Bernie Sanders wrote in an op-ed article in the Los Angeles Times that his “political revolution … continues as Hillary Clinton seeks the White House”.
I get the whole loyal opposition thing, but this is just embarrassing. The only revolution Hillary Clinton has ever supported is the planet Earth’s orbit around the sun – the one that leaves us all in the same place year after year.
Sanders’ article came at the end of a week in which Clinton recruited yet another billionaire for the “revolution”: Mark Cuban, who declared that, on the basis of what’s best for him “as an entrepreneur and investor”, he wants Clinton to defeat her Republican opponent Donald Trump.
After an endless Democratic primary battle against Sanders in which she was pressured to emphasise her supposed concern about economic inequality, Clinton is now running in the general election by proudly flaunting support from the mega-rich. That includes Democrats like Warren Buffett and George Soros, but also leading Republicans like former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and former GOP candidate for Republican governor of California.
Trump has some billionaires in his camp, too, but not the presentable kind who can give a good speech on the campaign trail. His campaign is attracting the likes of casino magnate and overall slimeball Sheldon Adelson and 87-year-old oil magnate T. Boone Pickens, who gave the endorsement of the year in May when he declared, “I’m ready to take a chance on [Trump]. And just in case it’s a mistake, [I’ll] be gone”.
Clinton has also opened up a sizable lead over Trump when it comes to support from war criminals – including some of the architects and cheerleaders of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, widely despised by nearly every single Democratic voter, though infamously supported by then-senator Hillary Clinton.
Earlier this week, 50 prominent Republican “national security” officials – many of them members of the Bush administration who made both this nation and every other far more insecure – signed a public letter opposing Trump. They were encouraged in their efforts, according to the New York Times, by the Clinton campaign.
Three days earlier, the Times published an opinion article, titled “I ran the CIA. Now I’m endorsing Hillary Clinton”, by Michael Morell, a leading defender of the agency’s use of torture as an interrogation technique.
As left wing writer Fredrik deBoer asked on Twitter. “Whose endorsement would Democrats not treat as a benefit, at this point? Dick Cheney? How bad of an actor does someone need to be?”
It’s a fair question, given that the Clinton campaign has already won the support of former Homeland Security chief Michael “I oversaw the drowning of New Orleans and I support Hillary Clinton” Chertoff – and is reportedly seeking the endorsement of Henry Kissinger (who would thenceforth be known as Henry “I’m the most evil motherfucker of the late 20th century, and I’m #WithHer!!” Kissinger).
What’s the harm in Hillary Clinton winning the support of prominent Republicans, her supporters might ask. After all, isn’t it good that Clinton is, as the New York Times recently reported, getting more money from donors to former contenders for the Republican presidential nomination than Trump is?
The problem is something that Bernie Sanders used to say about Clinton back when she was on the other side of the “political revolution”. All of Clinton’s donations from Wall Street and Big Pharma, Bernie would say, are not simply donations, but investments that come with strings attached.
“Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions?” Sanders said in the Iowa debate. “They expect to get something. Everybody knows that.”
Clinton isn’t just passively welcoming the support of leading Republicans gravitating to her because they don’t like Trump. She is actively courting them by doing what Clintons do – move the political centre of American politics to the right under the guise of building “unity” against an ultra-right Republican opposition.
As Arun Gupta recently pointed out at Telesur, this is the strategy of “triangulation” that Bill Clinton made famous in the 1990s, when he promoted himself as a new type of centrist Democrat who stood in between the rapid Republican right and the unreasonable and unelectable liberal left.
The Clintons triangulated their way to the destruction of the federal welfare system and to two draconian crime bills that kicked the era of mass incarceration into high gear. Those 1990s policies put Hillary Clinton on the defensive during the primaries, but now that she has the Democratic nomination in hand and is looking ahead to November, she’s free to jump back to the middle to court Republicans – because she can count on the Democratic Party base to vote for her, no matter what, as the “lesser evil” to Trump. As Gupta wrote:
“If determined, Democrats could enact legal and regulatory changes that provide unions with the tools to rebuild the labor movement. But that would alienate the corporate constituency the Democratic Party belongs to and relies on for its core support. The logical path, then, for the Clintons, Obama, and the rest is to look to the right for votes.”
Many people who are terrified of Trump’s naked racism and megalomania will grudgingly accept more triangulation if they think it will help prevent the orange bogeyman from becoming president.
But here’s the crux of the problem: left wing support for Clinton can actually make Trump-ism more powerful in the long run.
“Clinton Highlights Billionaires’ Support as a Way to Try to Undermine Trump”, read a recent headline from National Public Radio. But if Clinton hanging around with Bloomberg and Buffett might help “undermine” Trump support among some rich Republicans, it can actually bolster his racist populism among some workers.
And by teaming up with Bush administration officials who invaded Iraq, Clinton is rehabilitating one of the most criminal wars in recent memory – or, to be more accurate, the latest stage in a quarter-century-long war that her husband Bill led at an early stage.
What does it say that Hillary Clinton is winning over the people who engineered historic catastrophe that led to the creation of ISIS and produced tens of millions of refugees?
That’s the final point. I know it’s frightening to think about life under president Trump. But guess what? We recently lived through another monstrous idiot president who did incredible damage to the world – and now, a lot of the people from his evil administration are supporting Hillary Clinton.
If your political memory extends back a decade to when millions of us marched against Bush’s wars, this is mind-blowing stuff. It’s less surprising after nearly eight years of Barack Obama continuing, with some cosmetic changes, the Bush administration’s “war on terror”. But a decade ago, it would have been inconceivable to imagine a Democratic presidential candidate courting Bush family donors with the claim that she better “represents their values”.
This is the ultimate vision of the Democratic dream of being a “big tent” party – one that unites Occupy Wall Street anarchists with the billionaire mayor who crushed them, antiwar marchers with the neo-cons who crowed about 9/11 being an opportunity to take over the Middle East.
The Clinton campaign is excited about bringing some big Republican elephants into that tent – and as always, the Democrats expect their base voters to loyally follow around with a shovel.
At some point, though, it ought to become impossible to keep holding your nose and vote for these people. You’ve got to get out of the tent.