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“No, it’s not about wealth inequality and ‘free stuff.’ No, it’s not about Socialism, misogyny, white privilege or hero worship: it’s about power. The Founding Fathers had a word for the undue concentration of Power in the hands of individuals and tiny elites: ‘Tyranny.’ The New Politics is about unmasking and undoing the new form that Tyranny has assumed in the 21st Century.”
American Democracy is dead.
This first shoe dropped on December 12, 2000, when a presidential election was decided—against both the popular and electoral vote—by a one-vote Supreme Court majority. The second shoe dropped on June 6, 2016, when a Democratic Primary was decided by the Associated Press (AP) which—on the eve of a major vote—announced the race effectively over based on a phone poll of a few dozen people. The other major corporate outlets quickly followed suit, California was called the next day for the “Presumptive Nominee” (with 47.8% of the vote still uncounted), and the day after that, the President personally met with the other candidate before announcing his endorsement for the “Presumptive Nominee.”
A fait accompli and an aura of inevitability were created within 72 hours, much as they had been in 2000. Those with the temerity to demand a completion of the voting process, a full accounting of votes already cast, and an inquiry into numerous voting irregularities from Iowa to California—in short, that the Party respect its own process—were shouted down, exactly as they had been in 2000. This time, however, many of those who had been shouted down in 2000 were now doing the shouting down themselves. In 16 years, we had come full circle.
Forget that the very existence of “super delegates” (who include people like Raj Fernando, the big Clinton donor who was added to a sensitive national security committee by the State Department and quickly removed when his presence there made news) is itself an affront to the most basic principles of Democracy. Forget that each super delegate carries the electoral weight of thousands of rank-and-file party members, yet represents only themselves.
Forget the fact that hundreds of them announced whom they planned to vote for well before the first actual vote was cast, that these non-binding statements of intention were dishonestly mixed into corporate media graphics of pledged delegates to give the illusion of an insurmountable lead for one candidate from the start, and were even tallied by corporate media into the votes of individual states as they voted. Forget that 33 State DNCs made secret pre-election deals with the Hillary Clinton Campaign to benefit from the powerful donors of the “Hillary Victory Fund.”
Forget that Chris Matthews had already announced on the air that all were planning to declare Hillary the winner at eight o’clock in the evening Eastern time on June 7th, as millions of California voters would be heading to the polls from work. Forget the manifest bias of the corporate media in air time and coverage throughout the campaign. Forget the pervasive evidence of voter suppression and fraud.
The super delegates vote only at the Convention on July 25th—a full seven weeks after the AP announcement.
There was absolutely no reason to announce their expected votes on June 6th. The corporate media’s shameful preempting of a democratic process on the eve of a closely contested election was the final proof, if any were still needed, that the Democrats have now become the Party of Carl Rove.
This is the “King’s New Clothes” moment for US Two-Party politics: the year we finally unmask the farce of the existing system and being to reclaim the electoral process from the corporate elites that have hijacked it.
In order to see this, however, there are a few basic truths we need to get straight…
This is not about Bernie.
What many of Bernie Sanders’ critics seem unable to grasp is that this was never about him; never about electing one person; never a redo of 2008. Bernie’s supporters understand, as Obama’s did not, that no individual can single-handedly reverse a 30-year elite power grab from the Oval Office. This was never about choosing a leader for a deeply corrupt, undemocratic and murderous system, but about building a critical mass of popular support to change the way power is organized in this country.
#BernieOrBust is not a personality cult that will only accept a President Sanders: it is a rejection of the very principle of a political market in which candidates go to the highest bidder (#AnyDecentNonCorporateCandidateOrBust just didn’t work as a hashtag). If “Vote Blue No Matter Who” means four more years of paid lackeys for Goldman Sachs, Monsanto and Exxon-Mobil, then we will go Green, we will write in, we will take to the streets.
Bernie was never the revolution (he’s not even a revolutionary, but simply a would-be reformer), but his campaign has unleashed the revolutionary force of mass awareness. His stunning rise in the polls, his massive and enthusiastic crowds, his unprecedented fundraising and his appeal across the political spectrum, have shown us our power. We are a genie that will not go back into the bottle.
This is not about Hillary.
Whether or not you believe Hillary Clinton is dishonest, untransparent, undemocratic and beholden to corporate interests, she has certainly come to symbolize a Democratic Party that is dishonest, untransparent, undemocratic and beholden to corporate interests. The entitlement, the careerism, the sacrifice of personal ideals on the altar of power and personal advancement so often associated with her are endemic to an entire political class. Nor is this a random occurrence, but the result of decades of political patronage, influence peddling, backroom deals, bribery, revolving doors, an entire universe of perverse incentives that has made corruption the coin of politics.
#NeverHillary means #NeverJebKerryRomneyBidenMcCainWarrenEtc—no more agents of the Corporate State, #NeverGoldman, #NeverWalmart, #NeverComcast, #NeverGE. If Clinton were indicted, and a less-disliked, less-tainted substitute (such as Biden or Warren) put in her place, it would only underscore the inability of the Corporate Elite to grasp what is truly happening. Truly, Hillary is quite literally the DNC’s Jeb—proof of her Party’s tone-deafness to its own base—and there is good reason to doubt that she will escape his fate.
This is not about Trump.
Trump is also less important as an individual than as a symbol. He may be a symbol of what an American Dictator could look like, but he is also something else. The fact that he is seen as his own man, a buyer of politicians rather than a bought politician, makes him the face of what lies behind corporate candidates like Hillary. Privileged, entitled, clinically narcissistic, nearly devoid of empathy, sociopathically focused on furthering his own interests at the expense of virtually anything else, and so lost in his own power that he risks becoming ungrounded from reality—that is the face of the Man Behind the Curtain in our Wizard-of-Oz politics.
In fact, this may be one reason the true masters of our for-profit political system rarely run for office themselves—could you imagine a Blankfein, a Brabeck-Letmathe or a Dick Cheney winning an election? Trump’s reality-show charisma may set him apart from much of the 0.01%, but to dismiss him as one individual is to miss his deeper significance as an emblem of what extreme excesses of wealth and power can do to an individual and why they pose such a grave danger to Democracy, peace and our very survival as a species.
As the old façade of corporate politics implodes, the future will either look like Trump (i.e., a revolt against the Corporate State by way of neo-Fascism and demagoguery) or more like Sanders (i.e., a revolt against the Corporate State by way of Occupy-style egalitarian popular movements). That is the real choice before us.
The Age of Personality Politics is Over.
The very notion that Americans are choosing from a handful of individuals as to which is the most “qualified” to “run the country” as President is itself a part of the apparatus of corporate control that actually serves to obscure the true nature of power in contemporary American politics. Whatever we may think of Trump, Clinton and Sanders as individuals, electing any of them will have only a limited impact on the trajectory of this country and will certainly not bring about anything approaching the systemic change we so desperately need. Our only hope is to bring an end to corporate power and to rethink the way we organize ourselves as a nation and a species.
The Age of Two-Party Politics is Over.
This election has stripped the veil from both mainstream Parties, revealing them both as mere delivery systems for corporate power in which Crassus-style magnates à la Trump buy influence over political operatives à la Hillary. Gone is the illusion that the problem is the Republicans and the answer the Democrats. Gone are the days when the DNC could foist unpopular candidates on an unwilling public out of sheer fear of the alternative. Gone are the days of Coke and Pepsi Parties, of FOX and MSNBC news media, and of the Politics of Distraction that focuses on anything but the true nature of power in our society.
The “Democratic Party” does not promote Democracy abroad, at home or even within its own organization. At best, it represents a slower track to the ongoing entrenchment of corporate hegemony. It is a viable alternative to the Republicans only because it is funded and controlled by exactly the same actors to exactly the same ends, maintaining the illusion of choice while maintaining the hidden de facto power structure. Both Parties and the false choice between them are part of the problem. Rather, we must go one level deeper and confront the forces they both represent.
“Old Politics” is Dead.
No, it’s not about wealth inequality and “free stuff.” No, it’s not about socialism, misogyny, white privilege or hero worship: it’s about power. The Founding Fathers had a word for the undue concentration of Power in the hands of individuals and tiny elites: “Tyranny.” The New Politics is about unmasking and undoing the new form that Tyranny has assumed in the 21st Century.
The rejection of the old politics of personalities, Manichaean Red-Blue dualism and the exploitation of emotionally-charged social issues to obscure the deeper continuity of elite control is the first step toward reclaiming our sovereignty from the corporate elite. The fact that so many people are declaring their withdrawal from the Democratic Party (I requested my own shortly after voting in New York) and the growth of alternative news sources like Democracy Now!, The Young Turks and The Real News amid growing disgust of Comcast-GE, Sony and Disney news are signs that the kind of mass action we need to take back our country has already begun.
This campaign has laid bare, as never before, the ways in which corporate media, donors and parties work together—not as three independent entities colluding, but as essentially a single entity—and the reclaiming of our political sovereignty and sources of information from corporate-controlled structures is a necessary first step to attacking that entity.
In sum, five initial lines of action to focus on might include:
- Mass abandonment of both corporate parties.
- Mass boycott of corporate media and support for independent media.
- Removal of all corporate-financed public officials and their replacement with candidates who do not accept corporate money.
- Development of a legal framework to guard against corporate tyranny, including a Constitutional Amendment to get money out of politics, and mass public action to get it passed.
- Rebuilding of Anti-Trust legislation that would, among other things, dismantle the Monopoly Media and the “Too-Big-To-Fail” Banking Cartel.
Author: Peter Cohen
Image: Author’s own.
Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Caitlin Oriel