On Cementing Gains Before Waters Recede

Published by Chris Oestereich on

Since the New York primary, it’s seemed ever more likely that Bernie Sanders would not win the Democratic nomination, so my thoughts have turned to maintaining the momentum that’s been built by his campaign. I hope to see him continue to fight to pull us in a better direction, but I’m sure that the party apparatus is warming up the band for a sustained attack on the ideas Bernie put forward. As Matt Taibbi wrote for Rolling Stone, having survived this challenge, the Clinton camp will likely draw the wrong lessons from it:

This was no ordinary primary race, not a contest between warring factions within the party establishment, á la Obama-Clinton in ’08 or even Gore-Bradley in ’00. This was a barely quelled revolt that ought to have sent shock waves up and down the party, especially since the Vote of No Confidence overwhelmingly came from the next generation of voters…

People are sick of being thought of as faraway annoyances who only get whatever policy scraps are left over after pols have finished servicing the donors they hang out with at Redskins games.

Democratic voters tried to express these frustrations through the Sanders campaign, but the party leaders have been and probably will continue to be too dense to listen. Instead, they’ll convince themselves that, as Hohmann’sPost article put it, Hillary’s latest victories mean any “pressure” they might have felt to change has now been “ameliorated.”

Even if Trump hands the Democrats control of the Senate, and big gains in the House, I don’t suspect things like single-payer, or student loan debt relief would even be brought to the table. Further, I expect that Hillary will reverse her evolution on migrants by continuing the elevated level of deportations witnessed in recent years.

U.S. deportations

U.S. deportations

Meanwhile, a large segment of the nation’s youth hangs in the balance. Like pumps primed while a lake was up, young voters are at risk of disengaging as that water recedes. So I think we have a limited amount of time to figure out how to stem that tide before air enters the intake and the remaining water comes crashing out. Expect Hillary’s team to furiously pump water out of that lake (They’ve already hired Bernie’s top student organizer), and efforts to convince the youth vote that they’re not all that important are also ongoing.

[bctt tweet=”Like pumps primed while a lake was up, young voters are at risk of of disengaging as the water recedes. “]

Bernie may yet have something up his sleeve (I hope he does), but it’s time to think about how to fill the void if he doesn’t. Otherwise, a moderately disaffected youth contingent may rob the larger group of its growing power in future elections.

Now what?

So how do we keep the momentum created by the Sanders’ campaign? Can we start a third party to uphold the values of the left? Could the Green Party be the answer? (Dr. Jill Stein has made overtures at Senator Sanders which are worth consideration.)

Dave Hopkins, a Political Science professor at Boston College, suggests that for the Sanders movement to be sustained, it needs to find broader support in congress:

It may be that years down the road, we look back and see his campaign as the start of an increasingly vocal and influential left wing of the Democratic Party particularly dedicated to advancing large-scale, public sector solutions to problems.

But that requires some sort of momentum within the party that remains after the end of this campaign, and for this cause to be taken up by Democrats other than Sanders. It has to be adopted by some congressional Democrats and candidates in future elections to stay alive within the party — to pressure Democratic leaders to continue to advance those policies. I’m not terribly convinced that’s going to happen, but that’s what would need to happen.

I worry about the possible downside of not maintaining the movement. If those who are struggling continue to get the boot from neoliberal leaders at the behest of oligarchs, I can’t see how that doesn’t lead to catastrophe. Ian Welsh offers hope among similar cautions.

This is not the 2000s or 90s.  This is not the age of compromise.  The fruits of neoliberalism, neoconservatism and oligarchy are being reaped; the youngsters have now grown up and never known a good economy. Many barely remember a time when the US wasn’t at war.

Clinton or Trump will have their time.  There will be another socialist candidate and another, whether called that or not.  Odds are that either fascism or socialism will win the US.  The conditions in the US make that most likely…

Most of the worst catastrophes are already locked in.  Acidification of the Oceans. Loss of essentially all fish stocks.  Far worse climate change than the current consensus models.  The rise of fascism, men-on-horseback and radical leftists.

The time to cut that stuff of was the 2000s.  Obama was the last chance, and Obama chose to bail out oligarchs.

So now we play it out.  But Bernie is a hopeful sign…

The fascism thing probably would have sounded crazy to most folks six months ago. With Dr. Jill Stein echoing this concern, I’m guessing it seems less of a hyperbolic statement these days.

Plot Twist

If the latest reports are accurate, Secretary Clinton may be getting ready to bring Elizabeth Warren on as her VP pick. This makes sense from a campaign logic perspective as Warren’s presence on the ballot would make it a lot easier for Sanders’ supporters to pull the lever for Clinton. I was initially dismayed at the notion, but in thinking about it a bit more, I’m warming to the prospect. (I still have several misgivings when it comes to Clinton, so I’m far from certain that I’d get in line.)

Here’s where my current thinking is:

  • In the short run, skeletons keep tumbling out of Clinton’s closet, so the possibility of an indictment, or an impeachment, that could hand the presidency to Warren doesn’t seem an unrealistic (if still unlikely) possibility.
  • In the long run, this should tee Warren up as Clinton’s successor. That’s a prospect that could warm the heart as we deal with the potential of eight more years on the current path.

[bctt tweet=”Skeletons keep tumbling out of Clinton’s closet, so she might have to pass the baton to Warren.”]