Part One: What now?
Okay, so the primaries are over - actually, there's one more, Washington DC on June 14, but essentially they are over. But I want to start this a little further back, a week or two ago. At that time, a couple of news outlets let it be known that they intended to call the presidential nomination race for Hillary Clinton as soon as the polls in New Jersey closed on June 7, not even waiting for the polls to close in California three hours later.
Which was more than bad enough, more than offensive enough, and did tick off a good number of people, but as it turned out, they didn't even wait for the polls to open. Monday, the day before those primaries, AP declared that based on its count of superdelegates, Clinton had a majority of total delegates and therefore the nomination. So of course several major news outlets had to immediately scream the news in the hope of saying it a couple of seconds before some other outlet did.
And so by this act of truly gross, turnout-suppressing, voter-suppressing, journalistic - I use the word very avisedly - journalistic malfeasance, Hillary Clinton was anointed the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party. Yes, anointed, because since those superdelegates still haven't voted yet and won't until next month, you can't say she has been voted into the role. And all this despite the fact that weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee - the DNC - of all people was telling news outlets that they should not count the superdelegates in their delegate counts because it gave a misleading perception of the actual current state of the race, much like calling - not just predicting, but calling - the outcome of an election based on pre-election-day polls.
No matter, the news business, with the emphasis strongly on "business," is far more focused on being first than on doing its actual supposed job.
But for the moment - I'm sure I'll have more than enough cause, more than enough cases, in the future to talk about how we are uninformed, misinformed, and malinformed by the corporate media - but for moment leave that aside because the political reality is that yes, while Clinton is not the nominee and shouldn't be called that, she surely will be the nominee once the ballots are actually cast at next month's convention. That is simply political reality of the situation.
By the way, a quick sidebar: When Clinton is formally nominated, it will be historic; the first woman to be nominated for president by a major party. But somehow it doesn't feel that historic and it hasn't really been treated as such in the media, even in the Clinton-friendly media, which is a lot of it. It hasn't been treated like a truly big thing. Which has been disappointing to several women (and some men) commentators, but I think there's an upside. Maybe it's because she came so close to the nomination in 2008, maybe it's because we're just so familiar with her, but apparently, at least for a lot of people, the idea of a woman president just doesn't seem that odd, doesn't seem a cause for a lot of hoopla. Which, when you think about it, actually is a good thing.
But getting to the issue at hand, the end of the primaries brings us right up against the question I've been asking for some weeks: What now?
Sen. Jeff Merkley, the one sitting senator who has endorsed Sanders, told the Washington Post that Democrats will be "absolutely united" in making sure Donald TheRump never becomes president.
But he also said that Clinton needed to learn from Sanders' campaign, saying that Clinton "will not win in November without a deep and profound and passionate understanding of the issues that have so moved the grass roots in America."
And the real question is, will we see that? Will we see that "profound and passionate understanding of those issues?"
Frankly, I doubt it - because the fact is, many of those issues are ones in which that party establishment and the broader social, political, and economic elite of which it is part have little to no interest and a number of them are ones which they outright oppose as a threat to their position, their profit, or both.
In the face of that threat, that political and economic establishment quickly closed ranks about the preferred candidate of that same establishment, that candidate that even though they might not be great fans of all that candidate's proposals is still the one which that establishment feels comfortable with, the candidate that establishment has confidence might rearrange the apples on the cart but will not upset it. And that candidate is Hillary Clinton.
That's why, in the words of the Clinton campaign itself, they wanted to "disqualify" Sanders, not just defeat him, disqualify him to disqualify his supporters to disqualify what they pushed for. To diffuse that threat.
But again, again, I say it again, this isn't about Bernie Sanders. It never was. He has been advocating the cause of social and economic justice for decades but he is not the alpha and omega of that work; it's just that this year he became epicenter for those issues, the lens through which those issues have been focused, the vehicle through which those issues have been thrust onto the national political stage in a way and in a forum that even the corporate Democrats and their corporate media allies in the end could not ignore or dismiss despite their best efforts to do so from the very beginning; thrust onto the national political stage in a way which showed a passion for those issues among millions of people, a passion, a commitment, that even the staunchest Clintonbots would have to admit came fairly close to overcoming the entire Democratic Party establishment and the moneybags that back it.
Make no mistake: The party leaders, the party establishment, will at this point, now that they feel safe, be effusive, even gushing, in their phony praise of Bernie Sanders. In her victory speech, Clinton lauded him for his "extraordinary campaign," for "his long career in public service fighting for progressive causes," for having "excited millions of voters," and enthused about how their "vigorous debate" has been "good for the Democratic Party and for America" - that, of course, being the very same debate they wanted Sanders to give up and abandon months ago.
The Amazing Mr. O had his own insincere paeans to Sanders, going on about his "energizing [of] millions of Americans with his commitment to issues" and "the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of voters."
Meanwhile, as they smile their painted smiles, they leave to their supporters and surrogates all the sniping and snarling about how Sanders is just being a nasty old meanie, how he's being "a sore loser," how its about his ego, about how he just can't give it up (one account of his last speech in California referred to him "basking and bragging" his way through a speech of "striking stubbornness"), all of which only goes to prove yet again that they just don't get it, they don't get that he's not in it for himself, he's not looking for what he can get out of it, so he's not playing the establishment game, he's not going to be the good boy and graciously concede with high praise for his noble opponent and how we all have to join together the way all good establishment candidates are supposed to do, not before delegate votes are actually cast, because if you want to help spark a revolution what you want to do, if you can't win, is to maximize your leverage, which requires not conceding the fight before you absolutely have to.
But all of this, all of the online sneering and media mockery about how he's "undermining the good will he has built" - "good will" that has not been in evidence before - and even "sullying his reputation" by not behaving the way the political and media establishment would have him act, all if this, when it comes down to it, is part of the enormous pressure Sanders is under now to just give up and devote all his energy to "Omigod not TheRump" - which also means by definition not continuing to talk about the issues he has raised, including, particularly including, those where during the primaries he has forced Clinton to lean left to avoid losing too much support. Because those are the issues our elites do not want discussed.
But that is exactly what we must not allow to happen. We must not let those issues be brushed aside, quietly dropped from view, but that's what they will do if we let them get away with it.
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