Feeling the Bern


The Neo-Liberals and Identity Politics Liberals of the establishment Democratic Party are “FEELING THE BERN!” The Beltway cronies thought they had another Neo-Liberal Corporate Hack lined up with a coronation of Hillary Clinton. But the best-laid plans of mice and men, as Bobbie Burns wrote, “in proving foresight may be vain.”

The corporate media in its never-ending quest to make elections as meaningless as possible concentrate (as usual) on personalities and fundraising all the time, missing totally the ideological battle lines drawing up in the Democratic Party nationally. They still haven’t figured out what is going on.

For those of us who are for ideological reasons Democrats – we say “It is about time!” I have been involved in the Democratic Party since 1964. That year I was President of the Young Democrats at Everett (Washington) Junior College and the “County Youth Coordinator” for a successful Democratic Congressional Candidate. My hero – JFK – had been murdered but it appeared Lyndon Johnson could be a new FDR carrying out the Kennedy’s agenda. Unfortunately Vietnam destroyed that idea and LBJ’s “Great Society” legacy.

Since 1968 we have had three “Democrats” in the White House. I have not considered any of the them really “Democrats” in the way I understand the history, politics, programs or ideas of the party. What changed – why have rank and file Democrats been saddled with three presidents who have more in common with Dwight Eisenhower and at times have forced progressives to look at the policies of Richard Nixon with some nostalgia?

One word – Neo-Liberalism! Following the 1972 crushing defeat of George McGovern, the Democratic Party panicked! McGovern’s liberalism was seen as the reason for his defeat — not the awful campaign he, the party and organized labor ran. Neo-Liberal global corporate capitalists saw the opening they were looking for and they grabbed it.

Neo-Liberalism pays lip-service to the agenda of the social welfare wing of the Democratic Party for two reasons. It maintains the support of Welfare/Liberal identity-based Democrats while carrying out the real agenda of advancing the global corporate capitalist agenda. Not only does identity politics destroy class cohesion it costs Neo-Liberals nothing to support social welfare Democrats anchored in factious racial, gender and identity social issues.

Organized labor loses big-time in this bargain because support for workers economic rights would cost real dollars and cents. The beltway labor bureaucrats have yet to figure this out. Supporting the social welfare agenda also provides a “legitimization” cover for the Neo-Liberals. While sending millions of American jobs overseas and destroying thousands of small US businesses they can point to their support of social programs costing them nothing and claim “We care for the poor people!” Neo-Liberals don’t care what race or sex employees they hired are as long as they work cheap and have to fight each other for fewer and fewer jobs. It is the bosses’ game!

Since 1980 the Neo-Liberals have not been seriously challenged in the Democratic Party. The Clintons represent the perfect example. It was assumed Hillary would be anointed to her “rightful” place in the Neo-Liberal ascendancy. After all the Neo-Libs got an African-American president who immediately abandoned the progressive economic agenda he campaigned on. Now they tell us its Hillary’s “turn.” Well, Neo-Libs – FEEL THE BERN!!!

Now Neo-Liberals and Identity politics Democrats are attempting to move the primaries to a question of “electing the first woman president” and that is not what this election is about! For Democrats committed to the historically values and ideas of the party the fight is about returning the Democratic Party to its working class roots or watching as it sinks into the historical swamp to join the Federalists, the Whigs, and any number of failed American political parties.

Bernie Sanders’ campaign is not just about a campaign for the presidency it is a battle for the soul for the Democratic Party. And the Neo-Libs can be assured it will not end in November.

Bill Johnston is a retired staff organizer of the United Food and Commercial Workers. He is a member of the National Writers Union (Pacific Northwest Chapter). Email wfjohnstonehs@wamail.net.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2016


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