of the 2016 election is a faint memory and Democratic legislators can go on as they did, both feeding from the same trough as their Republican counterparts, voting with them whenever their donors demand it, voters be damned. And the media? How often do the nation’s major newspapers and cable talking heads turn their attention to the way certain Democrats are voting? Not nearly often enough!
Coverage of the economy is another area of dissonance, with millions of Americans living a life of deprivation and hardship and the media reporting on a completely different reality:
By the time Trump is done or Congress is done with him, there will be at least 80 years of social progress to reinstate in addition to the progress we should have made all along, but didn’t due to obstruction. The question I’ve been asking in my writings on this blog is the following one: will progressives leave a party that doesn’t want them to finally form a true progressive party that reflects the makeup of the American people? America is browning, but you couldn’t tell simply by looking at the Democratic leadership. The average age of a U.S. senator is 62 and they are overwhelmingly white and wealthy.
Instead of focusing our eyes and ears exclusively on the distractions and political theater of our new oligarchy, we need to demand greater discipline from our leaders and media and keep tabs on those we consider our allies in Congress. In this oligarchy, Goldman Sachs is represented by a half dozen people in the cabinet and high-level positions. In a Democratic White House, they would have had half the representation. For all the talk of filibustering Gorsuch, we are now finding out that Chuck Schumer will not enforce party discipline. Is it any wonder voters are disgusted? How many more of these compromises will we witness between now and 2018?
A final word about Robert Reich…
Nepotism is part and parcel of life under oligarchs. Better explain that to our fellow citizens. Better use words that appropriately describe what has happened to our democracy, just like he did in his excellent book, Aftershock. Kicking up outrage with pictures of the Trump children is not constructive. Let’s talk about how we bring Democracy back. Let’s talk about how we rebuild America, the way she was supposed to be in our ideals, but never was in reality.